“Not all those who wander are lost”. J.R.R. Tolkien
How it all began…
Bhutan Homestay is a Bhutan based tour operator registered with the Tourism Council of Bhutan.
Since opening its doors to tourism in 1974 an increasing number of travelers have visited the Kingdom of Bhutan. It is not uncommon for tourists to be herded from one attraction to another, getting a glimpse here and there with barely enough time to linger in one place. While that may work for large groups, there are also those who look for a different experience. They want to get closer to real Bhutanese people in their everyday lives. Additionally, families with small children need a lot of flexibility and standard itineraries are difficult to implement for them.
We aim at showing our visitors the Bhutanese way of life in its natural environment, up close and as authentic as possible. Breaking away from mainstream tourism trends, Bhutan Homestay is committed to offering our clients an intimate, and once in a lifetime experience by including homestays and many personal encounters in our itineraries.
Bhutan Homestay will show you the Bhutan we Bhutanese know – the real Bhutan.
To achieve this we will introduce you to the concept of “wandering” and along the way, you will gather truly memorable impressions of this beautiful kingdom. And who knows, you might even be inspired to wander in the footsteps of the famous Buddhist saints along ancient traditional “highways”, historical footpaths that connect valleys and villages.
To find out more about our dedicated crew visit TEAM.
Keeping good Relations With Our Hosts
We at Bhutan Homestay deeply value the relationships with our hosts. They are based on the traditional Bhutanese concept of thuenlam. Thuenlam, in the National language Dzongkha emphasizes the importance of keeping harmonious relations based on mutual respect and reciprocity.
Hence Bhutan Homestay was developed from traditional Bhutanese hospitality concepts including formal and informal understandings of everyday etiquette and gift exchange. We support the continuity of intangible cultural practices that are constitutive for the production of thuenlam.
By booking your trip with Bhutan Homestay you will support projects at the grassroots without paying more than the mandatory government tariff:
2 % of our profit will flow into sustainable grassroots initiatives, particularly in rural Bhutan.
Arts, Crafts and People
To find out what we do and what type of projects and initiatives we support visit GIVING BACK. We also offer a platform for interested photographers and those engaged in activities affiliated with Bhutan. Hence upon request and after a thorough assessment we feature their work on our website under GALLERY and ARTS & CRAFTS. On our BLOG you will find plenty of information on travel specials and different aspects of Bhutanese culture and society.
We furthermore support artisans in the villages and offer plenty of opportunities to visit them.
Types of Homes
Homestay means you will be staying with a family in their home. However, the subcategory farmstay stands for a home embedded in a full fledged farming economy. There will be animals around the house and the families are engaged in typical farm chores such as milking, processing cheese and butter, cutting grass for fodder, collecting firewood and litter in the forest, and so forth.
Homestays, including farmstays, can qualify as heritage homes depending on the family history and the role of the particular household in the locality. Some of these heritage homes are very large and impressive with beautiful altar rooms. Senior household members are a source of information on a time long in the past (dangphu- dingphu). Over a cup of local moonshine or tea they will be happy to share their experiences with you.
A Bhutanese saying goes:
The guest of one night is like a god.
If you decide to stay in one of our homes you will get more than just a glimpse into traditional hospitality. For instance, you will get an idea of the traditional gift exchange practice in rural Bhutan because your guide will take you along when buying the chhom (the gift one brings to the host). We will brief you properly prior to your arrival and your guide will always be there to interpret and translate for you. You are in good hands!
Bhutanese are wonderful hosts. Traditional hospitality and etiquette can be extremely refined and vary across the country. As foreign guests, your host will probably want to welcome you in the altar room (choesham) of the house, or if available, in a separate room intended for such occasions. This is also how Bhutanese receive local guests of a particular status or importance. However, we want you to experience a cordial, less formal reception typical of everyday local village hospitality.
Therefore we will, wherever possible, invite you to the kitchen, the central place for socializing in a Bhutanese household. It is is here where the family members and visitors naturally gather. In the winter it is also the warmest place because of the heat emanating from the “bukhari” (small wood stove) and the cooking stove.
Bhutanese food is a real highlight when visiting our homes and it differs greatly from what is served in guesthouses and hotels. There is nothing better than a home cooked meal especially when you have the chance to watch the family prepare it. You can even participate in the preparations yourself and acquire some new cooking skills.
Food and the act of sharing food and drink with each other are fundamentals in Bhutanese society and create a bond between those who give and those who receive – thuenlam. Don’t be surprised if your host wants to overfeed you. A reputable Bhutanese host will always have prepared too much food and expects you to take plenty of re-fills. Especially when you accept the local moonshine, ara, you will have to take a second and most likely a third re-fill!
Make sure you are hungry when you enter a Bhutanese village home!
Tourist Standard Hotels and High End Accommodation
Our guests may also choose guesthouses, hotels and lodges approved by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. This can be a welcome change after staying in remote places without a proper shower for a while. Our guests will furthermore have the option of choosing more luxurious accommodation in high end hotels. You will find more travel information on Bhutan on TRAVEL INFO and on accommodation in Bhutan on ACCOMMODATION. For sample Itineraries check out TOURS.