One of Kathmandu's most compelling sites is the Bhasmeshvar Ghats, the largest cremation center in the greater Kathmandu area. Like India's Varanasi on the Ganges River, Hindus bring the bodies of their loved ones to these ghats, or steps, on the banks of the Bagmati River, to be cremated and to scatter their ashes to guarantee immortality. The main Pashupatinah Temple is off-limits to non-Hindus, but you can wander the tranquil grounds and observe the activities of the temple from across the narrow river.
Visit Boudhanath Temple, another of Kathmanduâs UNESCO sites, and one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal. Located about 7 miles (11 kilometers) from the center of Kathmandu on the northeastern outskirts of the city, the stupa of Boudhanath dominates the skyline. Throughout the day, pilgrims can be seen circumambulating the stupa chanting mantras, some completing the circuit while prostrating themselves at each step. The pilgrims continue to circle into the night when the temple is illuminated by butter lamps. Anyone is free to join in, but remember to walk around the stupa in a clockwise direction and also to spin the prayer wheels clockwise.
Visit Kathmanduâs Durbar Square, which is located in the old city and whose construction dates to the 11th century. Four different kingdoms added buildings over the centuries, including the Kasthamandap Hindu pagoda, erected by a Malla dynasty king in the late 16th-century, and from which the city takes its name. Today, approximately 50 temples and palace structures remain around the square. Your guide will describe the unique architectural styles and structures you see, and why they have been protected (and, more recently, called endangered) by UNESCO.
Fly by private helicopter from Kathmandu around the legendary Mt Everest, which stands at an altitude of 29,029 feet (8,848 meters); your pilot will land the chopper near Everest Base Camp, situated at about 18,000 feet (5,486 meters). Since you are not acclimated, you can only stay up there for about 15 minutes before flying back down to 13,000 feet (3,962 meters), where you will have lunch at an upscale trekker's lodge.
Afterwards, return by helicopter to Kathmandu to cap what will have been one of the most memorable days of your life.
Visit the Swayambhunath Stupa, also known as the Monkey Temple, a complex of monasteries of all faiths started in 460 A.D. by King Mana Devi of the Licchavi era, on the western fringes of the city. The imposing structure is recognized as a major landmark of Kathmandu and is distinguished by its population of freely roaming monkeys.
Have tea with a family living in one of the historic bahals around a common courtyard in the old part of town. Chat with your hosts about their lives and livelihoods, and hear about a way of life so very different from your own.
Wander the narrow streets and alleyways of Kathmandu's Old Quarter, with its myriad tiny stalls and its colorful street life. Visit the many different markets including the famous bead market, and the Indrachowk carpet and textile market.