When to fly?
Kathmandu has a slew of festivals. Take a flight in March for Holi, which is celebrated with splashes of water and coloured powder; April for Bikram Samwat, Nepalese New Year; August/September for Gai Jatra, the procession of cows, Krishna Jayanti, the celebration of the birth of Lord Sri Krishna; and Teej, the fasting festival for women; late-September/early October for Dashian, the 15-day national festival; October/November for Tihar, the Festival of Lights. The Indra Jatra Harvest festival is held in Durbar Square for eight days every September. This is when the Goddess Kumari travels in her chariot. Lots of businesses will close for all of these holidays, sometimes a few days before and a few days after.
August to October is high season in Kathmandu. May and June are best for visiting the mountainous areas but it is best to book your flights in advance to avoid disappointment.
January to March and November-December are low-season times. It's unsafe to go into the mountains between June and August as this is monsoon season. Airfares are at their cheapest during this season.
April to July are shoulder months.
Nepal's capital and largest city was a must-visit destination in the 1960s and 1970s. Visitors would take flights to Kathmandu seeking spiritual enlightenment. Today, it's still a must-visit city even if the Hippie Trail has exacted a fairly heavy toll. Kathmandu is a magical destination and many visitors use it as a starting point for trekking holidays in the Himalayas.
Kathmandu can seem like something out of a fairy tale. It has beautiful temples and magnificent monuments. There's poverty, but there's also a wealth that can't be quantified in money as the place is rich in spirit.
Nowhere is the other-worldliness of Kathmandu more apparent than in Durbar Square, the historic centre and a World Heritage site. In Nepali, ‘durbar’ means palace and in the square you'll see the old Royal Palace, the former home of the Malla Kings. There are about 50 temples, the Kasthamandap (House of Wood) from which Kathmandu gets its name and a Living Goddess. She, the Kumari, lives in her small palace and sees the outside world only a few times a year when she is wheeled through the capital on a chariot pulled by devotees.
There are seven World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley. One of the most spectacular is Swayambhunath stupa, which is also known as the Monkey Temple because of the monkeys who wheel about as if they own it.