How to plan a trip to Ladakh

A Beginner’s Guide for Planning a Trip to Leh, Nubra valley, Pangong lake from tamilnadu

Complete guide for planning a trip to Leh

In order to reduce your time, I would like to directly jump on to the point by without narration, essays, description etc..

Note: Always plan for an independent trip. Avoid agencies, agents to reduce your cost

Intro

Ladakh is a region in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The largest town in Ladakh is Leh and Leh is the capital of Ladakh. It is pretty safe to go on a trip to Leh.

How to plan for Leh (Complete Itinerary)

As shown in the roadmap below, Like a circuit you need to cover all places. We will start from leh and end at leh.

Places to explore

  1. Leh Palace
  2. Shanti Stupa
  3. Hall of Fame, Leh
  4. Gurudwara Pathar Sahib
  5. Magnetic Hill
  6. Confluence of Indus(right)and Zanskar(left)
  7. Khardung La
  8. Hunder Sand Dunes
  9. Nubra Valley
  10. Pangong Tso

Download offline Maps

We strongly recommend you to download offline maps for leh, So that you can reach any destination without internet.

Note: We have covered all the places just by following offline maps. Maps shows the route perfectly you can blindly follow it.

Phone networks at Leh

BSNL connections work the best in Ladakh. They have the good coverage range.

Airtel covers some range. It also works in most areas in Leh.

Day 1

Landing at Leh airport, transfer to hotel and hire a motorcycle

Once you arrive the Leh Airport, Hire a prepaid taxi to reach your place of accommodation. You will find it at the exit of airport.

They charge a nominal fee only and It’s a fixed price.

Note: For Place of stay and accommodation tips, you will read below.

The whole day just relax and rent a proper bike and refuel your bike to begin your journey from day 2.

I strongly recommend to take complete rest for the day for acclimatization to the high altitude of Leh.

Don’t bath immediately when you enter the hotel since you need some time to adapt the climatic conditions.

Once you had your leisure breakfast and rest, search a motorcycle to rent.

Note: In this article, I recommend only to hire a motorcycle and insist to travel only in group so that you will be safe and makes the best adventure to enjoy.

Best Choice for Bike for Road Trip in Ladakh

Royal enfield 500cc is the best choice. This bike will offer unparalleled riding support.

Seats are comfortable for the pillions and rider too.

In case you are carrying more luggages, you can attach a carrier with this bike and using a strap, tie the luggages in the carrier.

If you are a person who doesn’t worry about seat cushions then Royal enfield Himalayan is the best bike.

No matter how big the patholes are, It seamlessly rides in offroad, rough and terrain roads.

We won’t recommend using other bikes apart from this!

A motorcycle ride in Ladakh is a mix of both adventure and fun.

How to rent a motorcycle in Leh?

You can rent a motorcycle in the city Leh and you will notice that options are in plenty.

Note: Do not book in advance for online bike rentals. Because there are lot of options to rent a bike in leh as well as deposit amount is low. You can roam around and you will find it easily.

Below are the prices fixed by Bike rental association.

You can also inquire at the hotel for renting motorcycle. They might arrange for you.

Tip: In our case, we have inquired the hotel and they arranged motorcycles for us without any deposit in advance and prices are 100 rupees less on rental per day for every bike compared to the rate list of ladakh bike rental. They also offered free jerry cans for carrying petrol and saddle bags. We also inquired the hotel for the insurance, Pollution and Registration certificate for every vehicle but they have provided only the Bike receipt token and convinced us that we don’t need anything apart from the Bike receipt which is blue in color. On our way to Khardungla pass, we have been asked to show the bike receipt in a checkpost wherein they noted down the registration numbers of motorcycle and they asked us to go. So in case if you have not been produced with insurance, pollution, registration certificates, don’t worry! You are good to go!

Important points on motorcycle rental

  1. Properly inspect your bike. Check the tires, brake and tire pressure.
  2. Check the kilometers it has completed to calculate the age of the bike.
  3. Make sure to do test drive of your motorcycle before you rent. Never compromise on riding quality.
  4. Inspect the exhaust and make sure that no black fumes comes out.
  5. If you are not convinced with engine sound or any other faults in the bike then ask them to provide other good bikes. They might try to convince you to stick on it. Never ever compromise and agree on that!
  6. Its best to take Puncture kit and learn how to operate it.
  7. The Luggage Carrier / Saddle bag costs Rs 100 extra per day with the bike you will rent.
  8. Some rental agencies might ask you to pay security deposit amount. Luckily we are not asked to pay security deposit. We only provided them our Valid driving license copies
  9. Bikes rented outside Leh are not allowed for sightseeing inside Ladakh including Tsomoriri, Pangong Tso, Nubra Valley, Khardung La etc.
  10. Private bikes are completely allowed to go anywhere in Ladakh. Keep only your document proofs related to your vehicle and identities.
  11. Make sure to have bike accessories like Jerry can, carriage for your bike, saddle bag etc. I would recommend you to lower your weights and luggage for your trip.
Tip: We kept some luggages at the hotel itself in order to reduce the load and collected it after we returned back to leh.

