Everyone dreams of taking off to a place they’ve never been before and the ones that are notorious for sweeping the floor of the feet always tops the list of such travel enthusiasts.
Ladakh happens to be one of such places and no words are enough to describe the magnificent landscape of this place which attracts thousands of tourists to Ladakh India from around the world, throughout the year.
Ladakh literally translates to land of higher passes and is a significantly known and popular part of Northern India. Apart from being known as paradise on earth, this place has scenic views, clear view of the milky sky and various natural wonders to offer.
This place is not densely populated but does offer home and a land people can call their own to Tibetans, Hindus, Baltis and others tribes and individuals belonging to different religions.
Road Trip to Ladakh
Ladakh is surrounded and secured by the Himalayas and that is just cherry on the top, meaning scenic views in Ladakh and witnessing the grandeur of the Himalayas, right before your eyes at the same time.
This place is also very well recognized as the highest desert in the world due to the absence of monsoon season, though its beauty remains pristine throughout the year regardless.
There are many places that tourists plan to visit but what attracts the most of them to Ladakh is the colour changing lakes present here. The name of this lake is Pangong Tso lake and two-thirds of it lie in China. The colour changes from blue to green and then red and that itself sounds so mesmerizing, think of watching it happen yourself!
Ladakh has something to offer to adventure seekers too. The fearless Bravehearts can find a frozen river to trek on and that happens in the month of January and February when the Zanskar river turns cold as ice, quite literally.
Location and How to Reach
There are many ways to reach Ladakh and all the channels including air, road and train are open mostly throughout the year, however prices of tickets may vary.
Through air: The nearest airport to Ladakh is Kushok Bakula Rimpochee airport which is situated in Leh ( one of the main cities of Ladakh) and you can easily reach Ladakh through cabs after landing at this airport. All the big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Srinagar and Jammu are connected through flights. You can book your tickets in advance to save money on tickets if you are planning to travel in holidays.
Through train: The closest railway station from Ladakh is Jammu Tawi and it takes 15 more hours to reach Leh Ladakh by bus, after reaching the railway station. You can board a train from Delhi, Kolkata, Chandigarh or Pathankot.
Through bus: It would be one adventurous trip if you choose to reach for Ladakh tour by bus. Two routes are Manali- Leh and Srinagar-Leh and both of them take around 19 hours for you to reach.
ATM Points and Connectivity
People are usually concerned if they will be able to withdraw money from Ladakh itself or should they carry enough money with them already. It is true that you won’t be able to find much cash dispensers in Ladakh. You will be able to find a few ATMs in Leh during you Leh Ladakh trip as many banks have their functional ATMs there.
There is one ATM at Manali-Leh highway as well. Another highway where you can find ATM is Srinagar-Leh highway. It should be noted that some of these ATMs may not be functional and you could land in trouble due to less cash in hand. It would be better if you withdraw a sufficient amount of cash as soon as you get to because some places in Ladakh may not accept cards.
Permission and permits
Permits are necessary to attain when you are planning your Ladakh trip. Inner line permits are required to enter Ladakh along with environment fees of INR 400 and it is issued by the government of India. You can easily get the permit from the stationery shop around Leh DC office.
Once your application gets approved, you may have to show it to some military check posts. Other documents like nationality proof and photo ID should also be carried along. The validity of this permit is 3 weeks for Indians and 1 week for foreigners.
Best time for Ladakh road trip
Best time to plan your Ladakh trip will depend on the kind of season you enjoy. If you enjoy cold weather and wish to enjoy the serene views when the lakes are frozen and people visit Leh Ladakh less frequently then you can plan your trip in the months October and March.
You may be able to witness snowfalls but note that weather conditions are extreme during these months. The temperature dips below 0° Celsius too. The weather starts to get a little warmer around the month of April and remains so until May. Tourists start coming in through roads and Leh India starts getting populated.
June is considered to be the most ideal time to visit Ladakh in India. All the routes to enter Ladakh are opened and the weather conditions aren’t too harsh either. There are chances that some of the attractions may get shut during the months of winter but during June, all of such places are accessible.
