22nd February 2019

A beginner’s guide to teahouse trekking

Every year, Nepal hosts swarms of trekkers, from beginners rambling on from teahouse to teahouse to hardcore trekkers who suffice on a backpack and a sleeping bag. However, the best way to experience trekking in the majestic mountains of Nepal is to stay the night at many teahouses that dot the trails of popular trekking routes and beyond.

Nowhere in the world can you hike for weeks into the very core of the mountains, calm with the reassurance of a cosy bed, a warm meal, and a hot shower waiting for you in the evening. The teahouses in the Everest and Langtang region were affected by the 2015 earthquake, but they have sprung up stronger and quicker than everybody’s anticipation. Here is our quick, handy blog on a beginner’s guide to teahouse trekking.

The rule of eating where you’re sleeping

It may seem strange to outsiders, but the unspoken rule in the realms of teahouses is that you eat where you sleep. In most cases, hotel-owners charge minimum prices for accommodation and amenities; however, they compensate for that from food and drinks. The staple food in almost all teahouses is a platter of rice, lentils, greens, curry, and meat, which is served in an all-you-can-eat style. If you fancy something continental, you can order a pizza, chow mien, or even mac and cheese. Though, don’t have unrealistically high expectations; they’re just regular hoteliers who have picked up skills from here and there – not chefs from five stars.  

P.S. the menu gets shorter and shorter as you climb up. But you can always count on a warm plate of Dal, Bhaat, and Tarkari.

Getting to know your accommodation

Nothing will give you the motivation to cross the never-ending mountain pass like the thought of a warm bed waiting for you at your teahouse. On top of that, the bedside view of moonlit mountains and thousands of stars illuminating the sky will seem like a scene straight out of a dream. Once again, don’t expect first-class housekeeping service, but the rooms are always impeccably clean and neat. They will almost always have two single-sized beds with freshly washed sheets and pairs of blankets to keep you warm. Since most of these houses are furnished with wood, they don’t accommodate heaters for safety purpose. If a need arises, you can also get your laundry done for some extra bucks.

Knowing general teahouse etiquettes

We have already discussed the food etiquette, but there are few other simple, basic things you have to keep in mind so that you don’t offend your host and fellow travellers. Make a point to tip your waiters and service providers generously, as it is mostly the only source of income for them in the mountains. Make sure to not make unnecessary noise, especially at night as many other trekkers will be trying to catch up on sleep. Leave your dirty boots outside and use the flipflops while indoors. In short, don’t make unnecessary demands and be a difficult customer to serve. Otherwise, you’re good to go!

What determines the costs?

There are several factors that determine the cost behind teahouse trekking: the region, the elevation, the season, and your choice of the travel agency. Regions like Annapurna and Everest are almost inevitably costly when compared to other lesser-trekked areas. The cost goes even higher during the peak time when it gets incredibly hard to book a room. Similarly, higher the elevation, higher will be the cost. The life in trans Himalayan region isn’t easy; everything you’ll need from vegetables to blankets is transported on a mule’s back. Thus, the cost is comparatively higher than that of mid-range altitude treks. If you buy a complete package from a trekking agency, you won’t have to worry about these things. They have contacts and agreements with certain teahouses and even get special, discounted price.

Keeping realistic service expectations

It is best to approach the toilet facility in the Himalayans with mediocre expectations. Most often, the teahouses have a shared facility with squat-style toilets. However, some of them also offer an en-suite bathroom with a western-style toilet. You should also know that using toilet paper is not the general practice in the mountains, so you might want to bring a couple of rolls with you. Hot shower is almost readily available, be it a real shower or using hot water from the bucket. Wi-fi may not be available, but you can count on the 4G network to reach your loved ones at times.

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