Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, is a place where most travellers coming into the country will spend at least some time in, whether a few days after arriving or prior to leaving. However, not many travellers will choose to spend more than a few nights here.
Despite this seeming indifference from some travellers, Kathmandu has plenty to offer those who decide to offer it some time, including some of the most fantastic viewpoints in the valley.
Albeit Kathmandu might not make it as the best place to hike in all of Nepal (after all, it cannot compete with the most popular trails like the Annapurna circuit or Mount Everest), there are some areas just outside of town where one can witness spectacular views of Kathmandu city.
Possibly the most popular viewpoint of this list. The Monkey Temple is one of the most visited viewpoints in Kathmandu due to its proximity to the tourist area of Thamel (a short 20-minute walk), and the sheer monkey population inhabiting the temple.
While it is easy to get to the bottom of the Monkey Temple, it is still a bit of work climbing the over 300 steps separating you from the top. The good thing is that there are plenty of monkeys along the way up to entertain your difficult climb.
The views over Kathmandu city are spectacular from here, and give a glimpse as to how big Kathmandu really is.
SINGLE TREE HILL
One of the most popular viewing points for locals, the Single Tree Hill has my favorite views in all of Kathmandu.
Just as its name mentions, the viewpoint is marked by a single tree on top of one of the best viewpoints in the city. From there, the vastness of the Kathmandu Valley can truly be appreciated on one side, while the other side offers some beautiful mountains views of the surrounding areas.
Single Tree Hill is not far from the Monkey Temple, and it can be walked from Thamel in about between an hour and half to two hours. While the hike up can be somewhat demanding (and dusty) at times, the views are sure not to disappoint.
There is a small kiosk on top offering small snacks and water, as well as many small shops along the way in the event you get hungry during the climb or on the way down.
Of all the viewpoints mentioned thus far, the White Monastery is the highest and offers the best views of them all. The only reason why it isn’t my favorite is because of what it takes to get there.
While the hike up is similar to the one to go to Single Tree Hill, the road towards the White Monastery is more steep and thus more challenging, and can take about 2 hours to hike up there. Otherwise, it is a 20-minute ride by motorcycle or taxi.
While the White Monastery looks impressive from the outside, I found the best views to be on the hill in front of it, a few hundred meters down the road leading to it. From there, it is possible to see how vast Kathmandu City truly is from one side; and from the other, the best possible views of the White Monastery just below the clouds.
Maybe the least impressive of all viewpoints within Kathmandu City, the back side of Pashupatinath Temple still offers some nice views of the western part of the city.
Once within Pashupatinath, continue walking upwards past the area of the Bagmati River where people cremate their deceased loved ones. Past the last temple, there is a green area where dozens of monkeys freely roam and hang around. As you keep walking you will arrive at the unofficial viewpoint below.
If the effort of moving around noisy and dusty Kathmandu is unappealing to you but you’d still like to see what Kathmandu looks like from the top, there are plenty of rooftop bars and restaurants in various parts of the city that offer some very good views of the area around it.
My favorite rooftops are in Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan, and Buddhanath. As you can see from the pictures below, each one offers a different but equally impressive view of its own surroundings.