2-Day Kathmandu, Nepal Itinerary and Travel Guide with Budget All-in

2-Day Kathmandu, Nepal Itinerary and Travel Guide with Budget

By DAN FORTEZA

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I’m sure you’re super excited to visit the land of Himalayas and just can’t wait to get your Nepal itinerary ready. The country of Nepal might be solely known for its iconic Mount Everest, the tallest in the world, but there are also great places to see in Nepal without traveling far from its beating heart of Kathmandu.

Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is the land of friendly and welcoming people where magnificent temples, monasteries and historical monuments can be found at almost every turn.

That’s why in this blog, I’ll be sharing with you my do-it-yourself Kathmandu itinerary including the budget cost breakdown during my 2-day trip in Kathmandu. So get yourself ready!

Hi there! First of all, I am Daniel – a solo backpacker from the Philippines. If you don’t know my story yet, feel free to read this article where I talked about how I quit my job in order to travel. This article was also featured on TripZilla Philippines.

DO YOU NEED A VISA FOR NEPAL?

Depending on your nationality, you may or may not need a visa. Check out my Nepal visa guide in case you’re eligible of their visa-on-arrival.

For Filipinos, we are eligible of Nepal’s visa-on-arrival at any border points of the country including arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM)–the country’s sole international airport.

WHERE IS KATHMANDU?

Kathmandu is the capital and largest city of Nepal. It is a 2-hour flight away from Delhi, India or 3 ½ hours away from Bangkok, Thailand.

Language: Nepalese
Currency: Nepalese Rupee (NPR)
Airport: KTM (Tribhuvan)
Preferred mode of transportation: by Taxi or by Foot
Time Zone: GMT +5-3/4

HOW I GOT THERE:

Finding a cheap flight ticket to Kathmandu, Nepal from India or Southeast Asia is relatively easy. Although I entered Nepal by crossing the India-Nepal border at Bhairahawa, I then booked my onward ticket from Kathmandu going to Bangkok, Thailand via Nepal Airlines using Kayak.

I suggest you check Kayak (click HERE) as they usually offer cheap fare rates compared to other booking sites.

HOW TO GET AROUND KATHMANDU?

Reminder: Kathmandu is incredibly hectic and it’s extremely easy to get lost. If you’re from the west, you need to prepare yourself mentally before traveling to Kathmandu in the same way you prepare yourself for India.

By Foot. Walking around may not be an option to most because of rampant pollution and noise of the streets but getting around by foot is actually how I reach places in Kathmandu (with Google Maps’ help) because I was on a tight budget.

If you also intend to go on an adventure on foot, then make sure to wear a face mask like I did.

By Taxi. Going around by taxi is I believe the best way to get around Kathmandu. Taxis are quite reasonably priced, though few taxi drivers use the meters in these days of rising fuel prices. Shorter rides around town (including to the bus station) cost around 200 NPR. Night-time rates (between 10 PM and 6 AM) cost 50% more.

If you wish to use the local public transport, you’d better have a local to help you with the stops as they are quite arbitrary.

WHERE DID I STAY?

I arrived at Kathmandu at around 7:00 AM from a 10-hour bus ride from Bhairahawa, a town in Nepal bordering India. Using my pre-downloaded Google Maps, I then walked almost 2 km to reach my hostel in the Thamel area.

  • Zen Bed and Breakfast: 3-night stay (click here to book)
    • Hostel room type: Bunk Bed in Mixed Dormitory Room

You can book a room at any Kathmandu hotel through Agoda or Booking.com. I usually book my room accommodations through booking.com. Room accommodation ranges from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Book hostels through booking.com as they have free cancellation or pay-at-the-hotel option.

If Kathmandu hotel isn’t to your liking, try AirBnb. Airbnbs are immersed in neighborhoods, condos, and townhomes. There is a feeling you get when you stay in an Airbnb that makes you feel like you belong in that city or town. Since it is someone’s home, there is a certain amount of pride you feel while staying there. I have used Airbnb on some of my other trips and I loved it!

If you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get up to 42 USD free travel credit by signing up via this link.

