Bangkok Day

So I did what a hundreds of other tourists do on a Sunday, head to Chatuchak Market.  

Went early at around 9 with the goal of eating my favorite Thai street food, particularly (barbecued pork) and Thai sausage.  Found the area where all the food stalls are and found my pork barbecue.  Soft and tender, it’s still the stuff of my dreams whenever I head to Thailand.  Had a plate of pad thai so I could get a seat at one of the tables lorded over by ladyboys.

Took a stroll at the perimeters of the market and got a couple of stuff I needed such as coconut water scoop and a small wooden massager.  Passed a stall of grilled sausages and got a stick.  The sausages are the next best thing to the pork barbecue.  

After all the hype, I finally got to try the “original” coconut ice-cream, the one with the crowds and the green umbrellas and….sadly, it didn’t taste like coconut ice-cream.  It was bland.  Perhaps I should have bought the one served on a half coconut shell with coconut meat and two toppings.  I purposely chose the B40 version (2 scoops in a cup) so I could really taste the ice-cream.  Disappointed.

I knew I have had enough of Chatuchak when I sat down for a crispy pork rice at one of the eateries by the road out to the BTS that was utterly bad.  The rice was cold and the pork looked more like bits.  It’s the kind of horrible meal that makes you want to go to the kitchen and scold the cook.  

So I finally left the market and headed to Siam for some air-con.  First stop was Afters at Siam Center Mall.  I was in luck this time as there weren’t too many people and I got a table right away.  The Shibuya Honey Toast came with two scoops of ice-cream and a generous amount of cream.  It was heavenly! If I had another day in Bangkok, I would have returned for the Sticky Toffee Toast.  This cafe gets plus points for the refillable unsweetened iced tea!

Checked out the food court at Siam Paragon and was once again tempted wirh the barbecue and sausages.  I love this food court as it has all stuff of street food.  Was thinking of taking some back to the hotel for dinner but then I remembered the street food at Sala Daeng.  Back to the hotel then to put up my feet and forget about the barbecue and sausages.
Went  out in the late afternoon to verify the hotel ‘s claim that it was just a few minutes walk to the Pratunam market.  They were right!  I ended-up checking out Platinum Mall and walking all the way to the Chitlom station where I caught the train to Sala Daeng.  

The soi around Sala Daeng were my former haunts back in those days when Bangkok was THE destination for me.  I had fond memories of Th Convent where some of Bangkok’s street food were.  Unfortunately, the stewed pork leg stall run by two sisters was no longer there. 

 I finally got my crispy pork rice plus some shrimp spring rolls with the sweet syrupy sauce it comes with. It was only 8pm or maybe being a Sunday, the area was a little lethargic. 

Bye Bangkok!  It was good seeing you again after a year.

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Guide to Visa on Arrival at Tribhuvan Airport

Visa on arrival is available for most nationalities, Filipinos included!  Hooray!  Unfortunately, Tribhuvan Airport is not quite up to the challenge of meeting its tourist arrivals.  The place is small and the lines long and slow.  Here’s a guide on the entire arrival experience including getting a visa on arrival at this airport.

1.  At most 15 days before your flight, fill-up an online appication form at online.nepalimmigration.gov.np/tourist-visa.  Be sure you have the following with you:

  • A soft copy of your passport picture as you need to upload it.
  • The complete address of your hotel including the district and the ward no.  Email your hotel to get this info.  

Print out the form and bring it with you.

2.  During the flight, visa application forms and disembarkation cards will be handed out.  You just need the disembarkation card.  You have your printed online visa application form, right?

3.  Upon disembarking, fall in line at the cashier.  That will be the long wooden counter on the left.  Pay for your visa.  According to the signage, other currencies apart from USD and Euro are accepted.  I paid for mine with USD.

4.  Get your receipts then head to the single wooden counters on the right of the cashier.  Be sure to line-up at the counter that indicates the number of days of your visa.  So if you have a 15-day visa, then line-up at the counter with a sign that says “15 days visa.”

The officer at the counter will get your receipt, printed out visa application form, and ask you how many days you will be staying.  He will then put the visa sticker on your passport and stamp it.

5.  Exit and get your luggage that has been circling the carousel waiting for you.

6.  Exit arrivals and either get a taxi from one of the touts or from the official taxi booth.  I booked my ride with the hotel.


Enjoy Nepal!

