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.
Elen Turner is a New Zealand-based travel writer and editor (at present) who is married to a Nepali and goes back at every chance. She’s the co-author of two Lonely Planet guidebooks.
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