Laya- Gasa Trek

This is an extension of Jhomolari trek, taking you into the highlands of Bhutan and into the new community with unique culture of Layaps or people of Laya. It offers better opportunity to spot varieties of flora and fauna such as Takin, Bhutan’s national animal, Blue poppy, Bhutan’s national flower and Blue sheep. Best months to trek along this trail are May and October. The routes get closed during winter months (December – March) due to snow and summer months (July – August) due to heavy rains.

  • Trip Overview
  • Itinerary
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Duration: 15 days and 14 nights (12D & 11N trek)
Maximum elevation: 5005 m
Season: April – June; Sep – November
Start: Sharna Zampa (Paro)
Finish point: Gasa
Access town: Paro, Punakha


Day 1: Arrival at Paro

Welcome to Bhutan. Your guide and driver will pick you up from Paro international airport and drive to your hotel for the lunch.

Towards afternoon, enjoy your day visiting few of the iconic destinations within Paro valley such as Kichu monastery, Ta dzong (Museum) and Rinpung Dzong (fortress).

Day 2: Paro – Sharna Zampa – Thangthangka

22 km/ 8 hours/ 770 m ascent/ 10 m descent

Today is a long day. We start our day by driving from hotel till Sharna Zampa for about an hour. From the trailhead, we begin our journey upward through the rhododendrons and conifers alongside the Pa Chhu River. After around 15 minutes into the journey, we enter Jigme Dorji National Park.

Further 2 hours trek from here, through rhododendrons, oaks and fern we reach Shing Karap, a stone house. Little further up is a juncture; to the left which leads to Phari Dzong in Tibet. This route was once used by Tibetan for both trade and invasion and as of today it is used by Royal Bhutan army to ferry their rations to the border. Avoid following this route and keep right. Few meters away from the juncture is a wooden bridge over a small stream.

Across the stream, over a small ridge, we descend down to cross Pa Chhu once again. From here it’s occasionally ascend and descend through a forest of birch, fir, larch, Maples and blue pine. Following this route for about 3 hours, we reach once again to a bridge. After crossing river to the right side, follow this trail and continue upward for 20 minutes, through a beautiful meadow with Mt. Jhomolhari at sight is Thangthangka (3610 m), our campsite for the night.

Day 3: Thangthangka – Jangothang

19 km/ 6 hours/ 480 m ascent

Today there will be a significant gain in terms of elevation. In the morning we wake up with a beautiful view of Mt. Jhomolhari. After hiking up for just under an hour from the campsite, we reach an army camp (3739 m). Little further from army camp is a bridge. Across the bridge as we follow the hillside for a while, the trail then takes sharp right turn around the small mani wall. A short distance from here is a small stupa and then into the meadows.

The trail then continues through the hill side covered with larches beneath Soe village. An hour hike from here is Takethang village (3940 m), cluster of houses built with stones on a plateau. We continue through the plateau crossing small stream, opposite the Dangochang village. From the plateau end, it’s an uphill walk for a while till we reach our campsite at Jangothang. From here you can enjoy a spectacular view of Mt. Jhomolhari.

Your pack animals which started their journey from Sharna zampa will return back from here. From here horses or yaks from nearby villages will follow you till the end of your trekking journey.

Day 4: Halt at Jangothang

We will spend one extra day here at Jangothang which is also referred to as Jhomolhari base camp, the highlight of our trek. From number of options to explore around, we will take a 4 hour roundtrip excursion up the northern side to have a view of Mt. Jhomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drakye. It’s an open walk across the slope till we reach the hilltop at 4750 m. If luck favors we might spot some Himalayan blue ships grazing on the slopes.

Back at campsite you can enjoy playing a traditional game called Degor with your crew members. This is a very simple game. You just need to pick up a pair of flat spherical stone and hurled it over and back to a pegs fixed in the ground at an approximate distance of 15 – 20 m. Stone with nearer the peg gets the point. Usually a strong guy with strong arm powers stay at the end with heavy pair of stone to push the stones of opponent which are near or over the pegs or to crush it into pieces.

Day 5: Jangothang – Lingzhi

18 km/ 7 hours/ 840 m ascent/ 870 m descent

Done with acclimatization and resting, we move further up towards our next stop. We begin our day by crossing three stone houses which are used by park rangers. We continue across a log bridge alongside the left bank of Pa Chhu River. Heading eastward from here, we will have a clear view of Mt. Jichu Drake and Jhomolhari. The trail then continues below the big rocks into the glacial valley. Pass the valley, climb to a small submit, dips and then a final push, we reach Nyile La pass (4870 m) after about 4 hours trek from Jangothang.