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Guide to Departing from Tribhuvan Airport

Depending on what day you leave, it can take 20-45 minutes to get to the airport from Thamel. I left at 10am on a Saturday and was at the airport less than 20 minutes later.  You know you’re near when you see the crematoriums of Pashupatinath as the airport is just behind it.  I paid NR 700 for the car which I booked via my hotel.  

1.  Upon arriving at the entrance for international flights, if you have a hotel car hire, tell the driver to wait as you get one of the luggage trolleys.  I’m not too sure about leaving your stuff with a taxi.  If you’re with other people, it won’t be a problem.  If someone comes over with a trolley, ignore unless you really want to pay someone to load your luggage and push the trolley.

2.  There are 2 entrances, A and B.  If taking Thai Airways, entrance is at B.  Otherwise, there’s an lcd screen where you can check which entrance to take.  

3.  Follow the line inside.  Present your passpory and PRINTED flight ticket to the guard. The line continues inside to the x-ray machines.  Load your luggage.  Once cleared, you’re in the departure hall. There’s a money changer where you can change back your Nepalese rupees to your currency.  There are toilets, a few convenience stores, and luggage wrapping services.

4.  The Thai Airways counter was open 3 hours before the flight.  I don’t know with the other airlines.

5.  Present your boarding pass to the guard by the escalator and head up to immigrations.  There is no need to fill-up any embarkation card.  Just present your passport.

6.  Past immigrations is a large area.  On the left is the final security check point while on the right is a waiting area and a few cafes.  The line at security is a bit slow and long so.unless you still have at least an hour before your flight, head to it first.  Don’t worry, there’s a food stall with sandwhiches and packed meals and a convenience store inside the departure gates.  If you have no Nepalese rupees left, they accept credit cards.

7.  After the security checkpoint, you enter  the cramped area where all 5 departure gates are. Forget about sitting coffee or doing some nice shopping while waiting to board.  Toilets, a water-filling station with plastic cups, a food stall with an atrached convenience store, and wifi are the only amenities you get.  The metal seats are old and some are broken.  

 If your flight has not yet been assigned a gate, there’s an lcd screen indicating departure.  In my case, the screen never showed my flight gate.  I simply went to Gate 5 where I saw the Thai Airways aircraft parked.  Don’t worry, the gates are close to one another and they do make boarding annoumcements.  Forget about looking for flight boards at gates, there ain’t any.

For a country that receives so many visitors, Tribuhvan is way too basic to meet the influx of tourists.  I can’t imagine how it would be during peak season.  That being said, consider your departure experience as part of your entire Nepal experience.

Have a safe flight!

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Back in Bangkok

Touchdown Bangkok for a 2 night “recovery” stay (hahaha!) before flying back home on Monday.  As the Thai Airways flight touched down at Suvarnabhumi, an elderly Japanese guy at the center column of seats looks across the plane windows and ask the guy seated across him, “This Bangkok?”  The guy answers in the affirmative.  If he had asked me, I probably would have said, “Bangkok?  No!  This Kathmandu.  Plane landed in Bangkok already.  You did not get off?  Plane now return to Kathmandu!”  Hahaha!  Some cheapskate stole the Eau de Toilete at the toilet.  It was there when I used the toilet twice.  It was gone when I returned a third time.

Deposited my luggage at the left luggage counter then took the Airlink to Rachadaprop station for the minute walk to GX Luxury Hostel.  I really like this place.  It’s clean, has very comfortable beds and pillows and the charcoal body wash is tops.  Unfortunately, it’s cramped so it’s good only for a few nights stay.

Had dinner at 

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Departing from Kathmandu

It isn’t all that bad at Kathmandu’s Tribuhvan Airport departing for my flight to Bangkok.  Perhaps, being a Saturday and off-season, it just takes me less than 20 minutes from Thamel including the short and quick car cue to enter the airport premises. 

The car parks at the international departures entrance and as soon as the car driver opens the trunk, a man with a push cart appears.  “No, no,” I say looking at both him and the driver who smiles knowingly.   I don’t need to pay someone to push my cart.  Signs declare that the use of push carts is free. I see a push cart nearby, grab it, then rush back to the car.  The man with a push cart leaves.

I check the lcd screen for the right entrance for Thai Airways and head to entrance B and take my place behind the short line outside.  I show my passport and ticket to the guard who dutifully reads it.  He returns my documents to me and signals me to enter.  In front of me is a young woman with her two young boys, all teary-eyed as they have just bade their husband/father goodbye.  Heart-breaking.  I say a quick prayer for them then put my luggage at the x-ray machine.  I find the counter for Thai Airways which had just opened.   

