pangong lake in ladakh

Pangong Lake

All You Need to Know about Pangong TSO Lake

Getting there : 
The most comfortable option road to Nubra valley is via KhardungLa 18350ft
Altitude : 10,000 ft
Distance : 130kmfrom leh city
Main places to stay in : Hunder village, Sumer village, Turtuk village , 
Best time: May -September 
Winter is also good to visit there
lunch enroute Restaurent : at khalsar , 
Check point : south pole and North pole 
Inner line permit : required  

About Pangong Lake 

Ever wondered what heaven looks like? Come to Pangong Lake and see for yourself. The view of the breathtaking Himalayas encircling the pristine lake that lies beneath the blue azure is nothing less than a miracle. 

Situated at an elevation of 4225 meters in the lap of the Himalayas, this 132 km long lake is brackish or salty in nature and doesn't support any underwater life. Commonly shared by India and China (with 60% part with China), the beauty of this calming lake is admired by people around the world. Especially during the winter season, when the whole landscape lights up with the arrival of migratory birds.

It is the best time for bird watchers to witness exotic bird species which makes this place being considered for a Ramsar Site. Pangong Tso Lake is the first transboundary wetland in South Asia and is believed to be separated from the Indus River basin in prehistoric times. Another astonishing fact about this tranquil lake is that despite being brackish in nature, it freezes into a thick ice sheet during the winters.

The Pangong Lake is also known for changing its colour throughout the year and is one of the best places to visit in Ladakh.

So, head to Pangong and witness nature's dance as the lake changes its colour from blue to green to red. We promise you, it will leave you awestruck!

Pangong Lake

The lake is situated 154 km from Leh and to reach Pangong you have to cross the world third highest mountain pass the Changla Pass at 5,360 meter (17,586 ft). After crossing the pass, you will get to Durbuk and Tangste village which is nearly 35 km drive to reach Pangong. The lakeside village is known as Spangmik.

The mesmerizing beauty of the landscape and a dazzling colour variation including deep blue, turquoise, etc. of the lake water according to the time of the day attracts tourist from all over the world. A number of migratory birds like Brahmani ducks, Bar-headed goose and wildlife like marmot and wild ass locally known as ‘Kiang’ can be spotted.

The lake is high in salinity but still remains frozen in the winter months. The best time to visit the lake is in the peak summer season (May- September).

Essential information about Pangong Lake 


Extending from India to China, Pangong is a beautiful endorheic lake nestled in the middle of the Himalayas. A noted tourist attraction in Ladakh, there is so much to know about this enchanting beauty. Let’s find out!


Spread across India, China and Tibet, Pangong Tso Lake is a 134 km long, pristine and peaceful lake that is a critical point of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). 60% part of the lake comes under Chinese jurisdiction, while the remaining 40% under India; which more than enough to satiate the travel needs of hundreds of photographers, birdwatchers and tourists. The lake is 5km wide at its broadest point and is worth visiting at every cost.


Pangong's height is around 14270 feet above sea level. And, when it comes to high altitude lakes in India, Pangong Tso tops the chart. But the high altitude has never been the reason for tourists to not visit Ladakh. It has always been a great place to provide peace and tranquillity to its visitors. 


If you are looking for a digital detox, Pangong Lake is the perfect place to be. The enchanting vista of exotic birds flying upon reflecting in the crystal clear waters of the lake is to die for. 

There is only one BSNL near Lukung & near Spangmik  network available at Pangong Tso. Other network connections such as Airtel postpaid won’t work. If you want to share the picturesque beauty of Pangong Tso on social media, you would have to wait till you reach the nearest town.


The millennial generation is all about either social media or work from home/vacation. In such situations, charging points are a necessity. Well don't you worry, all the hotels at Pangong are well-equipped with basic necessities like electricity. There are charging points available in every room. As for camping sites, all the individual tents have electricity and most of them even a personal charging point. If not, there will definitely be a common charging area.

