Image by Feng Wei Photography / Getty Images

Swayambhunath

A journey up to the Buddhist temple and Unesco World Heritage Site of Swayambhunath is one of the definitive experiences of Kathmandu. Mobbed by monkeys and soaring above the city on a lofty hilltop, the ‘Monkey Temple’ is a fascinating jumble of Buddhist and Hindu iconography. Even the 2015 earthquake failed to topple Kathmandu's best loved temple, though a couple of outlying buildings crumbled in the tremor.

The compound is centred on the gleaming white stupa, topped by a gilded spire painted with the eyes of the Buddha. Depictions of these eyes appear all over the Kathmandu Valley. The atmosphere is heightened in the morning and evening by local devotees who make a ritual circumnavigation of the stupa, spinning the prayer wheels set into its base. It is also a great place to watch the sun set over Kathmandu.

Explore Swayambhunath

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Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Swayambhunath.

Top experiences

Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in Swayambhunath.