How to plan a perfect tour of Leh Ladakh? | A Leh Ladakh Travel Guide

Where mountains change from brown to blacks 
Sandy dunes are interrupted by bright blue stream
Where wild horses turn up in packs
And landscapes seem surreal - quite like your dream.

Embark on a tour of Leh Ladakh - the land of passes
And discover how these words truly describe those landmasses. 

The Land of mountain passes – Ladakh is a mesmerizing destination with its varied and stunning landforms. An ultimate destination for backpackers, bikers and road trippers, this has now become a popular family and honeymoon destination too. However, a tour of Leh Ladakh with its unusual terrain requires a fair bit of preparation before you visit it. This is where I see a lot of you have reached out to me with questions on the best Ladakh tourist places, what to pack, where to book, how to go around visiting places in Leh Ladakh etc. Best I bundle it all together as this Mega Leh Ladakh Travel Guide for you.

The unusual terrain of Ladakh requires some preparations
The unusual terrain of Ladakh requires some preparations

Located near Kashmir, the Ladakh region is encircled by different mountain ranges. It used to be a part of the Silk route and therein lay its historical and strategic importance. With its rugged terrain and proximity to various country borders like Pakistan and China, there are several restrictions that you will need to be aware of when you plan a trip to Ladakh. Also, given that it is one of the highest plateau and mountain regions, there are certain health precautions that everyone must take. The lack of roads adds to the challenges of a road trip to Ladakh and then, of course, the kind of accommodation that you can expect here. I have tried to include them all in this Ladakh Travel Guide based on my travel experience.

Besides answering all the commonly asked questions, this Ladakh trip guide also includes a sample itinerary. You can choose to either follow the same or build one based on all the information provided here. Time we get started.

Planning a holiday in Leh Ladakh?

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What is the difference between Leh and Ladakh?

It is most likely that you have heard people say “I want to go on a tour of Leh Ladakh”. Though popularly used in conjunction, there is a technical difference between the two – Leh and Ladakh.

There is a technical difference between Leh and Ladakh but in the travel terms - they refer to the larger region north of Kashmir
There is a technical difference between Leh and Ladakh but in the travel terms – they refer to the larger region north of Kashmir

Ladakh refers to a larger region or province that is located to the north and northeast of Kashmir. It is literally the border region of India with Pakistan, China and Tibet as its neighbor. It is classified as a Union territory of India and is widely acknowledged as the highest region of the country. It is bound on one side by the Himalayas and Karakoram range on the other. Leh on the other hand is the capital aka. main headquarters of Ladakh. For administrative purposes, it refers to a district area of 45,000 sq km, surrounding Leh city. The city by itself is the largest one in the Ladakh region.

So, as you see the two terms do refer to different parts of India but from a travelers’ perspective, the conjoint usage – Leh Ladakh refers to visiting all places in Ladakh.

How to go to Ladakh?

Ladakh Travel Guide: Keep Leh City as your main destination in Ladakh
A Ladakh holiday tip: Keep Leh City as your main destination in Ladakh

The biggest city in Ladakh is Leh and this I suggest, should be your center point for this travel. The first thing you need to do is decide how you are going to get here. There are basically only two options – Either Fly or take the Road. There is no railway connectivity to Leh.

Leh By Flight:

Leh Ladakh Travel Guide - one of the ways to get to Leh is by air
Leh Ladakh Travel Guide – one of the ways to get to Leh is by air

There are a limited number of flights to Leh and most of them originate from Delhi or Srinagar. Naturally, they are quite dear when it comes to cost, and booking them early is the only way to beat the prices.

The other option of a partial flight and road trip from Srinagar. You can fly to Srinagar and then take a road trip via Kargil to reach Leh. The thing to keep in mind is that you must keep aside at least a day to reach Leh for you will need to halt either at Sonamarg or Kargil for the night and then reach Leh. The total distance from Srinagar to Leh is 421 km along mountainous ranges and high passes. It is not just the terrain but the military restrictions and timings that will force this halt for you need to clear certain passes like the Zozila Pass by a certain time or wait until the next day.  Remember, the Srinagar area is politically sensitive too. The good part about this option – you get to experience the gorgeous green Kashmir Valley.

Leh By Road – one of the best road trips in India

Ladakh Travel Guide to getting to Leh - Crossing the Zozila Pass before it is shut down for the day
Ladakh Travel Guide to getting to Leh – Crossing the Zozila Pass before it is shut down for the day

Leh by road is one of my best ever road trips in India. The stunning landscapes and the myriad colors of the mountains are so surreal. Everyone talks of Europen road trips and their gorgeous scenic routes- and having experienced those as well as the Leh Ladakh trip, I can tell you that this one to Leh is no less beautiful. The ever-changing landscapes, the thrill of high mountain passes and the vibrant monasteries that dot the route are just some of the things that make this Ladakh trip by road very exciting. You can check out my entire route through this post.

