Kathmandu in 3 days. Main attractions of this backpackers paradise.

Kathmandu in 3 days. Main attractions of this backpackers paradise.

Formerly known as Kantipur, Kathmandu city enchants its diversity. The diversity of cultures, religions, people, and landscapes. Treated sometimes only as a base to set off in the Himalayas, deserves to stay a couple of days to explore.

Kathmandu in 3 days – what to see and do?

Kathmandu - Darbur Square
Durbar Square

DAY 1- Dive into Thamel district

  • Thamel is the first backpacker’s choice and the best place to stay in Kathmandu. And even if your hotel is somewhere else, you can’t miss it for shopping and a fantastic vibe. For me, it was a perfect place to start my Nepalese adventure. I dare to say that you can come to Nepal naked, and it’s totally fine – Thamel has everything you need to complete your journey in style. From trekking gear, through pashmina (Nepalese cashmere) to ayurvedic cosmetics and great food. When you get there, you will be struck by the noise of the city, speeding scooters from every possible direction, colorful shop expositions, and the smell of incense from the roadside temples. Spend a couple of hours enjoying this bustling city district, and don’t forget to try out one of the famous Momos (traditional Nepalese dumpling) places. 
Kathmandu - Thamel
Thamel
  • Garden of Dreams – after busy Thamel, this place is like an oasis. Once you pass through the gate, you will feel like Alice in Wonderland. However, instead of a rabbit, you will find there super friendly chipmunks, waiting for you to feed them. This place is a beautiful neo-classical garden, built in the 1920s, in the style of English estates (Kathmandu was never conquered, so it’s just a copy). Bring a book, or yoga mat so you can enjoy the serenity. And if you feel still hungry, there is an excellent cafe and a bar. 
  • Try Thamel’s nightlife – I would not expect that before my trip, but yes – Kathmandu’s nightlife is pretty much exciting. Maybe I’m not talking about nightclubs (however you can find them too), but cozy bars filled with backpackers and live music. My favorite one is Sam’s bar – a mix of locals, trekkers, and backpackers.


DAY 2 – Old Kathmandu and Durbar square 

  • Durbar Square – the complex of beautiful temples, palaces and shrines, both Hindu and Buddhist. World Heritage Site of UNESCO, and for sure must see in Kathmandu. Even if you have just a couple of hours, surely you should consider visiting Durbar Square. This is the place where the kings of Nepal were crowned and used to live until the 20th century. The area is made of two sub-areas. The map of Durbar Square shows over 40 places to see, so it takes a couple of hours to mingle around them, especially that you can look at everyday life at the same time. And if you are lucky enough, you might take part in one of the many festivals.
Durbar Square
Durbar Square

Sadly, Durbar Square was severely damaged during the 2015 earthquake. Many temples were destroyed entirely, but slowly the situation improves, and the monuments are being rebuilt. That’s why you can see constructions around the place.

My favorite place in Durbar square was Kumari-Ghar, which is a home of the Hindu and Buddhist living goddess. Nepalese believe that the goddess called Taleju incarnates to a small girl’s body. A child must meet specific criteria to be selected, and she remains Kumari until her first menstruation. I was lucky enough to see her, but I couldn’t take a picture. As a typical westerner, of course, I thought that this poor girl should go and play with other kids instead of doing her ‘goddess’ duties.

  • Old City and Freak street
    The old city of Katmandu is a labyrinth of tiny streets with hidden temples. If you are there, don’t miss a cozy square with Kathesimbhu Stupa, less popular and crowded than Durbar Square, but worth to see. You might hear about Freak Street, located close to Durbar Square. Its name refers to the famous hippie trail in the 1960s and 1970s, as it was one of its final Asian stops. The place is not anymore like it used to be, but as the hippie in heart, I had to see it by myself, so you can consider it too. 
Kathmandu - Freak Street
  • Check Mandala workshop
    Mandala is a spiritual and ritual figure in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe. An image full of symbolism, which helps with meditation and carries a mystical journey. Even if you don’t want to buy one for you, it’s such an essential part of Nepalese culture. It is very interesting to learn the basics about the meaning and types of mandalas. There are plenty of workshops around the old city. 
Mandala Workshop
Monkey Temple
  • Enjoy the sunset at Monkey Temple
    Known as well as Swayambhunath Stupa, but I dare you to pronounce it ๐Ÿ™‚ Surrounded by hundreds of (not necessarily) friendly monkeys, it’s a great place to spend the afternoon. This sacred stupa is also a UNESCO heritage site. The temple is placed on the top of the hill so you can admire a fantastic view of the Kathmandu city. There are two ways to get there. I recommend starting from the staircase way, leading directly to the main platform of the temple. The view is worth climbing 318 stairs. To enjoy the sunset, you can go to the rooftop cafe hidden behind the main temple and square. You can as well spend some time in front of the monastery, watching young monks playing football. 
    To get there, take a taxi from the city, it cost around 500 rupees.

