Being isolated and also sparsely populated, Haa valley makes the perfect destination if you are looking to have a peaceful stay, relax and enjoy the stunning natural beauty. Haa valley was opened for tourists only in 2002 and even today only less than 3% of tourists (to Bhutan) make it to Haa valley (As per Lonely planet). Located along the Haa Chu River, Haa is one of the most beautiful and pristine places in Bhutan with untouched natural beauty.
During our Bhutan trip, we spent two days in Haa valley. In case, you too are planning a trip to Haa any time soon, here are the top things to do in Haa valley
1. Go for Hiking to Goembas
Haa valley is ideal for hiking. There are many Goembas (Buddhist Temples) around the valley where you can go for a day hike. On first day, we went to Katsho Goemba (Level: Easy to Moderate) and on next day morning, we tried slightly straining but equally fulfilling hike to Jana Dingkha (Level: Moderate to Difficult). For more details about hikes, you may refer our blog post – Hikes around Haa Valley.
2. Walk along the Haa Chu river side
Picturesque Haa Chu river flows right through the center of the valley. You are going to love to walk by the river side, listening the sound of water striking against stones and looking at the clouds hugging mountains around you.
Views becomes even more stunning during sunrise and sunset. If you will walk a little down from the taxi stand, you will also find a very beautiful small hanging bridge. Just stand over there amid prayer flags listening to the sound of flowing water and feeling the thumping cold wind, in ensemble !!
3. Explore Rural Bhutan Culture
A little walk up from the town and you will find yourself amid Bhutan villages, while walking past the paddy fields. You will get to observe the wooden houses with unique Bhutanese architecture and walls painted with big Phallus.
Bhutanese people are quite welcoming and will give you a warm smile as soon as they will see you. Children will look at you with curiosity which will transition to a chuckle as soon as you will wave at them.
4. Visit Haa Dzong and Haa Dratshang
Besides soaking the natural beauty, you can also visit Haa’s Wangchulo Dzong (one of the newest in Bhutan) and Haa Dratshang (A temple where monk body is housed). Most of Haa town is occupied by Military Training Institute which is out of bound for visitors. We did not visit these sites as we had already seen Dzongs in Thimpu and Punakha. We, rather preferred a walk through the town, along the river.
5. Ride to Chele La Pass
Chele La Pass is mid way from Haa valley to Paro and in all ways, worth a visit. Weather will change drastically and dramatically as you will ascend up from Haa (elev. 2670 m) to Chele La (elev. 3810 m) with winds getting stronger and clouds giving way to rains. For more details on Chele La Pass, please read our blog post.
A video of Haa valley and drive to Chele La Pass
How to reach Haa Valley
1. Thimphu to Haa (Via Chhuzom)
There are 2 buses that ply from Thimphu to Haa, first being at 9:30 AM and second at 1 PM (Nu. 120 per person). We took the morning bus and reached Haa at around 1:30 PM (104 KMs). In case, you are taking bus, do ensure to book in advance (get a window seat). You can also book a cab or take a shared cab. Taxi stand is next to bus stand only in Thimphu.
2. Haa to Paro (Via Cheli La Pass)
We wanted to visit Cheli La Pass on our way back from Haa and thus booked a cab for ourselves (Nu. 1000). Buses and cabs normally take the Chhuzom route to reach either Paro and Thimphu and thus you will neither get public transport or a shared cab in case you are planning to visit Cheli La Pass. We left at 11:45 PM and reached Paro at around 3 PM, with half an hour stop over at Cheli Li pass enroute.
Stay options in Haa Valley
Haa Valley has very limited stay options. Please ensure to call and check in advance considering that there are only 3 hotels. You may refer the details of stay options at our blog – Bhutan Backpacking: Hotel Booking Tips