Hotels & Restaurants: Haa Valley
Where to stay in Haa Valley
There are no five star or luxury hotels in Haa Valley and you must prepare yourself to let go of luxurious facilities if you want to submerge yourself in the beauty of the valley.
What you will get are beautiful homestays that are aimed at offering a completely immersive cultural and natural experience and small boutique styled lodges that offer a host of special activities like hiking, walking trails, cookery classes, archery and Ara distilling classes.
Ugyen’s Farm House/ Haa Valley Homestay
Dumchoe Village, At the base of three brothers Hills, Haa
Ugyen’s Farm house is one of the most famous places to stay in the Haa Valley. The farmhouse is just 5 km from the Haa town and it will take you two minutes to reach Ugyen’s farmhouse from the main road. The Farmhouse is constructed in ancient Buddhist style architecture and there are nearby attractions like Lhakhang Karpo, Lhakhang Nagpo and Shelkarda to which tourists can trek.
The small village of Dumcho is also a good site of exploration. Staying at Ugyen’s farmhouse will give you ample opportunity to interact with the owners Dolay Bidhe and Ugyen and you will be touched by their simplicity and the nuances of rural Bhutanese life.
The extended family of Ugyen will do their best to make guests comfortable and this includes practice sessions of wearing Gho (traditional Bhutanese men’s robes) to demonstrating the milking of Farm Cows. The house itself is grand and later I learnt that this was the home of the Governor of the district.
Source: Haa Valley Homestay
There are only 2 bedrooms in the Farmhouse and the tariff is only 850 NU. Both rooms are mostly occupied in season time so book well in advance. If you do visit do not miss using the hot stone bath house. River stones are collected and heated till their minerals seep out and then they are plunged in cold water. Soak yourself in this water as this is believed to cure the ailments of the body and mind.
There is another similar homestay a little further away that’s owned by the extended family of Ugyan and its called Chimi Home stay. The rates and amenities are almost the same.
Soednam Zingkha ‘Heritage Lodge’
Hatey, Haa Bhutan
To reach the lodge, I had to take a small diversion from the main road and then cross a tiny stream (thankfully I didn’t have much luggage). If you drive down, you must park your car on the eastern side of the stream. There is an old chorten near the stream and the staff were standing right there to escort me up (a rather nice touch).
I was struck by the beautiful painting in the reception and by the fact that I was offered a nice fruity tea on arrival. Later I learnt that the painting denotes 6 symbols of a long life and is called Tshering Dru Kor.
On the north-eastern side of the heritage lodge you will see the cragged mountains that separate Haa valley from Tibetan area of Chumbi Valley. The location in Hatey village in Bji Gewog will provide a unique experience that can provide a beautiful hideaway from the bustle of city life.
The backdrop is beautiful with lots of evergreen pine trees and snow tipped mountains and the lodge is a 3 storied Bhutanese architectural example construing a timeless image. Incidentally the name of the lodge Zingkha Soednam denotes “rich household with jewel of luck” and the senior lady owning the lodge is revered as the mother of the local community.
The lodge has several traditional Bhutanese paintings and the upholstery is colourful. All walls have classic Bhutanese Gueri designs (circular patterns). There are ten suites and though the standards mentioned are “international”, do not expect Televisions and attached baths!! One of the staff told me that per traditions, toilets are always supposed to be outside the home.
There is one TV in the lounge and rooms with attached baths are only available on request. There is a meditation room and all rooms have Wi Fi connection. There is a facility for watching documentaries on Haa and other parts of Bhutan in the lounge.
The menu served is mostly fixed and has continental and Bhutanese dishes. Sample Haa signature dishes like ako, Hoentey and Khuli along with local and international liquor brands.
Special features include an Ara Making still so that visitors can imbibe the process of conjuring this brew, a water based mill that grinds corns and a traditional hot stone bath. Try relaxing in the bath with a glass of wine or sit in the lawn around a bonfire and get entertained by singers.
