There are 100s of other blogs that provide information on the best travel itinerary ideas to Leh Ladakh. Then why am I writing this post all of a sudden? Despite knowing that it will never show up on the first page of Google search results and there are 100 similar posts with the same itinerary written over and over again.
Well, the reason are the people who keep asking me to help them with their travel plans to this exquisite, temperate, cold Himalayan desert. So here is my version of Ladakh’s itinerary, where I’ll try to cover all the details regarding the trip.
I know Ladakh a little better than many others as I spent a month and a half here trying to search for Snow Leopard. I couldn’t find a single Snow Leopard during this trip but I ended up collecting a huge insight about the best ways to travel in Ladakh.
Fun Fact: Till Dec 2015, I was selling packages for Leh Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh to tourists on 10% profit margin 😛
* All the tips are written keeping preferences of Indian travelers in mind. Many of these clauses change for foreign nationals and it happens on a yearly basis. Also, these tips are not for fixed packages or planned bike trips as a number of places are included/excluded and vary from one agent to another.
How to reach Ladakh
Among the many ways to reach Ladakh, the flight journey is the most popular one, especially among those who have less time in hand for holidays. Flight trips often cause headache, nausea and even AMS because you travel all the way from 800 meters to almost 4000 meters in span of a few hours. This is the reason why you are advised to acclimatize for 24 hour after you land in Leh.
Another way is by road. Road service from Manali and Srinagar open by mid-June. You can find buses, private and shared taxis for Leh and back.
Permits for traveling in Ladakh
Well, this is new. The clause of inner line permit for Pangong Tso, Nubra and a few other places was removed in 2014. The rules have been imposed again in 2017 as the number of tourists and its negative impact increased after the permit system was removed.
To visit a number of destinations in Ladakh, including Nubra Valley, Khardung La, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Dah, Hanu Villages, Man, Merak, Nyoma, Loma Bend, Turtuk, Tyakshi, Chusul, Hanle, Digger La, Tangyar, you’ll have to apply for a permit. This permit for Ladakh travel is easy and all it requires is a copy of your Aadhar Card and some passport size photos.
One needs to pay INR 400 per day as environment fee and INR 20 per day as inner line permit fee. These fees are on a per day per person basis.
You can easily apply for the permits from the official website www.lahdclehpermit.in. These permits are not applicable to J&k residents and children below 12 years.
You can also apply for these permits at TIC office, Opposite J&K Bank, Main Market, Leh. The office is open on all working days (Monday to Friday) 09:00 AM to 07.00 PM.
Post applying for permits, you’ll have to get the printed copy stamped from the TIC office where the payments will be needed to be made.
Common itineraries for Leh Ladakh trip
Now assuming that you are arriving Leh Ladakh by flight, taking a day to acclimatize, after which your journey begins –
An ideal seven day itinerary –
Day 1: Delhi to Leh by Flight (Acclimatization day)
- Check in at hotel, keep the day free to acclimatize. If you have booked your hotel in advance then ask them for a pickup as the airport is in the outskirts of the town.
- In the evening you can visit Leh Palace or Shanti Stupa. Spend some time exploring local restaurants or just watch the sun going down behind Leh Main Market.
Day 2: Leh Local Sightseeing
- No permits are required for local sightseeing of Leh
- Bargaining is important
- Avoid walking and climbing as your body is still acclimatizing
- Start with Khar and visit Leh Palace, one of the most beautiful places in Ladakh. You can also visit Tsemo Castle and Namgyal Gompa in the proximity
- Visit the Indian Army Hall of Fame, a must for every Indian coming here
- Go to main Leh market, visit Sankar Gompa
- You can also visit Zorawar Fort, but it is a 30-40 minute hike and is kind of tiring
- You can either spend your evening at Shanti Stupa or cover it early and go to Sindhu Ghat, located on the bank of River Indus. A very calm and beautiful place.
- If you are planning to spend your evening at Sindhu Ghat then cover Spituk Monastery as well.
- Local transport doesn’t cover all these places. Hire a car for a complete day
Day 3: Leh – Khardung La – Deskit – Hunder – Nubra Valley – Turtuk
- If you are traveling by bus or local transport then better avoid Nubra camps and go with stay homes at Hunder.
- You can avoid Hunder and go to Turtuk village instead
- Make a stop at Khardung-La pass for pictures. Don’t spend more than 20 minutes.
- Deskit has monastery with tallest lord Buddha statue
- Hunder is famous for sand dunes and bacterian double humped camel safari
Day 4: Hunder / Diskit – Sumur – Panamik – Sumur – Khardung La – Leh
Day 5: Leh – Hemis Monastery – Pangong Tso Lake
Day 6: Pangong Tso Lake – Thicksey Monastery – Shey Palace – Leh (Also include rafting in Zanskar river on day 5 or day 6)
Day 7 Leh – Delhi by flight
Additional places to explore on a 10 day and 15 day itineraries of Leh
Day 8: Leh – Hemis – Tso Moriri via Chumathang
Day 9: Tso Moriri – Tso Kar –Taglang La – Upshi – Leh
Day 10: Rest day
Day 11: Sham Valley tour
You can also spend a few days in Sham Valley as there are multiple treks in the region. Click here for more details about trekking in Sham Valley –
Leh Ladakh itinerary via Srinagar to Manali
Day 1: Delhi – Srinagar
- You can also spend the night at Jammu or Patnitop
Day 3: Srinagar – Sonamarg
- Avoid Sonamarg if you are planning to spend your night at Jammu
Day 4: Sonamarg – Drass – Kargil – Lamayuru
- Spend your night at Kargil if you are staying at Srinagar instead of Sonamarg
Day 5: Lamayuru – Leh
Day 6: Local travel + local permits
Follow rest of the itinerary as mentioned on seven day itinerary
Day x: Tso Moriri – Tso Kar –Sarchu
Day x: Sarchu – Keylong – Rohtang Pass – Manali
Day x: End of the trip, take a bus for Delhi or Chandigarh from Manali
Ladakh from Manali
Day 1: Delhi – Manali
Day 2: Manali Sightseeing
Day 3: Manali/Rohtang – Keylong/Jispa
- I don’t advice to stay in Sarchu as the geography of the place doesn’t offer any acclimatization.
Day 4: Jispa – Leh
- There are direct shared cabs from Manali and they take 16 hours to reach Leh. Only take this one if you have heavy endurance as it takes a toll on your body after a while.
Follow the regular itinerary mentioned above
Day x: Leh – Lamayuru – Kargil
Day x: Kargil – Drass – Zozi La – Sonamarg – Srinagar
Day x: Srinagar –Jammu
Day x: Jammu – Delhi/Chandigarh
There are other ways to explore Leh, you can go and return via Srinagar or do the same thing via Manali. Everything depends on your preferences and the number of days you have in your hand.
I hope I was able to provide you an insight on traveling in Leh Ladakh as per my understanding. For any info on your itinerary, comment and let me know.