Nestled amidst the great Himalayas and the fascinating Karakoram Ranges, Ladakh or the ‘Land of High Passes’ is a dream destination for all the types of travellers. Be it the honeymooners, adventure seekers, leisure travellers, backpackers, history lovers, or any other classes of travellers, everyone find solace and peace of mind in this pristine land!
Dotted with snow-clad peaks, adorned with scenic valleys and meadows, studded with gurgling rivers and enthralling gorges, and graced with numerous monasteries, this part of India is a true cult among the travel bugs. However, even though Ladakh has so much to offer to its visitors, planning a tour to Ladakh, at times prove to be a back-breaking and mind twisting task!
In case, you are planning for a Ladakh tour or to book exciting Ladakh tour packages, here is a detailed Ladakh travel guide to ease your trip! Follow this guide for a memorable, blissful, and equally appealing Ladakh tour.
Why a Ladakh Tour?
Even before asking this question, you must ask yourself about who you are and what you seek from a Ladakh trip! Are you a casual traveller who seek relaxation and mental peace from a Ladakh tour? Are you an adventure junky who desires to feel the adrenaline rush while indulging in some of the most thrilling activities? Are you a love-bug who seeks love and romance amidst the serene and promising locales of Ladakh? Are you a history lover who yearns to travel back into time and know more about the evolution of civilization? Or do you belong to any other walks of life and seek solitude by embarking on a Ladakh tour?
Once you know who you are or what you looking for, you will find all your answers to embark on a Ladakh tour! For the leisure seekers, Ladakh’s imposing beauty promises pleasant moments that not only relaxes their mind, but also rejuvenates their body and soul!
For the adventure freaks, they can pump up their adrenalines by participating in an array of enthralling and exhilarating things to do in Ladakh. Trekking, motorcycle expeditions, jeep safari, hiking, and other such activities are the ideal ways to get recharged while on a Ladakh tour.
On the other hand, Ladakh’s pristine and quintessential beauty incites life, love and romance into the newly wedded couples. Backpackers, nature lovers, shutterbugs, and other types of travellers can also quench all their yearnings while touring around the bucolic locales of Ladakh.
When to Plan a Ladakh Tour?
Following the yearly climate calendar, summer can be revered as the ideal time to plan a Ladakh tour. However, owing to the atmospheric changes in Ladakh, visitors also make it to Ladakh during other seasons of the year. Here is a seasonal calendar to plan a Ladakh tour:
- Summer / April to June:
As already said, summer is the best and most suitable time to visit Ladakh. With the advent of the sun, Ladakh starts losing its snow-covering and shimmers its enchanting beauty once again. As the weather remains clear and undistorted, visitors can enjoy plenty of activities along with amazing sightseeing options.
- Monsoon / July to August:
Many might not recommend monsoon as a good time to plan for a Ladakh tour! Well, this is the time of the year when Ladakh sheds away all its weariness and wears the brightest of its shades. As the rain showers touches the bosom of this pristine land, Ladakh turn all green and entices trekkers from all corners of the globe.
- Winter / September to February:
Winter in Ladakh usually begins with a soft and chilly ambience, and later gets strenuous enough to freeze almost the entire of it! Starting from September to October, mercury level starts falling drastically; it still remains accessible to the outer world. However, starting from November to February end, Ladakhreceives the maximum snowfall and gets cut-off from the rest of the world. Flight journeys prove to be only way to make it to this part of the country during these four months. This is the time, when ardent trekkers throng Ladakh to complete the ‘Chadar Trek’ over the frozen Zanskar River.
How to Reach Ladakh?
Just like any other tourist destinations in India, Ladakh can also be reached in a multiple way. It’s just that if you plan for a Ladakh tour during the winters, you might have a limited option, but apart from that you can reach Ladakh easily by train, bus, own vehicles (both 2 and 4-wheelers), and flight.
- By Train:
Ladakh do not have its own railway station. However, Pathankot, Chandigarh and Srinagar serves as the nearest railway stations to Leh, the capital city of Ladakh. Arriving at any of these railway stations, you can hire private cabs, taxis or buses to reach Leh city.
- By Road:
Road journey are mostly preferred by the adventure junkies who yearns to challenge the rugged and exhilarating terrains to Ladakh. There are two routes: Srinagar-Leh Highway and Manali-Leh Highway to reach Ladakh; to reach Leh city. Visitors can also board regular buses from both Srinagar and Manali to reach Ladakh.
- By Flight:
One can either board a direct flight to the KushokBakulaRimpochee Airport in Leh or can make it to the Sheikh-ulAlam Airport in Srinagar to reach Ladakh. However, after arriving at the Srinagar Airport, visitors can opt for a road journey to reach Ladakh.
Is Acclimatisation Important While on a Ladakh Tour?
Yes; in fact, acclimatisation is the most important aspect of a Ladakh tour! Owing to the towering height of Ladakh, it might get difficult for an outsider to sustain the Ladakhi climate as oxygen level reduces at greater heights. Before you embark on a Ladakh tour, check with the tour operators if they offer oxygen cylinders during the tours! If not, you must rethink on selecting your tour operators.
What is Inner Line Permit or ILP?
Inner Line Permit is an official travel permission issued by the Indian Government to visit certain places throughout the country. Owing to the location of Ladakh, visitors do require an Inner Line Permit to visit some of the sensitive places across Ladakh. However, Indian national no more requires an ILP to visit most of the places in Ladakh. But there are certain places, that are still restricted for civilians; whether national or international. Before planning a Ladakh tour, you must check with these places.