Temperature at night 

Pangong Tso at night offers some of the best vistas of constellations dancing in the night sky. Bonfires near Pangong are a staple while camping. But the night is also the time when the temperature suddenly drops in Ladakh. Due to Pangong's height, nights here are relatively colder. The temperature can drop up to -25 degrees in winters while -8 degrees in summers. 

The ideal season to enjoy the nights beside the lake would be during summers which is also the best time to visit Ladakh

Inner line permit 

Pangong Tso is a place of ecological and national importance. To experience this serene lake, the Indian tourist needs to take an Inner Line Permit which can easily be obtained from the tourist information centre in Leh. The official website of Leh Ladakh - also issues both Inner Line Permit as well as Protected Area Permit. 

Foreign tourists require Protected Area Permit (PAP) to visit Pangong Lake. If you’re a citizen of Myanmar, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, or Pakistan, you can only avail PAP from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi.

#1 Can senior citizens and children visit Pangong Lake? 


Situated at an elevation of  14270 feet, Pangong Tso offers a plethora of mesmerising natural phenomena. But along with the scenic vistas, Pangong’s height also creates a situation of AMS - Acute Mountain Sickness. At high altitudes, a person from any age group can experience symptoms like dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, headache, etc. 

The AMS risk is the same in children and adults. In most instances, it heals quickly as soon as you are acclimatised. However, infants and senior citizens may not be able to cope with it easily. Also, people with extreme health conditions, especially respiratory, should avoid visiting Pangong. 

#2 Who cannot travel to Pangong Lake? 


The enchanting beauty of Pangong Tso encircled by the Himalayas is visited by tourists across the globe. However, to witness the magical vistas of this place, one needs an Inner Line Permit, which can be obtained from the official website of Leh Ladakh.  

Apart from being a famous tourist attraction in India, it is also a place of great dispute with the neighbouring countries, mainly China. Therefore, citizens of China, Hong Kong and Bangladesh are not permitted to visit the restricted areas of Ladakh such as Pangong Tso Lake, Tso Moriri, Dha Hanu and Nubra Valley.

#3 Hospital near Pangong lake?


Amidst the rugged landscapes and vast expanse of nothingness, looking for a hospital is the last thing you want to do. It is better to take all the necessary precautions before your trip to Ladakh. However, if you still need to visit a hospital - Army Hospital is the closest to PangongTso. There is also a sub divisional hospital in Tangtse which is 45km from Pangong Lake. 

In case of serious medical emergencies, you may head to SNM Hospital Leh and Sonam Norboo Hospital on Srinagar-Leh Highway. There are also many health clinics in the Leh main bazaar. Ladakh Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Center in Leh is a noted place among riders on Ladakh bike trip with Siachen route. 


#4 How to reach  Pangong lake?


Embark on a journey filled with unlimited excitement and abundant beauty, leading to one of the most spectacular tourist attractions in Ladakh. To witness the highest saltwater lake in the world, one must reach Leh city in the Union Territory of Ladakh. Four possible routes lead to Pangong, all loved by adventurers and tourists alike. Let's check them out!

Leh to pangong 

The road from Leh to Pangong will take you through some of the most picturesque locations in Ladakh. The shortest route to Pangong Tso is through Chang La Pass - the third highest motorable road in the world . It is a 6 to 7-hour direct journey via the amazing landscapes of Shey and Karu. It is the most preferred route in many Ladakh tour packages as it covers many popular tourist attractions like Shey Palace, Shey Monastery, Takthok Monastery and the quaint village of Karu.

While in Shey, walk through the ancient ruins of what used to be the summer capital of Ladakh. Admire the colourful murals, wall paintings and tall structure of Shakyamuni Buddha. Stop over at Tangste for a cup of hot tea and other refreshments and then resume your journey until you reach Pangong. 

