Homestay in Nepal
If you are someone who, as a traveler, wants to gain unique insights into the life of the local people, their culture, and their heritage, then homestay is made for you.
Staying in such a shelter strengthens the community and, most importantly, empowers local women. Therefore, homestay is gaining extra popularity in Nepal, especially in rural areas.
Homestay is one of the biggest trends in tourism right now. Travelers increasingly want intensive experiences that touch them and where they experience the hospitality and build relationships. Homestays do exactly that: here, travelers can discover a country through the eyes of the local population and get in touch with locals. It means you will stay with local families, get to know the everyday life of the residents, and develop a better feeling for the culture. It is a modern form of traditional culture.
Origin of homestay in Nepal
Nepal was and still is a geographically challenging country. Although most of the villages today are connected with roads and transportation and numerous hotels, lodges, and guesthouses are abundant in most villages, the same was not in the past. Traders and students traveling for higher education often had to seek refuge in any home they saw on their way during nightfall.
The landlord, in turn, charges minimum money and provides them with necessary accessories to ease their stay. Eventually, this custom turned into a homestay in Nepal.
Syangja is the first district in Nepal to operate a homestay for the first time in the country, and Shirubari of the district is the birthplace of this modern tradition.
On 2054 B.S., retired captain Rudraman Gurung started the first homestay at Shirubari in Syangja district. Following his footstep, the concept of homestay expanded in Ghalegaon of Lamjung district.
After Syangja and Lamung, the homestay concept extended to Ghanpokhara, Bhujung, Pasgaon, Siurung villages, Vridim in Rasuwa and Sriantu in Ilam. Eventually, there was a wave and campaign to open homestays in other districts as well. Currently, homestay tourism is progressing in more than 100 places in about three dozen districts across Nepal.
As a result, now its number is around 200 across the country, which will undoubtedly increase even more. Along with the expansion of homestays, efforts have been made by the Nepal government to address its development and growth through various policies and programs for its promotion.
Source: My Republica
Benefits of homestay for the traveler
- Staying with host families in homestays has many advantages for the country and you as a traveler. These include:
- You gain authentic insights into the life of the locals.
- Depending on the concept of the accommodation, there is home cooking in the respective country, so you get the opportunity to get acquainted with local food and culture.
- Homestays are perfect for solo travelers who want to meet locals instead of just other travelers.
- Insider tips are also available free of charge, for example, for private tours off the beaten track – including the placement of a professional guide.
- Hosts can often organize other things as well, such as a picnic or cultural programs.
- You can expect unforgettable travel moments and exciting conversations – overnight stays in homestays make a stay something special.
Benefits of homestay for Nepal
Source: Community Homestay Network
- Homestays are a win-win situation for the host country also because the population also benefits from them:
- Homestays are an important source of income, and your money goes directly to the local population (unlike hotel chains, for example).
- Homestays promote intercultural exchange and are also exciting for the hosts, as they always accommodate people from different parts of the world.
- Families can build networks with each other and recommend each other – this strengthens the community.
- Many travelers are interested in getting to know everyday activities and lending a hand themselves.
- Training courses are often offered so hosts can deepen their knowledge of tourism and income investment.
- Homestay has become an integral part of Nepal’s tourism development. Nepali homestay tourism has actually supported the traditional Nepalese belief of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava.’
- From the point of view of learning a foreign language, the family is perhaps the most effective option. With daily live communication with members of the host family, you get the opportunity to practice their skills with native speakers constantly: share the past day’s events; tell about yourself and your family and your native country. Or just express gratitude for a delicious dinner and wish them a good day.
- Homestays also promote sustainability. Travelers stay in the middle of a Nepalese community, mostly even in private houses, and are involved in everyday activities that the local families organize themselves. Not only do tourists get to know local life in this way, but they also support the respective community. Above all, the local women benefit: they take on various tasks in the community homestay, from looking after guests to the organization, and thus generate their own income, which in many cases exceeds that of their husbands. In addition, part of the money flows into the municipality, for example, in the construction of schools.
Traveler concerns regarding homestay in Nepal
Some travelers are concerned that there might be a lack of comfort or safety, especially if they have otherwise been on familiar terrain and have stayed in hotels. Of course, it may be easier to live in a homestay in the country in the middle of nature than in a 4-star hotel.
