Leh Ladakh Road Trip – How do you know that you are at one of the most spectacular places on Earth when you are actually at it? Well, the answers to this could definitely vary from a human to human because what is paradise to me could be just another thing to you. But, not with Ladakh! Ladakh is a paradise on Earth and one of the most heavenly places.
The soundlessness in the ambiance, the sight of the glistening lakes, the magical sight of all the landscapes in one frame, and the pure breeze is more than a bliss for the soul to understand that this is it, this is the paradise, the spectacular place on Earth. The Leh Ladakh road trip is a lot more than any other road trip that takes one through numerous dreamy paths. The apple orchards, the Chinar forests, the lush meadows, bright rainbows, and pure silence is what this road trip are your best friend that accompanies you throughout.
Vibe of Leh Ladakh
The Leh Ladakh road trip is also kind of different because the travelers get to cross some major landmarks like the Khardung La pass which happens to be the highest motor able road in the world, Zoji La and Tanglang La which are the highest mountain passes in the world. The feeling of riding the bike or being in a cab in the roads of Leh Ladakh shows the other side of the life that is rugged yet so pleasant. And getting on the top of the highest road (read: on the top of the world literally) is the best feeling ever.
Let us gear you up for the most amazing trip of your life? Come, get on board, and keep scrolling for a delightful Leh Ladakh road trip. We are unfolding some reasons why this is regarded as the best road trip in India or even in the world.
Disclaimer: The self drive is for the skilled drivers in India who have a bit of experience of driving in the hills because the terrain is rugged having bumpy stretches and unpaved mountain passes.
About the Place
To begin with, some big news have been floating all around the country that marks Ladakh as the Union territory region as per the new bill passed in the Government in 2019. Previously, it was in Jammu & Kashmir. And Leh, is the highest desert city in the Himalayas. Yes, a desert in the Himalayas and the thought along with the visual sight of it is damn creative. Originally, Leh was the stoppage town for the trading caravans.
Leh Ladakh as it is popularly called, is a very famous and a beautiful tourist destination in the country. It is in fact extremely popular amongst the trekkers, bikers, and the adventure enthusiasts. Undoubtedly, Leh Ladakh is a place that is on the travel bucket list of every traveler. This is an adventure place that even the non adventurers must visit.
How to Reach Leh Ladakh
Definitely you can reach Leh via flight which a lot of people prefer but the beauty of the India’s most coveted road trip would be missed that way. Hence, a lot of bikers and travelers prefer to visit Ladakh via road trip from Delhi or Srinagar. Most of the people go on the road trip on bikes because driving a bike on the highest motor able raod is an achievement in itself. Though the path is bumpy, rugged, and not very smooth, still people take up this challenge to enjoy and live the thrill of this road trip.
But, we and the state government advise only for the professional bikers to take this road. The other way to cover this road trip is by private buses and cabs. This too is not less fun. Why we would suggest everyone to hit the Leh Ladakh trip via the road ways is because there are so many hidden gems throughout that you can encounter only through the road trip.
By flight you will only land directly in Leh and would be explore the places and scenic sights in Leh Ladakh. But, there are so many iconic as well as hidden spots like Jispa, Rohtang, Darcha, Keylong, Sissu, Gata, Baralacha, etc that can be covered and explored only through the road trips. This would stretch your trip duration but you might wanna take it.
Best Treks in Leh Ladakh
We have said this in way that it must have been stuck in your minds that Ladakh is a heaven for the adventure lovers and the trekkers. The trekkers from all over the world consider this place for trekking. Below we are listing the most famous treks of the place for enjoying it to the most.
#1 Chadar Trek
The sight of the trek here is unimaginable. The beauty for sure is unreal. The trek is called Chadar Trek because snow forms a bedding over the Zanskar gorge. This one is basically a frozen river trek.
It is a winter suited trek because the actual beauty can be seen at that time only. It is very challenging trek because walking on the frozen gorge is never going to be easy specially in that temperature in Leh Ladakh. The trek is challenging for sure but another unique thing about this trek is the trek gradient is mostly flat.
It is a flat gradient trek that involves minimal climbing. It is a difficult level trek because walking on frozen ice sheets in the lowest possible temperature is never easy. It is so beautiful and adds a perfect experience in your life.