MY 2-DAY KATHMANDU, NEPAL ITINERARY

DAY 1:

1st Stop: Swayambhunath (OR Monkey) Temple

I was breathless and sweating as I stumbled up the last steep steps in this temple. On your way, you’ll see lots of monkeys ready to greet you! That’s why they call it the Monkey Temple obviously. Swayambhunath Temple is an ancient religious architecture located on the top of a hill within the Kathmandu Valley. No fees required to get here. 

From my hostel in Thamel, I walked more than 2 km west to reach this temple. Then I went back to the Thamel area to get myself some lunch.

 

Swayambhunath (OR Monkey) Temple
Swayambhunath Temple | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 2-3 hours
    • How I got there: By foot from my hostel in Thamel

2nd Stop: Narayanhiti Palace Museum

This museum is just a 10-minute walk from the Thamel area. There is an entrance fee of 500 NPR (per person) for foreigners. Although I only took a photo from the outside gate, it is advisable to see this place especially if you’re into modern history.

This palace is indeed both beautiful and mysterious, one is reminded of King Bijendra and his wife queen Aishwarya with all their family members who were massacred in 2001.

Narayanhiti Palace Museum
Narayanhiti Palace Museum | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got there: By foot from Thamel

3rd Stop: Durbar square

I then walked almost 2 km south from the museum to reach Kathmandu’s Durbar Square as my next stop. For tourists, there is an entrance fee of 1,000 NPR per person. But because I look like a Nepalese descent, I was not asked to pay for the entrance. I just went straight in.

This is a UNESCO site damaged by a 7.9 earthquake in 2015. The architecture is like a mixed with Old Chinese and Indian backgrounds. Overall, it was a nice experience walking throughout the whole square even though they are still fixing the damages from the earthquake.

Durbar square
Durbar square | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 2-4 hours
    • How I got there: By foot from Narayanhiti Palace Museum

4th Stop: Vaskarkirti Mahavihar

Just a short walk from the Durbar square, I found this Buddhist shrine which not many people visit. I just love being away from the crowd for a while!

People park their bikes near this open space. I asked the name of the shrine which people said White Chaitya. Later I found the name to be Vaskarkirti Mahavihar in Google Maps. This White Chaitya is smaller than other chaityas in Kathmandu but still beautiful and worth visiting.

Vaskarkirti Mahavihar
Vaskarkirti Mahavihar | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour
    • How I got there: By foot from Durbar Square

5th Stop: Thamel

Thamel is Kathmandu’s main tourist hub. My hostel is situated at Thamel road, and I basically get and access everything easily here such as food, ATMs, groceries, and even a few temples that could easily be reached by foot. If you’re going on hiking or trekking, there’s a lot of shops here for mountaineering.

But still, don’t forget to enjoy while wandering through Thamel at any pace. Lose yourself peacefully through all of its narrow streets and colorful bazaars.

Thamel
Thamel road at night | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got there: By foot (this is where my hostel is located)

DAY 2:

6th Stop: Garden of Dreams

If a break is needed from the intensity of chaotic Kathmandu, a stop in the Garden of Dreams may help. Behind its big outer walls is a very calm environment.

This garden is just a 5-minute walk from the Thamel area. The entrance fee costs 400 NPR for tourists. 

Garden of Dreams
Garden of Dreams | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got there: By foot from Thamel

7th Stop: Pashupatinath Temple

The oldest and holiest Hindu shrine in Nepal is the Pashupatinath Temple located on the bank of Bagmati river is a world heritage site enlisted by UNESCO.

As a foreigner, you have to pay 1,000 NPR to enter but there are portions that you are not allowed to enter. Overall, there is so much to be seen here. There are always cremations occurring here, which did bother some people, both because of the smoke and the visual. I find it fascinating.

Again, since I look like a Nepali descent, I wasn’t asked to pay for the entrance fee and just went straight ahead.

Pashupatinath Temple
Pashupatinath Temple | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 3-4 hours
    • How I got there: By foot from the Garden of Dreams

8th Stop: Banks of the Bagmati River

The Bagmati River is considered holy by both Hindus and Buddhists. A couple of Hindu temples are located on its banks such as the Pashupatinath Temple. The holy river is dirty but that’s just the norm here I think.

The importance of Bagmati also lies in the fact that Hindus are cremated on the banks of this holy river, and Kirants (ethnic Himalayans) are buried in the hills by its side. 

