Patan Nepal Travel Guide: The City of Fine Arts

PATAN

Patan, also known as Lalitpur, is Nepal’s third largest city next to Kathmandu and Pokhara. It is one of the three Royal Cities in Kathmandu valley along with Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. Located just 7 kilometers south of the capital across Bagmati River, it is a city worth checking out if you are in Nepal.

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HOW TO GET THERE
  1. For flights and entry requirements to Nepal, please read: Nepal Budget Travel Guide: Backpacking Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara
  2. From the Thamel, the tourist area of Kathmandu, take a taxi to Patan. Drop off at Patan Durbar Square. Travel time: 20-30 minutes

When taking taxis at Nepal, do not forget to haggle. Drivers usually bloat the price up. Try to insist your price to fit your budget. Agree on a price first before riding the taxi.

By Bus: The way cheaper option to Patan is by a bus ride. Go to Ratna Bus Park and ask where the bus to Patan or Lalitpur is. The bus ride will take longer because of the stops. Travel time: 30 minutes approx. Fare: 20-50 Rs.

WHERE TO STAY

Patan is very near Kathmandu. We recommend booking a hotel in Kathmandu since half a day is enough to explore Patan. You may book a hotel in Thamel, Kathmandu – the tourist area of the capital. There are a lot of accommodation options here depending on your budget.

Some tourists stay away from Thamel because of the touristy crowd. Although its location is perfect since it’s near the Pokhara bus pick-up point, Ratna Park bus park and the Durbar Square. Here’s a list of hotels in Kathmandu. To scan for hostels and guesthouses you may also try Booking.com list of hotelsAirbnb or Hostelworld. Here’s a list of hotels in Patan just in case you want to stay there.

ITINERARY AND THINGS TO DO

If you plan to visit other places in Kathmandu, you may start your trip early in the morning by taking a taxi ride to Patan Durbar Square. Ticketing stations surround entrances to the square. Remember to keep your ticket with you at all times. You may be randomly asked for it when inside the area. It will serve as the museum ticket as well. They will also give you an ID to wear which you must surrender upon leaving the square.

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Patan Durbar Square with a ticket counter on the lower left

Patan Durbar Square is quite small compared to its counter parts in Bhaktapur and Kathmandu, but it’s still a must-visit. The Durbar Square features fascinating architecture with floors tiled with red bricks, which is quite normal in Nepal. Upon entering, you may visit different temples scattered around the square and take in sights of its beautiful and unique architecture.

After the temples, you may enter the palace which has two courtyards. Mul Chowk features a very beautiful courtyard with intricate woodwork columns and windows. It also has a breathtaking golden door facing a copper shrine in the middle. When entering these buildings, you must have your tickets with you.

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Mul Chowk with intricate wood carvings, golden doors and red brick tiled floors.

Just straight ahead from Mul Chowk, through a small door lined with intricate wood carvings, is Sundari Chowk. It is a stunning small courtyard with its’ centerpiece – the Tusha Hiti Step-well. You will see a lot of step-wells in Nepal but this one arguably is the most beautiful. The  step-well, built around the 1650s, features very intricate stone and metal carvings with a bronze spout. The whole step-well is encircled by a serpent intricately carved out of stone. The courtyard is guarded because of the spout. According to the guards, it has been stolen multiple times.

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Sundari Chowk and the Tusha Hiti step-well
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The bronze spout

When visiting this area, do not forget to explore different small doors (if allowed). Near Mul Chowk, there’s a door leading to the second floor of the surrounding building which houses a small museum on Nepal’s architecture. There’s also a doorway to an open area behind the two courtyards where you can see a water catch basin. Across the entrance to the courtyards is Krishna Temple built in 1637. It is a small three story temple with every floor dedicated to a different god.

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After visiting the palace you may drop by Keshav Narayan Chowk or the Patan Museum marked by a Golden Door. Just present your ticket to enter. The museum will give you a glimpse of the Nepal’s architectural and religious history from Buddhism to Hinduism. A good place to visit especially if you want to get to know more about Nepalese culture and faith.

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The Golden Door entrance to Patan Museum

The three-floor museum is separated into 8 galleries each featuring a religion or a god. It is formerly a residential palace converted into a museum hence the amazing architecture inside. In total, the collection spans 1,000 objects; from Shiva stone relief sculptures to different metal relief designs. Do not forget to drop by the Museum Cafe and gardens at the the ground floor.

Half a day is enough to explore Patan. Aside from Durbar Square other places of interest in Patan are the following: Golden Temple, Kumbheswar Temple, Uku Bahal, etc. You may go there by foot or by hiring a taxi.

BUDGET
  • Transportation: 400 Rs Taxi ride Thamel – Patan, 300 Rs Patan – Thamel
  • Fees: 1000 Rs Entrance fee to Patan Durbar Square including museum entrance
  • Accommodation: 1000 Rs/night Yeti Guesthouse in Thamel, Kathmandu

Exchange Rate at travel date (1 Rs = Php 0.45)

TIPS
  1. When going around the city especially during winter, it’s best to bring a dust mask or a scarf to cover your face. It get’s really polluted and dusty in Kathmandu valley because of the congestion, weather and topography.
  2. Taxis are available anywhere in Thamel. Before riding, agree on a price first to avoid overcharging. Taxis have meters but it is never used.
  3. Remember to keep your entrance tickets with you at all times. It will also serve as the ticket to the museum. They will also give you a brochure about Patan.
  4. Normally, entrance tickets are good for a day but if you want to revisit, ask for an extension. Just show your passport and say how many days you want the ticket valid. You can extend it for as long as your tourist visa is valid.
  5. Upon entering a Durbar Square, locals would randomly ask for their guide service. You may do so if you want to know more about the place. They usually charge 400 – 500 Rs. Always try to haggle.
  6. Toilets are available at the museum.
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