Ladakh is considered as one of the most beautiful cold deserts in the world. Beautiful lakes, the highest motorable passes, and picture-perfect landscape made this region quite famous among the tourists & travelers.
Almost every year thousands of foreigners and Indians visit this place to just fulfill their adventure wishes. Riders across the globe wait for the season so that they can ride to places in this region.
Today, in this Ultimate Ladakh Trip Guide, we will discuss all the famous spots in this region, local sightseeing along with accommodation and food, also we will provide basic itineraries to cover places. You can definitely re-work on these itineraries as per your needs.
Basic info on Leh, Ladakh
We often mistake between Leh and Ladakh. Leh is a town in the Ladakh region, to be more precise in Leh used to be a district of Jammu and Kashmir state but now since 31 October 2019, Ladakh is announced as a Union territory.
Certainly, Ladakh is one of the most beautiful states of the country where you can see the diversity of barren lands, snow top mountains, lush greenery, and deserts. Due to some border-related issues, these Ladakh and J&K have always been in the news. Although this does not affect tourism rather everyone seems always excited to be there.
There are tons of information available on the internet about Leh-Ladakh Tour and obviously, this post is not different then why this Ultimate Ladakh Trip Guide is exceptional? Because it is exactly what you must know in your Leh Ladakh Tour.
How to Reach Leh
You can either take a flight and reach Leh at Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport or take a Road trip from Srinagar or Manali. There are bus services as well for solo travelers but that becomes too hectic. As per recent news, the Indian Railway is planning to connect Leh through trains. Proposed plans say the journey time will be reduced by 50% (20 hours), source.
Recommended Accommodation around Leh-Ladakh
- Sonamarg – Hotel Barzman, Sonamarg
- Kargil – Silk Route Inn
- Lamayuru – Hotel Niranjana
- Leh – Hotel Ladakh Heaven (Highly Recommended)
- Diskit – Hotel Olthang
- Turtuk – Ashoor Guest House & Restaurant
- Sumur – Hotel Namgyal Villa
- Pangong Lake – Pangong Lake View Camp
- Hanle – Hanle House
- Tso Moriri – Tsomoriri Camp And Resort
- Keylong – Hotel Dupchen Inn
Although I have personally stayed at Kargil, Leh, Diskit, Pangong Lake, other hotels are shortlisted based on locations and reviews. If you need any details, leave a comment, we will reply at the earliest.
Food Options in Ladakh region
You will get food of almost every cuisine, not all but most of the dishes in any nearby restaurant in Leh. Generally, we would recommend to try out momos, thukpas, noodles, and parathas. Food is a little bit costly compared to other places in India which are quite normal because of transportation costs.
Transportation in Leh Ladakh Tour
For sightseeing, you have to either rent a car/motorcycle or share Force Traveller, as per your budget. As we traveled with our own motorcycle we are not sure about the transportation charges. But once we get the update, estimated car cost will be added here.
Acclimatization is Very Important in Ladakh
Ladakh is all about high altitude areas mostly above 11,500+ ft. where you can become sick just because of low oxygen density. It is always recommended to take rest for a day or two and then go out for sightseeing. But people mostly rest only the day they arrive which is not advisable. Learn about AMS or High Altitude Sickness and its prevention, must-read.
High Altitude Passes to cover in Ladakh Tour
- Khardung La (18,379 ft)
- Chang La (17,590 ft)
- Fotu La (13,478 ft)
- Namik La (12,200 ft)
- Zoji La (11,575 ft)
- Tanglang La (17,480 ft)
- Nakee La (15,547 ft)
- Lachung La (16,616 ft)
- Baralacha La (16,040 ft)
- Rohtang La (13,050 ft)
Local Sightseeing in Ladakh Trip
There are many places near to Leh city like Magnetic Hill, Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, etc. You should cover all these places in two days. Many people tend to cover almost every spot in a day which can be very hectic in high altitude regions.
Leh Palace is a former royal palace overlooking the Ladakhi Himalayan town of Leh. Mountain range view from the roof is spectacular. Entry fee for Indian INR 15 and foreigner INR 100. Parking available for free.
This complete white Buddhist Shanti Stupa is located at the outskirt of Leh town and the terrace provide a beautiful panoramic view of the surroundings (Leh City). Visit the stupa once in the evening also to witness how the lighting makes this Stupa look even more beautiful. Also parking available for free.
