We think it's a bit of a pity that many visitors to Nepal head quickly to themountains and miss out on what is close at hand in the Kathmandu valley.
A roughly oval bowl measuring 24 km east-west and 19 km north-south the Kathmandu Valley has always been the politically and culturally dominating part of Nepal. The area abounds with monuments, palaces and temples in an undulating fertile basin that’s a patchwork of terraced rice paddies and traditional red brick villages surrounded by undulating hills.
The whole valley is a ‘living museum’ of Newari culture where the kingdoms of Patan, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur jostled for power and fine temples stand as testimony to the enormous wealth and devotion that have been poured into them over the centuries. Though distances between each are small and you could make excursions from one base, it’s worth spending a few nights in a couple of places to fully appreciate their differences and have time to absorb the local culture. On a clear day you may see the peaks of snow-capped mountains in the distance, but head to the valley rim and you are sure of spectacular views of the Himalaya. Read more about what to see in the Kathmandu Valley.
Walking the Kathmandu Valley Rim
There are some super trails for walking between various villages that dot the valley rim. You could hike for just a morning, or link the sites together such as Changu Narayan, considered to be the oldest temple in Nepal, the glorious Buddhist monastery at Namo Buddha and the Kali temple “Hazar Sindhi” (one thousand steps) above Dhulikel together for a multi-day trek. On the way, you'll hike through less visited rural areas dotted with ochre coloured farmhouses, through rice terraces, orange orchards and forests. This trek is a particularly good option in winter when it's very cold in the mountains and ideal for anyone who enjoys walking but is not ready for a remote trek - you are never too far from a jeep track or hill road if you need transport.
Find out more about when to visit Nepal.