What I did not realise before visiting Kathmandu was that Thamel is the main hub for tourists.
It is the most convenient neighbourhood for western guests seeking hotels, trekking & mountaineering equipment and the tourist offices to book treks, tours and experiences.
Don’t be put off, it certainly feels like Nepal with markets, restaurants and is at the mercy of the daily electricity cuts, it is simply more set up for tourists needs than other parts of the city.
The old historic city is called Bhaktapur, the main hustle is around Durbar Square.
It is a cab ride, 12k from Thamel though I would suggest going with a private guide who drives you and walks you through the old town, we learnt so much from our guide which added to our experience there.
The streets are full of locals in the early morning selling vegetables and fruit, shops full of jewellery and Buddhist trinkets, art galleries and restaurants. After 10pm the town winds down and the nightlife and general vibe is back in Thamel.
Most tour companies pick up and drop off from Thamel hotels, I would suggest staying in Thamel for the convenience and making day trips to and from.
MY RECOMMENDATION: Kantipur Temple House
I stayed at Kantipur Temple House in Thamel, Kathmandu and loved the concept and experience so much I would like to give them a shout out!
They stand to protect our environment and make as little impact as they can. The drinking water was brought to your room each day in a ceramic jug, there were no TV’s, no air conditioning, just simple fans and hot water bottles and blankets in winter.
Saying that, the hotel is beautiful and peaceful and the amenities were high quality and clean.
The food at the hotel’s restaurant was some of the best I have eaten in Asia. The was breakfast healthy and delicious and the restaurant served the best green curry with brown rice I have ever had, I would walk back to Kathmandu for just one more bowl.
I have no affiliation with this hotel. Click here to visit their website