Best time to visit Kathmandu

Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple) in Kathmandu

The ancient religious architecture masterpiece is towering over the Kathmandu Valley, in the western part of Kathmandu City

Best time: October–December (all year round)

Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)
Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)
Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)
Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)
Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)

Swayambhunath is the Buddhist temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the must-see places in Kathmandu. The temple is located on a hill towering over the city and is occupied by hundreds of holy monkeys. The name of the temple means 'Sublime Trees' due to variety of trees growing on the hill. To the Newar people living in Kathmandu Valley Swayambhunath occupies a central position. It must be the most sacred of all Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

The temple consists of a stupa and a variety of shrines and premises. There is a Tibetan monastery, a museum and a library. The stupa is decorated with Buddha's eyes and eyebrows and the Devanagari number one is painted instead of a nose.

You can get atop the hill by a long staircase leading to the main platform of the temple or by car to the south-west entrance.

The temple is open to visitors year round, but the best period if from October through December when it's warm and sunny but not too hot.

Practical info

What is the meaning of the name Swayambhunath?

The meaning of the name Swayambhunath is 'self-existent one.' The temple is believed to have emerged on its own, without any human construction. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Kathmandu, Nepal and is also known as the Monkey Temple due to the many holy monkeys that inhabit the premises. As one of the most sacred places in Buddhism, Swayambhunath is a must-see for visitors to the Kathmandu Valley. It represents harmony between different religions, with both Hindus and Buddhists worshiping at the site. Show more

What is the significance of Buddha's eyes and eyebrows on the stupa at Swayambhunath?

Buddha's eyes and eyebrows, which are decorated on all four sides of the stupa at Swayambhunath, represent his all-seeing nature. The third eye symbolizes insight and wisdom, while the absence of a nose is replaced by the Devanagari number one, which represents unity and the one way to enlightenment. A copper-gilded canopy with miniature prayer wheels sits atop the main platform of the stupa, symbolizing the enlightenment that comes with the heavens above. These decorations help make Swayambhunath one of the most unique religious sites in the world. Show more

How can visitors reach the main platform of Swayambhunath?

Visitors to Swayambhunath can reach the main platform by taking a long staircase to the top of the hill. The climb consists of approximately 365 steps, but the scenic views along the way make it worthwhile. Alternatively, visitors can take a car to the southwestern entrance, which decreases the required climbing. At Swayambhunath, visitors should plan to spend at least an hour exploring the many shrines and premises on the site and enjoying the gorgeous view. Show more

What is the history of Swayambhunath and its significance to the Newar people?

Swayambhunath is an ancient religious architecture masterpiece and pilgrimage site that predates the city of Kathmandu. It is a sacred place for both Buddhists and Hindus, who worship together at the site. The stupa represents the harmony between different religions in Nepal and occupies a central position to the Newar people living in the Kathmandu Valley. The site is also known as the Monkey Temple due to the many holy monkeys inhabiting the premises. Swayambhunath is a must-visit destination for visitors to Nepal. Show more

When is the best time for visitors to Swayambhunath and why?

The best time to visit Swayambhunath is between October and December when the weather is warm, sunny, and not too hot. During the monsoon season, from June to September, rain and humidity can make visiting uncomfortable. Winter in Nepal can also be rather cold with a risk of snowfall. October through December offers mild temperatures, clear skies, and stunning views from the hilltop. It is also a good time to explore Kathmandu and other surrounding sites, making it an excellent tourist season to visit Swayambhunath. Show more

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Authors: Olha Savych