Assuming a start from either Chandigarh or Delhi, you can follow either of these two routes to Leh. You can choose to take the route from Manali to Leh or the one from Srinagar. I have shared the pros and cons of both below –

Manali to Leh Route

Manali - Keylong - Sarchu- Leh 

This takes you via the gorgeous Rohtang Pass and gives you a flavor of the lovely Spiti Valley at Keylong before you turn to the mountain deserts of Sarchu and then Leh. The drawback of this route is that you might experience delays owing to landslides and rains and also, that this is a steep climb to Leh, which could cause AMS or acclimatization problems. More on AMS coming up below.

Leh Ladakh Travel Guide:  One of the routes to Leh from Manali via Rohtang Pass
Leh Ladakh tour Guide: One of the routes to Leh from Manali via Rohtang Pass

With the new Atal tunnel, this route has become slightly easier. The tunnel is built below the Rohtang pass and is the longest highway single-tube tunnel in the world. The 9 km long tunnel allows you to use this Manali -Leh route throughout the year. It reduces the distance between Manali and Keylong by 70 km, cutting off almost 3.5 hours from the earlier journey through the pass. You can definitely consider using it if you are short of time. However, you will still have to be vigilant about AMS.

Srinagar to Leh Route

Srinagar - Sonamarg - Kargil - Leh
Ladakh Travel Guide: Route two through the valleys of Sonamarg
Ladakh Travel Guide: Route two through the valleys of Sonamarg

Another scenic stretch that takes you through the best of Kashmir Valley and the stunning views of the Amarnath camps before you hit the coldest point Drass and then Kargil. From Kargil, you will be able to stop at the various ancient monasteries like the Lamayuru Monastery, which makes the whole journey interesting. The good thing is that it is a gradual ascent and your body gets acclimatized quickly. The drawback is the possibility of landslides and the volatile Srinagar political situation.

What is the best time to visit Leh Ladakh?

Ladakh Travel Guide : Best time to visit Ladakh is July to October. Picture taken at Drass
Ladakh Travel Guide: Best time to visit Ladakh is July to October. Picture taken at Drass

The best time to visit Ladakh is from May to September when the temperatures range from 5 degrees celsius to 30 degrees celsius. You can also, experience various cultural festivals of Ladakh like the Hemis festival during this period. The region is not really affected by the monsoons and this is the only time when the temperatures don’t go sub-zero.

Winters are fairly harsh here and the entire region gets covered in snow. However, Ladakh in winters has its own charm. With icicled waterfalls, frozen rivers, and lake surfaces and snowy valleys, the place transforms into a winter wonderland. There are some amazing treks that to attempt during this season like the Chadar Trek. However, be aware that a lot of hotels and stays are closed during winters. Even some of the roads are shut down, making flights the only viable option to get to Ladakh.

Ladakh tourist places | Places to visit in Ladakh

Sunrise over Ladakh Pangong Lake - an attraction that I highly recommend for your Leh Ladakh itinerary
Sunrise over Ladakh Pangong Lake – an attraction that I highly recommend for your Leh Ladakh itinerary

How many days should your Leh Ladakh itinerary be for is best answered by what you want to do in Ladakh. From treks to mountain climbing, biking, and camping, there are just tons to do here. In this section, I am just listing down all the possible Ladakh tourist places that you can plan a visit to. You can click on the linked text to know more about these Ladakh attractions. And while you make your list from this travel guide to Ladakh, remember to keep at least a day in Leh where you acclimatize yourselves to avoid AMS (More in the next section)

