You are preparing yourself for your trekking adventure in Nepal, and you keep seeing tea houses being mentioned. From your Annapurna or Everest itinerary, you understand that you will be spending the night in these tea houses. Do they only serve tea? Are they comfortable? Do I need to bring my own sleeping bag? We frequently get all sorts of questions about tea house trekking in Nepal. Let’s answer them once and for good. If there wouldn’t be tea houses along the trails in Nepal, you would have to go Upper Dolpo style and carry your own tent and other equipment. You may be a bit skeptical when you read that you will be staying in tea houses, but once you know what we are talking about and have experienced them, they will become part of your best memories of trekking in Nepal.
What are Tea Houses?
Tea houses are small hotels known as bhatti. Them being small hotels, you can expect a certain level of comfort. Yes, you can, but just know that comfort is a relative concept. They are comfortable to the extent that you have a place to sleep and that you can enjoy home-cooked meals. That’s right, tea houses are run by local families who have opened their houses to trekkers passing by. Because trekking in Nepal has become so popular in recent years, more and more tea houses have opened their doors and the concept has improved over the years. The more popular your route, the better the quality of your tea house is. If you are headed to Everest Base Camp or are planning to do the Annapurna Circuit, you can expect to see tea houses being of good quality. Quality meaning that you can expect flush toilets, hot showers and in some cases wireless internet. The use of these amenities is at an extra charge. On popular routes, it is even likely that you will stay in a building that has been built with the sole purpose of serving as a tea house. Those places can’t be called tea houses anymore, but are rather small lodges. These are like tea houses, but then much bigger and without the family aspect. In some cases, there are multiple buildings. You either stay in dorms or in shared rooms with thin walls.
Anything Else other than Tea?
Nepal isn’t just famous for the biggest mountains in the world. It is also famous for its tea. Nepali tea goes a long way back in history and it is a commonly enjoyed drink all around the country. It won’t surprise you that a cup of tea is part of the deal when staying at a tea house. But it’s definitely not just tea that you can help yourself to. The great thing about staying at tea houses, is that you don’t have to worry about food either. Tea houses are usually equipped with a communal area which serves pretty much as a restaurant. The menu will be basic, but you don’t really need much more than a nice portion of dhal bhat, which is made up of steamed rice and a lentil soup. A solid combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. As it is a common dish in the country, it is usually also the freshest. You can imagine that it is not easy for these small businesses to get fresh produce in. It basically has to come the same way as you have come: via the trails. It is also therefore that meals become more expensive as you reach higher altitudes and more remote places. If you book your trek through Bookatrekking.com, accommodation and food are in most cases included. This means that, unlike solo trekkers, you will not have to pay for your stay on the spot. Finish your plate out of respect.
Is it Your Cup of Tea?
Tea houses are really the best you will find when out trekking in Nepal. We are confident that you will be comfortable staying at tea houses. Else you probably wouldn’t have thought about spending more than a week in the mountains anyway. You will also not be the only one staying in a tea house. You are likely to meet other people who share the experience with you. When you are in a remote area, there is a chance that you will share a dormitory, but in most situations, you will have your private (double) room. The walls may be thin, so you could consider adding a pair of earplugs to your packing list. If you have booked a trekking package, it is likely that your trekking operator will provide you with a sleeping bag. If you are worried about hygiene, you can always bring a sleeping bag liner. Personal hygiene can be a bit of a topic when being out in the Nepali mountains, but if you are considering the Everest and Annapurna main routes, there is a great chance that you can expect to enjoy hot showers. This can be an extra charge. If you are cool enough for cold showers, then you will find plenty. In popular locations toilets can be Western style, but it can be that you will find squatter toilets and long drop latrines. There is internet in the mountains. It may, however, be a bit laggy from time to time and the electricity supply is also not always constant. Nevertheless, tea houses offer to charge your electrical devices. The use of both internet and charging devices is also possible at an extra charge. Expect to pay about USD 2.50 for a charge.
Tea Houses and Culture
Tea houses are the alternative for staying out in the cold nights that are so common in the mountains. If you have ever packed up a wet tent in the pouring rain for a few days in a row, then you can imagine that staying at tea houses while trekking for a prolonged time is the best there is. It is not just the mattress you can lie on, the roof you have over your head and the yak dung heater that is warming you up. It’s much more than that. You are staying with the locals. The people who are hosting you have stories to share and pictures to show. Staying at a tea house gives you an opportunity to see how life is lived in the remote areas of Nepal. The lady of the house is likely the person in charge and she will do her utmost best to make your stay comfortable. When school’s out, you are likely to meet the children as well. Experience a bit of the local culture will make your time in the mountains so much more worthwhile. Welcome to Nepal!