Beautiful Laya Gasa Trek

The Beautiful Laya Gasa Trek

The Beautiful Laya Gasa Trek is an extension of the Jumolhari round Trek and is a 11 days trek. The trek offers diverse flora and fauna. Blue sheep, takins and Blue poppy can be seen during the trek and an introduction with the layap people with a unique culture and lifestyle is another experience. A day in the natural hot spring at Gasa can be relaxing. It is a popular trek and the highest point is 4115 m.

Initially, the beautiful Laya Gasa Trek duration was 14 days, however with the recent construction of road from Drukgyel Dzong till Shana and Gasa to Punakha has decreased the duration. In addition recently a flood washed away the Gasa Tshachhu (Gasa Hotspring) which decreased the trek by another day. Hence the beautiful Laya Gasa Trek can be done in 11 days.

This trek may be experienced with extensions to Haa or Punakha with the increase in number of nights. Or may be combined with any other activities or interests as per the convenience, comfort and requirements of the travelers traveling to Bhutan.

Tour Highlights – The Beautiful Laya Gasa Trek

  • Experience the beautiful Lush valleys, dense forests, snowcapped mountains such as Mt. Jumolhari, Mt. Jichu Drake and other beautiful natural landscapes.
  • Walk through thick pine forests, scattered hamlets and alpine meadows that lead to the high pastureland where yak herders graze their animals.
  • Opportunity to see and explore one of the remotest villages in Bhutan (Laya, Lunana, Lingshi) which is not connected by road and modern facilities.
  • Opportunity to see one of the Unique people in Bhutan, the Layaps and Lunana people.
  • Opportunity to experience natural hot spring in Gasa.
  • Opportunity to explore Paro valley, Thimphu (the capital city of Bhutan without traffic lights) and the Punakha Valley (the old capital of Bhutan)
  • Discover some of the most sacred monasteries and temples in the Himalayas.
  • Opportunity to camp overnight in the base of Jumolhari Mountain.
  • Travel hassle free with your own guide, driver and trekking crew. Travel as per your convenience and visit places as per your interest. We are flexible with the itineraries except for the confirmed overnight destinations. Enjoy a real holiday.
  • Personal attention by the tour operators.
  • A private traditional cultural show and experience of the traditional hotel stone bath.
  • Wonderful day hike to the abode of gods and monks, the world famous, Taktshang Monastery (Tigers’ nest)
  • Visit to the age old Lhakhang (Monasteries/ temples) and dzongs ( Fortress)
  • Opportunity to explore villages, visit to village houses and interact with local people.
  • Opportunity to play archery (the national game of Bhutan) and many more.
  • Value-Added opportunities such as cooking lesson or meditation session with a monk.
  • Choice to experience an overnight in a village house.

Detailed Itinerary – The Beautiful Laya Gasa Trek

Day 1. Arrive Paro

Altitude of Paro: 2250 M

On your journey to Paro, the panoramic views of the Himalayas are sensational, including the Everest and other famous Himalayan Peaks. The approach through the Bhutanese foothills and the landing, including a few steep turns to land at the tiny airstrip of Paro becomes more exciting as you enter Bhutan. Many travelers have termed the landing very much adventurous.

On arrival you will be welcomed by your Bhutanese guide from Neptune Holidays Bhutan with “Tashi Khadar”, and a small welcome note by your Bhutanese host.

Drive to Hotel. After lunch, free time to explore the Paro Valley and town.

Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Day 2. Paro Sightseeing

Altitude of Paro: 2250 M

Start your day with a hike to the abode of gods and monks would be a pretty good start. It shall be taken care of that the time shall be yours for the hike, no hurries and no worries. Reaching the top shall be worth the climb; the touch of the Himalayan breeze and views of the valley below and temple on the rocky cliff shall be fascinating and shall let you feel the real freedom of mind and happiness.

After breakfast, excursion to Taktshang Monastery.

