A Comprehensive Travel Guide to Leh Ladakh

leh ladakh

The recently constituted Indian Union Territory of Ladakh, which was formerly a part of Jammu & Kashmir and is known as the “Land of High Passes,” has a landscape that will take your breath away. It is a location where the landscape radically shifts; it is truly amazing to view the mountains, snow, icy desert, alpine meadows, and lakes so close to one another. Both nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers would like Ladakh’s tourism industry.

Ladakh is home to some of the highest motorable passes, including Khardung La (5359 m), Marsimik La (5582 m), and Chang La (5360 m), as well as alpine lakes such Pangong Tso (4350 m) and Tso Moriri (4522 m). Leh, Nubra, and Zanskar are the three more regions that make up Ladakh, and each has a variety of attractions.

The majority of visitors to Ladakh are adventurers, who are drawn in by the variety of heart-pounding activities that are available. The union territory is one of the best places in India for trekking, offering magnificent and unequalled treks like the well-known Frozen River Trek/Chadar Trek. Mountaineering, motorcycling, mountain biking, white water rafting, and other activities are available in Ladakh.

Ancient Buddhist temples, many of which are thousands of years old and are tucked away in the mountains, add to the region’s remarkable beauty. These monasteries serve as vital cultural hubs and Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Ladakh, hosting important religious events.

We include all the details you need to be aware of before making travel plans in our Ladakh travel guide. Our comprehensive Ladakh travel guide provides details on the finest locations to go, must-see tourist attractions, activities to do, and accommodations in Ladakh.

The top Leh Ladakh tour packages from Holidays Hunt Travel guarantee a fantastic vacation at this popular Himalayan resort in India.

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Places to visit in Ladakh

Leh – Leh, the capital of Ladakh, served as a crucial intersection on the historic Silk Route. A 45,110 sq km district, it is also the second largest in the entire nation. The Leh Palace remains still dominate the picturesque location, which is situated at an elevation of 11,562 feet (a major tourist attraction). The former Ladakh royal family residence was designed after Tibet’s Potala Palace. It boasts of housing a number of well-known, historic Buddhist monasteries. It is a popular tourist spot in Ladakh and has a lot to offer.

Drass – The Drass sector is frequently referred to as “The Gateway to Ladakh” and is located 60 kilometres to the west in the Kargil region of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. During the Kargil war, an armed struggle between Indian and Pakistani forces, the area first gained notoriety. Its elevation ranges from 16000 feet to 21000 feet, and it is located at 10,990 feet above sea level. The Suru Valley can be reached after a three-day hike that begins here. The route travels through several stunning mountain villages and meadows brimming with flowers on both sides.

Kargil – The second-largest town in Ladakh after Leh, Kargil is situated on the banks of the Indus (Suru) river and is 8,780 feet above sea level. There are around 10,657 people living in this town, the most of whom are of mixed Dard and Tibetan ancestry. The majority of people in the country are Buddhists. It serves as a hub for transportation for routes to Leh, Padum (Zanskar), and Srinagar. The Kargil war, an armed battle between Indian and Pakistani forces, has taken place in July 2009. There are various monasteries in this area, and some of them even conduct several annual festivals.

Lamayuru – One of the most well-known villages and a great place to halt along the Kargil-Leh route is situated in the western part of Ladakh, surrounded by badlands with mountain backdrops. About 127 kilometres separate it from the Leh town. Lamayuru is typically where visitors to Ladakh stop to visit the Lamayuru monastery. The Red-Hat sect of Buddhism is home to the Lamayuru monastery, which was established by Mahasiddhacharya Naropa in the eleventh century.

Suru Valley – The Suru Valley, one of Ladakh’s most breathtaking locales, serves as the district’s starting point in Kargil. At 3000 metres above sea level, it lies tucked away in the northeastern foothills of the Great Himalayas. The area is crowded with tourists that want to spend their vacations among serene and stunning natural beauty.

Sarchu – On the Manali-Leh route, near the Indian state borders of Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh, is Sarchu, an overnight rest station with tent accommodations. At a height of 4,290 metres, it lies tucked between the Baralacha La pass in the south and the Lachulung La in the north.

Zanskar – The Zanskar range is a mountain range that is a component of the Tethys Himalaya and is situated in the Ladakh. It divides Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district from Spiti at a height of 19,700 feet. One of Ladakh’s most remote areas, it can only be reached by a challenging week-long hike or a 14-hour drive over an unsteady path along the Suru River. The mountain range has a wide variety of plants and animals. On the Leh-Kargil road, a new route connecting Padum and Nimmu is now being built through the Zanskar River valley.

Hunder – The captivating town of Hunder, also known as “the desert in the Sky,” is located in Ladakh’s Nubra Valley and is poised as an oasis between the icy desert and the imposing Himalayas. The town gained notoriety when sequences for a song sequence from the smash Bollywood hit Maniratnam’s Dil Se, starring Manisha Koirala and Shahrukh Khan, were filmed here.

