One of the must see things to do in Kathmandu is a visit to Swayambhu a religious complex located on a steep mountain in Nepal. Swayambu is often referred to as Monkey Temple or Monkey Hill. The climb up to the sacred Buddhist stupa site is a challenging ascent with many steps. At the base of the hill, visitors can explore the various temples, adorned with bells and paintings, that surround the area. The surrounding village is a lively hive of village activities, making it an excellent destination for those looking for things to do in Kathmandu. Overall, Swayambhu offers a unique and unforgettable adventure for visitors to Nepal.
What to expect & cost
As you ascend the stairs, you'll come across several vendors selling souvenirs and various items, alongside a group of monkeys. You may want to be cautious, as these monkeys are known for their tendency to snatch objects. In some cases, they have been known to take items such as bags and water bottles. If you're not comfortable with monkeys jumping around and grabbing things, it may be best to prepare yourself for the experience ahead. Please note that there is an entry fee of Nrs200 at the top of the stairs.
What happens on Monkey Hill
The city is alive with the sounds and sights of local Buddhist customs. Monkeys can be seen scurrying around temple areas, gathering rice and other offerings, while the air is filled with the fragrant smoke of candles. The rhythmic pounding of drums creates a tribal atmosphere that overlooks the entire city. Locals gather at the stupa to participate in daily rituals of prayer and chanting, with some sitting, standing, or playing small drums. Buddhist temples throughout the city are covered in pigeons and monkeys, adding to the unique cultural experience.
The complex features a side viewing area that provides a panoramic view of Kathmandu city and the surrounding mountains on clear days. Visitors to the stupa commonly wear red clothing, as it is a tradition to don festive colours during festivals.
How to get there from Thamel
To reach the area from Thamel, located in the west of Kathmandu, it will take approximately 30-40 minutes by foot. The route can be easily traced on the map, but the walk itself isn't very enjoyable. Sidewalks are scarce in Kathmandu, and the combination of heavy traffic and dirt roads creates a dusty atmosphere. It's recommended to bring a dust mask, hair scarf, and water if you plan on walking.
Kathmandu offers convenient access to taxis, which are frequently used by visitors to travel to the Swayambhu area. The majority of taxi drivers understand English and can guide you to your desired destination. To ensure a hassle-free ride, it's recommended to obtain a free map at the airport upon arrival, mark the location you wish to visit, and show it to your driver.