Bhaktapur Nepal

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Bhaktapur means place of devotees and is about 13 Km from Kathmandu itself, lying in the eastern part of the Kathmandu valley. Originally named Khwopa, Bhaktapur Nepal was always known as the best preserved of the region’s 3 Royal cites and UNESCO sites until the 2015 earthquake. Tragically, there was much damage in Bhaktapur with many lives and cultural treasures lost. Bhaktapur Nepal is a lot quieter than Kathmandu and has the third, less visited, Durbar square of the Kathmandu Valley. All are UNESCO listed, all are magnificent. Why is Bhaktapur less touristed? Well, I guess because it’s more difficult to get to, being a fair way out of Kathmandu, and most people will be Durbar-squared out after seeing the two in Kathmandu. That, and of course, 3-week treks leave you very little time to explore more of Nepal.

Bhaktapour view Nepal Himalayas
The view from our breakfast table at Kumari Guest House. Could those be the snows of the Himalayas behind? We never had a clear view but further to the left we did, just about, make out a few peaks.

We chose to spend 3 days in Bhaktapur Suryabinayak (which became 4) as we’d heard good things, and with this being our third trip to Nepal, we thought it was about time we went, in part, to get it on the blog.

Bhaktapur Nepal

Durbar Square Bhaktapur
Girls selling balloons outside an intact temple in Baktapur Durbar Square. This temple is intact and you can go inside for a look.

Bhaktapur was founded by King Ananda Malla in the 12th century and was the original capital of the Malla Kingdom, becoming an independent Kingdom in the 15th century. The last three rullers of the Malla Kingdom are responsible for the buildings, temples, palaces and Durbar square of Bhaktapur.

In the 18th century the region was unified and Patan, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and the rest of the Kathmandu Valley came under the single rule of the Gorkha dynasty.

Bhaktapur is an architectural treasure, with towering pagoda style temples forming the characteristic Nepali stairway to heaven, many building remain as they were in medieval times. Bhaktapur is also famous for pottery and today you can still visit Pottery Square and see pots drying in the sun and being thrown and fired.

Pottery Square Bhaktapur
Fine pottery and incredible woodcraft. Bhaktapur pottery square, you will see pots being thrown, communal kilns and hundreds of pots drying in the sun.

There are multiple huge courtyards and squares with most of the temples still in constant use today.

Visiting Bhaktapur Nepal
The bottom-most guardians are a pair of wrestlers.

Bhaktapur was famous for Malla Yuddha during the Malla period, a form of wrestling.  You will see carved wrestlers guarding temple steps just as they did back then.

Bhaktapur Admission Prices and Costs of Staying and Getting There

Getting into Bhaktapur will hurt your bank balance. It’s 1500 Rs each to get in (They will ask $15, but 15,000 Rs is a fair bit less). They say that kids over 10 have to pay full price but we got away with paying for just our 13-year-old.

I don’t know if the over-10 rule is an actual policy or not, but in Kathmandu we’ve never had to pay for the kids to get into historic sites. Kathmandu admission prices are generally lower.

Our 15000 Rs tickets will see us through for the 3 days that we are here in the same way that most tickets in Kathmandu will cover your entire stay. We had to present our passports to enable this.

Buddhist temple or monastery in Bhaktapour
It took us a few days to find this Buddhist Temple or Monastery in predominantly Hindu Bhaktapur. A local told us it was Buddhist and there is a Buddha statue inside, but it seems to be a bit of a mixture. This is Chaturbrahma Mahabihar Monastery in Bhaktapur Nepal, you should be able to find it on Google Maps.

As soon as we arrived the most persistent tout we’ve ever come across latched onto us and was almost impossible to shake off. We’ve never had this happen in Kathmandu, people seem far more easy going there. I guess it’s a symptom of low tourist numbers and desperation.

Most of the tourists here seem to arrive during the day with a tour group and those people don’t put much money into local pockets.

Makara Fountain - Naga Pokhari Water Tank - Bhaktapur (Nepal)
Another beautiful place in Bhaktapur, the brass Makara Fountain at Naga Pokhari Royal Water Tank in Bhaktapur (Nepal). The Makara is the creature the goat water spout is emerging from. We’ve done our best to find accurate names, but spellings do vary, as does information. I’ve also seen this spout described as “copper” and “golden”.