From here, the trail then descends down to the valley floor near to a stream. We continue our journey to the north following the near flat track for while until we see army camp near Jaje chhu River and a view of Lingzhi Dzong in the distance. The trail then descends down through the Birches, rhododendrons and pasture land towards our campsite at Chha Shi Thang. Lingzhi is located on the opposite side of Jaje Chuu River.

Day 6: Lingzhi – Chebisa

10 km/ 6 hours/ 280 m ascent/ 410 m descent

Descend down from the campsite to the stream. Across the stream, trail climbs towards Lingzhi Dzong (4200 m). From the dzong, again the trail descends down leading towards Lingzhi village.
From here on it’s a gentle climb for about an hour till a ridge, before dropping down to Goyul, a cluster of stone houses nearby a stream. From here, it is again an hour uphill journey till a small stupa and the trail then descends down towards Chebisa a beautiful meadow, our campsite for the night.

Day 7: Chebisa – Shamuthang

17 km/ 7 hours/ 980 m ascent/ 540 m descent

Start the day by hiking uphill across the ridge and through the slopes till Gogu la pass (4440 m) for around four hours. From the pass, the trail then descends down through rhododendrons to the valley and then to the stream. Climb up to the ridge, cross pass Jolethang chuu valley and then down to Shakshepa sa (3980 m).

Trail now climbs up steeply through the valley before leveling out at 4200 m and trekking further up through few yak herders’ hut is our campsite for the night at Shamuthang beside a stream.

Day 8: Shamuthang – Robluthang

18 km/ 7 hours/ 700 m ascent/ 760 m descent

We begin our journey amidst the Edelweiss on the right side of the river climbing uphill through the valley, cross the river to the left and back again to the right. After 2 hours into the journey, crossing the valley we reach Jhari la pass (4750 m).

Trail from the pass then descends down to a stream, through the forest of rhododendrons and follows the stream to the valley. From here we further descend down to a grazing area called Tsarijathang by the side of Jolethang Chhu River, where Takins usually graze.

From here it is an uphill trekking once more to the hill top before descending down into the valley and pass the tiny lake is our campsite for the night on a rocky meadow at Robluthang (4160 m).

Day 9: Robluthang – Limithang

19 km/ 7 hours/ 850 m ascent/ 870 m descent

We begin the day by climbing uphill to a shelf (4390 m) and descending down to a large glacial valley. From here follow the stream and cross the river to the right, climb to a moraine and pass marmot holes, before making a steep climb towards our highest point of the journey to Sinche la pass (5005 m). From the pass, we then descends down through a rocky trail into another glacial valley and then to Kango Chhu River.

Cross the river to the left and continue north through the pastureland passing some uninhabited stone houses before descending down to the valley floor and once again crossing Kango Chhu River. After a short climb through the rhododendrons, the trail then levels out at a plateau. A short distance from here, through the forest of cedar, on a small meadow is Limithang (4140 m), the campsite for the night.

Day 10: Limithang – Laya

10 km/ 5 hours/ 60 m ascent/ 340 m descent

Wake up to a great view of Mt. Gangchenta at a distance. After a short walk from the campsite, the trail leads us across the river into the forest of cedars. From here, after crossing numbers of small streams, we pass herders huts into the forest of firs. Cross a large stream before descending down through the valley to a river.

We cross the river to the right, continue for a while and again cross back to the left. From here, the trail then climbs up steeply and we continue with a long walk through a uninhabited valley before descending down to a waterfall. A short ascend and descend from here is a trail junction. We will follow the upper trail across the ridge and finally into Laya village. There are few shops, a school and Basic Health unit here at Laya village. Our tonight’s camp is in the field just below the school at an altitude of 3840 m.

Day 11: Rest Day at Laya

We will spend one extra day here at Laya. Laya is one of the highest and remotest villages in Bhutan. We will go around and enjoy the unique culture of the local people here. They have their own customs and distinct dress and people here mostly depends on yaks for their daily livelihoods. In the evening we will enjoy watching some local cultural show by the village ladies. Locals may even come around you selling some of their local products such as bamboo hats.

Day 12: Laya – Chamsa

21 km/ 7 hours/ 260 m ascent/ 1070 m descent

We begin our journey heading down from the village to a river. After crossing the river over the wooden bridge, we reach Royal Bhutan Army camp. We must show our route permits here. After crossing the army camp we then follow Mo Chhu downstream and about half an hour down is a trail junction. The route leading uphill will take us to the snowman trail but we follow the descending route towards Gasa. Continue further down till Bahitung Chuu River, cross the river and then continue alongside the Mo Chhu River. Cross Mo Chhu River on a cantilever bridge and follow the river before ascending towards Kohi La at 3300 m. An hour’s trek from here following the muddy trail, we reach Koina campsite. But as the site is filled with muddy sludge we will head on to next stopover for 2 hours at Chamsa.