Nubra to Pangong 


From the rigid terrains of the cold desert of Nubra to the pristine tranquillity of the mountain lake - the route from Nubra to Pangong is quite a popular one.  The direct route of Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso via Pangong Lake Road is 275 km long and will take around 7.5 hours. However, if you want to take a detour to explore other tourist attractions, there are two popular routes. One is from Agham Shyok Village, and the other is Agham - Wari La route. 

In the end, it doesn't matter what route you choose, the end destination will surpass all. 


Tso Moriri to Pangong  


Popularly known as the Twin Lakes - Tso Moriri and Pangong Tso are known for their unmatched scenic beauty, tranquil waters, migratory birds and breathtaking Himalayan backdrop. 

Travelling from one lake to the other seems like a perfect Ladakh motorbike tour  challenge. The direct route from Tso Moriri to Pangong is 328.2 km via Pangong Lake Road and is a perfect one for tourists who are short on days. If you are looking for some thrill, you can choose the one via Chushul. Cross deeper regions of Tsaga La Pass and Mahe, ultimately making it to Pangong. 

Disclaimer: To visit both the lakes, you will require an Inner Line Permit/ Protected Area Permit from the state government website.  


Pangong Lake to Hanlay 


Hanle being home to India's highest Astronomical Observatory should be on top of your list of places to visit in Ladakh. Located around 308km away from Pangong, the journey from Pangong Lake to Hanle offers mind-boggling vistas of the Himalayan ranges beneath the clear blue sky.

There are many ways you can reach Hanle. If you check google maps - The two major routes shown are via Tsaka La Road and Pangong Lake Road. The Tsaka La route is 310.8km and will take around 7.5 hours to reach, whereas the Pangong Tso route is 412.3km and will increase the distance by approximately 3 hours. If you're short on time, we do suggest taking the former route. 


The two major routes include Man and Merak, which is 160km; feasible in around 6-7 hours. And the other one is via Tangtse and Harong. This one is around 220km, but the travel distance comes down to 5 to hours due to the smoother route. 


#5 What is the Best time to travel Pangong Lake?


The summer season is an ideal time to visit Pangong Tso. The crystal clear waters of the lake reflect a prism of vibrant colours looking almost like a fairytale. Everything is clear and serene. It is the best time to visit Ladakh as the weather is pleasant unlike during the wintertime. The summer months from May to September are when both the sky and roads are clear making the Pangong Tso Lake accessible for tourists. It is also the favourite time to take the Srinagar Ladakh bike trip or other routes.


#6 How is the Weather at Pangong Lake?


While there is no doubt that the summers are the best season to visit Pangong Tso in Ladakh for tourism. But, each season offers something or the other for you to cherish. Don't believe me? Let's find out!


The summer season is the peak tourist season due to clear roads and pleasant weather during the daytime. The highest temperature goes till 40 degrees Celsius during the day and the minimum is 5 degrees during the night. It is the ideal time to embark on the Ladakh road trip with Siachen by professional riders. 


The weather of Ladakh is such that it experiences very little to no monsoon. The monsoon season starts in July and ends in September, dropping a few degrees in temperature. Temperature ranges from minus 2 degrees to 25 degrees. It is also a good time to explore the evergreen beauty of the Pangong or go on bike trips.

Disclaimer: If you're thinking about taking the Ladakh bike trip from Manali, it is not a good time as the monsoons in Himachal are strong, and the roads are slippery. 


October to February constitutes the winter season in Pangong. The temperature ranges from minus 14 to 24 degrees Celsius. It is not a good time to visit the Pangong Tso as the lake is frozen during this time. You might also find many roads blocked due to the snowfall making the lake inaccessible. 

Tip: If you visit Ladakh during the winters, you can take the Chadar Frozen River Trek on the Zanskar


#7 What are the Best Places to Visit between Leh and Pangong?