DAY 3 – go outside of the city 

  • Bakhtapur UNESCO city
    Well preserved and partially restored after the 2015 earthquake, Bakthapur city is worth seeing while you are in Kathmandu. The town was on the way of the old trade route from India to Tibet. The main attractions are divided into three different squares – Dhurbar, Taumadhi Tole, and Potter’s Square. Don’t miss spectacular Nayatapola Temple, as its the tallest building in the Kathmandu valley. Another must-do in Bakhtapur is trying their traditional dessert, famous especially here, called juju dhau. It’s kind of sweetened and spiced yogurt, served in most of the restaurants around. This medieval city is also known for its pottery production. You can find little, traditional manufacturers and pottery drying in the sun of Potter’s Square. To get there, take a taxi (around 800 rupees) or a bus from Kathmandu. The entrance fee: 1500 rps.
Bakhrapur city
  • Bodhnath Stupa
    On your way back to Kathmandu, you can stop by the largest stupa in Asia. It’s a place visited daily by thousands of pilgrims from the whole continent. The best way to meet the Tibetan Buddist culture and watch its religious rituals. The square is surrounded by small monasteries, workshops producing butter lamps, and other accessories. Don’t be surprised by Westerners wearing maroon robes – the monasteries here are open for foreign students, so if you are interested in exploring the secrets of Buddhist knowledge, this is the place for you. The stupa by itself is stunning, and the atmosphere with the crowd circulating around it is intriguing. The round square’s buildings remind me of European city architecture, but with the touch of Asian vibe. You can easily spend a couple of hours here, visiting colorful monasteries, checking the shops, and sipping coffee on one of the rooftop cafes next to the stupa. Entrance fee: 400 rps.
Bodhnath Stupa

*My tips: where to eat in Kathmandu? Recommended restaurants.

  • Langling restaurant – a family business, famous for momos and thenthuk – Nepalese broth with traditional noodles.
  • Momos Hut – a paradise for momos lovers. Dumplings of every kind, I recommend trying their vegetarian version with cheese. And don’t forget to order a dessert – momos with chocolate. It was soooo good that we came back again.
  • Gaya restaurant – located in a side street, super nice place for breakfast or dinner.  

Madagascar – paradise of Nosy Be. Things to do on the island and around

Madagascar – paradise of Nosy Be. Things to do on the island and around

Nosy Be – called the busiest and the most touristic part of Madagascar, still not as crowded as the islands of Thailand or Zanzibar. Nosy Be literally means Big Island, as it is the biggest one among hundreds of small archipelagos surrounding Le Grand Terre โ€“ the main island of Madagascar.

 

The best things to do in Nosy Be and the neighbouring areaย 

 

Visit the most beautiful beach on the island

Andilana is located on the north-west coast of Nosy Be and it is definitely its most beautiful beach, easy accessible by scooter or tuk-tuk. There is one big bar&restaurant just at the entrance and you can find another small place to eat between souvenir shops. Sunday is a popular day for local picnics so you can also find some food stalls. Don’t be fooled by the guy sitting right next to the parking — trying to charge you for the entrance to the beach – just tell him you are going to the restaurant. And just to let you know – Andilana beach is still nothing to compare to the beaches on the islands surrounding Nosy Be so your next ‘must do’ is to…

 

…discover the neighbouring Islands

The best advantage of Nosy Be is the fact that it’s a perfect base to see paradise neighbouring islands. You can do it as a daily excursion or stay overnight in some of them.

Nosy Iranja – the most beautiful and idyllic beach close to Nosy Be. There are actually two islands connected together during the day with the sand strip (due to the tides it disappears at night). It’s really a ‘must see’ while you are in Nosy Be. You can go there as a daily excursion from Nosy Be (1.5 hour by boat) but I highly recommend staying there for one night. The island becomes so peaceful and quiet after 3 pm, when daily trip boats leave with most of the tourists. You can use this time to visit nearby village, discover the view point or enjoy the night on the beach.

There are two hotels in Nosy Iranja. One is called Le Zahir de L’ile and is located right on the main beach. The night there cost 240 Euro and includes 3 meals per day. More adventurous and budget friendly is the hotel located on another beach, behind the football field. There are very simple and tiny huts just in front of the sea and the cost is around 20 Euro per night.