Taktshang Monastery; The primary lhakhang was built surrounding Guru Rinpoche’s Meditation cave in the 1684 by Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay.  This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer Rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava flew here on the back of a tigress. It is a two to three hours excursion uphill; however, one feels truly blessed reaching the monastery.

After lunch, visit,

Drukgyel Dzong: This dzong is in ruins now. The Dzong was destroyed by fire in 1951 and is now preserved as heritage site. The Dzong is situated in Drukgyal, overlooking the beautiful village with Mount Chomolhari in the background. The dzong was built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal to commemorate victory over the Tibetan invaders led by Mongolian warlord, Gushri Khan.

Kyichu Lhakhang: This temple is one of the oldest buddhist temple in Bhutan. The Tibetan King, Songtsen Gompo, to consecrate the entire region of Himalaya, in the 7th century miraculously built 108 temples. Kyichu Lhakhang is considered to be one of them.

Then, drive to a Bhutanese farm house and relax in traditional hot stone bath.

Hot stone bath: The traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath, known as Dotsho in local language has been practiced in Bhutan for centuries as a medicinal soak. Many Bhutanese believe that the bath helps in curing joint pains, helps in relaxing and other medical problems. River stones are heated and then put in water to heat the water; sometime medicinal herbs are added to the water before it is ready for the soak.

Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Day 3. Paro – Shana – Thangthangka (Start of the Beautiful Laya Gasa Trek)

Paro – Shana 
Driving distance – 20 km approx, Driving time: 2 – 2.5 hrs due to dirt road, Altitude of Shana – 2,820 m

Initially the trek used to start from Drukgyel Dzong and Shana used to be the first night Camp Site. However recently a farm road has been constructed till Shana whereby the trek now starts from Shana and Thangthangka is the first camp site.

After early morning, breakfast drive towards Drukgyel Dzong. After this follow the rough road that follows the Paro River. The dirt road passes cultivated fields and tiny picturesque villages. The forests are alive with numerous birds and brightly colored butterflies till you reach Shana

Shana – Thangthangka
Altitude of Campsite – 3610 m | Distance – 21 Km | Time – 7 to 8 hrs.

While in Shana your trekking team will be waiting for you. Start your trek from Shana

The trail follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farmhouses. It narrows and closes in and the trail winds up and down along the drainage. We pass a junction enroute, where another path leads north over the Tremo La to Tibet.

Camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter.

Day 4. Thangthangka – Jangothang:

Altitude of campsite: 4,115 m, Distance: 15 Km, Time: 5 – 6 hour.

In the morning after passing a small army post, the trail slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs into a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, a winter home of yak herdsmen. Lunch will be served in one of these huts. Lots of yaks will be seen today before we arrive at the Jhomolhari base camp (4,115 m). High mountains overlook the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions.

Day 5: Jangothang – Lingshi

Altitude of Campsite: 4150 m, Distance : 19 km, Time: 5-6 hours

Walk up toward the pass through a wide pastureland. Depending on the season you are there, you might find some yak herders in their camping tents along the way. As you come down after the pass to the Lingshi basin, you will see some beautiful views of the Lingshi Dzong, valley, Tserim Kang (mountain) and its descending glaciers at the north end of the valley. Camp in a stone shelter with a built-in fire pit or in the tent.

Day 6: Lingshi – Chebisa

Altitude of campsite: 3850 m, Distance: 12 km, Time 3-4 hours.

Today is the shortest walking day and you can really take it easy. On reaching the campsite at Chebisa, you may visit the village houses.

Day 7: Chebisa – Shomuthang

Altitude of campsite: 4260 m, Distance: 17 km, Time: 5-6 hours.

You walk through a wide pastureland towards Gobu-la (pass). On the way, you will see few people herding the yaks. After crossing the Gobu -la (Alt. 4350m) descend down to the valley. The campsite is on a bench above a river, which is a tributary of the Nochu river.

Day 8: Shomuthang – Robluthang

Altitude of campsite: 4390m, Distance: 15 km, Time: 6-7 hours.

