Guide to Nepal Homestays: Supporting Community Tourism in Nepal

Last Updated on April 28, 2024 by Christine Kaaloa

nepal homstays
nepal homstays

Nepal beckons travelers with its breathtaking beauty and ancient allure. But beyond summiting Everest peaks and prayer flags lies a hidden treasure, Nepal homestays.

Gone are the bland hotels and tourist-centric interactions. In its place, a Nepal homestay experience offers an authentic, enriching journey into the heart of Nepalese culture. From savoring home-cooked delicacies woven with generations-old spices to participating in daily rituals and witnessing heartwarming village customs, a Nepal homestay promises a transformative experience that transcends sightseeing.

How many Nepal Homestays are there?

According to Krishna Chaudhary of the Homestay Federation of Nepal, as of 2022, there were around 6,500 registered homestays across 1,500 villages in the country.

With the growing popularity of Nepal homestays- both private and community project- the number of options has steadily increased. They offer diverse experiences in mountains, villages, and even cities. Finding your perfect Nepal homestay experience is easier than ever with several online platforms dedicated to connecting travelers with hosts. P

hemjakot homestay farm nepal village life

How to find a legit Homestay in Nepal

Each homestay brings its own unique experience and is always best fit for a traveler with an open mind. It’s always best to start with a homestay from community- run organization, where the community has had some preparation to host foreign travelers.

Legit Volunteer programs

Sneha’s Care is a legit non-profit animal sanctuary in Lalitpur that cares and houses for over 150 rescued dogs as well as, mistreated or abused farm animals. They run a handful of animal welfare programs to educate and aid the public and always need volunteer help and have inexpensive and basic lodging facilities for their volunteers to be near their sanctuary.  Email them for more information and please be patient as they may be short of staff.

Rokpa Guesthouse They offer a homestay like environment in Boudha near Bodhanath Stupa but their profits go to a program they do helping underpriviliged. “ROKPA provides life support to destitute, with a focus on living needs, medical assistance and education. A few of the projects are conducted on site, such as the Women’s Workshop, and the Hospitality Vocational Training. They provide a 1-year training to underprivileged youth to give them the first step toward building a career and being self-sufficient. Adjacent to the Guest House is the ROKPA Children’s Home where former street urchin can find a new home. All the profits generated by your stay go toward funding said projects”

When a homestay or booking site is owned by a private or corporate travel company, I’m always wary. There’s always a commission fee that is taken from the local family’s earnings.  I do not know how much a community and host makes from the homestay or how much they get from the money a traveler pays.

Nepal is a country where businesses have difficulty accepting foreign payment like credit cards, etc…They typically need larger businesses to take in their money if you are using foreign currency.

Credit card companies charge fees to the business accepting the money, so if your accommodation stay is super cheap, pay in cash.

If the business requests you pay in person, please respect that as the stay may already be so cheap that any extra costs come off their revenue and you are keeping that local family from the full profit. Keep these things in mind when you book a homestay with a local family. Please read my responsible travel tips.

Community Homestay Network has a base operation of training and preparing a local community to be hosts. you can stay at a local home and help them with gardening and farming. Locals can sign up and offer their homes.

Airbnb stay at a local home but not necessarily interact with a local family.  Nepalese families are beginning to list their homes here and will accept a booking reservation but will collect payment in person. Please use cash when paying.

What is a Homestay in Nepal like?

Basic accommodations with priceless views

Homestays offer basic, comfortable lodgings, often with shared bathrooms and living spaces. Some offer basic amenities like soap and a towel. Most of the time, you are staying in someone’s family room. In the rural and remote villages, you may encounter blackouts and power cuts or a lack of WiFi. It sounds rugged and scary, but I discovered it was a perfect opportunity to connect with and appreciate nature. The occasional cold bath and be balanced by taking your bath during the day when it is warm or it can be a way to wake up and feel refreshed in the morning.

nepal village homestay room
nepal village homestay room
nepal village homestay room
hemjakot homestay nepal village life view

Home-cooked meals

Prepare to taste fresh, local ingredients and traditional recipes passed down through generations. Be open to trying new dishes and savoring the flavors of Nepal. If staying in a rural or remote village, the Nepali family may be a farming family, and you might enjoy garden fresh meals grown from the farm.

Cultural exchange and sharing routines

Participate in daily activities like farming, cooking, or attending local festivals. Hosts may or may not offer to have you help them, but you might offer to help with cooking. It’s fun and you get to experience local ingredients in their daily living.  Some homestays may give you a tour of the community or town; others may just offer room and board.  Do not expect your hosts to fill in your itinerary, unless it is stated.  Embrace the chance to learn new skills and contribute to their life. It isn’t just about them give you a cultural experience; it is about cultural exchange and leaving them with a positive and fun experience too.