Day 2

Inner Line permit stamping and Leh Sightseeing

What is Inner Line Permit and how to obtain it?

Inner line permits in Leh – Ladakh region is required in order to visit the restricted places like

  1. Pangong Tso
  2. Tso Moriri
  3. Khardung La
  4. Nubra Valley
  5. Turtuk

Inner Line Permits are not required for Zanskar and Suru Valley.

No permits are required to visit the local places near Leh town or Leh local sightseeing.

How to apply inner line permit for Indians at leh?

In order to apply for ILP online, go to ILP link http://lahdclehpermit.in/

  1. After the webpage loads, at the bottom of the screen, click on “Issue”. A menu will appear and you need to click on “Domestic Clients”.
  2. Next you need to enter your details of your Name, State, Gender, Id Type, Id Number and Home Address. You need to choose “Issue Permit” as “directly”.
  3. You need to enter the Arrival Date of when you are arriving in Leh. After that, click on Submit.
  4. When you click on submit, you will find the screen with two options “Click here to issue individual permit” and “Click here to issue group permit”.
  5. If you are applying for one person alone, you need to click on “Individual permit” option else if you are travelling in a group, choose the “Click here to issue group permit” option and add details of your co-travelers.
  6. Fill your co-traveler details. In next screen, you need to select among the circuits which you plan to visit in Ladakh. Select number 2 and number 5. Since we are going to explore nubra valley circuit and Pangong lake circuit.
  7. A reference number will be present on that page itself as seen in below image.
  8. NOTE : Save the ref number somewhere. You can Print the permit whenever you need it by using reference number.
  9. Input the Start Date and End date of the permit which will calculate the total fee for your permits.
  10. Select Apply for Permits button
  11. You need to click on the Proceed button to generate your permit.
  12. You need to Print two copies of this Permit receipt.
  13. The permit shows fee that includes Environment fee (Rs 300 per person one time), Red cross fund fee (Rs 100 per person one time) and wildlife fee (Rs 20 per person per day)
  14. You can choose to click on Pay Now option to pay the permit fee online using Credit or Debit Card via Jammu & Kashmir Bank online portal.
  15. After payment is successful, a receipt known as Easy Collect Collection ID will be generated. You need to take printouts of Easy Collect Transaction Receipt and as well as Permit Receipt. SMS and Email will be sent to Payer confirming receipt of payment.
  16. However, you need to visit the Tourist Information Center for verification of your permits and get them stamped. Below is the image of Tourist Information centre.
  17. If you don’t want to pay online, then visit the Leh DC office or Leh TIC office and pay the permit fee while getting the verification done for your permits.
  18. It won’t be much crowded and it opens from 10 A.M till 5 P.M. You need to bring two photocopies of Inner line permit receipt and one copy of Easy Collect transaction receipt for the fees you paid online.
  19. They will attach a stamp on one photocopy of permit for pangong and another photocopy of permit for Nubra valley.
Important note: Make two photocopies of your Stamped permit and keep original with you. You will need to submit one copy at South Pullu checkpost for Permit to Nubra Valley and another copy at Tangste for permit to Pangong Lake. If you are a foreigner, you can only get a permit in the tourist agency in Leh. All you need to provide them is your passport. The agencies charge from 600 INR to 1000 INR which include the cost of the permit and commission. The maximum duration of a foreigner permit is one week.

Leh local sightseeing

After leisurely lunch visit Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, Hall of Fame, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib,Magnetic Hill, Sangam (confluence of Indus & Zanskar rivers).

Visit Leh Palace

Leh Palace is a royal palace located in the picturesque Ladakhi Himalayan town of Leh.

Opening time: 7.00 AM to 4.00 PM.

Entry fees per person for Indian citizens is Rs. 15/- and for foreigner nationals is Rs. 100

Visit Shanthi Stupa

The Shanti Stupa was built to promote world peace and prosperity and to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism

A sparkling 360 degree view of the city was a soothing experience to the eyes with the clear sky and stars.