#2 Markha Valley Trek
The Markha valley trek is also called as the tea house trek. You will be glued and mesmerised with the landscapes scenes that you would witness in this valley. You will get to hike to the top mountain ranges of the region like the Kongmaru La and Gandala La. The achievement of reaching the top is unmatchable and also the view from the top is breath taking. Hands down, the sunrise from this place is the most beautiful one and it looks like the sun rises by tearing apart the two mountain ranges.
Get here for the most fresh and soothing vibes. The sights of the landscapes seem never ending and you can see the same stretch of land expanse till your eye sight can see.
#3 Stok Kangri Trek
Stok Kangri trek is the most challenging, famous and the best treks of the Ladakh area. It is the highest peak of the Ladakh area and one of the highest ranges of the Himalayas. The entire views of the Indus Valley and the Zanskar valley can be seen from this peak. The altitude of this trek is quite high but reaching the top point of this trek would only take around 3 days which is not possible with the other Himalayan treks.
Let us warn you before hand that this trek is going to be quite challenging as the main summit will be a long stretch glacier, immense chilly winds flowing, the air becoming thin and the oxygen supply getting weaker.
You would be crossing the barren grey landscape of Leh area and will be crossing green fields, gorgeous glaciers, steep slopes and beautiful chilly water bodies. The adventurers would be thrilled by the sight of the mountains while trekking in this area.
The deserted surroundings, countless ridges, lofty mountains and green fields make the whole trail of this trek.
#4 Snow Leopard Trek
In the eastern part of Ladakh at a height of 3000 metres is the turn trek located. The trek is called as the snow leopard trek which is in the Hemis National park. The place is located in the Markha and the Rumbak valley spread in an area of about 600 sq km. It was created for the conservation of the unique wildlife that is found in that Himalayan region specifically. It is still working for that but the adventurers have made it more popular because of trekking in that area.
The trek is called as the snow leopard trek because of the presence of the beautiful snow leopards in the area. Along with the snow leopard there are a lot of unique species of animals that could be easily spotted when you are there.
Did you know that Ladakh itself is also known as the capital of the snow leopards?
Best Places to Visit
Leh Ladakh is a heaven to be at, and we have said this a million times till now. And are we going to stop? We don’t think so and hence here we jump directly to the point of the topic. There are countless of places to visit in Leh Ladakh with exceptionally beautiful sceneries throughout the road trip. But, precisely talking about the places, here are some of the incredibly insanely beautiful places to visit in Leh Ladakh that would make you believe that heavens and paradise does exist.
Before we could continue with the adjectives describing these places, let us cut it short and make it easier for you to know about the places to visit in Leh Ladakh.
#1 Zanskar Valley
Starting with the most amusing place of the region that also happens to be one of the most desolate places in the Himalayan region, the Zanskar valley. There are steep terrains throughout and they are covered with snow and they have a constant reflection of the skies on it. The view is too magical to be real. You would definitely need to pinch yourself to believe this place. During winters, this pass is close because of extreme heavy snow fall. White water river rafting and some trekking is famous at this spot. Phutkal and Lingshed are the cave monasteries are the other tourist’s sight-seeing attractions.
#2 Pangong Tso
Pangong Tso lake is the next most stunning place that we are going to talk about now. Of course, Instagram has made this place more famous but we also remember it from the ending scene of the movie 3 idiots. It is in the eastern Ladakh region in the Changtang plateau precisely. The view of the mountains, plateau, lake, land, and the sky, all at once is a dream view for the eyes. Try not to waste full time capturing it in your cameras but capture it in your soul.
#3 Thiksey Monastery
This is a gompa in Ladakh that looks like a kingdom on the top of the hill. It is a twelve storeyed building on the hill that has statues, stupas, wall paintings, and the thankas in a museum. A 15 metre high Buddha statue is inside this monastery. Trekking and mountain biking are the adventure activities that are done around the monastery. There are also national parks and other places of interest around here to explore.
#4 Confluence of Indus and Zanskar River
The point where these two rivers meet is also called as the Sangam. Sangam is a beautiful point where the Zanskar and the Indus river meet and it is incredibly pretty. Zanskar is a major tribute of the Indus river itself. It’s sight surrounded by the mountains on both the sides makes it a must visit place for the travelers. One can see two different rivers meeting each other as the Indus river shines in blue and the water of the Zanskar river is greenish. One of the most stunning places to be at!
#5 Hall of Fame
This is a very important place in Leh Ladakh area because it is the hall which is built in the memory of the soldiers who fought bravely and lost their lives in the war with Pakistan of Kargil and Siachen glaciers. When you are around, you must visit this place and explore the biographies of those soldiers, check out the arms and ammunition, uniforms of the Indian army, and other different objects that are related to them. The best part of the hall is that it is maintained by the Indian army.
