Wild yaks in Ladakh, India.
Nabarun Bhattacharya—Getty Images

With its astonishing alpine landscapes and Tibetan Buddhist culture, Ladakh—in the farthest-flung part of North India—has enough wonders to warrant multiple visits.

In 2023, India designated its first Dark Sky Reserve, in Hanle village, about 168 miles southeast of Leh, Ladakh’s capital. The village has roughly 270 clear nights a year, making it ideal for astronomical splendor. The reserve spans 414 sq. mi. and envelops much of the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary.

The launch of a new helicopter service in summer 2022 has reduced the travel time between major destinations in Ladakh—including Leh, Zanskar, Kargil, and Drass—from five to 12 hours by car to just 45 minutes.

While you’re there, experience Delhi’s legendary eateries Karim’s, known for its Mughlai menu of grilled meats, and Nathu’s Sweets, which both opened outlets in Leh in August 2022. Or hotfoot over to Cafe Montagne, which opened its doors in July 2022, for a meal of tempura fried prawns with sea-buckthorn, fondue, or spicy fried chicken. For those heading to Turtuk Village, about a 5-hour drive from Leh, don’t miss Farmer’s House Cafe, another newly-established eatery that opened in July 2022 and try sushi, Himalayan herbs salad with local cheese, or hand-rolled pasta with walnut sauce.

Bookend your adventures with a stay in one of the region’s new sustainable properties: Dolkhar in Leh, the Kyagar Hotel in Nubra Valley, and Shel Ladakh, a 30-minute drive from Leh airport.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com.

Jeju Island, South Korea
Aqaba, Jordan
Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia
Tampa, Florida