It is highly unlikely that your trip would be spoil because of rain. It usually doesn’t rain throughout the year but light showers may be seen which isn’t really a big problem. Rainy season starts from July and extends till September. If you are planning a road trip, make sure you do in months when the passes are open and book tickets according to the kind of whether you want to enjoy.
Altitude and temperature of Ladakh region
Since you know now where is Ladakh, it is important to know what its altitude is and what kind of climate and temperature you can expect there.
Ladakh altitude is 3505 meters above sea level and extreme weather conditions are seen throughout the year. Usually, Ladakh stays cold but maximum temperature recorded there is 28°C and the least recorded temperature is -15°C.
Getting used to the climate and altitude for people living elsewhere can take time. You may feel dizzy and your energy levels may dip but your body adapts quite quickly and this doesn’t remain a major problem.
Ladakh temperature varies throughout the year and changes with months. Winter season begins in around the month of October and November and lasts till February. Temperature recorded usually is around 10°C and may also drop as low as – 20°C. Leh Ladakh trip shouldn’t be planned in the month of January and February as weather conditions are worse.
Summer seasons makes it easy for visitors to stay and begins in the month of March. The climate of Leh Ladakh remains pleasant during these months and the temperature remains at around 30°C. It is known to be the best time to visit if you are planning your holidays in Ladakh.
Monsoon starts from the month of July and may receive heavy rainfall sometimes.
Ladakh is one beautiful place to be at and fits every traveler’s criteria, a beautiful and quaint place which not only soothes the eye but calms the soul too.
It is the land of the highest human settlement, has been known as the highest battleground in the world as the Indian military force protects it from any foreign Invaders or attack in such extreme weather conditions.
There are many places people from afar come to see, some of the most extraordinarily beautiful places for Leh Ladakh tour are listed below-
Pangong Tso Lake –
This lake is known to be very famous as it has served as a film set for the shoot of the movie 3 idiots. This beautiful lake is situated on Changthang plateau and is open for general public as well as campers.
Pangong Tso Lake water is crystal clear and blue but that’s not it, the colour of this lake keeps changing which makes it an interesting lake to visit. Surrounded by hills, this lake’s water is saline and doesn’t support any aquatic life due to extreme weather conditions in Leh Ladakh.
However, that does not mean that you won’t be able to spot any other form of life around this place, many birds like seagull come around this lake in their breeding season.
You can come and set up a camp near this lake and enjoy with your friends and family as an accommodation facility is available. Tents can be found easily and may be included in Leh Ladakh tour packages. Apart from this, you can also find hot meals to warm you in such cold weather.
Khardung-la pass –
Who doesn’t dream of riding through the roads amidst high valleys and mountains and which place is better than Leh Ladakh that attracts the people living in farthest lands?
If you happen to have this dream too, Khardung-la valley is just the place for you. As the name suggests, it is pass through which you can enter Ladakh.
Ladakh is not the kind of spot where you can stop and move around but definitely is a place where the traveller in you would want to be. If you are planning a road trip to Ladakh then you should definitely take this route.
Nubra Valley –
This valley is a very popular tourist spot and once served as a trading route between Tibet and Turkey. That route has long been closed but the serene view and untouched beauty still take the breath away of every visitor.
The roads are present which makes travelling for people a little easier but they do struggle with the height, have breathing trouble and may also get nauseous. People are warned about this so the ones having any kind of breathing problems already are advised to take necessary measures.
Stone formations that took years and not even the extreme weather conditions could replenish are found intact along with the breathtaking view of the valley.
You will also get a chance to entertain your taste buds with an authentic Ladakhi meal. If you are coming around this place, plan at least one or two days stay here.
Magnetic Hill –
Nature is known to have various wonders spread across the planet but who knew that it could turn into a magician too? We are talking about the famous and mysterious magnetic hill that attracts all the parked vehicles with its magnetic pull and these vehicles start to move upwards!
Talk about taking control of what happens around you! This hill is located near Leh-Kargil highway and is one of the most famous places to visit in Ladakh.
