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The Laya-Gasa Trek is considered one of the most scenic treks in Bhutan, offering amazing views of some of the most pristine and unspoiled landscapes in Bhutan. This 17-day, 217 km journey begins at Drukgyel in Paro and takes you through gorgeous alpine meadows, high mountain passes and dense sub-tropical jungles before terminating in Damji in Tashithang.
The first five days of this trek follow the same route as the Jomolhari Trek I through Jigme Singye National Park and offer awe-inspiring views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang. On the sixth day, the path diverges and you will depart Lingshi for the campsite at Chebisa, a charming little village adorned with a beautiful waterfall of crystal clear water.
Along the trail, you’ll be able to spot indigenous animals such as blue sheep and Takins, the national animal of Bhutan. You’ll travel through remote mountain villages inhabited by Layaps (people of Laya), a distinct segment of the Bhutanese society with unique culture, traditions and appearance. The trek also offers a day of relaxation at the famous Gasa hot springs that is sure to rejuvenate you.
This is one of the more difficult treks offered in Bhutan due to the high altitudes and steep ascents and descents along the path. The best seasons to complete this challenge are in April-June and Mid-September-Mid-November.
Paro International Airport, Bhutan
Late March to early June and late September to November
Strenuous – You need some trekking experiences or at least a good physical fitness as you will cross mountain pass of 5,005m on Day 11 and numerous uphills and downhills often through rough terrains. Nonetheless, this adventure will give you a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
During the months of March, April, May, September, October & November
US$4840 (Base Price)
14% discount – for a group of 3-5 people
18% discount – for a group of 6-10 people
20% discount – for a group of 11 people & above
Arrive Paro International airport by either of only two airlines operating in and out of Bhutan; Drukair, the national flag carrier or Bhutan Airlines, a private airline which was started in 2011. After arrival, your visa will be stamped on your passport at the immigration counter. You will be received by our guide and driver at the exit gate and then transfer you to the hotel. After checking in and settling yourself in the new surroundings, you will be taken on your first adventure into the ‘Kingdom of Thunder Dragon’. We will visit the National Museum of Bhutan, an impressive Paro Dzong and later in the afternoon, if time permits, visit Sangchoekhor Monastery on the hilltop overlooking Paro valley.
Note: The coverage of excursion on the first day depends on your flight arrival time. If you arrive in the morning, you should be able to visit all of the sights listed below.
The National Museum of Bhutan is located in Paro just above the Rinpung Dzong (administrative headquarter of Paro district) was established in 1968. It is housed in an ancient watchtower called Paro Ta Dzong (Ta Dzong means “watchtower fortress”) built in 1649. It displays hundreds of ancient Bhutanese artifacts and artworks including traditional costumes, armour, weaponry and handcrafted implements for daily life. The collection at the National Museum preserves a snap-shot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. After this, we will visit Paro Dzong.
Paro Rinpung Dzong (Rinpung Dzong means “fortress of the heap of jewels”) was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1646 and established as the administrative and monastic centre of the western region. Today, the Dzong serves as the office of the governor of Paro district and head of the district monk body in Paro. A great annual festival known as Paro Tsechu is held in Rinpung Dzong from the eleventh to the fifteenth day of the second month of the traditional Bhutanese lunar calendar (usually in March or April of the Western calendar). On this occasion, holy images are taken in a procession followed by a series of traditional mask dances conveying religious stories that are performed by monks for five days.
After visiting the dzong we take a short walk to the traditional wooden cantilever bridge built across Paro river (Pa Chhu) just below the Dzong. The roofed wooden cantilever bridge is built in a traditional style and this type of bridges are called Bazam.
Sangchoekhor monastery is located on a hilltop ridge overlooking the Paro Valley and presents grand panoramic views. It takes about 30 mins drive from the main Paro town to reach the monastery. Sangchoekhor monastery is also known as Sangchoekhor Dzong because of its past connection with the reincarnations of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, a Tibetan Buddhist master who came to Bhutan in 1616 and unified Bhutan as one nation-state. Dzong means ‘Fortress’ and is the main establishment of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The original Dzong was burnt down by a fire in 1932. It was later reconstructed at the initiative of the Chamberlain of Paro Penlop (governor of Paro). Today the monastery is turned into a Buddhist college with more than 100 monks studying Buddhist philosophy.
