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Chapter 27: Teahouses, Toilets, Food & Facilities - my experience.

Updated: Mar 5, 2020

On the Everest Base Camp trek, teahouses provide you with a convenient watering hole and a place to lay your head. To those not familiar with the term, teahouses are not so much houses that serve tea, but are rather small uninsulated bed-and-breakfast-like hotels. It is a great place to really get to know the Nepalese culture (and what an amazing culture it is). Almost all teahouses in Nepal began as family-run ventures, providing food and of course, tea. Patrons were traditionally allowed to sleep on the floor for free if they had eaten at the teashop. Although not free anymore, teahouses are still very affordable. Your trekking company will arrange all your accommodation at the teahouses, which will also include all your meals and hot drinks. Nepal relies heavily on tourism and what a great way to contribute by making use of their awesome hospitality.

Not all tea houses are the same. We were trekking most days for 5-7 hours, starting and ending in the small Sherpa towns along the routes where the various tea houses are located. We easily identified tea houses by the large signs outside their doors reading ‘tea and coffee’, ‘hot showers here’‘Wi-Fi’ and ‘we have electricity’. A typical tea house will provide all the basic amenities needed for a comfortable but humble approach to trekking. The thing I enjoyed most in the tea houses was the team-interaction after a long day’s walk, telling stories and playing mini-Battleship which my son gave me to take with, but also meeting new people and listening to their stories, we all had a common goal. We normally arrived at our teahouse around 4pm and had cookies and a hot drink at 5pm (my favourite was hot honey, lemon and ginger) - an hour and a half before dinner. Our dinner orders were taken while having our cookies and hot drinks. After dinner we placed our breakfast orders. Breakfast normally was at  7:14 - our guide Nirmal was very precise.

Food: Food, glorious food. It was an interesting 12 days. A rule of thumb is not to eat meat or dairy products after leaving Lukla as meat makes its way up the trek the same way you do, walking in the sun for days. Yak meat was available but staying clear was the safest option as you do not know if the meat is fresh. Delicious food and vegetables were available (mainly carrots, cabbage and cauliflower). Dal Bhat is a notorious lentil meal on the EBC trek which guides and porters swear by and will eat twice daily. Dal Bhat, 24 hour power. A sherpa porridge called Tsampa prepared with tea, water or sometimes beer (I only read this after my trip and that would have been very funny if they prepared my porridge with beer). MOMO’s, (almost like dumplings) and vegetable noodles soup. Garlic is thought to prevent the onset of altitude sickness so garlic soup is very popular amongst trekkers and locals alike. Fried potatoes with eggs, vegetable curry, apple pancakes and eggs on toast for breakfast. As we climbed higher towards Base Camp the vegetables became lesser and lesser as growing produce at altitude is not easy. Our guides carried fruit all the way and after dinner they shared apples and oranges and a pomegranate between us - it was my highlight after dinner and sometimes the only thing I could stomach at altitude. After my 7th day on the trek I literally felt muscles-loss in my legs. I have never experienced that in my life, but I suppose a lack of protein, ample fruit and veg and hight altitude can cause muscle-loss rapidly. A lack of appetite around 4.500m made all food look unappetising anyway.Tips: Even when you don't feel like eating (at altitude), force yourself as your body needs energy more than ever. Stay away from all bakeries! Tempting as they are the smell will make you weak - stay focused ;)


A typical bedroom in a teahouse is very basic. Two single beds about 1 Meter apart with a small bedside table in between and a pillow and duvet-like blanket is provided. I used my sleeping bag as it reached below 0 degrees Celsius inside some of our teahouses at night. The main gathering/eating area in a teahouse is heated with a stove in the centre but as soon as you leave that area, you walk straight into a fridge. None of the rooms are insulated or heated. Tip: Every night I paid £1 (NPS150) for the kitchen to fill my Nalgene water bottle with hot water and placed it inside my sleeping bag - money well spent and I will highly recommend it! Because tea houses are not insulated, noise travels! I fell asleep every night with my headphones and music on as it was very noisy. Earplugs will help if you can sleep with them. Most tea houses have electricity until a certain time in the evening when electricity is cut till the next morning. Tip: Get your sleeping bag out and have a quick wipe-wash as soon as you arrived at your teahouse (even if you are dead on your feet). As your room is not insulated, the temperature falls quick and drastically and the harshest thing is to leave the lovely warm dinner area and go to your room unprepared for sleep.