 

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Nosy Sakatia – if you want to swim with the turtles or stay in a quiet resort on beautiful remote island, that’s the perfect spot.
Nosy Tanikely โ€“ a very small island, popular place for snorkeling. There are no hotels and restaurants there, but you can go to the top of the lighthouse and check stunning view. Don’t forget to look around on the way there, I noticed few creatures including a lemur family.
Nosy Komba โ€“ a good place to see friendly lemurs, there are a few accommodation options there. The island does not have electricity, so eco friendly hotels run on solar power.

Watch the wildlife in Lokobe Natural Reserve

If you want to see the lemur in its natural environment, Lokobe is a perfect place to spot them. The natural reserve is a home for black lemur and few other species. There are also tiny chameleons (the smallest in the world – around 1 cm big), owls, boa constrictors, many birds and plants such as ylang-ylang or vanilla. You have to have a guide to visit reserve – you can find them at the entrance or buy a package tour (around 90 000 Ar per person).

Try diving

Madagascar is a paradise for snorkeling and diving. There are many schools around – we tried Oceans Dream in Ambatoloaka. The best spots are around Nosi Tanikely, Iranja and Sakatia.

Visit waterfalls

Skipped by many guides, deserve your attention if you are in Nosy Be for a few days. Beautiful place, away from crowds. To get there turn right around halfway between Helle Ville and Ambatoloaka. Ask locals about “La Cascade” and follow the signs. If you are lucky local kids will do the show for you and jump to the water. The mosquito repellent is a must.

 

Dojazd: skrฤ™ฤ‡ w maล‚ฤ… drogฤ™ po prawej stronie, mniej wiฤ™cej w poล‚owie pomiฤ™dzy Helle Ville i Ambatoloaka. Spytaj lokalesรณw o “La Cascade” i podฤ…ลผaj za znakami na niewielkiej polnej drodze.

Mont Passot

The highest point of Nosy Be, great for sunset or admiring the view and crater lakes on the way there. Google maps show you two ways to get there. Don’t go thorough Dzamandzar as the road is almost impossible to pass, even by 4×4. Take the one going from Helle Ville.

Take part in local life – Helle Ville and Dzamandzar

Helle Ville is such a busy and vibrant city – mix of travellers, locals or foreigners who decided to stay in Madagascar. And all of this closed in bursting every day life, mainly centred around the port and main streets close to the market. This capitol of Nosy Be has little colonial charm which reminds me a bit of Stone Town in Zanzibar.

 

 

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Dzamandzar is a small village on the west coast, half way to the north of the island (on the way to Andilana beach). It’s known for Malagasy boxing competition called Moaringy which is an amazing experience to see if you are around. Just ask the locals about it and for less than 1$ for entrance you will enjoy your afternoon in Malagasi way.

Sacred Banyan tree

Not very far from Helle Ville, behind the small village called Mahatsinjo there is a huge and stunning Sacred Banyan Tree. It was planted by the Queen of one of the tribes in 1836 and has grown its roots to the size of 5000 sqm. As it’s a place of ancestors and nature worship, you have to remove your shoes and cover your legs with sarong provided by the guide. And if you need a quiet and magical spot for meditation this is the place to be.

Have an island tour on quad or scooter

Nosy Be is a perfect island to discover on a quad or a scooter. It’s not very big so you can do the tour around the island within one day. The roads are slightly better than The Big Land and it’s easy to find rental places. Prices depend on the rental period and your bargaining skills (scooter around 10 Euro per day, 4×4 around 40 Euro).

Magic milkshake anyone? Nightlife in Thailand.

Magic milkshake anyone? Nightlife in Thailand.

Thailand is a very diverse country. And quite touristic. Although you can still find some uninhabited paradise islands, the first thing that comes to my mind is the pilgrimage of tourists and the Hangover movie. You can not complain about the lack of nightlife in the most touristic places. I would even risk saying that Thailand is mainly divided into “a bit of” partying and “a bit of more”. If you are a supporter of Option No. 2, I recommend taking a look at the following locations.

 

The best places for nightlife in Thailand

Bangkok

Usually it`s the first place to reach in Thailand. The main bar attraction: Khao San Road. Mecca of backpackers, but not only. The best choice when it comes to low-budget partying. You can simply buy a bucket with a cocktail and sit on the street. Another place, Sukhumvit Road is the loudest and colorful street in Bangkok. Filled with clubs, cocktail bars and famous go-go clubs. And now the option for a bit more picky – sky bars, with a fantastic city view. You need to search them a bit, because they are scattered all over Bangkok. The best known ones are Sky Bar, Sky Train Jazz Club and Moon Bar.

