Explore Ancient Villages: Bungamati & Khokana

Villagers drying rice next to Machhindranath Temple in Bungamati
This excursion from Kathmandu is a six-hour tour to the rustic Newari towns of Bungamati and Khokana. It's a unique opportunity to learn about the traditions of the rural residents whose families have thrived here since antiquity. These are the Newars, people who are indigenous to the Kathmandu Valley. Even today they live simply, in much the same way as their forefathers. 

First, it's a short drive to Bungamati, which overlooks the Bagmati River. This historic village with a population of about 6,000 is one of the more attractive spots in the valley due to its pleasant mountain setting and ancient temples. Many residents here live as woodcarvers (and have done so for generations), and the tour includes visits to their showrooms to see artisan craftwork that has adorned thousands of local temples and museums. Historically, Bungamati was the birthplace of Rato Machhendranath, the patron god of the valley, and the shikhara temple that supposedly housed the deity still stands in the main square (although it was damaged in the 2015 earthquake). Each year the town holds the Rato Machhendranath festival, which features a chariot procession between Patan and Bungamati.

Then it's about a half-hour drive from Kathmandu through beautiful green hills to the other ancient Newari town of Khokana, which is smaller than Bungamati. It also saw earthquake damage, yet the main square's Shekala Mai Temple is still standing. The tour includes a visit to the heart of the village to observe ancient religious practices and watch friendly villagers spin wool, stuff mattresses with cotton, and prepare rice and straw. In October, there's the Khokana Jatra festival, where masked dancers take to the streets to honor the goddess Shikali.

Intineraries with Explore Ancient Villages: Bungamati & Khokana

Langtang Trek - 14 Days

This scenic, guided trek through the Langtang Valley is within easy reach of Kathmandu and supports villagers rebuilding their lives after the 2015 earthquake. Climb through oak and rhododendron forests to high alpine meadows and Kyangjin Gompa, a Buddhist monastery. Take an optional hike to the top of Kyangjin Ri for 360-degree views of the Langtang Himal mountain range before you retrace your route and return to the Kathmandu area for one last trekking overnight.