The road from Leh to Pangong is filled with many breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable tourist sites.  The route via Karu and Chang La Pass is 170km and is the most preferred one. The distance of the journey is around 6 hours that will take you through some of the most important places to visit in Ladakh, such as-

Thiksey Monastery: Perched on a hilltop with mesmerising views of the Indus River, Thiksey Monastery is known for its 15-meter magnanimous statue of Buddha and the Gustor Festival.

Hemis Monastery and National Park: The grandest and wealthiest monastery in the region, Hemis Monastery is known for its many precious artefacts, a large library, and colourfully painted walls. The Hemis National Park is the home to the popular Himalayan Snow Leopard. 

Shey Monastery: Shey boasts of the largest victory stupa, a 10-meter tall copper Buddha statue. Whereas the Shey Palace was the former abode of the royal family and now under ASI. 

If time is not a constraint, we suggest you spend at least two days on this route to experience the best of Ladakh. 


#8 Best Accomodation in Pangong Lake?


Wake up to the beautiful view of Pangong Tso Lake. Away from the brick houses and bustling town. The accommodation options at Pangong mostly consist of cottages, camps and tiny guest houses. All options are best in service with basic amenities and an amazing view of Pangong Tso. Some of the best stay options near Pangong include:

Kora Eco Resort

The Kora Eco Resort is a wonderful accommodation option beside the tranquil Pangong Tso. Adorned by the colourful Tibetan flags and the majestic Himalayas in the background, it offers individual tiny huts/tents consisting of a comfy bed, blankets and an attached washroom. There are also parking facilities for people travelling in their own vehicles. It is the best place to enjoy a romantic evening with the view of Pangong Lake illuminated on a full moon night. The service here is nothing less than a 3-star hotel and the stay here will give you many unforgettable memories.


Gongma Residency 

Gongma Residency is a quaint hotel overlooking the majestic Pangong Tso surrounded by the Himalayan ranges. It is a minimal white structure with beautifully embellished Tibetan windows. The single rooms and homestays of this property offer mind-blowing views of the Lake, mountains and the valley. The cosy rooms include all the basic facilities and an attached washroom. It is located on the Pangong Lake Road in Spangmik in Leh and is an excellent budget-friendly property to consider near Pangong Tso Lake.


Pangong Retreat

Nestled in the mountains overlooking the Pangong, Pangong Retreat provides excellent accommodation in its peaceful and well-equipped tents with all basic amenities. The place offers breathtaking views of the lake, during the night and the break of dawn. Spend your time here enjoying the scrumptious meals and exploring the noteworthy locales of Leh Ladakh.


Pangong Sarai

Experience 5-star treatment in the luxurious Mongolian style tents with a breathtaking view of Pangong Lake and brilliant food. Pangong Sarai is an excellent place where luxury and natural beauty go hand in hand. Choose from the 33 well-maintained tents offering homely comfort and hotel amenities like room service, toiletries and attached toilet. If you're a sucker for luxury, then you must stay at the Pangong Sarai.


Pangong Heritage

Head to Pangong Heritage Camp for an incredible lakeside luxury experience. Set in the foothills of the Himalayas overlooking the Pangong Tso Lake, this camp has everything you can imagine from comfortable rooms to scrumptious meals and so on. Spend the nights enjoying a bonfire on the lakeside and days, exploring the locales on a nature walk. The hotel plans a gamut of activities for you to make your time memorable here.


#9 What is Bollywood in Pangong Lake?


Famed for the Amir Khan movie - 3 Idiots. But not many know, when it comes to Bollywood and Pangong Tso, the romance goes way back. 

It has long been a shooting location for many movies such as Tashan, Sanam Re, Waqt and Heroes. The Shahrukh Khan blockbusters - 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' and 'Dil Se' in fact very prominently featured this place. 

Whether it's Kareena Kapoor riding a yellow scooter in 3 Idiots or Anushka Sharma taking a plunge in the freezing lake in Jab Tak Hai Jaan or Sharukh Khan dancing in the song Satrangi Re - it's the beauty of the lake which never ceases to surprise us. 