Free time to explore Paro town and get to know the people of the Thunder Dragon Kingdom.
Overnight at Khangkhu Resort of Bhutan Mandala Resort.
Today, you will hike to the famous Tiger’s Nest and later in the afternoon, spend leisure time around Paro town.
After breakfast, drive to Ramthangka, the base of the Taktsang monastery. Taktsang monastery is located on the face of a sheer 800-meter rock cliff in Paro. It normally takes about 2 hours to reach the monastery from the road head. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Bhutan.
Taktsang which literally translates to ‘Tiger’s Nest’, is regarded as one of the most important monasteries in Bhutan. Its history is associated with the visit of Guru Padmasambhava (known as Guru Rinpoche), the Indian saint who came to Bhutan and introduced Tantric Buddhism in the mid-eighth century AD. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava flew to Taktsang from Kurtoe Singye Dzong in eastern Bhutan, riding on a tigress. Taktsang monastery was originally built in 1692 on the sacred cave where Guru Padmasambhava meditated.
The trail takes you through the ancient path shaded by pine trees. After an hour of steep uphill hiking, you will reach a nice cafeteria from where you can see spectacular views of Taktsang monastery perched on the face of a steep rock cliff and beautiful valley below. Hot tea and snacks will be served here. For those who are still energetic, can hike further up for 1 hour and visit the monastery, receive blessings from many sacred relics and artifacts and enjoy grand views of the Paro valley below.
After lunch at the cafeteria, we retrace our steps back to the base where our driver will be waiting.
Leisure time around Paro town.
Overnight at Khangkhu Resort of Bhutan Mandala Resort.
After leisurely breakfast, we will an auspicious 7th-century Kyichu Lhakhang and pray for the journey ahead.
Paro Kyichu Lhakhang is located just a few minutes drive from the main town of Paro and is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan. It is believed to have been built in 659 A.D. by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in his effort to built 108 such temples across the Himalayan region to subdue the spirit of a demoness who was causing obstruction to the spread of Buddhism. Bhutan is blessed with two of these temples, one being Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang, central Bhutan. Both Kyichu Lhakhang and Jampa Lhakhang are believed to have been built on the same day.
We then drive to Gunitsawa Village, the starting point of the trek via Drukgyal Dzong. If you are interested, we could spend about 30mins visiting the Drukgyal Dzong, a 17th century ruined fortress which is undergoing complete renovation since 2016 and is expected to take few years to bring to its former glory.
The drive tasks you through the idyllic countryside through rice fields and apple orchards along the Paro River. After about an hour of drive, you will reach the village of Gunitsawa passing through army check post where your trekking permit will be checked and endorsed.
The campsite is on the opposite side of the river, not far from the army check post.
On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley the valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path which descends to a meadow where a camp will be set up. From here, if weather permits, you will have the first great view of Mt. Jomolhari.
If you did not see Mt. Jomolhari the previous evening, you will still have a chance to get a great view early this morning. This morning the trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley which widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty growths of forest. You will cross an army checkpoint along the way and enjoy a spectacular view of high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks. In this area yaks and their herder’s homes become a regular feature of the landscape. Passing the villages Soe, Takethang and Dangochang is another asset on this day. After reaching Jangothang, one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you will again have a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari.
The rest day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views of lakes and snow-capped mountains such as Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley. Jangothang is a perfect environment for your acclimatization. You can also trek up to Tosoh or hike around the area. There are good short hiking trails in three directions. Jomolhari and its subsidiary mountain chains lie directly west, Jichu Drake to the north and there are a number of unclimbed peaks to the east.
