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.
- Boudhanath is a stupa in Kathmandu. It is one of the largest stupas in the world and said to contain the remains of the third reincarnation of Buddha, Kassapa Buddha. The site also has a heavenly spring that sprouts near the temples inner gate. The mound was damaged in the earthquake in 2015 but since then, has been renovated back to its previous state. Lines of yellow praying flags fly from the top mast on the stupa to the surrounding buildings.
- The Pashupatinath Temple stands in the eastern part of the city, on the banks of the Bagmati River. Pashupatinath is the national deity of Nepal and is one of the avatars of Lord Shiva. Many legends and beliefs surround the temple complex and everyone is welcome for a visit. Many festivals take place during the year at the temple, but the most famous one is the Maha Shiva festival which brings worshippers from all over the world to Kathmandu. The temple is one of the twelve major temples in Shiv-Hinduism.
- Many who seek Buddhahood come to the temple of Swayambhunath west of Kathmandu city. The temple rests on a hilltop and a long staircase of ancient steps lead to the temple. A separate road has also been paved that spirals around the hill to reach the temple. At the summit, there is a gilded stupa with the half-closed eyes painted on it, looking compassionately in all four directions. The temple has been constructed to represent the teachings of Buddhism. Even though the site has been sacred to the Buddhists, Hindus have also cherished the site since ancient times.
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.
- Dwarika's Hotel
- Crowne Plaza Kathmandu-Soaltee
- Hyatt Regency Kathmandu
- Hotel Yak & Yeti
- Shangri-La Hotel Kathmandu