Traditional Farmhouse in Paro Valley ©Solange Hando
Bhutan has excellent hotels, in lovely traditional style, but for anyone who would like to get close to the 'real thing' for a day or two, a farmhouse stay is truly rewarding. Simply request it at the time of booking.
It may not be luxurious but accommodation is clean with basic facilities and definitely a warm welcome. It's a genuine chance to live with a Bhutanese family and experience something different.
Heating up Stones for the Bath ©Solange Hando
After a long flight or a day's trek , there's nothing more relaxing than a hot stone bath and most farmhouses will have one. Stones from the river bed are heated on an open fire then carried with pincers and dropped into the small compartment of a wooden tub. The water steams and sizzles and more stones can be added if needed.
No need to worry about emptying the bath for when guests have finished, family members may well follow to make full use of the hot water.
Dinner Farmhouse-Style ©Solange Hando
After the bath, time for dinner, home cooked of course and based on local produce, seasonal vegetables such as spinach or mushrooms, crispy potatoes, cheese sauce and rice, which can be the tasty red variety said to be the best in Bhutan.
Then, there is time to help the children with homework or listen to your host playing a traditional lute before gazing at the stars or retiring to your cosy room draped in colourful rugs and blankets
Smiling Hosts in Farmhouse ©Solange Hando
In the morning, you might wake to the call of a cockerel as your hosts start their working day, milking the cows, putting fresh water in the bowls around the family shrine and cooking breakfast.
Meanwhile, the mountains glow pink in the rising sun, prayer flags flutter on the edge of the paddy and the river tumbles over the stones, mingling its crystalline sound with the twittering of birds.
The Paro Valley ©Solange Hando