Charging: The cost of charging a phone costs around £2-£4, and man was I shocked when they asked me £10 (NPR 1500) to charge my power-pack at higher altitude! At higher altitude they make use of solar power so charging is expensive. Tip: Get a solar power-pack, I love mine (see link). I saved so much money as you can charge your phone, camera, headlight etc and charge it while on-route.

Power-pack on my back charging while on-route (in the middle).

Toilets: On lower elevations there are a fair amount of flushing toilets along the route. Often you will be using a bucket-flushing toilet or squating toilet. Occasionally it may seem that the person who used the bucket-flushing toilet before you had a shower, but as you are making use of your own toilet paper, drying the seat will become the norm unless hovering ;), you can always buy more toilet paper at your teahouse. As you move higher on the trail you’ll find squat toilet facilities. In Tengboche our toilet was based outside, it was not a pleasant experience in freezing temperatures in the pitch dark with your headlight on. Tip: Put your headlight and all electronic devices in your sleeping bag with you as the cold affects battery life. 

Shower: There were opportunities to have a shower, but the showers are not inside the teahouses which makes for a very fresh experience to say the least at the cost of £3 (NPR500). The last thing you want to do is to catch a cold, so a lot to weigh up. It is almost inevitable that you will have a cold around Dingboche but do everything you can to avoid catching a cold or making it worse. I used 1 packet of wipes and had 2 showers. Tip: Only shower at Namche (if).

Water: Instead of using water-purifying tablets, I bought bottled water from shops (they are cheeper)  or from the teahouse, and poured it into my water-bladder. At lower altitude I paid £0.70 (NPR100) per litre but at Gorakshep I paid £2.60 (NPR400) per litre. At 4 litres daily it comes down to a hefty amount. Only use bottled water or purified water to brushing teeth, always have your mouth closed when taking a shower and do not eat salad or fruit washed with tap water, even at your teahouse. Tip: Next time I will use a Steripen to cut a lot of cost instead of buying water. It is much more reliable than the tablets and easy to use (see the link). Drink at least 3 Litres daily. I didn't like the taste of the purifying tablets.


Each morning porters collected our 10kg duffle bags to carry to our next teahouse - some were wearing flip-flops, I kid you not! They are amazing people. 20-25kg per porter (2 duffle bags) all the way to Base Camp and back. They are very strong (women & men) and the altitude does not phase them. Most porters get paid by the amount of kg they carry up the mountains. Seeing some of them carrying plywood, building material, fridges etc. was jaw-dropping- respect. You carry your own backpack with water, snacks, rain gear etc. (around 5-7kg). Guides have great relationships with teahouse owners and can assist you in any way. Tip: At the end of your trek, tip your porters and guides generously. Budget in advance and set the tips aside before you start your trek. Leave your porter some snacks on your bag in the mornings, they will appreciate it more than you can imagine. We were blessed with amazing guides on our trek. The best in my opinion.

Sim Card: I bought a Nepali Sim Card in Kathmandu for £13 (NPR2000) and an Everest Link card in Namche (£13 or NPR2000). Everest Link is a service which many tea houses now subscribe to. You purchase a card and use the login information to access WiFi at any teahouse on your trek. This combination worked very well for me. I managed to make FaceTime calls at times and send loads of photos home and updated my Facebook along the way.

The beauty of the Nepali people is that their hearts are filled with kindness and my experience in every teahouse I stayed in, was that the locals who run the teahouses were more than willing to help and accommodate people. Kindness goes a long way. I fell in love with the people!

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