If you have trekked in Nepal, chances are pretty high that you have stayed in one of the local teahouses as almost every trekking in Nepal is teahouse trek. In teahouse trek, trekkers stay in teahouses that are strewn along the trail. Teahouses are small hotels found in villages in the Himalaya that offers both bedding and eating facilities for the trekkers. Often run by local families, tea houses are built of local materials and provide required comfort and safety for trekkers.
Teahouses have drastically changed the way of trekking in Nepal. In earlier times, almost all of the trekking used to be camping trekking in which trekkers used to spend nights in tented camps. But the story is different now. Due to easily available teahouses, trekking groups don’t need to carry camping and cooking equipment or plan extensive logistics. Teahouses have considerably lowered down the cost of trekking. They have also helped to reduce the impacts on environment as they are located in villages not in fragile terrain like camping trekking. They also boost the local economy as the teahouse owners and staffs are all local people. Teahouses also offer a wonderful opportunity to interact with locals and experience the local life and culture.
Nowadays, teahouses are ubiquitous in popular trekking areas such as Everest and Annapurna. In less frequented areas like Manaslu, Makalu, Kanchenjungha etc also, teahouses are growing in number. The facilities provided by such teahouses can vary as some can be basic whereas some can be luxurious. But normally all teahouses have basic facilities like western style toilets, hot showers, continental meals and internet connection. So, trekking while staying in local teahouses can be a lifetime experience you wouldn’t want to miss.
Basic facilities in teahouses:
Generally, tea house mostly consists of twin-basis accommodation. You can find a single room that have twin beds with some other furniture like a small table or a chair. The price of room differs according to the size, quality, cleanliness of tea houses and lodges. During the peak seasons, accommodation costs around $5 whereas price can go down up to $2 in off seasons. Some luxury tea houses in Everest Base Camp Trek can charge up to $50 only for accommodation.
Almost every teahouse has clean and basic rooms, but you have to pay a little extra if you want attached bathroom. Some even have single bed room. The beds are comfortable with foam mattresses, pillows and you are provided with a thick blanket. Remember, always bring your own sleeping bag so that you stay warm enough at night. And yes, don’t forget to bring a pair of earplugs for a good sleep if you are a light sleeper.
Foods and Beverages
Meals at teahouses are often cooked in their kitchens by owners. The foods are fresh and delicious. You can find a set of menu of momo, pizza, sandwiches, pasta, and other noodle dishes at almost every teahouse. Normally, trekkers choose the typical Nepali Dhal Bhat as it is fresh, healthy, filling and easily available everywhere you go. The higher you go on the trek the more you have to pay for the same food. The Dal Bhat at the starting of the trek can cost around $2. And the same Dal Bhat can cost up to $5 as you trek higher. For beverage you can find tea, coffee, hot chocolate, juice etc. which is quite similar in every trekking region. Staying hydrated is a must for every trekker. But trekkers don’t need to worry. Bottled water is easily available throughout the trail in teahouses. One bottle of mineral water can cost from $0.50 to $4 depending upon the altitude of the trek.
Wi-Fi and Electricity
Most of the teahouses in Nepal are run by solar power, therefore you can find internet and electricity facility. However, internet and network connections can be slow. Many teahouses have their charging outlets in the dining room but you have to pay a certain amount in order to charge your electronics and use the internet. An hour charge of an electronic devices cost from $2 to $5 whereas using of a Wi-Fi hourly cost up to $1 -$2. If it is cloudy during the day, then there is a chance of power shortage, so make sure you carry an extra battery pack or power bank for your gadgets.
Hot Showers and Laundry
Most of the tea houses provide hot showers from a solar hot water system to the trekkers. You can get a bucket of warm water if there is no solar power. Using this facility can charge you up from $2 to $5. For laundry, you can get your laundry done in main villages of your trek which can take from $1 to $5 depending upon your clothes. In smaller areas, you can bring your own laundry detergent and wash your clothes as soon as you arrive and make sure to put them by the fire at night.
Always try to reach the teahouse on time before 7 pm if you have not booked one.
Don’t forget to bring your sleeping bag and liner to get extra warmth at night.
On the higher altitude of the trek, the communal toilets can sometimes be outside the tea house. So, its better to bring a flashlight for midnight toilet breaks.
Since there are no waters in toilet at high altitudes, bring enough toilet (tissue) paper and hand sanitizers. You can get toilet paper in teahouses but it costs extra charge.
Always choose to stay and eat the meals at the same teahouse. Owners of the teahouse expect trekkers to eat all their meals where they choose to stay for the night.
Always research or ask other trekkers for a good teahouse which are reliable, safe and provides good services.
Overall it was a great trip. I was well taken care of in Beijing both in arrival and departure. My dealings with the representatives in Kathmandu was absolutely excellent.