Whether you’re trekking in the Himalayas, exploring the bazaars and temples of Kathmandu or hiking through the vast amphitheatre of the Annapurna Sanctuary, there will be a teahouse somewhere nearby.
These traditional establishments not only provide you with a convenient watering hole and place to lay your head, but are also a great way to really get to know Nepalese culture.
Almost all teahouses in Nepal began as family-run ventures, providing food, and of course tea, for the weary traveller. Patrons were traditionally allowed to sleep on the floor for free if they had eaten at the teashop.
Although now not free, teahouses are still very affordable, costing on average between £2 - £8 per night. Although in most cases you will be expected to buy your food and drink there as well. They offer a great way of getting out into the mountains and valleys without breaking the bank.
Building your entire trip around teahouses - teahouse trekking - is becoming an increasingly popular way to travel. Staying in teahouses allows you to travel extremely light, (a massive bonus if you’re looking to cover long distances during the day or don’t fancy a life time of back ache brought on by that Everest-sized rucksack) and they also give you a great opportunity to meet other trekkers and swap stories and advice.
Teahouses have improved dramatically since the days of unfurling your sleeping mat on the floor. These days you’ll normally get your own room and most have running water and even western style food. Watch out though, bedding can be limited during peak season, especially along the popular Pokhara to Jomsom trek. So it’s a good idea to bring your own sheets if you’re trekking from October to November or March to April. If you’re travelling with a guide, they should be able to steer you clear of any teahouses that aren’t quite up to standard.
The main “teahouse trek” regions are Khumbu, Annapurna and Manaslu. All three provide fantastic hiking trails and incredible views. In the Sherpa lands of Khumbu, you can climb to the Everest base camp and explore the Gokyo valley with its sacred lakes and views of 8000m peaks. In the Annapurna sanctuary, you can enjoy fantastic local hospitality, as well as awesome 360˚ mountain vistas. If you’re feeling more adventurous, Manaslu, just to the west of the Annapurna conservation area, is one of Nepal’s newest teahouse treks and offers unspoiled trails through remote villages and dramatic mountain passes.
So, whether you’re completely new to Nepal and it’s stunning scenery, or you’ve been up and down Everest so many times you’re giving the Sherpas a run for their money, the teahouse culture of Nepal can offer everyone some great new insights into this remote, beautiful country.