Kathmandu Valley

The Kathmandu Valley is a region of 600km² (230 sq miles) in the Bagmati zone in central Nepal. It's home to three of the largest cities in Nepal, including Kathmandu itself, as well as hundreds of smaller towns and villages.

Buddhist Temple of Boudhanath, Kathmandu

Cities

Other destinations

Understand

The Kathmandu Valley has 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites with five of them either in Kathmandu or the near vicinity. All of them are worth visiting and spending time exploring.

The Valley is the most crowded part of Nepal. In some parts of the valley, particularly the greater Kathmandu urban area, total population exceeds 2.5 million with a density approaching 3,000 people per square kilometre. Visitors to this part of Nepal will be immediately aware of the crowds and the associated vehicle traffic, especially motorcycles.

As a general act of respect, don't take people's pictures without their permission.

Talk

Although there are a number of languages commonly used in Nepal, with Newari the most common in the Valley, most people will also speak Nepali and the visitor will find English spoken many places, at least to a certain degree.

Get in

Most international travellers will be arriving by air. In this case you will be landing at Tribhuvan International Airport just east of Kathmandu. This is a convenient starting point for exploring all parts of the Kathmandu Valley. There are no other locations where international air passengers enter Nepal.

Most bus connections from outside Nepal or other parts of Nepal will have Kathmandu as their main destination. Once you arrive in the city you can get oriented and arrange to visit other parts of the Valley as needed.

Get around

It is entirely possible to trek from one village to another in the Valley (some examples below), otherwise it is easy to hire a taxi or take local buses to get around the Kathmandu Valley.

From Kathmandu, buses to most parts of the Kathmandu Valley, with destinations such as Bhaktapur and Nagarkot, leave from the   Ratna Park bus station.

See

The Kathmandu Valley has seven UNESCO World Heritage sites and you should make an effort to see as many of them as possible during your stay. In the following list, note that "Durbar" means "palace", being the place from where kings ruled. The World Heritage sites include:

Other sites of interest in the valley would include:

Do

Learn

Eat

In general, food in Nepal has been strongly influenced by India and Tibet. In the larger centres, such as Kathmandu, there is increasing interest in western cuisine. As a consequence visitors can find many types of cuisine while wandering around Nepal. An exception is the large, North American fast-food chains which don't seem to have arrived in Nepal yet. Food is more traditional in smaller communities.

Many meals tend to be rather bland but the Nepalese make use of green chili sauce, a variety of pickles and curries.

Nepalis eat many vegetarian dishes (not necessarily vegan....). The most common examples would be dal bhat, pulao (a fried rice dish) and a variety of potato dishes. Beef dishes are almost non-existent in Nepal, given proscriptions against killing cows. Meat dishes tend to use chicken, pork, mutton or water buffalo (yak at higher elevations).

A popular snack is a type of dumpling called momos, prepared either steamed or fried, and filled with either chicken, water buffalo meat (referred to as "buff") or vegetables. One traditional dish is thukpa.

Since the left hand is considered "unclean", pass food with the right, eat with the right hand, avoid touching other people's food and stay out of the kitchen, especially if you are a non-Hindu in a Hindu home.

Stay safe

Even in the most crowded parts of Kathmandu, crime is infrequent. Take the normal precautions and avoid flashing money around and keep your valuables secure as you would anywhere. Generally, even though foreigners are rather obvious, you will be left alone, other than the frequent approaches by tiger balm salesmen, taxi drivers and rickshaw drivers, along with touts and hustlers.

Your health does depend on being careful about drinking water. As a general rule, don't drink any water that hasn't been either treated; filtered, UV sterilized or boiled.

Be careful about eating food from street vendors. It's always a bit of a chance as to whether such food will upset your digestive system. Established restaurants can generally be considered safe. Vegetables and salad greens can be a problem because they may have been washed with unsafe water. Some restaurants make a point of mentioning that they wash salad greens with lightly iodized water. Anything cooked at a high temperature should be safe. Keep in mind that western digestive systems will not be accustomed to the eastern micro-flora and problems can be expected, especially if you are not careful.

Although antibiotics are readily available without prescription in Nepal, you might be advised to bring something specifically recommended by your doctor to combat severe digestive upset. Have a discussion with your doctor and get advice on how to deal with such problems.

Elevations in the Kathmandu Valley are low so there will be no concerns with any of the risks of higher altitudes. If you do "head for the hills", make sure you read about mountain sickness and how to avoid problems.

Rabies is endemic in the dog population but you should have few problems if you leave the animals alone. Generally, unless you are in an area for awhile and are working with animals, you probably do not need a rabies vaccine.

A series of vaccinations for two strains of Hepatitis is recommended before you leave home.

You should not have to be concerned about malaria unless you go to the more southern parts of Nepal, closer to the Indian border.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, February 10, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.