The word “Thamel” derived from Newari language of ethnic Kathmandu inhabitants, represents a budding commercial hub of greater Kathmandu region.
Over the time, the small hipster town changed dramatically in terms of lifestyle and socio-economic stature. Today, it is one of the most visited place in the whole of Nepal by the tourists.
Also known as Hippie’s Den, Tourist trap or Tourists’ Mecca, Thamel boasts a lifestyle different from the rest of greater Kathmandu. The dingy bars, loud western music, trance parties and posh diners give the real impression of the city.
A famous flea-market for adventure travelers, here, you can buy or rent stuffs particular to trekking, hiking and climbing.
Most of the companies from the Nepalese tourism scene are found in here. Located side by side, sometimes in a single building, these entities -catering clienteles from around the globe, represent the local tourism industry of Nepal. Despite their tiny Brick & Mortar offices, the services provided are larger than life and fairer (mainly because of regulatory bodies, like Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), TAAN and Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), inspecting these organizations).
History of Thamel
Originally, the home of ethnic tribe of Kathmandu –“Newar,” the place received international recognition for its popularity among incoming tourists, mainly Hippies during early 70s’ and 80s’. Thamel saw a large influx of western tourists; those looking for peace, eastern spiritual music and drugs. This place assimilated with the cultures of “Flower Generation” and became a known hipster town. One could easily find Hashish and Ganja (Marijuana) selling on these streets. Later, the evolution of small trade, with establishment of bars and restaurants, made this place an epicenter of commerce in Kathmandu.
Despite it cultural transitions, it never lost its roots and charm of yeste-years. You can still find buildings made up of mud and brick among new concrete building, Temples dedicated to ancient Hindu Gods and Goddesses in various corners, inhabitants clad in ethnic Newari couture roaming the streets, and many local festivals celebrated inside the premise of Thamel.
The ethnic inhabitants mostly Sold or Rented off their homes in Thamel to businesses that made it what it stands today.
An Urban legend is popular among the inhabitants of Kathmandu, which suggests that Rock Stars like Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison ventured Thamel during their hey day. Today, many stars of the international scene are seldom seen wandering the Thamel streets, like Bruce Springsteen and Sting.
Bars and Diners
Diners and Bars are the prestige of Thamel. A bar called “Rum Doodle” and decorated with pictures from the book “The Ascent of Rum Doodle” has become a popular staging point for expeditions to Mt. Everest, and a joint for mountaineers. It serves free meal for the lifetime to those climbers who have made it to Everest summit. Messner, Lowe, Anker and the like have often ventured here.
Other popular joints known to mankind are; Sheesha Bar, Purple Haze -Rock Bar, Reggae Bar, New Orleans Restaurant, Himalayan Java and Sandwich Point.
Many fine establishments have resided in here (excluding 4 or 5 Stars). Finding a niche hotel won’t be a difficult task, and most of them come at reasonable cost.
Many of these include; Hotel Blue Horizon, Red Planet Guest House, Hotel Vaishali and Hotel Manang.
Outdoor agencies are found to be in huge numbers in Kathmandu. From oldest to some of the newest establishments, all of them have settled their nest in Thamel. It is recommended to choose company for its experience and diversity of clienteles it has served.
Many can be found or contacted through their websites. Read here >>How to Find Reliable Outdoor Agency in Nepal?
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Shona’s Alpine is one of the most popular outfitter found inside Thamel, along with many smaller and bigger outlets offering trekking gears at reasonable prices, including North Face® and Sherpa Adventure Gear®.