Patan Travel Guide
One of three major cities in the Kathmandu Valley, Patan is a city of temples, palaces, and culture. Before you head out to the mountains, take in its grandeur, its holy places, and its shopping.
With plenty of options, you may have to extend your stay by a day or two.
Come check out our travel guide to Patan as we cover the best things to do in Patan, Nepal.
Like Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, Patan has a historic Durbar Square that should check out. Lined with distinctive red bricks, the Malla Kings of Lalitpur created this place. At the centre of this space, you’ll find their royal palace, which we’ll discuss a little later in this guide.
As for the temples, you’ll find those of Buddhist and Hindu origin. We’ll talk about the more significant ones later in this guide. First, however, let’s focus on the smaller ones.
Its creators built Bhimsen Temple to honour of the Hindu god of business. Authorities bar non-believers from entering, but you can view its beautiful golden interconnected windows from the exterior. Vishwanath Temple honours the god Shiva. Within, you’ll find erotic carvings, a statue of Shiva’s bull, and a sacred linga. Finally, Taleju Bhawani Temple honours Taleju Bhawani, the personal deity of the Malla Kings. Standing five storeys tall, it boasts a three-tiered pagoda.
Before you check out any of those temples, though, dedicate plenty of time to exploring the Hiranya Varna Mahavihar. Also known as the Golden Temple, this Buddhist monastery has a tradition that will likely make you cringe.
Around Nepal, this place is famous for the ceremonial feeding of rats. If you aren’t lucky enough to witness this, the structure itself is plenty attractive on its own. When you aren’t admiring its golden roof, admire its elephant statues and depictions of Arya Tara, a Buddhist goddess.
Be sure also to include the Krishna Mandir Temple in your temple-tramping adventures. This holy place came into being in the early 17th century after Hindu gods appeared in the king’s dream. At the urging of Krishna and Radha, he ordered the construction of a temple in front of the palace.
Sometime later, the Malla King was at war with a neighbouring kingdom. He went to the Krishna Mandir Temple, urging Krishna and Radha to deliver him victory in the battles ahead. His soldiers went on to crush their opposition, which further increased the auspiciousness of this place.
Learn more about the history of the Patan area by spending time inside the Patan Museum. Officially opened in 1997 by King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah, this wing of the former royal palace will dazzle you with its magnificence.
Its three floors contain artifacts recovered from all over Nepal. These include objects like statues, busts, and reliefs made out of hammered copper and gold leaf. While the entrance fee is quite expensive, it goes towards rehabilitation projects throughout Patan.
If you have an insatiable hunger for temples, feel free to add Mahaboudha Temple to your list. A short walk south of Patan’s Durbar Square, this Buddhist temple is nicknamed “the temple of 1,008 Buddhas”.
While we aren’t sure if they are indeed that many Buddha images there, feel free to count. Its tile work is stunning, but it suffered damage during the 2015 earthquake. As such, scaffolding is in place to shore up the structure, so please don’t complain.
If you’ve been travelling in Patan with kids, reward them for their patience by visiting the Central Zoo. Initially, it was a private menagerie meant for the Royals, but they granted the public access in 1956. Even today, it is an incredibly popular attraction, seeing more than 30,000 visits per day on holidays.
This zoo plays host to over 870 animals representing over 100 species. These include Nepal natives like one-horned rhinos and Royal Bengal tigers. The zoo also has imports, like hippos and ostriches.
Want to experience the rush of a Nepalese street market? Spend an evening exploring Mangal Bazar. Here, you’ll find everything from shoes to necklaces. However, you won’t find any price tags – that’s up to you! Match your wits against the merchants – with practice, you can get some great deals.
Afterwards, hit up some street food vendors. Slinging momos, curries, and fried bread, they will serve you a feast you won’t soon forget!
Need a break from the streets of Patan? Head inside the air-conditioned environs of Labim Mall. While its retail offerings won’t impress many, its coffee shops, restaurants, and movie theatre are its draws. Sometimes, a little Western food and a movie are enough to recharge our batteries for additional weeks of travel.