Laya Gasa trek is a journey that will take you through stunning landscapes, high mountain passes, and charming remote villages in the heart of Bhutan.
Beginning in Paro, you will embark on a challenging yet rewarding adventure that will take you to the magical Laya village, one of the most remote and picturesque settlements in Bhutan.
As you trek through lush forests, past cascading waterfalls, and over rugged mountain terrain, you will be treated to breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks and pristine alpine lakes. The trail winds its way through the Jigme Dorji National Park, home to an incredible variety of flora and fauna, including rare species like the elusive snow leopard and the Himalayan black bear.
At the heart of the trek lies the enchanting village of Laya, nestled high in the mountains and home to the Layap people, a unique ethnic group with their own distinct culture and traditions. Here, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local way of life, sharing meals with families, visiting the village temple, and learning about their time-honored customs.
The journey continues as you make your way to Gasa, a picturesque village famous for its natural hot springs and stunning architecture. Along the way, you will cross high mountain passes, traverse deep valleys, and marvel at the stunning vistas that stretch out before you.
As the trek comes to an end, you will leave Bhutan with a deep appreciation for the beauty and majesty of this extraordinary country and its people. The Laya Gasa trek is truly an unforgettable experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Day 1: Arrival in Paro (Altitude 2300m)
Receive and transfer to hotel and in the late afternoon, visit Rimpong Dzong: Dzongs are the architectural wonders of the country and often the first structures to catch outsiders' attention. Almost all dzongs are strategically located. The original Paro dzong dates back to 1645 but was destroyed by fire in 1907 and rebuilt in the same year. It is home to 200 monks and the district administration. The central tower, or Utse, is said to be the most beautiful in the country. You can visit the Kuenrey or the prayer and study hall of the monks. It is possible to take pictures in the courtyard. Hike down to the old wooden bridge. In olden days, this bridge used to be guarded at night as it was the only entrance to the dzong.
Stroll around the town. It is quite nice to drop into one of the local restaurants for a cup of tea and get a feel for the Bhutanese atmosphere. Overnight at the hotel
Day 2: Paro – Trek to Tiger’s Nest (Trek 4hrs)
Distance: 7km, 900m Ascent, Temple altitude: 3150m
Today is your warm-up hike for the trek tomorrow. Bhutan's most scenic icon and important place for pilgrimage, and refuge for over 1200 years, the Taktsang or the Tiger's Nest clings 200 meters on the steep cliff overlooking Paro valley. The place was first visited by Guru Rimpoche, the founder of the tantric form of Buddhism in Himalayan countries in the 8th century. It is said that he came there riding on a tigress and meditated in a cave for about three months. After him, many high Buddhist priests came to meditate and attained the highest spirituality. The original temple was built in the 17th century but was burnt by fire in 1998. The temple was rebuilt to its fullest glory in 2003. It is considered the 10th holiest site in the Buddhist world. The total hike will take about four hours. From the parking, it will take about one hour to get to the tea house and another one and a half hours to the temple. In the evening, visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan king Songchen Gyampo. Try the Bhutanese Jacuzzi or Hot Stone Bath at the farmhouse. Overnight at the hotel
Day 3: Paro – Chele la Hike – Shana
Altitude: 3988m, trek 4hrs
Start your day with a trip to the picturesque Dzongdrakha village, a charming settlement that clings to a cliff high above the Paro valley, affording visitors stunning views of the surrounding rice fields and the valley below. The village is a feast for the senses, with colorful houses and friendly locals eager to share their unique way of life with visitors.
After exploring the village, embark on a one-hour drive to the Kila Gompa monastery, which is home to around 30 nuns. The hike to the monastery is a delightful experience, offering a chance to take in the natural beauty of the area and spot some of the region's famous yaks. At the monastery, you can enjoy a cup of tea with the nuns, who are happy to share their insights and stories with visitors.
Once you've soaked up the atmosphere of Kila Gompa, continue your hike towards the Chela Pass, which sits at an altitude of 3988 meters. From here, you'll be treated to breathtaking views of the Himalayas, an awe-inspiring sight that will leave you feeling inspired and invigorated.
After the hike, head back to Paro valley and spend some time exploring the town. Stroll around the charming streets, take in the sights and sounds of this vibrant community, and perhaps even indulge in some shopping or dining at one of the many local establishments.
