Located right next to the Paro-Thimphu highway and only a five-minute drive away from the Paro International Airport is a cafe set in what was a previously abandoned ruin. After restoration, the traditional Bhutanese mud-rammed building has become a landmark that can be seen from afar and its unpainted exterior emanates a rustic character to the entire place.
The 3-story heritage complex, now known as Neyphug Heritage, is a part of the Neyphug Monastery and was the former residence of His Eminence the Neyphug Trulku Rinpoche. Making up a large part of the overhauled building is a cafe called Your Cafe – the only eatery in Paro which is fully vegetarian and has adopted a farm-to-table concept.
Whatever the cafe can produce, all proceeds go to the sustainability and funding of Neyphug Monastery, its sangha, and other employees. Since Neyphug Monastery is a privately owned monastery it does not receive any subsidy from the government or any other entities.
The charm of the project lies in the fact that everything that has been used to restore the building came from the main temple at Neyphug monastery which was destroyed by an earthquake in 2011. Everything is recycled with minimum usage of new timber, and no cement is being used, much like the traditional Bhutanese architecture.
More than just being a redevelopment initiative, this project helps to improve the lives of people of nearby villages by giving them a purpose and relevant skills for a brighter future to look forward to.
On stopping by, we got to know that, the tastefully designed Your Cafe not only serves great nutritious meals but also offers an amazing view of the rice terraces surrounded by the beautiful Paro valley.
Bhutan grows a special sort of rice that is known for its nutty flavor, soft texture, and russet color. As the rice is grown at high altitudes, it is irrigated with glacial water which is rich in trace minerals. This rice is semi-milled, so it cooks faster than brown rice and becomes light pink, soft, and sticky in texture.
Watching the people go about their work in the rice fields tempts you to take a stroll through them to discover the breath-taking views of the nearby mountains up close. These rice terraces often resemble abstract paintings from above and are known as the “stairways to heaven” for a good reason.
Although there are rice terraces all over the country, in my opinion, you must visit the Punakha valley of Bhutan, which is considered as the rice bowl of the country. Punakha has plentiful of terraced rice fields that are all grown in an organic way.
Bhutan will not disappoint you in terms of viewing high altitude rice terraces surrounded by beautiful valleys. If you go to visit the recently built Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, the visit will be a memorable one for two reasons. One, for the trek through the rice fields, and the other is the view from the top.
Apart from Your Cafe, the Neyphug Heritage has started a Your Shop selling locally made goods and crafts such as woolen jackets, wooden masks, bags, cane and bamboo products, etc. So, if you stop by Your Cafe for a meal break, don’t forget to check out the rest of the floors of the Neyphu Heritage building.
Address of Your Cafe: Neyphug Heritage, PO box 1303,
Shaba Paro, Kingdom of Bhutan.
Even though I was only there for a week, I miss Bhutan and hope to get to visit there again soon, this time with my family. Head over to my 7 days in Bhutan post to get a detailed itinerary for a week before your upcoming trip!
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