The good news is, hotels in Bhaktapur seem great and cost less for a better standard of room than in Kathmandu.  We are thrilled with our huge family room at the Kumari Guest House, right in Bhaktapur’s ancient heart, not far from Dattatrya Square and Taumadhi Square, the oldest parts of the city of Bhaktapur.

Getting to Bhaktapur cost us 1500 Rs in a decent-sized tourist vehicle organised by our friend Ram of Stupa Guest House Kathmandu. It felt much safer than the tiny local taxis and was less hassle than the bus, which would have cost us just 50 Rs each. The journey took over an hour, maybe almost 2. You can book a tour of Bhaktapur from Kathmandu if you don’t have time to stay overnight. Book here.

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Earthquake Damage at Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur Earthquake Damage
You’ll see a lot of props, a lot of cracks and a lot of rubble. There is repair and rebuilding but it’s a mammoth task. You can’t even imagine how some of the ancient buildings could be repaired but they’re restoring slowly.

There is a lot of earthquake damage on Bhaktapur, more than we saw in Kathmandu even back in 2016, just 11 months after the earthquake. Repair work is ongoing but many buildings have been lost. For the first time in Nepal, I felt like we were visiting a disaster site and part of me felt wrong about that.

Don’t let the damage put you off, there is still plenty of Bhaktapur intact.

Should You Come to Bhaktapur for The Day or Stay Overnight?

Bhaktapur Nepal tallest temple
This square (Taumhadi Square) is stunning by day but in the evening it comes to life with market stalls, singing, butter lamps and drumming. The building on the left is a cafe, it’s very expensive. We actually walked in, sat down and walked out again when we saw the prices. Great view though. Yeti hotel, back right, has rooftop dining and dal and rice from 200 Rs. The momo shop below, is off to the back right.

Absolutely stay overnight in Bhaktapur! Unless you book a tour or take a guide, you won’t see everything in a day. Like us you’ll get caught-up in wandering the streets and miss half the good stuff, the ancient city stretches on and on with square after square.

Also, this place comes alive in the evenings. Market stalls appear as the days cool into dusk and the tour groups disappear. Candles flicker around temples and every night there was drumming , singing and chanting sounding from the square. Don’t expect night life, even the shops are all shut by 8pm, but the people are out on the streets doing what they do of an evening.

Also don’t miss Kathmandu’s other Durbar squares after dark, likewise, they come to life and it’s wonderful to be there.

If you stay overnight in Bhaktapur you can also enjoy breakfast on a rooftop in sight of the snows of the  Himalayas ( if you’re lucky with the weather) as the Lukla- Kathmandu flights stream overhead. It’s much nicer being in Bhaktapur when the tour groups aren’t around and for that you need to stay a day or two. Check out the hotel we used, it was great.

Walking Around Bhaktapur, Our Video

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Bhaktapur Nepal Momo shop
This shop sells momos and only momos. Give it a go!

Most of the restaurants in Bhaktapur seem to be on the rooftops, so bring your climbing legs.

Most we’ve tried have been pretty touristy and average.

This little momo shop, below, was a stand out. A plate of momos in a tourist restaurant might cost you 300 Rs, plus 10% service charge, plus 13% tax. If you eat here, with the locals, you get excellent momos with curry sauce and fiery red chilly for just 60 Rs a serve. A very delicious bargain. There’s no menu and the momos are buff, no veg option. My kids don’t like momos. How is that possible?

The kids are really enjoying veg thukpa, dal and rice, cheese, ideally paneer pakodas and, of course, the ju ju dhau. Nepali food is D’s favourite world cuisine, he says.

Coffee in Bhaktapur

Try Beans coffee shop, it looks out onto the Bhaktapur Durbar square. An Americano cost us 100 Rs here. There are quite a few coffee shops around the tourist area of the old city.

Ju Ju Dhau is from Bhaktapur Nepal

Bhaktapur King Yogurt Juju dhao curd
Bhaktapur King Curd, Juju Dhao, find a little shop that will sell you a small terracotta pot of the stuff for 30-50 Rs. It’s really good.

