Thamel is the most popular tourist hub in the capital city of Kathmandu. It is the place that never sleeps, and is the most happening spot for tourists and locals alike.
There are a lot of things you can do in Thamel.
Thamel is famous for its narrow alleys with various shops and street vendors lining in the streets. You can find hotels, restaurants, pubs, clubs, travel agencies, grocery stores, jewelry shops, curio shops and so on. You can find anything and everything here.
You can enjoy a few drinks in a bar or have a casual sip of your favorite coffee in the cafes. You can opt for shopping for souvenirs at low prices or dine in a classy restaurant. You will never have enough of this beautiful and joyous place.
Thamel also serves as a pre-base camp for mountaineers. It boasts of a wide range of mountaineering gear shops and foreign exchange booths along with many travel agents and guesthouses.
Thamel is also the best place to enjoy the nightlife when you are in Kathmandu. Thamel is a lively place 24/7.
There are some lanes inside the core Thamel that are vehicle free. This peace is quite nice for a change. You can choose to park at the parking spaces outskirts of Thamel and enjoy your evening walks. This has drastically reduced vehicle clutter and chaos.
Table of Contents
- Getting to Thamel
- Things to do in Thamel
- Explore Eateries
- Enjoy hot coffee, wifi and relax in a cafe
- Bar Hopping and Clubbing
- Spa and Natural Therapy
- Holistic healing with Tibetan Medicine
- Indoor Activities
- Local Shops and Souvenir Stores
- Book Shops in Thamel
- Organize a Trek
- Watch a Movie at the Multiplex
- Unwind in the Garden of Dreams
- Take a Rickshaw ride through the streets of Thamel
- Dip into the infinity pool
- Take a Cooking Class
- Heritage Walk in Thamel
- Couriers and Exporters
- Choose from Many Hotels and Guest Houses
- Some Travel Tips for Thamel
Getting to Thamel
This is easy. There is probably no one who wouldn’t know about this place. Any taxi driver will easily drop you there. It is about a 20-minute drive from Tribhuvan International Airport and it would cost around USD 5 (NRs. 500).
Things to do in Thamel
If you are a food lover, Thamel is an excellent place to explore. The options here are limitless. There are numerous cuisines to choose from including local as well as Indian, Chinese and continental among others.
When you are traveling in a foreign country, how can you not try their local dish? Do not miss out on trying typical, and very delicious Nepali food like Dal-Bhat and Gundruk Dhido.
These are some of the restaurants in Thamel to consider:
Fire and Ice: This restaurant is famous for its traditional Italian-style stone-baked pizzas. They are simply delicious.
The joint is on the pricier side, but the taste is worth the money. The place also serves refreshing drinks, ice creams, and desserts.
It is on the main street on the left before you enter the Thamel area.
Electric Pagoda: It is a happening bar which is on Saat Ghumti road. This restaurant specializes in Mexican cuisine and also offers local and continental dishes.
With an easy going atmosphere, friendly staff and a great selection of music, you should definitely try this place.
Helena’s Rooftop Restaurant: It has excellent food, great service, and modest prices. Helena’s Rooftop is one of the tallest rooftop restaurants in Kathmandu, and the view of the city from here, particularly at night, is simply amazing.
This place serves western and regional cuisines.
From Chhetrapati, pass the Everest Steak house and take the next left and walk a few minutes north on JP School Road. Helena’s will be on your right.
It claims to have the best breakfasts in Kathmandu, so make sure to give it a try.
Roadhouse Cafe: This is another excellent place for wood-fired pizzas. The environment is pleasant, and they serve good coffee and hot chocolate. It is a relaxing and upscale place for when you need to escape the hubbub of Kathmandu for an evening.
There are many branches of Roadhouse Cafe in various places around Kathmandu. The one in Thamel is about 200m north of JP School road.
Furu Sato: Just past Roadhouse Cafe, beside the second Pilgrims bookshop, lies this Japanese restaurant. It is a quiet place with skilled Japanese Chefs offering great food.
BK’s: If your love for french fries is limitless, you must visit the french fry heaven in Thamel located opposite of Funky Buddha Bar (although its closed now) and nearyb Vaishali Hotel. It is also the first eatery that specializes in French Fries.
OR2K: Located at one end of Mandala Street, opposite the Pumpernickel Bakery. It is an Israeli run and has a wide variety of food. It specializes in Middle Eastern, Continental.
It is a pure vegetarian and vegan restaurant in Thamel.
Phat Kath: This place lies off the main street close to Helena’s and Weizon Bakery. They have a really nice indoor-outdoor setup with a very good vibe.
They have a decent lunch/dinner menu with good meals.
Hankook Sarang: The Hankook is the rare combination of authentic taste and good value. The spicy Korean main dishes come with kimchi, salad, soup, sweet beans, rice, and green tea.