This is one of the longest days of the trek. A short distance from the camp the trail begins climbing rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascent to the Nyilila pass at 4,870m. While on the climb enjoy the surroundings. You might see herds of blue sheep grazing on the slopes of the mountains. From the pass you will have spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang, all of them rising above 7,000m. It’s a gradual descent to the camp where you will pass by some of the yak herder’s tents, made from yak wool. The herders use these tents while travelling to various pastures for their yaks. As you come down into the Lingshi basin, a beautiful U-shaped valley, you get a wonderful view of Lingshi Dzong on clear days. Tserimgang and its glaciers rise up at the north end of the valley. The campsite is next to a stone hut you reach just before Lingshi Dzong.
Today is the shortest walking day, and you can really take it easy. Shortly after starting you will reach a chorten below Lingshi Dzong. Here, you have the choice of staying on the main trail or taking a detour up to the Lingshi Dzong (4,220m), which sits right atop a high ridge. This Dzong is under reconstruction from a 2011 earthquake which damaged its central building. In addition to a very special atmosphere of mystic tranquility, Lingshi Dzong provides a great view over the valley. After Lingshi Dzong you will be passing the villages of Lingshi and Goyul. In Goyul, the stone houses are clustered together to form a small compact village that is unusual in Bhutan where settlements are usually scattered. On reaching the campsite at Chebisa you will have plenty of time to visit the village houses if you feel up to it. There is also a beautiful waterfall located behind the village that is worth visiting.
The morning starts with a long ascent behind Chebisa Village (2-3 hours) through a wide pastureland towards Gobu La (pass). On the way, you will see a few people herding yaks. There is also a great chance to spot large herds of blue sheep above the trail. After crossing Gobu La (4,410m), you descend into the valley, then climb again a little bit, before descending again to Shakshepasa (3,980), a large U-shaped valley. Climbing from here you will finally reach the campsite at Shomuthang, above a river, which is a tributary of the Nochu river.
You begin by climbing up the valley to view Kang Bum (6,526 m) and some edelweiss. After two hours of climbing you will reach Jhari La (4,750m), from where you catch the first glimpse of Sinche La, the pass you will have to cross the day after. The big snow peak in the north is Gangchhenta 6,840 m, better known as the Great Tiger Mountain. If the weather is clear, Tserim Kang and the top of Jomolhari will be visible. The camp by the river is called Tsheri Jathang located in a beautiful wide and remote valley. Herds of takin, the Bhutanese National Animal, migrate to this valley in summer and remain for about four months. The valley has been declared a takin sanctuary. Climb up a little bit and you will reach the campsite at Robluthang in a rocky meadow.
The trek starts out with an initial 40-60mins ascent before gradually raising for another 1.5 hours through a boulder field. It is then a 1-hour steep ascent before reaching Sinche La (5,005m) – the final and highest pass on the trek if you don’t intend to continue the Snowman trek from Laya onwards. As you descend the far side of the pass you will see an impressive terminal moraine and a glacial lake at the foot of the valley. You can see classic examples of lateral moraines where the glacier has pushed rocks up both sides of the valley. Below the moraine, you cross the Kango Chhu and soon reach the Limithang campsite. The peak of Gangchhenta towers over the campsite even though it’s quite a distance away.
Today, you walk downhill all the way along a narrow, winding river valley. After a long time, the trail takes you through densely forested region. The trail leads you to the west side of Laya village. From the west of the village you will have spectacular views of Mt. Gangchhenta and catch Mt. Masagang. In the village centre is a community school and a basic health unit with a telephone connection. The campsite is located below the school.
The trail winds up and down along the river valley of Mo Chhu avoiding natural obstacles and affording breath-taking views of the raging river, feeder streams and waterfalls. Lots of ups and downs will lead you to Kohi Lapcha at 3.300 m. The trek then drops down to the large stream of Koina Chhu, where you will find the campsite of Koina.
Today you will have the last major climb of the Laya Gasa Trek. You will cross Bari La (3,740m), after which the trail descends all the way until you reach Gasa village (2,770m), where you will find the first restaurants since you started from Drukgyel Dzong. There also is a campsite close to Gasa Dzong. You will have to decide whether you want to stay in Gasa village or descend for another hour to the Gasa Tsachu (hot springs) and relax in the rejuvenating mineral waters. The Gasa Tsachu is one of the most popular hot springs in Bhutan.
