The first time I went to Nepal, I really dragged my feet about going to Patan. In my mind, it was too far away to go for just one day, but it wasn’t far enough to warrant switching hotels. On my second visit to Nepal, I was invited to Patan to watch a friend DJ and realized that it’s only a quick 20 minute drive by cab ($5.00 at most). Once I realized how close Patan was, it became my favorite spot to go on a whim. After spending a week there, I put together my ultimate Patan Itinerary!
My biggest advice is don’t overthink visiting Patan. It really is so simple to get there. For me, Patan is a great place to do non-touristy stuff. Yes, there’s beautiful architecture, temples, etc. But, it’s also full of really interesting experiences that aren’t typically thought of when people visit Nepal.
Please note: I’ve chosen mostly westernized restaurants because it takes time for your stomach to adjust to local cuisine. A few places below are VERY local. If you’ve just arrived in Nepal, I don’t recommend eating there for the first week.
Patan Hotels & Accommodations
Best Budget Accommodation: I stayed in Looniva Guest House when I was traveling solo, and it was perfect for a cheap hotel near all the attractions. Unfortunately, Patan doesn’t have any hostels or dorms, so this was the cheapest one I could find that fit my criteria and basic needs.
Best Boutique Hotel: Hiranya Guest House is a beautiful traditional boutique hotel. The building looks like it could be part of a museum. The detailed wood work is really lovely, and it’s very well-kept. This is perfect if you want a traditional feel while in Patan.
Best Comfort Hotel: I ended up at Shakya House by accident when a hotel in Khokana ended up being really weird and uncomfortable. We fled to Patan and need a nice place to decompress from our adventure. The owners are so amazing. They made us feel at home immediately. It was a little more expensive than we usually spend, but it was perfect since we split it between the two of us. I had such an amazing night sleep there. It was one of the best beds I’ve slept on recently.
Patan Itinerary – Day 1
I recommend doing day one as a walking tour. Patan is such a lovely city to explore by foot and everything included in day one is fairly close by. Try to buy a face mask before heading out so that you can keep the dust and pollution at bay. Sunglasses are also a good idea to protect your eyes from the dust.
I went to Dhokaima Cafe with a friend for lunch one day and really loved the restaurant. It’s right next to Patan Dhoka which acts as an entrance gate to the city of Patan. The restaurant has a really nice outdoor seating area and a small book shop. It’s a little more expensive than other places but it’s some of the freshest food I’ve had, maybe ever. I got a California omelette, and it tasted like the tomatoes, onions, and peppers were picked fresh from the garden. The bread also appeared to be homemade and tasted like it just came out of the oven.
Pimbahal Pond is a great place to hang out after breakfast. There’s a small temple and a walkway over the water. There are even ducks to feed if you have some bread or crackers with you. What I really love about this place is that it isn’t touristy. You can sit on a bench and watch people go about their daily lives. It’s a really nice way to see local life without having to go too far out of the way.
The Golden Temple is actually a monastery, therefore you may see monks coming and going throughout the day. It’s a beautiful temple with monkeys depicted throughout it. A popular Hindu god is Hanuman, the Monkey God. He represents strength and energy. Many temples in Nepal mix both Hindu and Buddhist gods together which can be rather confusing. In Buddhism, Buddha often described the mind as dozens of monkeys all clamoring for attention. I’m not sure if the monkeys represent Hanuman, or if they’re a reminder to calm your monkey mind. Or perhaps, neither. Maybe it’s open to interpretation. Regardless, it’s a beautiful place to visit.
The Patan Museum
I have to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of museums showing architectural items or religious statues. I’d rather see these items in temples or around the city. That being said, this museum is included in your entry price for Patan Durbar Square, so it would be a waste not to take advantage of it. What I did really love about this museum was the gardens in the back. It’s quiet (compared to the main roads in Patan), and it was so nice to see some greenery which is rare near the main tourist attractions.
Coffee Tea & Me
Before exploring the rest of Durbar Square, I recommend heading back out to have lunch. Make sure to retain the ticket you bought for reentry and check with the officers that you can go back in. It shouldn’t be a problem (re-entry is currently allowed), but rules change from time to time. Coffee Tea & Me is a cute little hole in the wall cafe located just outside the square. They have a small open style kitchen, but don’t let that fool you. For $4.50, I got one of the best grilled fish dishes I’ve had in Nepal. It’s fairly inexpensive, and you get really delicious food that’s made fresh right in front of you.
Durbar Square is the most popular tourist destination in Patan. There are several structures within the square (some are being rebuilt from the earthquake) that represent the famous Newari architecture. The square is known for its ornate wood and stone carvings. Architecturally speaking, it’s one of my favorite places in the Kathmandu Valley. The square is free to enter early in the morning and in the evenings, so I tend to walk through it whenever I can before breakfast. It’s also not crowded in the mornings and you’ll see locals drinking tea on the steps which always makes me smile.
Mangal Bazaar is a shopping street right next to Durbar Square. What I love about it, is it’s not a bunch of tourist souvenirs. The items being sold are generally bought by locals. One thing I always want to get, but never do because it’s heavy, is a set of brass drinking glasses. These would be such an awesome gift for a whisky drinker or a wine enthusiast. The glasses are all beautifully designed and have a matching canister to store your booze of choice. There’s also a ton of beautiful wall decor and other fun items to admire.
