The biggest burden when hiking is shouldering the load of a tent and food. Tea house trekking through Nepal lightens your load and gives you the opportunity to meet locals while eating home cooked meals. If this concept is new to you, you’re not alone. We had trouble finding basic information about the tea houses, so here are a few tips to make the most of your experience and give you a glimpse into trekking in Nepal.
First off, don’t let the name teahouse trick you, they are regular guesthouses with private rooms that serve food and of course tea. Just like you might check out a place to stay in the city, ask to take a look at the room and make sure you know what is included before you decide (for example blankets, electricity for charging batteries, etc. and hot water).
Often you can stay for free if you plan to eat dinner and breakfast where you sleep, especially if you are a group and without a porter and guide; just ask for a deal on your room. We were not charged a room fee at the majority of the places we stayed because we were hiking independently, which meant they didn’t have to feed a porter or guide.
Don’t expect luxury or central heating, even if blankets are included you’ll want a good sleeping bag.
Along those same lines don’t have high hopes for the bathrooms, they are basic at best. You might want flip flops for showering (they’re also nice as an alternative to your hiking boots in the evening) and you have to provide your own towel.
Stock up on goodies such as Snickers and peanut butter in Chomrong on the Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Jomsom and Manang on the Annapurna Circuit Trek and Namche Bazaar on the Three Passes Trek. Better yet, plan ahead and get these things in Kathmandu or Pokhara to save money and supplement the mostly vegetarian fare on the trail. If you are flying to Nepal straight from home bring power bars, protein powder and the like. We carried canned tuna for extra protein on trail, because it’s the best thing we could find in Nepal.
Food is much more expensive on the trail than in Kathmandu because every item has to be carried up on someone’s back. You will likely eat more on trail because of how much walking your doing, so budget accordingly and bring extra cash. You don’t want to be hungry while hiking. Also make sure you bring enough money for the duration of your trek as you will most likely not find an ATM along your route.
No matter how sick of it you get, dhal baat is always the best value because you get an unlimited amount of it. If you’re hungry this is the thing to order.
Order your food early, usually it takes awhile to prepare and it helps them a lot if you tell them what you want for dinner and breakfast and what time you want it.
You won’t need a map to find the tea houses, they are all right along the trail and you can’t go two hours without finding another one. In larger towns you’ll have your choice among several different tea houses.
Our favorite tea houses were in Gokyo, right on the edge of the lake and in Dzongla where we had a 360 degree view of the towering Himalayas surrounding us.
Regardless of how long you plan to hike or what trek you choose the tea houses are a welcome relief at the end of a long day. The warm hospitality of the families that run them and a fire at night will make all the miles seem worth it and fuel you for another day on the trail. The tea houses along our route were definitely a highlight of hiking in Nepal.