It’s a nice place to relax and meditate. Life of Buddha is depicted through sculpture conceptualized by a Japanese. It was constructed in 1990s.

Try to visit in night time also.

Visit Confluence of Indus and Zanskar

Capture the breathtaking view of confluence of two rivers.

Visit Gurudwara Pathar Sahib temple

Gurudwara Sahib is managed by Indian Army, Let’s get into history.

Once Guru Nanak Dev was meditating at this place and a demon who hates Guru Nanak, through a big stone on Him, Guru Nanak Dev ji converted a stone thrown on him by a demon into a soft jelly.

The impression of Guru Nanak Dev ji is still there on the stone. This stone is still in Gurudwara Pathar Sahib.

Visit Magnetic hill

If you put your vehicle in neutral in the box marked on the road it moves ahead instead of going back downhill.

We tried this but nothing happened. Locals conveyed that it lost the magnetic effect.

It’s up to you to decide whether to visit this place or not!

Visit Hall of fame

This museum will be interesting for Indians who want to know about the Kargil war and the achievements of the Indian army.

Timing: The Hall of Fame museum will open from 9 A.M to 1 P.M. and from 2 P.M. to 7 P.M.

Entry Fee: Rs. 200 per person and it includes light and the sound show. For photography inside the museum, you need to pay an additional Rs. 40.

Some handy tips

  1. Reach this place at around 5pm. Spend 2 hours in the museum. Take photographs
  2. Watch the parade which starts at around 7:10pm. you will feel patriotically.
  3. There is a 30min video on the army which starts at about 7.30pm which has light and sound show. It’s brilliant and emotionally connected. Don’t miss it. It will make one aware about the hidden stories & experiences of Indian army - the wars with our neighbors and how bravely the army fought.
  4. That's it have a good sleep. From tomorrow , the real Adventure begins.

Day 3

Road trip from Leh to Nubra Valley

Day 3 is all about riding to Nubra valley from Leh.

we need to ride to Nubra Valley via Khardung la (5,570 Mts.), world's highest motorable roads in the world.

The road trip from Leh to Nubra Valley is one that is at the top of every adventurer’s bucket list, and for good reason!

Packed with adrenaline, beauty and stunning views of the Himalayan range, the journey is something right out of dreams

Road Map to Nubra Valley

Leh – South Pullu - Khardung La – Khalsar – Diskit – Hunder – Thoise – Skuru – Bogdang – Turtuk

Leh to South Pullu

Take an early start from Leh so that you have time to explore the valley and take sufficient breaks while on the way.

Your first destination will be to reach Khardung La top via South Pullu.

You will be required to submit a copy of your permit at South Pullu.

Roads from leh to South pullu are great.

South pullu to Khardungla pass

Half -way between south pullu and north pullu roads were bad. Your cellphones signals will be stopped working.

On my way to khardung la pass, I saw three people vomiting at the highway.

It’s a horrible journey for us. I became exhausted because of my motorcycle with poor acceleration on the hilly roads with bad road conditions.

When accelerating, the fuel burns with the less amount of air in the engine and it burns only rich fuel which in turn produced black smoke and bike is not moving.

Somehow people helped to push the bike uphill and we reached the Khardung la pass. We were completely exhausted.

So please choose a vehicle thoroughly inspecting in uphill. Choose higher cc engine.

At the top of Khardung La is an army base and small cafeteria.

Take stunning photos on signboards reading “Khardung La, 18,380 ft, Highest Motorable Road in the world”

Remember you are going to Khardungla Pass which is the highest motorable pass in the world. You need to be proud to achieve it.

Khardung La pass to Khardung Village

Road that is descending towards Nubra valley has always been in a bad condition till North Pullu. There will be puddles and pothole’s. Caution is advised while driving here.

There is a small restaurant at North Pullu so in case you are hungry, you can eat here. You can get only are chips, biscuits and Maggie, bread omelet.

The route will be so good and mesmerizing. You will love it.

Khardung Village to Khalsar

Roads from Khardung village till Khalsar will be smooth and you can ride faster.

At Khalsar the road will divide in two. You need to take the left that leads to Diskit and Turtuk. We need to travel to diskit and turtuk.

A straight road with two sides mountains that will make you speechless and take photograph on the Sign board reading as “Siachen Warriors”.

Khalsar to Diskit

We planned to stay at diskit only. You will find lot of guest houses at diskit. Ladakhis are so friendly so try to negotiate the room rent. Don’t book in advance in online.

You will end up paying high. Go directly and find the rooms with less price.

Primary attraction of Diskit is the ancient Diskit Gompa which is believed to be from 14th century.

