Nepal is known for Mount Everest and trekking excursions but this beautiful country has a lot more to offer to tourists than just breathtaking mountain adventures. Tourists who are not into trekking can enjoy a lot of sightseeing tours. Prepare to be amazed with Nepal’s historic and architectural achievements once you visit some of the UNESCO World Heritage sites situated in Kathmandu.

One day sight seeing in Kathmandu

If you only have one day to spend in Kathmandu, you can still visit several places of interest. Most guest houses and hotels are able to arrange tours or they are usually affiliated with tours and travel agencies. The cost of sightseeing tours usually covers only the fees for the Tour Guide and Driver, entrance fees and snacks or lunch are excluded. Here are some of the places you can include in your itinerary, which should take about 6-7 hours or depending on whether you’re joining a guided group tour or you’re traveling solo like me.

Swayambunath Temple (Tibetan name: “Sublime Trees”)

Also known as Monkey Temple, Swayambunath is a Tibetan Buddhist site located atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, an ancient religious architecture. Aside from a stupa, a number of shrines and temples are also found in the complex, along with some shops, restaurants and hostels. Taking the south-west access point could save you a lot of energy than climbing a long stairway (365 steps). The place is known for its resident holy monkeys so you will definitely see a lot of them moving around the temple. You could spend a few minutes at the world peace pond, throw some coins (for good luck!) and make a wish! Admission Fee: NRs. 200

Prayer Wheels: Visitors spins the wheel and walk clockwise. A mantra written in Newari language is written on the outside of the wheel.

Religion plays an integral part in the life of people in Nepal. Visitors in Swayambunath light candles, present an offering and stop to pray.

Several shops in the area offers a variety of religious artifacts, paintings, singing bowls and other souvenir items.

Hanuman-dhoka Durbar Square

One must spend hours wandering around the area as there are more than a dozen of temples to explore. It is a complex of beautiful temples and shrines, both Hindu and Buddhist.

Admission fee: NRs. 1000

Restoration of a lot of important structures in Kathmandu damaged during the 2015 Earthquake continues. With a lot of scaffoldings around, it is quite a challenge to take photos of the beautiful temples and shrines. But one can always practice creativity in taking photographs, no matter what obstacles might be.

The Kumari (or the Living Goddess) is worshiped by Hindus and Buddhists. The Kumari residence is located in Durbar Square area. Tourists are permitted to enter the courtyard; however, taking photographs of the Kumari is strictly prohibited. I have seen a video of the Living Goddess prior to my visit to Nepal and I felt fortunate to actually see the Kumari as she appears at the window that morning when we visited.

Pashupatinath Temple

A UNESCO Cultural Heritage site, Pashupatinath temple is also a cremation site. My first glimpse of this place was in the film Dr. Strange where Benedict Cumberbatch was seen walking with the crowd at the site. Some temples and shrines are located in the inner courtyard while the others are in the outer complex of Pashupatinath.

Admission fee: NRs. 1000

During hot weather, it is quite difficult to explore each corner of the complex as it could tire you easily. Also, having an umbrella will definitely give you shade against the blazing sun (especially when you are at the viewpoint for tourists).

I curiously watched across the river as the last rites of Hindus are being performed, and it is definitely not an ordinary experience.

The Holy men or “Sadhus” wanders between different holy places. I was really fascinated by their colorful face paintings. I was told by my guide that the Holy men smoke marijuana during the festival of Hindu God Shiva.

The Great Boudha Stupa

Another UNESCO World Heritage, Boudanath is considered as one of the largest and most significant Buddhist monument in the world. It is so huge that initially I am not sure if I could get a good shot of the stupa. But you can get a better view of it from the rooftop of one of the restaurants around the area. So take that opportunity to have a refreshing break, enjoy a meal, cold drinks and a great view. Admission fee: NRs. 400

Lunch was good. Spending some time at the rooftop while admiring the blue sky and looking down at the line of restaurants and shops was relaxing. We went down just in time to witness the performers wearing a Lakhe costume and mask dancing near the stupa. We continue to walk around checking out art work on display until it started to rain and we had to run towards the street were the car was parked.

The weather was hot but still lovely. Having a little drizzle won’t spoil my day. In fact, it even made my afternoon lovelier as I watched the rain pour down when I was at the Garden of Dreams — and that’s another story :-)