The Kathmandu Valley has, three (indent cities Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, once independent states ruled by the Malla kings. The valley boasts of seven UNESCO World Heritage Monuments which are a unique concentration of cultural edifices. Bungamati and Khokana are two other quaint Newar settlements set in the midst of fertile fields near Patan.
Nagarkot is situated 32 km east of Kathmandu at an altitude of 2,175 m. Visitors often travel to Nagarkot to watch the breathtaking sunrise and panoramic views of Everest (8,848 m), Manaslu (8,163 m), Ganesh Himal (7,134m) and Numbur (6,957m). Daman (2400 m), 75 km to the southwest of Kathmandu, offers the ultimate pan-Himalayan view. Kakani (1,982 m) to the northwest of Kathmandu provides excellent mountain views of Ganesh Himal, Langtang and the Annapurna.
The Arniko Highway that connects Kathmandu with Kodari on the Nepal-China border passes through a number of enchanting Newar towns. Sankhu is known for its Bajra Jogini temple. Panauti is an old centre south of Banepa and is noted for a three-storeyed 16th-century Indreshwar Mahadev temple and a Narayan shrine. The hill resort of Dhulikhel delights visitors with its enchanting cultural heritage and stunning Himalayan views. Namobuddha is an important destination for Buddhist pilgrims. It was here that a Buddha fed himself to a starving tigress and her cubs.
Dolkha, another old Newari settlement, lies 4 km from Charikot (140 km from Kathmandu) on the Lamusangu-Jiri Highway, which branches off to the east from the Arniko Highway at Lamusangu. It is known for the shrine of the Dolkha Bhimsen who is said to sweat when some calamity is about to strike the country. Jiri (188 km from Kathmandu) is the gateway to the Everest region and is often compared to Zurich of Switzerland for its natural beauty. The temple of Kalinchok Bhagwati (3,842 m), is a 6-hour walk uphill from Charikot. The fascinating Kalinchok hill offers unhindered views of the Himalayan range.
Janakpur, the capital of ancient Mithila Kingdom in the Terai, is the birthplace of Sita, heroine of the great Hindu epic Ramayana. The magnificent Janaki Mandir is a specimen of 17th century Mughal architecture. Jaleshwor, a neighbouring town, is known for an idol of Lord Shiva immersed in water. Birgunj is a bustling industrial city in the Terai and is the jump-off point for visitors to the Chitwan National Park and Parsa Wildlife Reserve.
The Chitwan National Park, a natural World Heritage Site covering 932 sq. km, is home to the exotic one-horned rhinoceros and one of the last refuges of the Bengal tiger. The Parsa Wildlife Reserve also supports the tiger, wild elephant, leopard and other animals. The Langtang National Park to the north of Kathmandu is a popular trekking destination with its high mountains and high Himalaya terrain. The Gosaikund Lake (4,380 m) is a highly revered Hindu pilgrimage site. The Tamang Heritage Trail in the Langtang region to the north of the country is an 8-day trekking tour that combines Tamang rituals, Tibetan culture, festivals, traditional architecture, costumes and local Syabru dances.