Early morning walk to Swayambhunath
After breakfast at your hotel, while the weather is still cool, take a walk to the Swayambhunath stupa, visible on a hill to the west of Thamel. The walk should take half an hour to an hour and requires climbing some steep steps at the end to ascend the hill.
Swayambhunath is an ancient Buddhist stupa, with a golden honey-spoon crown and languorous Buddha eyes looking out from all four sides. It is one of the most iconic sites of Kathmandu and is surrounded by numerous statues, temples and stone chorten – as well as the numerous creatures that give the place the nickname of ‘monkey temple’. Circle the stupa clockwise, stop to peep into all the little shrines around the outside and spin the prayer wheels.
Visit Hanuman Dhoka
Hanuman Dhoka is a complex of structures with the Royal Palace of the Malla kings and also of the Shah dynasty in the Durbar Square of central Kathmandu. It is spread over five acres. The Hanuman Dhoka Palace (Hanuman Dhoka Darbar in Nepali) gets its name from the stone image of Hanuman, the Hindu deity that sits near the main entryway. 'Dhoka' means door or gate in Nepali. The buildings were severely damaged in the 2015 earthquake.
Admire street art in Kupondole
Just off Pulchowk is the Kupondole area, which has the largest concentration of street art in Kathmandu. Look for the temple at the intersection with Pulchowk, where the traffic police are usually hanging out, and head down that road. You do not need to go far before seeing beautiful full-wall murals and stencil art. Some of the best contemporary art in Kathmandu can be found on the walls outside.
Admire the Garden of Dreams
The Garden of Dreams, also known as the Garden of Six Seasons, is a neo-classical garden in Kaiser Mahal Kathmandu, built in 1920. Designed by Kishore Narshingh, it consists of 6,895 square metres of gardens with three pavilions, an amphitheater, ponds, pergolas, and urns. From the mid-1960s, upon the death of its patron, Kaiser Sumsher Rana, it lay in neglect but was recently restored with the help of the Austrian government.
Dance to a band in Thamel
If you still have some energy left after the day’s walking and sightseeing, seek out some live music in Thamel. There is always some cover band or other to dance to in places like Tom & Jerry’s (a favourite haunt among Nepal’s river guides), Reggae Bar or Purple Haze.
But, if you want something a little more original, local rock, reggae and jazz talent often play at House of Music, around the corner from Thamel’s main drag, on Amrit Marg. You will be happy with your convenient Thamel-based accommodation at the end of the night.