My second day in the beautiful Himalayan country of Bhutan continued in the amazing city of Punakha. We were going to start with a hike up to a gorgeous monastery, explore the area, and then have a traditional Bhutanese homestay food dinner in Punakha, Bhutan. I was super excited to start!
Accompanying me was my friend and guide Tsheten from MyBhutan. The monastery we were hiking to, Khamsum Yulley Namgyal chorten, was built by the mother of Bhutan’s current king. It was built for the protection to the country and to spread peace and harmony to the world, which is what Buddhism is all about. We crossed over the Mo Chu (Female) River via a suspension bridge, which was draped with hundreds of prayer flags. They come in 5 colors: yellow, green, white, blue, and red.
There were low mountains around us everywhere. On the other side of the bridge, we followed a rocky trail past rice farms and a little spring. You can buy or rent a walking stick to help you on your way, but I didn’t need one, but I was out of breath. We passed fields of chili plants on the right and left as well as rice paddies. We spun a prayer wheel and rung the prayer bell and then continued on.
Two minutes past the prayer wheel is a staircase that takes you up to the monastery. The hike wasn’t so bad. I had done crazier hikes. We made it to the monastery in about 40 minutes. I had to take off my hat and shoes to go inside, but I couldn’t film inside. The architecture was so beautiful and colorful. There were depictions of tigers and snow lions on the building.
After climbing three floors, we reached the top of Khamsum Yulley Namgyal chorten. Inside each floor are the deities, which are statues. There are lots of them on the first floor. From the top of the monastery, we could see the river, rice paddy fields, and the route we’d trekked.
We could also see a white tea house where the royal family stays when they visits, as well as where the monks stay. On the roof is the golden stupa. I could film everything except inside toward the Buddha inside the temple.
Then, he headed back down. Along the way, we saw people who had picked some chili plants, as well as three cows, including a cute little baby. Next, we headed to a small hut where we’d get to try some whisky, brandy, and rice wine!
The hut was a little mini-market. There, I got one shot of Essence of the Himalayas Bhutan Grain Whisky and one of Rock Bee Blended Grape Brandy. Outside of beer and wine, brandy is my favorite alcohol. The whisky was really strong but not too bad, while the brandy had a fruity taste to it. They were both strong, though. It cost 40 Nu for the whisky and 40 for the brandy. I liked the brandy better but I didn’t love either.
Then, we drove to our homestay in Punakha. We drove about 30 minutes to the town and crossed the river to the other side of town, which I hadn’t really explored yet. There’s one main road on each side of the river, which connects the entire country. We had to cross another suspension bridge to get to the Happiness Field Village Homestay.
Across the bridge is a gate with barbed wire on it. They lock it so no one else can get in. Further on, we passed more ride paddy fields and then we reached the homestay five minutes later. I met the owner and the woman who cooks the food. The homestay was beautiful and traditional. I watched them make a chicken dish; ema datshi; and stir-fried spinach with tomatoes, garlic, onions, red peppers, and chilies. They also had a rice wine called ara with egg and butter! I’d never had that before.
The ara is similar to Japanese sake. It was strong and really unique. It contained lots of clumps of egg, which I liked. The first batch had a lot of butter, but the second was lighter on the butter.
Then, it was time to eat some traditional Bhutanese homestay food in Punakha, Bhutan! I had seven things in total, including red rice, ara, ema datshi, potatoes with chilies, cucumber salad with chilies, dry chicken with chilies, chicken curry, and the spinach. Everything contained chilies and looked so good!
The potatoes were soft and spicy, with some green onions. The cucumber salad contained fresh cow cheese. The spice on it wasn’t too bad. I don’t usually love cucumber, but this was amazing. It reminded me of a Greek salad but with coriander. The cheese tasted like fresh feta! The dry chicken with chilies had so much flavor and wasn’t spicy at all. The stir-fried spinach was a little hot and left a tingle on my lips.
The chicken curry came in a light, flavorful gravy, which I dipped some of my rice in. It was great! Then, I dug into the ema dashti, which is always super hot! This one wasn’t as hot as others I’d had so far, but it still had a real kick to it! My favorite overall was the spinach!
I loved how organic and fresh the Bhutanese food in Punakha, Bhutan was. It was amazing. I highly recommend staying at a homestay to eat traditional food with locals. You can’t beat it!
Then, to finish up, I tried some ara without butter or egg. It was a lot better. The one with egg and butter is considered special, but I really liked this one! What an amazing meal of Bhutanese homestay food at the Happiness Field Village Homestay in Punakha, Bhutan! I loved every moment of this experience.
I hope you liked coming with me to have Bhutanese homestay food and alcohol in Punakha, Bhutan! If you did, please give this video a thumbs up and leave a comment below. Also, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the notification bell so you don’t miss any of my travel/food adventures around the world!