Whether you crave some alone time in nature or want an adrenaline kick to boost your mood, Ladakh is the ultimate destination. Located strategically between the Siachen Glacier and the Great Himalayas, Ladakh offers uninterrupted views of snow-capped mountains and a clean blue sky. Leh and Kargil are two of its main cities, both of whom are influenced by Tibetan culture and Buddhist religion.
Ladakh is fit for visiting all year round but only if you think you bear the sub zero temperatures. In winters, the region is completely covered in snow and becomes a winter wonderland for trekkers. You can travel solo or hire a Ladakh tourist guide, who is usually a local who is well-versed with the region and will help your trip the best one ever. If you planning to go there, we have just the right travel guide for Leh Ladakh trip for you.
Places to visit in Leh Ladakh
There’s a strong influence of Buddhism in Ladakh with more than 39.7 percent of the population practicing the religion. You will get to some of the most beautiful and ancient Buddhist monasteries in the region. Our favorite monasteries in Ladakh include Alchi Monastery, built in 1000 AD and is one of the oldest monasteries in the region; Lamayuru Monastery, which is located at an altitude of 3,510 metres; Hemis Monastery, Ladakh’s richest monastery; and Mulbekh Monastery, which is considered to be the oldest monastery.
The Royal Leh Palace is an interesting place to visit for all history lover. It was 17th century residence of the former royal family of Ladakh. Its architecture is inspired from the Potala Palace in Lhasa. If you are into adventure sports like white water river rafting, walking on frozen river, or trekking in sub zero temperatures, you are going to love the magical Zanskar Range and Valley.
All treks are monitored by a Ladakh tour guide, so you don’t have to worry about accommodation or food. The valley is situated at a an elevation of 6,000 metres above sea level. The Hemis National Park is another prime location. If you are lucky you will get to snow leopards in their full glory chasing Ibex herds. Located on the west banks of the Indus River, the national park is home to the Great Tibetan Sheep, Eurasian brown bear, Tibetan wolf, and Shapu. Some more places you should visit include Hall of Fame, Rohtang Pass, Tanglang La, Tso Kar Lake, Phuktal gompa, and Jispa.
Ladakh is a colourful region and there are celebrations hosted throughout the year. Celebrated on the 10th day of the Tibetan lunar calendar, Hemis Festival is a two-day festival that marks the birth anniversary of Padmasambhava, the father of Tibet Tantric Buddhism. Take up the challenging Zanskar trek or Chadar Valley trek and spend days tracking snow leopards in the Hemis National Park and surrounding areas.
Take a double humped Bactrian Camel safari on the silky sand dunes of Hunder and Diskit while you watch Nubra River flow beside you. Eat Maggi in the world’s highest cafe located near Khardung La Pass, which is one of the highest motorable roads in the world. If you are craving more delicious food, head over to local streets of Leh to try Yak cheese and Yak cheese momos.
Spend an entire day at Hemis monastery, interact with the monks, understand the Buddhist culture and religion, and end the day with a scrumptious dinner of thukpa. If you want to attend an early morning prayer, you can stay overnight at the monastery. The best way to experience Ladakh is going on a bike ride. Your Ladakh travel guide will be more than happy to arrange a bike for you. Butter tea is okay but do you want to try a local brew? Chang is Ladakh’s famous brew, which is made by fermenting millet.
Best time to visit Ladakh
As we mentioned earlier, you can visit Ladakh at any time of the year. The tourist season begins in April and goes on until the second week of May. Since it is springtime, the temperature is between 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, so a simple woolen sweater will keep you warm. You still get to see snow but only if you travel to Chang La and Khardung La pass.
The Srinagar-Leh highway opens after the second week of May, which means it is time for bike trips. Mid-May to June is the best time to visit Ladakh for a road trip. If you want to do a full circuit from Manali to Leh and back to Manali, visit in the first week of June. You get incredible views of luscious white snow when you cross Rohtang Pass and Baralacha Pass.
Ladakh doesn’t receive a lot of rainfall but the rivers flood sometimes and there’s a high chance of landslides. For the very same reason, we don’t recommend you to visit the region between August and third week of September. Tourist activity kicks back up from the last week of September to mid-October. Ladakh looks fresher than ever and the landscape is covered in leaves. It is the last season to visit if you can’t bear the sub zero temperatures of the winter season.
But if you can, there’s no better time than visiting Ladakh between the second half of October and January. By December, the region is covered in a thick blanket of snow. You will have to face extreme conditions, which is always an enriching experience.
The easiest and fastest way to travel to Ladakh is by air. Take a flight from your city to Delhi or Chandigarh and another one to Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, Leh. Since it is a military terminal, they might ask for identification documents. Keep them ready beforehand, so you aren’t struggling with all your luggage.
There are frequent buses connecting New Delhi and Leh, however, the journey takes up to four days. The Srinagar route is open from June to October, while the Manali route June to September. Choose this option only if you are planning to halt in different cities throughout the bus journey.
Train travel is the most inconvenient because the closest train station to Leh, Jammu Tawi Station, is 700 kilometres away. There are regular but not daily trains that run between Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata and the train station. The whole journey can take up to three days.
Home to three highest motorable roads in the world, Ladakh is a popular destination for bike rides. You can either take the Leh - Srinagar Highway, open between May and October or the Leh - Manali Highway, which is open between May to September. Both routes are equally beauty, so it all about the experience you are looking for.
If you are visiting in spring or summer season, pack a couple light woolen sweaters or jackets, three pairs of jeans, six to seven shirts or t-shirts, four pairs of socks, seven pairs of undergarments, one pair of hand gloves, and two pairs of shoes. If you will be visiting in the winters, carry all these along with a fleece jacket, one windproof jacket, one pair of sunglasses, three pairs of inner thermals, one monkey cap or beanie, and one pair of gumboots.