Kathmandu is not only the capital city of the kingdom, but the biggest and most chaotic city by far. Its narrow streets in the old town are bustled with motorbikes, taxis, cycle-rickshaws, people rambling along the road and street pedlars. Kathmandu’s history is very rich and you just need to wander around to get involved by the magic and mystery of its past. This is the city of temples and mystic, the place to admire Buddhism and Hinduism at the same time and a real paradise for backpackers, which offers everything they may need during their trip: joy, fun, shopping and cheap accommodation.
The north part of the city center is called Thamel, an area full of budget hotels and lodges, which concentrates almost the whole leisure spots of the city: music bars and clubs, cinema, restaurants, shops and internet points (very much needed to update this travel blog after being isolated in the mountains). Everything can be founded here and this is why most of the young travelers prefer to stay there.
Other options for accommodation (the one we chose due to its relative quietness) is Freak Street, a small area south of Durbar Square, where backpackers used to settle down during the hippy decade. There are some cheap hotels with good standards and it is just a few steps from Kathmandu’s most amazing tourist point: the Durbar Square. We enjoyed the great choice of meals and restaurants (which was most welcome after so many days eating the same food during our trek in the mountains) and the long walks to several of the main attractions of the city, while the short way we did every time from our hotel to the Thamel area was always too loud, too crowded and too unpleasant for us. Travellers should be ready to stand this hassle all over Nepal, specially in Kathmandu, unfortunately we couldn’t get used to it and it got to our nerves more than once…
Getting lost in the old town’s small streets is one of the best things to do in Kathmandu and the best way to find hidden treasures, which seem not to be as appreciated by locals as they are by tourists: while groups of Japanese visitors flash with their cameras the slim figure of a rare standing Buddha, two local woman use the same image to tie a rope and hang their washing. The magnificence of the city can be summarized in the Durbar Square, a complex consisting on 3 vaguely joined squares full of temples and palaces (“Durbar” means palace and here is where kings used to have their residence), where you can spend your time easily and don’t realise at all.