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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Kathmandu Nightlife
Kathmandu Nightlife - TravelPuppy.com
Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal is a sleepy place. Many restaurants start setting up about 9.30 pm; however, a couple of nightclubs are supposed to stop selling alcoholic drinks at 10.00 pm. Like many, you may just decide to go to bed early and get up early the next morning, when the city is at its best.

Nightclubs and Bars

Kathmandu's nightlife is growing somewhat. The surrounding area of the Kathmandu Guest House has evolved into quite an exciting little location in the evenings, with dueling sound systems blaring across the alleyways, noisy revelers looking for action, and the cops and the rickshaw wallahs waiting outside for closing time.

Bars in Thamel and Freak Street provide beer, cocktails and music. As with the tourist restaurants, are on the whole fine for meeting, mixing and prolonging an otherwise short evening. A number of restaurants have "happy hour" in the early evening, meaning free popcorn. During the high season, bars usually keep serving until the late hours behind drawn curtains and locked doors. However, please inform your hotel staff if you are going to stay out late, as you could get locked out. Reputations rise and fall from season to season, but the establishments listed below seem to be in for the duration.

The Thamel and Freak Street bars attract budget travellers, and a few young Nepali men hoping to meet up with Western women. A handful of fancier nightclubs in the city attract a more diverse clientele - Nepali men and women, expats, upmarket tourists - and are busiest on weekends. They usually stay open late and typically have a cover charge.

Pool and Snooker are becoming popular with young Nepalis. A number of places have tables, which provide congenial common ground for foreigners and Nepalis to mix.

Casinos

You probably do not wish to come to Nepal for a gamble, but a night at one of Kathmandu's casinos is a weird unforgettable experience. The casinos are officially out of bounds for Nepalis, and mostly visited by zealous Indians and bored Westerners staying at the deluxe hotels. Admission is free, and players get complimentary food and drinks. There are casinos at the Soaltee Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, Yak & Yeti, Hotel de l'Annapurna and Everest Hotel.

Culture

Dance and music are essential parts of Nepali culture, and nowhere more so than in Kathmandu, where festivals and parades (not to mention weddings) are an almost daily occurrence. Touring other regions of the country, you'll encounter different styles of music and dance, and while it's fun to see these performances in their native context, it might be worth checking out a culture show in the capital to get a taste of Nepal's folk and performing arts.

Several Thamel restaurants (Green Leaves and Nepalese Kitchen) host free folk music performances in the high season. Many of the deluxe hotels do pricey dinner shows. Cultural evenings are held at the Royal Nepal Academy, off Kamaladi, they're not well publicized.

The following groups perform regularly scheduled shows. Admission is about Rs300; call for times.

Everest Cultural Society, at the Hotel de l'Annapurna, Durbar Marg (telephone 228787). Conventional folk performances, nightly during high season.

Hotel Vajra, Bijeshwari (telephone 271545). The Vajra 's resident Kala Mandapa ensemble does a superb classical Nepali dance and dance-drama programme on Tuesday evenings.

New Himalchuli Cultural Group, near the Bluebird Supermarket in Lazimpath (telephone 415280). Nightly folk performances during high season.

Ghazal

Kathmandu has been quick to embrace ghazal, an Indian popular style of music. Troupes tend to work the better Indian restaurants, where they provide dinnertime accompaniment from a platform. A ensemble consists of amplified tabla, guitar, harmonium and synthesizer. Love is the theme, and the sentimental lyrics - typically in Hindi or Urdu, but increasingly in Nepali - draw from a tradition going back to the great Persian poets.

To watch a ghazal act, try the Hotel Manang in Thamel Northwest; Amber, Ghar-e-Kebab or Moti Mahal in Durbar Marg; Raj Gharana on Kamaladi; or Ghoomti in the Bishal Bazaar on New Road.

Cinema, theatre, and other performances

Despite competition from satellite TV, Kathmandu's cinemas, showing the most recent Indian blockbusters in Hindi, are popular. The most convenient ones to reach are the Jai Nepal Chitra Ghar, one block east of the Royal Palace entrance, and the Bishwa Jyoti on Jamal. The films are shown at noon, 3.00 pm and 6.00 pm every day and tickets cost pennies.

Some Thamel restaurants show pirated Hollywood videos and laser discs to bring in clients. They're often of poorer quality, but they're free. For newer English-language releases on a bigger screen (but still video disc), go to Kathmandu Mini Vision in the Kathmandu Plaza building at the east end of Lal Durbar (telephone 253140).

During the high seasons, the Kathmandu Guest House hosts slide shows by visiting authors and adventurers. The rafting companies have their own promotional shows. The Indigo Gallery sometimes hosts impromptu slide shows on fine-art subjects - email indigo@wlink.com.np to get on their mailing list.