Sometimes called the Valley of the Gods, Kathmandu Valley is home to the three distinct cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan, also known as Lalitpur, where Hinduism and Buddhism coexist in harmony. Come to explore the ancient temples and UNESCO world heritage sites, wander the alleys and exotic street markets and meet some of the friendliest people in the world.
Community Homestay Network offers some of the best ways to connect with — and support — locals here. Escape the crowded streets of Kathmandu at the Nagarkot Community Homestay on the valley’s rim. Nagarkot Community Homestay, a cluster of 13 homes run by local women eager to practice their English, share their culture, and offer an insider’s look at how the valley has been rebuilding after the earthquake, provides one of the best spots to watch the sunrise over the Himalayas.
But don’t just take their word for it. Explore nearby Bhaktapur and Panauti, well-preserved medieval cities on a day trip with a local guide. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bhaktapur showcases architecture and woodcarvings of Newari craftsman. In Panauti, meet local entrepreneurs, who live an agricultural-based lifestyle.
Ready to get a real taste of the culture? Head to Patan for a walking tour led by a local host and get ready for a foodie experience, a traditional Newari feast and cultural program.
Outside of CHN’s network, there are still more opportunities to support local people and nonprofits in the valley:
The Cafe with No Name in Kathmandu’s Thamel neighborhood serves delicious meals, wine, live music — and 100 percent of its profits go to running the NGO Our Sansar, which helps provide education and training to children living on the streets.
Bhojan Griha is a heritage restaurant, which was once home to the late Royal Priest of the King of Nepal. Authentic Nepali cuisine is made with ingredients grown on the property’s organic farm, and a gift shop sells handmade souvenirs.
Evoke Café & Bistro offers an extensive menu of food and drinks. Its specialty is a variety of teas from Ilam, the tea capital of Nepal. Don’t miss its gift shop, the Local Project, which sells only locally made goods.
Sarangi is a vegetarian restaurant and social enterprise that provides job opportunities to marginalized populations in Nepal. It’s one of the top rated restaurants in Kathmandu’s Thamel district.
Local Women’s Handicrafts near Thamel in Kathmandu is a fair-trade textile and handicraft collective selling clothing, accessories and gifts made by Nepali women but the social business’ focus is on empowering and educating women.
Dhukuti is a three-story retail outlet in Patan run by the Association for Craft Producers. The non-profit fair-trade organization sells all kinds of handicrafts, home textiles, accessories, toys, gifts and more.
Danfe Works is a social enterprise and clothing company selling “made in Nepal” clothing lines and custom designs using local raw materials. The business is aligned with the nonprofit SAATH to provide job training and employment opportunities for women in marginalized rural communities.
Kolpa sells handmade goods made in traditional styles from all-natural local materials. The store in Patan sells everything from bags to bowls to home decor, all made by craftspeople in villages across the country.