A perfect guide for the first-timers in Ladakh.


These postcard worthy views will take your breath away. Wait for a while and you will discover so much more in Ladakh. Handicrafts, super foods, warm and welcoming people will make your trip worth a while…

Why Ladakh?

If you are someone who likes rugged mountains, flags flying on the bridges, pristine blue and emerald lakes, adventurous roads then, Ladakh is your place to be.

You can stop at any turn and that will be a picture-perfect frame. It’s not easy to move on with these screensaver-like images. The barren land is a perfect contrast with the blue lakes and tall green trees. Ladakh is not only about the view but also about people and culture.

Region at a glance.

location– Ladakh is a union territory, the largest province in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the north of India.

Language– Ladakhi is the Tibetan language spoken in this region. Hindi is also spoken by most of them and English by some.

Currency– INR (Indian rupee)

How to Reach?

By Air

The most well-connected flights operate in and out of the Leh airport. It’s always better to reach Delhi and take a flight from there. From Leh, you can always hire a taxi for local sightseeing and to travel around Ladakh.

By Road

Being an Indian traveler once-in-a-lifetime you definitely think about a trip to Ladakh and what is a better way to travel than taking a road trip. There are two ways to reach Ladakh by road, the first one is from Manali and the second passes through Kashmir. I would suggest you go via Manali, visit Ladakh and return via Kargil and Kashmir.

The other way is by taking a local bus from Manali.

Itinerary

Leh Ladakh has always been on my bucket list for the past three years but the only thing stopped me was my family because I wanted to take this trip with my family on a road trip And convincing them was not an easy task.

But eventually, it happened and nobody could be happier than me.

This trip itinerary will be covering many other cities of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Leh Ladakh, and Kashmir at a glance.

Start your journey from Nagpur to Agra, which is the first pitstop. Stay in Agra for two nights, explore the place, have delicious local food, and of course see the Taj Mahal. The best time to see the Taj Mahal would be in the morning, you’ll probably find fewer people if you enter when it opens but if you go late by 9 AM, it’s going to be crowded. (Distance -840km, time taken -14hr).

The next stop on the way to the Leh is Shimla, you can stay there for two nights and explore all the local places, delicious local food and visit the places that will remind you why Shimla is called the Queen of Hills. It’s quite fascinating to see how the houses are constructed on a tip of a mountains here. (distance- 600 km, time- 10hr)

After Shimla, it is time for the next stop, which is Manali. I know Manali can be underrated but if you have not been to Manali at least once it’s worth it and if you have already been to Manali you can stay in Kasol/ jibhi/ Solang valley Too. visiting Hidimba Temple will remind you of the Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani movie, shopping on the Mall Road, and buying local hand-painted wooden art. stay in Manali for two nights and leave for the next stop, Jispa.

Why Jispa?

When you’re traveling from Manali to Ladakh it’s recommended to make a stop in the middle because the distance is around 470 km. I don’t recommend traveling at night when the sun is down.  If you are traveling in the month of April to September then I would recommend you to stop at Sarchu or pang because the temperature is moderate and it’s in the centre so that you don’t have to cover a longer distance the next day, but if you’re planning a road trip in October it is better to stay in Jispa. The temperature in Sarchu goes below -7°C and is windy in the month of Oct. There are many tents available on site and they are not even expensive which can be booked on the spot.  Now we all have seen hundreds of YouTube videos where people are showing how bad roads are from Manali to Leh and how you should not travel on that road most of the time but my experience from Manali to Leh was totally different. If you ever want to go to Ladakh and you have any doubt whether or not you should travel by road, then you should definitely take a road trip and don’t worry because with proper precautions your trip will be as smooth as butter. Believe me.

Atal tunnel

Stay in Jispa for a night and then leave for Leh early morning Because the distance you have to cover to reach is less than 300 and it takes time. (Distance -100km, time taken -2 and half hours).

The distance from Manali to Leh is around 460 km and the only patch that’s not good is for 70 km between Sarchu and Pang and that can take up to 3 hours to complete. There are dust roads, bad roads on the mountains which are under construction and the Border Road organization is doing great work.

