Bhutan after spending centuries in isolation finally opened its doors to tourism in 1974. Even when it had decided that tourism would be a great source of income for the country, it was not entirely open to the idea of mass tourism. So the tourism council of Bhutan imposes a daily tariff on the tourists entering the country. The tiny country’s isolation episodes have instigated a culture only unique to Bhutan. Its uniqueness can be visible from even the smallest aspect of the country. Anyone traveling to Bhutan will be able to feel the exclusive vibe as soon as they land in Paro; the architectures, the serene nature, the pristine mountains and especially the agricultural paddy fields surrounding the ancient Bhutanese houses.
The best way to explore and get the authentic cultural experience is by opting to stay in one of the farmhouses which offer homestay. If you are anything like me, you would enjoy every activity that you get to do and experience at a farm stay. And moreover spending a night or two at a farmhouse offers an authentic experience of the traditional Bhutanese way of life. These farmhouse owners have gone out of their way to provide its guests with not just the Bhutanese cultural experience but also all the other modern facilities for a comfortable stay. So it would actually make sense to choose these farm houses over lifeless hotels. We have compiled a list of the best homestays in Bhutan.
Located at Satsam Chorten in the beautiful Paro valley, Aum Om’s homestay is one of the most sought in Paro. The home is famous for treating its guests with warm hospitality and even more finger-licking local dishes for meals. Its cozy rooms and affordable price makes it one of the most loved homestays in the valley. Much like the hotels, Aum Om’s homestay also provides free Wi-Fi. You can also experience hot stone bathing at the homestay. Hot stone bathing in Bhutanese culture is considered as a natural healing procedure for a number of ailments like joint pains and stomach troubles. Smooth white colored stones from the river banks are baked in the fire till red and then the stones are dipped into a wooden tub of cold water. The water is heated by the stones and some also prefer to add medicinal herbs to enhance the bathing experience.
Ugyen’s homestay is located in Dumchoe village in Haa Valley. The 200-year-old farmhouse sits at the bottom of the three sister hills; ‘Miri Pinsum’ and is a true illustration of ancient Bhutanese architecture. The farmhouse is the owner of Ugyen’s ancestral home. At Haa, You will be immediately welcomed by the family members in a traditional manner and will take you inside where you will be served the welcoming snacks. A typical Bhutanese welcoming snack includes butter and salt tea with puffed rice and the people of Haa, locally known as Haaps also offer a special snack known as hoentey. Hoenteys are basically buckwheat dumplings with spinach and local cheese along with numerous other ingredients. This delicious delicacy is only unique to Haa valley and is usually only made during the New Year. Ugyen and family are always looking for new ways to give the best experience to their guests so they offer multiple activities like visiting nearby sacred monasteries and temples. Haa is one of those districts in Bhutan which do not receive a lot of tourists which is the main reason why you will not find any touristy hotels in this valley. So if you are someone who wants to experience authentic Bhutanese culture, then Haa valley is that place.
Located at 10 minutes drive from the main town in the capital, Aum Damchoe’s home is perfect for every type of tourist as the place has everything a homestay could possibly offer. The house is a 2 storied bungalow that is surrounded by flower gardens and Aum also owns a small kitchen garden along with a poultry farm and a small tofu processing unit. The best thing about the home is its ambiance since it is surrounded by woods and though it’s in the capital, one could still feel like they are residing on a mountainside. The second best thing about the homestay is Aum’s delicious meals prepared from the organic vegetables straight from Aum’s kitchen garden. The guests can also choose to learn some Bhutanese dish recipes from Aum.
Located in the vicinity of the infamous fertility temple, the Chimi Lhakhang homestay is surrounded by beautiful village scenery. The homestay offers authentic village life experience to its guests. They also offer the best breakfast meals. The view from their well-equipped terrace is simply mesmerizing.
Located in the picturesque village of Ura in Bumthang valley, Bangpa heritage farmstay is one of the best in the village. Ura is known for its beautiful cluster village among which Aum Tashi Bangpa heritage farmstay is situated just below Ura Lhakhang. The farmhouse flaunts beautiful architectural works making it one of the most beautiful farmhouses in the village. The impressive structure is very spacious and has many rooms to accommodate a lot of guests. The owner Aum Tashi has a really friendly nature and is always busy giving her best services to the guests. Apart from the beautiful scenery and the comfort of the farmhouse, another remarkable experience during your stay there would be the meals you will be served. As Aum Tashi is a great cook and sometimes if you request her, she is ever happier to teach you some of her delicious local recipes. She also has a stone oven that has been built recently for outdoor baking sessions and if you are lucky you will get to taste her amazingly delicious slices of bread that she bakes.
Opting for homestay can prove cheaper compared to staying at a hotel. Secondly, by staying at homestay you will be contributing towards rural communities, though in a very small way. And lastly, you will be able to experience true Bhutanese culture and will be able to witness age-old traditions followed to this day in Bhutanese home.