Complete Guidelines for Your Ladakh Road Trip
Ladakh, being located in the Trans-Himalayan region of Jammu & Kashmir, in North India makes it a popular spot amongst nature and adventure enthusiasts. This mountainous region remains thronged by the tourists from all across the world to explore its mesmerizing nature.
It is not only popular for its scenic beauty but is also known throughout the world for its amazing Buddhist Monasteries of ancient times. It is considered as ‘Little Tibet’ for sharing its border with Tibet and having a population that follows Tibetan Buddhism.
Ladakh offers a lot to its visitors but while traveling to Ladakh, one has to keep in mind certain things and need to take some precautions to have a pleasant trip in this barren land, at higher altitudes with low atmospheric pressure and low level of oxygen.
Here we’ll discuss about some essential points that one should know before planning out a trip to Ladakh. We will give you some important information about inner-line permits, petrol pumps, ATMs, and mountain sickness to make your Ladakh tour pleasant and memorable.
Dealing with High Altitude in Leh Ladakh
It is very important to get adapted to the low atmospheric pressure before choosing the itineraries for Ladakh. Therefore, don’t be in a hurry during your trips and let your body to adjust with the high altitude of the place by staying two days in Leh.
Don’t try to head towards Nubra or Pangong soon after your arrival in Leh, doing so may lead you to suffer from acute mountain sickness such as severe headaches, restlessness, nausea and ataxia. It may leave you unable to walk or think, spoiling your holiday.
Acute mountain sickness may affect physically fit people as well. Therefore, one should keep in mind the following points:
- One has to be physically fit in-order to take a trip in the region of Ladakh.
- Climb the mountain gradually to let your body get adjusted with the atmosphere.
- Halt for at least 2 days in Leh to adjust with the low atmospheric pressure.
- People suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure and asthma should avoid visiting Ladakh.
- Over Hydration could harm you. So, increase the intake of water slowly.
- To prevent your head from the harsh winter winds, cover your head and ears with woolen.
- As the level of oxygen remains low at this altitude, don’t include too much of physical activities in-order to avoid fatigue, breathlessness and not to run out of excitement.
- Carry a box of first-aid having preventive medicines to treat altitude sickness. The must to have medicine in the box is Diamox (its natural version is garlic soup).
- As soon as you notice any sign of acute mountain sickness like headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, etc. then take rest at a high altitude.
- Smoking and drinking at a high altitude should be avoided to prevent acute mountain sickness.
- Keylong, Darcha and Jispa will be your stoppage if you are taking Leh-Manali Highway. Kargil will be your stoppage if you are traveling through Leh-Srinagar Highway. Avoid staying at Sarchu.
- You need to take rest for 2 days if you are flying directly to Leh. Short trips to Hemis, Thiksey, Nimoo, Shey and Stok etc. for visiting palaces and monasteries are recommended during this period.
Essentials to be Packed for Ladakh Trip
Being located in the lap of Himalayas, it is one of the coldest regions to be visited in India. You will notice a difference in the landscape and the weather condition on crossing Keylong, being on Leh-Manali Highway. You will observe the same changes after crossing Zoji La on Leh-Srinagar Highway.
The weather remains sunny and warm at the altitude during the daytime. Ladakh rarely receives rainfall and so it is reckoned as one of the best monsoon destinations in India.
You can do just with a jacket or pullover during the daytime. The temperature gradually begins to drop with the setting of the sun. The temperature even reaches to zero degree. You can remain indoors in the warmth of the lodges when it is dusk. You will be provided with warm blankets and quilts to sleep peacefully in the tents.
Below mentioned are the necessary things you need to pack during your trip to Ladakh:
- Proper woolen clothes such as jackets, pullovers, hand gloves, caps, mufflers, thermal inners and socks should be packed.
- As you will come across water streams on Chang La, Baralacha La, you need to pack a good pair of waterproof shoes for comfortable riding and trekking.
