Kathmandu is even dirtier than Delhi!

One thing you will notice when you come to Kathmandu is the pollution. Even the taxi drivers here complain about it. Although, it must be said when they drive around the city with all their windows wound down, I wonder why they complain so much! I used to think the Indian National Capital Region of Delhi was the downright dirtiest city I had ever visited. Now I have spent some time in the Nepali capital, I am not so sure.

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First things first, the Nepali people are some of the friendliest I have ever encountered on my backpacking travels. However, the city in which they live is the true definition of third world. Stray dogs, dirty pigeons, and aggressive monkeys roam the streets and surrounding hills in search of food, and probably trailing around diseases with them.

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The main problem with Kathmandu is the dirt and the dust. Much like Beijing’s infamous smog, Kathmandu has a haze of dust which blows up in your face every time a car or bike drives past you. It becomes essential for a prolonged stay here to invest in a surgical face mask that the Japanese have made famous in their own country. But believe me, Japanese cities are nowhere near as dangerously polluted as Kathmandu.

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The habits of the drivers on the road also leave a lot to be desired. Constantly honking their horns to let other drivers know of their presence. Often, their way on the road gets blocked by a random stray cow or goat, which nobody bothers to clear out of the way, as there is no official authority to deal with such events in Nepal – it just happens, and you have to get on with it! But that leaves the tourist – especially Westerners – with a feeling of dread for what might be lurking around the corner next time.

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Even the main tourists sites in Kathmandu are littered with potential hazards. You can see from the picture above that at Boudhanath Stupa there are thousands of dirty pigeons swarming the site and many of them almost flew straight into my face as I was walking around taking photos and trying to admire the views of the Stupa itself.

If you ever come to Kathmandu, be prepared for an altogether different experience from anything you have encountered beforehand! For more background reading on Kathmandu and some amazing photos, check out this blog from The Transcendental Tourist!

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15 thoughts on “Kathmandu is even dirtier than Delhi!

    1. I fear that I agree with you, I highly doubt that in my lifetime there will be any positive change in Kathmandu. There is many places at which to marvel in Nepal, such as Everest, Chitwan, and Annapurna circuit, but the capital is very dirty and hazardous, and reminds me of places like Mogadishu or Saan’a – albeit not quite as dangerous!

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    1. Thanks for reading John. I hope I don’t put anybody off visiting Nepal, after all, it’s the home of Chitwan National Park, and the gateway to Everest. However the capital, while it does have its good points like Boudhanath Stupa, should really only be seen ‘in transit’ as it were – although conversely it remains very popular with backpackers of all ages – I just hope they know about the pollution they are breathing!

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  1. Well said! And your photos look just like many of mine. It IS so dirty, but as I recently wrote to some friends planning to go: It is one of the filthiest, smelliest, most polluted, most crowded, most disturbing places I’ve ever been … and I adored it by the time I left! Coming in the first night; it looked like a war zone, with intermittent electricity, rubble and dust and smoky haze in the air, dogs everywhere, garbage everywhere, dogs eating garbage everywhere! I was really creeped out at first, but after a few days in the city and the return trip at the end of my trek, I was embracing the chaos and even enjoying the assault on the senses.

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  2. No truer words, Lee. But somehow all the grime and stray animals (and the daily power outage!) add to the mystique of Kathmandu. It’s one of the most memorable cities I’ve visited. I fell in love with it, quirks and all.

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    1. I was lucky that my budget hotel had a back-up generator, and I calculated that there was a power cut roughly every hour or so. For me in the hotel, the darkness lasted but 10 seconds, however the locals must be so used to this by now…

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  3. I think my first words upon seeing Kathmandhu were ‘it’s just so REAL!’ at how dirty it was. And I loved it all the more for it – it just felt like a really authentic place with really authentic people. Health and safety much much of a consideration though 😛 One of my all-time favourite places though, for sure!

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  4. I’m really glad you actually went to nepal. i mean i have gone there once or twice(non resident nepali). there are so much places that are naturally beautiful.however i do agree with you that it is rather a dirty place.the roads are always covered with lots of dust(idk where they came from). masks are always needed sadly.however about the pigeons,it should be fine because they are actually there(only a few places).you don’t see the much in residential areas though.

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    1. Hi Niki. thanks for dropping by! 🙂 I also don’t know why Kathmandu is so dusty, but it seems to be dust on the roads everywhere! 😮 I think much of Nepal is beautiful (even Kathmandu has the Garden of Dreams, which is lovely), but the pollution is a real problem.

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  5. By now Government of Nepal is moving with the vision of Clean Kathmandu. Road expansion and cleanliness program is on going, solar powered lamps in streets are in use these days. Roads are dusty indeed as non black topped roads are the reason why black topped roads are dusty as the dust is carried by the vehicles(wheels) this will be past I hope now :P.
    Thanks for visiting Nepal.
    I see plenty of tourists like you roaming around in Kathmandu Darbar Square, Freak street, Bhaktapur and Patan. This makes me feel proud.
    Visit Nepal…

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