If you’ve been living under the rocks for the last few months, you may not have realized that Thamel is a vehicle free zone. Yes, you heard it right! The tourist zone of the country has finally been declared vehicle free albeit in its core areas only. This is a perfect time to explore Thamel; where food, music, adventure and some me-time come together. Here’s how you can spend a whole day in Thamel (almost 18 hours or more).
At 6 am, find yourself surrounded by prayers in Bhagwan Bahal, near GAA hall. The Newar Buddhist monastery housing a manuscript of Pragya Parimita that is handwritten in gold and silver is considered as one of the oldest in town. If you’re in luck, you can pay for donations (that goes for the sustainability of the monastery) and pay your respects to the manuscripts. Take in the ambience with the sound of the bells, people greeting each other with “Bhagwan Sharan” that translates roughly to “God’s refuge.” After some spiritual experience, you can move around to have a good breakfast. For a lower than mid-range breakfast, head over to Chikusa in Jyatha. Otherwise New Orleans in Mandala Street is also a good choice. If you aren’t feeling lazy then you can walk all the way to Chhettrapati to grab a bite at French Bakery.
At 10:30 am, walk back towards GAA Hall, whose neighbor is Asterisk Climbing Wall. GAA Hall is home to a sports arena where you can try your hands on archery if there’s no futsal match taking place. Asterisk Climbing Wall is usually open to everyone and you can sweat yourself out for a while. They give you five tries but don’t worry; it will probably take you three hours and lots of motivation to actually finish the five tries. Asterisk also has a cafeteria where you can have some tea/coffee or just plain water to energize yourself. When you’re done, try Fusion Kitchen Restaurant in the other lane of Jyatha. They have good lunch menus, from sushi to grilled chicken to spaghetti. If you want Tibetan then, Utse which claims to be the first restaurant in Thamel, offers delicious Tibetan Momos and Syafales. You can also try Kizuna, a Japanese Restaurant in Thamel Square in Chaksibari Road. The seating arrangement makes you feel like you are the part of community even when you are eating alone.
At 3 pm, head towards Garden of Dreams; considered an oasis from chaotic Thamel. Before reaching there, browse through some books at any bookshops you pass by (Pilgrims in Chaksibari Road and United Books in Jyatha are most recommended). Inside the garden, you can bask in the sun, sit on the grass or get yourself a bench. Read a book or observe people around or follow around the squirrels. It is guaranteed that you will not realize the time passing by. You can get up when it starts getting dark and grab a quick bite or early dinner at KC’s or OR2K in Mandala Street. Don’t forget to get some cakes at the same place or Pumpernickel if it’s still opened. Pumpernickel usually closes at 7pm.
At 8 pm or 9 pm, go bar hopping. Start from Sam’s Bar which has open terrace and amazing background music that seem to play exactly what you need to hear except on Saturdays (they play reggae on Saturdays). From there, you can go towards Shisha, where live music happens every weekend. There are other bars that offer live music too like Purple Haze, Paddy Foley’s Pub, House of Music, Tom & Jerry Pub among others. If you’re into clubbing then Club OMG opens its gate at 11pm. If not, you can end your almost 18 hours of feel-good adventure and go home for a good night's sleep.
The Thamel Fashion
Besides being the destination for food, music and travel gears, Thamel has also gained a reputation for the clothes and apparels. One doesn’t exactly know when this style of clothing came into existence. Usually known as “The Thamel Style”, this clothing style and business has been thriving in Thamel
According to Raju Bhetuwal, proprietor for 18 years at Le Petit Prince Traders, the garments are usually exported. “Our clients usually come up with most of the design. We also try few of our own. If they like the designs, they will order them again. If not, then we know that it didn’t work,” Raju adds.
On the other hand, Pramila Sedhain of Sai Neat Fashion shared that most of the designs are products of their designers’ traveling with the clients in European countries as well as samples being brought to the store. “By now, we also know what kind of style our clients prefer,” she said.
It seems that most of the style is inspired by the Hippie culture that was imported to the country in the ‘70s. When the hippie trend transferred from Jhhochhen, aka, Freak Street to Thamel, so did the style and fashion.
The fabrics used are usually cotton, woven in Lubhu and Biratnagar, while few fabrics come from India. Besides cotton, woolen wears are also popular. “Foreigners prefer Khaddi, the hand woven cotton from Nepal because they are comfortable to wear,” Raju shared. On the other hand, when it comes to color, Pramila shared that coffee, navy blue, turquoise blue, army green, and maroon are the colors that sell.
Most of the clothes are made in factories based in areas near Thamel. Most of the stores that sell have their own factories are also makers, wholesalers and retailers. There are few shops who only sell and there are few that are factories only. But most of the businesses have both factories and outlets.