It is situated at 14000 feet, more than Ladakh height and people make sure they do not miss watching this unexplained thing happening. It is believed by the people living there that this road once showed the way to heaven and the people who deserved to hold a place there, got pulled in its direction.
Scientific studies have claimed that this effect is seen due to the magnet and some say it’s just an optical illusion. Despite having no concrete reason, it still is a very famous tourist spot in Leh Ladakh and Leh Ladakh tour packages cost may include a visit here.
Shanti Stupa –
If you are here to take a break from your hectic schedule and want to relax and attain peace then do not miss visiting Shanti Stupa.
This place is located on a hill named Chanspa and is known to be a very peaceful Buddhist monument. People come here to find themselves and never leave with disappointment.
Take time out from your regular schedule, watch the sun rise and set before your eyes and take home the kind of memories that’ll not only be cherished but will keep you alive from inside. It is one of the most visited Ladakh tourist places.
Zanskar valley –
It is a well-known sub-district of Kargil and is usually not open throughout the year. People do visit this place but something about this valley is so calming and pristine that no matter how many people are present around, you will find this to be the quietest place.
Zanskar valley is quite isolated but has not failed to grab the attention of adventure seekers and trekkers from around the world.
People come to witness the beauty of mountains in Zanskar valley in winter season so that they can take advantage of frozen Zanskar river and trek along the frozen path. Apart from this, it is also a hotspot for other adventure sports including river rafting and paragliding.
There are various monasteries situated near this area which includes Zongla, Zongkhul and Stongdey and option of camping is available too. Visit Zanskar valley may be included in your Leh Ladakh tour packages cost.
The best time to visit this place is between June and September because it mainly remains close in rest of the months due to extreme weather conditions.
Leh Palace –
If you are someone who enjoys learning about the historical importance of places and how they came into being then you should definitely visit Leh palace when you are staying in Leh.
This magnificent structure has been there since the 17th century and was originally a royal palace in which king of that time used to live with his family.
The people living here could have the view of the entire town as well as the Himalayas and it was intentionally planned to have such a view to keeping a close watch on the action of enemies.
Though some part of this palace has now turned into sand and stones, a major chunk of it remains intact and tourists are allowed to enter this palace. You can see various paintings, relics and cutleries that are displayed inside the palace and learn how people lived back then.
It is a small town that is situated near the Indus river and is a little unexplored. Nyoma is the ideal place to visit for the travellers who like to add stories to their collection along with memories of a place.
You can see how the people of this small town in Ladakh India spend their lives and what kind of struggles do they face daily. If you are lucky, some family might offer you to stay with them as people living there are quite warm and considerate.
Apart from this, this place has various scenic views to offer where you can click thousands of pictures. If you want to know the actual life of people living in a small town, ditch your regular stay in a hotel and come to Nyoma.
Every Indian has the utmost respect for the Indian military as they stand day and night, through cold winters and hot summers to protect our country and we’ll forever be grateful.
Kargil is one such place you should visit if you want to see closely the kind of sacrifices these people make for us. Last war that was fought in Kargil war with Pakistan and has various war memorials that display the sacrifices made by the Indian army.
Various monasteries and mosques are also present here and it has been a popular spot for tourists. The scenic beauty and big rocks found beside Suru river stream make Kargil worth visiting. You can also find apples, mulberries and apricots in the summer season.
Yarab Tso –
It is known to be a holy lake but is also isolated as it is not easy to reach this place without putting in some real efforts. If you truly want to see Yarab Tso then you will have to trek uphill to get the view of this lake.
People somehow find about this lake as not many are willing to trek to see another lake amongst many other in Leh Ladakh. After reach uphill, this lake is an absolute bliss to watch and sit by. One thing that should be noted is that thorough preparation should be done if you are willing to see it as the trek is quite rough and challenging.
These are some of the places that you can visit if you are looking for places to visit in Ladakh. If you want to stay for a while here then it would be better to take Leh Ladakh tour packages to make sure you cover all the major attractions of this place.
If you are someone who enjoys the path and journey instead of arriving at actual destination then try coming by road on your bike. Many bikers come to Leh Ladakh only too see the scenic views and mountains that are easily seen on either side of the roads and highway.
