Experience Nepali culture: Community homestay in Nepal

After the occasional but very authentic and casual “follow the locals” experience in Changu Narayan Temple, it was clear we needed to book a homestay experience with those lovely locals. That’s why the Nepali culture itinerary right after my yoga teacher training in Kathmandu Valley had two nights in Panauti homestay. Community homestay in Nepal has become really a thing – a fact that we couldn’t be happier for!

But plans changed, we seized an opportunity to hop over to Bhutan and had to cancel the Panauti homestay. So we knew for sure, that the next visit to Nepal (which happened pretty soon – on a cultural, spiritual and natural itinerary in Nepal in 2019) will most definitely include experience with locals, hopefully, community homestay.

Community homestay in Nepal: experiences with locals in Tansen, Palpa

What is a community homestay in Nepal and why you should try it to deep dive into Nepali culture

Have you ever wanted to spend time with local people to feel a place better? Have you ever dreamed of having friends when you arrive at a new place? Friends to show you around, friends to host you, friends to help you have a memorable experience? If you’re so much into CULTURAL IMMERSION as we are, then community homestays in Nepal are just right for you.

Community Homestay is a program that unites local people who can offer a variety of services for travelers. Most of the time, people from the same village/town unite to offer accommodation while following the industry standards. It works like that: a family rents out some rooms from their house. You can either contact a particular homestay, or you can get in touch with the organization covering the whole village/town/community.

Community homestays are a product by communities employing communities and in favor of communities. If you decide to stay or have activities with a particular community, you not only experience the country the most authentic way, but you also support the local community.

Community homestays usually charge a very affordable amount of money for your stay/activities which can be ridiculously small. I mean – a night for two at a community homestay house in Nepal costs less than two drinks in a fancy cafe. Those few pennies you’ll pay are not the only benefit locals will get – they also earn communication (sometimes even practicing everyday English is a big thing for people who can’t afford education). They also get really inspired by communicating with people from all over the world.

Feeling at home

We all get (even a tiny bit) homesick when we travel. Sometimes I can’t stand hotels anymore – it’s not the quality of the hotel or its location – it’s the feeling that you’re not home, that you’re in an artificial home with no soul. When you check-in at the community homestay, you will feel like you’re visiting a relative or someone very dear to you. And your hosts wouldn’t be strangers to you, we promise.

You can’t put a price tag on that. Feeling home is such an experience that can’t be bought even with all the money in the world. It comes from the heart – from the hearts of the people who are visiting and from the hearts of the people who are hosting. The most precious things in life usually cost nothing.

Community homestay in Nepal: experiences with locals in Changu Narayan

Hiking with locals

Among the activities you can enjoy withing the community homestay programs in Nepal, hiking would be the most popular. When you thinking of Nepal, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Trekking, isn’t it? Well, after some hikes on our own in Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara, we wish we had a local friend to help us immerse in the picturesque places we were passing.

That’s where the locals from the community will help you best: they know all the hikes in the region, all the amazing viewpoints, all the tips and tricks and so on. Not only you will have a better perspective and add meaning to your hike, but you will also have some great company on the hike. Plus the hike could be in the village/city area, so you can sense the bustling life on the streets and the Nepali culture better.

Community homestay in Nepal: experiences with locals in Tansen, Palpa

Cooking

If you’re the kind of traveler that has to TASTE the place, then you probably join many cooking classes when you travel. Have you ever wondered why the homemade meals are always so tasty that you can’t stop eating? Well, if you stay at a community homestay, you’ll have the chance to cook your own meals and learn from the best (i.e. find the local master-chef, hopefully, grandma).

You know, according to Ayurveda, the best meals you can eat is either cooked by yourself, or your mom, or someone who really loves you. Community homestays in Nepal got you covered in the first and the third case. Cooking with locals is a fun and healthy experience. Now go to learn how to make those delicious momos!

Community homestay in Nepal: experiences with locals in Tansen, Palpa

Traditional dance and music

If you’re a dance freak as we are, then you probably want to try traditional dance from every place you go. There’s just so much to learn about local culture from its dance and music. Nepalis are great dancers so giving you a dance class or arranging a jam session is not a big deal for them. And you don’t even need any kind of dance shoes.

If you witness a traditional dance and music performance, you will be mesmerized by the variety of styles and moves the Nepali tradition music and dance have. It’s a show that you will remember! We were so lucky to watch different dance shows in different settings and parts of the country – Tharu people dancing, Chhaliya dance, Hindu dance, dance and music from Palpa region, folk dance show in Pokhara.