Some of the recent movies like Harshvardhan Kapoor starrer Mirziya capture the virgin beauty of Pangong and other offbeat places of Ladakh. 

In recent years, Pangong's scenic beauty has been captured by many OTT shows and travel bloggers. It is the favourite destination among bloggers embarking on the Ladakh bike trip. 

So, the next time you watch any Bollywood movie, look closely; you might catch the gorgeous Pangong Tso in the background.


#10 What are the Best places to eat on the way to Pangong?


In the mountains, you must always keep a good diet and stay hydrated. Especially at Pangong's height, staying full and healthy must be on the top of your list. Apart from being a beautiful tourist attraction, Pangong is a noted camping site. 

Around the vicinity of the lake, you can find many camping sites, lodges and homestays offering mouth-watering meals at affordable prices. You can also check out many in-house food joints selling the staple thukpas, momos and dal-chawal along with tea/coffee.  The renowned food joint - P3 is famous for its Tibetan delicacies and a spellbinding view of the lake. Don't forget to try the Ladakhi cocktail - Chhang. Food plays a vital role in making your trip a successful one; And at Pangong, you'll definitely find the best!


#11 How is the Medical facilities at Pangong? 


Prevention is always better than cure! 

As picturesque as it may be, when it comes to mountains finding a medical facility is a difficult task. Taking precautions is the most important thing here. Visiting Pangong can trigger a lot of medical situations, especially due to Pangong's height. There's always a looming possibility of AMS. 

The nearest medical facility you can find is in Tangste, which is 35km away. You can also get first aid medication in the campsites around the lake. In any case, you're advised to carry a first aid kit along with your prescribed medicine. Also, do not forget to keep 'Diamox' which helps in the situation of Acute Mountain Sickness.


#12 What is the road condition of Pangong Lake?


The road leading to Pangong from Leh is a pretty smooth ride. It is simply a straight road which takes you around the nearby regions without any confusion.

To the extent that the Pangong Lake from Leh is thought of, the main area of Spangmik is in close proximity to the lake and is situated at around 160 km. Another well-known route takes you over the Chang La Pass situated at an elevation of 5,360 m and the Pagal Naala - meaning The Crazy Stream, which is at the height of 4,250 m.

However, Pangong is a protected area and domestic tourists will require an Inner Line Permit from Leh. For foreign tourists, Protected Area Permit is required from the Ministry of Home Affairs.


#13 How is Pangong for Wildlife Enthusiasts?


The spectacular landscapes and pristine waters of Pangong make it one of the most popular places to visit near Pangong. Thronged with people throughout the year, this enchanting lake allures tourists across the globe. 

Apart from being a popular tourist site, it is also a renowned breeding ground for migratory birds and is in the process of getting recognised as a Ramsar Site. You can witness the dance of numerous ducks and gulls in the vicinity. During the summers, many migratory birds such as Brahmini Ducks and Bar-headed goose come here to breed. 

You may also find local species such as Kiang and Marmot on your way to the lake.  Few kilometres from the Pangong Lake lies the Changtang Wildlife Sanctuary, habitat of Himalayan Marmot, the longest hibernating mammal in the world. The whole area in and around Pangong Tso is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and bird watchers and must be visited once in a lifetime


#14 How is Pangong in winter?  


The winters in Ladakh can be cruel and magical at the same time. December to March, the whole area gets covered in a vast sheet of white snow. The temperature falls beyond zero with even -15 degrees during the night. During this time, the Pangong Tso completely freezes over,  which is an enchanting view in itself.  Due to heavy snowfall, the roads get blocked making the lake less accessible. 

Despite the cold temperatures, winters are the best time to witness the major festivals in Ladakh such as Spituk Gustor and undertake the most exciting Frozen River Chadar Trek.


#15 What are best Things to do in pangong lake? 


