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Ladakh - A Complete Travel Guide


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Itinerary for Leh Ladakh Trip

Please make sure you consider Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) before planning your itinerary for Ladakh. Within a matter of hours, altitude increase by a considerable amount in the Ladakh region. The best way to prevent AMS is slow to gain in altitude, you need sufficient time for acclimatization once you reach Leh. Tips to avoid AMS )

Road trip to Ladakh is the most loved and fantasized road trip in the world as you take through the most difficult terrains and high altitude passes, offering you some of the most spectacular views of the rare beauty of the Himalayas. Since Ladakh has tough climatic conditions, make sure that your health, safety, and security are properly taken care of.

Try to keep your schedule flexible and stretchy, so you don't have to miss out on anything, and/or don't have to hustle through your planned vacation.

(Check all types of Itinerary with Maps and Suggested Itineraries)

Most Common Itinerary for Ladakh in 6 Days in Flight :
  • Day 1 - Arrive in Leh
  • Day 2 - Explore Leh
  • Day 3 - Leh to Nubra Valley
  • Day 4 - Nubra Valley to Leh
  • Day 5 - Leh to Pangong Tso
  • Day 6 - Pangong Tso to Leh (Fly Back)

Most Common Itinerary for Ladakh in 8 Days - Road Trip :
  • Day 1 - Jammu to Sonmarg (via Srinagar)
  • Day 2 - Sonmarg to Leh (via Kargil, Lamayuru and Zanskar Valley)
  • Day 3 - Explore Leh
  • Day 4 - Leh to Nubra Valley
  • Day 5 - Nubra Valley to Leh
  • Day 6 - Leh to Pangong Tso
  • Day 7 - Pangong Tso to Leh
  • Day 8 - Leh to Manali (one of the best routes to explore)



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Places to Visit in Leh Ladakh

Ladakh is a unique experience and can't be expressed in words or pictures. These below are the most commonly visited places by tourists in Ladakh, you can add them in your Itinerary depending on the number of days you are traveling. (List of All places in Ladakh)
  • Pangong Lake: Pangong Lake is one of the most visited tourist places in Leh & Ladakh region. It was relatively unknown until it got popularized by Bollywood blockbuster film 3 Idiots. After that, a lot of tourists started visiting this place to experience the beauty of this lake.
  • Lamayuru Village and Monastery: The Lamayuru monastery is one of the most beautiful monasteries in this region and also the center of Buddhism. So many people visit Lamayuru just to see this amazing monastery. Lamayuru village is located around the monastery known for many annual events and religious festivals.
  • Tsomoriri Lake: This is another high altitude Lake known for its pristine and exotic beauty. A breeding ground for many migratory birds. So a great place for bird lovers. But not as popular as Pangong Tso Lake
  • Hunder Sand Dunes: Nubra valley is one of the greenest valleys in the Ladakh region. And Hunder is a small but beautiful village in this valley known for its mysterious sand dunes. It has a small population of two-humped camels and a major attraction of Hunder.
  • Khardungla Pass: At an altitude of 5,360 meters, Khartungla Pass is one of the highest motorable roads around the world offering some exciting views of Leh and the mountains beyond
Note: It requires Both Indian and Foreign nationals to carry permits to travel places near to Tibet Border like Nubra Valley, Tso Moriri Lake and even for Pangong Lake




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BUDGET FOR LEH LADAKH TRIP

The cost to visit Leh Ladakh depends upon various factors. From which part of the country you are traveling to Leh Ladakh. What is the mode of you Transportation, What kind of package are you choosing for your trip, Are you just going to Leh city or are you covering the other attractions like Pangong Tso, Khardungla La, Nubra Valley, Hanle, etc.., No. Of the days you are spending in Ladakh. On an average cost to visit Ladakh is around INR 20–25k per person if you are covering mainstream Places in Ladakh. This includes bike fuel, accommodation, and food. If you travel through packages by various companies, it might increase your budget a little, and you may have to pay around INR 25–30k. You can also go on a budget trip to Ladakh, which would cost you around INR 15–20k. We would suggest you visit Ladakh on your own because that would give you the experience of your life and also it would cost you less compared to tour packages.

Divide your Ladakh budget among three parts travelling cost, accommodation and food:

Ladakh Travelling Cost :

Solo traveling to Leh Ladakh will surely increase your budget. However, travelling in a group of 3-6 people, the cost of the trip will surely decrease. When you travel to a place like Ladakh, there are a huge number of options available to customize your overall trip:
Accommodation in Ladakh (and on way) :

Depending on your level of comfort, you could get a room as affordable as INR 1000 for 3 persons per night (that’s INR 333 per person). Then there are some quality lodges, guest houses, and hotels where per night cost for a room could be anything from 3 thousand to INR 6000 per night. (More Details)

Restaurants in Ladak (and on way) :