#6 Shanti Stupa
Being at this place surely means invoking some positive and peaceful vibes. It is obviously a Buddhist monument in Leh in Chanspa. The panoramic views of the landscape and the magnificent views of the sunrise and sunset from here are a treat to the soul. If you get a chance, visit this during any full moon night because when the moon’s light falls on it on this day, it is the most wonderful sight.
#7 Stok Palace
Ladakh is also about exploring the Tibetan architecture. The palace is known to have beautiful gardens inside and the views from the palace are also great. The palace contains royal clothing, crowns of the old kings, and other things related to them which are on the display. It is located very close to the Indus valley.
#8 Tanglang La
It is a high mountain pass in Ladakh. The path is paved with the sights of the mountains from all sides. Just like some typical views of the place, this is also somewhat like that but beautiful of course.
#9 Gurdwara Pathar Sahib
One of the not so popular or the not so visited places in Ladakh has to be the Gurudwara pathar Sahib. This is one of the less visited places and hence the human interaction here is less. This one holds the imprints of the head, shoulders, and the back of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. If we talk about the famous pilgrimage or religious spots around Ladakh, this place is one of them. The history also shows that Guru Nanak Dev Ji marked his presence in this area before.
#10 Magnetic Hill
You could definitely call this hill as the magnetic hill or the magic hill. The reason is that the vehicles defy gravity over here. In simpler words, when the travelers park their bikes with breaks unlocked, the bike moves upwards in the hill. This is the magic and this is also the reason why people are heavily attracted to this place and you will surely want to head out to. Curiosity, after all! Would you miss it or explore it?
#11 Likir Monastery
There is a beautiful village in the Indus valley called as the Likir village and Likir monastery is situated there. If you are someone who loves history and architecture then you can totally count on this place. It is believed that the Tibetan monks built this monastery as their first ever construction. Get inside the museums to know more facts and see some artefacts as well.
#12 Tso Moriri Lake
Changtang wildlife sanctuary is a place that tourists prefer visiting and if you visit the sanctuary, you will come across this gorgeous lake. This lake could be said as the twin of the Pangong Tso lake because of the similar appearance. The backdrop of the lake includes barren lands and the snow capped mountains. It is also known by the name of the mountain lake. Be there for less crowd and for star gazing nights. The peaks surrounding this lake are so high to the point that they shut the view of the lake from outside.
#13 Nubra Valley
Another ‘not to miss’ place is Ladakh is the Nubra valley and your trip is definitely incomplete without a visit to this place. The area is full of sand dunes and it kind of has an Arabian Nights feels. One common thing to spot here are the two humped camels which are called as the ship of the desert and people go on rides on them or rather on bumpy rides on them. This is fun. This fertile valley nourished by the water of the nearby rivers is a true splendour having apple orchards, Buddhist monasteries, and the wide stretch of the desert.
#14 Khardung La Pass
The gateway that leads to the Nubra and the Shyok valley is the Khardung La Pass. It is also the gateway to the North. Also, this happens to be the highest motorable road in the world. The place is famous amongst the bikers and the adventure lovers because of it being the best biking road. It is 39 km from Leh and it is definitely covered in the road trip. Taking pictures at this spot becomes mandatory because one is literally at the top of the world when here.
You will come across this place on your way to Lamayuru. This is a naturally occurring land that is a boon to the earth and it resembles moon which is the reason why it is called as the Moonland. Not a lot of people visit this place because it is less touristy, but we are sure you would not want to make this mistake. The best time to be at this land is on the full moon day when the light of the moon reflects on land and makes it look beyond imagination.
#16 Tso Kar
This has to be one of the most popular destinations in Ladakh, the salt lake. It is a serene white lake where the travellers come to relax in the lap of the nature. You will find yak shades and monastery around the lake that adds on a different kind of charm around the area. Camping overnight near this lake is a recommended activity to soak in the beauty of the place at its best. Choose the time to visit when the crowd is lake as that would make the place look prettier.
#17 Royal Leh Palace
Last but not the least, the most stunning place to be at when in Leh Ladakh is the Royal Leh palace. The palace overlooks the entire city of Leh as it is situated on a cliff. The design and the architecture of the palace is Tibetan and was built in the 17th century. The travellers should visit this place to explore the grandeur architecture and the history. And of course, to click some mesmerising pictures! The museum is open for the public to know more about the palace and get details about the royal family.