Availability of Petrol Pumps in and Around Ladakh:
While in Leh, you can find quite a few petrol pumps within the city limits. At times, you can also get fuel from the local grocery store; however, they might charge you some extra bucks. Moving away from Leh via the Manali-Leh Highway, you can find the nearest petrol pump in Karu which is around 30km from Leh. Moving further, you will find the next refuelling station in Tandi which is around 110km from Karu or 140km from Leh. Upon crossing Tandi, the next petrol pump in in Manali town; the hill station town has a total of 6 petrol pumps.
In case you are travelling through the Srinagar-Leh Highway, you can find petrol pumps in Khaltsi; around 90km from Leh, Wakha, Mulbekh; around 175km from Leh, Kargil; around 200km from Leh, Sonamarg; around 335km from Leh, Mangan, and finally in Srinagar city which is around 415km from the city limits of Leh.
It is always suggested to carry extra fuel while touring through Ladakh.
Availability of ATMs in Ladakh:
While on a Ladakh tour, it is highly advisable to carry enough cash as there are only a few ATMS in the entire of Ladakh. Leh city has around a total of 6 ATMs; banks like SBI, J&K Bank, AXis Bank, HDFC and ICICI banks have ATMs in Leh; However, you can expect quite a heavy rush in these ATMs.
Availability of Mechanic Shops on the Way to Ladakh:
While travelling through the Manali-Leh Highway, you can find mechanics shop around places like Manali, Marhi, Keylong, Khoksar, Sarchu, Upshi and Darcha. But if travelling through the Srinagar-Leh Highway, you can find mechanical shops in places like Sonamarg, Drass, Kargil and Lamayuru. Well, most of these shops are only meant to fix flat tyres; very few of them holds an expertise in fixing a broken vehicle. It is advisable to travel in a group in the company of a crew mechanics.
Places to Visit while on a Ladakh Tour:
Though Ladakh offers a myriad list of places to visit, here are 10 of the must visit and the most stunning places to visit during a Ladakh tour:
The once a capital of the Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh, Leh is the place for everyone! Visit this ancient city; explore, discover and revisit history while being in sync with Ladakh’s bountiful beauty.
- Zanskar Valley:
If you want to come face-to-face with the immaculate beauty of Ladakh, you must visit the gorgeous Zanskar Valley between June to September.
One of the most gorgeous as well as sensitive destinations in Ladakh, Kargil is located only 23km from Leh and is a true marvel in almost all Ladakh tour packages.
- Pangong Tso Lake:
At times, reality can be more appealing or enticing than dreams! Visit the Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh, you will start believing in this!
- Suru Valley:
Embraced by the charm and appeal of the Suru River and the mighty Himalayas, Suru Valley is an ideal place for those who seek adrenaline rush while on a Ladakh tour.
- Tso Moriri Lake:
Visit the magnificent Tso Moriri Lake; around 250km from Leh and at an altitude of 4,000m, and surrender yourself into the bewitching hands of Mother Nature.
- Hunder Village:
This quaint hamlet is one of the most enchanting places to visit in Ladakh! A true treasure trove for the visitors, this is the place where you can enjoy double-humped Bactrian camel safaris in Ladakh!
- Khardung La Pass:
The highest motorable pass in the world, the Khardung La Pass is seated at a towering height of 18,379ft, and is truly a fascinating place to visit in Ladakh.
- Diskit Village:
If you have ever heard about the Diskit Monastery or the hot water springs of Panamik, you know the scenic Diskit Village. And in case, you are not aware of its pristine beauty, you should visit Diskit while on your Ladakh tour.
- Stok Kangri:
This is the place for those who yearns to have a rendezvous with the snow-clad peaks of Ladakh from the closest hands. It is a true paradise for the adventure seekers.
Things to do on a Ladakh Tour:
Here are some of the must and the most amazing things to do in Ladakh; make sure you participate in all of them!
- River Rafting:
As the Zanskar and the Indus rivers pass through the narrow creeks of the Himalayan and Zanskar ranges, river rafting in Ladakh can be called as one of the most adventurous things to do in Ladakh.
Trekking in Ladakh is indeed the best way to explore and discover the heavenly beauty of this place. Chadar Trek, Stok Kangri Trek, and Markha Valley Trek are some of the most sought after treks in Ladakh.
- Mountain Biking:
Ladakh is best explored on wheels! And for those who yearns to unravel the bewitching charm and appeal of this dream destination, they must indulge in mountain biking while on a Ladakh tour.
- Motorcycle Tours:
While being smitten by the travel bug, a motorcycle tour to Ladakh proves to be the best way to satiate all your yearnings to explore Ladakh on wheels.
- Jeep Safaris:
For those, who desires to encounter the fun and thrill while traversing through Ladakh’s rugged and challenging terrains but within a comfort zone, jeep safaris in Ladakh are ideal for them.
Ladakh, the Land of High Passes is bestowed with celestial water reservoirs like the Pangong Tso, Yarab Tso, Tso Moriri, and few more. Embark on a tour to these captivating lakes to please your own senses!
Sightseeing in Ladakh has its own charm and grandeurs. These tours are the perfect ways to enjoy the bountiful beauty of this paradise along with getting acquainted with its rustic cultures and traditions.
- Camel Safari:
During your Ladakh tour, do not forget to make it to the gorgeous Hunder Village in Nubra Valley and enjoy the double-humped Bactrian camel safaris across the enchanting sand dunes.
- Monastery Visits:
Ladakh Tours are simply incomplete without the monastery tours! While on theses tours, you will get to know about the moral and spiritual values that unites the entire of Ladakh into one!