  1. Leh Palace – 9 floored wooden palace modeled after the Potala Palace in Tibet. Located in Leh city itself, this one is a complete delight for history buffs as well as nature lovers. Plan to keep this visit on the day that you are in Leh for acclimatization.
  2. Shanti Stupa – Located in Leh city, this stupa was donated by Japan and holds a few of the Buddha relics. The White Pagoda is best visited at Sunset when you get to the vibrant designs on it in natural light and then its lit-up avatar as it becomes dark.
  3. Hall of Fame Museum, Leh – A museum in Leh city that is dedicated to the brave Indian soldiers. The museum showcases the way the army endures the harsh conditions of the land to keep its borders safe. There is also, a section that details the various tribes and cultural traditions of Ladakh.
  4. Hemis Monastery – one of the richest monasteries of Ladakh, located en route to Pangong Lake. The monastery is the site for the famous Hemis festival that takes place in June and the Naropa festival which takes place in August-September.
  5. Spituk Monastery – This is where the annual Gustor festival is held in January. The monastery was established in the 11th century and is known for its giant Kali statue.
  6. Stok Monastery – Built in the 14th century, the monastery is known for its impressive library and the annual masked dance. The three-storey monastery has a museum that showcases royal relics like the King’s crown, his jewelry etc.
  7. Confluence of Indus & Zanskar – located right outside Leh city, this confluence is like no other. You can clearly see the two rivers – Indus and Zanskar – each with a distinct color merge and flow as one.
  8. Gurudwara Pathar Sahib – a little ahead of the confluence, is this unique gurudwara with a stone that has the imprint of Guru Nanak Dev‘s body and a footprint of a demon that he had subdued. The delightful place serves free food to all its visitors and is maintained by the Indian army.
  9. Thiksey Monastery – A picturesque monastery that I highly recommend for your Leh Ladakh itinerary. It has one of the most beautiful Maitreya Buddha statues and unique Thangka paintings. The 12-storey monastery is often compared to the Potala palace
  10. Shey Palace and Monastery – The erstwhile Ladakhi capital is worth a stop-over en route to Thiksey Monastery. Though the palace is in ruins, the attached monastery has an impressive Buddha statue that is 3 floors tall and stunning valley views.
  11. Lamayuru Monastery – The oldest monastery of Ladakh with its surrounding moonland landscape is an unmissable destination, especially when you are on your way to Leh from Kargil.
  12. Basgo – one of the top 25 endangered UNESCO sites. These ruins are almost indistinguishable from the surrounding mountains. The barely surviving structure has three unique monasteries for you to visit.
  13. Alchi Monastery – A very different type of monastery – almost as old as the Lamayuru one. The monastery is known for its surviving woodwork that goes back to the 12th century.
  14. Nubra Valley – A cold desert that suddenly bursts into shades of blue and green. Home to the double-humped Bactrian camels, Nubra valley promises a very surreal experience. Check out my detailed guide on the same.
  15. Diskit Monastery – Located in Nubra Valley, this monastery has a giant statue of Buddha built as a symbol of peace between Pakistan and India.
  16. Pangong Tso – The lake that shot into fame after the famous movie – 3 idiots is another unmissable attraction of Ladakh. The stunning blue waters enclosed by mountains is a delight for not just nature lovers but even for birders. Learn more through my detailed blog of the same.
  17. Tso Moriri – Not only is this high altitude lake gorgeous by itself but it is the journey through the Changthang valley that makes it even more worthwhile.
  18. Tso Kar – If you are on the Leh-Manali route, you will most likely get to see this lake. A saltwater one, it is a worthwhile stop-over for its perfect reflections and vibrant colors.
  19. Hanle – This village is best known for its clear night skies and the famous Hanle observatory. This is where you can see the Milky way – almost every night.
  20. Dah & Hanu – the last Aryan villages that is said to have connections to the famous Alexander the Great. The four villages here have a unique culture called Brokpa, different from the rest of Ladakh. Read more about this in the linked post.
  21. Drass Memorial or the Kargil Memorial Hall – a very melancholic stop near Kargil. This is a showcase of the Kargil war built against the very backdrop of the war. It is hard to keep yourself from crying when you listen to the stories of the brave warriors involved in this battle.
Confluence of Indus & Zanskar - one of the key Ladakh tourist places
Confluence of Indus & Zanskar – one of the key Ladakh tourist places

I can keep going on but for starters, these should give you a fair idea of what key destinations you would want to include in your Leh Ladakh itinerary. Remember that these are just the main stops. Along the way, you will find plenty of photo-worthy and epic stops like the passes – Khardung La, Chang La, Fotu La Pass, Magnetic Hill etc. Remember to watch out and stop them when you are visiting places in Leh Ladakh.

Cognizance of AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness)

I am dedicating a major part of this Ladakh Holiday Guide to this section. The average altitude of Ladakh is around 3000 m and hence, the air is very thin out here. Given the thin Oxygen levels, a sudden ascent to Ladakh can cause what is called AMS or the Altitude Mountain Sickness. This if ignored, can get quite severe and life-threatening. However, when you are cognizant of it, it can be easily handled and you will find Ladakh a breeze – just as I did!