The average price of meals in Leh for one day is INR 360 ($5.08). The average price of a hotel in Leh for a couple is INR 1,265 ($18). Additional pricing is in the table below. We have collected these average travel prices from other travelers to help you plan your own travel budget. (More Details)




hotel

WHERE TO STAY IN LEH LADAKH

  • Don’t expect five-star luxuries for hotels in Ladakh. The accommodation outside of Leh town is basic and even in Leh, there are only a few 4-star hotels. Most of the hotels and guest houses in Leh provide hot water once or twice a day, even if they do not provide it round the clock.
  • Depending on your level of comfort, you could get a room as affordable as INR 1000 for 3 persons per night (that’s 333 per person). Then there are some quality lodges, guest houses, and hotels where per night cost for a room could be anything from 3000 to 6000 per night.
  • Outside Leh, it’s a different story. In places like Tso Moriri, Pangong Tso and Nubra Valley expect only basic accommodation. “Luxury” tents are also available at Pangong Tso which offer running hot water at the attached toilets but they come at a price. Homestays are the most affordable option with price as low as INR 500 per night. Don’t expect hot water though at this cost.
  • At Spangmik near Pangong Tso, you don’t need to pre-book your stay at most of the places in Ladakh as there are enough accommodation options to cater to the demand of tourists. Pre-book only if you are looking for a deluxe stay as they get booked early. However, homestays and basic tent accommodation need not be pre-booked. (More Details)



assignment 

Here are some rules regarding the inner line permits and how to apply for and obtain them: (More details of Permits in Ladak)
  • Permits are issued at Leh DC office by filling and submitting inner line permit application form
  • DC office in Leh is located next to Polo Ground and it remains open from 9 AM to 5 PM
  • It’s always wise to arrive as early in the morning as possible to avoid rush especially in peak season
  • It is always wise to download this inner line permit form and fill it in advance and carry self-attested photocopies of nationality proof and Photo-IDs (license, voter ID, passport, etc.)
  • Inner line permits are valid for 3 weeks if you are an Indian and 1 week if you belong to a foreigner country
  • Carrying self-attested photocopies of nationality proof and Photo are a must to obtain inner line also called protected area permits
  • Besides permit application form, you need to write a request application letter addressing DC of Leh – Ladakh district for the approval of your permits
  • Permit fee includes 3 components which are Rs. 200 per person as environment tax (one time) + Rs. 20 per person per day as wildlife protection fee and Rs. 10 Red Cross Donation
  • Carry 5-10 copies when traveling as you’d need to hand them over to check posts that you’ll cross. If you’re doing just Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso then 5 copies will suffice but you’d need more if you are doing Pangong Tso – Tso Moriri via Chusul – Tsaga – Loma – Nyoma.
  • Inner Line Permits are not required for Zanskar and Suru Valley



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CAR TRIP TO LEH LADAKH

It is safe and, in fact, adventurous to travel by a car to Ladakh. But, make sure you are choosing nothing less than SUV because you need to deal with some worst road conditions in the hills.

Although BRO maintains the quality of roads, the roads near high mountain passes are unpredictable and uncertain. Top of that so unsure and uncertain weather that prevail in the hilly terrain even worsen the situation. But you should not panic, either hire an experienced driver or you can go by your own if you trust your expertise. You need to be vigilant throughout your driving.

Take short breaks and then proceed. (How to Preparer for Car Trip to Ladakh)

motorcycle 

BIKE TRIP TO LEH LADAKH

How much ever you might prepare yourself it will be insufficient. You might spend months in reading and getting to know about the whole journey, but Leh will always end up surprising you. It is truly a magical journey. The ride to reach Leh will test your will and riding skills. It will really connect you with your bike. It will teach you the true meaning of trust, as it will just be you and your bike.
As you enter Leh covering one route, the happiness that engulfs you is majestic. You smile with no reason.
A bike trip to Ladakh is one thing that many people aspire to experience at least once in their lifetime. And then, there are others who are pros at epic bike expeditions including the Leh Ladakh one. Whether or not you are a pro, a bike trip to Leh pushes you to face new adventures. It will push you both physically and mentally; be prepared for rugged terrains and unpredictable weather. (How to prepare for Ladakh trip on Bike)


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CHECKLIST FOR LEH LADAKH

Weather in unpredictable in Ladakh. Make sure you include :

  • Backpack for 10 Kg, 5 Kg, 3 Kg Luggage (use per requirement)
  • Shoes (Trekking Shoe or Good Water Resistant shoe for mountains)
  • T-Shirts - 4 Pcs
  • Jeans / Mountaineering Trousers - 2 pcs
  • Inner Thermal - 1 Pair
  • Fleece - 1 Pcs
  • Wind and Waterproof Jacket - 1 Pcs
  • Balaclava (Monkey Cap) - 1 Pcs
  • Thin Polyester Socks - 4 Pairs
  • Woolen Cloths (only in Winter)
  • Inner Wears - 4 Pcs

Other Needs :

  • Mobile Phone - only Postpaid - More Details / Check Mobile Connectivity Areas
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves
  • Cap
  • Sunscreen Lotion
  • Cold Cream / Lip Balm / Moisturizer
  • Tooth Brush
  • Tooth Paste
  • Toilet Paper (you may need this anytime)
  • Facewash
  • Shampoo
  • Comb
  • Towel
  • Deodorant
  • Torch
  • Pain Balm or Spray

