Bhutan Scenic Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek
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💎 Why we love it ?
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. 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 are sure to rejuvenate you.
🏁 Tour Itinerary: Bhutan Scenic Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek
Day 1: Arrive at Paro International Airport – Sightseeing Paro valley (2200m)
Arrive at Paro International airport by either of the only two airlines operating to and from Bhutan; Drukair, the national flag carrier, or Bhutan Airlines, a private airline that was started in 2011. On your arrival at the airport, our guide and driver will receive and then escort you to 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 sightseeing 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.
Visit National Museum of Bhutan – Ta Dzong
The National Museum of Bhutan is located in Paro just above the Rinpung Dzong (administrative headquarter of the 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, armor, weaponry, and handcrafted implements for daily life. The collection at the National Museum preserves a snapshot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. After this, we will visit Paro Dzong.
Visit Paro Rinpung Dzong – The Fortress of the Heap of Jewels
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 center of the western region. Today, the Dzong serves as the office of the governor of the 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. From there, 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 bridge is called Bazam.
Sangchoekhor Monastery (if time permits)
Sangchoekhor monastery is located on a hilltop ridge overlooking the Paro Valley and presents grand panoramic views. It takes about 30 mins to 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.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Overnight at Khangkhu Resort of Bhutan Mandala Resort.
Day 2: Hike to the famed Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest)
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. The roundtrip hike takes about 4-5 hours for most visitors. We recommend starting early before the sun gets stronger. Horse riding is available on your way up to the midpoint (Taktsang View Point Cafeteria) but the journey is best enjoyed on foot. Horse riding is not recommended on your way down and owners may not.
Taktsang Monastery – The Tiger’s Nest
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 the beautiful valley below. A one-hour hike further up brings you to 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. Later in the evening, visit a traditional farmhouse and enjoy the home-cooked local cuisine. You may want to take a traditional hot stone bath believed to have a therapeutic and revitalizing effect. Specially select river stones are heated in the wood-fired fireplace and dropped into the chamber of wooden tub releasing minerals.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Overnight at Khangkhu Resort of Bhutan Mandala Resort.
Day 3: Paro / Shana Zampa (2850m)
After leisurely breakfast, we will visit an auspicious 7th-century Kyichu Lhakhang and pray for the journey ahead and drive to the first campsite of this exciting trekking adventure.
7th-century Kyichu Lhakhang
Paro Kyichu Lhakhang has located just a few minute’s drives 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 Shana Zampa in 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 fortress which is undergoing complete renovation since 2016 and is expected to complete its former glory soon.
The drive takes 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 an 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.
Distance 17km | Time 1-hour drive | Camp Altitude 2,850m/9,350ft
🏚️ Accommodation: Full-service outdoor camping at Shana.
Day 4: [First Day of Trek] Shana Zampa / Thang Thangka (3610m)
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 that 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.
Distance 22km | Time 7-8 hours | Ascent 770m/2,526ft | Descent 10m/33ft | Camp Altitude 3,610m/11,845ft
🏚️ Accommodation: Full-service outdoor camping at Thank Thangka.
Day 5: Thang Thangka / Jangothang (4080m)
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 (Jomolhari Basecamp), one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you will again have a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari.
Distance 19km | Time 6-7 hours | Ascent 480m/1,575ft | Camp Altitude 4,080m/13,385ft
🏚️ Accommodation: Full-service outdoor camping at Jangothang (Jomolhari Basecamp).
Day 6: Halt at Jangothang & Explore the Pristine Area (4080m)
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.
🏚️ Accommodation: Full-service outdoor camping at Jangothang (Jomolhari Basecamp)
Day 7: Jangothang / Lingzhi (4010m)
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 traveling 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.
Distance 18km | Time 6-7 hours | Ascent 840m/2,755ft | Descent 870m/2,855ft | Camp Altitude 4,010m/13,156ft
🏚️ Accommodation: Full-service outdoor camping at Lingzhi
Day 8: Lingzhi / Chebisa (3880m)
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 that 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 Goyal. In Goyal, 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.
Distance 10km | Time 5-6 hours | Ascent 280m/918ft | Descent 410m/1,345ft | Camp Altitude 3,880m/12,730ft
🏚️ Accommodation: Full-service outdoor camping at Chebisa.
Day 9: Chebisa / Shomuthang (4220m)
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 Noche river.
Distance 17km | Time 6-7 hours | Ascent 890m/2,920ft | Descent 540m/1,771ft | Camp Altitude 4,220m/13,845ft
🏚️ Accommodation: Full-service outdoor camping at Shomuthang.
Day 10: Shomuthang / Robluthang (4160m)
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.
Distance 18km | Time 7-8 hours | Ascent 700m/2,296ft | Descent 760m/2,493ft | Camp Altitude 4,160m/13,648ft
🏚️ Accommodation: Full-service outdoor camping at Robluthang.
Day 11: Robluthang / Limithang (4140m)
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.