As the walk is little strenuous, it is advisable to start little early. After crossing the Jerela (pass) alt. 4600m you come down to Tsharijathang valley where you can normally see herds of Takins. Camp at Tsharijathang.

Day 9: Robluthang – Lingmithang

Altitude of campsite: 4140 m, Distance: 19 km, Time:  6-7 hours.

After crossing the Shingela pass, alt. 4900m, you come down and follow the valley. Lingmithang is under the Laya District and you will see people dressed in typical Laya costume with long pointed bamboo hats on their head. Camp at Lingmithang.

If you have time, it would be advisable to spend a day here exploring the valley and meeting the people who have a different and unique culture.

Day 10: Lingmithang – Laya

Altitude of campsite: 3850m, Distance: 10 km, Time: 3-4 hours.

Today, you walk all the way downhill along a narrow winding river valley. The trail leads you to the west side of Laya village. Campsite is on a high flat bench above the Laya village.

Day 11: Laya (Halt)

Rest and explore the Laya village.

Day 12: Laya – Koena

Altitude of campsite: 3800 m, Distance: 19 km, Time: 6-7 hours.

The trail winds up and down along the river valley avoiding natural obstacles and affording breath-taking views of the crashing river, feeder streams and waterfalls.

Day 13: Koena – Gasa (End of the Beautiful Laya Gasa TrekTrek)

Altitude of campsite: 2900 m, Distance: 17 km, Time: 6-7 hours.

You cross the Babela pass, Alt.3740m, after which the trail is all the way down till you reach the campsite which is close to Gasa Dzong.

Day 14: Gasa – Punakha

Altitude of Punakha: 1310 m, Driving Distance: 63 km, Time: 3 hours.

After a late breakfast, visit the Gasa Dzong and explore the Gasa town for a while. then drive to Punakha.

The road winds through the rolling hills and passes through the pine and oak forests, villages and wheat fields. You will also see a beautiful view of the Gasa Dzong glued to the valley wall seeming to float in space.

Once you reach the Punakha Valley, you will drive through the high agricultural benches above the Mo chhu (Chhu means River) into a lush semi-tropical gorge filled with banana trees, creepers and various tropical vegetation till Tashithang. Continue driving to Punakha.

Overnight in the hotel in Punakha.

Day 15. Punakha – Thimphu

Driving Distance: 76 km, Driving Time: 2.5 – 3 hr, Altitude of Thimphu: 2350 m

After a leisure breakfast, visit the Punakha Dzong.

Punakha Dzong: This Dzong was built by the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. It is built at the junction the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers. The annual Punakha Tsechhu (Festival) is held here. The monk body resides in this dzong in winter.

Then take a short excursion to visit the Chimi Lhakhang.

Chhimi Lhakhang: This temple is located on the way to Punakha. This temple is also known as the temple of fertility and was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in the 15 century. Lama drukpa Kuenley is also known as the Devine Madman.

After Lunch, drive to Thimphu.

On the way visit the Royal Botanical Park.

Royal Botanical Park – Situated at an altitude range of 2100 meters – 3800 meters, the park covers an area of 47 square kilometers and is located between Thimphu and Punakha. The park contains a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna and features a huge species of plants and animals including endangered species such as Himalayan yew, native Rhododendron, Royal Bengal Tiger, , Musk Deer, Red Panda, Blood pheasants and Himalayan Monal. You can also find Tetracentron (an ancient relict angiosperm with no vessel in its trunk) in the park. The park has 14.5 km of trails for eco trek for cycling and walking and one of the main attractions is the rhododendron garden including a picnic spot with children’s play ground.

Drive further to Thimphu. Stop at Dochula pass to view the higher mountains and enjoy the scenery.

Dochula pass: The most known pass in Bhutan, about 30 km drive from the Capital City Thimphu on the way to Wangduephodrang. It is at around 3150 mt  height. On a clear day, spectacular view of the mighty Himalayas mountain ranges can be seen.The pass also has 108 Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chhortens which is believed brings multi fold merit to all sentient beings and which make the pass a must visit place.

