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The ultimate "marmite" neighbourhood, Thamel is the reigning tourist capital of Nepal – a network of buzzing streets where you'll weave through backpackers, rickshaws, street sellers and visitors wearing some of the oddest fusions of western-Nepali-boho chic! The heart of 60s hippiedom now throbs to a more modern beat, and Thamel is the go-to place for bars, restaurants and clubbing, as well as many of Kathmandu's most luxurious hotels. For the early birds (or bleary-eyed morning-after revellers), it's also Kathmandu's caffeine corner. Nepali tea is famous, but don't miss out on trying Nepali coffee as well: it's one of the country's most exciting new industries, and beans are usually organic and fair trade.

Take in dinner and a show at one of Thamel's swish open-air restaurants, trying local specialties like momo dumplings or tarkhari dal (lentils and rice with vegetable curry, a true Nepali staple), or enjoying proper Italian pizza in Fire and Ice or the Roadhouse Café. Listen to live music in a top-floor bar, then dance like a mad thing at Purple Haze or the Fire Club Discotheque...though be warned: Nepalis (the men in particular) are often fiendishly good dancers, so you may find your best moves eclipsed by the competition! And then, of course, there's the shopping. From souvenirs to hardcore climbing gear, Thamel will have it in stock. Where else could you go for an hour's wander and come back with a yak wool cardigan, an ice axe and a Shiva-Shakhti statue?