Planning a trip to Ladakh has always been on the bucket list of every Indian ever. From teenagers to newly married couples to family, everyone wants to visit Ladakh to experience the place itself. Some for its towering mountains, some for its exotic food, some for the monasteries, and some for adventure biking. Whatever the reason, people always want to go to Ladakh once in their life.
People prefer to do this in different ways, some prefer to book Ladak tour packages through travel agencies while others like to plan solo trips and go out on their own.
The current pandemic has made things worse for the travellers. As much as we want to go out and explore different destinations, we are stuck at home wishing for all this to get over soon. Major problem with traveling to Ladakh right now is the COVID 19 pandemic. The prime time to visit Ladakh is during the months of June to September as the Leh – Manali Highway is snowed in during other months. Thus it is not possible to travel to Ladakh this season.
So if you are planning a trip to Ladakh it can only happen in June of next year i.e., 2021. Also hopefully, the COVID 19 vaccine is expected to be fully approved and in distribution by the end of this year if all goes well.
Apart from that there is also the issue of the standoff between India and China around the area of Ladakh. There were some escalations along the Indian side of the L.O.C in the past few weeks resulting in the death of Indian and Chinese soldiers.
This situation has resulted in a standoff making people reluctant to plan a future trip to Ladakh. However, the officials responsible for the diplomacy of both countries are assuring the public that de-escalation is on its way. They have agreed that conflict is not what both countries are looking at.
Hence we can expect peace returning to the valley pretty soon. The hospitality industry is gearing up for reopening of their doors as soon as the situation is back under control.
Hotels are introducing 100% safe accommodation with nice and clean hotel rooms that have been sanitized by the hotel crew. Since many customers now prefer to have zero contact at the hotel, a lot of hotels are developing apps that can verify documents so the guests can check themselves in. The priority is to reduce contact wherever it is possible.
So all in all, although the travel industry is gearing up for a lot of changes as they reopen to the public, things aren’t going to remain the same going forward. There will be a higher priority for the safety of the customer than before.
That being said, if you plan a trip to Ladakh, the best time to go is during June – September. The weather is extremely pleasant for a trip to Leh Ladakh where you will find the most beautiful places like Nubra Valley, Zanskar river, Pangong Lake or Tso Moriri Lake. The Shanti Stupa or the monasteries, along with the Magnetic Hill will keep you mesmerized beyond words.
Accommodation is something that you won’t have to worry about. Although there are places in Ladakh where hotels won’t be available, you will find tents for Rs. 300-400 for a night. You will find hotels fitting all ranges across Ladakh. From middle tier hotels that cost 800-1000 rupees a night to Luxury hotels that cost 5-6 thousand rupees per night.
There is a lot of food to explore while traveling in Ladakh. Although the place is famous for their Thukpa and Momos, their butter tea and local brews are just as tasty. As for costing, if you eat from a place like a Dhaba then you can eat a proper meal within 60-70 rs. The same meal can cost you Rs 150-200 in a restaurant.
Carry a reusable water bottle to store and consume. This is good for the environment as it prevents you from littering and saves money as you don’t have to buy a water bottle every time you run out of water.
You will have to factor in some additional costs such as toll tickets and entry fees into monasteries etc. How you shop is also another factor that will add to the cost.
Apart from the valleys and monasteries, you can also go trekking and camp under the brilliant night sky. Going biking along adventurous paths is another thing that thrill-seekers love to do. White water rafting in the freezing waters of Ladakh will give you an adrenaline rush like no other.
The Hemis festival is also a famous attraction that showcases the local art forms and heritage and culture of the surrounding areas. There is a unique dance form that is only displayed during this festival. A lot of people come to Ladakh to see it.
Observing local wildlife like the Yak and mountain donkeys and goats is another pastime for Ladakh’s nature lovers.While there are many more things to do, getting to all these places is also important. According to the availability of transport, your trip can go from 10-15 days. There are a lot of options like shared taxis, government buses, etc. You can hire a travel guide so you can have an experienced person with you throughout the trip.
You can drive up to Ladakh and travel inside the state by self-driving. This will add to your total cost in terms of fuel costs. You will also have to maintain and service your vehicle as the terrain will take a toll on your car. You can rent it or use your own car. If you travel with more people, you can split the fuel cost.
If you are looking for a private taxi, it will cost more, but it will be at your disposal. This is very convenient because traveling is very inconsistent in Ladakh.
Another mode of transport is shared taxis. These taxis follow a fixed route and ferry people to and fro.
This is an economic solution to transport but you also lose out on the little sights in between as they don’t stop at the lesser-known stops. For solo backpackers, this is the best option.The cheapest mode of transportation within Ladakh is their public transport i.e. buses. This is an unreliable mode of transport because buses within Ladakh turn up at unpredictable timings, increasing your stay at hotels/ inns, making you spend more money on traveling.
Of course, the transportation industry will also change with this epidemic. People will demand sanitizers on board vehicles and the number of people in shared taxis being cut down by half. People will also pre-book taxis and not turn up on the spot so as not to lose their place on board.
In the coming days there are a lot of changes that we will see within Ladakh, however the beauty and serenity of the place will always remain the same. The mountain tops will still radiate the same peace and the monastery will keep its air of tranquillity. The food will still be the same if not better, and the people will be as cheerful as ever. Although at first people will doubt wanting to travel, the hospitality industry is making every effort to ensure its customers that their safety is paramount and that steps are being taken to ensure that.They are trying to make sure that no matter what changes this pandemic brings forth, the true spirit of Ladakh will remain unchanged.
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