- General medicines and medicines to prevent acute mountain sickness like Avomine, Dexamethasone, Diamox and Acetazolamide.
- Carry lots of eatables such as biscuits, chocolates and dry fruits as you will not find things easily in the interiors.
- If you are interested in camping, then carry warm sleeping bag with you.
- Electronic gadgets like camera, cell phone and power bank should be packed to avoid your devices from running out of lives.
- Other essentials such as bandages, soaps, towels, etc. should also be packed.
Must to have Packing for Bikers
- The bikers need to pack some additional stuff during their trip to Ladakh which include a pair of raincoats. The raincoats will protect you from rain on Leh-Manali Highway, after crossing Chandigarh and before crossing Rohtang La Pass and on reaching Zoji La while traveling through Srinagar-Leh highway. It will also keep you away from dirt, keeping your clothes clean and dry while traveling through the passes and Moore Plains.
- Do carry a good pair of waterproof gloves.
- Boots are essential for the bikers to prevent their feet and socks from getting wet by the stream water flowing on passes such as Baralacha La and Chang La.
- Carry a puncture kit, spare tube, clutch & break wire, chain lock, gear & engine-oil, spark plugs along with a jar of petrol containing 10 to 20 liters of petrol. These are the must to have stuff on Leh-Manali Highway as you will not find things easily in the interior areas. You will get petrol pumps at Tandi and Karu.
Requirement of Inner Line Permits:
The foreign tourist must get the inner line permits to visit areas like Changthang, Hunder, Khaltse, Panamik, Pangong, Turtuk, Tso Kar, Tso Moriri and few others like Chusul, beyond Loma bend, Chumur, Hanle, Tsaga, Marsimik La and Batalik Sector.
These permits can be acquired from the Leh DC Office with the help of local operators. These permits are valid for 3 weeks from the date of issue.
To visit the places mentioned above, tourists from neighboring countries like Bhutan, Nepal, Burma and Pakistan should also get PAP (Protected Area Permit) from Leh DC Office. The permit is valid for 7 days.
Inner line permits are not required to travel to Suru and Zanskar valleys. The permit doesn’t allow tourists to go beyond Merek Village, in Mahe or Pangong village.
To obtain the inner line permit, tourists must carry Photo ID proof such as Passport or Driving License or Voter’s ID.
To visit destinations in Ladakh, Indians need no inner line permits. Not even to visit areas like Changthang, Hunder, Khaltse, Pangong, Panamik, Nubra Valley Tso Kar, Turtuk and Tso Moriri etc.
Indians have to carry their Nationality ID proof such as Driving License or Voter ID to be presented at the check posts.
But Indians need to obtain inner line permits, if they ride a bike en-routing or even if they wish to visit the areas like Chusul, Chumur, Hanle, Marsimik La, Tsaga and Batalik sectors or areas beyond Loma bend.
Now-a-days, travelers don’t have to return back to Leh after Tso Moriri and will go straight to Manali and will save a day.
Traveling to Ladakh by Air
You can take a direct flight from the capital city of India- Delhi, Srinagar or Jammu to Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, which is the major airport of this region and the Bhuntar Airport and Kullu. In the month of May to October, which is known as the peak season for tourists, one can avail air services as there are regular flight services during this period.
Several flights are operated from Delhi, Srinagar and Jammu airport to Leh-Ladakh. The schedules for the flights are subject to change on the basis of weather. Therefore, it is recommended to rush your plans, keeping them flexible.
We can help you get your flight tickets without any mess. Just click at the below link to contact us
Traveling to Ladakh by Road
Those who love to travel through bus or would like to go for a budget trip to reach Ladakh must know that they would become restless and their schedule will be busy due to less connectivity, long drives on mountainous regions and high altitude passes.
Bus services to Leh-Ladakh can be availed from Delhi, Manali and Srinagar. Know the details mentioned below.
