Second-hand bookstores and map shops are a dime a dozen in the tourist hub of Thamel. But if you’re looking for something a bit more esoteric (or don’t need another well-thumbed copy of Into Thin Air or The Snow Leopard), there are plenty of other shops around the city selling books in the English language. Many also sell other products, from children’s toys to essential oils.
Pilgrims Book House
Pilgrims, in the heart of Thamel, was established in 1984 and was one of the largest bookshops in Asia. It was an institution in itself. That is, until a devastating fire swept through it in May 2013, destroying almost everything inside. But, it reopened not far from its original site and while the selection of books isn’t what it once was, the multi-story bookshop is still a great place to browse. As well as all the expected guidebooks and maps to remote regions of Nepal, Pilgrims sells handmade paper products and interesting textiles from across India and Nepal. The bookshop also has a publishing wing, which operates out of Varanasi, India.
Tibet Book Store
Tibet Book Store was once owned by the Tibet Government in Exile and while it isn’t any longer, the establishment still holds what is probably the best collection of books related to Tibet in the region. From photographic coffee-table books on Tibetan Buddhism in Ladakh to Tibetan language primers, if a book is related to Tibet and Buddhism, it can probably be found here. Tibet Book Store also sells a selection of other reading material relating to Nepal more broadly.
Vajra Books is owned by the knowledgeable Bidur Dangol, who can advise customers on the best books to suit their needs. While they stock the ubiquitous tourist guides, they particularly specialise in more academic books. This is a great place to come if you need a title on the anthropology of Nepali hill tribes or want to read up on Newari architecture.
Patan Book Shop
Conveniently located beside the colourful Patan Dhoka and the lovely Dhokaima Cafe, the Patan Book Shop is a bit cramped but covers the basics. Although it sells all kinds of books, its collection of Indian and international bestsellers and popular titles (from Chetan Bhagat to Zadie Smith) is solid. It’s worth a browse if you find yourself in the Old Patan area (which you should).
Patan Museum Gift Shop
As museum gift shops go, this is an excellent one. For those interested in reading a book on Nepal but don’t have time to seek out a dedicated bookshop – or who just don’t know what they want – then spend a few minutes browsing the titles at the Patan Museum Gift Shop. While not as extensive as other collections on this list, it still stocks a good selection of quality titles and is very convenient when doing the Kathmandu sightseeing circuit.
Mandala Book Point
The floor-to-ceiling stacks of specialist books at Mandala Book Point are the stuff academics’ dreams are made of – especially academics specialising in the Himalayan region. It’s also a welcome respite from the eternally dusty and traffic-clogged Kantipath Road outside.
Nepal Book Depot
There are lots of bookstore options in Thamel for travellers seeking out trekking maps, second-hand paperbacks to read on a trek or an odd assortment of German/Dutch/French/Spanish-language books. The Nepal Book Depot is a convenient and relatively spacious option, as it’s right in the heart of Thamel beside the iconic Kathmandu Guest House.
Wisdom Books and Aroma Shop
Located in the expat enclave of Jhamsikhel, Patan, Wisdom Books is a particularly good place to go for kids’ books in Nepali and English (great for bilingual families) and magazines, although it does stock a broader range of new releases and bestsellers. The friendly proprietor is happy to share his latest recommendations. Wisdom Books is also well-known as a great place to buy essential oils and handmade soaps.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.