Namche Bazaar is a small, busy market town perched high in the Himalayas. It’s been on trade routes to Tibet for many centuries, and is now an essential stopping point on hikes in the Everest (Khumbu) region. As it’s located at 11,286 feet (3,440 meters), hikers and climbers stop at Namche to acclimatize before heading higher into the mountains.
Located on a horseshoe shaped, terraced mountainside, Namche Bazaar is the Sherpa heartland, and the Tibetan-influenced culture can be seen in everything from the food to the monasteries to the locals’ clothing. It’s also full of lodges, souvenir shops, and hiker-oriented restaurants and bars. It’s the last place to stock up on essentials before traveling onwards to more remote locations.
Almost all routes in the Khumbu region, including the Everest Base Camp hike, pass through Namche. It’s also possible to use Namche as a base and take day hikes close by.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The trek from Lukla up to Namche is challenging and steep, so you need to be quite fit.
- While acclimatizing in Namche, check out a few cultural attractions, such as the Namche Monastery, Khangba Ngingma (the town’s oldest Sherpa home), and the Sherpa Museum.
- You can buy all kinds of souvenirs in Namche, but you’d have to trek with them, so it’s better to shop when you’re back in Kathmandu.
- Drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, and spend at least one night in Namche before going further. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of serious altitude sickness, and be prepared to return to lower elevation if need be.
How to Get There
There are only two ways of getting to Namche: trekking from Lukla, or taking a chartered helicopter from Kathmandu. Lukla is a 30-minute aeroplane flight from Kathmandu. From Lukla, trek for one very long day, or two more comfortable ones. Helicopters are expensive, but they’re a spectacular way to see the Everest region and a good option for travelers on a generous budget or with time limitations.
When to Get There
The best times to hike in the Khumbu region are March–May or September–November, as the weather is likely to be fine during these months. It’s important to book far ahead for flights to Lukla and accommodation in Namche if visiting during this time.
Namche Bazaar Saturday Market
If possible, time your visit to Namche so you can visit the weekly Saturday market. The ‘bazaar’ in the town’s name means market in Nepali. The town has been a Sherpa trading hub for centuries. People from nearby villages (with ‘nearby’ meaning several hours’ walk in these parts) come to shop, and it’s a lively event.