Kathmandu is an ancient city with a lot to offer to its tourists. It offers a diverse range of experiences including history, culture, adventure and business. Every tourist that comes to Nepal for any purpose passes through Kathmandu. Although the city may seem noisy and populated, there is a lot going on around. Due to a large number of tourists arriving here, finding cheap flights to Kathmandu can be tricky.
The low season in Nepal is in the monsoons, between the end of June and early September. Coming to the country within these months can give you slightly cheaper rates than the usual. During this time the rains are intense but the local community relies heavily on them for growing food and vegetables. The rain is sacred in Kathmandu and is celebrated by the people. Along with the cheaper airfares, you might also get better rates on accommodation. Coming to the city in early January, when the nights are the chilliest but the fares are the cheapest can also loosen that tight budget.
The international airport serving the city of Kathmandu is the Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM). The airport is only 6 kilometres away from the city centre. A second airport named Nijgadh International has its construction well underway and is destined to complete in December 2018 to serve the city. Tribhuvan Airport has served 5.3 million passengers in 2017.
A British Citizen is required to have a visa to travel to Nepal. It is advisable to apply for the visa at the Nepalese embassy in Kensington Palace Gardens, but you can also get a visa upon arrival at the airport. Please note that upon filling the visa application at the airport you would be asked for a passport sized photograph, so take some along to evade the hassle. The single entry visa is available for 15, 30 and 90 days for USD$ 25, 40 and 100. If you are taking your family along, children under 10 years of age do require a visa but their visa fee is exempted. The single entry visa can be extended and converted into a multiple entry visa at the Nepali Immigration Department if you plan to visit India, Tibet or Bhutan as well.
There are two separate time slots in the year great for a visit to Kathmandu. The first time slot is from April to early June. This is the time in which Kathmandu is in spring season. Wildflowers line the foothills and the temperature is pleasant this time of the year. The second period perfect for a visit to Kathmandu is in the autumn, that is, from September to November. By September the monsoon rains have long departed but the cold of the winter has yet to freeze the city. These goldilocks time slots will give you access to all that Kathmandu has to offer.
Kathmandu became a refuge for the Buddhist monks emigrating from Tibet in the mid 20th century. The city has since then, became an amalgamation of Hindu and Buddhist cultures and temples and shrine dot the city.
The Nepali year starts in March, with the coming of spring. Holi is celebrated with jubilations and powdered pigments are flung into the air with joy. In September the crowning of the new Kumari takes place. The Kumari is a little girl, not two or three years old, selected after a rigorous process and believed to processes the spirit of a deity. The child is worshiped until the deity leaves the body of the child if she gets a serious injury or falls ill. The Indra Jatra is the festival that celebrates the Hindu deity Indra which in many ways has similarities with Zeus and Jupiter. The Devali festival is celebrated, with lights and fire flares to please the goddess of fortune –Lakshmi.
If you want to indulge into the real Kathmandu experience, how about taking a ride on the bullock-cart or the ponies that still races on the city’s roads. Alternatively, you can take the bus. There are hundreds of buses and rickshaws that take you from one tourist attraction to the next. The government has recently introduced eco-friendly rickshaws that make less noise and air pollution. These battery-powered vehicles have an added advantage; they can move through the tightest of streets or the most crammed intersections and get you where you want quickly. Public and private taxis are also available readily.
There are many five star hotels in Kathmandu city that overlooking the bowl-shaped Kathmandu valley or are at the very centre of the city, surrounded by the temples and the monasteries.