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Mountain Kingdoms are worldwide walking and trekking holiday experts with 30 years of experience in running trekking holidays as well as select trekking peaks, cultural tours and cycling holidays. Whether you’ve travelled with Mountain Kingdoms before or just love to travel, we’d love to hear your tales. Email us your Travellers’ tales

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The Layap People of Bhutan

Layap people met on our tailor made holiday to Bhutan. Photo courtesy of N Sloman

If you are looking for a culturally fascinating tailor made holiday, Bhutan is one of the best countries to visit.  The remote mountain kingdom is home not only to a well-preserved Buddhist culture, but to various ethnic groups living especially in the high mountains of the Eastern Himalaya.  One of these groups is the Layap, who live in the north-west of the kingdom.  On our 'Hidden Kingdom' tailor made holiday in Bhutan, we visit the village of Laya, inhabited by the Layap people, giving visitors an opportunity to meet them and learn about the way they live.

The most obvious detail that visitors to Laya will notice is the conical hats worn by the Layap women: made of darkened bamboo strips, woven together, with a pointed top.  They wore this same hat when their people were banished from Tibet in the 15th century.  It is a Layap belief that if they cease this practise, they will upset the village spirits. Yaks are an integral feature of Layap life.  They are herded up and down the mountains around Laya, primarily for their milk and their fur, which is used to make clothes and the tents they stay in when looking after the yaks away from the village.  If you have wanted to meet yak-herding people on a tailor made holiday, Bhutan is one of the best places in the Himalayas to do this and encounter people maintaining a traditional way of life.  The Layap people also grow small yields of crops. Their religion is a harmonious meld of old animism and the more recently introduced Buddhism, with animist spirits now venerated as protectors of Buddhism. The Layap people are friendly and welcoming to visitors.  During our stay in Laya on our tailor made holiday to Bhutan, we have the time to meet many of the villagers and see how they live in this remote corner of the world.  It is a unique and wonderful experience; every time we visit, we feel privileged to be there.

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