Ladakh Travel Guide: Dealing with AMS at 17688 ft above sea level at Changla Pass
Ladakh Travel Guide: Dealing with AMS at 17688 ft above sea level at Changla Pass               

The key symptoms of mild AMS include

  • A Headache
  • Nausea
  • Sleeplessness
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath

In severe cases, you will find that the person is unable to breathe properly, has turned blue, is unable to walk in a straight line or is coughing up blood. Given this, it is best to rush him to the nearest medical facility.

The mild form of AMS is best handled when you acclimatize yourselves. This is where you need to ensure that you take it easy when you arrive in Leh and rest at least one day before starting your excursions. That one day of acclimatization is essential for your body to get used to the O2 levels of Ladakh, irrespective of your fitness levels. Here are the other precautions that you must take –

  • Avoid a speedy ascent to Leh on a road trip. As mentioned earlier, the Srinagar Leh route is a gradual climb Vs. the Manali route. However, if you choose the Manali route, take adequate breaks and do not drive fast.
  • Drink plenty of water. I, as a rule, had set a timer to ensure that I had my share of water. This does wonder in helping you acclimatize.
  • Keep high energy food with you like Chocolate
  • Avoid Smoking and Alcohol
  • Do not overeat
  • Avoid exertion till you get used to the climate. Do not run or attempt those high adrenaline activities for at least 24 hours after arriving here
  • Carry your emergency medicine with you. Diamox is the most commonly recommended medication for AMS but it is best if you visit your doctor for the prescription and advice.
  • Take it slow and be aware. Most people in Ladakh know of this and are quite ready to help. An Army camp is the best place to approach for qualified help.

Leh Ladakh Travel Guide to Inner Line Permits (ILP)

If Pangong Tso, Nubra Valley or any other place that is close to the international borders are on your travel list, then whether you are an Indian or a foreign tourist, you will need to get an ILP. This can be got online through this website. Alternatively, you can approach any of the local travel agents to arrange for it. You need to have a Govt. photo ID as a document when procuring these permits. Note that the online permit is only an application that you can fill out and get ready for your visit. This will need to be printed and stamped at the Leh TIC office between 9 am to 3 pm. You will also, need to pay INR 400 as an environmental fee and INR 20 per day per person as the fee. The detailed list of places that you need this permit for can be accessed here.

Ladakh Travel Guide: Visiting Tso Moriri needs an ILP
Ladakh Guide: Visiting Tso Moriri needs an ILP

There are no vehicle permits required except for one at Rohtang Pass if you happen to come via Manali. This can be procured at Manali by providing the Vehicle documents, Insurance papers, and Drivers License.

What is the best way of visiting places in Ladakh? | Getting around Leh Ladakh

The long desolate road to Tso Moriri on the road trip to Ladakh
The long desolate road to Tso Moriri on the road trip to Ladakh

The only way to travel within Ladakh is by road. Whether you hire a bike or a car or a car with a driver, is your choice. You can make this choice and hire your vehicles from Leh itself. The pricing there is pretty standard. There are packages that include the car for you. You can even get taxis on a shared basis – there are plenty of operators who offer that. If you get to the Taxi station in Leh town, you will find various options for shared taxis. However, here are some things that you need to keep in mind.

  • There are quite a few places that have absolutely no roads. The pathway goes through gushing streams and beds of rocks. Consider getting a 4 wheel drive or a hardy bike for this reason
  • Ensure that you have a seasoned driver to handle these offroad conditions. If you are driving yourself, be well prepared for the same.
  • Stock up fuel at Leh for your trip to Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri. There are no fuel stations along the way.
  • Ensure that your spares and toolkits are well in place. There are only a few remote army camps if you get stuck like the way we did at Chushul with a Flat Tyre. You can read about our experience on this road trip to Ladakh post.
  • Road Side toilets are almost non-existent. You will have to use a small shed that just has a hole and no flush.

I highly recommend reading my article on 10 Tips for a Road Trip as a part of this Ladakh Guide to prep you for the best. This ain’t an ordinary trip and this extra reading will definitely help your checklist.

There are buses too, from Leh that take you to the popular Ladakh tourist places. These can be found at the Leh market area.

A packing checklist for Leh Ladakh trip

Throw away those sleeveless dresses and shorts. Get ready to pack long sleeves and thermals with coats and caps. An unusual terrain and climate do require you to make your packing list in advance and actually go shopping for it. Here is my suggested packing checklist for Ladakh.