My experience of Ladakh trip
Ladakh is a gorgeous place to be at and this has been said enough times. Whoever that has been to Ladakh has never been disappointed with the place and starts planning their second trip here while being there already.
We made it to Ladakh in the early morning as usually the flights are scheduled around this time and then we took a cab to reach the hotel. Finding a way to reach from airport to hotel is very convenient as many tourists visit Ladakh throughout the year and the city is well prepared for that.
After reaching the hotel and resting for a bit, we proceeded for delish Ladakhi food that was served to us and we enjoyed every bit of it. Next day, our visits were planned for some of the major attractions in Ladakh and the first place that we visited was Pangong Tso lake and it was an absolute delight.
We saw the lake change its colour and since we visited during peak season, the lake was not frozen and we clicked as many pictures as we could. After that, we proceeded to explore the places around the lake.
We got to meet and interact with the local crowd and people there were quite generous and helping. The warm nature of people along with their deep understanding of the different cultures made us respect them even more and we were happy to have found friends in another corner of the world.
We got to gorge on delicious local food and ditched regular items that are also found back in our town. We decided to walk as much as we can so that we could have look at the entire town.
A few other lakes were also part of the plan and we went for a few treks as well, on different days of course. Ladakh is such a calm place and Leh usually remains more populated.
It is good to visit beaches and sipping on cocktails, go out and have fun at night and have a drink or two but something about lakes and mountains will always make me choose the latter.
If you plan your trip previously and elaborately, you will find no problem in spending time here in Ladakh.
Which vehicle is good for Ladakh road trip?
Most of the people plan the road trip to Leh Ladakh as it gives them the freedom to decide the duration of their trip and where and when they could stop.
Most of the people dream of taking Royal Enfield to Ladakh and many others may suggest so too. It is possible to ride on a bike if you are planning a road trip as long as your bike is in the best condition and gives a good average.
Even if you have splendor for Road trip, you can make it to Ladakh if your bike is in good condition. Another factor is that how long will you be staying and how much luggage can you carry.
If you are in a group then you should take your car on the road so that you get to travel comfortably along with your companions and don’t have to keep worrying about luggage.
It would be advisable to take your SUVs and the cars which have good land clearance. A trip to Ladakh will obviously be bumpy and your car should be able to handle that kind of rough terrain. Make sure that you plan on taking a vehicle that ensures the comfort of the travellers.
It is important to get your car checked thoroughly, check for any punctures and ensure that the engine is in the best condition. Make sure you fill your tank full so that you don’t get stuck in the middle of the road. Avoid taking a sedan or hatchback on the trip as the ride would be bumpy and that could really damage your engine.
Can you go to Ladakh by personal vehicle?
Yes, it is very much possible to take your own vehicle to Leh Ladakh trip, in fact, many people prefer coming in their own vehicle.
If you choose to plan a road trip, you will get to see the changing climate, changing altitude and how different the place becomes within a few kilometres.
If you don’t want to travel by a public transport then you can rent a car or bike as well. These services can help you enjoy a road trip, even if you don’t own a vehicle. Choose vehicle according to your convenience and it will also depend on the number of people that you’ll be travelling along.
About Khardung La – The Highest Motorable Road in the world
It is the most popular and prefered road to reach Ladakh and bikers prefer to come through this route. It stretches from Leh to Kashgar and isn’t just a normal road.
If you continue along its path then you get to see various mountains covered in snow, beautiful valleys also the Bactrian camels from afar. You will find various checkpoints, depending on your destination and the ride is smooth mostly, except for a few places.
Things to Carry to Ladakh
It doesn’t matter how you choose to reach Ladakh, some things should be carried essentially. These Include Dettol or any antiseptic in case you get hurt during trekking, medicines for headache and stomachache, antacids in case you suffer from acidity, band-aids, medicines that can help you cope up with difference in level of oxygen, sunglasses, sunscreen ( yes, a must), oil for the times your skin starts drying because of extreme cold, lip balm and Vaseline for chapped lips, windproof and warm jacket, warmers, caps and mufflers. Other necessary stuff includes a torch, small knife that may be required during trekking, water bottle and extra bag.
