Thamel is a commercial neighborhood in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Thamel has been the center of the tourist industry in Kathmandu for over four decades, starting from the hippie days when many artists came to Nepal and spent weeks in Thamel. Even though Thamel has been referred to as a "ghetto" by some, many low-budget travelers consider it a hot-spot for tourism.
Thamel is distinguished by its narrow alleys crowded with various shops and vendors. Commonly sold goods include food, fresh vegetables/fruits, pastries, trekking gear, walking gear, music, DVDs, handicrafts, souvenirs, woolens, and clothes. Travel agencies, small grocery stores, budget hotels and restaurants also line the streets. Cars, cycle rickshaws, two-wheelers and taxis ply these narrow streets alongside hundreds of pedestrians. There are many restaurants in Thamel that serve traditional and continental cuisine, although prices are significantly higher than in non-tourist areas. Thamel also acts as the pre-base camp for mountaineers. It boasts a wide range of mountaineering gear shops, foreign money exchange booths, mobile phone shops, pubs, clubs, and nightlife along with the numerous travel agents and guest houses. Thamel is home to a wide range of the Nepalese population, and serves both entertainment and employment purposes. On Wednesday, 28 September 2011, Thamel was declared a full Wi-Fi zone. It is the first Wi-Fi zone of Nepal.