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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.