Diskit – The magnificent Diskit Gompa is what makes Diskit, a fantastic tourist destination in the Nubra Valley, so famous. The stunning hamlet, which is in the Nubra Valley, offers guests experiences that are unmatched. Visitors get the necessary relief from the hectic city life with merely the sound of the rushing Shyok River piercing the silence that prevails in the area. The area is certainly a paradise, complete with ancient monasteries, spotless valleys, lush grasslands, and much more.

Turtuk – The most northern region of India is home to Turtuk, a gem of natural beauty. The Shyok River divides this well-known settlement, which is situated in the Nubra Valley of the Ladakh area. This community is nestled on the Shyok River bank and is located 205 kilometres from Leh.

Phugthal – The main attraction of Ladakh is Phugtal, often spelled Phuktal. On the union territory’s South-East side, it is situated. One of the most remote areas of the union territory is where the monastery of Phugtal is located. It is built on the cave opening on a cliff. The monastic complex is thought to be older than 2500 years.

Nubra Valley – Nubra Valley, known as India’s high-altitude desert, is 150 kilometres northeast of Leh in Ladakh. It is referred to as heaven on earth and is positioned 3048 metres above sea level in the tri-armed valley. White sand dunes flanked by snow-capped Himalayan peaks make up the picturesque natural beauty of the Nubra valley, which is well-known for it. A visitor cannot enter the valley without first obtaining an Inner line permit.

Stok Kangri – The Zanskar valley is home to Stok Kangri, the highest mountain in the entire Ladakh region. This mountain’s summit provides a panoramic view of the surrounding area, including the entire valley. Stok Kangri, often known as the “trover’s hotspot,” is a popular trekking destination for families and adventure seekers alike. While residing in the valley, it provides people with easy to difficult walking trails to enjoy. For those who are curious as to what the “Stok Kangri Trek” entails, it is an all-inclusive package of overcoming obstacles, scaling steep hills, and enjoying the ascent to 20,127 feet. This comprehensive Stok Kangri travel and tourism guide covers all the essential details to aid travellers in fulfilling their travel goals.

Shyok Valley – A visit to Shyok Valley is both immensely enjoyable and memorable. Most people make a halt here on their way from Nubra Valley to Pangong Lake. Despite being a little valley, Shyok is blessed with enormous mountains and stunning views all around it. The Shyok river, which flows through Nubra Valley, supplies water to the valley. This comprehensive guide to Shyok Valley includes information on how to get there, what to see, and more.

Keylong –
Keylong is more than just a pit break on the way to Ladakh, even though it is true that Lahaul is not Spiti. Keylong is a site worth visiting since it offers unrivalled beauty, adventurous activities, and much more. This comprehensive Keylong travel guide will assist you in better planning your trip to the “Land of Monasteries.” In the Keylong travel guide, all the crucial details are addressed.

Padum – The only town in Zanskar and one of the two main capitals of the former Zanskar Kingdom is Padum, which bears Padmasambhava’s name (sometimes referred to as the second Buddha). There is a lot of animals here, despite the fact that there is not a lot of grass or flora in the area.

Jispa – At a height of about 10,500 feet, Jispa is situated in the Himachal Pradesh province’s Lahaul and Spiti region. Along the Manali-Leh highway, it is located roughly 20 kilometres from Keylong. It is not unusual to see Buddhist stupas in the villages of this area, and Jispa, which is located beside the River Bhaga, is no exception.

Changthang – Changthang is a high altitude plateau located in northern Tibet, extending from eastern Ladakh into Tibet, at an elevation of 14,846 feet above sea level. Changpa nomads are this location’s principal draw. It is one of the five “bio-diverse regions” of India.

Panamik – Located in the Nubra valley, Panamik is a stunning and picturesque town. Both the breathtaking landscape and the hot springs in this area are well-known. Since the Indo-Tibetan border is after this settlement, Panamik is thought to be the final place travellers can travel in this route. Leh is 150 kilometres away from Panamik, and Diskit, the first settlement in the Nubra Valley, is just around 55 km away.

How to Reach Leh Ladakh

You can select the most efficient route or form of transportation based on the amount of time you have and your preferred mode of transportation. Here is a detailed guide on the various ways to get to Leh Ladakh.

By Air: Taking a flight is the quickest and most convenient way to go to Ladakh. Both during the busy season and offseason, there are several flights going to Ladakh.

Leh’s Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport is the closest airport. The distance from the main city to this airport is only 3.8 kilometres. Many international airports in India, including Delhi, have good connections with Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport. Additionally, it receives flights from popular Indian locations like Chandigarh, Jammu, and Srinagar.

By Road: Leh Ladakh can be reached by two different roads: one goes through Manali in Himachal Pradesh and the other goes through Srinagar. Between Manali and Srinagar, Ladakh is 494 kilometres away.

