The best way to see Kathmandu and the valley is to walk or ride a bicycle. Most of the sights in Kathmandu itself can easily be covered on foot, and this is by far the best way to appreciate the city. If and when you run out of steam, there are plenty of reasonably priced taxis available.
There are a number of motorcycle rental operators in Thamel. Officially, you will need an international driving licence, however no-one ever checks. You will have to leave a deposit of either your passport or air ticket. For Rs 350 per day you'll get a 125cc Indian-made Honda road bike, which is generally fine for road trips in the Kathmandu Valley. A 250cc trail bike costs around Rs 600 per day.
Singh Motorbike Centre (4418594; 8am-7pm) is a reliable place for in Thamel.
Pheasant Motor Bikes in the courtyard of the Pheasant Lodge has somewhat slippier prices, ranging from Rs 350 for a Yamaha RX 125 to Rs 600 for a Hero Honda or Exciter.
Motorcycles can be great fun outside the town, once you master the traffic. The main problem is getting out of Kathmandu, which can be a stressful, choking and dangerous experience. You will need a pair of goggles and some kind of face mask (available in most pharmacies).
Fuel currently costs Rs 67 (and rising) per litre and you'll only need a couple of litres for a day trip. Beyond the ring road petrol stations are few and far between.
Buses are very cheap, but often unbelievably crowded and limited in where they can go to in Kathmandu. The smaller minibuses are generally quicker and can be useful to places like Bodhnath and Patan if you can work out the routes.
Taxis are quite reasonably priced. The charge for a metered taxi is Rs 8 flagfall and Rs 3 for every 200m; drivers don't usually take too much convincing to use the meter for short trips, although from major tourist centres you may have to negotiate. Shorter rides around town (including to the bus station) rarely come to more than Rs 60. Night-time rates cost 50% more between 8pm and 6am. Most taxis are tiny Suzuki Marutis, which can just about fit two backpackers and their luggage.
Taxis can be booked in advance on 4420987, at night call 4224374.
Other approximate taxi fares from Thamel include:
Pashupatinath Rs 90
Bodhnath Rs 130
Patan Rs 110 to 130
Bhaktapur Rs 350
Changu Narayan Rs 600
Nagarkot Rs 700
Dhulikhel Rs 1000
Once you get away from the crowded streets of Kathmandu, cycling is a pleasure, and if you're in reasonable shape this is the ideal way to explore the valley.
Mountain bikes start at around Rs 150 per day for poor-quality Chinese- or Indian -made bicycles, fine for light use around the city. Imported bicycles can be rented for around Rs 400, and this is generally money well spent. Check the brakes before committing and be certain to lock the bike whenever you leave it.
For longer trips around the valley, the major mountain bike companies such as Dawn Til Dusk, Himalayan Mountain Bikes and Massif hire out high-quality bikes with front-suspension for around Rs 600. Bike Nepal and Nepal Mountain Bike Tours are a bit cheaper but the former's bikes are pretty battered.
If you want to make an early start, most are happy to give you the bike the evening before. For all bikes, negotiate discounts for rentals of more than a day.