Or you can try the delicious bulgogi, Kimbap, bibimbap. The service is friendly and there’s a choice of floor seating or pleasant alfresco garden dining.
Enjoy hot coffee, wifi and relax in a cafe
Like the restaurant, you will find that there many cafes in Thamel where you can enjoy a refreshing drink. And all these cafes also offer a variety of delicious cakes and muffins.
In these Cafes, you can spend time chatting with your friends. And also take advantage of the complimentary wifi while browsing through.
Some of the popular cafes are,
Himalayan Java: Not only is this place great for coffee. You will also find delicious American breakfast, pancakes, and pastries.
It lies across the street from Fire and Ice on the second story of a building. And you can find another one on Mandala Street.
Yala Cafe and coffee shop: Yala Cafe is a Nepali restaurant tucked away in a quiet part of Thamel with no traffic. This peaceful cafe offers the best breakfasts, filling lunches, delicious dinners, and great coffee.
Coffee House: Coffee house is a cafe you will find just before entering the main Thamel area. It is small and cozy and has very easy access lying just next to the main road. It offers coffee, drinks, and pastries.
Bar Hopping and Clubbing
If you are someone who enjoys dancing in clubs and hanging out in the bars, Thamel is the best place to be. There are plenty of places to chill and enjoy live rock bands.
Thamel after 7 is a party zone. Something or the other will be happening in every bar or the other.
In Thamel, the pre-party starts at 8:00 pm or 10:00 pm while it goes on past midnight.
So if you are planning to go out, make sure to hit a lounge or bar first and a club later in the evening.
So, some of the most happening bars are.
- Purple Haze
- Beta House
- KC’s restaurant and Bar
- Buddha Bar
- Ibyzza lounge and Bar
- Sam’s Bar
And some of the best clubs are,
- L.O.D (Lord of the Drinks)
- Club Fahrenheit
- Club Deja Vu
Spa and Natural Therapy
If you are feeling tired or fatigue from your toil in Kathmandu, you should visit one of the relaxing natural therapy spots. There are many massage parlors and spas in Kathmandu offering massages, sauna, jacuzzi, and other relaxation options. The massages offered include Deep Tissue Massage, Thai Massage, Ayurvedic Massage, etc.
It is even more recommended for those who are back from trekking. Massage Centers have a specialized massage called the Trekkers Recovery Massage that relieves all the stress and tension of trekking.
The best way to find a good massage center is to google it and check the reviews to see if it is legit or not and make your decision from there.
Some of the best massage parlors are
- Mount Heaven Spa
- The Zen Spa
- Ananda Spa and Natural Therapy Centre
- Himalayan Spa
Holistic healing with Tibetan Medicine
Located near Thamel from Chhetrapati Chowk is Kunphen Medical Centre where you will get one of the best Tibetan herbal treatments.
Serving for decades now, this medical center provides treatment through herbal medicine for a wide range of ailments. It is quite famous among the locals.
Men Tse Kha is another such Tibetan clinic that is near to Thamel. It is at a 5-minutes walk from Chhetrapati on the way to Swayambhu.
Thamel also has a few indoor activity spots where you can indulge in various indoor activities like wall climbing, archery, playing football, etc.
Astrek Wall Climbing
This place has a 50m high climbing wall which is Nepal’s tallest indoor climbing wall. There are 20 different routes so that you can experience all levels of climbing.
The experienced staff at the climbing wall will make it easy for all novices. It also has a mini climbing wall for children.
Indoor Sports Arena
If you want to try your hands on Archery, then Indoor Sports Arena is a good place for you to start. It also has a futsal ground with PlayStation.
It is a fun place for adults as well as children.
Local Shops and Souvenir Stores
Thamel is a shoppers paradise. You can find almost everything you want there.
Thamel has numerous shops that sell handmade items like singing bowls, paintings, printed local t-shirts and others. You can also find little souvenirs like fridge magnets, Buddha statues, and accessories, etc.
If you want to purchase something bigger, there are wood carved furniture stores and local carpet shops. Also, there are several stores where you will get hiking gears. For someone who is planning to go trekking, there are plenty of stores in Thamel where you will get all the stuff you need.
Book Shops in Thamel
Book lovers will be happy to know that Thamel has a nice collection of book shops. You can find a book shop in almost every lane inside Thamel.
For cheap and affordable books, you can visit book shops like Paradise Book Seller, Pilgrim Book House, Himalayan Map house, Tibet Book store, and others.
Organize a Trek
A number of licensed travel agencies located in Thamel can help you plan a Trek. They can help you organize short or long treks to enjoy the stunning view of mountains in Nepal.
If you are looking for trekking in Nepal, there is a lot to choose from. From short Poon Hill trek or longer treks like Everest Base Camp trek, a trusted travel agency like Mosaic Adventure can organize the right trek for you.