Best Time to Visit
There are different possibilities of reaching Leh Ladakh at different time of the year also depending upon the different routes. But, the best time to visit in Leh Ladakh road trip is from mid May to October. It is from mid may that the roads from Srinagar are open. It is from the end of the May that the roads from Manali are open. Before this, the road would be really slippery from this area. And from this area, the roads are open till November. It is from these months that one can travel to Leh Ladakh via road trip.
From November onward, the journey to Leh Ladakh can only be done via airways. The flights would be available till Leh and the flights can be available from Delhi and Srinagar. Monsoons are quite a good time for the epic Leh Ladakh road trip and most of the destinations in India are not favorable enough for the travel but this heaven of a place is. It is cool during the Monsoons and also suitable for travel because of the amazing weather.
From mid May to July, the roads are sometimes wet because it is the Monsoon season and the place faces extremely heavy snowfall because of which rapid melting happens and the roads are wet because of the gushing waters. It could be difficult to drive on such roads in such conditions. But, if the snow is not melting at such a fast pace then the view of the snow in the roads is damn soothing.
We strongly recommend you to have a check about the weather condition. Only post this, head out for the road trip in Ladakh. Both the routes of the Leh Ladakh road trip from Srinagar and from Manali covering Jispaare incredibly gorgeous giving you enough treats of the nature.
Adventures to do
When you are in Leh Ladakh, you are not supposed to leave without trying your hands on some of the crazy adventures. Don’t hold back or else you would be having just a life full of regrets. So, here are some of the adventure activities to try out there.
One of the best adventure activities to do in Ladakh is camping. This dreamy destination is the place where all the camping fantasies are going to come true. Staying by the lake side in the raw nature and enjoying the treat of the nature is the best thing ever and we are pretty sure there would be no one who would not like this.
Switching off from all the worldy pleasures to indulge in the love of nature under the stunning sky is obviously heavenly. The best places for camping in Leh Ladakh are Nubra valley, Pangong lake, Indus river, Markha valley, Tso kar lake, Tsomoriri lake, Zanskar valley, Thiksey, Spangmik village, and Yarab Tso lake.
Ladakh is a paradise for the trekkers and the adventure enthusiasts and the reason is just not the beautiful and the scenic route but the options of so many wonderful treks. Some of the famous and very beautiful trek routes in this region are of the Chadar trek, Stok Kangri trek, Markha valley trek, Darcha trek, and the snow leopard trek. These treks attracts people from all over the world.
Another popular activity to do in Leh Ladakh is mountain biking or motor biking. Driving the bike on the highest motorable road that is Khardung La is the best thing to do when here. The drive happens at a height if 5359 metres and makes you be at the top of the world. The drive is from Leh to Khardung La.
If you are there for an adventure trip, then you got to try your hands on rock climbing. Though it is a sport that requires extreme physical and mental strength, it is not something you can’t do. The equipments for it are given to let the trekkers enjoy it safely.
If you are there in Ladakh in the winters then you will know that the temperature in Leh Ladakh is freezing with snow everywhere. And during that time, one of the fun activities that is conducted for the adventurers is the ice hockey. Skating and ice hockey becomes the easiest and the most convenient sport to try out. Popularly it is called as the pond hockey.
Hands down, one of the popular and loved adventure activities of Leh Ladakh is white water river rafting. This is conducted on the beautiful Zanskar river. The river is known for the rapid waves that makes it ideal for adventurous river rafting. Rafting in the view of the snow capped mountains and the deep canyons is the most unique experience to gather. It’s memorable.
The best way to enjoy the landscapes of Ladakh is by taking a tour in the jeep. The jeep safari takes the travelers to all the landscapes of the place and lets one explore the monasteries, high passes, and every other thing. This is the most favorable way to explore the region with a group of friends, family, or anyone. The ride is definitely a leisure one.
The double humped camels are the ship of the high altitude Nubra valley desert and a bumpy ride on them amidst the striking landscape is an essential thing to do while you are there. What makes this experience exquisite is the landscape that has elevated swinging passes, rocky terrain, and beautiful vast stretch of the desert. It is a kind of picturesque activity to indulge in.
Quad biking is an activity that is done in the Nubra valley sand dunes. It is an activity for the bikers and is actually an ATV ride. You will be going through the criss cross shimmering roads in the Nubra valley with the beauty of the area that keeps following you.
