Coming to Nepal, I had no set plan for what I was going to do or see. Two nights before I arrived in country, I located some nearby temples I wanted to see on google maps, but that was the extent of my planning. There were also things I wanted to see that weren’t within walking distance but could’t justify the cost of a taxi. Thankfully, the vacation gods were watching and brought me Hannah and Patrick. Sunday was their only day in town, so we decided to rent a taxi for the day and see the top sites in Kathmandu!
Our first stop was Boudhanath Stupa, the largest stupa in Nepal. It cost $10 to enter, and it was 100% worth, y’all.
The entire area really bewildered me, actually. The stupa is located off of what was a very busy and loud road. There’s a main gate to get to the area that the stupa is in, and then theres an entrance to the stupa itself (but you walk on the…roof? I honestly have no idea how to explain it). When you enter the main gate, the noise immediately reduces, but once you enter the actual stupa area, the noise literally stops, even though you are still walking outside with no huge walls around you. I feel like I sound really crazy, but I mentioned it to Hannah and we stood for a second and she confirmed soooo if I’m crazy at least I’m not alone. The area around the stupa has shops, restaurants, hotels etc. Smack in the middle of all that is a beautiful buddhist temple.
Turn around from the temple and behold! The entrance to the stupa:
I honestly could have spent half a day at Boudhanath, just sitting and enjoying the day. It was beautiful, and peaceful, and refreshing. One UNESCO World Heritage Site down, bam!
The next stop on our Kathmandu tour was a temple. We found out when we got there that we couldn’t actually go in to the temple and we collectively decided the $15 ticket price wasn’t worth it so…we moved on. Sorry.
Onward! We drove to our furthest stop, about an hour away from where we were staying, to Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The entire ancient city is a UNESCO site, and it’s super cool. It’s like a huge, living museum. Aaaand now I’m going to throw some Wikipedia info at you because honestly it’s getting late and y’all know I’m lazy.
“Bhaktapur was the largest of the three Newar kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley and was the capital of Nepal during the great ‘Malla Kingdom’ until the second half of the 15th century. Bhaktapur has the best-preserved palace courtyards and old city center in Nepal and is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal and stone artworks.”
Unfortunately, Bhaktapur suffered a great deal of damage from the 2015 earthquake. They are working on restoring and rebuilding, but the evidence of such a tragedy is all around you when you walk through the city. Regardless, it was incredible to walk through it’s streets. We wandered around for a couple of hours, exploring alleys and temples.
For lunch we stopped at a local restaurant and had one of our favorite foods here, momos. Ugh, momos are so good, I honestly could eat them every day. Bonus that momos are super cheap, usually costing about $1 for a plate.
After lunch, we had a little more time before we needed to be home, so we decided to stop at Swayambhunath Stupa, aka Monkey Temple.
We didn’t spend a huge amount of time here, but it was definitely worth the visit. It’s actually free, but you can buy an optional $2 ticket to help support it, which we obviously did. Climb what feels like 500 steps and you are welcomed with a lovely stupa, prayer wheels and flags, and a killer view of Kathmandu.
And monkeys. Of course there are monkeys.
Monday I decided to take it easy. Hannah and Patrick continued on their journey to trek the Himalayas, and I went back to sleep after breakfast (priorities). After catching up on some much needed sleep, I ventured out on my own to grab food and check out Amideva Buddha Park. It’s actually right next to Swayambunath, and it wasn’t originally on my list of things to see but when I saw it as we drove past Sunday, I knew I needed to go see it. So, I walked for 40 minutes, in the heat of the day, down the dusty Kathmandu roads. Everyone here wears masks because of the dust and I so wish I had one. I’m pretty sure my lungs are 70% dust now.
Amideva is home to the largest buddha statue in Nepal. It’s free to see, and absolutely gorgeous in person. I just really can’t get over how beautiful everything is here. I mean really, my pictures don’t do anything justice. Everyone add Nepal to your list of places to go, you won’t regret it.
I found refuge from the sun and hung out for about an hour. I had a pretty great conversation with a 10 year old, watched the monkeys, did a little people watching, and of course was the subject of many pictures by locals. Another typical day in Asia! After all the excitement, I decided it was time for a late lunch and then the trek back home. I wanted to eat at a local spot, but I was so hungry that I went to the first place I found. After a satisfying meal of chicken momos and mushroom soup, I walked back home, washed up, and took a really glorious nap. By my standards, it was a perfect day!
Two days in, and Nepal has captured my heart!