Cash / Cards

  • Always carry enough cash
  • ATM available in Leh City (sometimes its not working)
  • ATM Available in Manali / Srinagar / Kargil
  • Credit Cards are not accepted

Electronics

  • Chargers of all your electronic devices
  • Spare Battery for your camera (if you are carrying a camera)
  • Power Bank
  • Headphone

Documents

  • Government-issued identity card (Driving License / Voter ID / Passport / Aadhar Card)
  • Copy of flight Tickets
  • Copy of Hotel Reservations
  • Copy of Permits  - Check: Permits Required for Ladakh Trip
  • Passport Size Photographs

Photography Gear

  • Lenses
  • Filters
  • Tripod
  • Memory cards
  • Rain cover
  • Batteries
  • Charger

Medicines for (Consults your Doctor)

  • Diamox (acute mountain sickness)
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach
  • Cold
  • Fever
  • Cough

Oxygen Cylinder for Ladakh Trip

  • Keep this for safety.
  • You can rent an oxygen Cylinder from any medical store in Leh
  • Pay INR 500 as the deposit amount
  • If not used, you can return this back to Medical Store and collect your INR 500.
  • If used, no refund


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BEST TIME TO VISIT LEH LADAKH

Travel to Leh is not too dependent on the month to be honest if you’re going by air.

The climate of Ladakh is very simple to explain; very cold in Winters to cool in summers. Apart from this, variations are very far and very few in between. The tourist season usually starts in May and ends in September, even though nowadays, people are traveling of the year to experience the harshness of the climate and the place. But keep in mind that you need to be a hardy traveler to travel outside the May-Sep season. (More details of Best Time to Visit Ladak)

Bottom line, if you’re travelling by air, anytime from May to September is fine for a first-timer and the weather or the scenery within Ladakh, won’t change much. The only difference would be the fact that Septembers are usually cooler than other months.

Now, if you travel by road to Ladakh, then it’s a different story altogether. The month of travel would make much more difference, as a condition of the road and surrounding scenery changes a great deal from May to September. Collecting experience, we have divided the road travel season into three parts:
  • May-June: Roads at worst, but the scenery at its best. Imagine riding or driving on the road with 20 feet of snow on either side. Waiting patiently on every pass, while the road is being cleared. Driving through a stream of water, without knowing where a puddle is or could be. Standing atop, BaraLacha La or Zoji would feel out of the world, with snow everywhere. However, the road condition would be at its worst, as BRO only starts with the repair work once the roads open up in May. Few pics from Zoji in May
  • July-August: Roads till the snow line (Zoji pass on Srinagar-Leh and Rohtang on Manali-Leh) could be a mess as both Jammu-Srinagar and Mandi-Kullu-Manali-Rohtang road are prone to landslides. However, once you cross the snow line, no further issues would be there as rains do not cross the 2 passes on either road. But till the snow line, you would have an abundance of greenery on either side of the road, which makes the journey too good to avoid.
  • September-Till road closes: Probably the best month for a road trip. Roads are at their best since BRO has done most of the annual maintenance repairs. But avoid the last weeks of September or the first week of October as any sudden snow shower could close the road for the next 7 months, without giving you the opportunity to get out. But with good roads, you’ll also lose the sights of snow-clad passes as the snow would have melted and the land would be barren by now at most of the places. So good roads, but scenery not so great as it is in May.
Choose your preference of month, if you’re going by road and if going by air, well that would hardly make any difference.

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MOBILE NETWORK IN LADAKH

All the postpaid networks work in Leh, or ideally, they should. BSNL, Airtel, and Vodafone work in Leh, However, once outside Leh, the networks are very sporadic and only BSNL works properly. In Nubra valley, BSNL works fine, Airtel has a very limited range and Vodafone none. In Kargil and Dras, all the 3 work fine, however, on the Leh-Manali road, only BSNL works (at specific places); Airtel and Vodafone have no connectivity there.

BSNL would even work at Pangong, Chushul and Tso Moriri, the far-off places, but don’t expect the same from any other network provider. (More Details)

restaurant

WHAT AND WHERE TO EAT IN LADAKH

Eat ‘anything you wish’. Leh City is a well sought after destination;There are ample amounts of restaurants here serving all kinds of food. If you want to stick to your regular meals than you will easily find several eateries serving all kinds of North Indian, South Indian and Western dishes. There are plenty of Dhabas here too and you will have no problem in getting a plate of Roti Curry, Daal Rice, Dosa or a bowl of Idili Sambhar.
  • One of the interesting things in Leh town is that you’d find several Cafeterias all claiming to be the German Bakery. Maybe there’s something special about being a “German” bakery in Leh.
  • Good options are available for eating in Leh. Don’t expect a variety of sumptuous cuisine, especially if you are venturing out of Leh. Only basic Ladakhi food is available in places like Changthang, Nubra Valley and Spangmik. (More Details)

Check these below articles for more details:
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