If you’re like me, you strive for “authentic” experiences. You want to feel connected to a place and to have experiences over just really cool photographs (okay, strike that~ cool photographs are important too)….You want it all!
Homestays in Nepal are a good place to start, and the additional benefit is that you’ll be supporting sustainable tourism. My Panauti Community Homestay was one of the many wonderful highlights of my Nepal trip and it brought Nepal even closer to my heart.
Community Homestay creates positive impact for tourists and locals
Community Homestay (founded by Royal Mountain Travel) is a village homestay program in Nepal currently comprised of eleven village communities in Nepal : Panauti, Chitwan/Taru tribe, Nagarkot, Annapurna, Patan, Bardia and more! Often, these homestays in Nepal are in semi-rural areas with a farming community, where sustainable tourism has greater impact.
The Community Homestay program was created to empower the women of the community. The program teaches the women English, while training them in confidence skills and in maintaining hygienic and comfortable standards for a traveler’s stay. This allows the women to become breadwinners in their families, while also gaining respect as income-earners in the community. On a community level, it reinforces the value of preserving culture and keeping their community facilities in good working condition. I don’t know about you, but I’m all for empowering women (especially because in most countries – even the U.S.- farming is laborious work with unpredictable yields. Farmers make very little in income).
In Panauti, fifteen families in are part of the Panauti homestay community. Your money goes towards the community and not just the family you stay with!
Homestays in Nepal : Experiencing Nepali hospitality and cultural exchange
A homestay is ideal for solo travelers looking for a way to connect with the Nepali culture and it lends safety and guidance to their stay. By booking a stay with a Nepali family, you’re getting more than a bed or an AirBnB experience; it’s a true cultural exchange and an experience in warm Nepali hospitality. Travelers can participate in local activities vs solely tourist ones, gain a peek into Nepali lifestyles, eat tasty and safe locally-prepared meals and learn about Nepali culture and traditional skills. You might even learn a bit about farming and if you travel during Nepal’s festival time, then you might experience it with a local family.
My experience with Panauti Community Homestay
Panauti is just two hours from Kathmandu. It is a mid-sized, ancient Newari town, known for escaping the two largest earthquakes to rock Nepal tranquil history. The hills are lush with the farming staples of wheat, rice and potatoes (all important to the Nepali dishes; furthermore, potatoes are the specialty here!) It’s old town architecture takes influences from the wooden craftswork of Bhaktapur and some temples are said to go back as far as the 15th century.
Nepali homestay activities can range according to your desire to fully participate in cultural exchange. My host family was Anee-ta and her mother Nirmala. I didn’t meet her brother until morning, when he transported my bag to the bus. Young with a good command of English, Anee-ta led us on a sightseeing tour of Panauti’s old town and gave us a Newari cooking lesson. She even helped me find a shop which sold Nepal SIM cards . I regret skipping a sari dress up session, which was an option.
Tip: Experience what your host family offers so you don’t regret it later. I missed out on a Instagram photo op because I was too lazy to change costumes! I’m regretting it right now.
How long should you book?
A two-night stay is recommended. But you might want to stay longer, once you get there. A young American in the Peace Corps was already staying with our host family for a month. He was there to learn Nepali and agriculture. I stayed one night and it felt too short. I usually like to relax into my surroundings for a couple of days to truly explore it.
Modern and standard conveniences
Each house is slightly different. I got my own room and delicious home-cooked meals. Anee-ta’s cooking was a feast (and I finally, got to try those famous Panauti potatoes!). A western-styled toilet and hot water shower was available. At one point, we ate dinner in low light which might, have been due to Nepal’s infamous power outages. Our rooms were brightly lit. Anita’s house had WiFi ; other families closer to town didn’t have Wifi (FYI– Nepalese SIMs are inexpensive!). Watch the video below for the full inside peek!
Some homes were closer to town than others. My host home was the furthest from the town outskirts, as my family owned a potato farm and local snack shop. I walked among farmers and women in brightly colored saris fielding their crops! At night, I’d occasionally hear a baby cry or a dog bark in the distance; otherwise, the only sound seemed to come from the stars which lit the darkened sky like brilliant noisy diamonds.
Got wheat? … My #Panauti Community Homestay was a highlight of my trip. 🏡 Staying with a family in the farm area of Panauti — rice, wheat and potato fields– was a culturally insightful and tranquil getaway from the madness and dust of Nepali road traffic. ———————————————— Follow my IG Stories for my latest realtime travel updates. 🎥 ————————————————–📷📷@insta360official —————————————– ——— #HTM2017 #HimalayanTravelMart #nepal #insta360 #360photography #360camera
Getting To Panauti
Panauti Bus Station lot is centrally located right outside old town Panauti. The town is a commuter town and gains good access to other cities like Kathmandu (only 2 hours), Bhaktapur (45 minutes), Dhulikhel, Nagarkot. If traveling Kathmandu, you can take Ratna Bus Park (Thamel).
I had a wonderful time and am confident you will too. I highly recommend experiencing a homestay in Nepal, where you can enjoy a fun and meaningful cultural connection with Nepali living, while also making a positive impact on its community.
Community Homestay website. Costs can range from $25 and up.
Watch my experience as your next travel adventure!
Disclaimer: My trip to Nepal was sponsored by PATA Nepal in conjunction with the Himalayan Travel Mart and Nepal Tourism. I was not obligated to share my Panauti Homestay but I loved this program! I feel travelers would benefit greatly from this resource, while also making a positive impact in sustainable tourism in Nepal. Royal Mountain Travel silently worked behind-the-scenes and did an outstanding job coordinating a trip which offered cultural insight, variety and sustainable tourism programs.
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