Our list would have been incomplete without mentioning this sport. This is probably the highest and the toughest marathon to go on. The distance to be covered in this marathon is 72 km at a height of 11,500 feet to 17,618 feet in the freezing temperature in Leh Ladakh
Fun Things to do in this trip
Not that the above mentioned things were not fun, but actually we would want to describe the other things that are non adventurous and would just require you to sink in and enjoy. A little of relaxation is guaranteed to you through these activities. Also, these are for the people who are not much into adventures.
Bonfire by the lake
Talking about the fun things to do in Leh Ladakh, camp fire or bon fire definitely tops the list. Be it any kind of camping, it would be incomplete without the fire nights and in Ladakh. It becomes mandatory because of the extremely chilled temperature. Bon fires are like the cherry on the cake post all the hard work of the trek.
As dreamy or as romantic that would sound, but star gazing is just not a Bollywood thing. Just imagine yourself being a secluded place (with few people around of course because treks happen that way) without any kind of world pleasures and being surrounded by the trees, mountains, lakes, and coldest of the wind under the raw sky. How would you feel? Definitely, you would want to lie down under the sky in peace. End the day by looking at those stars and enjoy the moment of your life.
Tips for the Drive in the area
- Only the high ground clearance vehicles are allowed like SUV or MUV.
- Make sure to tell your drivers to carry the extra tyres and mechanical tool kit for sure in this road trip because the terrain is entirely rugged.
- If you drive yourself, make sure that you are comfortable driving in the hills and also you are good at driving at the off roads. A lot of off reading is going to happen.
- This goes without saying, get your cabs serviced and along with the driver, it is good to know some of the quick fixes for the car so that you could be of any help during emergencies.
- There is no chance that you should try to be faster in these roads. So, do not drive rash or force the driver to do so.
- Obviously, this road trip is the most epic one in India and hence there will be enough traffic. So, start your trip as early in the morning as possible so as to avoid traffic and enjoy the breathtaking views. You could also stop to take some pictures on the road easily if you start early.
- Trusting on the Google maps for tracking the time you would require to cover a certain distance for a certain place does not work in Ladakh. The google maps do not show the exact time you would need to cover the distance when in Ladakh.
Have we said enough? Well, may be, in words! But, as they say, go and see the place for yourself and make your own stories. Till when are you going to believe others and trust other’s stories? Explore the place yourself and create your stories while treating your eyes with the view of the paradise.
Also, if Kashmir is said to be the heaven on earth, we can definitely say that Ladakh is a delightful piece of heaven on earth.
How to Reach
The epic Leh Ladakh road trip can be done from two destinations of which one is Delhi and the other one is Srinagar. From Srinagar, the trip starts to reach Sonamarg which is at a distance of about 85 km. The next stop is Drass via Zoji La pass which is at about 62 km. Either you can spend the night at Drass or the journey of 58 km more can be done for Kargil. From Kargil, it is another 53 km to reach Batalik and then you have to travel a bit more to reach Leh vi Dah. The entire distance of this trip is of about 416 km that is take more than 10 hours in a straight drive without pause.
The second route is from Delhi via Manali and from Manali to Leh. The trip starts from Delhi to Nalagarh which is of about 320 km. The next stop is Manali from this place at a distance of about 275 km. Another incredibly gorgeous destination is Jispa from Manali that has to be taken from the Rohtang Pass. An overnight stay in Jispa has to be done. Finally, the drive from Manali to Leh starts which is of about 330 km from Jispa. The entire Leh Ladakh distance from Delhi is 1011 km.
Both these routes are exceedingly beautiful in their own way, the routes like Jispa are quite underrated when it comes to beauty. If you would want to go on a more scenic road trip, Leh Ladakh from Manali is recommended as Jispa and Manali come in the way to treat you. Leh Ladakh from Manali is more popular amongst the bikers.
How difficult is it for you to describe love at first sight if you have experienced it? It is damn tough, right. You cannot describe the best of the world’s feelings in words. It is not so easy. So, it is the same for us to describe the feeling of actually being on the Leh Ladakh road trip in words. No amount of blog posts can help us justify our feelings for the place and the experience this journey has to give. In one word we could sum it up by saying it as incredible.
You are really missing out on a lot of fun experiences if you haven’t been on this road trip yet. We welcome you to do the Leh Ladakh road trip in a Togedr way! If you have been there already, do you really think just once is justified to be at this gorgeous place. Your eyes and soul needs more of it.