A Digital Nomad in Kathmandu, Nepal

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A Digital Nomad in Kathmandu, Nepal

A Digital Nomad in Kathmandu

A Digital Nomad in Kathmandu

 

Kathmandu has been a stop on the traveler’s circuit since overlanders on the hippie trail came blazing (in more ways than one) from Istanbul via Iran, Afghanistan, and India in the late sixties.

 

No doubt it’s changed a lot since those days; Kathmandu is plagued with overcrowding, air pollution, and severe traffic. But head to traveler’s enclave of Thamel, on the city’s west side, and you’ll discover a little world devoted to catering to the international traveler, with everything from the perfect cup of espresso to some of the best hummus this side of Damascus.

 

This is my latest in a series of digital nomad posts. Check out A Digital Nomad in Rishikesh and others in the series to help location independent nomads.

 

WiFi Access

 

Connectivity in Kathmandu is no problem. Nearly every guesthouse, hotel, coffee shop and café has a connection. Internet speed is not fast, but is sufficient to your get your typical online work done

 

Traveler’s Ghetto within Kathmandu

 

Be forewarned, Thamel is a traveler’s ghetto on par with only Bangkok’s Khao San Road. You’ll be constantly badgered by richshaw drivers, souvenir sellers, tour hawkers, and musical instrument sellers. However, Thamel is an easy place to base yourself for a week or two, to get some work done. Thamel’s benefit is its small back streets are kept mostly free of heavy traffic, noise, and pollution.

 

One thing you won’t tire of is the plethora of restaurants and coffee shops. If you do stay in Thamel, don’t try to fool yourself, this isn’t really Nepal. But you’ve got plenty of time to explore the real Nepal. Enjoy the Korean food and croissants while you’ve got the chance!

 

Distractions

 

There are yoga and meditation classes in Thamel to keep your mind and spirit healthy. There’s also more bookshops here than a person could peruse in a lifetime. Thamel has plenty of bars and a great range of eating establishments. If you’re willing to brave the traffic you could rent a bike and peddle your way out to a number historic sites or a village like Kitipur.

 

Inexpensive living

 

Nepal is one of the cheapest countries on earth for travelers and Thamel is the epicenter of cheap rooms. You can get singles for as low as $3-4 US. Quality and price vary widely, so just show up in Thamel and shop around. Finding a local restaurant with local prices is a real challenge here, so either take a 10minute walk to get out, or pay $1.50 on up for a tourist meal. Overall the value for money here is quite high. A coffee (from real coffee beans!) at a nice coffee shop costs only about $1.

 

Alternatives to Kathmandu

 

Bhaktapur would make a nice short term alternative. It’s a gorgeous and authentic city 13 km from the madness of Kathmandu, but is quite a bit more expensive for accommodation. It also costs $11 per week for a pass to enter the old part of the city.

 

Specific Recommendations

 

Or2K, an Israeli establishment, was consistently delicious and well-priced. They’ve got a mellow bohemian vibe going with on-the-floor seating, fantastic vegetarian food, reliable Wi-Fi, and fabulous drinks.

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Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno has been traveling the world and writing about it for the better part of 15 years. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Transitions Abroad magazine. He blogs at Bohemian Traveler and edits the independent travel magazine GoMadNomad.com. He most recently set up a tour company offering authentic, small group tours at Unquote Travel. Follow him on Google +, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

10 Comments

  1. Mark Wiens says:

    Hey Stephen, good write-up about Kathmandu!

    We were there for a few weeks in March, and the electricity was off about 50% of the time. Do you have lots of power outages there now / when you were there? So as a digital nomad, one thing I always did before checking into a guest house was to ask if they had the router on battery power – to be able to use wifi when power was off – some do and some don’t, but ask beforehand – it’s nice to be able to be online when the power is off!

  2. Maria says:

    Stephen – sounds like a great place to stop and regroup or catch a breath.
    I like Mark’s tip of asking about the battery backup for Internet and will be sure to remember that when traveling (good info just about anywhere) and I love the image you’ve given me now of the perfect cup of espresso, the best hummus this side of Damascus, and croissants. Thanks!

  3. I was pretty much going to say what Maria did – “great place to stop and regroup or catch a breath”…

    Also, my dad totally did the India, Nepal, Afghanistan thing when he was young. He has the COOLEST pictures. I should scan and share them sometime. So badass.

  4. Noel says:

    A great article! I think as much as we want authentic experience when we travel, sometimes we do crave a bit of creature comfort, familiar food and a good coffee. Oh! and not to forget the best hummus this side of Damascus. I can’t wait to experience Nepal!
    Thank you Mark for the tip on the power backup.

  5. Anwesha says:

    Hey Stephen. I liked your write up. I love Kathmandu but I have never stayed at Thamel. You are right about Thamel not being the real experience and I like quieter places in less touristy neighbourhoods of the city.

  6. Carmen says:

    Good tips. I’d love to visit here one day. It seems off the beaten path enough for it to be a true adventure.

  7. […] are a tremendous amount of outdoor gear shops in Thamel Kathmandu as well as in Pokhara. You’ll find both real brands and knock-offs. Prices and quality varies […]

  8. Stephen says:

    Did you ever happen to find the Momo Cave? That was the one solid Nepalese food I could find in Thamel, tucked in a leaky backroom upstairs from some alley on that main road.

  9. No, never, found that one, Stephen. Although I could have used more local food (at local prices) in Thamel. BUt thanks to Migration Mark, I did find local Newari food.

  10. […] This is Kathmandu’s double knock-out punch. Yes, lots of cities have traffic problems. Kathmandu’s are primarily due to an antiquated road system: small roads and few main through roads to handle the growing numbers of automobiles. The Air pollution of the Kathmandu Valley is usually pretty bad. Most tourists will get out of the city after a few days to head for higher ground (think trekking) or the lowlands (think Buddha’s birthplace or Chitwan National Park). Unless you choose to stay in Kathmandu as a digital nomad. […]

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