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Banish the thought that Kathmandu is just for history lovers, a city to visit stupas and shrines. As local culture intermingles with western influences brought in by the steady stream of mountain climbers, the capital of Nepal has learnt to live the high life.

You can spend an evening at casinos, stay at luxury hotels, indulge in traditional Nepalese food, and even fly in a heart beat to the highest peak in the world. Here is a glimpse of Kathmandu’s glamourous offerings.

Stay

Dwarika’s Hotel

This brick hotel with traditional Nepali architecture, interesting dining options, spa, library, and pool is no run-of-the-mill boutique property. History, heritage, and luxury all come together in this serene getaway from the city’s rush. Some of the artefacts and woodcarvings, which its owner began collecting in the 1950s dates back to the 13th century. Not only does each of its 83 rooms reflect traditional designs such as Nepali terracotta tiles flooring, handmade furniture and carpets, but it also features a beautiful Buddhist style inner courtyard, with a pagoda doubling up as a reading room. The spa will spoil you with its traditional treatments and when those hunger pangs strike you can choose from three restaurants and a bar.

Nepali Ghar

The name says it all. This 34-room boutique hotel seeks to create a warm experience and stresses on the famed South Asian hospitality even as it plugs into traditional Nepali architecture. The pièce de résistance is beautiful wood carvings. Although it is located in the busy tourist hub of Thamel, it lies in a quieter corner. It has one restaurant, a lounge and bar, and a terrace garden.

Eating

Jimbu Thakali

If you want to experience Thakali cuisine, that belongs to Thak-Khola village of Mustang district in the north of Nepal, then make your way to Jimbu Thakali. A typical thali has a bowl of rice, dal, deep fried karela, saag, fried potato, radish pickle, papad, sweet curd, and a bowl of either mutton, chicken or fish. This food is not too heavy on spices, but has a distinct sharpness as it is slightly high on chillis. For starters, do not miss the Buckwheat Fries and Mustang Aloo. Wash this down with a glass of local Nepalese beer. 

Fire & Ice

When you want to skip local cuisine, go here for the best pizzas in town. Over the years Fire & Ice has gained popularity for its 30 varieties of pizza. If you get confused, just order the Fire & Ice special pizza which comes with fried potatoes, mozzarella, and pesto sauce. They cater to all your choices: wheat and gluten-free options, and even a half & half pizza. It gets quite crowded at peak hours so be prepared to wait.

Krishnarpan

Located inside Dwarika’s Hotel, head here with a solid appetite and time in hands because 22 courses arrive at a leisurely pace here. The meals start from six courses and can go up to 22 if you choose so. Low seating, brass, and earthenware crockery complete the experience of authentic Nepali dining. The meal will be one of the freshest you eat in Nepal because the food is prepared with vegetables grown at their farm. You might spot photos of Prince Charles, Hillary Clinton, and other celebrities who’ve enjoyed a meal here.

Shopping

Farmer’s Market at Le Sherpa

When the weather is right, plan a potluck picnic here. The fresh and local products from farmers on offer at this weekly market held at the lawns of this European restaurant are so tempting that you may want to spread a rug and settle right there with some cheese, breads, dips, organic jams, chutneys, and more. Held every Saturday, it is a nice place to browse around and decide whether the farmers offerings taste different because they come from produce grown on high Himalayan slopes.

Saturdays from 8 am to 12:30 pm at Le Sherpa restaurant lawns. 

Babar Mahal Revisited

For those used to shopping at soulless glass and chrome malls, this is a great experience. This upscale complex is housed in the restored outbuildings of a former palace made by the Rana Dynasty. Home to boutique stores, chic restaurants, a quaint hotel and an art gallery, this is undoubtedly one of the classiest shopping options in the city. The neoclassical architecture is impressive and after scouting the trendy shops offering contemporary Nepali art and unusual crafts for your home, stop at a popular French cafe. 

Experiences

Take the mountain flight to see the Everest

nepal travel guide
Image: Courtesy Shutterstock

There is a quicker and easier option for those who dream of seeing the world’s tallest mountain and don’t have the stamina even to make it to the Everest Base Camp Trek. Hop on the one-hour flight from Kathmandu that takes you alongside the Himalayan range, and see Mount Everest in all its glory. The air hostess points out the peaks and you can even go into the cockpit for a view of a lifetime of the rugged slopes from the large windscreen. Buddha Air and Yeti Airlines offer these flights, but be warned, hope that the weather holds up on that day allowing your flight to take off. In Yeti, you get to celebrate with champagne once you see the Everest. 

 Swim in an infinity pool overlooking the Himalayan range

nepal travel guide
Chandragiri sunset. Image: Courtesy Shutterstock

Just 45-minutes away from Kathmandu is the gorgeous Chandragiri Hills, which you reach by cable car. While the view of the Himalayan ranges as you go up is breathtaking, it gets even better when you check into Chandragiri Resort. You can see them from practically everywhere–the private balcony of your room, the restaurant but nothing can be beat the view when you are in the pool. Swimming with the entire Himalayan range sprawled in front of you is an experience of a lifetime.

Gamble at Millionaire’s Club and Casino Shangri La

nepal travel guide

If poker is your game and the sound of a slot machine gets your adrenaline high, you have reached the right place. Gambling is legally allowed in Kathmandu and there are many casinos here, mostly located in popular five-star hotel chains. This one, at Shangri La is your best bet as there are forty gaming machines and offers a number of games like blackjack, roulette, and baccarat to try your hand at. 

Pallavi Pasricha

Pallavi is a New Delhi based travel writer, ever ready to explore the unexplored. She also captures the highlights of her travel experiences and her love for food in photographs and videos.