Day 13: Chamsa – Gasa hotspring

12 km/ 6 hours/ 900 m ascent/ 1710 m descent

We begin our last day of trekking by going uphill through the forest of fir towards Bari la Pass (3900 m) for about an hour. From the pass it is fairly a flatter route till the stupa. The trail then descends down through the bamboo forest to a stream and finally has a view of majestic Gasa Dzong on an opposite valley. After visiting Gasa and nearby village, we will continue for hour and half downhill till Gasa hot spring for the night.

Day 14: Gasa – Paro

In the morning after breakfast we will drive towards Paro. We will stop at Punakha for the lunch and if time permits, we will pay visit to Punakha Dzong. From Phunakha we will drive back to Paro via Dochula pass.

Day 15: Departure

After breakfast, we will see you off at Paro international airport for your onward destination. We look forward to see you in the future.

More Info

Trekking in Bhutan

With the likes of trail that takes you right at the foot of worlds’ tallest unconquered mountain (Gangkar Puensum 7550m), trekking in Bhutan will give you a new experience never like before. With more than 70 percent of the country covered by undisturbed wilderness, trekking in Bhutan will take you ever closer to the nature. These trekking trails once used by famous Buddhist saints like Guru Rinpoche (who introduced Buddhism in Bhutan) in 746 AD while visiting Bhutan from Nepal and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (the unifier of modern Bhutan) in 1616 while fleeing Tibet for a political dispute, this routes are the genuine routes where Bhutanese people still use it today. What makes trekking in Bhutan unique is its calmness and natural feeling; credit to less numbers of trekkers visiting Bhutan and its natural unpaved trails unlike other countries around the world. With more than 20 trekking trials to choose from, Bhutan offers trekking services to both beginners and pros.

Trekking Permits

No specific trekking permits are required to trek in Bhutan. You can trek in Bhutan with normal tourist visa for international tourist and normal entry permit for regional tourist (Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivians).

Best season for trekking in Bhutan

The best season to trek in Bhutan depends on which trekking trail you choose to but in general, March, April, May, September, October and November are the best months to trek in Bhutan. In the month of June, July and August Bhutan receives heavy rainfall and in December, January and February, the high mountain passes along the trekking trails are covered with snow, making it difficult for trekkers.

The details regarding the best season to trek on different trails in Bhutan are mentioned below:
  • Bumdra Trek- February, March, April, May, September, October, November and December. However one can trek year round despite any season on this trail.
  • Gangtey Trek- March, April, May, September, October, November and December.
  • Samtengang Trek- January, February, March, April, May, September, October, November and December. It’s doable all year round despite any season.
  • Bumthang Owl Trek- March, April, May, September, October, November and December.
  • Bumthang Cultural Trek- March, April, May, September, October, November and December.
  • Sagala Trek - March, April, May, September, October, November and December.
  • Sinchula Trek- March, April, May, September, October, November and December.
  • Druk Path Trek- March, April, May, September, October, November and December. It’s Doable all year round despite its best seasons.
  • Dagala Lake view Trek- March, April, May, September, October, November and December. Despite the best season, one can trek year round on this trail.
  • Jomolhari Trek- March, April, May, September, October and November.
  • Laya Gasa Trek- March, April, May, September, October and November.
  • Gangkar Puensum base camp trek- One can trek on this route from mid June to October but the best recommended month for this trek is October.
  • Snowmen Trek I- One can trek on this route from mid June to October but the best recommended month for this trek is October.
  • Snowmen Trek II- One can trek on this route from mid June to October but the best recommended month for this trek is October.

Difficulty Grading

Trekking in Bhutan can be of 2 days or a month long. Depending on the number of days taken to trek, gain in altitude and nature of terrains, trekking routes in Bhutan can be graded into four categories; easy, moderate, difficult and very difficult.

    A. Easy
  • Bumdra Trek
  • Gantey Trek
  • Samtengang Trek
  • Bumthang owl Trek
  • Bumthang Cultural Trek
  • Sagala Trek
  • Sinchula trek
  • B. Moderate
  • Druk Path Trek
  • Dagala Lake view Trek
  • C. Difficult
  • Jomolhari Trek
  • Laya Gasa Trek
  • D. Very Difficult
  • Gangkar Puensum base camp Trek
  • Snowmen Trek I
  • Snowmen Trek II

Trekking experience and physical fitness required to trek in Bhutan

At 10,760 feet above sea level, Bhutan is ranked highest country in the world, in terms of average land elevations. As a result most of its trekking trails are located on higher altitude, averaging over 12,000 feet above sea level, requiring certain level of physical fitness and trekking experience.

