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Haa Valley

In the neighbouring valley to the Paro district and bordering Tibet in the west is the spectacular Haa Valley. Often referred to as the ‘hidden-land rice valley’ in Bhutanese, this tiny region is one of the most beautiful and isolated areas in Bhutan. The area remains relatively under the radar and is one of our favourite lesser-known locations in the Himalayan Kingdom. Since international visitors have only been allowed to enter this region in the last 17 years or so, it retains its traditional feel and thankfully remains unspoilt to this day.

Once the ancestral home to the Queen Grandmother and the illustrious Dorji family, the valley is culturally rich with a fascinating history. The 7th century Lhakhang Karpo (White temple) and Lhakhang Nagpo (Black temple) in the foothills of the Meri Puensum mountains are worth a visit, particularly during the time of the annual Haa Tshechu at Lhakhang Karpo. Buddhism was introduced to the region in the 8th century, and so it’s worth visiting Haa Goempa further up the valley.

The remote landscape here is formed of pristine alpine forests, expansive rice, wheat and barley fields, snow-capped peaks and a flowing river - Haa Chuu - which winds its way through the middle of the valley to Mount Jomolhari (or Chomolhari), arguably one of the most imposing mountains in the country. There are plenty of exceptional hikes to be had within this hidden valley, such as the Meri Puensum Nature Trail, a paradise for nature lovers, as well as invigorating mountain bike rides through the wooded hills, both of which we thoroughly recommend. Biking through the valley and visiting the dozen or so local temples is a lovely way to spend the day. For those after a gentler pace, simply sitting on the riverbank enjoying a picnic is bliss as you can truly switch off, soak in the scenery and breathe in the fresh air.

The drive to Haa Valley is striking in itself, as the road crosses the 3,988 metre Chele-la Pass, famed for its superb views of Mount Jomolhari and Jichu Drakey, before entering the serene valley to weave its way through the picturesque villages and the sprawling farmland, past ancient Buddhist architecture.

Only a two hour drive away from Paro, this beautiful spot can easily be added into a tour of Bhutan or as a popular daytrip from Paro.

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My favourite thing is to go where I've never been.
Diane Arbus

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