From Delhi to Leh
Bus services from Delhi to Leh can be availed everyday in between 1st of July and 15th of September, operated by HPTDC every year. During this period, the road conditions remain favorable to cross the Rohtang Pass. It takes 35 hours to reach Leh with a numerous halts on the way along with a night hold in Keylong. Even the driver and the bus are changed during the trip.
The journey includes crossing of Gata Loops and Moore Plains along with majestic passes – Baralacha Pass, Lachungla Pass and Tanglangla Pass.
Learn about the passes where you can have biking adventure
From Manali to Leh
HPTDC operates a deluxe bus service from Manali to Leh twice in a week. This trip crosses mountainous terrain, high altitudes and deserts. The deluxe bus also halts providing opportunities for sightseeing. There will be a night halt as well. A journey through this route will cover 475 km.
The highlight of road trip is that it passes through Rohtang Pass, Baralacha La, Nakee La, Lachulung La and Taglang La.
From Srinagar to Leh
In this route one can avail both Government and private operated bus services every day. Distance covered during this trip is 419 km. There will be a night halt at Kargil on the route of Srinagar to Leh. During the journey passes such as Zoji La, Namki La and Fotu La will be covered.
Lodging in Ladakh
Luxury accommodation or hotels are not available in Ladakh, because of its adverse weather conditions and nature. Grand Dragon is the only luxury hotel in Leh. One can find luxury, deluxe and budget tents & camps with basic facilities and attached western toilets. Home stays for nights can also be availed at nominal price.
To get hassle-free advance booking of accommodation, you can contact through online here http://www.travelogyindia.com/about-us/contact.html or call us at +91 0120 411 3120.
Important Information for Bikers & Four Wheelers
You should have complete knowledge about petrol pumps in Ladakh, traveling by motorcycle or four-wheeler. It is essential to reserve petrol in cans or jars in-order to avoid running out of fuel on the way.
The last petrol pump on Leh-Manali Highway is at Tandi. Therefore, it is important to reserve fuel for the journey, while traveling through this route. The next petrol pump is at Karu about 380 km away from Tandi.
If your tour includes places like Leh to Pangong to Tso Mosriri to Rumtse to Leh or from Leh to Nubra to Pangong to Leh that will cover more than 700 km to 900 km, it is recommended to get your vehicle’s tank full. Also reserve plenty of petrol to be used when required.
Though one can get petrol from the local shops or roadside residences at a very high rate in some places, the quality of petrol availed from such places might not be good.
But on Leh-Srinagar Highway there are many petrol pumps. So, one need not have to worry about carrying petrol during the journey.
Importance of Cash During the Trip
If possible carry enough cash during your Ladakh tour. You can also carry your debit cards to withdraw money from ATMs when needed. Remember that credit cards are only accepted in some antique shops, it is neither accepted in the hotels nor by the travel agents.
Leh has a number of ATMs like J&K Bank, SBI, PNB, AXIS Bank and others but interior places like Changlang and Pangong, etc. don’t have so. Therefore, it is better to carry cash while traveling to these remote places.
Points to Remember
While traveling to Ladakh you need to keep in mind the below mentioned points:
- Respect the local culture of Ladakh during your journey. Dress properly by covering your body as much as you can and do not try to harm the Tibetan Buddhist culture. Take permission before clicking any photograph of the natives.
- STD booths located in the market places of Ladakh make communication smooth but the facility is limited as they shut down before 10 PM at night. Kargil is well connected through global direct dialing telephone facility along with telegraph and post facility. During the peak season, Jammu and Kashmir set up wireless mobile stations in the interior regions. It also has a wireless radio phone network service with field stations at Padum, Leh and Kargil.
- Plastic bags are banned in Ladakh. Therefore, do not carry plastic bags or litter the place while traveling.
- Bikers need to carry their proper documents during the trip, as they have to present their documents at the check posts while entering highland passes such as Zojila Pass, Changla Pass, Khardungla Pass and Fatula Pass. The documents should consist of a permit, driving license, vehicle registration and bike insurance documents.
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