It’s no secret how much I adore Nepal. The country’s sublime beauty and welcoming people captured a dear place in my heart over the past several years and I return whenever possible. My dear friend Marie Ange Sylvain and her colleagues at Image Ark communication studio in Patan are an integral part of our team, assisting Rebecca Recommends with its branding, website and more, including our Design for Life humanitarian project.
As an inspiration to avid travelers who have perhaps considered Nepal as a destination but have yet to make the trip, I’d like to share these ideas for hiking, shopping, dining and more. We highly recommend The Dwarika’s Hotel in Kathmandu and The Dwarika’s Resort in Dhulikhel – and have centered these suggestions on these two locations. For more about either of The Dwarika’s properties, see my recent newsletter. Thanks, also, to Marie Ange, for her suggestions of must-do activities in and around Kathmandu.
Activities Around Dhulikhel
Namobuddha Walk: Venture out on this full-day walk to one of the main stupas visited by Tibetans. Walk about 30 minutes up to Devistan, a small temple and excellent spot for viewing the Himalayas. A short descent and gradual climb bring you to Phulbari – stop here for a picnic lunch. From here, it’s about a ten-minute walk to the legendary Namobuddha Stupa, where, according to local legend, a prince discovered a starving tigress about to devour a boy. Out of compassion, the prince offered his body to the tigress in the boy’s place. His remains are said to be enshrined in the main stupa. Explore the area, then descend to the charming, medieval village of Panauti, a treasure house of ancient Newari architecture.
Kodari & the Tibetan Border Excursions: A full-day drive to Kodari and the Tibetan border follows the path of traders who once plied the route between Lhasa and Kathmandu. This scenic 80-kilometer road winds through the Panchkhal Valley, across the Indrawati and Sun Kosi rivers, through typical Nepali villages. At Kodari, look across the Friendship Bridge to Tibet and the town of Khasa.
Palanchowk Walk: Head out for a half-day walk that combines breathtaking mountain views with a sacred temple visit. Visit the Bhagawati Temple in Palanchowk, which houses one of the most beautiful and important Bhagawati statues in Nepal. From your hilltop vantage point, there’s a spectacular Himalayan view. After exploring the mountain village of Palanchowk, walk down to the Panchkhal Valley, following an old path used by local residents.
The Dwarika’s Resort staff is exceedingly knowledgeable about these and other trekking opportunities in the region and can match guests with a hike that meets their physical needs.
Everest by Air: Of course, no journey to Nepal is complete without an Everest flight. The Dwarika’s Resort offers a one-hour morning flight that showcases an awe-inspiring panorama of some of the world’s highest peaks: Makalu, Lhotse, Gauri Shanker, Langtang, Amadablam and many more.
Must-See Spots in Kathmandu
Pashupatinath Temple: Make time for the fifth-century Pashupatinath, very near The Dwarika’s Hotel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the four most important religious sites in Asia for devotees of Shiva. Visit in the evening to witness the cremation process and Sacred Arati (prayer).
Baber Mahal Revisited: Exuding a calmness not typically associated with bustling Kathmandu, Baber Mahal Revisited is a historical landmark. This complex of shops and restaurants, not far from the city center, used to be a Rana Palace. The Siddhartha Art Gallery is located here.
Sam’s One Tree Stop: Aiding in the recovery efforts after the Nepal earthquakes are both small- and large-scale operations, including local producers showcasing their and others’ products and selling them. Visit one such shop, Sam’s One Tree Stop, a restaurant that also sells a vast collection of locally produced goods, ranging from delicious homemade pickles to beautiful notebooks. The restaurant/boutique is constructed around a decades-old tree and is beloved for its well-curated collection of Nepalese products and the work opportunities the shop affords to differently abled people.
Basantapur Street Market: Formerly Old Freak Street, the market offers an interesting walk through a Kathmandu street full of history and stories of 1960s hippies.
Image Ark: Image Ark is a welcome change in the midst of traditional thankas and handicrafts in Patan. Stop in to this contemporary art gallery and boutique located three minutes from the heart of the historical area at Patan Durbar Square. (See this past Travel Notebook post to learn more about Rebecca’s relationship with the amazing team at Image Ark.)
Pia (in the same building as Image Ark): Masterminded by Rebecca’s dear friend Marie Ange of Image Ark, Pia is a luxury brand that designs and produces handcrafted home decor and accessories made in Nepal. It aspires to promote and preserve the skills of local artisans. Read more here.
Chandragiri Hills: Take the cable car to Chandragiri Hills, boasting a breathtaking panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley and the Himalayan Range from Annapurna to Everest.
More Activities in Kathmandu valley
Yomari: Indulge in the most loved Newari sweet at Nandini Food Court in Swotha, a two-minute walk from Patan Durbar Square.
Wall climbing: Locals love their wall climbing – join them at Astrek Climbing in Thamel.
Lahana: One of the best places to find Newari food, located in Kirtipur.
Thimi Ceramics: Stop into this Bhaktapur location to observe pottery and ceramics being made and to participate in the process.
Hiking In and Around Kathmandu Valley
Seto Gumba, 3 km from Swayambhu. Hike to Seto Gumba, (the White Monastery), one of the most popular Buddhist monasteries in the country.
Changu Narayan, 12 km east of Kathmandu. This hilltop temple is the oldest in the history of Nepal.
Shivapuri: This second highest hill near Kathmandu Valley offers views of the Langtang Himalayas. You can also visit the cave in Shivapuri.
Dhulikhel: Famous for its sunrise and sunset views of Everest, Dhulikhel is 30 km from Kathmandu and also home to Dwarika’s Resort.
Hattiban Resort to Champadevi: This trek takes about three hours to reach the summit and enjoy the panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley.
Phulchowki: Hiking from