Sometimes there is no running water, maybe the electricity goes out, or you are woken up every morning by a loud rooster. If you value a lot of comforts, it is best to find out before you travel what the specific accommodations are like – maybe you are sometimes better off in a small but fine eco-lodge than in a simple homestay, or you decide for one a few days here and a few days there.
However, there is a solution for almost every requirement; you just have to communicate in advance. Speaking of safety – you don’t have to worry about safety, as all homestays are certified and professional.
What do homestay guests have to consider?
If you choose the unique experience of staying in a homestay, you should always be aware that you are staying with a family. The concept can only work if people treat each other with respect and openness, which hopefully goes without saying: there should never be a “zoo feeling” and indeed no racism.
Just as always, when traveling and in everyday life, it is also important to use resources sparingly: towels, for example, do not have to be washed every two days. Be careful not to take too long for a shower. And if meal portions are too big, just let your hosts know.
Challenges with increasing numbers in homestay tourism in Nepal
The increase in the number of homestays in Nepal is a positive aspect for economic growth, but numerical growth alone is insufficient. In order to maintain the sustainability of the homestay, emphasis should also be placed on its qualitative aspect.
The host has to consider innumerable factors to attract tourists to stay with him again and again, such as:
- First of all, tourists should be given a sense of security. He should feel safe in his host’s home and community.
- After that, special attention should be paid to sanitation and hygiene. Tourists’ living rooms, sleeping beds, bathing rooms used by tourists, toilets, etc., should be kept very clean and tidy 24 hours a day.
- Interruption in power and water supply can have unrepairable damage to the host’s reputation, so the host should also be careful about this matter.
- In this digital world, it is better if the host provides the internet facility free of cost.
- Likewise, the concerned authority of the host village or community should ensure a safe and easily accessible route for the tourists. If possible, there should be a comfortable walking path if not a motorable road.
Steps taken by the Nepal government for the promotion of homestays in Nepal
The Tourism Policy, 2065 B.S., and Nepal Tourism Year, 2011 A.D. introduced a business operation method to manage homestays in Nepal. Likewise, in 2067 B.S., the Government of Nepal introduced homestay operation terms and methods.
What is a homestay, how should it be, where can it be opened, what procedures should be followed to get government recognition, whether an individual or a group should open it, and how many rooms a homestay can be kept in a house, whether tax should be paid to the government or not, what should be the sleeping rooms and beds for tourists, what should the kitchen be like, what can be the food dishes, what rules should be followed by the tourists and what rules should be followed by the house owner, i.e., the homestay operator? The homestay operating procedure gives such instructions.
Some community homestays in Nepal
Homestays are operated in almost all the districts of Nepal. Depending on the lifestyle, culture, and food tradition, the variation in the homestay concept can be seen. If the number of private homestays is increasing like a mushroom, the concept of community homestay is also flourishing in Nepal that; it has been promoting eco-friendly and sustainable tourism in Nepal, thus attracting tourists worldwide. Among such major community homestays, some are:
- Tharu community homestay, Dhangadi
Bhada village of Dangoura tharu, situated in Dhangadi, has become the identity of community homestay in Nepal. Since 2067 B.S., the village has been managing homestays in Nepal and has been acquainting tourists with their tharu culture, traditions, and arts.
Each homestay house in the village has constructed a separate tharu house for its guests, where they are served traditional tharu cuisines like chinchar, local chicken, and fish. In the evening, the guests are entertained with orthodox dance styles like Sakhiya, Hurdangwa, Jhumra, and Maghauta.
- Gabhar valley community homestay, Banke
Gabhar valley community homestay in Banke is also becoming a tourist hub in Nepal. This community homestay has become the synonym for cordial existence between a mix of cultures. Diverse culture, tiger tourism promotion in Banke National park, 1 to 2 days of Chure hiking program, and of course, reasonable charge are the remarkable features of this homestay.
- Shirubari community homestay, Shyangja
The first homestay of Nepal, Shirubari, is developing as a school of homestay tourism studies. Out of 39 homes, 17 houses are currently operating as homestays in the village. The locals here provide warm hospitality to the tourists through the vivid depiction of the Gurung lifestyle and the local culture.
High prioritization of sanitation and hygiene, magnanimous views of Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, and Machhapuchche, and the warm hospitality of the locals are the major attractions of this community homestay.
