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Freak Street Kathmandu

Freak Street Kathmandu was the final destination of the hippie trail back in the 60s and 70s. It still exists in Kathmandu, Nepal but it isn’t officially called Freak Street. It is Jhochhen Tole and it exits the south side of the Kathmandu Durbar Square.

Today it’s nothing special, just an ordinary street much like any other in the historic centre of Nepal.

The name Freak Street remains in places. You can feel the echoes of the past in shop signs and buildings still fairly intact after the earthquake.

But what was it like then and what’s there now? Is it worth taking a look while you’re in Kathmandu?

We always visit when we’re in town and on our last visit we were lucky enough to catch a photographic exhibition on Freak Street back in the hippie days, highlighting hotels and cafés that have stood the test of time and famous faces from way back when.

Find out more about Freak Street in the 60s, 70s and today, below.

This post, from here, was written by my son, D. He’s 14 and ready to get involved in the website.

Freak Street sign and shop Kathmandu Nepal

A shop on Jhochhen Tole selling fabrics and patchworks next door to a little Easter egg of the past.

Freak Street book shop today after the earthquake

The door of the original Freak Street Bookshop today. The whole building looks like it was damaged and rebuilt after the earthquake but the blue door and sign are original.

Durbar square Kathmandu near Freak St

Freak St is at the far side of Durbar Square if you are heading there from Thamel. You’ll need to walk around the outside to skip the admission fee. We did accidentally manage to get into Durbar Square for free from the Freak St end by following back alleys. We have been to Durbar Square more than enough times and its nice and very pretty but at this point it wasn’t worth paying.

What Was the Hippie Trail ?

Freak Street photographic exhibition of hippies in Kathmandu

One of the Pictures from the Photographic exhibition on hippies. The woman in this photo was a Nepali, Vidhea Shrestha, she modeled for photographer Ira Cohen and was a famous Hippini. Ira Cohen along with Petra Vogt overlanded via the hippie trail to Nepal during the early 70s, settling in Kathmandu. They featured heavily in the Freak Street scene and in the photographic exhibition.

The hippie trail was an overland journey between Europe and South Asia.

Hippie trail photographic exhibition on Freak Street Kathmandu

Signs and photos explaining how people came by bus from London all the way to Kathmandu. Tickets were 89 pounds.

The countries travellers would pass through while traveling depended on the traveler in question but most left from London or Amsterdam and went through Europe then Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and India but some made it even further than that.

Snowman Café

Freak Street Kathmandu Famous Snowman cafe famous cake shop

Famous Snowman caf on Freak Street. There is a photo from the 60 s or 70 s above the door.

The paving in this part of Kathmandu, as you can see above, is traditional flagstone rather than modern tarmac. That’s nice to see.

Cakes at Snowman Cafe on Freak Street Kathmandu

Some delicious looking cakes from one of the best cake shops in Kathmandu. What one would you like? Coffee cake or chocolate brownie, apple pie or apple crumble or maybe some coconut cake? They all sound good to me.

Snowman cafe is a small cake shop that has been on Freak Street since 1965, it’s one year older than my mum.

It has a reputation for some of the best cakes in Kathmandu. Sadly though we didn’t get to try any.

The Snowman was originally a tobacco shop but converted into a cake shop after hippies got the munchies from smoking hashish and wanted to eat cake.

The shop is a family owned bushiness and still has the same owner it did back in 1965.

Grasshopper cafe Kathmandu

The Grasshopper Cafe is another cafe from the hippie days. It looks directly onto the south side of Durbar Square and had photos from the hippie era inside.

Newari Girl Street Art

Freak Street Kathmandu street art Newari girl

An amazingly beautiful depiction of a Newari girl. This Kathmandu street art is right opposite the Snowman cafe on Freak Street.

The Newari are the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley and surrounding areas and they are still around today. We actually found an amazing street artwork of a Newari girl down by Freak Street.

Kathmandu has great street art, you’ll even find quite a few space invaders by Invader. I don’t think there are any Banksies yet.

Juju Dhau

JuJu Dhau Shop Freak Street Kathmandu

Juju Dhau (aka King Curd or the King of Yogurt) is a yummy sweet yogurt that is typically found in Bhaktapur. If you’re wondering where to find Juju Dhau in Kathmandu this shop ( on the right) is down on Freak Street.

Juju Dhau (aka the King of Yogurt or King Curd) is a delicious sweet yogurt created by the Newari people and can be found mainly in Bhaktapur, Nepal.

It is possible to find Juju Dhau in Kathmandu but the only place we managed to find it was on Freak Street. If you’re not going to Bhaktapur then I recommend you head down to Freak Street just to try some King Curd.

Visiting Freak Street Kathmandu Sadhu

Mum and I with a sadhu( a wandering Hindu holy man or baba) on Freak Street Kathmandu. My whole family visited Freak Street on mum’s 52nd birthday it was what she chose to do because my mother is weird. We had just got back from Everest Base Camp 2 days before.

Could you save this pin to Pinterest for us please?

Freak St Kathmandu Then and Now Nepal Travel

We had a brilliant time on Freak Street and it was super lucky we caught that photographic exhibition. Freak Street is a shadow of a past era but when you look closely you may just see something interesting. Personally I love Kathmandu. I love the food but the the people are almost always really nice and friendly and the place itself is powerful but not quite as full-on and in-your-face as India. I would always be up for a dal bhat with our friends Ram and Jack the pug.

About the Author D for World Travel Family

D, is a very young writer and content creator just starting out for the World Travel Family website. He is a blogger, video editor, graphic designer and aspiring social media and YouTube ninja. He is and was home educated, is a snake wrangler, a future crocodile hunter and has been to over 50 countries. Like most teenagers, he loves gaming which made him an instantly awesome drone pilot and is largely responsible for his huge and imaginative vocabulary. You can find other posts by D here. Most videos on this site are his work.

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Mhairi Mansell

Sunday 6th of January 2019

I'd never even heard of the hippie trail but now I want to see it all! The painting of the Newari girl is stunning, I could stand and look at that all day. Thank you for inspiring me, it's great to be reminded that there is always more than I thought out there. :) xxx

Alyson Long

Sunday 6th of January 2019

You're that young? LOL

Keri Turner

Thursday 3rd of January 2019

Fun post! So much info--love the pics and explanations. And the "weird mum" commentary. Haha!

Melanie Murrish

Wednesday 2nd of January 2019

Great post D, and yes, your mum is very weird.

Alyson Long

Wednesday 2nd of January 2019

Not as weird as her friends! Yep, he did a great job. Homeschoolers rule


Wednesday 2nd of January 2019

Always a great post as usual World Travel Family- thanks guys

Nomadic Dad

Tuesday 1st of January 2019

What a great post and super educational as I was never sure where the end of the hippie trail ended!

My dad was meant to follow it to the end in the 70s I think but he got 'distracted' in the Netherlands and ended up living there for several years and if he hadn't then I probably wouldn't have ended up being born in the early 80s ????

Keep up the good work ????

nomadic family life

Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.