Festivals in Nepali culture

Your friends of the community homestay will help you indulge in one of the many festivals in Nepal. Festivals are an important part of the Nepali culture. They say there are more festivals in Nepal than days in a year, so you be sure that you’ll catch a festival or at least a ceremony/ritual while you’re in Nepal. Locals will help you celebrate the occasion like you’re supposed to!

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Jungle safaris and walks

Did you know that local people are sometimes the best guides in the jungle? For example, the jungles of Chitwan are also the place that many local kids use as a playground. So imagine a guide who grew up among rhinos, crocodiles, bears, monkeys, etc. – they show know their stuff. Community homestays that offer jungle walks and safaris operate under jungle- and adventure-guide standards so you shouldn’t be worried about your security at all.

Hanging out with locals in Changu Narayan Temple and village

Here’s a story of our first experience with community homestays in Nepal. We were hiking from our yoga academy to Changu Narayan Temple. After two hours of sweat and great views, we entered the Changu village and passed small houses, people working in the fields, kids playing, goats smiling. At some point, we have reached the “touristy” part – lots of shops, stalls, and stuff for sale.

We started looking at some colorful locally made yoga pants and a lady approached us. Her name was Narayani and it quickly became obvious that she wasn’t just trying to sell us stuff. She invited us for tea in her shop and then she told us about the whole community homestay concept. “Not everything is business” – she said. We talked for a long time – it’s so nice to chat over tea with your new friend. Narayani had experience hosting foreigners from all over the world, she was also learning German to specialize with German-speaking groups.

In the colorful setting of T-shirts with funny titles, pashmina scarfs, and yak wool accessories, we were discussing topics from the terrible earthquake in Nepal in 2015 to recovering old temples and rebuilding houses. We felt this connection and this “at home” vibe. In the end, she sent us to a great local restaurant where she made sure we got the best lunch and met even more new friends.

If you want to feel the vibe of the oldest Hindu temple in Nepal, the amazing hospitality of Narayani and her family, and authentic Nepal – please get in touch with Changu Newa Homestay.

Community homestay in Nepal: experiences with locals in Changu Narayan
Community homestay in Nepal: experiences with locals in Changu Narayan

Community homestay in Palpa

The absolute highlight of our cultural, natural, and spiritual trip to Nepal was the experience we had with the community homestay in Tansen, Palpa. What a welcome it was – playing and singing traditional music, dancing, giving us flowers and traditional accessories (scarfs and topis).

We continued in smaller groups to different houses. We went for lunch at the house of the Bashyal family, called Sunrise View Homestay. It overlooked the whole village and the terraced valley. Rukmagat and Madhu were wonderful hosts that took care of our amazing homemade lunch on the rooftop of their house. They were just opening the homestay so we probably were their first guests. Their 4 rooms are brand new and most of them offer amazing sunrise views. The place is called Sunrise View for a reason!

The biggest surprise for me was their extremely friendly and hospitable kids – Krijal and Ritik. They spoke some amazing English and were so happy to meet new friends. Krijal is also one of the best dancers I’ve met – she taught us and demonstrated us some traditional dance moves. Ritik is really talented in singing and beatboxing – those Nepali kids are full of surprises, really!

We can’t wait to go back and visit them for longer – the Palpa area is both full of Nepali culture and natural wonders. When you add the hospitability of the local people and the smiles of those children, you can easily fall in love with the place and stay there for an indefinitely long time.

Finding the right community homestay for you to experience Nepali culture

So, you’re totally hooked, but you don’t know where to start? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. You can start with communityhomestay.com – a website for the whole project. There you’ll find community homestays in different areas of Nepal, as well as community experiences you can enjoy. Basically, plenty of inspiration for you to start dreaming and book your community homestay.

There are more and more community homestay owners that register on Booking.com so you can even read reviews from other travelers and find the homestay that suits you the best. We used the good old Booking.com to book our community homestay in Panauti. And you can book Sunrise View Homestay with the wonderful Bashyal family.

Of course, sometimes the experience finds you instead of the other way around (which we tend to find more logical). What happened with us and the lovely Narayani who we met at Changunarayan Temple – it was not planned or organized. That’s why we’d love to recommend her homestay experience so much – check out Changu Newa Homestay.

Community homestay in Nepal: experiences with locals in Tansen, Palpa

This blog post contains some affiliate links to services and products we like. If you book through those links, we’ll get a small commission at no extra cost for you. Thank you for helping us keep The Magic of Traveling going!

*We brought part of this post in partnership with Nepal Tourism Board and PATA Nepal Chapter, who organized the beautiful Himalayan Travel Mart 2019 and some exciting FAM trips before the event!

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