Is Kathmandu Garden of Dreams worth it?
You absolutely must take the time to visit the beautiful Garden of Dreams in Kathmandu. If you are looking to escape the chaos in the Kathmandu Valley, the Garden of Dreams will absolutely be worth your time
After spending so many months planning my Nepal trip, I was beyond thrilled to have finally arrived. I really did not expect to fall in love with this tiny country.
Yet ask anyone who’s spent more than a week in Kathmandu and they will quickly tell you how exhausting it can be at times. I am no different, I’ve lived in Nepal for three whole months. Yes I love the place but at times, your girl was just craving some quietness. At first, you will find it hard to believe but there are so many beautiful places to visit in Kathmandu.
I’ve tried it all. Spent a few too many hours at the Seeing Hands massage in Thamel. Then I discovered Kathmandu’s famous Garden of Dreams. To be honest, I did not want to believe that such a place truly existed.
Quick History of The Gardens
All righty, I am pretty sure you did not come here for a history lesson. So I will spare you the details. But grossly, this beautiful garden is also known as the Garden of Six Season and it was built sometimes after world war 1, in 1920. At first, I thought it was a private property but this is no longer the case. Originally, the beautiful Kathmandu Garden of Dreams was own by Kaiser Sumsher of the Rana Dynasty, a very prominent man in the Nepali Royal Army.
The second I stepped in I felt like I was teleported to Europe. Well this is no coincidence as that was the intended goal. It was modeled to look very similar to those posh English gardens. It might not be a carbon copy, yet, the resemblance is still quite striking.
Bringing the Garden back to its former glory
You might find interesting to know that the luscious Garden of dreams was neglected for years. Then the Nepal ministry of education worked in collaboration with the Austrian Development Aid to restore it. As a result, it was renovated between the years of 2000 and 2007. Nowadays, this beautiful Neo-classical garden is own by the government.
How to get to Kathmandu Garden of Dreams? / How Much do Tickets Cost? / Opening Hours
It is super easy to get there. The gardens are literally 2 min away from Thamel. Located on Tridevi Sadak, next to the North Face Nepal, ( for all you trekkers ) and the Himalayan Java Cafe.
If you get lost and don’t happen to have WiFi and GPS ( Does anyone even remembers traveling pre-internet days? Anyone? ) just ask anyone 🙂 Just like the good ol’ days!
Opening Hours : from 9 am to 10 pm
Price: Rs. 200 per person for foreigner. ( around Cad 2.50 or USD 1.75)
In Nepal, it is very common for entrance fees to be twice as much for foreigners vs the locals. I hear tourists complaining about this all the time. To me, it is more than reasonable to help boost the economy and bring sustainable quality of life. I know people are on budget but those same people complaining I would later see with a pricey Starbucks drink. I mean come on fam!!! But I get it, priorities !! 🙂
Anyways, I digress!
What to Expect ?
Now I could not for the life of me begin to fathom what stepping into that garden in the 1900’s would have felt like. I mean everything, the design, the architecture and the overall details that you see everywhere ( horticulture) definitely blew my mind. But to be fair, had this been in Europe where gardens like that are dime a dozens, I do not think I would have found it that impressing.
The reason why Kathmandu garden of dreams evokes such admiration is majorly due to context. You see people? Context does matter! In this case, A LOT!
The first thing you notice when you arrive in Kathmandu is the dust and then the chaos. These two things will slap you right in the face as they welcome you to your new home in the Kathmandu Valley. We’re also talking loud horns, crazy car drivers and near death bus rides. These are all part of what makes Kathmandu so special.
And then you have The Garden of Dreams. Which constitutes a total contradiction. This is your oasis right in the middle of the chaos.
Why is the Garden so Unique you ask?
I mean, have I mentioned that the Gardens of dreams is surrounded by Thamel, possibly the most loudest and chaotic spot in Kathmandu. Yet somehow, The second you step in you will totally be taken away. Nothing but pure calmness. The garden of dreams is extremely quiet. you can hear the beautiful sound of the birds chirping away as they fly from one flower to another.
There are lots of green areas. Now I discovered the gardens of dreams towards the end of my three months stay in Nepal, and every time I’d find myself in Kathmandu for a long stretch of time, I’d somehow get shock again the next time I’d see trees.
The reason why is because Thamel area is packed and condensed. It’s the shopping area and major activity hub after all. That’s where people hustle. And Gardens of dreams is where people come to escape the noise.
It is very trendy for the local youth and couple alike. I noticed a lot of people picnicking on the beautiful grass. So bring a blanket! It makes for a nice break from the constant walking around.
There is also a pavilion that showcases a few ancient local art crafts such as chairs and tables. You also have a few art work like paintings and vases. Then there is a small room where you can read and learn more about the place and Nepali culture.
I also noticed a stage podium where a classical music band was rehearsing. In case anyone is dead set on getting married in Kathmandu,I am pretty sure there is the possibility to rent the place for private venues.
All of these things are located on the ground level with the flowers, a beautiful pond shape pool, many seating areas. Then you can take the flight of stairs up to a viewing terrace which gives you a look over the whole garden along with a partial view of the city. This is when you will be reminded that you are still in the middle of it all.
Garden of Dreams Kaiser Cafe
At last, just when I was getting tired of snapping beautiful pictures away on my camera, I discovered there was also a coffee shop on spot. I tried to take a picture of the menu for this blog, but weirdly enough the servers quickly ran to me to tell me that I was not allowed to photograph their menu.
Of course, I complied but I did find it a bit funny. Is there some nearby restaurant that they have to worry about competing with? To be fair, in the internet age, it’s also a little bit ludicrous for them to believe that they can operate such a high profile restaurant in complete secrecy.
At last, my camera tucked away, I still ended up visiting the restaurant. There is a nice ground floor terrace where you can sit down, sip your drink or enjoy your meal while still being part of the oasis. The food was way too expensive for both Nepali and international standards. So none of my friends had anything to eat. They do sell alcohol and yours truly just could not resist. I had some alcoholic coffee which was amazing and exactly what I needed.
Now Do I recommend eating at the Restaurant ?
Absolutely not! I really don’t think it was worth it. Although to be fair, I have no idea whether or not the food is actually good. Like I said it was way too pricey to even entice me. The thing is I love fine dining but I personally don’t want to be overpaying for casual dining. Also the main deterrent to eating there was the service. I would have probably would not mind spending the money for the experience, after all the setting is quite unique for Kathmandu. Having said that, the waiters were having a terrible day and the service did not feel warm when I went there.
Now Kathmandu and Nepali people in general are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. The hospitality is truly king. However for some reason, the service was very subpar at the gardens of dreams cafe. I noticed that the waiters were not only unhelpful but also noticeably impatient and irritated.
It felt a bit rushed whenever I would ask them about some items on the menu. Trust me, in a place like Nepal where people are over the top friendly, you quickly notice these type of things, especially in a paying establishment.
I didn’t have the time to further investigate this. But, although I could be wrong, I have a feeling it could possibly have to do with resentment. Even if my group did not order any pricey items. There were still a sizable amount of other patrons that were going on with a full course meal. I could not stop but wonder how these employees feel about the disparity. As I am pretty sure the outrageous priced menu does not reflect on their salaries. This is another reason why I felt a bit uneasy eating there. I’d be curious to hear if anyone else visited and came out with a different experience.
My verdict? Definitely visit the Gardens of dreams. If you’re on a budget and still want to experience the cafe on site, stick to beverages. Now if you’re balling like money ain’t a thing? Well what can I say? Hit your girl up!!! 🙂