Today, you will spend the morning leisurely soaking up in the hot spring and after lunch, transfer to Punakha valley for overnight stay.
Overnight at Meri Puensum Resort or Zhingkham Resort.
After breakfast, visit the historic Punakha Dzong, Bhutan’s longest suspension bridge and the Temple of Fertility. After lunch, transfer to the capital city Thimphu via the sacred Dochula Pass.
The 17th century Punakha Dzong is considered as the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. This magnificent fortress displays fine Bhutanese arts and craftsmanship which continues to influence the Bhutanese architecture to this day. You will spend some time appreciating the intricate woodworks and sacred wall paintings. After visiting the Punakha Dzong, you will walk to the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan and enjoy its beauty.
Just about 11km from Punakha town, visit the famous 15th-century Chimi Lhakhang popularly known among tourists as “Temple of Fertility”. A gentle walk through the terraced rice fields and traditional farmhouses painted with phalluses will give you a unique experience. Explore the nearby village. If time permits, you will visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendup Nunnery located on a peaceful hilltop overlooking the lower Punakha valley.
After lunch, transfer to Thimphu via the sacred Dochula Pass.
En route stop briefly at Dochula – a sacred mountain pass at an elevation of 3150m and enjoy a grand view of some of the highest mountains of Bhutan on a clear day. From there continue driving towards Thimphu and gradually descend to the capital city of Bhutan within an hour.
Thimphu is home to around 115,000 residents and this bustling little city is the main centre of commerce, religion and government in the country. Thimphu is the only capital city in the world without traffic lights.
On arrival in Thimphu, visit Buddha Dordhenma Statue located on a hilltop overlooking the Thimphu valley. The magnificent 169 feet tall bronze statue of Lord Buddha is located on a hilltop, Kuensel Phodrang, overlooking the Thimphu valley.
If interested, you can also visit the Changlimithang Archery Range where you can see the game of archery if the match is in progress. You will see archers dancing and singing each time the target is hit from a whopping distance of 145m. Archery is the national sport of Bhutan.
Leisure time around the Thimphu town.
Overnight at Kuenphen Rabten Resort or Hotel Amodhara.
Note: If you are interested to see some of the interesting sites in Thimphu, you may have to extend the trip by one more day. We will, of course, try to cover whatever we can within this duration.
After breakfast, drive to Paro and transfer to Paro International Airport for your onward journey. Your guide will assist you to complete all exit formalities before you check-in.
All tour services we provide are independent with flexible itineraries which can be customized to suit your interest and requirement. You can form a group to get discounts. Apart from the predesigned packages which have proven successful, Bhutan Acorn Tours & Travel can also arrange the following add-on activities to enrich your experiences in Bhutan. These activities can be fitted into any tour itineraries.
Please note that some of the activities may involve extra fees.
All your deposits and any payment less administrative fees of US$100 per person will be refunded if you notify us at least 30 days prior to your arrival date. Refer the cancellation fee schedule below to determine the applicable charges:
|DAYS TO ARRIVAL||CANCELLATION CHARGES PER PERSON|
|30+||US$100 administrative fee per person|
|16-29||50% of the total cost|
|8-15||20% of the total cost|
|0-7 days||No refund is available|
In the case of trekking, no refund is permitted if the trek could not be completed due to inclement weather conditions or illness. However, accommodation and meals will be provided.
In case the trip is cut short or duration lost due to unforeseen reasons after arrival in Bhutan, no refund is available as the payment would have been already made to hotels and other logistics.
There shall be no charges for the number of days of delay either during arrivals or departures or both, due to weather conditions, communication problems, cancellation or delay in Bhutanese airline flights, sickness or any other legitimate reason as Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) may deem reasonable. However, the Tourist will be charged on the actual expenses on accommodation, food, transport and any other services provided.