My best advice is to get a local SIM (I recommend NCELL) and just get lost! Patan is such a cool city with little tiny alleyways that open up to beautiful courtyards, temples, and parks. Get off the main road and just wander until you can’t find your way back. Then, use Google Maps to get home. I love wandering down streets in Patan. It reminds me a bit of Venice in that way. The more alleyways you take, the more you find. Giving directions to these places would be a disservice. Just explore. You really can’t go wrong.
This is probably the best local restaurant near Durbar Square. They only make a few items a day, so there is no menu. There’s a woman and a man who run the place. The woman sits on the floor cooking while the man takes your order. If you’re confused, just point to things and ask what it is. Don’t be shy. When I went, there was egg bara (like an egg bread), very spicy buffalo meat, and beaten rice (flattened crunchy rice). All together my meal was just over $1.00. I don’t recommend eating here if it’s your first week in Nepal since your stomach will take time to adjust to local food. Head down this same alley for other options.
Patan Itinerary – Day 2
Day two requires a bit more walking. It’s definitely manageable because I did it, but I was super exhausted by the end of the day. If it’s in your budget, you could take a taxi to the first stop to save a ton of time. You can also use the Tootle app which is like Uber for motorbikes. It’s very cheap compared to taxi’s, however, it’s not the safest option since you are getting on a motorbike with a stranger and won’t be given a helmet to wear.
Higher Ground is a restaurant/cafe located in Jawalakhel. Although this technically isn’t Patan, it’s close enough that it gets grouped together in tourist information. This bakery is a social enterprise which helps employ marginalized women and youth who live in economically depressed communities. This allows them to have a career that might not otherwise be available. The bakery is part of a larger organization that also has a handicraft boutique. Profits from the two enterprises help educate at risk women and youth and provide counseling. I recommend the English Breakfast which is very filling and delicious.
Jawalakhel Handicraft Center
This is the perfect place to buy a handmade Tibetan rug. The center is run by Tibetan refugees and you can walk the grounds for free to see the carpets being loomed. It’s really beautiful and cool to watch. They’ll ship anywhere in the world if you choose to purchase one, and I’m told they are reasonably priced (although I didn’t ask for prices myself since I don’t actually live in one place). There’s also a pashmina shop and a handicraft shop full of trinkets out front.
The Local Project Nepal
If you want, you can grab a cab to The Local Project Nepal. If you walk, you’ll pass Kotsy’z Doughnuts where you can grab a quick snack. This store is my favorite in Nepal. They have really cool products that are all made in Nepal with sustainable practices. Some items are more expensive, but they are higher quality. For instance, a beaded bracelet here is $12 compared to $3 in Thamel, but the design is beautiful and isn’t mass produced. I’ve bought a few t-shirts, jewelry, and notebooks here.
House of Palettes
House of Palettes is right next door. You can purchase a canvas and let out your inner artist. They have pictures to choose from, or you can create your own. There’s really no rules. You can work on your artwork for multiple days or do a quick painting in an hour. It’s all up to you. I’d highly recommend this for families traveling with kids, since it’s fun for everyone. Adults can get drinks from next door to make the experience more laid back. And, if you have no idea what you’re doing, someone is there to help you.
Evoke is located in the same area as The Local Project Nepal and House of Palettes. You can actually eat their food while you paint, or go once you’re done. I highly recommend the ham and cheese sandwich even though that sounds silly. They have a large menu with a lot of choices, but it’s one of my favorite places to indulge in western food when I’m in Nepal.
Best Archery or Circus Kathmandu
If you’re in town on a Saturday, you can rework this schedule to include an aerial silks class at Circus Kathmandu. Call ahead to schedule it. If not, I highly recommend taking a shot or two at Best Archery. I’d never shot a bow and arrow before, but it’s so much fun. The gentleman working there helped me put on all the gear and taught me how to shoot. By the end, I’d landed a few bullseyes. I would definitely do it again.
Seeing Hands Clinic
Seeing Hands Clinic employs the blind and teaches them to be masseurs. I got a sports massage when I went and really loved it. I was extremely sore from working out, so the massage was a bit painful. That being said, she knew exactly what areas needed work and she massaged my muscles until they were relaxed. By the end, my whole body felt so much better. I would definitely go back even though it’s a bit more expensive than other massage parlors in the area.
The Village Café
The Village Cafe is such a great place to experience local cuisine. They teach women in poverty stricken areas how to create a sustainable business with their farms. They also teach women how to cook in a hygienic environment to please tourist. The cool thing is, they make traditional Nepali food. Most places that focus on hygiene only make westernized food, so this is an awesome place to try local dishes without worrying about getting sick. You really can’t go wrong with any item on this menu so try something new and fun. You won’t regret it.
Near the cafe is a mall. It’s a great place to grab anything you’ve been needing and were unable to find. It also has a cinema. If you still have energy after a long day, I recommend checking out a typical Bollywood film or a Hindi movie. Most don’t have subtitles, but I find it’s more fun to make up my own story anyway. I tend to decide quickly that someone is a brother and sister, and later, I find out I’m very wrong when they turn out to be lovers.
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This post was written by Michelle Della Giovanna and originally appeared on www.fulltimeexplorer.com