The remote Haa Valley 65km to the west of Paro opened to foreign visitors in 2002 and it remains one of the kingdom’s least visited. The road from Paro twists and winds and climbs through pristine spruce and larch forests draped with lichen blowing in the breeze before crossing the high pass of Chele La (3800m). From here, on a clear day, there are views of the second highest mountain in Bhutan, Jhomolhari (7134m) on the border with Tibet and Jichu Drake (6794m) and you may see the odd yak grazing on the tough grass.
Haa (2670m) is the ancestral home of the Queen Grandmother and the illustrious Dorji family and there are a couple of important temples and a few shops surrounded by farmhouses and apple orchards beside the fast flowing Haa River. The small population is swelled by the occupants of an Indian and Bhutanese army camp here to maintain border security. Clusters of mud walled houses with neatly stacked piles of chopped firewood beside them dot the valley where wheat, barley, millet and potatoes are the main crops.
The hills of Haa provide an ideal location for hiking or mountain biking with the chance to stop and visit remote shrines and temples and discover the unchanged lifestyles of nomadic herders.