The Hinterlands is a very broad place, which you can explore almost from the beginning of the game, specifically after completing a short visit to Haven. While visiting the Hinterlands you will complete few main quests, although the main attraction of this location is an opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of optional activities. It is a perfect place to strengthen your team, but you must know that not every place should be visited on low levels as you can encounter challenges that you won't be able to overcome.
How to unlock this location: Automatically while completing the "Threat Remains" quest - You must complete the "Scout the Hinterlands" operation available at the war table.
Suggested level: Many of the Hinterlands quests can be dealt with even by the weakest team. However, moving away from places occupied by friendly characters can get you into trouble. There you can meet enemies and monster on 8-9 or even 11-12 level. Visiting regions controlled by such strong enemies should be left for later. You should ignore the dragon that lives in the northeastern corner of the map until you reach level 13-14 as well.
1) Very thorough exploration of the Hinterlands is advised. That way you won't miss any interesting quests, secrets or items useful in crafting. The size of this location encourages to use a mount (first one can be unlocked by visiting master Dennet's stable), although you should have in mind that while riding you can't scan your surroundings. You should wait with using mounts until your later visits to Hinterlands, when every important locations will be found out and explored. What's interesting, you can decide not to use any mounts at all since there are a lot of camps in Hinterlands and occupying them all allows you to quickly travel through interesting locations.
2) Don't be too impatient with exploring all of the Hinterlands since, as mentioned before, you can suddenly face much stronger enemies and easily die. At the beginning of the game you should focus on the central parts of the Hinterlands - the village on the crossroads. You should visit early the farms that can be found in the western part of the map and the Redcliffe village in the north (you must unlock access to it, it has been described at the Hidden areas page).
3) While exploring, try to make as much activities that are rewarded with experience points as possible. Search for codex entries, go to the landmarks and search for fragments that can be found using the glasses.
4) You will find lots of merchants in the Heartlands (most of them can be found in Redcliffe) and you should visit them regularly. It is especially advised if you're thoroughly exploring the location - your inventory will be full in no time.
5) Some of the buildings found will be closed and it might be hard to understand how to open them. You must have an rogue in your party and the "Deft Hands, Fine Tools" perk unlocked - only then unlocking doors to those buildings will be possible.
6) While traveling, you will often encounter a fight between various fractions. If your team isn't strong enough, you should use this opportunity to avoid fighting. Otherwise, you should join the battle and gain some experience points by defeating weakened enemies.
7) You can find maps that shows the location of hidden treasures. You can treasure hunt by your own (the better you know Hinterlands, the easier it will be) or use our guide, in which all treasure-related tasks have been thoroughly described.