How To Travel Nepal by Motorcycle: Around Kathmandu
Want to have the perfect day around Kathmandu with a motorcycle? You love the open road? The wind in your face, the smells of the open air caressing your nostrils. How about navigating unmarked roads, side streets with no names, obeys little to no traffic laws all the while zooming around at varying speeds? What about being cut off, waving, honking, accelerating and braking at a moments notice? If all of this sounds wonderful to you, then you probably have what it takes to ride a motorcycle in Nepal. Probably.
Disclaimer: This is a 1 day itinerary with an optional 2nd day! The 2nd day can be done easily using public transport, BUT this is about taking the motorcycle!
Okay, okay, okay… that was a bit dramatic; However, I will preface this itinerary with a personal, yet sound, opinion of mine. Nepal (or Asia in general…) is NOT the place to learn how to ride a manual-motorbike/motorcycle. Zipping around on a scooter in Koh Tao or Pai is one thing, but to drive and operate a “big bike” in Asia, is a whole other ball game. Please, I repeat, please know how to ride a manual transmission bike before jumping on one in Nepal (or all of Asia).
After living in Nepal for quite awhile, I rode motorcycles all around Kathmandu and Pokhara. I truly believe if you love to ride, and are avidly against the public transport system (in all it’s Nepali-greatness 😅) then you will love this ride. Especially since you’ll be blending in with the locals as you zip around and weave throughout traffic while navigating to your cultural destinations.
Now, you know how to ride. ✓
You promise to wear your helmet the whole time.✓
You’ve rented your bike. ✓ (how to coming soon!)
Where to go?🤔
First and Foremost, you will be gone for the whole day, so pack well! Make sure not to forget:
(Including but certainly not limited to…)
- Jacket, Pants (It will get chilly as you ride while it gets dark and provide extra protection)
- Mouth Cover (buff or medical cover)
- Clear glasses (unless your helmet has a clear visor)– your eyes will thank you later.
- Cash (a good amount as the entry fees are hefty + petrol)
- Phone / GPS (I suggest the app Maps.Me —Works without sim card!)
- Close Toed Shoes
- (IF 2 DAYS) Change of clothes and overnight toiletries
Okay, you’ve packed your bag, your dressed right, you’ve fueled the bike…
*Please keep in mind that this is merely a suggested itinerary, please change it as your schedule allows– this can be done in 1 day or 1.5 days with an overnight in Nagarkot! (See below for details on both)
Wake up early enough so it isn’t bright out yet, but as the sun is dimly illuminating the magnificently smoggy, and bluish black sky of the night. Have a cup of tea and be on your way!
Stop 1: Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)
The first stop of the day I suggest is Swayambhunath Temple for Sunrise, no need to eat breakfast, you can get it along the way! Spend around an hour here walking around, soaking up the atmosphere and watch as the city of Kathmandu comes alive! Don’t forget to get a few good shots of the Monkeys and the sun crest the Himalayas in the not-so-far-off distance as it’s lights portrays a dalliance of pinks and yellows across the sky.
Stop 2: Bhaktapur (The Ancient City)
Our second stop is Bhaktapur! This city will transport you back in time hundreds of years as you walk the cobble stone streets. Be sure to admire the architecture that has clung to existence, despite it’s many earthquakes, throughout history. Allow yourself a couple of hours to get lost in the Durbar Square, as you step in and out of shops, stop for a small bite to eat at one of the many little street side food vendors. (Might I suggest Samosas/pakoras!) Cast your gaze at a city that hasn’t changed much in the last half-millennia.
*Note: As you walk around the city you will not only see temples, houses and shops, but also the magnitude of the destruction caused by the many earthquakes to terrorize this part of the world.
Stop 3: Nagarkot
After twisting, turning and winding your way up the side of several hills, you will come across the Buddha Peace Park which is as good as any place on the mountain to witness the sunset! Nagarkot is also one of the main places to see Mt. Everest from the Kathmandu area; However, due to the cloudiness and smog, seeing Everest is not Guaranteed. Now— Here you have an 2 options.
1.) Watch the sun sink dramatically behind the gorgeous himalayan backdrop, splashing the sky with hues of pink, orange, purple and blue and then hop on the bike an make your way back to Thamel…
2.) See #1, and instead of leaving to head back to Kathmandu, continue on to the hotel area and find a cheap hotel for the evening. This is a favorable option because the following morning you can wake up and take the 1hr hike to the Sunrise View point where you can see the sun dazzle the sky as it creeps out from it’s nightly home behind the Himalayas…and then return back to Kathmandu after some much deserved breakfast and tea.
*Note: I personally have not tested this, but I have heard that the tower is closed for sunset… and there is a military checkpoint which will not let you through at night, hence why I suggest watching the sunset from the Buddha Park!
STOP 4a: Thamel (If leaving Nagarkot at night)
If leaving Nagarkot at night be prepared for dusty roads, with low visibility an mild traffic until you reach Kathmandu, where you will encounter SERIOUS traffic near Ring Road. Having another person on the bike who can help navigate during this will save you a lot of headaches and stops throughout the drive. Once in Thamel, I suggest getting a meal and enjoying a well deserved beverage as you rest your bum on something other than a motorcycle seat!
*Tip: Fire and Ice Pizza in Thamel is a GREAT way to satisfy your craving for something non-Nepali!
If you’re staying the night in Nagarkot to watch the sunrise the following morning, Check out my 2nd Day Itinerary! Where we will be visiting the some of the holiest and largest temples in the world, as well as, try some delectable Newari food! ✧