Ju Ju Dhau is the king of yoghurts and it comes from Bhaktapur Nepal. I haven’t tasted it but Chef and the boys swear it’s amazing. King curd is famous throughout Nepal and you’ll find it easily in most Bhaktapur restaurants, better yet, buy it from a little shop in a person-sized terracotta pot.

For Pinterest

Visiting Bhaktapur Nepal

If you’re heading to Nepal it would be a great shame to miss Bhaktapur. It’s on the way to Nagarkot, so if you’re heading that way for the famous hill top views of the Himalayas, it makes perfect sense to stop in Bhaktapur for a couple of days. I love Kathmandu, I really love it, but Bhaktapur has won me round. I think if we were spending extended time in Nepal (maybe as a digital nomad base, the wi-fi has been great here) I might choose Bhaktapur. After a few days, people know us and we’re no longer just a face in the crowd. It’s a place where I feel we belong and part of me wants to stay here and never leave. So if you can, do it. Visit Bhaktapur Nepal. You can head back to our main Nepal travel blog page here. We’re in the Himalayas for months yet, sign up to follow!

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

13 thoughts on “Bhaktapur Nepal”

    • Which one? The really old looking one away from the Durbar Square? That’s Chaturbrahma Mahabihar Monastery in Bhaktapur Nepal. Took a Google Image Search to find that. If you paste that name into Google Maps it will show you where it is.

  1. Hi there
    We are planing to visit Bhaktapur and Nagarkot this Dec. Can you recommend me your driver and private car transfer. Need to get a good price and reliable transfer. Appreciate. Will follow your itinerary and suggestions. Thank you for all the useful info

    • Hi Sandra, I don’t have their details. Our friend organised this for us. Honestly, everything in Kathmandu is super cheap, just use our links in the post, that’s the easiest, most reliable, way if you don’t happen to have a friend handy. And often his prices weren’t the best.

  2. We were there in May for 3 days and had many momos in that restaurant, great price and great flavour even if the sauce blew my head off!

  3. Wow, this brings back memories – we were in Bhaktapur exactly 25 years ago on our honeymoon. We actually walked from Kathmandu to Bhaktapur (it took us two hours and a half – nearly as quick as your trip!).
    From your photos I have the impression the place still looks quite similar as back then – though in my memory it was lots dustier than it looks now.
    Are the potters still there behind the square ? And there was this huge fish pond, just outside the center.
    And you know what : on our breakfast table, for the last 25 years, there has been this little sugar-pot from Bhaktapur. It lost its lid over the years, but it’s still standing! ;-)))
    I couldn’t access the video ?

    • You WALKED? Along that main Rd with all the pollution? We waked to Pashupatinath once, that’s about half way but the main road is hell. Maybe it wasn’t there back then. No, not dusty at all, we had rain a couple of times. Bhaktapur actually has some sort of clean city award. It would be very much the same, other than a lot is down after the earthquake. Try again with the video, it’s all in there. Yes we went out to the tanks, there are loads, the kids don’t love tanks, not even slightly 😉 Didn’t see any sugar pots. Now in Nagarkot and I think walking would have been quicker! Hardly any road up here all washed out / earthquaked out.

        • Yep, the video is working! (love the Ironkids t-shirt). Just went through the pics of Bhaktapur of 25 years ago. Hardly any shops, no tourists on the photos (that’s why we loved it) – the temples are the same though.!
          And yes we walked, not on the main road, but via the old Bhaktapur road. Hardly any traffic those days …
          We started our trek in Nagarkot, no paved road back then. Gosh, I really think we should get back to see how things have evolved!

          • Still very few tourists other than the day trippers on group tours. Not much of a backpacker vibe at all. Very few actually staying over night,which is a shame as the hotels are great.

            • Back to the photoalbum for that one (this was 25 years ago … jee … we were babies!!)
              Heaps of pics, no explanations – From what I can figure out : We slept in Nala, went through Banepa and Dulikhel, slept at Namo Buddha (beautiful views on the Langtang and Everest), we finished at Panauti (if I remember correctly).
              Nothing really adventurous (I nearly died from altitude sickness at Jomsom, so we didn’t venture anymore heights) – but we had lots and lots of beautiful encounters.
              It’s a great souvenir – thanks for bringing it back to us!


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