Kathmandu has to be one of the most polluted cities in the world. The air is thick with toxic fumes from old, badly conditioned cars, buses, trucks and motorbikes. Due to lack of rubbish collection/recycling, people burn their home/shop rubbish on the streets in the early morning. This all adds to a visible dirty haze that seems to penetrate your nostrils, throat and lungs pretty quickly once you step outside. Our throats became sore and yucky after only a few hours walking around the city. I would suggest carrying and drinking lots of water, wearing something over your mouth (to filter some of it at least) and limit your time outside to a few hours at a time.
Today we explored Kathmandu’s maze of streets and alleys on foot. Thamel is to the north of Kathmandu centre and takes a good 30 mins to walk south. Take it easy and peek down the side alleys and openings. You never know what little shrine, stupa or cute courtyard you may discover hidden away!
The further away from Thamel you get, the less vehicle and pedestrian traffic you’ll encounter which makes for an interesting stroll through residential areas. Our destination was Kathmandu’s (Hanuman-dhoka) Durbar Square. There are a few entrances which you’ll need to pay for a ticket to get into the main area.
There are a myriad of temples, shrines, statues, brick & wooden buildings, palace structures and courtyards. Definitely set aside a few hours to fully explore. One of the buildings is a museum which truly needs exploring as it can be a maze. However, it is filled with lots of interesting old photos, items, clothes and information about the Nepalese royal family and history. No photos inside.
Make sure to explore the streets around Durbar Square. We ventured west towards the Vishnumati River. Heavily polluted but lined with houses and friendly kids.
Visited 30th October 2013.