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Get your freak on in the capital of Nepal.

DAY 1:

09:00  Steeped in more than 2000 years of history, Nepal’s capital is a colourful melting pot of age-old Asian cultures and traditions. Start off your day with a trip to the dazzling and iconic Durbar Square (Ganga Path, admission £6), a series of courtyards housing unique centuries-old palaces and temples. The location for the crowning of kings, Durbar Square is one of the most religiously important and remarkable areas in all of Nepal. Check out the Kasthamandap wooden temple, which legend says was built from a single tree. This renowned pagoda is also said to have no nails or rivets holding
it together.

13:00  From Durbar Square, find some relative quiet in nearby Snowman Cafe (Freak Street) for a coffee and chocolate cake (roughly £3). Freak Street itself is a must-see: it was Kathmandu’s most famous thoroughfare in the Sixties and Seventies, when the city was filled to the gills with hippy overlanders in search of enlightenment. It remains popular with the backpacking crowd, though you are as likely to find a flat white as a banana pancake nowadays.

14:30  Prepare to be dazzled by the traditional rituals and customs at the Hindu Pashupatinath temple (on the banks of the Bagmati River). One of the most sacred Hindu temples of Lord Shiva in the world, you can also see pilgrims bathing at the adjacent ghats. There are many open-air Hindu cremation ceremonies along the riverbank, especially at Bhasmeshvar Ghat.

16:00  Head to tourist-friendly Thamel, with its chilled-out hippy vibe, and check out The Roadhouse Cafe (Chaksibari Marg, Kathmandu 44600) for a much-needed late lunch. It’s heralded by many as serving the best pizzas in Nepal, so be sure to try a wood-oven-baked dish with hot chillis on the side (£7). Thamel is the budget traveller’s hood of choice, with its warren of winding lanes offering up cheap accommodation, great restaurants and tours.

18:00  Being 4600ft above sea level, the temperature may fall a little, so wrap up and walk out of Thamel to the Sunset Bar (Hotel Vajra, Bijeswari, Swayambhu). Grab a relaxing beer for about £1.50 while watching the sun set, and take in the panoramic views of this beautiful city.

19:30  Flag down a tuk tuk and whizz over to Bhojan Griha Restaurant (536 Dillibazar). Sample the traditional dishes (roughly £5) and enjoy the Nepalese folk music and dancing, provided by any one of the dozens of ethnic groups that travel from the nearby mountains to perform.

21:00  Step into the 21st century and have a gander at the growing Nepalese punk metal scene. Check out The House of Music (Thamel Road) for upcoming local talent and general debauchery, courtesy of Kathmandu’s up-for-it traveller population.

02:00  A stone’s throw from the House of Music is  your bed for the night, at Hotel Encounter (encounternepal.com, about £21 per night). Get yourself a room with a balcony, soak up the sights of the city and then hit the hay.


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Weekender: Kathmandu in 48 hours
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