Very short line.  Once checked-in, I head up the escalator to Immigrations.

In spite of signs saying you must fill-up an embarkation card, there is no need.  I look for these at the wooden counters by the wall and find none.  “No card?”I ask a guy at a counter near where the cue starts. “No card ” he replies.  Only then do I see a crude hand-written sign at the counter.  The line is about 6 meters deep but moves quite quickly as two counters are servicing it.  

I emerge to a waiting area and the lines for the final security check.  It’s still early so I go grab a vegetarian burger and a Coke at one of the stalls. 

The line to the security check is long.  It’s a little strange as the tables where you put your stuff on trays is a few feet apart from the x-ray machine.  So you need to carry your tray to the machine upon the guard’s signal.  I clear security and I’m in at the boarding gates.  My ticket doesn’t indicate my gate so I check the lcd screen at the corridor that leads to the gate.  Only flights until 12 noon have gates indicated.  I head to one of the boarding gates to wait.  The place is swarming with people but I find a seat with a ground view of the tarmac.

The entire process from arriving at the airport to being seated where I am now takes an hour and a half.  Not bad for one. of the world’s worst airports.

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Phalcha: Nepal’s Resting Places

One of the things I noticed immediately when I walked the streets of old Kathmandu were these resting places.  Subsequent walks in Bungmati, Khokana, Changu, and Bhaktapur likewise revealed the prevalance of these structures.  Did a little research and discovered they’re called phalcha and have always been part of Nepali culture.

These resting places with their wooden floors and carved posts look very inviting. 

They’re also places for socialization.  I often saw groups elderly men in these “phalcha.” 

Some phalcha serve as stalls.

Phalcha may be attached to buildings or under houses and temples.  It could also be free standing as in under a tree.

I like the idea that there are places out there in the streets where you can just stop, rest, and perhaps have a little me time.

The phalcha is an example of how architectural spaces is part of the ebb and flow of life in the village.  

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Eating in Nepal

First of all, a disclaimer.  What follows next is totally based on my own taste buds.  

As one person who loves to eat, I wouldn’t rank Nepal as a foodie destination.  It sits alongside Myanmar.  By that, I mean I would be hard-pressed to be excited with the food as much as with the destination.  When I’m heading to Thailand, for example, I can’t wait to get my taste buds going with its curries, sticky rice, and barbecued pork.  China?  Then its Peking Duck.  Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and so forth.  The Philippines?  Is there something to be excited about?  Are travelets excited to have some lechon and adobo? Well, whenever I  fly back home from my travels, I’m excited to have sinigang and lechon kawali.

Back to Nepali cuisine  What can excite me?  Momo? It’s cheap and delicious but it’s not something I would dream about.

That being said, Nepali cuisine IS NOT BAD. By that I mean it’s not yucky, tasteless, nor inedible. Many of the food I’ve eaten is actually delicious and best of all, come in sizeable servings.  My problem (and it’s really mine and not the cuisine’s)  I’m just not excited about it.
Here’s my run down on what I’ve eaten in Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Bhakatapur where I stayed.

Momo 

It’s just fitting I start with the icon of Nepali cuisine, momo which has its origins in Tibet.  These dumplings encased in a thick flour wrapper come in vegetable, pork, chicken, buff, and some modern twists like potato and cheese and are served either steamed, pan fried, and deep fried.  

Momo at The Kathmandu Kitchen

Momo at a restaurant in Pokhara

Momo at Gilingche Tibetan Restaurant

Momo from a street stall in Pokhara and placed in a bowl made of dried leaves used as take-away container

A street stall with a steamer is a sign that there”s momo

Other restos like my favorite, Gilingche Tibetan Restaurant in Thamel, has versions such as sizzling with mushroom gravy and stir-fried in chili paste. 

Sizzling momo at Gilingche Tibetan Restaurant

Chili momo at Gilingche Tibetan Restaurant

Though the basic momo seems to taste the same wherever you have it, what would set one stall or restaurant apart from the others would be the sauce it comes with.  I like Gilingche’s sweetish curry-like sauce.  Momo is cheap, filling, delicious, and widely available. Be warned, a serving consists of 10 pieces.  Unless you have a big appetite like mine, consider sharing.

Pakora

I think anything can be made into fritters— paneer (local cheese), potatoes, chicken, buff, eggs,  and of course, vegetables.  Good with chowmein or thukpa.