This monastery is really old which takes you back in time and the giant buddha statue is mesmerizing. Visit here if you want to find peace. They serve hot tea to all visitors free of cost.

You will have to pay Rs 50 as entry fees

Diskit to Hunder

Witness the Bacterian Camels (Shaggy double hump Camel) and sand dunes in hunder. Witness the beautiful White Sand Dunes.

Enjoy a camel safari on the double humped camels which are found only in the Nubra Valley as far as India is concerned.

The place is absolutely clean, there is not a trace of filth. The sand is super fine and clean as well - great place for children to enjoy.

The camel ride (Double Hump Bactrian Camels) charges Rs 200 for a 15 min ride and more for longer duration. Carrying a scarf to cover the face is recommended due to lot of sand being kicked up by winds.

There are also decent hotels in Hunder and guest houses to stay.

We preferred to go back to Diskit and stay there and also we couldn’t go to Thoise and Turtuk because number of people got lesser by each passing kilometer as well as we ran out of time.

I advise you to start every journey early so that you can cover all the areas!

Find the roadmap below to reach turtuk.

Hunder -Thoise - Bukdang - Turtuk

You will find lush greeneries all around in turtuk and that is the last outpost of india.

Petrol Pump at Diskit

There is only one petrol pump at diskit. Its available most of the time. You can refuel petrol’s here.

ATMs and Banking Services in Nubra Valley

There is no Bank or ATM in Nubra Valley or on the way. Debit or credit cards too are not accepted here.

Day 4

Nubra Valley to Pangong lake

After leisurely breakfast, you have to come through the same route where you entered till Khalsar.

After crossing Khalsar village, you need to take the road towards Village Agham.

Till Agham the roads will be smooth.

Agham to Shyok

From Agham to Shyok you will experience worst or no roads.

Once you reach Agham, you need to take the road towards left though Shyok village.

The problem with this route is that it’s prone to land-slides. At nubra you can inquire at police station or local peoples to know whether the route is opened or closed.

Sometimes the water in Shyok river swells and closes the road. Hence, it is important to ask at Agham village before you travel on this route.

You find below the image of how the route looks like.

Don’t panic. It’s for shorter duration only. With maximum throttle and full clutch you can cross the hurdles.

The ride is rather remote, so you need to be prepared. Always carry a puncture kit because the rocks are sharp enough to cut the tires.

Some of the curves and terrain is hard to handle.

Always go in a group no matter if you are in your own car or even a motorcycle.

Shyok to Tangste

The roads are smooth and there is small restaurant at durbuk where you can get a Maggie, tea. You can capture the views of shyok river.

The Shyok Village to Durbuk section is very scenic.

At tangste you need to provide a copy of inner line permit of Pangong lake.

Tangste to Spangmik

Here the route becomes more commercial. This stretch of the road is easy, but you’re in the heavy military area – a lot of places prohibit photography. You will enjoy it surely.

The roads are good till pangong first view. You will see the stunning first view of pangong lake.

The Pangong lake is one of the best tourist destination in Leh. The scenic panoramic beauty will make your go awestruck. It has crystal blue water which adds up to its scenic beauty.

The popularity has also gone up after the famous “3 idiots” movie climax scene was shot here.

Don’t end here because the destination you need to travel is spangmik.

From Pangong lake to Spangmik you will experience some rough terrains and sharp bends.

The journey by land to get to this pristine lake is hard because of the bad road conditions but it’s worthwhile

Once you enter spangmik, you will find lot of tents near the lake.

Head towards the tents. If you are lucky you might get the tent for a night costs Rs. 100 only. I’m not joking. So don’t book in online. You might end up paying almost 3000+ rupees.

No cellphones signals will work at Pangong.

The total distance on this road between Khalsar to Pangong Tso is approximately 140 kms and total travel time is about 6 hours.

Enjoy the beautiful pangong view.

Petrol Pumps at Pangong

There are no petrol station at Pangong, spangmik. Fill petrols from Jerry cans to return to leh.

It will be very cold and keep your power banks full charged and relying on your phone for the memories.

Day 5

Pangong Lake to Leh

Wake up early to see the sunrise in the Pangong lake. It’s a mesmerizing one.

The road map to leh from pangong

Leh – Shey – Karu -Sakti – Chang La -Durbuk – Tangste - Lukung – Spangmik

Spangmik to Leh via Chang La

Depart early from Pangong Lake via Chang-la pass.

This is the most traveled upon and direct route to reach leh from Pangong.

