Kathmandu is the capital city of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, the largest Himalayan state in Asia. Kathmandu is the historic, artistic, cultural and economic capital of Nepal, and is without a doubt the most popular city for tourists in the Himalayas.
The area of Thamel is most definitely the best place to stay in Kathmandu. Hundreds of restaurants, hotels and shops fill this neighbourhood, offering everything a tourist could possible wish for. It´s a very picturesque commercial area, bursting with colour, and which is full of activity during the day. Hotel and restaurant prices are also very affordable, and although you may need to haggle a bit to get good prices, shops also offer some great bargains.
The area can take a bit of getting used to when visiting for the first time: there are no signs with street names or any other types of signs for that matter. It is a chaotic group of totally disorganized streets, yet this is exactly what gives it such a unique and individual identity. Thamel offers easy access on foot to the Durbar Square and Thamel Marg, as well as being within walking distance of several public transport options for trips to see other attractions in Kathmandu. You can also get to places such as Patan or Bakthapur in taxi, which you can pick up in Thamel from one of the many taxi ranks, which is a much better option as opposed to picking up taxis from the street.
On the map, which shows the most convenient area to stay in Kathmandu, you can see a selection of some of the best located hotels.
Thamel, the best area to stay in Kathmandu
The vibrant, spiritual, bustling, and culturally rich Kathmandu caters to tourists in the Thamel neighbourhood. Inhabited and gentrified by hippies in the 1970s, this maze of streets and alleys is the best area to stay in Kathmandu. While it is as chaotic and enticing as the rest of the town, it is also safe and offers all the comforts tourists need to enjoy their stay.
For those searching for souvenirs, Thamel is like one large market comprising the entire neighbourhood. Shops, stalls, and pop-up stores line the streets, with shop owners ready to bargain and haggle. Numerous hotels and restaurants cater to tourists and offer meals at varying price points and levels of service. For a quick and easy meal, try one of the street vendors for a local taste and low price tag. Thamel also contains plenty of options for a more refined bite or international fare.
The Garden of Dreams is a lovely escape from the hustle and bustle of this lively neighbourhood. The garden celebrates Nepal’s six seasons with six grand pavilions. The neatly manicured, green lawns are ideal for relaxing with a book. Additionally, The Garden of Dreams holds a small cafe, the perfect setting for enjoying a traditional Nepalese tea.
Thamel is incredibly walkable and accessible to the rest of central Kathmandu city. Taxis are also a viable option, although traffic can build quickly in Kathmandu. Thamel is a 20 minute drive from Tribhuvan International Airport, and is also reachable by public bus.
Other areas to stay in Kathmandu
Bouddha (or Boudhanath)
For the spiritually inclined travellers, Bouddha is the best area to stay in Kathmandu. This small community, located in northeast Kathmandu, is the epicenter of Tibetan Buddhism. The area is named for the Boudhanath Stupa, one of the biggest stupas (dome-shaped Buddhist shrines) in the world. The area is very historical, as a centuries-old crossroad in the Tibetan trade route. Bouddha is easily reached by car (20 minutes) from central Kathmandu.
If you’re looking for a more exclusive and luxurious stay in Kathmandu, consider staying on Lazimpat Road. This area borders Thamel, but is slightly more residential. It is a nice area to stay for enjoying 5-star hotels, high-end restaurants, and shopping. It also contains many colleges and government embassies.