This section is dedicated to take away all your "I wish someone had told me that before I went!" experiences. This way, you are better prepared for what to expect, what not to expect and can spend less time settling in, and more time making new friends in your chosen hostel. We share our insider knowledge of tips, tricks and important things to look out for in Kathmandu. To help you make friends with Kathmandu before you visit, we've included a few helpful and fun things you should know about the area. Enjoy!
Kathmandu is a city filled with ancient architecture, culture, and just a small infusion of modern tourism. In this capital of Nepal, there is no lack of entertainment for the adventure-hungry traveler. There are also numerous hostels scattered throughout Kathmandu, although they might be referred to as an “inn” or “house” rather than a proper hostel.
As one of the most touristy locations of the city, Thamel district is a great starting point for your travel itinerary. In this spot, you will find bustling streets filled to the brim with restaurants, shops, as well as lodgings which should meet all your basic needs. Among the different hotels, there will be accommodations akin to hostels, including modern structures offering affordable, clean rooms and bonuses such as free wifi. Once you have gotten yourself and your belongings settled, you can easily visit many attractions within walking distance.
If your belly is starting to rumble, some Kathmandu hostels offer meals on their grounds. Otherwise, pick one of the numerous restaurants to satisfy your appetite for the richly flavored, spicy dishes of Indian cuisine. Another option is to participate in one of the cooking classes offered along the streets so that you can take the gift of Indian flavor back home as a souvenir.
Within a short walking distance of Thamel, you can visit the Kathmandu Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There you will encounter the intricate detail and astounding vision of 17th and 18th century Nepalese architecture and art. This is the place where monarchs were crowned. You will set your sights on several palaces and temples. Among the ancient architecture is Kashmandap, a temple built from the wood of a single tree, which is the inspiration for the city’s name. You will also be able to visit Kushmari Ghar, the house of the only living goddess of Nepal.
Just to the south of Durbar Square, you can walk the iconic Jhochhen Tole, otherwise known as Freak Street. It acquired its English nickname during the 1960s and 70s when hippies frequented the area to indulge in cheap fun. Nowadays, it has become a quieter street where you can see just remnants of the hippie culture as well as some more Kathmandu hostels.
Also within a short walking distance of Thamel, you will encounter the mesmerizing view of the Garden of Dreams. A beautifully kept wonderland of fountains, flowers, sculptures, gazebos, and even a cafe situated within a palace, this site has been restored to its current beauty with the financial assistance of the Austrian government.
If you happen to be visiting during the Holi Festival, a two-day event during spring sometime in February or March, then you are in for a colorful surprise. Known as the “festival of colors” and the “festival of sharing love,” this Hindu celebration has young and old alike running through the streets, throwing dry powder and colored watered onto each other. When you end up all covered in a rainbow of colors and completely exhausted, you will be glad to retreat to a hostel to rest up for the next day. You might want to make prior hotel reservations if you do choose to stay during the Holi Festival.
Written by local enthusiast for Kathmandu hostelsJakob Lombardi