If you are coming by road then make sure you carry enough snacks with you and don’t forget to bring hand wash and soaps as well.
Where can I get the necessary equipment?
There are various shops that you can find in Leh Ladakh as there are many trekkers that come here throughout the year.
You can purchase and rent the equipment at nominal rates, depending on the shops you choose to buy stuff from. One place from where you can get all the material from is Changspa which is not too far from the main market of Leh.
If you are here with a group of trekkers or through an agency, chances are that they will provide you with all the necessary things you will need during your trek. You can ask the local people of Leh if you are unable to find the shop, they will guide you properly.
Best things to do in Ladakh
There are various things you can do in Ladakh during your Leh Ladakh tour. Some of these things are listed below:
Spot a snow leopard: You can find the snow leopard in Hemis National Park and you definitely shouldn’t miss the chance as not many places in the world have snow leopards. They can be seen in winters.
Ride Bactrian camels: Ladakh is a desert in a way and you are sure to find camels in the desert and this place doesn’t disappoint either. These camel rides can be taken near Nubra river and Shyok river. Even if you don’t wish to ride, go see the Bactrian camels once.
Enjoy Maggi: Maggi is known to be the Staple of hilly and cold areas and you should definitely not miss having Maggi in world’s highest cafe. This Maggi point is situated near Khardung-la pass and you can pay a visit here if you are road tripping.
Trying Yak cheese: Yaks are what to people here that cows are to us. Meaning that people get milk and cheese from Yaks and it is definitely worth trying because you don’t find Yak cheese normally in cities. Yak cheese Momos are a thing here too and you shouldn’t miss that either.
Precautions to take in Ladakh
Do not forget to carry your permit as it is very important to submit these at a few checkpoints. Some of the major attractions require obtaining a permit so carry a few copies too.
Take note that you may suffer from altitude sickness so be prepared for that, carry a few medicines if you feel like.
Don’t forget to check the temperature before arriving and pack your clothes accordingly. Make sure you wear layered clothes and carry a jacket with you all the time.
Keep a check on the validity of your permit as it is very important here.
Tips for Solo Travelers
It is very important to take a few things into consideration if you are planning a trip alone to Ladakh. Some of these things are listed below:
Make sure that you are travelling in the ideal season. Most of the passes are closed during extremely cold months and many tourist attractions aren’t open either.
Take help of shared taxis if you want to reach to a commonplace with fellow travellers. This will help you save money and you won’t feel too alone in your journey.
Do not forget to share your whereabouts with your friends and family so that someone can reach to you in case of an emergency or at least report in a police station.
Try to travel a little light to make your trip a little comfortable. If there is something that you can find in Ladakh itself, cut it out from your list.
Cost of Ladakh Road Trip
The budget may vary from person to person and also the number of people you are travelling with. Normally, people who are travelling in groups spend a little less.
Food and accommodation may range anywhere from INR 700-1000 per day. Money spent on fuel will depend on the mileage of your vehicle and condition of the engine. There are many food joints in the way and you may stop there as well.
If you choose to travel by bus then the tickets can be anywhere between INR 500- 2500. All in all, the trip can cost you anywhere between INR 25k-60k, depending on how you choose to spend.
Is Guide Required?
It totally depends on your preference. Some people know how to find their way around and do not face any problem to locate lakes and valleys and markets.
Some people might be interested in knowing more about the historical importance of certain places. If you want to know the significance of certain places then you can hire a guide, otherwise, it’s not like you won’t enjoy your trip without one.
So this is all the necessary information you would need if you are planning a trip to Ladakh. Make sure you try to learn as much as you can before going there and note all the places that are mostly visited by the people during their trip to Leh Ladakh It would be better if you make all the bookings in advance if you are planning to stay in a hotel and don’t forget to obtain permits if you are road tripping.
If you have been wanting to go on the Adventures Trip to Ladakh, here we have sorted most of your queries and we hope that now you can enjoy the road trip to the fullest.
All the precautions, safety measures and the tricks that we have shared here are surely going to help you. Do share your opinion and your experiences about the trek with us in the details as well.
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