Travel Guide for Leh Ladakh: Dress up in layers and wear Trekking shoes
Travel Guide for Leh Ladakh: Dress up in layers and wear Trekking shoes
  • Thermals – tops and bottoms for the evenings and nights.
  • Cotton or Woolen Tops and trousers to layer up during the day
  • A Nice warm snow jacket for places like Tso Moriri and Pangong Tso
  • A pair of Trekking shoes or boots. Highly recommended even if you are not doing trekking
  • Socks
  • Mittens
  • A woolen cap
  • Goggles – the sun is so harsh that you might have light sensitivity
  • Sunscreen with at least 75 SPF – Absolutely essential as owing to the thin air, you will have quite a strong exposure to the sun. Most of us had some skin peeling off our noses and foreheads, despite the precautions.
  • Wet Wipes and Hand Sanitizers

Pack everything into rolls for a backpack. Avoid trolley bags as it is difficult to trudge them around on uneven and high terrain.

Where to stay in Ladakh?

Ladakh Travel Guide: The only places to stay near Pangong Lake are tents
Ladakh Tour Guide: The only places to stay near Pangong Lake are tents

Leh town and Kargil has a good range of hotels – from the expensive 5-star ones to the budget hotels. Most of them can be booked online, using the booking resources section. However, when it comes to accommodation in places like Hunder, Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri, you do not have a lot of choice in terms of the type of stay. Most of these places have tented accommodations that you will need to book through a local agent. The washrooms and the mess facilities in most of them are quite basic but clean.

Keep in mind that most of these hotels or Ladakh stays are available during summer but many of them close down during winters.

What to eat in Ladakh? Leh Ladakh Travel Guide to Food

A taste of Ladakhi food - Vegetable thukpa
A taste of Ladakhi food – Vegetable thukpa

Leh and Kargil have quite a few places to eat out but when you visit the other villages and towns like Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake, you will be at the mercy of the mess. The food is quite basic and wholesome here. Maggi and Instant Noodles are available in small tents along the roads at various small settlements. However, considering how remote these are, it is best to stock up some packaged food with you for the road trip.

Among the specialty food, don’t forget to try out the momos and the hot piping Thukpa. Yak cheese is another local delicacy that I recommend.

Mobile and Internet connectivity in Ladakh

Mobile signals are not consistent through Ladakh. Remote locations like Changtang Valley barely get any mobile signals
Mobile signals are not consistent through Ladakh. Remote locations like Changtang Valley barely get any mobile signals

BSNL and Airtel postpaid are the only connections that work in Leh. Once you get away from Leh, you can expect even these to die out. The Internet is almost non-existent here. You are going to be out of touch and it is best to keep your family & friends of the same. Just so that they don’t worry.

This has a bearing on your cashless transactions as there is no connectivity. Carry cash everywhere as cards just do not work.

What to buy in Ladakh? | Leh Ladakh shopping tips

Buddhist curios, lucky prayer wheels, prayer flags – there are plenty of these interesting souvenirs that you can carry back from Ladakh. The elaborate Thangka paintings make lovely wall art for your home. Look out for the hand-embroidered T-shirts with quirky messages. There are some cheesy ones too that you will find here like “You just got Leh-ed”. Women will love the traditional Ladakhi jewelry with precious and semi-precious gems.

Leh market

Ladakh is also, known for its Apricots. They are not only delicious but quite cheap. You will find a lot of variety available for you to carry home – different flavors and textures. Along with those, consider shopping for dry fruits – especially almonds that come from Kashmir. I found them to be of the highest quality and quite reasonably priced.

The best place for shopping in Ladakh is the Leh market. You can just wander around the shops and find all that you need right here. The prices are reasonable but do remember to bargain a bit. Look out for the shops that are run by Tibetans refugees.

How many days are enough for Leh Ladakh?

Three trips to Ladakh and yet not enough to cover the place
Three trips to Ladakh and yet not enough to cover the place

One frequently asked question by all those wanting to see Leh Ladakh. My answer to them is to keep at least a week for Ladakh. That way, you will be able to cover a lot of the Ladakh tourist attractions in one go. If you are looking to add some adventure sports like rafting on Zanskar river or any of the treks, then you might add a few more days to your Ladakh trip.

Since I am recommending at least a week in Leh Ladakh, I shall share a sample itinerary for this duration. This is assuming that you will be flying into Leh directly

A suggested Leh Ladakh itinerary for 7 days

Day One - Acclimatization in Leh

- Arrive in Leh and check into your hotel. Rest and relax till lunch.

- Grab lunch at Leh market or at your hotel itself. 

- Get your ILP at Leh. You can do so with your hotel's help. 

- Do not exert yourself with strenous activities but at the same time, avoid sleeping in the afternoon. A visit to the Hall of Fame Museum in Leh as it is a relatively passive activity.