Egg pakora at Gilingche Tibetan Restaurant

Thukpa

Nepalese noodle soup with a thick broth.  Perfect for winter time.  You can have it with vegetables, pork, chicken, buff, egg, or mixed.  I like pairing my thukpa with some momo.  The best thukpa I had was at All in One Cafe at Pokhara.  This unassuming small family-run cafe has delicious hearty food.

A hearty thukpa at All in One Cafe

Dethuk

This thin rice porridge is perfect for when you want something more filling than a thukpa.  It’s like a soup with rice and toppings of your choice such as chicken, pork, buff, vegetables, and egg.

Dethuk at Gilingche Nepali Kitchen

Fried Rice

When you order fried rice it’s because: a) you’re confused with the menu, b) you want something reliable, c) you really like fried rice.  

It depends on where you have it because I’ve had really uninspired ones at the pricier than usual restaurants at Bhaktapur such as Cafe de Peacock and Cafe Nyatapola whose only saving grace is the view of the squares where they’re at.  

Buff fried rice at Cafe Nyatapola

 The best is Gilingche’s cruncy fried rice.  Cruncy rice noodles are mixed with the rice which gives it an exciting texture.  The rice is very well-flavored, almost like a biryani.  

Crunchy vegetable fried rice at Gilingche Tibetan Restaurant. You can have it with chicken, pork, or buff.

You’ll never go wrong with fried rice in Nepal no matter how ordinary it is made as the rice is very good quality–long grain and firm.  I noticed that tomato catsup and chili sauce is served as a condiment. At Gilingche, the same dipping sauce for the momo is likewise served with the fried rice.

My first meal in Nepal was buff fried rice at Gilingche paired with buff momo

Chowmien

Obviously Chinese, just like fried rice, fried noodles is an old standby in any Asian country.  Noodles are stir-fried with whatever you chose to put in it–vegetables, pork, chicken, egg, or mixed.

Egg chowmien at The Kathmandu Kitchen

Grilled Meats

I only saw these at Pokhara.  Chicken, buff, and pork are marinated and grilled in skewers.  They have salty curry taste which I really really love.  Pork is my favorite.  Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  By Fewa Lake, grilled pork is NR 100.  Along the tourist drag, it’s NR 200-300.  At restos, it’s NR 300 and up.

Barbecue in Pokhara

Barbecued buff in a take-away container

If you’re really hungry or have a big appetite, then the set meals called khali or thali are the best value.  You can choose between vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.  You’re given a large round steel plate with little dishes around it and rice at the center.  All of that is refillable!  There are Nepalise, Indian, and Newari sets.

Nepali Kaja Set

Similar to an Indian thali, there’s dahl, vegetables, curry of your choice, rice, and curd.  The best thing about it is that everything is refillable! Yup!  Just simply ask for whatever you want refilled.  Actually, even before you ask for it, there’ll be someone asking you if you want more. 

You can’t go wrong on this one but the best thali is that of Thamel House Kitchen.  Yes, at NR 1,100 for (net) it’s more than what you pay for at other places.  On the other hand, Cafe Nyatapola’s set costs NR 990 (no taxes yet) and has much less included. Thamel House comes with dahl, chickpea salad, fried potatoes, and momo as appetizers; stewed mutton, stir-fried chicken in chili, stir-fried wild boar, spinach, vegetable curry, and rice as main course; and curd as dessert.  I liked it so much, I had the set both Christmas and New Year’s Day.


Newar Kali Set

The Newar are the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley.  They have  a distinct language and culture with its brick architecture most apparent to visitors.  The vegetarian Newari set I had at Temple View Restaurant at the Bhaktapur Durbar Square had peanuts, chickpeas, potatoes, pickled vegetables, beaten rice (baji) and a thick pancake called bara  with a crisp outer layer.  

Newari set at Temple View Restaurant

It was the beaten rice that surprised as it was the first time I had it as a rice substitute.  Called pinipig back home, I’ve always had it as a topping for halo halo or as sticky rice like suman and biko.  

How about breakfast?

I never booked an in-house breakfast in any of my accomodations.  I figured, they’re already  deriving income from my stay so I should let others earn from my meals.  Spread the financial windfall of tourism to others.

Traditional Nepali breakfast is dahl bat which is lentil soup with rice.  Good and filling but I prefer mine with chapati.  Speaking of all those flat Indian breads, they’re part of Nepali cuisine.  

