As all the cafe and hotel owners gear up for the tourist season in Himachal Pradesh, we tell you exactly where to go to have that perfect mountain vacation. By Japleen Kaur

1. Tirthan

As flowers shed, indicating the farewell of spring, fruits take over the valley turning it into a colourful wonderland. Plums, apricots and apples dress up the trees and make the place look absolutely stunning. Summer is the time to be here. So, visit and hog on all the freshly made juices, jams and chutneys. We suggest you stay in a homestay.

2. Bir

The world’s second highest paragliding site and Asia’s first attracts tourists like bees yet remains not-so-crowded. Apart from flying with the birds, go for the toy-train ride, unwind at various cafes or just hire a cycle to explore the monasteries. Bir is your one-stop-shop for a complete vacation.

3. Mashobra

If Shimla gets too much to handle, just a 45-minute drive away is a village called Mashobra that is slowly making its mark on every traveller’s map. With secluded yet beautiful hotels, this hamlet gives you mesmerising sunset views. There is a small church nestled in the forest that will remind you of a medieval cathedral. Beware of monkeys though, they tend to get a little over-friendly.

4. Jibhi

Near Tirthan is yet another hidden gem called Jibhi that flaunts a waterfall and a cute wooden bridge across it. Short hikes will take you to breathtaking views and even natural pools. Take out your fishing nets and catch some trout or maybe just take a dip in the river to beat the heat.

5. Spiti

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If you had to choose the least cold time to visit this magical valley then it has to be the summer season. You’ll still need your sweaters though! Plan a road trip with your friends; meet locals who’ll take you around. Cafes will reopen after the winter siesta in Kaza, Spiti’s capital for you to hog on all the yummy food, in the middle of nowhere.

6. Kinnaur

If you go to Spiti via Shimla, you’ll cross Kinnaur on the way and this time stop to spend some time here. Apple orchards will welcome you at every step with local ladies filling your bags with delicious red ones. You can go help them and learn a little bit of farming or go on a week-long trek.

7. Chamba

Want lakes and mountains together? Head to Chamba, a rather underrated place. Khajjiar will feel like mini Switzerland and with lack of stay options, you know how remote it’ll be. Neck deep in history and culture, visit the different temples and museum, and indulge in cultural walks!

Related: Why Gunehar in Himachal Pradesh Is Drawing Artists From All Quarters