In the evening, explore Thimphu town and valley. Overnight in Hotel.

Day 16. Thimphu Sightseeing:

After breakfast, sightseeing in Thimphu, includes;

National Memorial Chorten: This Chorten was built in the honour of the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, also known as “The Father of Modern Bhutan”. This Chorten was built in 1974 in a typical Tibetan style. This Chorten is also a center of worship for the people living in Thimphu and contains many religious paintings and tantric statues.

Kuenselphodrang: A place for refreshing with a huge statue of Buddha on the top of the Kuenselphodrang. The area also gives a very good view of the Thimphu valley from the west.

Folk Heritage Museum: Founded by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck the museum is one of a kind that portrays the lifestyle of a family in the Thimphu valley in the olden days. This is a three storied, 19th century traditional house giving an insight to the Bhutanese lifestyle, and artifacts from the rural households. The museum contains typical Bhutanese household objects, tools and equipments.

Typical Bhutanese lunch at folk Heritage Restaurant.

After lunch, visit;

The Institute for Zorig Chusum: Students are taught the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan in this institute.

The Institute of Traditional medicine: Here Medicines are prepared according to the Tradition practices.

Sangaygang view point (2685 meters); to have view of whole Thimphu valley and walk through hundreds of colorful prayer flags that dot the hill overlooking the Thimphu valley.

Takin Reserve Centre: The takin, the national animal of Bhutan can be seen here. This particular animal is found only in the Himalayan region.

In the evening, visit Tashihhodzong.

Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion): A Doom (Blue Stone) Dzong was built on the hill above Thimphu  in 1216 the lama Gyalwa Lhanampa. A few years later Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo, who brought the Drukpa Kagyu lineage to Bhutan, took over Dohon Dzong. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (The one who unified the country) acquired the Dzong in 1641 from the descendants of lama Phajo and renamed it as Trashi Chhoe Dzong. The Dzong is the seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan) at present.

Dinner and overnight in Hotel.

Day 17. Thimphu – Paro:

Driving Distance: 65 Km, Driving Hrs: 1.5 – 2 Hr, Altitude of Paro: 2250 m.

After breakfast, drive to Paro and then take an excursion to Chelela Pass.

Chelela Pass is the highest point between the Haa valley and Paro valley at an altitude of 3810 mts. On a clear day, the place gives a very superb photo opportunity of the Himalayan Mountains, including the mountain Jumolhari and Jichu Drake. The place also gives good view down towards the Haa valley. A lots of prayer flags flutter in the place.

You may put up your own Lung ta (horizontal) Prayer Flags at the Pass to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. It is believed the prayers and mantra will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion to all sentient beings thereby benefiting all.

Drive back to Paro. After lunch visit;

Ta Dzong: An ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum of Bhutan.

Paro Rinpung Dzong: Literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”, built in 1646. Some of the scenes in the film Little Buddha (1993) were filmed in this Dzong.

Overnight in Hotel.

Day 18. Departure:

After breakfast, drive to Paro Airport and farewell.

Important Notes – The Beautiful Laya Gasa Trek

The comfort, convenience and interest of the travelers is very important to us. We are flexible with the itinerary “The Beautiful Laya Gasa Trek”. Sightseeing can be done as per the convenience and interests of the guests. If it is of interest to the guest, they may choose to visit places that may not be in the itinerary, except for the change of overnight destination.

We reserve the right to change the itinerary or hotels anytime as may be required to, in case of unforeseen contingencies (natural/man made) or unavailability of hotels.

Some of the sites to be visited may be closed on government holidays or during breaks. In such cases we shall do other sightseeing in its place.

This itinerary can be tailor made for any duration or within any destination and can be combined with any kind of activities such as trekking, rafting, walking tour, cycling , etc.

It is advisable to book “The Beautiful Laya Gasa Trek” at least 6 months prior to the travel date because of limited Bhutan tourism infrastructures and inventories.