Karma Cottage, Jispa

Leave from Jispa early in the morning, enjoy the scenery on the way and reach Leh by evening. The best part about this route is that you would want to stop at every point l, because everything seems so beautiful and in every 10 to 12 km you will see a change of atmosphere, the change of colors of mountains, the change in the sun rays and everything else and you don’t want to skip that. This is the difference you feel if you travel by road which you probably will miss when you take any other route. (Distance – 340 KM, time taken -14hr). After reaching Leh give your body a day or two to acclimatize. Another pro point for traveling via road is that your body automatically gets acclimatized because you are gradually increasing the elevation and not suddenly coming to the higher elevation as you do by flights. You can visit the local places for the first and the second day visit the local Mall Road market and shop a lot.

Do stay at least a week in Ladakh so that you can visit Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake, and Tso Moriri. The first two days you can visit the local sightseeing, the next two days you can keep for Nubra Valley. There are many places to visit. My recommendation to stay for the night would be Hunder because it’s a beautiful small place surrounded by mountains and desert. You should definitely try an ATV ride in Khalsar, visit Diskit monastery and ride a double-humped camel in Hunder. If you Can add one day to your itinerary then I would recommend you to visit Turtuk village which is the last village of India to the border of Pakistan. 

After two days leave for Pangong Lake early in the morning and enjoy the beautiful mountains and blue pristine river flowing beside you the whole way. 

Book a stay in a tent around beautiful Pangong Lake and enjoy the sunset view and a morning cup of tea just in front of it. It gets pretty cold during the night in the month of September and October so be prepared with all the warm clothes you have. The tents close by mid-Oct so always call and ask before booking. If you’re suffering from breathing or any other problems, I would suggest you not stay in Pangong Lake. If you leave early in the morning from the Nubra Valley, you can reach Pangong lake by afternoon, enjoy the view for hours like three hours four hours, and then you can leave for Leh and will reach by the night.

For the next two days, you can visit Puga Valley and Tso Moriri lake.( distance 210 km ,time – 6hr). If you’re planning to visit these places then I would recommend you to stay overnight in a tent or in a hotel somewhere around it because it’s not easy to cover 450 km in a day in a  mountainous area, especially when you take hours clicking pictures of such beautiful locations.

You can leave from Leh in the morning and make a stop in Kargil. Kargil is a very underestimated place when it comes to travel destinations but Kargil is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been so you should also see the beauty when you can. You can definitely reach Srinagar directly from Leh, It might take a long time but I wouldn’t suggest that you do that. It’s always better to stop and explore a new place if you can. It takes about 6 hours from Leh to Kargil and on the way you can see many places. You can visit Lamayuru -the moon land of Ladakh. You can see the Kargil War Memorial and therefore it takes about six hours to reach Kargil.

Leave for Srinagar in the early morning. You can see the change in the air, the mountains and everything else. In Ladakh, you only saw the brown rock mountain. Here you will see all the Greenery and snow-capped mountains, That’s why Kashmir is known as the paradise of India. You can reach Srinagar in the evening and enjoy the local market or take a Shikara ride to Finish off your day. 

The next day you can visit all the local places in Srinagar and definitely try some local food. You can keep one day for visiting Gulmarg and take a ropeway to reach the top. I would recommend you to take a phase 2 or a phase 3 ticket. If you’re visiting in the month of October or November you will definitely get a beautiful snowfall with greenery everywhere. That’s something you must not miss. Don’t forget to stay in a houseboat that really completes the trip to Srinagar. 

Stay in Srinagar for three or 4 nights If you want to add a Pahalgam in the list. The next and the second last stop on this trip would be Amritsar. Stay in Amritsar for two nights. Visit Golden Temple first thing in the morning, take the blessing, enjoy some Langar and shop around the street. Don’t forget to take a walk in the local market and enjoy some authentic Amritsari food and the warmth of locals. 

From Amritsar, you can go to Delhi for the next stop. If you have already been to Delhi then you can just take a stop overnight and leave the next morning but if it’s the first time you’re coming to Delhi, stay for two nights enjoy the local sightseeing, go to Chandni Chowk for some delicious food and shopping.

From Delhi, you can stay in Gwalior for a night before you leave for Nagpur. Gwalior is known for its palaces and villas. You should definitely give a day to visit all of those, stay for two nights in Gwalior and then leave for Nagpur in the morning and you will reach by evening, relax and relive the memories again.

Where to stay?

