Asia,  Nepal,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Bhaktapur (Nepal) – one of the best-preserved medieval cities

To dive into the past, go to Bhaktapur!

Part 1: Travel Diary

Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

The pollution of Kathmandu bothers JB a lot, that’s why we take refuge for two days in Bhaktapur, one hour drive from Kathmandu, where vehicles aren’t allowed in the city

Day 1: Bhaktapur and its squares

Once again, JB succeeds in finding us a room just behind the Nyatapola Temple, at the Namaste Bhaktapur Guest House, with a view beautiful enough to enjoy, and far enough away from the main square to protect us from the noise. And above all: hot water! We have been taking cold showers for 1 month, whatever the climate. The guy of the hotel explains us that he does everything to satisfy the two vital needs of the tourists: hot water & Wifi 😀


We arrived at 11:00 a.m., where everything was empty. The tourists who come to visit Bhaktapur for a day have not yet arrived. We take advantage of this privilege to tour the city squares: Taumadhi Square, Durbar Square, Pottery Square




The few vehicles in the morning and the old houses make us travel in time. The whole city is built of red bricks and wood, it is very nice and harmonious. Only the electric cables hanging over our heads remind us that we are in the 21st century. We cross many dressmakers, grandmothers knitting together, schoolchildren in uniform… stores grouped by trade: souvenir stores, fabrics, curb (a kind of yoghurt)

We have the chance to see at Pottery Square the artisans working the dough and coloring the pots. Just next door, we see students from a painting school drawing beautiful Mandala by hand


Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square is simply beautiful




Here is the Nepalese method to prevent buildings from collapsing. It can be seen everywhere, not only for historical buildings but also for private houses


All goes well until I stop for the picture below and JB slips & falls, breaking his smartphone. A lady appears at the window and asks us if we’re ok (too cute!)


We express our dismay to the hotel owner and he takes us to a store where we find a Samsung for 12 750 rupees, including the shell and screen protection (100 euros). To mark the occasion, we choose a very kitsch shell with the picture of Kathmandu 😂

I spot a supermarket. Who says supermarket says temptation. And I come out with two products that are very dangerous for the stomach: dried fruit and dried fish, which remind me of my snack products in Vietnam, which give me a stomach ache, even to Vietnamese people. But it’s too good to resist


JB wants to try his hand at barbershop service but the language barrier makes the task complex and dangerous. We ask the barber for a new blade, which he says without changing the blade in front of us. We insist, he changes the blade but out of clumsiness or with a very limited sense of service, he puts water on JB’s eyes without warning him. Furious, JB leaves and probably won’t want to try again unless the barber understands English

We have lunch at the hotel restaurant, 10m away. The boss, very curious, asks for all possible information about me and JB (why I don’t look French, why France etc.)


Its restaurant, an old house at least 300 years old, overlooks the main square


The ceilings are so small that I’m the only one who can walk upright, JB has to bend in half if he doesn’t want to hit his head. It’s still nice to be in a country where everyone is my size 😀 it’s so much easier to find clothes that fit me, sleep in beds that fit me, talk to others without breaking my neck. For JB, it’s another story, not only is it written “pigeon” on his head, but you can see him from far away

You get ripped off once or twice more in small restaurants. It’s our fault, we didn’t ask the price before. However they all have a too nice and too honest head so we lower our guard. We note ourselves from now on to ask for the price each time, even if we pass for big skinflints

We came across a private school by chance. In front of the school there is a big banner with the students’ pictures and… their grades. What a delicacy! That way we know who is the first but also who is the last in the class. Apparently, it is graded out of 4 because students with an average of 3.95 are graded A+

Bhaktapur is still quieter and less polluted than Kathmandu. It has an even more religious atmosphere than the Durbar Square in Kathmandu. At nightfall, two groups of believers sit in front of the main temple to sing and pray, creating such a soothing atmosphere that one can stay there for hours to listen to them. When the rain falls, everyone goes home. Only dim lights from nearby houses illuminate the square, and the temples plunge into darkness

Day 2: Rest and walk

We wake up early and are surprised to see that a friend has reported herself safe in Nice. We read the news, with this feeling of helplessness and sorrow. We send messages asking for news and messages of support to our loved ones. A Nepalese seen the day before calls out to us and expresses his compassion. Wow! We are at the far end of the Kathmandu valley and the news is already reaching him.

We walk like yesterday in the small streets of Bhaktapur to change our ideas. The walk is still as pleasant as ever. Today, we have seen even more craftsmen than yesterday, in different fields: pottery, drawing, woodcarving… which makes us want to buy a small souvenir because we are sure that everything sold here is made here too

The drawings of mandala (meditation support) on fabric make me eye since my arrival in Nepal. And I am very attracted by a particular mandala that stuck to me the first time I saw it. It is much simpler than the others, composed of Buddhist mantras. Every time I pass in front of it, I stop for a few seconds to look at it. I bought it for 500 rupees (out of price according to the guys at the hotel). But when you love, you don’t count, right? I’m not sure how I’m going to manage to carry it without damaging it in my little bag to Vietnam where I’ll have it kept by my parents, but we’ll see. It’s still quite small (20cmx20cm)


It has been one day that we wonder how we are going to go to Nagarkot from Bhaktapur. The cab fares we have been given aren’t suitable for us. Thus, when a “false guide” asks JB aloud what he intends to do tomorrow, JB also answers aloud that we are going to Nagarkot. As planned, a guy runs towards us to ask us how we intend to go there and at what time we want to leave. Bingo! We find our cab for 1100 rupees without getting too tired. It does not have a telephone, we give ourselves an appointment like in the good old days “10 am tomorrow in front of the Namaste hotel” and a handle seals the deal

We have lunch in a small bui-bui for the first time in Nepal, it’s super good!


As every Friday evening, the hotel invites a Nepalese music group to the rooftop, and offers cheap food. They have the good idea to illuminate the temple from the hotel with a multi-colored light spot, which, together with the music, attracts a lot of tourists to their rooftop. We finish the kilo of mangoes bought the day before at 100 rupees (0.83€, scam included) before preparing ourselves for the departure tomorrow to Nagarkot, a cute little village in the middle of nowhere

Part 2: Practical Tips

How to get there

One can take a crowded bus for 40 rupees from Kathmandu, or a cab (1200 rupees for two). The trip takes 1 hour. The road isn’t easy so we are happy not to have rented a scooter for that


  • Sleep over at least one night
  • Choose your hotel carefully: we recommend ours: Namaste Bhaktapur Guest House, 13 euros per night
  • Pay attention to the price of coffee in the middle of the main square: the view is breathtaking but the note is salty
  • The speciality is Curd (yoghurt served in small pottery jars). Masala Tea costs a fortune here, I don’t know why
  • Spend some time in the main square (Taumadhi Square) at the top of the temple to observe the daily life of the Nepalese people. This is where it all happens
  • If you want to pay for the entrance ticket: pay only once, then tell them that you have booked a hotel, the ticket will be extended for a few more days
  • Some banks will charge you Rs. 400-750 for each withdrawal. Test different ATMs, I found a bank near Taumadhi Square that doesn’t charge me for the withdrawal
  • Just because it’s a small town doesn’t mean people are nicer. Always negotiate and ask for prices.

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