- Walk around the Leh market and grab an early dinner. Retire to your hotel and end your day. 

Day Two - Discover the cultural and heritage side of Leh

-  After breakfast, head to Thiksey Monastery.

- Next,  visit Shey monastery as you head back to Leh

- Grab your lunch at the Leh market.

- After lunch, you can visit the Royal Leh Palace

- Head to Shanti Stupa at Sunset and then retire for the day. 

Day Three - Overnight at Nubra Valley

- Start early and leave for Hunder from Leh. 

- Stop at Khardung La for a few minutes before hitting Diskit. 

- Explore Diskit monastery 

- Check into your hotel at Hunder

- Spend the rest of the day discovering the cold deserts of Nubra and the Bactrian camels.

Day Four - Overnight at Pangong Lake

- Check out of your Hunder property and head to Pangong lake. 

- There are a lot of photographic stops on the way and hence the journey will be slow.

- Check into your Pangong tent and spend time exploring the lake side. 

Day Five - Pangong to Leh

- Leave at lesuire from Pangong Lake to come back to Leh via Changla Pass

- Stop at Hemis monastery before you enter Leh. This comes after the Chang La pass. 

- Check in to your Leh hotel and relax

Day 6 - The Lamayuru - Alchi circuit

- Start early and head to the confluence of Zanskar and Indus. You can stop by at the Gurudwara Pathar Sahib either on your way to or at the end of the trip. You can also, experience Magnetic hill on your way. 

- After a quick stop at the confluence, proceed towards Basgo monastery.  

- Next visit Alchi monastery. You should grab your lunch here at the Alchi cafe. It has some amazing options for your meal.

- Head to Lamayuru monastery - your last major stop for the day.

- Reach Leh by evening 

Day 7 - Fly back from Leh

There are a few alterations that you can make to this suggested itinerary and still keep it to 7 days in Leh. One suggestion would be to include Tso Moriri and Hanle instead of Lamayuru. You can do so by going straight to Tso Moriri from Pangong and then visiting Hanle before coming back to Leh and flying out. Depending on your interest, you can also, choose to skip Pangong and cover Lamayuru along with a night in Kargil. In any case, this itinerary will give you a fair idea of how to plan your tour of Leh Ladakh.

Common FAQs for Leh Ladakh

Is Ladakh worth visiting?

Absolutely. Dotted with pretty monasteries in an ever-changing landscape, Ladakh offers a travel experience like no other place in India. One can spot varied colors of the mountains and see the cold desert that suddenly burst into a green oasis and have pristine blue rivers or lakes. You can even see horses in the wild, the rare double-humped camels and the friendly marmots on your journey through Ladakh.

How much does a Ladakh trip cost?

You can budget anything between INR 20,000 to 30,000 for a week-long trip to Ladakh. While food is not very expensive here, traveling within Leh Ladakh and the accommodation is a little on the higher side. If you are planning to get to Leh by flight, then the cost of the same is also, on the higher side.

Can we go Ladakh by train?

No, there is no rail connection to Ladakh. The only options are by air or by road.

Is Ladakh safe to visit?

Yes, Ladakh is a very safe destination for families as well as solo travelers. The region does not have any major political tensions. The roads and the landscape are a little rugged but nothing that one cannot navigate with proper precautions.

Well, that I think covers all the major points of this ultimate Leh Ladakh holiday guide. I hope this answers all your queries. And yes, one more thing – be prepared to catch the Ladakh fever as I did. One that gets you so Ladakh sick that you will want to return every time you think of it. And one that you will pass on to others as I am doing to you. 🙂 Smile and Julley (Hello in Ladakhi) to you!

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88 thoughts on “How to plan a perfect tour of Leh Ladakh? | A Leh Ladakh Travel Guide”

  1. No wonder this is one of your favorite road trips, just look at those landscapes! I’d probably love it myself. Not only that I enjoy driving, but I also love roads such as that curvy one coming down at the Zozila Pass. Fascinating really! It must have been incredible to take a photo of the road from afar, after you drove through there. 🙂
    Also, I didn’t know that Ladakh is so high. Thanks for the altitude sickness tips, good to know!

    • Thanks Danijela. Ladakh surprises you at every corner but as I said, you need to be well prepared to ensure that all is well . Hope you get to visit it sometime.

  2. Oh my god! he first few photos reminded me of a certain area of Switzerland. I totally would love to do this road trip as I love mountains. Can’t get enough of them. So want to go here right now. 🙂 Love this post. Bookmarked it for the future.