Mindful communication

Don’t hesitate to ask questions and engage in conversations with your hosts.  In some cases, you may get a host that struggles with your language. This is a given, as you’re in a country where you are the foreigner who lacks knowledge of their language.  In remote villages, the education can be basic.  This is your chance to have fun , trying their language and using your miming skills. Nepali people are open-minded and childlike at times-your attempt to learn a little of their language will go a long way.

Tip: Hiring an English speaking local guide to translate can really uplift your experience! My favorite guide, Nabaraj of Wanderlust Himalaya Adventures is my Go To when I want to dive deep in my understanding of Nepali way.  You’d need to pay for their stay as well, but the cost of a homestay is affordable and this would maximize your experience, especially in the villages.

How much does a Nepal Homestay cost?

Homestays range but are affordable to inexpensive. I’ve seen anything as low as $7 to $30. That is not bad for room, board and a cultural exchange in a Nepali home.

Read things you MUST KNOW before visiting Nepal

gurung homestay devi gurung 2
gurung homestay devi gurung 2
homestays in nepal, nepal homestays, panauti homestay
Nirmala and Anee-ta
gurung homestay devi gurung cooking
gurung homestay devi gurung cooking
gurung homestay devi gurung popped corn
gurung homestay cooking popped corn from Devi’s farm. Surprisingly delicious!

The Benefits of Doing a Homestay in Nepal

The concept of community homestays in Nepal originated in the 1990s as a way to empower villages and promote sustainable tourism. Local families collaborate, sharing resources and creating a network of homestays within the village. This ensures fair distribution of benefits and empowers the entire community to participate in tourism while preserving their cultural identity. When you’re doing a homestay from a community homestay project like Community homestay network, the entire community helps the family that is doing the hosting.

Doing a homestay in Nepal is not just about immersing yourself in local life. Your tourist dollars fuel village/ community profit-sharing and helps a local family that participates in sustainable and community-driven tourism.

  • Authentic Experiences & Cultural immersion: You’re no longer an observer. You’re experiencing authentic Nepali home, sharing meals with the family, learn their daily routines, unique cultural traditions, and challenges firsthand.
hemjakot gurung community
hemjakot gurung community welcome
homestays in nepal, nepal homestays, panauti homestay
Panauti Community Homestay: Nepali welcome
  • Support local & contribute to community tourism: Your homestay fees directly benefit the host family and village, promoting sustainable and responsible tourism for the village community.  The communities manage and profit from tourism initiatives and directly benefit from tourist visits. This empowers them to control their development and preserve their traditions.
mothers group gurung 2
mothers group gurung community and homestay network
  • Discover stunning scenery and hidden gems: Homestays often reside in off-the-beaten-path locations, exposing you to untouched landscapes and unique cultural practices. There are more rising up in Kathmandu districts like Kritipur and Boudha and this brings warmth and a personable stay
hemjakot homestay nepal village life
Hemjakot view
  • Cultural exchange: Engage in conversations with your hosts, you can gain invaluable insights into local community, history, and traditional practices. Cultures like the Gurung – where I stayed- have a special history and unique culture that is preserved by travelers
  • Hospitality & delicious home-cooked food: Nepalese warmth and generosity shine through in every interaction, creating a sense of belonging and genuine connection.
  • Sustainable Tourism: Your stay directly benefits the host family and village, empowering local communities, preserving tradition, and minimizing environmental impact.
  • Positive Impact: Tourist dollars directly benefit local economies, supporting infrastructure development, education, and healthcare initiatives, leading to lasting improvements in community well-being.
gurung homestay devi gurung popped corn
village rain jacket

My first incredible Nepal Homestay in Panauti, Kathmandu

In Panauti, two hours from Kathmandu, Community Homestay Network connected me with Anee-ta’s family. The Panauti Community Homestay the first community homestay in the network. The ladies received training from the program so they could set up their homestay to welcome foreign travelers. And it was my first traditional homestay outside of staying at the occasional guesthouse, so it was a doable and affordable experience I was excited by. Their traditional house offered basic amenities like western-style toilets and occasional Wi-Fi access.

My two-day stay involved looking into Anee-ta and her mom’s daily life: visiting their potato farm, learning basic Nepali cooking, and exploring the town’s ancient architecture alongside Anee-ta. Anee-ta was still attending a local college near Kathmandu. Home-cooked meals featuring local ingredients and I learned how to roll a roti.  Sharing meals, conversation, and cultural activities fostered genuine connections with Aneeta and her family and it gave me a broader look at Nepali life outside of tourism. Despite occasional power outages and the cute farm animal soundtrack, the experience was peaceful and enriching, leaving me with lasting memories and a newfound appreciation for Nepalese homestays and hospitality.