Lechuna Village Lodge
Lech Village, Haa
Phone: 975 173497864
This is basically a two storied Bhutanese style home (now made into a guest house) with a healthy dose of charm. The floors squeak a little, the walls are burnished timber and the furniture looks antique and beautiful outside the rooms are private seating areas complete with coffee pot and sofa.
There is a total of 7 rooms in Haa’s arguably most luxurious living option. The two standard single room tariffs are 3300 NU each plus taxes. The two standard double room tariffs are 3850 NU each plus taxes. The standard triple room tariff is 4500 NU. You will be given a choice between double beds and twin beds. Room heating is available and wi-fi is chargeable.
Venture out of the Lacuna and walk around to see orchards and turnip fields overlooking old bridges and prayer wheels. Overall a very nice play to stay if you are not too fond of modern conveniences.
Incidentally, this was the owner’s grandmothers home and it has been thoughtfully converted into a lodge (animal stable has been converted into lounge!!!). Food is wonderful though completely traditional.
2 km from Haa Town
The Risum Resort offers decent standards of Hospitality in the lovely Haa Valley. The Resort is just 2 km away from the Haa Town and it’s a convenient option if you do not want to stay far away from town. Each room has an attached bath, room heating and free wi-fi and these are luxuries in Haa.
There are 26 rooms, making it one of the largest hotels in Bhutan. There are 12 standard rooms whose tariff is 2200 NU each while there are 14 standard rooms whose tariff is 3500 NU each. 20% tax is added to the bill.
The hotel has traditional Bhutanese design and is double storeyed while all the rooms are wood panelled giving them a warm inviting feel. The deluxe rooms have bathtubs and separate curtained shower cubicles. This is a very good accommodation option to choose if the farmhouse style living option is not to your taste.
TSCD Hotel (Tach Sung Chung Dru), Haa Town
Phone: 975 8375600
Though the exteriors are nondescript this hotel has special services like airport transfer, luggage storing facilities, safe deposit boxes and even an event management cell which makes it one of the more modern accommodation options in Haa Valley.
The TSCD will arrange camping equipment, hiking gear and will even arrange local guides for you. In season, there are cultural services that showcase the unique heritage of Bhutan. There are only 12 rooms and the tariffs are unbelievably low…only 1000 NU per night plus taxes.
Where to Dine in Haa Valley
As you must have understood Haa Valley is not really meant for luxury accommodation or dining. Its best to have breakfast and dinner at the farmhouse/ lodge that you are staying in. For lunch, there are a couple of interesting options in restaurants that are listed below…do not expect anything grand though.
Wherever you choose to dine, don’t miss sampling the Hoentay dumpling (exclusive to Haa Valley). These are made from buckwheat and stuffed with turnips, mushrooms, homemade butter, shredded ginger, spinach and chilli.
The Haa town has only a couple of restaurants and Penden is arguably the best known one. The USP of this small yet cozy restaurant is that all its food is organically sourced and homemade.
They make a delectable range of breads in traditional mud ovens and they taste very like the Indian Naan. You must try these with the range of interesting curries and meat based dishes that they offer. You will get momos, dumplings, fresh salads and of course the mouth-watering cheese based Datsi range of dishes here. Meal for two will cost around 600 NU. Only cash is accepted.
Lhamyul Fooding and Lodging
Haa Town, Phone: 975 8 375 251
If you are a vegetarian, then you would love the Lhamyul Restaurant as they have a delightful range of vegetarian dishes that are usually a rarity in Bhutan. If you happen to be fond of the South Indian cuisine, then you will be stunned to find pappadums being served here. You will also get regular Indian dishes like dal, chicken curry and masala chai apart from traditional Bhutanese dishes.
The Lhamyul has 8 rooms on the first floor and the second while the ground floor is the restaurant. The rooms offer pleasant amenities and decent standards of cleanliness. The tariff is between 1500 nu to 1900 nu. No cards will be accepted.