Continental breakfast is everywhere especially anything that has to do with eggs.  Don’t go looking for Eggs Benedict though unless you’re in an upscale place.

Breakfast at Gravity Cafe facing Fewa Lake in Pokhara

For something different in your omelet, try a masala omelet.  It’s got some tomatoes and onions and flavored with masala spice.

Masala omelet and chapati at Serengi Vegetarian Restaurant in Thamel

There are many Western-type bakeries/cafes such as Pumpernickle in Thamel with cinnamon rolls, croissants, puffs, and other breads.  

Nepalese snacks and sweets are also good and cheap.  Many seem to have Indian origins such as samosas and the sweets.  I didn’t try much of these as they mostly displayed along the road by street stalls and I’ve seen one too many flies on them.  Some itinerant vendors, however, have small glass display cases.

Various fried doughs such as “sel-roti” and the orange-colored “jeri.”

Why not buy at the market where Annapurna temple is and fry your own?

Do know that, it will be handed to you wrapped in a newspaper.

Bought this from a vendor at Pokhara. It’s rolled dough dipped in syrup.

This is like rolled chapati fried with egg and spread with a sweet salty jam. Tastes delicious. The one underneath is a “sel-roti.”

Sel-roti

Get it newly fried and it’s heavenly.  Particularly good when eaten with a dahl like soup for breakfast just as I did at a tea shop at the Nagarkot viewpoint before hiking to Changu Narayan.

Sel-roti, samosa, and pakora at a tea shop at Nagarkot viewpoint

Jeri

This fried dough with its beautiful round design is crispy and sweet.  Really sweet.

Samosas

Not just in India but in Myanmar and Nepal too.  From street corners to restaurants, samosas are everywhere.  Unlike its Indian counterpart though, it comes with a chili sauce rather than the sweetish tamarind sauce.

Samosas for breakfast at Serengi Vegetarian Restaurant in Thamel

Shabaley

Meat pie fried to a crisp.  I didn’t really enjoy this because it’s all air inside and the filling (I ordered pork) was pure meat, no vegetables, not even onions and carrots, which you would find in most meat pies in other cultures.  

Shabaley at Gilingche Tibetan Restaurant

You’ll see these pies half-fried at street stalls looking flat.  Order one and they’ll fry it until it puffs a bit.  

King Curd

There are curds and there’s king curd, a Bhaktapur specialty.  Unlike ordinary curds, this one is thicker and richer and mixed with honey.  When in Bhaktapur, just look for this sign in front of non-descript shops with chest freezers:

They’re traditionally made and served in clay pots.

Best to buy them from the king curd stores as they’re only NR 35 compared to NR 150 at restaurants. 

Sandwhiches

They’re cheap, filling, and delicious.  From Western sandwhiches to shawarmas to kati rolls.  

Bacon sandwhich at Sandwhich Point in Thamel

Vegetarian burger at Maya Resto and Bar at Pokhara

Finally, if you see these in a counter where you pay at a restaurant, do have some.  According to the cashier at a restaurant in Pokhara, they’re mouth deodorants!

TIPS

1.  It takes 20-30 minutes for food and even drink orders to arrive; more so if the place is quite packed.  So time your hunger pangs.  If in a group, the same orders would get faster delivery time than if you would have different orders each.

2.  Servings are plentiful.

3.  In Pokhara and Bhaktapur, 10% service charge plus 13% VAT are added to your bill.  In Thamel, most of the places I ate at seem to have it included it in the price.

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The Streets of Kathmandu

The old section of Kathmandu was all that I dreamed it to be— narrow cobbled streets, old houses and buildings, beautiful architecture, ancient temples, and the bustle of people going about their everyday life.  Never mind about the incessant taxi or rickshaw drivers offering rides to nearby sights, shop owners asking you to come “look inside,” and the traffic at Thamel Marga.  Walking the streets of old Kathmandu is a destination in itself.

Buddhist prayer flags hanging across Thamel Marga

A wooden mask adorns the window of a shop fronting Hanuman Dokha Square

One of the many “chaitya” (stupa) you will chance on at corners in old Kathmandu

Rickshaws parked in front of a temple

Blankets and table covers for sale

Many buildings have narrow terraces in front

A monk at a street corner

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A Little Morning Shopping in Kathmandu

Should have gone to Patan today but decided to just stay put in Kathmandu for my last two days here.  Gotta slow down a bit to get some rest as my vacation ends.  Slept quite well as my acidity didn’t keep me awake.  Must be the lassi.

