Choose from 40 Fun Things to Do in Nepal
Located in the Dudh Kosi River Valley, Monjo is a small village in the Everest region of Nepal. It’s north of Phakding, where many hikers spend the first night of the Everest Base Camp hike. While Monjo itself isn’t a necessary stopping point, at 9,301 feet (2,835 meters) it’s a good alternative to bigger and higher Namche Bazaar (11,286 feet/3,440 meters).
Monjo is the last village hikers will reach from Lukla before the start of the Sagarmatha National Park. The park checkpoint is located here, and there’s plenty of accommodation options. The town itself is not particularly memorable, but it’s a convenient place to stop. Many people hike from Lukla to Phakding, which takes about three hours. Hikers with more stamina or who arrived in Lukla early can continue on to Monjo, which takes around six hours.
Most hikers pass through or stop at Monjo on the Everest Base Camp hike, although there are lots of other hiking options in the area. These include the Gokyo Lakes, the Three High Passes, and the shorter Everest Panorama.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Learn the signs of altitude sickness before your trip, and be prepared to return to lower elevation if they appear.
- Accommodations fill up fast in the peak season. Hiking with a guide is not only safer, it will guarantee you a place to sleep.
- While most lodges (teahouses) in the Everest region are simple and comfortable, Monjo is home to an Everest Summit Lodge, a local chain of luxury lodges.
How to Get There
Hiking is the only way to get to Monjo. Fly to Lukla from Kathmandu (a spectacular and nail-biting flight of about 30 minutes), then walk the rest of the way. Monjo is about the same altitude as Lukla, but there is some up and down along the way.
When to Get There
Peak hiking season in the Everest region, like most of Nepal, is spring (March–May) and autumn (September–November). The weather at low and medium altitudes is warm, and skies usually clear. Hiking in winter (December–February) is possible as long as you are well prepared for the cold. Monsoon season (June-August) hiking is not advised.
Visit Namche Bazaar on a Saturday
Namche Bazaar is the largest town in the Everest region, located 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Monjo. If possible, aim to be there on a Saturday so you can catch the weekly market. ‘Bazaar’ means market in Nepali, and the town has been a Sherpa trading hub for centuries. People from nearby villages come to shop at the lively market.
- Boudhanath stupa is one of the most important religious sites in the Kathmandu Valley.
- Wear comfortable footwear if you plan on making kora around the stupa—108 is the holiest number.
- Unable to walk? Visitors can still partake by lighting incense or a butter candle.
- Don’t miss a taste of traditional Tibetan noodle dishes in a local eatery.
- Tours in this area are only recommended for those who are physically fit.
- Pack high-performance gear; ask for a packing list from your tour provider.
- Arrive a few days prior to your excursion to adjust to the altitude.
When to Get There
The ancient temple honors Vishnu as Narayana, or the First Being. The wooden roof supports that are visible on the temple’s exterior depict several other deities from the Tantric school, and the stone sculptures surrounding the building depict various other avatars of Vishnu as well as of local kings and queens. The traditional Nepali-style architecture includes intricately gilded windows and four gates, each guarded by a pair of stone animals.
The temple doesn’t draw many visitors, making it a peaceful escape from Kathmandu. Only Hindus are allowed inside the main temple when it's open, but there are plenty of sights to enjoy in the courtyards surrounding the main structure. The path to and from the parking lot is lined with shops selling locally crafted masks and Tibetan thangka paintings.
- Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square is a must-see for history buffs and heritage enthusiasts.
- Don’t forget to taste juju dhau, or “king’s yogurt,” a Bhaktapur delicacy.
- Dress comfortably with proper footwear for cobblestoned streets and uneven surfaces.
- Be prepared for a lot of walking, since the UNESCO-listed Old City is mainly vehicle-free.
- Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple building itself.
- Be respectful of devotees when taking photos and watching the sacrifices as it’s a sacred ritual to believers.
- Those squeamish about blood might want to skip this temple, but travelers interested in learning more about traditional Nepali beliefs and customs will find it fascinating.
- There is no entry fee.
- Kirtipur is famous for its Newari cuisine. Carnivores should try the spicy meat curries, while everyone can enjoy bara pancakes or potato and bamboo shoot soup.
- Kirtipur has many beautiful Hindu and Buddhist sites, including the Hindu Uma Maheshwor Temple, the Bagh Bhairab Temple, the Chilancho Stupa, and the Shri Kirti Bihar Buddhist monastery.
