Dr Strange movie locations in Kathmandu and beyond

Benedict Cumberbatch fans unite! The new Marvel movie Dr Strange is here. With much of the film shot around Nepal's captivating capital city, Kathmandu, we thought we'd track down the best locations for you to travel to...
 View of the Patan Durbar Square
View of the Patan Durbar Square. Photo: Shutterstock

View of the Patan Durbar Square. Photo: Shutterstock

The new Dr Strange movie features a number of spectacular locations in the Kathmandu Valley. Some of which are already popular with tourists wishing to see and experience the rich cultural heritage of Nepal. Insight Guides' local expert for Nepal, Mark, shows you how to track them down on your holiday...

1. Swayambhunath

Often referred to as the Monkey Temple, Swayambhunath sits astride a hill on the outskirts of Kathmandu. From the top, you'll find fine views across the urban city sprawl and to the Kathmandu Valley beyond.

The English name comes from the (perhaps, unsurprisingly) raucous population of monkeys that live around the temple. The rhesus macaques and are free to roam, and roam they do. You'll find they are fairly indifferent to visiting tourists taking their photos.

The best way to approach Swayambhunath is on foot, by ascending the prayer flag-lined staircase that leads from the foot of the hill to the temple. The sight as you near the top of the “eyes” of the main Stupa coming into view makes the ten-minute climb worthwhile. If climbing a steep staircase isn’t your thing, a road runs up to the temple around the back of the hill.

Enjoy a scenic drive through the Kathmandu Valley, adding a stop at Swayambhunath on my Himalayan Family Adventure holiday with Insight Guides

2. Thamel

Chances are, if you’re staying in Kathmandu, you'll already be in the bustling area of the city known as Thamel. It’s the main tourist hub in the city and where many of the budget and mid-range hotels are located. It’s also jam-packed with colourful shops and a whole host of cafe bars and restaurants. Home to a wealth of places to eat, you'll find all of the following: traditional Nepali, Tibetan momos, Thai, Indian, Japanese and even European style bakeries can all be found in this area.

Keen shoppers will find Kashmiri carpet shops, Nepal craft souvenirs, traditional thangka paintings, trekking gear and clothing (fakes and the real thing), as well as more T-shirt designs and colourful clothing than you thought could exist. 

It’s at night time (or, at least, when the sun goes down) that Thamel comes into its own. There’s a touch of 'Glastonbury' in terms of atmosphere; with everywhere lit up bright and colourful, it does have a certain laidback, happy, hippy vibe.

Sadhu Baba in Pashupatinath, Kathmandu. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Pashupatinath Temple

Located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River, which is technically where Kathmandu ends and the sister city of Patan begins, the temple at Pashupatinath is the most sacred Hindu site in Nepal. Visitors should note, however, that this is a practising religious site. Cremations take place on a daily basis and it is disrespectful to take images or behave in an unruly manner. 

All the same, Pashupatinath is a must see on your trip to Nepal. During the day, it can get absurdly busy with large groups on Kathmandu coach tours. You'll find a visit in the evening a more authentic experience. By this time, tourists have mainly left and the site is visited by locals performing their rituals and prayers. Lit up in the dark, the structures look all the more impressive. I can amend my Nepal trip itineraries with Insight Guides, like this Annapurna Adventure, to accommodate an evening trip to the temple: get in touch with your trip preferences today

4. Patan

Separated from Kathmandu by the Bagmati River, Patan is an architectural delight of temples and bahals (courtyards).

These days it's hard to tell where Kathmandu ends and Patan begins. As the population in the Kathmandu Valley has increased dramatically over the last 20 years, Kathmandu and Patan seem to have merged. Technically the divide between the two is the Bagmati River. It's surprising just how many people overlook Patan and don't bother visiting. I'd recommend at least a half-day visit to Patan, which is included in my Exclusive Everest itinerary for Insight Guides.

Patan's Durbar Square is without doubt among the finest display of Newari architecture in Nepal. It's a concentrated area (in theory pedestrianised too) and very easy to get around on foot. There are a mass of temples both pagoda and more typically Hindu-style, pleasant cafes and several Buddhist monasteries to discover. The Jawalkhel Tibetan area is the place for Tibetan crafts, particularly carpets. Patan is the main centre for bronze casting and other metal work objects too.

Highly recommended is a visit to the Patan Museum. Personally, I think it is the best museum in Nepal and houses a wonderful collection of both Buddhist and Hindu art.

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