    • Danik, after having done Switzerland when I visited Kashmir, I felt so proud and a tad bit ashamed that I traveled so far for the same scenery that was in my backyard. Now that I know it, hope to return to it. I hope you visit it too.

  3. Thank you for such a comprehensive guide to Ladakh. I’d never heard of it, but it looks stunning. The drive does seem like the best way to get there – do you drive yourself or would you recommend hiring a driver?

    • Thanks Fiona. You can drive yourself if you are ok with no roads, off roads and mountain trails or just hire a driver while you enjoy the views.

  4. It’s so interesting to see how Ladakh has really become more visible as a popular destination not only for the more adventurous bikers and trekkers but for honeymooners and regular holiday-makers too. I think the prevalence of more blog post content about it, especially from in-India travellers, has really helped raise the profile. I would certainly love to visit and had not considered it before a year or two back. It’s surprising that there is no rail connection but at least if one can fly, the main big distance journey is covered. Then I’d want to be driving for the exploration of the area itself. I also appreciate your tips on time of year versus temperature, a key consideration for sure.

    • It would be difficult to get the rail connection given the rugged terrain. You got to travel this to know what I mean. The road, in my opinion, is the best to enjoy the scenery. Hope you can visit soon.

  5. The landscapes are breathtaking! But, I’ve never heard of this place before. I am not a hiker or what, but it has been a goal to travel and take photos of stunning landscapes such as yours! India is a very big place, it’s daunting. But soon, when I am more well traveled than I am today, I think I can take on India. I believe that India is not a place you can truly enjoy when you are not an experienced traveler. I’ve only been to 4 countries, this month I’ll be to 3 more, that’s 7. I think maybe 2-3 more countries after my coming trip, I can take on India. I will remember Ladakh

  6. This is a very comprehensive guide. It would be interesting to be in a place that doesn’t really have internet access. It looks worth it though, because your photos are so beautiful. I don’t drive so I would hope to find a tour that goes through the area.

    • Driving here is best left to expert given the rugged terrain. You will find plenty here. Hope you can visit here Stella. You will love it.

  7. Wow, the drive over the Rohtang Pass looks crazy – those winding roads! Great tips about AMS and the permits you’ll need – it’s this kind of information that is invaluable if you haven’t been to the Ladakh region before. That Thukpa looks delicious, and just the kind of warming food you’d need during your visit!

  8. Great information and travel tips on Leh, Ami, especially on AMS. I have traveled here by riad (Manali – Kaylang – Sarchu – Leh route) more than a decade ago. My husband and I are figuring the best way to do this for a family trip with our 7-year old.

  9. Such an informative post! Ladakh looks an amazing destination to visit. I love all of the photos, they are all stunning and gorgeous. The valleys and the sunrise of Pasong tso are so perfect.

  10. Last year, I spent a month and half in Ladakh tracking the activities on Snow Leopard (didn’t see any) but I found some very interesting ways to commute and explore in that region.

  11. Ladakh has been on my wish list for the longest time now. For someone who takes pride in having visited most places in India, Ladakh is the one shameful omission from my kitty. Your recommendations and the detailed guide will certainly come in handy whenever I do make my way there. The photographs all look amazing.

  12. It’s not easy to compile a travel guide for Ladakh owing to the enormity of various factors while traveling to this region. Yet, this post is quite precise and informative for first time travelers to Leh-Ladakh. I havent yet been there but whenever I go, it is probably going to be a road trip. Sounds much more fun and cost effective than flying there.

  13. Leh Ladakh would be the first place I would want to visit if I relocate to India permanently. The beauty as I’ve seen is mesmerizing…club it with offbeat attractions it offers, and you can’t get enough of that!

  14. I’d never heard of Ladakh before, but I love mountainscapes purely for the aesthetic (although not so much for the hiking and walking!). Some of the houses remind me a little of what I saw on the Atlas Mountains, I just wouldn’t have expected to find scenes like this in India. Thanks for the tip on Altitude Sickness though, it’s not something I would have thought of.

    • This is a not so touristy but yet now getting popular destination in India. And trust me, it steals your heart. If you ever get here, don’t miss this one out Sam. Thanks for your lovely comment.

  15. it’s a very comprehensive post, thank you for sharing. I like to explore off-the-beaten path regions, I’m adding this to my India pinterest board 🙂

  16. Loved, loved it! Those tiny little houses in the valley look so fragile that for a moment I was worried. Why do they live there? 🙂 Nonetheless, the place is just out of heaven.
    This is a complete comprehensive guide where you have taken care of everything. AMS is very important factor to pay attention to.

