Laya Gasa trek is one of the most popular and scenic long-distance treks in the northern Himalayan region of Bhutan, along the border with Tibet.
The Laya Gasa trek begins from Drukgyel in Paro, crosses four Himalayan mountain passes through alpine meadows, finally to arrive at the remote nomadic village of Laya. From Laya, you descend to the hot springs of Gasa where you can enjoy a relaxed day of rejuvenation, and finally ending the trek at Punakha Valley.
On the Laya Gasa Trek, you will pass through farmlands, pasturelands and dense pine forests to high passes and isolated mountain villages offering spectacular views of the sacred snow-capped Mount Jomolhari, Jichu Drake, Gangchhenta and Tsherimgang. Picturesque Dzongs, monasteries and temples showcasing ancient Bhutanese architecture await you on this trek. Spend time among the native locals of the village of Laya living in small beautiful hamlets while learning their culture and traditions, and also try to spot unique and native flora and fauna like the blue sheep and the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan.
Laya Gasa Trek Route
The Laya Gasa trek can be spread over 15 to 20 days which takes you through this route:
For convenience, we are providing you with an average 17-day itinerary of the Laya Gasa Trek. The total duration of the trek can depend on the trekker and the trek operator. Here is the day-by-day itinerary for the Laya Gasa Trek:
Day 1: Arrive in Paro. Rest and get acclimatized to the altitude. You can choose to hike to Taktshang monastery, if time and energy permits, so as to get your legs used to.
Day 3: Today is the first day of your Laya Gasa trek, which starts from the beautiful Drukgyel Dzong. To reach this Dzong, you have to drive 12 kilometres north of Paro. From here, start the ascend where you will cross wide apple orchards and fields of rice paddies. This blue pine forest route takes you to Gunitsawa, after which you will climb towards Shana and camp there overnight among the meadows. Trek time: 5-6 hours
Day 4: Wake up fresh to start moving forward to Soi Thangthanka following the trail of Paro river. You will be ascending and descending through, pine, oak and rhododendron forests, cross streams and wooden bridges to finally arrive at Soi Thangthanka to set up camp for the night. Trek time: 6-7 hours
Day 5: Follow the river trail and get a chance to cross an army camp while trekking to your next destination, Jangothang. On the way, enjoy stunning views of high ridges and snow-capped mountains, while you might even get a chance to interact with yak herders in the settlements of Soe and Takethang. Camp overnight at the base of Mount Jomolhari. Trek time: 5-6 hours
Day 6: Today's trek involves climbing a ridge, walking on a flat track, climbing the Ngye La pass, and then a gradual descent. On the way, you will be able to catch some spectacular views of Mount Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsheringang. You can spend some time at the Lingshi Dzong before calling it a night at your camp. Trek time: 6-7 hours
Day 7: Start your day walking through gorgeous little villages and meet some yak herders on your way, finally to reach the tiny village of Chebisa, situated right next to a waterfall. Spend time resting because tomorrow is going to be a steep climb. Set up camp overnight in Chebisa. Trek time: 4-5 hours
Day 8: Ascend on your steep climb to Gogu La pass which takes the most time. After which, you will walk through Rhododendron forests, make some ascents and descents, cross wild yak grazing pastures and yak herder camps to finally arrive at Shomuthang. Lucky trekkers will get to spot some blue sheep during your initial steep ascent. Trek time: 7-8 hours
Day 9: Start the trek by climbing Jari La pass, after which you descend to Tsharithang valley. On the way, you will be crossing many streams without a bridge due to the bridges being washed away, pass through forests and come across herds of Takins, Bhutan's national animal. The scenery during your trek today is absolutely breathtaking, leading you to Robulathang. Camp overnight. Trek time: 6-7 hours
Day 10: Today you will cross the highest pass on the trek, the Shingchen La pass at around 5,000 meters. You will be crossing streams and forests before you reach the top, only to be surrounded by some stunning views of the Tiger mountain. After this, you will descend down to a valley following the moraine river and passing through cedar forests, to finally arrive at Limithang. Camp overnight against the backdrop of the Tiger mountain. Trek time: 7-8 hours
Day 11: Wake up fresh today to finally reach your main destination, Laya village, the second-highest settlement in Bhutan. The walk beginning from Limithang is comparatively short and pleasant, where you will be crossing forests, waterfalls and fields. Arrive at Laya and stay overnight. Trek time: 3-4 hours
Day 12: You deserve a rest day after all these tiring days of trekking, right? Spend your day walking around Laya village, interacting with the locals who have a distinct style of dressing where women wear bamboo hats, treat yourself to some delicious local food, and maybe even send a message since you will finally be getting signal today.
Day 13: Descend to the army camp and follow the river. After a few more gradual ascents and descents through dense forests, taking in the views of beautiful waterfalls and rivers, reach Koena and camp overnight. Trek time: 6-7 hours
Day 14: Climb to Bale La pass, after which you will descend down to your next important destination, the Gasa village. Spend time at the Gasa dzong, or directly head to the hot springs where you can relax your muscles after all the trekking. Overnight in Gasa village. Trek time: 7-8 hours
Day 15: Walkthrough fields and villages of wild orchids and pine forests. Then descend from agricultural benches above the Mo Chhu river, down to Damji. From here, you can drive to Punakha. Stay overnight in Punakha. Trek time: 4-5 hours
Day 16: After visiting Punakha dzong in the morning, drive from Punakha to Thimphu, taking 2-3 hours. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 17: Depart for home
Laya Gasa Trekking Essentials
Clothes: Thick jackets, waterproof jacket and pants, thermal wear, pairs of t-shirts and track pants, undergarments.
March to May and September to November are the best months to do the Laya Gasa trek since the weather is most appropriate, neither too cold, nor too wet.
You should definitely try to do the Laya Gasa trek once in your lifetime. During the trek, you will be able to experience the nomadic cultures of Lingshi, Laya and Gasa village while living among the locals. You can soak in the breathtaking views of high mountain peaks like Mount Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang, ridges, rivers, waterfalls and passes. Walk across dense forests, valleys and yak grazing pasturelands. If you’re lucky on your trails, you might even get to spot blue sheep, takins or some rare birds. As John Muir rightly said, 'The mountains are calling and YOU must go!'