About Vincent M
Lives in Kathmandu, Nepal
Since Oct 2014
18-24 year old male
I grew up in Boston and took my first oversees trip when I was 20. Since then I have been hooked, traveling around Europe on two seperate trips and working for an international tour operator. For the last year+ I have been pursuing a career as a photo journaĺist in Asia - much of that has been spent around Kathmandu where I fell in love with the culture, food, and people of the ever-growing city. I am a vegetarian foodie, a ĺover of all outdoor sports and few things please me more than exploring and being challenged. www.vinnymo.co
Points of Interest & Landmarks, Historic Sites
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Sacred & Religious Sites
City Tours, Lessons & Workshops, Walking Tours, Shopping Tours, Historical & Heritage Tours
Bike Tours, Motorcycle Tours, Eco Tours, Day Trips
Kathmandu's Durbar Square is picturesque and historic, and to reach it from Thamel you'll explore some colorful and lively alleyways en route. All of the guidebooks will have this down as a must-see, and they aren't wrong. However, what I would add is that you should leave yourself plenty of time to walk here. This way, you can check out some of the side streets, where you'll find little shops selling everything from Western clothes and colorful Saris to pots and pans, baked goods, coffee, and, of course, tea.
It's on Kathmandu's back streets where you'll find restaurants that look too small to be restaurants — and get quite possibly the most authentic experience eating with locals. If you find yourself in a small local restaurant with no menu, consider ordering the dishes in the tips that follow. Walking down Kathmandu's back streets is when I have met some of the more interesting people in the city, so I cannot recommend it enough.
In the '60s and early '70s, Kathmandu was a hub of the so called 'Hippie Trail,' and Jhhonchen Tole is the area where travelers would come to buy government-regulated marijuana. Those days are long past, and the drug is now illegal in Nepal, but Freak Street (now referred to as Old Freak Street) is still worth a visit for its cafes, restaurants, and stores selling clothes that will make you feel like you're back in the '60s. There are plenty of souvenir shops and cyber cafes; there are also several guesthouses, so if you care to stay in this area for a night, finding a place won't be a problem. If you have read about the old Freak Street of yesteryear, then my advice is to go in with an open mind — it has changed a lot, but so has almost all of Nepal. The history alone makes it worth a visit.
So you've had a long day of navigating some of Kathmandu's busiest pedestrian streets and visiting Durbar Square. Now you want to get a good meal and relax. Places offers comfortable floor seating, a consistently good music selection, and one of the few menus that doesn't have a single bad item on it (and I've tried almost everything they have). It's a good place to meet other travelers, and you will likely see a few locals here as well. During the day and earlier in the night, Places is a quiet spot, but later at night it gets busy, especially on weekends.
The Durbar Square in Patan is similar to the Durbar Square in Thamel, but with a history of its own. This square is home to an ancient palace and loads of beautiful architecture from the Newa people (one of the groups who occupied this area before Kathmandu was united into one city). Most of the architecture dates back to the 1600s, and like all three of the Durbar Squares, this one is a UNESCO Heritage site. The intricate craftsmanship on the wooden structures is something to marvel at: There has been some restoration work done over the years, but it has been done well, and most of what you see here today is original.
Located inside Patan's central Durbar Square and containing art dating back to the 7th century, Patan Museum is a must-see, even though it's sometimes overlooked (the first time I walked through Durbar Square, I had no idea it was even there.) The museum has been changed in the last few years and is now a combination of three museums. There are sections specifically for art relating to Hinduism, Buddhism, and architecture, making this is one of the nicest, most unique museums I have seen in Asia. The breadth of art that has been curated here is not only beautiful, but educational; there is so much history in every piece.
If you are going to the Patan Museum, then this 'coffee boutique' (the only one in Nepal!) should be a definite resting point, either to start the visit or to end it. Coffee at kar.ma COFFEE is served on a donation basis — you pay what you would like for a standard cup. Plus, the spot has a great environment, and the staff members are all very sweet. kar.ma is located below a Jazz Conservatory, so there is a great crowd of people, and you're likely to hear some great live music being played upstairs. They also make massage oils, paper, and soap from coffee, so by looking around and asking a few questions, you'll find yourself leaving with a little coffee education (and maybe some unique gifts for folks back home!)
Pair Moksh with a day at Patan Museum and a stop at kar.ma COFFEE. It is across the way from the coffee shop and serves freshly made pizza on hand-spun dough. The pizzas are a good value, and the laid-back atmosphere makes for a comfortable place to spend the evening eating and chatting. If you're a music fan, check out the Nepali band called '1974 AD.' Their frontman owns this restaurant and is frequently here.
Also known as the 'Monkey Temple,' this place is about a 40-minute walk from Kathmandu's Thamel area, close enough that it makes for a nice half-day trip. You will see loads of monkeys that are comfortable enough to come close to the visitors, making for some great photo opportunities. Swayambhunath Temple is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the area, so please be respectful and (as I would also suggest for all of Nepal) do not wear revealing clothing.
In Thamel, the company Social Tours offers a Nepali Cooking Course two times a day: in the morning and then in the afternoon. You will learn to cook 'momo' (dumplings), 'dahl baht' (Nepal's national dish of lentils, rice, and vegetables), or 'alu parantha' (like a chapati with mashed potatoes inside). The kitchen is clean, the program is well organized, the chef is a great teacher, and the recipes are outstanding. These are the best spinach-and-cheese momo I have eaten in all of Nepal (and I have tried many). The day starts with the chef taking you to a small local market to buy the ingredients you will cook with, and after you cook you'll get to eat with some of the employees. The best part about this (besides the momo) is that there is no price — at the end of the class, you pay whatever you think it was worth.
Mountain biking is rapidly developing as a popular sport among locals in Nepal: the terrain throughout the country is ideal, and Kathmandu is no exception. Yes, it is a big, busy city, but the unique thing about Kathmandu is that it doesn't really taper off into suburbs — rather, it comes to an abrupt halt and changes from city to countryside. Taking a bike tour is a perfect way to explore the areas directly outside the city, and various tour groups offer options for all skill levels. You can ride through small villages or national parks, all in close proximity to the city center.
Located in the heart of Thamel, OR2K not only has good food but also a great ambiance, with lots of art on the walls, relaxed floor seating, and atmospheric tunes. It's a trendy place, therefore good for meeting other travelers. If you don't have so much time to sit and eat, then check out their falafel shop, located on the corner of Mandala Drive, right next to the entrance of OR2K. They use freshly baked chapati and make the falafel right in front of you; the tahini is locally made as well.