Top 8 Things Kathmandu Is Famous For - Updated 2023

| 3 min read

Kathmandu, Nepal’s largest city and capital, lies snuggled in a valley between the Himalayas Mountains. It is close to the meeting point of Bagmati and Bishnumati Rivers. This capital is Nepal’s political, business, and cultural epicenter, bringing Nepalese from all regions together. The city had its humble beginnings in 723 by a man called Raja Gunakamadeva. This city is known for its ancient architecture, and is dotted with many palaces, temples and monasteries. Some of the must-visit tourist attractions in Kathmandu include the Boudha stupa, Pashupatinath temple, and Hanuman Dhoka (royal palace). For a comfortable place to stay, explore the variety of Airbnb vacation rentals available in Kathmandu, catering to a range of accommodation preferences from cozy tiny houses to the best homestays. Read on to find out the top things Kathmandu is famous for.

1. Dal bhat

Nepali Dal Bhat
Source: Photo by Flickr user Sistak used under CC BY-SA 2.0

In the vibrant heart of Kathmandu lies its culinary signature: Dal Bhat. Far beyond a mere dish, this daily staple of lentil curry paired with rice becomes an intricate feast with additions like seasonal veggies, aromatic pickles, and succulent meats. Distinctive to Kathmandu is the lush black lentil dal, surprisingly cream-free yet delectably smooth. Dive into this Nepali treasure amid the spirited streets of Jhamsikhel or the tranquil ambiance of the Patan Museum Café. With every spoonful or hand-mixed bite, Dal Bhat encapsulates the soulful taste of Nepal.

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2. Art and handicrafts

Wow, what a amazing selection of traditional Nepalese metal handicraft!
Source: Photo by Flickr user shankar s. used under CC BY 2.0

Nestled in Nepal’s heart, Kathmandu is a treasure trove of distinctive art and handicrafts that mirror its rich heritage. From the softness of yak wool and luxurious Pashmina to the spiritual allure of Tibetan artifacts, the city’s offerings are diverse. Renowned establishments like Rajdhani Handicraft blend the region’s artistry, presenting crafts from Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, GYPSY Craft enchants with Rajasthani and Gujarati masterpieces. These hubs, beyond being mere stores, take pride in their craftsmanship, guaranteeing every piece tells a tale of tradition and authenticity.

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3. Gold jewellery

Maghe Sankranti 2019
Source: Photo by Flickr user S Pakhrin used under CC BY 2.0

Nepal has a rich cultural heritage that embraces gold as one of its symbols of wealth. It is constantly present in religious festivals, with the goddess of wealth in the Hindu religion, Laxmi, being called upon to give them more wealth. Nepalese marriage also sees the bride adorned with gold necklaces, earrings, and a pendant of gold being a must-have in the ceremony. Gold in these ceremonies is seen as a symbol of good fortune to come. Different festivals in this diverse country embrace gold in times of festivities too. You will find it displayed in temples, worn in festivals, and displayed in jewelry shops if you want a souvenir for yourself.

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4. Religious monuments and temples (from USD 47.0)

The UNESCO-listed Pashupatinath and Boudhanath are the holiest shines and among the must-visit places to see in Kathmandu. Pashupatinath is the oldest Hindu temple in the capital of Nepal, as well as one of the four most important temples in the whole of Asia. It is dedicated to Hindu deity Lord Shiva and dates as far back as 400 BC. Boudhanath is one of the largest stupas in the world. Plus, it is the holiest Buddhist temple outside of Tibet. You can tour these sites when you visit Kathmandu and hear about the beliefs that surround these holy sites.

Tip from Trip101 local expert

Swayambhu/Monkey Temple (Kathmandu)

You can visit the temple in the evening and have a peaceful time and check out the city lights.

Trip101 Local Expert for Nepal

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Boudhanath and Pashupatinath Temples Private Half-Day Tour

Duration: 4 hours

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5. Momos

Nepali Momo
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Rabin Tuladhar used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Nepal is known for its multi-cultural food selection. Combining Tibetan and Indian cuisines, and also bringing together influence from Russia, Italy, and other regions, Nepalese cuisine is a treat for your palate. And, momos are one of the most popular street foods you will find in this diverse nation. And what better place to sample this famous food than in Kathmandu? A momo is a dough ball with a meat or vegetable stuffing, and it is prepared by steaming, frying, or doing a mix of both. It comes with a tomato chutney on the side that will leave you hankering for more. The shape of momos, stuffing, and accompaniments can also change depending on the cook’s creativity.

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6. Capital of Nepal

Kathmandu in rain storm
Source: Pixabay

The capital of Nepal, Kathmandu is a rich tapestry of culture, religion, commerce, and governance, all woven into one. Here, you can visit ancient religious sites like Swayambhunath temple and Kopan Monastery. You can then get lost in Chandragiri Hills for that touch of nature. Wine and dine in the different eateries as you take your taste buds on a gastronomical adventure. You will have a packed itinerary to keep each day interesting and fun.

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7. Durbar Square

Kathmandu-Durbar Square-06-Mahavishnu-Kuh-Vishnu-Pratapamalla-Jagannath-2007-gje
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gerd Eichmann used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Durbar Square is an ancient square filled with royal palaces, Hindu and Buddhist temples, and statues. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, and was the last home of the palaces of the Shah and Malla kings. The atmospheric old city is set around this historic square, and royal family lived here until the 19th century. Most of these buildings were destroyed in a 2015 earthquake, though rebuilding has continued to take place.

Durbar Square

Address: Digha Pahleja, J P Marg, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal

Website: Durbar Square

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

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8. Tourism

Durbar Square Kathmandu, Nepal
Source: Photo by Flickr user neiljs used under CC BY 2.0

Kathmandu thrums with constant activity, given its place as the capital city of Nepal. You get to choose from a myriad of activities, whatever tickles your fancy. You can take on the mountainous landscape and trek up the different hills surrounding the valley. If you want to stay around, you can go shopping for one or more souvenirs. From handicrafts and jewelry to traditional clothes, carpets, bronze statues and wood carvings, you’ll find it all here. The best place for shopping is the Thamel district. After a shopping spree, you will be in need of sating your appetite. And, the city will not disappoint. There are a plethora of restaurants serving traditional Nepali fare, as well as European and Asian delicacies. Don’t forget to try its street food.

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Discover Nepal through Kathmandu

Kathmandu is loaded with lots of activities and attractions for you to explore and keep yourself engaged in. Its rich history is preserved in its historical sites and will leave you filled with wonder. Before planning your trip, check out our above list of the top things the capital city is famous for, including the famous markets in Kathmandu.

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Frequently asked questions about things Kathmandu is famous for

1. Which famous food items can one try during a visit to Kathmandu?

During a visit to Kathmandu, you must try the delectable Dal Bhat, a traditional Nepali meal comprising lentil soup and rice, and Momos, delicious dumplings filled with various ingredients such as vegetables.

2. Which popular items of shopping can one buy in Kathmandu?

In Kathmandu, there are several popular shopping items, including art and handicrafts showcasing Nepal’s rich culture and heritage. Gold jewelry is also a sought-after item, known for its exquisite craftsmanship and traditional designs. These items make for memorable souvenirs and gifts.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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