Thikse monastery is a twelve-story complex and houses many items of Buddhist art such as stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings, and swords. At a distance of approximately 20 kilometers from Leh town, this is one of the must-visit places in Leh, entry fees INR 20. Parking available for free.
Shey was the summer capital of Ladakh in the past and place was made for the retreat by Kings of Ladakh. The view is pretty good from here too. Parking is also available for free.
Hemis Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Leh Ladakh region, located at a distance of 45 kilometers from Leh. Parking available for free.
Magnetic hill is famous because of a phenomenon that here gravity does not work or rather gravity works opposite. Generally, drivers put their cars in neutral and the car starts to move towards uphill. You can ride also an ADV bike for the adrenaline rush.
A few more must-visit places in Leh Ladakh regions are Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Leh War Memorial, Zorawar Fort, Alchi Monastery, Likir Monastery, the confluence of Indus and Zanskar river, etc.
Real Attractions of Leh Ladakh Trip
Ladakh has many beautiful places like Hanle, Khardung La top, Nubra white desert, Pangong lake, Tso Moriri & Tso Kar lake, etc. But many people thing Ladakh means Khardung La & Pangong Lake, so be aware of all the places, research well and then only prepare the itinerary otherwise you have to miss a lot of more majestic vistas.
Leh-Ladakh is also known as Riders paradise, hence every rider is well known about this famous pass, at an altitude of 18379 ft, this was the world’s highest motorable pass until Umling La (19,300 ft) was conquered. Still all riders dream of conquering this mighty Khardung La. The craze to conquer the top spread across all the tourists over time. This pass is almost 40 kilometers away from Leh city and takes almost 2 hours to reach, although people spend a lot of time en route to capture nature. All the tourists need a Leh Ladakh inner line permit to reach the top and beyond. You can have tea, coffee, or snacks in the south Pullu cafeteria or K-Top cafeteria.
Due to very high altitude and lower oxygen level, staying more than 15 minutes may cause AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness like breathing problems or a mild headache, in that case, descend either towards the north Pullu side (Dikit/Nubra valley) or south Pullu side (towards Leh). Most importantly, be prepared for AMS, I will insist you, check out our How to fight AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness guide. Don’t forget to visit the souvenir shop and click a selfie before the K-Top board.
Ladakh is a cold desert, so you can experience a double hump camel ride in Hunder sand dunes. Being in a lower altitude, greenery is more hence you should not face AMS problem here. You got to see Diskit Monastery and a Buddha statue there, the view from the terrace looks stunning, barren land, Shyok river, and mountains all of these in a single frame.
Turtuk is the last village on the Diskit side, approximately at a distance of 90 kilometers, Turtuk is getting sheer popularity among the tourists these days. You may experience the village by spending a night or do sightseeing from Diskit/Hunder.
At an altitude of 14,270 ft, Pangong is one of the highest altitude lakes in India. It is famous for its unmatched beauty throughout the day, the color of the lake keeps changing almost every hour due to sunlight reflection. This lake is 134 kilometers long and shares 60 percent of its presence in China territory. The lake water is saline and crystal clear to see everything underwater. During the extreme winter, this lake freeze, few local and adventure seeker people visit to experience riding and walking on the frozen lakebed. During the tourist season, the surroundings reach sub-zero frequently and the wind coming from the lake makes that even colder.
There are plenty of tent options available now although many of the tents were demolished to maintain the ecosystem here, a good option could be to stay in Merak (approx 20 kilometers away), as it still considered as offbeat spot.
Hanle is famous for one of the highest astronomical observatory in the world, the sky looks very clear at nights even milky way and galaxies can be seen from here. Spend some time here at night and I promise, you will never forget the sky for your life. Many tourists avoid this place for being so remote. Getting accommodation for a stay would not be a difficult task despite having limited options. I suggest to book prior to your visit or ask your driver to book on behalf of you to avoid any time waste.
Tso Moriri & Tso Kar
Tso means Lake in Ladakhi language, while the first one, Tso Moriri is more popular for the dimensional beauty in the middle of mountains and barren land, the second, Tso Kar is kind of smaller but nowhere lacks to mesmerize visitors. The fact is Tso Moriri is the largest high altitude lakes in India and both of the lakes are located at an average altitude of 14,800 ft. You have options to stay here at Karzok, but I would rather advise staying back in Leh or Sarchu/Pang.