Watch my Panauti Homestay experience

My charming Gurung homestay experience in Hemjakot, Pokhara

Nestled amidst the Annapurna foothills lies the charming village of Hemjakot, also known as Hyangjakot. This picturesque landscape is dotted with traditional Gurung houses, meticulously crafted stone walls and surrounded by breathtaking mountain vistas of the Annapurna range. It serves as the backdrop for the 11-20 Gurung community homestays in the village. Here, you’ll be welcomed by the warmth of the Gurung people, known for their deep connection to nature and community spirit. I stayed with Devi Gurung who was married and had a child who she was sending to school in Pokhara. She’d cook dinner at night by candlelight when we had blackout and farm and tend to her livestock by day as I set off to explore Hemjakot village and all it had to offer.

Watch my FULL 3-part video series playlist
Hemjakot Gurung homestay experience



Watch Hemjakot & Gurung homestay experience
Episode 1: Arrival and homestay tour

Check out my YouTube series for a captivating glimpse into my Gurung homestay experience in Hemjakot!

Watch Hemjakot & Gurung homestay experience
Episode 2: A day in a life of Gurung

The Gurung community, renowned for their hospitality, skilled mountain guides and sustainability in farming. The Gurungs are an indigenous ethnic group, who primarily reside in the hills and mountains of Gandaki Province in central Nepal, particularly around the Annapurna region.

Their origins suggest Tibetan, Mongolian ancestry. They have their own traditional music, dance, and attire that showcase their vibrant cultural heritage. The Gurung community has a strong sense of community and family, with respect for elders.

Watch my video tour of my Hemjaokot & Gurung homestay experience – episode 3: Gurung lifestyle & community

The Mother’s Group: A Beacon of Women’s Empowerment

Nepali society see women as smart decision makers.  Within the Gurung community, the Mother’s Group plays a head role in managing the homestay and overseeing the harmony of the village. Comprised of strong, dedicated women, the women of the community handle accommodation, meals, and cultural activities, ensuring an enriching experience for guests. My homestay experiences in Nepal in both Panauti and Hemjakot were overseen by the women in the community. Their training and participation in the homestay program brings much-needed income and opportunities for women’s empowerment within the village.

mothers group gurung community and homestay network
mothers group gurung community and homestay network

Where to Choose Your Perfect Nepal Homestay

Nepal boasts a diverse variety of ethnic communities, each with its own unique traditions and way of life.

Annapurna Region

Immerse yourself in stunning mountain vistas and Gurung culture in villages like Hemjakot, Ghandruk, and Poon Hill.

Khumbu Region

Discover the majesty of Everest and Sherpa traditions in villages like Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, and Thame.

Chitwan National Park

Combine wildlife safari of Chitwan National Park with Tharu community life in homestays near the park.

Pokhara Valley

Enjoy lake scenery and diverse ethnicities with homestays around Pokhara or nearby villages like Dhampus and Begnas.

Kathmandu Valley

Experience rich history and ancient traditions in homestays near KathmanduPatan, Kritipur or Bhaktapur.

Read Awesome  things to do in Kathmandu


Travel tips to make the most of your Nepal Homestay

Remember, a Nepal homestay is more than just accommodation; it’s a fun gateway to the country and culture’s heart.

Embrace an Open Mindset

I like to think of homestays as a heart-led type of accommodation experience. You’ll be practicing understanding and patience with a culture that has different lifestyle values from your own. Come with a curious mind and open heart, ready to learn and engage in cultural exchange.

Respect Traditions

Dress modestly, follow local customs, and be mindful of your behavior in homes and temples.

In Nepal, bearing shoulders is sorta immodest and I feel really badly about that.  Unfortunately, it was so hot and humid (Im quite tolerant of heat but for some reason it was really bad for me- maybe I was with hot flashes.) when I was there I couldn’t help it and asked my local guide. He said it was okay and understandable for me, so I strip down to my muscle tee and shorts.  Sorry.

Learn a Few Phrases

Basic Nepali greetings and courtesy words go a long way in showing respect and building rapport.

Participate with Enthusiasm

Don’t shy away from joining daily activities, helping with chores, or learning traditional skills. If your host offers, welcome the opportunity.

Be Mindful of the Environment

Practice responsible waste disposal, conserve water, and avoid harmful chemicals.

Choose sustainable travel, embrace cultural exchange, and leave a lasting impact on the communities you visit. Your Nepal adventure awaits, not just on trekking trails, but in the welcoming arms of a homestay family.

Let your journey begin!

P.S. Don’t forget to check out my YouTube series for a captivating glimpse into my Gurung homestay experience in Hemjakot!

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