Nepal’s capital city, Kathmandu, is an exciting place to work remotely for those interested in Hinduism, Buddhism, and exploring some of the world’s highest mountains and most epic hiking trails. When the air is clear, the 6,000-meter-high mountains are visible to the north of Kathmandu, including the Langtang Range. On top of this, Kathmandu has thriving dining, nightlife, and arts scenes, and thousands of years of culture visible in its Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas, old royal palaces, and more. On the weekends, hiking, mountain biking, and white-water kayaking/rafting adventures aren’t far away.
While Kathmandu used to be a challenging place to work with scheduled power cuts interrupting the work day, things have improved dramatically in the last few years. While energy-sharing power cuts are still not uncommon, as long as you keep your laptop battery topped up, you can work comfortably most of the time in Kathmandu. Throughout the city, coworking spaces are increasing, and many cafes are happy for you to park up with a laptop.
The Kathmandu Valley is made up of three main cities: Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur. Kathmandu sits within the broader Kathmandu Valley, an uncommonly flat area surrounded by high hills and even higher mountains. These are both ancient and modern administrative divisions. Each of these cities is made up of different neighborhoods, many of which are suitable for remote workers.
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Thamel is Kathmandu’s main tourism hub, with many restaurants, bars, hotels, and businesses offering sightseeing and trekking packages. Some dismiss Thamel as too touristy, but it’s actually a very old part of the city with a lot of history and culture worth exploring. Plus, it’s where many young Nepali people prefer to hang out. (For an interesting, nuanced understanding of this neighborhood, read Nepali author Rabi Thapa’s excellent non-fiction book, Thamel: Dark Star of Kathmandu.)
In general, Kathmandu is an early-to-bed city, thanks to a combination of years of power shortages and laws that restrict late-night venues. Thamel has the greatest concentration of bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and live-music venues.
Thamel is an ideal location for remote workers who will be in Kathmandu for a shorter period, as the range of affordable guesthouses and hotels here is excellent, but there are fewer decent rental apartments.
Patan is an alternative name for Lalitpur, the part of Kathmandu south of the Bagmati River, but usually refers to the historic part of Lalitpur. It’s a beautiful, atmospheric neighborhood centered around the UNESCO-listed Patan Durbar Square. While Patan has a range of low-key guesthouses and restaurants and businesses catering to travelers, it’s a much more “local” part of the city than Thamel, and an ideal place to rent a room or whole apartment Cosy Nepal is a good place to look for furnished apartments oozing traditional character.
A few cafes around Patan are happy for remote workers to bring their laptops and use the WiFi. Himalayan Java Mangalbazar, Café Swotha at Swotha Square, and Dhokaima Café at Patan Dhoka—the colorful gate that leads into the old town from near the Lalitpur Bus Park—are all welcoming. Dhokaima also has a good range of English-language newspapers and the adjacent Yala Maya Kendra complex often hosts cultural events, film festivals, and the like.
On the edge of Old Patan, on Pulchowk Road, is the modern Labim Mall, the smartest shopping mall in the city. Many cafes and restaurants here also welcome remote workers, including the open-plan Himalayan Java in the downstairs atrium.
One of the main reasons to base yourself in Old Patan is to enjoy the proximity to Nepali tradition and history. The Patan Museum, housed in the old palace complex, is the finest museum in Nepal and an ideal place to learn about Nepali art and architecture. The adjacent Patan Durbar Square is dotted with temples and shrines, and the Golden Temple (Hiranya Varna Mahavihar) down a narrow road is another must-visit.
On the other side of Pulchowk Road from Old Patan is the Jhamsikhel neighborhood, which leads into Sanepa. These two adjacent neighborhoods are home to many mid- and long-term foreign residents because of the presence of the United National Headquarters on Pulcowk, the British School, and a few embassies (including Norway and North Korea). It’s easy to find modern apartments to rent in these areas, although quality ranges from poor to very good, and price doesn’t necessarily match quality.
While there are no particular sights of interest in Jhamsikhel or Sanepa, these neighborhoods are a short taxi ride or a half-hour walk to the more interesting Old Patan. There is, however, a huge range of restaurants (including worker-friendly Cafe Soma, and delightful DanRan Japanese restaurant): Jhamsikhel Road is nicknamed Restaurant Road because of the choice available here, and surrounding streets have a similarly wide range.
Boudha is a popular area among foreigners who come to Nepal to study the Tibetan language or Tibetan Buddhism. At the heart of Boudha is Boudhanath, an enormous Tibetan Buddhist stupa that is the holiest Tibetan Buddhist site outside of Tibet itself. Boudha is the center of the Tibetan refugee community in Nepal, and for non-Tibetans involved in the Tibetan community.
That being said, you don’t need to be a student of Tibetan language or philosophy to enjoy basing yourself in Boudha. The neighborhood offers a range of budget-friendly guesthouses and it’s easy to find somewhere longer-term to stay, especially if you’re happy to share with flatmates. Many restaurants around the stupa serve tasty Tibetan food, and there are a few international offerings too, including Vietnamese at Pho99 and continental grill at Roadhouse Café. Roadhouse is a good place to bring a laptop, with lots of space and stunning views over the stupa.
The Lazimpat area is named after Lazimpat Road, which heads north from Thamel. Like Jhamsikhel in Lalitpur, Lazimpat is home to many mid- and long-term foreign residents of Kathmandu because of the concentration of international offices and embassies, including the British, U.S., Australian, Indian, and Japanese embassies. Remote workers can find good-quality longer-term accommodation in the streets leading off from Lazimpat Road. Security tends to be tight around here because of the embassies and diplomatic staff, so it’s a safe neighborhood.
There aren’t any particular attractions in Lazimpat, but the neighborhood is close to Thamel—a short drive or a half-hour walk, depending on how far up Lazimpat Road you go. It’s also conveniently located for making trips to Budhanilkantha and the Shivapuri National Park, on the northern edge of Kathmandu. Just hop in a taxi or microbus and keep traveling north up the road (Lazimpat Road turns into Maharajgunj Road). The Reclining Vishnu statue in Budhanilkantha is worth the trip, and the Shivapuri National Park is a great place to hike at the weekend if you don’t have time to travel deeper into the Himalaya. Lazimpat also has a number of formal coworking spaces, which are ideal for longer-term residents.
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