Clean and beautiful roads paved with stones, houses built in a traditional style, and locals decorated in the traditional Gurung attire welcome the guests at the entrance.
Officials and members of local mothers’ groups, youth clubs, and tourism committees welcome the tourists to the village and offer refreshments. After refreshments, different houses are assigned for tourists. Tourists are arranged to eat and stay in the designated houses.
- Dalit community homestay, aanpswara, Damauli
The Dalit community of Aanpswara village of Damauli started the homestay in their village in 2072 B.S. currently, 18 houses in the village have been providing homestays to tourists and travelers.
Aampswara is a picturesque village 6 km east of the Damauli market. The rural lifestyle, Thanimai Temple, Himalayan views, and organic food are the highlights here. Apart from these attractions, visitors can enjoy the magical views of Annapurna, Damauli market, Chhabdibarah Temple, Manahunkot, and Seti Hydro Power.
- Kaulepani community homestay, Lamjung
Kaulepani in Lamjung is a confluence of history, culture, and nature. About 14 houses of the Gurung and Newar community provide homestay facilities to the visitors.
The 500 years old palace situated at the foot of the village, Old Kot Fort, and a vision of gigantic snowcapped glaciers from Machhapuchchre, Annapurna, Lamjung, Peak 29, Gangapurna, Manaslu to Buddha Himal are the major charisma of the village.
- Namje community homestay, Dhankuta
Namje village in Dhankuta was included in the list of 12 must-visit villages in the world by the American news organization CNN a few years ago. Organic food, Magar culture, and spirit-dwelling houses are the village’s specialties. 19 houses of Namje village are providing homestay to the visitors.
- Chitlang community homestay, Makwanpur
Chitlang is a mellow valley of Makwanpur inhabited by Newars, Tamangs, Chhetris, Bahuns, and Balamis. The homestay concept started in this village in Nepal Tourism Year 2011. 6 houses of Newar, Thakuri, and Chhetris provide homestay to the tourists.
273 B.C. Buddist monuments built by Emperor Ashok, Taleju Bhawani Kot, Satdhara, Trigajureshwar Shivalaya, Goat Farm, and Swachhand Bhairav are the major tourist attraction of this village.
- Sriantu and Samalbung community homestay, Ilam
Sriantu and Samalbung of Ilam have been declared as Antu Tourism Zone. A Sangam of Lapcha, Rai, Magar, Tamang, Limbu, and Newar culture, Antu village is known as the sunrise village, which procures the hearts of each tourist with the magical view of Kanchenjunga.
Two dozen houses in the village have homestays. Food and lodging are offered at affordable price. Dinner, accommodation, and breakfast cost 600 rupees. In the evening, dances reflecting the Lapcha, Rai, Magar, Tamang, Limbu, and Newar cultures are performed.
- Dalla community homestay, Bardiya
Twenty-two houses of Dalla, the central area of Bardiya National Park, has been providing homestay facility to the village visitors. In the evening, they are greeted by the cultural dance program, including Jhumra, Lathi, Majira, and Chokara dances.
Starting from 2067 B.S., the homestay gained world fame after Prince Harry visited and stayed here.
The 1300 rupees package includes dinner, breakfast, accommodation, and reception. Dal rice, vegetables, pickles, Tharu food, ghongi, chinchar, fish, local chicken, rat stew, mahua liquor, etc., are available.
- Bhakunde Atithi Satkar Community Homestay, Baglung
The Atithi Satkar Community Homestay in Bhakunde of Baglung is a model homestay in the district. This community homestay has been operating since 2073 B.S. combining 11 houses of the village.
A view tower built on the highest hill offers the first sunrise view. The golden glaciers of Dhavalagiri, Annapurna, and Machhapuchhre help the tourists earn the heart-melting lifelong memory. A nearby forest inhabited by deer and wild pheasant, local cuisines such as millet chapati, local chicken and mutton curry, and radish pickle enhance the taste bud of the tourists.
Nepal can rightly be called an open-air museum, and if you quickly and conveniently want to get acquainted with its alluring atmosphere, a homestay is one of the best ways. Whether private or community homestay, they will allow you to plunge into the world of the country’s most decadent culture and see the enchanting panorama of the mountain ranges. Nepali homestay has been promoting sustainable and eco-friendly tourism in the country for a long time. So don’t be afraid of the safety or the facility; welcome the innocence and warm hospitality of Nepali people with an open heart.