These are some places I stayed in while I was on my long road trip. Of course there are many more places you can find on booking websites like booking.com, MakeMyTrip, Agoda, and Airbnb. The stays suggested below are located near the main markets and are in the city center. The one marked with * is absolutely my favorites.

What to eat and where?

Food is the best way to explore the real culture and Identity of a place, so whenever you travel, always explore what locals eat instead of going to a touristy place. Trying out local food will always make your pocket and soul happy. Here are some of my favourite places to eat on the way. You will find Both touristy and local options below.

  1. Chokho Jeeman ( https://goo.gl/maps/ZQJmcYwArZ42URMu7 ) Agra 
  2. Bedai and Allu curry in Agra 
  3. Kalyan Dhaba ( https://goo.gl/maps/SuM85gafUNYKwjHeA ) Shimla 
  4. Siddhu in Manali Mall Road 
  5. Manali Mall Road 
  6. Chopsticks Noodle Bar ( https://goo.gl/maps/6gow5qMhP86SqymW8 )
  7. Makhan Fish and Chicken Corner Amritsar SINCE 1962 ( https://goo.gl/maps/sG7e2wAACSca4pFo8 )
  8. Ahuja Milk Bhandar, Ahuja Sweets(https://goo.gl/maps/ZDJtpte89U3LNC4fA )
  9. Haveli ( https://goo.gl/maps/SktZKxv7BnfQ8FD4A )
  10. Jung Bahadur Kachori Wala( https://goo.gl/maps/uFbeL5fFuQdmg5Vs5 )
  11. Haji Mohd. Hussain (https://goo.gl/maps/pQyZHfG8qLtXL5mG7

Budget- 

Now, when it comes to the budget, it totally depends on the individual and what kind of trip they are looking for, whether it’s a backpacking or leisure trip. 

I traveled to Ladakh from Nagpur Agra Shimla Manali Leh no bra Valley Srinagar Amritsar Delhi Gwalior and back to Nagpur trip was about 25 days and the distance covered was around 5300 km with five people

I roughly spend about Rs.1,80,000 (3000$) in 25 days. 

This included :

  • Accommodation in good hotels and airbnb for five adults Cost around  50,000
  • The patrol cost for 5300 km was roughly Rs.60,000.
  • Permit to travel around Ladakh costs around Rs.2000 which is about Rs.400 per person.
  • Food for five people for 25 days cost around Rs.60,000. 
  • Some Personal shopping
  • Other miscellaneous expenses like medical, Entry ticket inHimachal,  monastery entry, ATV ride etc cost around Rs8000.

Ladakh is such a beautiful part of India to travel through. This Is the minimum cost you will get if you travel around this area as per the given itinerary, which is around Rs.35,000 per person which is still very little. This happened only because we were five people, traveling in a five-seater car, which reduces the cost and allows us to cover most of the area. 

The total expense changes if you take a direct flight to Leh instead of going by road. The cost will be around Rs.30,000 to Rs.35,000 per person including flight tickets and a local taxi to travel around Leh Ladakh for a week. The only drawback for this will be that you won’t be able to cover as much area as we did in almost the same amount of money.

Points to consider before you travel to Ladakh

  • When to visit – Best time to visit Ladakh is from April to mid October. If you’re looking for a moderate cold temperature with beautiful scenery then this is your time especially if you’re thinking about a road trip. I Don’t recommend you to travel in November to February if you are planning a Road trip but if you still want to see the snow capped mountains and to travel during the last months then I would suggest you take a direct flight to Leh and enjoy. 
  • safety and people – except for a little rough patch of the roads Ladak felt like a long lost family with just the right amount of warmth and love. Ladakh is also safe because it’s mostly under the Indian Army. The locals of Ladakh have believably warm hearts, and are always on their toes to help you. 

I stayed in Achina homestay in Leh. I had to change my plan because of certain reasons and had to leave the guest house a day earlier than Booked. The owner of this homestay was so nice that they returned the money for the day which we have already paid for while booking and that made me very happy not because I got the money back but to see something that I have not seen In a very long time, KINDNESS.

That’s all for this, folks. Hit me up if you have more questions. Comment here and let me know if I missed anything or you want to know something else. You can check my pictures and videos on Instagram , Trell, and Pinterest .

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