Durbuk to Chang la

The climb is steep and requires a careful drive

Chang La, literally meaning “Pass towards the South” is claimed to be the third highest motor-able road in the world. Once at the summit, enjoy the beautiful scenery around you.

Roads from Durbuk to Changla will be rough with rocks and potholes however rest of the journey will be smooth.

For about 10 to 15 km before and after the chang la pass, you will find only dirt roads, because of the streams that erupt in the summer season erode it away.

Sakti –Karu –Leh

The roads are very beautiful and smooth. Now you can throttle high and reach leh safely.

what to buy at Leh Market?

In the evening, you can do some last minute shopping and buy souvenir in the Leh markets which are famous for Shawls, Chinese Cutleries and Ladakhi wooden handicraft items and dry fruits and Kashmir Saffron.

Always negotiate price in the Leh market.

Leh packing list

    1. Clothes (Clothes and travel towel)

  1. Riding Jacket
  2. Raincoat is mandatory
  3. Woolen cap
  4. Warm Gloves
  5. Atleast two pair of socks
  6. Note: I strongly recommend packing warm clothes and some wind protection even if you plan a trip in Summer

    2. Comfortable motorbike Shoes and slippers

    3. Sunglasses

    4. Medications for acute mountain sickness

    5. Make up

  7. Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodarant, moisturiser, any make-up items and hair straightener is allowed on airplanes on cabin baggage as well.
  8. Make up items should be less than 50 ml or 50 g while travelling on flights.

    6. Power plug

  9. Indian power outlets
  10. I recommend every traveler to get a travel adaptor. So that you travel to any countries.

    7. Camera Gear

  11. Camera, Lens, Small Tripod or selfie sticks, Additional batteries and memory cards
  12. 8. Electronics

  13. Powerbank, Headphones, Hair straightener, Travel adaptor
  14. 9. Water Bottle

  15. We highly recommend bringing a reusable bottle for water with you so you can fill it in airports or shops so that you don’t have to pay for the water.
  16. Note: Security clearance doesn't allow water bottles filled with water. So bring empty bottles or drink it completely before you enter.

    10. Passport, Visa and proofs.

  17. Aadhar card (For Indian citizen)
  18. 11. Documents

  19. Original Driving license + Photocopies of driving license
  20. Travel, Accomodation Printouts
  21. Inner Line Permit Printouts (We will discuss this below)

Currency

INR

Note: Carry currencies for your entire trip since you will not find many ATM’s in Leh.

Cheapest time to go to Leh

Generally, flight prices and accommodations will be cheaper in September.

The best time to visit leh is between September 1st to September 15 and this is the cheapest time too.

There won’t be much crowded. Climate is also perfect with clear skies!

Total Cost

Total cost for 5 days are 25000 INR for one person including accommodation and flight tickets. It includes everything.

Group Shared Expense calculator in Excel

I have attached the excel template that tracks all shared bills.

Click here to download

You could also replace and fill yours. It will be more useful when you are traveling in a group. As soon as you enter the details, it automatically shows you the expense sharing summary.

Note: In the Excel cell, “1” means person included in the cost. “0” means person not included in the cost. If any person owes only half of the amount, then you could enter as “0.5”

Tips on Leh Flight Bookings

You may get a cheaper deal in goibibo or makemytrip so you should properly analyze, compare the prices and then start booking.

Remember to book before 3 months. Only then ticket prices will be low.

At certain deal periods, paytm and flipkart (makemytrip) offers a low cost flight ticket compared to these both.

Book the flight by comparing the four websites by proceeding until checkout (before payment), because at the end some surcharge may add upon on some websites when you are checking out at the end.

Don’t book tickets by seeing the price which shows up at first.

Tips on where to stay in Leh, Pangong and Nubra Valley

Don’t expect 5 star or luxury hotels on Leh.

Prices vary depending on the popularity of the location.

I recommend to book accommodation only on Leh so that you can directly go to hotels after landing.

For Nubra Valley and Pangong lake you can go directly and negotiate before you pay. That will be cheaper.

FAQ

Bike Ride Accessories on Rent in Leh – Ladakh

Following are some of the common rates of common bike riding accessories per day

  1. Tent = Rs 500
  2. Sleeping Bag = Rs 200
  3. Riding Jacket = Rs 300
  4. Ladakh Carrier / Saddle Bags = Rs 100
  5. Gum Boots = Rs 50
  6. Digital Camera = Rs 500
  7. GoPro with mounts = Rs 700

Languages spoken on Leh

Ladakhi, Hindi, Urdu and little English are spoken and understood in Leh.

You don’t need to worry if you don’t know their language.

Those people understands little English. Speak with them slowly and less complicated.

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