The road south from Padum passes Bardan Gompa, spectacularly set on a rocky outcrop high above the river. Some 7km further, Muney Gompa is less dramatic despite its own riverside crag setting, but its five-room Shanti Guesthouse is managed with Gallic flair as a place to spend a few days unwinding, meditating and soaking up local culture.
Ichar is one of the valley's most intriguing villages, with a looming gompa and, on slightly higher ground, a small reflective pond and a knot of very evocative old-town homes. It's invisible from the main road.
The destination for most is Cha on the north bank, from where the hiking trail to the cliff-face monastery at Phuktal starts.