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If Pashupatinath is the heart of Nepali Hinduism, then Boudhanath, one of the largest stupas in the world, holds a central role in Nepal's also-thriving Buddhist tradition. The huge white dome, its golden tower streaming with multicolored prayer flags, is a nexus of worshippers, Tibetan monasteries and little shops teeming with religious art and sculpture. It's also a hub for religious events; and on festival nights, the stupa is lit up in magnificent technicolor, and thousands of prayer candles burn in stands all around the precinct.

Join the devout crowds filing clockwise around the stupa (it's said that a single circuit of Boudhanath could win a chance at redemption for even the most depraved of sinners). The grand Thrangu Tashi Choling Monastery next to the stupa is also a site of pilgrimage and a training site for young novice monks, who study philosophy, Tibetan language and Buddhist teachings here as they prepare for ordination. And if you work up an appetite on your circuits round the stupa, never fear: the plaza around Boudhanath sprouts some of the yummiest restaurants in the city, in several of which you can dine in style on a rooftop terrace, enjoying gorgeous aerial views of the holy monument.