Banks of the Bagmati River
Banks of the Bagmati River | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour
    • How I got there: By foot from the Pashupatinath Temple.

9th Stop: Boudhanath Stupa

Bouddhanath stupa is the most liked sightseeing place in Kathmandu. Visitors are required to pay 250 NPR (foreign nationals), 50 NPR (SAARC nationals) as entrance fees to the Bouddhanath. A lot of Tibetan people reside around the Stupa. And it is a very famous and holy place, especially of Buddhists people. It is one of the most popular world heritage sites of Nepal.

Just like in Pashupatinath Temple,  I wasn’t asked to pay for the entrance fee and I just went straight ahead.

    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 2-3 hours
    • How I got there: By foot from the Pashupatinath Temple.

10th Stop: The Crematoria

Later that night, I went back to the Pashupatinath Temple with a local Nepali. We ride on his motorbike and he took me to the Crematoria along the banks of Bagmati.

We’ve both witnessed grief and happiness while in Crematoria. There is a couple of dead bodies we’ve spotted while also witnessing a fun and jolly Aarati performance. Aarati is a Hindu religious ritual of worship in which light (usually from a flame) is offered to one or more Hindu Gods.

    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 2-3 hours
    • How I got there: By motorbike

The local Nepali I was referring to was Prashant whom I met via Couchsurfing. It was indeed one of those Couchsurfing experiences I would never forget. We also had shared some local Nepali food for dinner.

Meet Prashant from Kathmandu, Nepal | Dantravels.org
Meet Prashant from Kathmandu, Nepal | Dantravels.org

MY 2-DAY EXPENSES IN KATHMANDU

  • Day 0 (Arrival)
    • 30 USD (3,410 NPR) – Visa-on-arrival fee
    • 100 NPR – Fare, Rickshaw bike to the bus terminal
    • 800 NPR – Fare, Bus A/C from Bhairahawa to Kathmandu
    • 50 NPR – Drink (Coke)
    • 80 NPR – Food (Nepali Noodles)
    • Subtotal: 4,440 NPR (39.07 USD)
  • Day 1
    • 1,125 NPR –  3-Night stay in hostel
      275 NPR – Food, Stir-Fried Noodles (Chonmien)
    • 50 NPR – Muffins
    • NOTE: Free breakfast is included in the hostel
    • Subtotal: 1,450 NPR (12.76 USD)
  • Day 2
    • 80 NPR – Food, Stir-Fried Noodles (Chonmien)
    • 10 NPR – Water
    • 400 NPR – Ticket fee, Garden of Dreams
    • 130 NPR – Food (Chatamari and Bara)
    • Subtotal: 620 NPR (5.46 USD)
  • Last Day (Departure)

JUST SHARING: I have been entering Durbar Square and temples for free because of my Asian look. If you think you look Nepali enough, just enter and go with the local crowd and act like you belong. Keep your cameras on your bag, too. It should do the trick.

Total Expenses:  218 USD (11,110 PHP)

RECOMMENDED PACKAGE TOURS

I hope that you find this 3-DAY KATHMANDU, NEPAL ITINERARY useful!

If you have more days to spend in Nepal, you can include these cool tours & activities and travel essentials with discounts on your  itinerary:

(You may choose one or more tours that suit you needs.)

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below.

BOOKING ESSENTIALS

  • Hotel / Hostel
    • Booking.com. I usually book my hostel accommodation at booking.com. Thus, I recommend you guys trying it as well for your Kathmandu or Nepal itinerary.  Room accommodation ranges from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Book hostels through booking.com as they have free cancellation or pay-at-the-hotel option.
    • Airbnb. Try Airbnb in finding comfy and cozy rooms for your Nepal itinerary! I have used Airbnb on some of my other trips and I loved it!

Have you tried Airbnb? Sign up with my link and you will get up to 42 USD (2,200 Php) off your first stay. Click this link to get that discount.

  • Flights
    • KAYAK. All of my flight bookings are all from KAYAK. Kayak is one of the world’s leading travel search engines and searches hundreds of travel sites.

I suggest you check Kayak (click HERE) as they usually offer cheap fare rates compared to other booking sites.

  •  Nepal Package tours
    • Viator. Viator is the world’s leading resource for researching, finding and booking the best travel experiences worldwide.

Click here to find the best Viator deals in Nepal.

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