A taxi, a jeep, or a JKSRTC bus, both luxury and standard, are all options for getting to Leh by road. These buses run frequently and frequently between Leh and Srinagar from Kargil.

Alternatively, depending on how much time you have, you can start a bike ride from Srinagar, Manali, Delhi, or Chandigarh to Leh. Only between May and September is it possible to travel by vehicle to Ladakh because of the heavy snowfall that closes the roadways throughout the winter.

By Train: There is no train station in Ladakh, thus you can’t get there by train. The nearest railway station (700 kilometres from Ladakh) is Jammu Jammu Tawi, which is well connected to Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai. To get to Ladakh from Jammu, you can take a taxi or a JKSRTC bus.

Culture of Ladakh

The main language spoken here is Ladakhi, which is mostly spoken by Buddhists and Muslims but also includes Urdu and Tibetan influences. Ladakh’s culture is distinct from the rest of the country. It is a distinct fusion of Tibetan, Central Asian, and Indian civilizations. This merger is due to the region’s high altitude and remoteness.

The traditions of the Nambardar (often referred to as Chamba’i in the region) Order dominate the region. This social group adheres to a rigorous and disciplined hierarchy and rank system. The Nambardar were previously members of an order comprised of home employees and military elites.

Ladakh has a rich cultural heritage of folk dance and folk songs. Their day-to-day life is filled with folk songs and dance. Their folk dance is known for colourful costumes and gentle movements. During festivals, the Changthang people perform the Jabro Dance. The Shon dance is performed on every festive occasion.

Folk dance forms, music, cuisines, and festivals are the main highlights of the place:

  • There are many folk dance and song forms of Ladakh. Some folk dance forms like Changura, Sumda Kailash, Tingsha Tungnak, Mugal, and Jogia are performed by all the age groups in Ladakh. Folk songs that you can listen to and enjoy in Ladakhi style range from themes of social issues to common day-to-day events.
  • Popular music includes Chushur, Than, and Gurnak songs. Chushur is a local song form popular among children, whereas Than is an oral song among the Buddhist monasteries. Gurnak is a form of dance music, and also a vital part of the social and cultural life of Ladakhis during festivals.
  • The cuisine here has Tibetian, Indian, and Chinese influences and includes dishes like Thukpa (a noodle-based soup), Chuttagi (literally translating to water bread), Tingmo (steamed Tibetan bread), Chhurpe (dried yak cheese), and butter tea.
  • The festivals here are a sight for sore eyes and include the Losa Festival, Hemis Festival, Dosmochey Festival, and Spituk Gustor.

Ladakh is an extremely beautiful and historically important tourist destination in India. The region is popularly known as the ‘Land of Monasteries’ owing to the high number of monasteries and guest houses it holds that date back to 600 AD.

Weather in Leh Ladakh

Ladakh, one of the world’s highest areas, sees sub-zero temperatures during the winter. During the winter, nighttime temperatures rarely fall below -5°C. Winters remain cold, with snowfall prevalent between December and February, making this the best season to visit Ladakh if you enjoy snow.

Best Time to Visit Ladakh

Summer Season In Ladakh – Ladakh’s summer season lasts from April through June, with temperatures ranging from 5°C to 25°C. May marks the start of the tourist season in Ladakh.

Monsoon Season In Ladakh – Because Ladakh is located at a high elevation, it receives no to very little rain between July and September. The greatest time to visit Ladakh is now.

Winter Season In Ladakh – Ladakh’s winter season lasts from October to February. Heavy snowfall blankets the entire region, causing road closures at times. Nonetheless, Ladakh is accessible by plane throughout the winter.

Leh Ladakh Tour Packages

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Ladakh open post COVID-19?

Yes, Ladakh is open, but it is recommended that you follow all safety precautions such as following the mask mandate, maintaining social distancing, getting a vaccination certificate, and testing yourself regularly.

Is Ladakh safe for travel?

Yes, Ladakh is indeed safe for travel. The people are hospitable, and government organisations help tourists.

Do I need a separate visa or permit to travel to Ladakh?

Domestic tourists as well as international tourists require an inner line permit (ILP) and are required to pay for it in the form of an environment fee of INR 400. The ILP is valid for 1 week for foreigners as well as Indians.

Can people from all countries visit Ladakh?

Yes, people from all countries can visit Ladakh. However, citizens of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Hong Kong need permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

How many days are needed for tourism in Ladakh?

It is recommended that you dedicate at least one week to seeing Ladakh and all the areas that surround it. If you would like to include Leh as well, you should estimate another 5–10 days.

When does it snow in Ladakh?

During the winter months between December and February, Ladakh experiences light to heavy snowfall. The temperatures range between –2°C and –14°C. If you are visiting then, it is strongly recommended that you prepare for the cold accordingly.

Where is the airport in Ladakh?

The airport in Ladakh is situated in its capital city, Leh.

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