While walking at Thamel, became envious at a Caucasian guy eating a sandwhich so I dropped by Sandwhich Point for a small bacon sandwhich (NR 150z). 

 Hefty fillings and warm bread made for a really enjoyable sandwhich.  

The bread was being delivered at the time I was there so I know that the breads are fresh or at least no more than a day old.

I headed to the chowk where Annapurna Temple is and somehow I took the wrong turn from the street where the Chinese hotel and the local gym was.  I still ended-up at the temple but via a more circuitious way that brought me to narrow streets littered with trash and through Asan Tole where local market is which was quite fortuitous as I was able to buy some packaged local snacks to bring back home. They were really cheap at just NR 120-130 per medium pack. Bought a pack of dahl too which hopefully I can cook properly back home.

Down the street on the right side of the temple to get some bronze plates and the bell my sister was asking for.  I was surprised that the plates were being sold by weight!  Bough three medium-sized light ones at NR 800 each.  The copper ones are a hundred cheaper but the brass ones are definitely more beautiful.  Would have brought brass drinking glasses too (NR 600) if I had much more money to spend on this stuff.

I like this street as it has nice local shops aside from the beautiful temes tucked between them.  The shop keepers aren’t pushy too.

Ended up at the Hanuman Dokha Durbar Square again, flashed my pass (so handy!) to the smiling ticket clerk and guard and headed straight for the toilet.

Returned to Thamel via the street on the other side of the square where there are many music shops.

Got some cool leather sandals (NR 1000) at this shoe and sandal shop where all the goods are from India or Pakistan.  Would have bought some more but they don’t.  Ladies would go crazy with the unique shoes and sandals here.  

What’s shopping without a good lunch to punctuate it?  Back to my favorite pit stop, Gilingche for crunchy vegetarian fried rice (best fried rice I’ve had in Nepal) and chili momo which was so hot, I ordered a lassi to soothe my mouth.

Back at the hotel to see how to pack in all the stuff considering I have not bought the drums yet.

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Guide to Bhaktapur

1.  Bhaktapur is easily accessible from Kathmandu via bus, taxi, or car hire. In my case, the private Nagarkot-Changu Narayan hike I booked at Mountain Trotters included a car that brought me to Nagarkot and picked me up at Changu Narayan from which it brought me to Bhaktapur.  Returning to Kathmandu a couple of days later, my hotel provided transport for NR 1000 to Thamel which is about the price taxis hanging around the entrance of the durbar square.

2.  Entrance fee is at NR 1500 for most foreigners.  If you will be visiting on multiple days whether on day trips or staying a couple of nights, ask them to extend the validity of your stay up to the end of your visa.  At the back of your entry ticket, they will write your passport number, country, entry date to Bhaktapur, and the number of days you need.  They didn’t ask for a passport picture.

3.  Do stay overnight.  I stayed two nights and it was one of the best decisions I made in my Nepal trip.  The place is magical early morning and after dusk once most of the tourists have gone.

 It’s a beautiful experience to just watch the locals heading to the temples and shrines for their religious rituals and hearing nothing but the sound of bells.  At the Pasupatinath Temple, a damaru drum sounds with the bells.

Plus you get to photograph Nyatapola Temple with less people.

It will be your chance to listen to bhajan singing at Taumadhi Tole (around 6pm) where I saw one.

4.  Book a room that can give you nice views of the square.  I stayed at Golden Gate Guesthouse.  

5.  After visiting the squares, head to the side streets and experience much more — crumbling buildings, hidden shrines, local life, etc.  

6.  There not too many good places to eat as prices are overprices and dishes uninspired.  

The cafes are much better.  If you want to dine with a top view, head to Temple View Restaurant at Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Cafe Nyatapola and Nyatapola Restaurant at Taumadhi Square, Cafe de Peacock at Dattatreya Square, and Pottery Cafe at Pottery Square.  Other places such as Highland Beans Coffee (which is my favorite cafe) at Dattatreya Square offer ground floor views.

7.  There are a few atm machines and money changers but I found them to be little lower than in Thamel.

8.  Get dolls, puppets, thanka paintings, and pottery at Bhaktapur as these are where they’re made.  The small lane from Durbar Square to Pottery Square is lined with stalls. The rest of the stuff can be found at Thamel and are much cheaper.  Oh, ceramic magnets in Bhaktapur are at NR 200 compared to NR 250 in Thamel.

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