- Allow two hours of slow wandering to see the sights of Kirtipur.
- The temple of Annapurna Ajima, temples dedicated to Ganesha and Narayan, and white Buddhist stupas in hidden courtyards can be found in the area.
- It’s easy to get lost in Asan’s tangle of streets, but don’t worry: Friendly locals will help point you in the right direction.
- Always bargain when shopping for goods, but there’s no need to go overboard. Don’t get angry or insult a seller’s goods.
How to Get There
Asan Tole Market is in the central part of Kathmandu, a short walk from Thamel, Ratna Park, Kantipath, and the Durbar Square. It’s best to walk between these places, as the streets are narrow and congested, and traffic jams common. From other parts of Kathmandu you can take a taxi to a nearby street and walk to the market area.
- The one-time home of all of Nepal’s monarchs in one sprawling royal complex.
- Check before you click: Photography is only permitted in the outer courtyards of the Dhoka.
- Keep an eye out for the offerings given to the statue of Hanuman at the entrance of the square.
- Wear comfortable footwear and be prepared for a short walk between sites.
- Plan on allotting at least 30 minutes to explore the Hanuman Dhoka’s outer structures.
From the temples lining its banks to the funereal ceremonies that take place in its waters, the Bagmati has been mentioned as a holy place for more than 2000 years and is considered the source of Nepalese civilization; Kathamandu has grown up along its banks. The river is lined with ghats, stone-paved embankments and stairs that lead down to the waters. These areas, often dotted with statues, are used for the open-air cremations that take place on the Bagmati as well as ritual bathing, though the bathing is becoming a less common practice due to the pollution and receding of the river.
Several temples can be found near the river, including the Gokarneswor Temple at Gokarna and the Hindu Temple of Pashupatinath, dedicated to Shiva, which is located north of Kathmandu on an area above the Bagmati. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple, but they can go to view the river and the cremation rituals that are followed on the banks of the river.
Perhaps what draws most visitors to this area is the chance to see one of the many cremations that take place. Rather than a private affair, like most Western cremations, Hindu creations are public ceremonies. With the oldest son acting as chief mourner, the deceased is dipped into the Bagmati three times for purification before the pyre is lit; members of the family often enter the river or sprinkle themselves with water for spiritual purification.
Today, the Bagmati is suffering from pollution due to the large numbers of inhabitants in Kathmandu. As the garbage and raw sewage build up, there are efforts being made to clean up the holy river, but it’s a slow process. As there is little to no oversight from government to prevent companies from dumping in the river, the waste from large entities and individuals continues to multiply. There are efforts being made to clean up the Bagmati, but it’s going to take collaboration and cooperation to restore this heritage site.
If you find yourself near Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, take the short walk to Freak Street for lunch or dinner at one of the quiet cafes, including a Ganesh restaurant or the tiny cake shop named Snowman. Everything from dining and hotels, to shops selling knick-knacks and bohemian attire tend to be cheaper here than in the more popular Thamel, making it worth a stop even if you’re not staying here.
- Non-Nepali visitors need to pay a fee to enter the Shivapuri National Park, and register their names in a log book.
- Always hike with a guide, for safety and so that you can learn about the things you see along the way.
- The hike to Chisapani is challenging, but manageable for reasonably fit travelers.
- Bring appropriate clothing for the season, and good footwear such as hiking boots.
- There are several basic places to stay in Chisapani.
- The popular Whoopee Land Amusement and Water Park is in Chobhar, and is a fun attraction for kids.
- Unfortunately, the water that flows through the Chobhar Gorge is heavily polluted, and not suitable for swimming.
- The Chobhar Caves are not usually open to the public.
- Durbar Square, or palace square, is the UNESCO-listed heart of Kathmandu’s Old City.
- Keep an eye out for the Kumari (living goddess); she appears periodically from her 18th-century palace home.
- Shoulders covered: Remember to dress modestly when entering religious sites.
- Ask permission before photographing locals, especially the holy men known as sadhus.
- Admission tickets are required for entering the square, which has multiple entrance points.
This once private garden has been beautifully restored and is now open to the public; and while it’s only half the size of the original, you can still meander past the fountains, statues, pergolas and birdhouses scattered throughout the grounds.
If the crowds, traffic and pollution of Kathmandu are wearing on you, take an afternoon to relax in the gardens. Bring a book along, or just find a spot to sit and people watch. There’s a restaurant and teahouse on the grounds with WiFi available throughout the gardens for an hourly fee.