At the end of the day, return to your hotel, where you can rest and recharge after an incredible day of exploration and adventure in one of the most beautiful corners of the world. Towards the evening drive to Shana for overnight. Overnight camp
Day 4: Trek from Shana to Soi – Thangthangkha
Distance: 22km, 900m Ascent, camp altitude: 3750m
Today will be the longest day of the trek, with many ups and downs that will make it quite tiring. You will cross the isolated farm of Shing Karap at about 3100 meters, and after a while, you will reach the cross point of the trails marked by piled up rocks with prayer flags. The left trail leads to Tibet crossing the pass called Tremo la. On the rock, it is written "way to Soi" with an arrow pointing towards the right trail, which you will follow. The steep climb, followed by a descent, will
take you to the bridge that will allow you to cross to the left side of the river and continue climbing in the forest until the clearing called Thongo Samba, an ideal place for lunch.
The forest is always beautiful, with different types of vegetation. As it is at a high altitude, you may come across yaks. Be careful, as they are not very friendly towards strangers. If they are in the way, keep a good distance and let them pass first. It is always advisable to stay higher on the trail than below them.
The trail will lead you to a bridge and a small white stupa. Do not cross the bridge as it leads to the village of Yaktsa. Half an hour from the bridge is the camp at Soi Thangthangkha.
Overnight at the camp.
Day 5: Trek from Soi – Thangthangkha to Jangothang
Distance: 19km, 290m Ascent, camp altitude: 4040m
It is quite rewarding to wake up early in the morning and admire the sun's rays touching the second-highest peak, Chomolhari (7314m), nestled between two steep valleys. Continue by following the left side of the Pa chhu or Paro River for about an hour, and you will leave behind the tree level to enter a stunning valley. You will cross the military campsite, which guards the border with Tibet. As you go higher, the valley will widen, and you will get a view of some high and snow-capped peaks. You will come across yaks and camps for winter. Along the way, several small houses are found, and this place is called Soia Yutey. Stop here in one of these houses for a cup of butter tea and lunch. The Chomolhari basecamp is just few minutes from the village. In the afternoon, explore the surrounding area by yourself. Overnight camp
Day 6: Jangothang - Lingshi
Distance: 18km, 830m Ascent, camp altitude: 4010m
The trail follows a stream for around 30 minutes before crossing a bridge to the right side. From there, begin a climb up to the first ridge, where you'll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Jumolhari (7314m), Jichu Drake (6989m), and Tsherim Gang (6789m). After taking in the views, continue towards the valley, which is mostly flat for a while before gradually ascending to the Ngye La pass, which sits at an altitude of 4870m. Once you've reached the pass, enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding peaks and Lingshi Dzong before making a gradual descent to the campsite. If time allows, consider taking a detour to visit Lingshi Dzong, a small fortress situated atop a hill that overlooks Lingzhi village below. For centuries, Lingshi Dzong served as a way station for weary Buddhist pilgrims and as a defensive fort against invaders from Tibet and Mongolia. The campsite sits at an altitude of 4010m.
Day 7: Lingshi – Chebesa
Distance : 25km, 570m Ascent, 290m Descent, camp altitude: 4130m
Nestled atop a hill, Lingshi Dzong offers a spectacular vista of emerald green hills, winding rivers, and majestic peaks. This fortified structure has stood as a sanctuary for Buddhist devotees for centuries, while also serving as a defensive bastion against invasions from Tibet and Mongolia. Today's itinerary is relaxed, offering a delightful stroll through picturesque villages and pastures occupied by yak herders. After a sumptuous lunch, a brief trek will lead you to the charming hamlet of Chebisa, where a dazzling crystal-clear waterfall awaits. Here, by the tranquil murmur of a stream, you will set up camp at an altitude of 3850m, basking in the serenity of nature.
Day 8: Chebesa – Shomuthang
You will embark on an exhilarating journey with a challenging start, as you ascend a steep ridge towards Gogu La pass (4500m), which will take approximately four hours. During your ascent, you may be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the elusive blue sheep grazing on the rocky terrain near the top of the pass. As you make your way down the path, you will traverse through a breathtaking landscape of vibrant rhododendron bushes until you reach a picturesque lunch spot. The afternoon trek will continue with a series of gentle ascents and descents, crossing streams and meandering through lush forests, past traditional yak herder camps, and finally arriving at Shakepasa, nestled at an altitude of 3980m.
From here, the journey becomes more challenging, as you climb steeply towards the northern side of the valley, taking in the magnificent views of the Himalayan range. As you pass by a few more yak herder camps, the trail leads you to a serene campsite beside a babbling stream, situated at an altitude of 4250m. Here, you can soak in the tranquility of the natural surroundings and marvel at the awe-inspiring beauty of the Bhutanese wilderness.