    Thanks, your each post is so detailed and helpful. 🙂

    • Thank you Nisha. That feels so good to hear. Ladakh is special and quite different from the rest of India. It does need some prep as I realized 😀

    • The Srinagar route is amazingly green and pretty. You will love it and with an expert driver, feel quite safe too. Thanks for stopping by

  17. I have to say I had never heard of Ladakh. Your photography is mesmerizing. What a stunning part of the world. If I ever decide to go to India, I’ll add a visit to Ladakh to my itinerary. Excellent guide.

  18. What a comprehensive guide Ami. Kudos for bringing out things in such detail. And your fabulous pictures are the perfect icing on the cake. Really amazing. I got such a thrill reading this post I wonder how I would feel on the actual trip. Thanks for sharing.

  19. What an extensive guide to such an exotic area. I would love to visit Leh Ladakh some day by plane or those scary but very scenic roads and then explore the region. All the attractions, monasteries and temples and other historic sites in the region sounds extensive and right up my alley. I’ve heard about Ladakh in the from various guides and this really looks amazing and the landscape is spectacular which you have captured well.

    • Thanks Noel. Ladakh is quite underrated – especially from travelers abroad. However, it sure gives a different perspective of India. I hope you can get here soon

  20. I love how you compared this of a European road trip and describe the landscape to be just as gorgeous. I love that there is an ever-changing landscape and to have the excitement of a high mountain pass too with monasteries dotting the route.

  21. What a wonderful, comprehensive guide to Leh Ladakh! You mentioned several tips I might not have considered, from the need to have cash on hand to make purchases without a network connection, and the risks of Altitude Mountain Sickness. Those two tips alone could make or break the trip! While it may be a bit harder to get to, this region is so clearly worth the trip for its stunning scenes and so much more. I love apricots!

    • It is Ladakh’s unusual environment that necessitate these extra precautions. Am glad you noted those down and hope you can plan a trip soon.

  22. Thanks for this extensive guide on travel to Leh and Ladakh. Several tips like the use of cash rather than a card, dealing with altitude sickness are useful. Your images are simply stunning! Those mountain roads sure look daunting with no barriers on the sides. 🙂

    • Those roads are definitely not for the faint hearted 😀 .And personally I feel that is the whole thrill of going on a road trip to Ladakh

  23. Wonderful destination! I’m confident that taking the road to Leh is preferable. When traveling, it is essential to take in the beautiful routes, admire the breathtaking scenery, and appreciate the mountain panoramas. I had no idea Ladakh has so many tourist attractions. However, based on descriptions, Hemis Monastery, Pangong Tso, and Hanle are my top three favorites for future travel destinations.

  24. Wow! Taking a road trip here would be awesome. The view is magnificent. Happy to know that there are many routes available to get to Leh. It would be nice to be able to visit all the monasteries as well the Leh Palace. Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience.

  25. holy crap. you weren’t kidding when you said a MEGA post. there was so much info in there. phew. i had no idea how cool that region was. thanks for the serious dose of inspiration for our India trip (going to India next month, and now going to try to add a week in Ladakh!)

  26. Wow I’m so glad I found this article. I am
    Visiting friends in Kashmir next year and then Assam. These road trips sound amazing I think I’ll need even longer to explore the routes from Leh and visit the monasteries and just explore panong lake aswell some of the heritage spots with such close proximity to the borders I imagine it’s a melting pot of history. Some great tips here to consider with altitude.

  27. Hi, thanks for coming up with this. This is pretty much detailed. Quick Question – Would there be any recommendation in terms of homestay/hostel from a workcation standpoint?

    • I do not have any specific recommendations but I do know that there are many homestays in Leh, especially close to the Leh market. It would be the best place to stay for a workation given the connectivity. The other places have limited bandwidth.

    • I haven’t had an issue on my travels but you should check the conditions and status when you plan your visit. Also, I traveled in India and did not visit PK at all.

  28. Leh Ladakh is such a heavenly destination with jaw dropping landscapes, frozen lakes and snowclad peaks of Himalayas. The confluence of the Indus and the Zanskar rivers is awesome capture.And of course the pongang lake from iconic 3 idiots Fame is a must visit. The tiny hamlet’s dotted with monasteries-the Leh palace, Shanti stupa and the hall of Fame museum dedicated to soldiers is worth a visit.

  29. I had almost lost reading this beautiful and thrilling article. I must say that this is a picturesque post, gives a high level of satisfaction to the readers like me. Thanks for sharing. lay ladakh looks amazing and breathtaking.


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