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Swayambhunath

Swayambhunath (Nepal)

Practical information on Swayambhunath

  • Relaxation
  • Encounters with locals
  • Viewpoint
  • Place or Religious Monument
  • Place or Historical Monument
  • Unesco World Heritage
  • Essential
4 / 5 - 3 reviews
How to get there
Five kilometres from the centre of Katmandou on foot
When to go
From October to May
Minimum stay
One day

Reviews of Swayambhunath

Simon Hoffmann Seasoned Traveller
185 written opinions

Swayambhunath is a Buddhist temple located on top of a hill in Kathmandu, from where there are views out over the whole capital.

My suggestion:
Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple; and though there's no need to be too concerned, do keep an eye on your bags, especially if you have any food with you!
My review

Swayambhunath is one of Nepal's most famous and well-known sites. The temple is supposedly over 2,500 years old, which makes it one of the country's oldest Buddhist buildings. In fact, rather than a single temple, it's really consists more of a group of several temples distributed across the top of a huge hill, forming a kind of large temple complex that you reach by climbing a series of steps.

Once at the top, you'll be able to see the main stupa, which has the eyes of Buddha painted on its sides. And all around you will be large numbers of pilgrims, monks, hawkers and tourists, all going about their various activities amidst all the monkeys. There are an incredible number of prayer flags set out around the temples, probably the greatest concentration of flags I saw during my time in Nepal. These lend the site a very particular atmosphere. If you have an interest in Nepalese culture, Swayambhunath is one of the places you absolutely must visit when touring Nepal.



*Following the powerful earthquakes that struck Nepal in April and May 2015, the country is gradually being rebuilt. This article was written before this natural disaster occurred.

Lorette Vinet Seasoned Traveller
59 written opinions

The stupa at Swayambunath is one of the most ancient and beautiful in the whole Kathmandu Valley. When you come here you get a sense of déjà vu, and with good reason: you must surely have seen photos of the famous eyes of Buddha before.

My suggestion:
Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple, and it's easy to see why! They're everywhere here. You must absolutely avoid giving them any food, and don't look them in the eyes. However, there's no reason to let this worry you too much: just be vigilant of them.
My review

As recommended in the guides, we began our approach to the Kathmandu Valley with a visit to Swayambhunath Temple before setting out on our circuit of the Annapurnas Mountains. 

And the stories about the eyes of Buddha appearing to look right out you are true: those giant blue eyes seem to penetrate into your very soul! You can really sense the religious fervour here: the smell of incense, the sound of the faithful praying, the turning of the prayer wheels … You will, of course, be circling the stupa in a clockwise direction, which is a very nice little walk to do and will give you a foretaste of what to expect from the experiences of Nepalese religions you'll have whilst in the country.

This is where I sampled my first Dal Bath (a typical local dish of rice and lentils). I didn't realise it at the time, but this was to be only the first of many I would eat during my trip to Nepal



*Following the powerful earthquakes that struck Nepal in April and May of 2015, the country is gradually being rebuilt. This article was written before that natural disaster occurred.

Aurélie Gottar Seasoned Traveller
10 written opinions

Swayambhunath: a little haven of peace with a magnificent panorama over Kathmandu.

My suggestion:
Come here to recharge your batteries and enjoy the breathtaking view over the Nepalese capital, a place not to be missed during your trip to Nepal!
My review

Swayambhunath, the monkey Temple of Kathmandu, is a small, remote and calm area of the Nepalese capital where it's good to go for a stroll and wander far away from the hustle and bustle of the town. However, watch out for your personal items because the monkeys which have taken over these places are very mischievous.

Once you have climbed the hundred or so steps which lead up to a large white stupa, we can enjoy an incredible panoramic view over Kathmandu. A range of mini temples, prayer wheels and a market with diverse and varied copper objects take up the central square. The place is entirely designed for personal healing and you can attend meditation classes given by the local Buddhist monks.

I would advise you to venture into the great temple, to go round it in a clockwise direction as is customary, to go to the monk's ceremony and to let yourself go to the sound of traditional musical instruments and religious singing. On the other side of the site, there is a fountain at the bottom of the steps; you will get good luck, if you manage to throw a coin inside the bucket in its centre.



*After the strong earthquakes which hit Nepal in April and May 2015, the country is gradually being rebuilt. This article was written before the catastrophe.

Tours and travel ideas Swayambhunath

  • Off the beaten track
Active traverse in the mountains 
Length 14 days Approx. $1,440
  • Highlights
Authentic traverse into Nepalese culture 
Length 9 days Approx. $1,000
  • Highlights
Wildlife and wellness journey
Length 15 days Approx. $2,280
  • Off the beaten track
Annapurna and wildlife for families
Length 12 days Approx. $1,650
  • Highlights
Jungle escape and mountain temples
Length 11 days Approx. $1,590
  • Off the beaten track
Indulge it all: city, mountain and jungle!
Length 8 days Approx. $1,090
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