Watch a Movie at the Multiplex
A new multiplex is opened in Thamel, making it possible to enjoy a movie in Thamel itself. Chhaya Centre, the biggest complex in Thamel is a multi-faceted Mega Complex, housing 200 top-notch retail stores. There are international brand outlets, multiplex theatres, corporate offices, a banquet, conference halls, discotheque, food court and many more.
The Center spreads over an area of 86,000 sq feet with an open courtyard of 12,000 sq feet. Chhaya Center also houses Aloft, the first five-star Hotel in Thamel from its 5th to 15th floor.
Unwind in the Garden of Dreams
If you want to escape the commotion of Thamel for a while and spend some time relaxing in an open area, then the Garden of Dreams is the best place for you.
The garden is also known as the Garden of Six Seasons and is located in Kaiser Mahal, near the entrance to Thamel.
The garden with Victorian architecture has beautiful pavilions, fountains, decorative garden furniture and more. Intricately designed verandas, pergolas, urns, and birdhouses add to the beauty of this place and take you back to another time.
To enter this garden, you need to pay an entry fee of USD 2. Here you can relax and chill with a book, or listen to music and relax for hours in the fresh air.
Take a Rickshaw ride through the streets of Thamel
It is fun to wander around the streets of Thamel on foot. But if you have never ridden a rickshaw, you should try it once in Thamel.
With just a dollar or two, you can get a ride through the streets of Thamel. You can enjoy the unique ride and take pictures along the way.
Dip into the infinity pool
During the sunny and warm days, when you feel like taking a dip in the pool you can visit Hotel Mulberry in Thamel. The Hotel has a breathtaking terrace with an infinity pool that seems to fall away into the horizon.
The Hotel overlooks the bustling markets and green spaces of Thamel. You can also watch the spectacular view of sunsets and enjoy a cocktail from the rooftop.
Take a Cooking Class
Nepal Cooking School is the first-of-its-kind facility in Thamel.
You can learn a lot about Nepali cuisine here, and you will be able to choose the best ingredients to give final touches to a homemade dish.
You can hone your cooking skills, and use your creativity and imagination with the chefs as they teach you the culinary tips to make you a better cook.
You can even experience the essence of the art of cooking with love to provide exquisite Nepalese dishes not just for the tummy but for the soul as well.
Heritage Walk in Thamel
By now you must have known that Thamel is famous for its extensive selection of stores, cafes, bars, and restaurants. But if you want to know about the local art and culture, you can leave the commercial aspect of Thamel behind and take the Heritage Walk.
In Thamel, you can explore ancient places like Vikramshila Mahavihar, Bhagwati Mandir, Hanuman, Ganesh and Shiva Shrines, Chhwasal Ajima Sthan and many more.
Couriers and Exporters
While traveling to foreign lands, there is a chance that you realize you have left something important behind. Or maybe you want to send something back. Well, that won’t be a problem as you will find many couriers in Thamel.
Most exporters ship your goods using internationally known exporters like DHL or FedEx.
They could also have a list of international couriers working with your home country’s national couriers which can be cheaper. EMS is also available though they are considerably slower.
Choose from Many Hotels and Guest Houses
If you are looking for rooms to stay, then Thamel has plenty of options. There are dozens of hotels within Thamel.
Thamel is relatively noisy for a quiet night’s sleep, with traffic and people constantly moving. Yet there are some great bargains out there for travelers with varying budgets.
A budget room will cost you around NPR 500 or $5 a night, mid-range will cost around NPR 1,500 or $15 a night. And high-range rooms will cost somewhere between NPR 4,000 to 6,000 or USD 40 to 60. Some of the hotels in Thamel are:
Royal Penguin Boutique Hotel and Spa: This is a great semi-budget hotel in the downtown area close to restaurants and shops. The hotel also has a gym and a spa.
Kathmandu Guest House: This is one of the first hotels in Thamel and probably is the most popular one. It has beautiful private gardens and boasts of nice architecture.
Potala guest house: Nestled in the heart of Thamel. Potala Guest House offers good hospitality, warmth and rich culture in its service.
Hotel Yala Peak: This is one of the best options for those on a budget looking for a cozy and clean accommodation.
Hotel Visit Nepal: Noisy front facing rooms, but otherwise a quiet shelter for those on a budget.
Some Travel Tips for Thamel
- Keep your belongings safe at all times
- It is illegal to buy drugs in Nepal
- Thamel at night is relatively safe. However, this doesn’t mean you let your guard down. Always be careful
- While shopping, it is always wise to bargain. Since Thamel is a tourist area prices are higher than elsewhere. So with bargaining, you can get a good deal
- Always do your research and save yourself from getting overcharged for anything
Thamel is a place one should definitely not miss while in Nepal as there are a lot of things to experience here.
It is basically a must-go destination for all the tourists visiting Nepal every year. It caters to all the needs of tourists and the atmosphere here simply makes one feel alive.
For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us. It is our pleasure to guide and assist you with the best of our knowledge.