And if you want to feel like in a movie, I recommend the Hangover Tour. You will visit bars mentioned in a show and some other popular clubs. I wonder if someone once finished it sober 😊

bangkok nightlife

Koh Phangan

Known from the series of the most recognizable events in Thailand, Full Moon Parties, held on the beaches of the local town – Hat Rin. For a week, this small island is flooded with thirty thousand people from all over the world. However, if you could not make it at Full Moon Party, nothing is lost. Twice a month there are also organized Half Moon Parties taking place in the middle of the island, in the jungle. In addition, the island is full of cosy bars. If you like reggae and plan to stay in the north, I recommend Rasta Baby.

koh phangan nightlife

Koh Phi Phi

Homeland of whiskey and other cocktails sold in buckets.ย  Open 24 hours a day, because there is always a hotel or a bar organizing the pool party. Clubs by the beach, clubs in the town, bars of all kinds. Due to the amazing scenery, it is the perfect place for an organized boat party. They take partygoers to the most beautiful places around the island, with the possibility of snorkeling or jumping from the rocks. Do not worry, with the life jacket, so you can only fall asleep in the water and forget that you hold a drink in your hand.

Koh phi phi nightlife

Phuket

Next capital of go-go clubs and ping pong shows. A small Bangkok. There is always something going on in every part of the island, but the biggest party people should visit Bangla Road in Phuket Town. The place welcome you with loud music, neon lights, pubs, go-go bars, and beaters inviting you to ping-pong and lady boy shows.

Phuket go go bary

P.S. If you have reached the end of this text and still have not found the answer – about magic mushroom shake ask in Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi.

Nightlife in Thailand

Luxury in the middle of African bush – Kisampa Bush Retreat in Saadani National Park

Luxury in the middle of African bush – Kisampa Bush Retreat in Saadani National Park

The best place for short safari from Zanzibar โ€“ Saadani National Park

Saadani is one of the smallest and youngest national park in Tanzania. There are two reasons why it is worth to go there โ€“ it is not as populated as Serengeti or Mikumi parks and it`s the closest national park from Zanzibar, so you can go for a short safari in 2-3 days without spending most of time traveling. Within the park or in its immediate vicinity there are only 4 places where you can find accommodation. Kisampa Bush Retreat is one of them.

Sunset with savannah view

Kisampa Bush Retreat โ€“ our experience

The lodge is located on the border of the national park, on the top of a hill with an amazing view of the African savannah. It`s not usual luxury hotel, actually does not look like hotel at all. It is more cameral place, consisting 8 open, thatched huts (bandas) โ€“ kitchen, reception with dining area and 6 individual bandas for guests. Each of them are surrounded by bush and completely separated from the rest, so guests can have quiet and privacy. Lack of electricity, running water and walls give the opportunity to cut off from civilization and get closer to nature at the maximum level.

Shower

 

When we arrived it turned out that we are alone in the lodge. Alone means only us and six crew โ€“ chef, cooking dishes according to our tastes and arrangements, manager Bori, guide Umari, driver and waiters. All incredibly nice and helpful, filling the time showing us the area and at the same time giving us freedom and appearing only when they were needed. During these 2 full days we managed to do safari, canoeing on the river, bushwalk at sunset and trip to the nearby village.

 

Dining room, reception and relaxation place in the same banda

Dining room, reception and relaxation place in the same banda

 

The lodge is owned by an Australian doctor who has been very involved in the life of the surrounding community and a part of Kisampa`s income is devoted to support the people of nearby villages by building solar batteries and equipping schools.

Practical information

How to get there? There is an airstrip in the national park, used by local carriers like Coastal Aviation (direct flights also from Zanzibar). You can order transfer from airstrip to Kisampa at an additional cost. Traveling by car from Dar Es Salaam is about 300 km (5.5 hours).

There is no WiFi in the lodge and electricity in bandas but you can charge your devices in the recreational area. If needed, the crew may also arrange laundry.

 

Matipwilli village

A local library built with the help of Kisampa

School classroom

Matipwilli kids

 

Certainly the nicest people we have met in Tanzania

 

 

My impressions

A morning warm bucket shower under the open sky, delicious breakfast overlooking the savanna or a night bonfire in the middle of the bush are just few moments that will surely remain in a memory for a long time. Although the park itself did not impress me, because it was not my first safari, Kisampa was very relaxing stay. The village Matipwilli, completely without tourists, stands out with its authenticity and extreme cordiality.