Day 9: Shomuthang – Robluthang
Distance: 17km, 570m Ascent, 290m Descend, camp altitude: 4130m
The trek begins with a walk through a trail adorned with edelweiss, which will take you on a climb to Jari La pass at an altitude of 4750m. From the pass, you'll have a view of the snow-capped Kangbum peak to the southeast, which stands at an impressive 6526m. After taking in the views, you'll descend to the Tsarijathang valley, which serves as the summer residence of the rare Himalayan Takin, Bhutan's national animal. At some point, we may have to cross the stream, as the footbridge is frequently washed away. After crossing the stream and heading towards the left, the trail will continue to ascend until you reach Robluthang, a rocky meadow camp.
Day 10: Robluthang – Limithang
Distance: 25km, 850m Ascent, 870m Descend, camp altitude: 3850m
Today's trek will be a truly exhilarating experience as you embark on a journey to cross the highest pass of the entire trek. As you make your way up through boggy patches, you'll be crossing streams and spotting marmot holes and moraines. Finally, you'll reach the top of Shingchen La pass (5005m) where you'll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the snow-covered Gangchenta or the Tiger Mountain (6840m) that fills the northern horizon.
As you take in the stunning view, you'll begin your descent through a rough and rocky trail, following the moraine river valley until you reach the Kango Chhu River. Be prepared for a narrow path and the possibility of crossing another stream and getting wet. After a fresh walk through the cedar forests, you'll finally arrive at Lingmithang (4140m), a beautiful campsite with scattered meadows by the river, and the Tiger Mountain (Gangchenta) towering majestically behind your campsite. The surroundings offer a peaceful and serene atmosphere that will soothe your soul after an exhilarating day of trekking.
Day 11: Limithang – Laya
As the morning light breaks through the clouds, you will be greeted with an awe-inspiring view of the majestic Gangchenta peak. The trek to Laya is an unforgettable journey, where every step brings you closer to stunning panoramic views of the surrounding valleys. Passing through a dense forest, filled with the lush greenery of moss and the sweet melody of singing birds, the path will lead you through an uninhabited valley. Along the way, you will witness the grace of a cascading waterfall, its crystal-clear water cascading down the rocks. As you continue on the trail, you will reach a junction, where the upper path leads you to fields speckled with charming stone houses. Finally, at an altitude of 3800m, you will arrive at Laya village, the second highest settlement in the country, where the air is crisp and the views are simply breathtaking.
Day 12: Laya – Koina – Gasa – Punakha
Distance: 19km, 950m Descend, Punakha altitude: 1200m
Descend to the army camp and join the Mo Chhu (Mother River of Punakha). Follow the river until you reach the bridge, after which you will have to ascend and descend several times, passing through juniper and fir forests until you reach Koena at an altitude of 3800m. Here, you will meet your car and driver who will transfer you to Gasa village and to Punakha. Overnight at hotel
Day 13: Punakha – Thimphu
Drive to Punakha and tour the Punakha Dzong in the morning. The Je Khenpo or Head Abbot of Bhutan and the core Monk Body, which consists of more than 350 monks, reside at this fortress-monastery. It was built in 1637 between the confluence of the Po chu (male river) and Mo chu (female river). This is the most stunning dzong in Bhutan.
Continue towards Thimphu and stop at Dochula pass. The pass is adorned by the 108 Druk Wangyel Chorten, which were constructed in recognition of the stability and progress that His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan, brought to the country. These stupas are an embodiment of Bhutan's aesthetic and spiritual traditions.
After a short break, drive to Thimphu and stall around the town before heading to Paro for overnight. Overnight at the hotel
Day 14: Thimphu Sightseeing
After enjoying a delicious breakfast, we will explore some fascinating places in Thimphu. Our first stop will be at Buddha Point, which is a popular tourist attraction offering a stunning view of the town of Thimphu. This point has one of the largest Buddha statues in the country, and it is a remarkable sight to behold. The statue stands tall and majestic, offering an inspiring image of the Buddhist religion.
Next, we will visit an archery field where we can witness Bhutan's national sport in action. The game is played with a longbow and arrow, and we can observe the players' incredible precision and skill.
Our next stop is the Takin Reserve, where we can observe the national animal of Bhutan, the takin. These unique creatures, with the head of a goat and the body of a cow, can only be found in the eastern Himalayas. In Bhutan, they are exclusively found in the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park. Legend has it that Drukpa Kuenley, a lama who is also known as the "Divine Madman," created the takin.
In addition to these exciting experiences, we will also visit Trashichodzong, a stunning fortress and monastery that serves as the seat of the Bhutanese government. We will also visit the weekend market, which offers an excellent opportunity to experience the local culture and cuisine. Overnight hotel
Day 15: Departure
Drive to Paro airport for departure to your home country.