Distanceb 19km | Time 7-8 hours | Ascent 850m/2,788ft | Descent 870m/2,854ft | Camp Altitude 4,140m/13,582ft
🏚️ Accommodation: Full-service outdoor camping at Limithang
Day 12: Limithang / Laya (3840m)
Today, you walk downhill all the way along a narrow, winding river valley. After a long time, the trail takes you through a 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 centers are a community school and a basic health unit with a telephone connection. The campsite is located below the school.
Distance 10km | Time 4-5 hours | Ascent 60m/196ft | Descent 640m/2,100ft | Camp Altitude 3,840m/12,598ft
🏚️ Accommodation: Full-service outdoor camping at Laya
Day 13: Laya / Koina (3050m)
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.
Distance 19km | Time 7-8 hours | Ascent 260m/853ft | Descent 1,070m/3,510ft | Camp Altitude 3,050m/10,006ft
🏚️ Accommodation: Full-service outdoor camping at Koina.
Day 14: [Last Day of Trek] Koina / Gasa (2850m)
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 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.
Distance 14km | Time 6-7 hours | Ascent 740m/2,427ft | Descent 1,500m/4,921ft | Camp Altitude 2,850m/9,350ft
🏚️ Accommodation: Full-service outdoor camping at Gasa
Day 15: Gasa / Transfer to Punakha (1200m)
Today, you will spend the morning leisurely soaking up in the hot spring and after lunch, transfer to Punakha valley for an overnight stay.
Distance 65km | Time 3-hours | Punakha Altitude 1,200m/3,937ft
🏚️ Accommodation: Overnight at Meri Puensum Resort or Zhingkham Resort
Day 16: Punakha / Thimphu (2334m)
After breakfast, visit the historic Punakha Dzong, Temple of Fertility, and then transfer to the capital city Thimphu via the sacred Dochula Pass. The 17th century Punakha Dzong is considered a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. This magnificent fortress displays fine Bhutanese arts and craftsmanship which continues to influence Bhutanese architecture to this day. You will spend some time appreciating the intricate woodworks and sacred wall paintings.
From there we drive to the village of Sopsokha to visit the 15th-century Chimi Lhakhang popularly known as the “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.
After lunch, transfer to Thimphu via the sacred Dochula Pass.
Distance 74km | Time 2.5-hours | Thimphu Altitude 2,334m/7,655ft
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 we descend gradually all the way to the capital city within an hour.
Thimphu is home to around 115,000 residents and this bustling little city is the main center 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 Thimphu town.
🏚️ Accommodation: Overnight at Kuenphen Rabten Resort or Hotel Amodhara.
Day 17: Transfer to Paro International Airport for Departure (2200m)
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.
Distance 55 km | Time 1.5-hour | Paro Altitude2,195m/7,200ft
Terms & Conditions
- Free cancellation for up to 30 days prior to departure date
- 20% will be charged if cancelled 16-29 days prior to departure date
- 30% will be charged if cancelled 08-15 days prior to departure date
- 50% will be charged if cancelled 03-07 days prior to departure date
- No refund will be available if No Show or cancelled 0-02 days prior to departure date
The flight tends to get fully booked months ahead especially during the peak season. We highly recommend you book flights a few months ahead of your departure date. We can help with the arrangement of flights to and from Bhutan. There are only two airlines operating in and out of Bhutan:
- Drukair, the national flag carrier of Bhutan (www.drukair.com.bt) operates from and to these cities/International Airports: Bangkok, Bagdogra, Bodhgaya, Dhaka, Delhi, Guwahati, Kathmandu, Kolkata, Singapore.
- Bhutan Airlines, a private airline introduced in 2011 (www.bhutanairlines.bt) operates from and to these cities/International Airport: Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Kathmandu
Other Important Information
- Airport pick-up and drop-off time will be coordinated depending on your flight timings
- For the purpose of processing a visa, you must send us a clear passport copy of all the participants after you book the tour. A whole biodata page including the machine-readable zone must be seen clearly. It can be either scanned or just a mobile photo shot as long as it is clear and legible. Passports should have a validity of at least SIX MONTHS from the day you depart from Bhutan.
- You’ll receive a copy of your approved e-Visa Clearance letter in PDF format within 3-4 business days from the day the visa application is submitted. You MUST print a copy of this letter and present it at the check-in counter of the airline flying into Bhutan. Without the proof of an e-Visa Clearance letter, you may be denied boarding the flight to Bhutan. The actual visa will be stamped on your passport on arrival at the Paro International Airport.
- Child(ren) below 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult
- All participants between the age of 13 – 18 years old must send us a valid copy of the Student Photo ID Card/document after booking the tour.
- All our tour guides speak very fluent English. Guides speaking other major languages (Chinese, Japanese, French & German) can be arranged at an additional fee of $120 per day.
- You must let us know prior to your arrival if you have any dietary restrictions/preference.
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