Freak Street Kathmandu

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Freak Street Kathmandu was the final destination of the hippie trail from Europe to Nepal back in the 60s and 70s. It still exists in Kathmandu, Nepal but it isn’t officially called Freak Street. It is Jhochhen Tole, sometimes called Old Freak Street, 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 but Freak St is worth visiting. Discover more in our post.

Freak Street Kathmandu Street Art Photograph
Freak Street is a historic Street in Kathmandu Nepal. Is it worth visiting and where is it? Photos of Freak Street Kathmandu today. It’s very easy to walk to Freak St. from Kathmandu Durbar Square.

Freak Street Kathmandu

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

Freak Street Nepal and 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. 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.

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.

Freak Street’s 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 and 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.

Freak Street 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.

Freak Street 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 me 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 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.

This Freak Street blog post is the work of D, a junior writer on our website. See his author profile by clicking on his link at the top of the page.

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About the author
D for World Travel Family
D is a very young writer and content creator just starting out for World Travel Family. He is a blogger, video editor, graphic designer and aspiring social media and YouTube ninja. He is home educated and is currently taking A Levels in Biology and History. Unlike most bloggers, he doesn't drink coffee. Like most teenagers, he loves gaming which made him an instantly awesome drone pilot and is largly responsible for his huge and imaginative vocabulary. Most videos on this site are his work.

14 thoughts on “Freak Street Kathmandu”

  1. I lived in Swayambhu for seven months 1977/78. It was a very small place.
    Went back last year after 43 years.
    Couldn’t believe how the fields from Kathmandu to Swayambhu were gone and a huge suburb had been built. Couldn’t find my friends unfortunately (Om Shresta and family, Manjushree Bazaar, Swayambhu)
    No animals in the streets anymore, too much traffic. Still plenty of monkeys though🤣🤣.
    Big changes, only to be expected, but what shone through was the wonderful people.
    Jai Nepal!

    • I know, I love the Nepali people too. Even in the 20 plus years that I’ve been hanging out in Kathmandu the changes have been phenomenal. All the street cattle are over need Pashupatinath, there’s a cow refuge place there now. Or there was the last time we were there. 1977 was the year my husband was born.

  2. Wonderful article!

    Just a little correction:

    Newa or Newar is the noun. Newari (or Newa) is the adjective to describe something belonging to the Newa community (like the language).
    “Newa” is the name and what we say to describe anything in the community in the Newa language. Others might say “Newar people” or “Newari language/food.”

    Hope you visit the country sometime again!

  3. In 1978 I visited Nepal and Freaky Street in Katmadu. A small boy, about 8 pulled on my paint leg to advise of the menu available. He led me into a shop where negations were conducted. Nepalese is like nothing in the world, (I am told) 🙉. Kathmandu was so quiet then. Almost no cars, no industry that you could hear. Instead of taxis there were two wheeled man powered chariots.

    I flew to Everest and stayed at the Everest View Hotel, lucky enough to meet Sir Edmond Hillary, who was there for a gathering of famous Everest climbers.

  4. It was so lively! Many people tourists went there, and there were many small businesses as well! My dad had owned 2-3 stores there, it was very nice. There was a Cafe and they had very good cakes! My favorite was the chocolate cake.During the revolutionary process for democracy in 1990-1996 aprx., businesses could not survive because tourists were unable to come and my dad passed away too. Later Thamel rose but Freak Street was always there, losing its charm, but when I go there I still remember how it was.

  5. 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

  6. Fun post! So much info–love the pics and explanations. And the “weird mum” commentary. Haha!

  7. 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 ????


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