Situated in the heart of the country, a crossroads-like alignment of four valleys is collectively known as Bumthang. Until the 1970s, when a road was finally constructed through it, this region remained isolated and relatively undeveloped.

Today, with its many stories and legends, religious associations, abundant temples and monasteries, it is regarded as a kind of cultural heartland and a great place to leave your car parked up for a couple of days and take to the footpaths. A succession of picture-book villages lines its lower reaches, home to some of Bhutan’s oldest and most revered monasteries, as well as the brewery responsible for the kingdom’s own brand of beer, ‘Red Panda’. The eponymous bear lives in temperate forests above 1,525m (5,000ft), where it spends the day sleeping in trees.

 

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