However with varieties of trails to choose from, both beginners and pro can enjoy trekking in Bhutan. Be it 2 days or grueling 25 days trekking, Bhutan has it all for you to choose from.

For those who are attempting to go for Snowmen trek (25 days trek), it will be asset if you have certain level of trekking experience and physically fit enough, since snowmen trek is referred to as amongst the world’s most toughest trekking route involving climbs over 5000 m.

Safety measures

  • Altitude Sickness

    Do not ignore any kind of symptoms related to altitude sickness; difficulty in breathing, headache, giddiness and numbness in limbs. If you experience any of the mentioned symptoms, inform your guide immediately.

    Though portable oxygen supplies and first aid kits are always carried along with by the crew members but if possible carry some diamox (acetazolamide) pills, which can be bought from pharmacies across Bhutan.

    The best tactics, if you suffer from altitude sickness is to stop ascending and if the symptoms do not go away or get worse, then descend down. It is advisable that you drink large amount of water every day while you are trekking.

  • Food and water contamination

    Meals while trekking in Bhutan are prepared every day by cooking crews and no left over foods are served. Lunch are prepared in the morning along with breakfast and carried as a packed lunch. Dinners are prepared at campsite at the end of every trekking day. Hence chances of getting food contaminated while trekking in Bhutan are very slim.

    Bottled water is carried by trekking crew members but however it is not sufficient for longer duration treks and hence the crew member boils water in the morning for you to carry for the day.

    It is advisable that you bring your own water bottle and if possible carry some water purifier solutions as well. Refrain yourself from drinking directly from the streams nearby.

  • Criminal activity

    No trekking trails in Bhutan will meet you with any kind of criminal activities. In fact if you are in need, everyone you encounter will be very much happy to help you whatever way they can.

  • Safety considerations

    Consult with your guide in regards to dos and don’ts and stick together with your group (if trekking on group). Carry essential items such as head torch, portable cell phone chargers and your mobile phone along with you.

Trekking gears required while trekking in Bhutan

    Trekking gears and manpower provided by See Bhutan Travels are as follows:
  • Horses/ potters and ponies
  • Toilet tents with toilet pots and toilet papers.
  • Shower tents with hot water shower bag (only for longer duration treks)
  • Sleeping tents (A-shaped) with pillows and mattress
  • Dinning tents with tables and chairs
  • Kitchen tents with whole set of kitchen items to prepare meals.
  • Trekking/camping cooks
  • Trekking/camping staffs
  • Hot water bags in bed.
  • Some of the items that you need to bring along while trekking in Bhutan are; Sleeping bag, sturdy and comfortable trekking boots, few changes of cloths, gloves, neck warmers, wind proof/water proof jackets, warm jackets and hiking pants.

Accommodations during trekking in Bhutan

With no hotels or home stays along the trekking trails, all the trekkers must spend their nights in the tent (camping). Camping crew member arranges your tents. They travel ahead of you and put everything on place before you reach your campsite.

Meals while trekking in Bhutan

All the meals are prepared by trekking cooks who will trek alongside you throughout the entire tour. Lunch are prepared in the morning and carried by trekking staffs. Breakfast and dinners are prepared and served at the campsite.

Since there are no grocery stores or shops along the trekking trails, all the food items are bought and carried along by the crew members, their horses and yaks. As and when available, our crew members will try to buy fresh vegetables from local communities and include in your menu.

Trekking alone in Bhutan

Since trekking in Bhutan is a guided tour by the law of country, lone trekkers should not worry because he or she will be followed by trekking guide and crew members for the entire trekking tour.

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    What's Included

    All three meals (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)
    Accommodations in 3 star rated hotels in twin sharing basis. (4 Stars and 5 Star available on paying extra premium)
    Licensed English speaking guide
    Transportation in a comfortable SUV cars, Mini Bus and Medium size Buses depending on the number of travelers
    Experienced driver.
    Sustainable Development Fee of $65 per person, per night stay in Bhutan, which goes for infrastructure development, free education, free medical services and reducing poverty
    All government taxes
    Bhutan visa fee
    Entry fee to all the tourist visiting sites and museums
    Tea and snacks throughout entire tour
    Bottled water during the day
    Trekking Equipments as follows:
    Horses/ potters and ponies
    Toilet tents with toilet pots and toilet papers
    Sleeping tents (A-shaped) with pillows and mattress
    Dinning tents with tables and chairs
    Kitchen tents with whole set of kitchen items to prepare meals
    Trekking/camping cooks
    Trekking/camping staffs
    Hot water bags in bed

    The above mentioned cost does not cover the following:

    Flight tickets (both international & domestic)
    Beverages & personal shopping
    Travel insurances
    Tips and gratuity for guide and driver
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