Also known as Moonland of Ladakh, is a beautiful place to be, some people suggest to spend a full moon night here. Once you reach the Lamayuru Monastery you will definitely be surprised to see the golden mountain everywhere, these are nothing but made of Multani Mitti. The egg biriyani in Hotel Niranjana, adjacent to the monastery was very different but awesome.
Things You must NOT Miss
- Shanti Stupa at Evening
- Selfie in front of Khardung La board
- Drink/eat something from Changla Cafe
- Double Camel riding at Hunder
- Clear Sky in Pangong Lake & Hanle
Best time to Visit Ladakh
Nowadays people are likely to visit Leh throughout the year, even if the Leh-Manali and Leh-Srinagar highways are closed, people fly there and enjoy the winter Ladakh. But for a road trip to cover the complete Srinagar – Leh – Manali circuit, you need to plan in between June and mid-October.
- June to Mid July – Generally, snow remains on road in places. During, daylight snow melts and becomes slush. Surrounding remains whiteout, in a word mesmerizing.
- Mid-July to August – Road becomes cleaner, the weather gets brighter and sharper. This is the peak session for tourists to visit Ladakh.
- September to mid-October – Weather starts becoming cold and dry, a clear and vibrant vista of surroundings. Occasional snowfall and rain may happen. This is considered to be the perfect time for photographers.
Suggested Day-wise Itinerary for Ladakh Trip
Below suggested itineraries do not have acclimatization day off mentioned. It is always advisable to take a day or two rest before exploring Ladakh.
Itinerary 1 (Shorter Duration)
- Reach Leh, take rest to acclimatize (minimum)
- Leh Local Sightseeing (War memorial, Zorawar fort, Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace)
- Leh to Nubra Via Khardungla (Khardungla Top, Diskit Monastery, Double Hump Camel Ride)
- Nubra to Pangong Lake (Sky at night)
- Pangong Lake to Tso Moriri
- Tso Moriri to Leh
- Leh Sightseeing (Thikse Monastery, Hemis Monastery, Shey Palace, Rancho School, Moti Market)
Itinerary 2 (Moderate Duration)
- Reach Leh, take rest to acclimatize
- Leh Local Sightseeing
- Leh to Nubra Via Khardung La
- Turtuk Sightseeing or stay
- Nubra to Pangong Lake
- Pangong Lake to Hanle
- Hanle to Tso Moriri
- Tso Moriri to Leh
- Leh Sightseeing
Itinerary 3 (except Dah & Hanu & Zanskar)
- Reach Srinagar, stay at Sonamarg (via Dal Lake)
- Sonamarg to Lamayuru (via Zero Point, Drass war memorial, Namik La, Fotu La)
- Lamayuru to Leh (via Alchi & Likir Monastery, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Magnetic Hill)
- Local sightseeing Leh (War memorial, Zorawar fort, Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace)
- Continue local sightseeing (Thikse Monastery, Hemis Monastery, Shey Palace, Rancho School, Moti Market)
- Leh to Nubra Via Khardungla (Khardung La Top, Diskit Monastery)
- Nubra to Turtuk (Double Hump Camel Ride)
- Turtuk to Panamik/Sumur
- Panamik/Sumur to Pangong lake via Agham-Shyok Road (See sky at night)
- Pangong Lake to Hanle (magnificent Pangong, Hanle observatory, the sky at night)
- Hanle to Tso Moriri
- Tso Moriri to Pang/Sarchu.
- Pang/Sarchu to Keylong
- Keylong to Manali
The next updated version of this Leh Ladakh Trip Guide will have Zanskar Valley included in itineraries.
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Conclusion on Leh Ladakh Trip Guide
Being a remote place, a lot of preparation needed before Leh Ladakh Tour, be it mentally or physically. Don’t forget the weather in the Ladakh region is extreme and most of us are not accustomed to it. So, be prepared and everything in your Leh Ladakh tour will definitely go well. In addition to this complete Leh Ladakh Trip Guide, check out below generic posts to make your Leh Ladakh trip successful and memorable. I am sure you will love it.
If you are doing a road trip to Ladakh, you may find my Kolkata – Ladakh – Kolkata on a Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 journey helpful.
Lastly, get Leh’ed soon.
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Don’t forget to check out our Ladakh Ride Blog.
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Thanks! Have a great day ahead.