Apart from admiring the beautiful blues and green hues of the lake, there's a gamut of activities that will make your trip a memorable one. The popular one would be to camp beside the lake enjoying a bonfire and meaningful conversations. Pangong Tso is also one of the best places to visit in Ladakh for stargazing and night photography. Don't forget to capture the migratory birds singing the song of nature over the lake. 

If you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of marmots - a rare endemic species found near Pangong.


#16 Must know tips and tricks before you visit Pangong?


Pangong Tso Lake is an enchanting destination admired for its unmatched beauty and exotic fauna. After the success of 3 Idiots in 2009, many tourists started visiting Pangong giving birth to many climatic and ecological issues. The ecology of Ladakh is very sensitive. Therefore, here are some of the do’s and don'ts that you should know before visiting Pangong.

Don’t bathe inside the lake: We all know how much the crystal clear waters of Pangong Lake look inviting to a city dweller. But, swimming or even dipping your feet in the lake is a no-no! One of the reasons is that water is too cold and you could get hypothermia. And, also the lake is sacred among the locals, it is best to respect the culture of the local people there. 

Don’t wash your utensils: Washing your utensils such as canisters may ruin the beauty of the lake. Also, the water of the lake is salty. So technically washing something inside the lake is of no use. 

Do not travel to Pangong in an outsider car: Driving a car that does not have a J&K number plate is too much hassle. First of all, if your car is old by 10 years or more, you are not allowed to travel beyond Rohtang. Second, Pangong, Nubra, Tso Moriri are inner line areas and would need a permit. 

And the most important, for sightseeing, private taxis are stopped by the local drivers as Ladakh only has 5 months of tourist season. Locals can put barricades at random places and you will not be able to travel any further. 

Carry enough woollens: Situated in the higher altitudes, the area around the lake tends to get cold and windy; especially during the evenings. It is advisable to carry enough woollen clothes to prevent yourself from falling sick. 

Always carry an extra camera battery: Surrounded by the majestic Himalayan ranges, Pangong Lake offers glorious views of landscapes, migratory birds and what not! You don't want to miss capturing any moment.

Common FAQs


#1 What is the altitude of Pangong Lake? 

Situated at a height of almost 4,350m, Pangong Lake is the highest saltwater lake in the world.

#2 Why should you stay at the Spangmik location?

If you're looking for proper accommodation options near Pangong, then Spangmik is the perfect place. You can get decent hotels and homestays with rooms overlooking the scenic lake. Get a taste of home-cooked food and great conversations with locals without burning a hole in your pocket.

#3 Can I travel to Pangong Lake in winter?

Yes, you can visit Pangong in winters. It experiences the winter season from October to February. The temperature in Ladakh ranges from minus 5 degrees to 10 degree Celsius. However, you will be disappointed as the lake is completely frozen and the area is covered in a thick blanket of snow. The best time to visit Pangong Tso is during the summers when the weather is pleasant and the lake is clear.

#4 Where can I get network at Pangong Lake? 

You can find one BSNL connection at Spangmik and Lukung near the Pangong Lake. 

#5 How far is Pangong from China?

The main border of China is 3,440km away from China. However,  60% of Pangong Tso comes under Chinese occupied land. The Pangong Lake is 134km long, divided into five sub lakes namely - Pangong Tso, Tso Nyak, Rum Tso, and Nyak Tso. The eastern 40%  part of the lake lies within India, whereas the remaining western part is controlled by China. 

#6 When is Pangong Lake Road closed?

The Pangong Tso Lake Road remains open throughout the year. It is during the heavy snowfall when the roads are blocked. But, it opens as soon as the snow is removed by the authorities. 

#7 What is an avalanche area?

An avalanche area is an area which experiences a rapid flow of snow down a hill or mountainside frequently. In the case of Ladakh, two passes namely Chang La and Khardung La - the world's highest motorable roads face these conditions.

#8 How long does it take to reach Pangong Lake? 

The time to reach Pangong totally depends from where you’re starting. If you’re coming from Leh, then the whole route will take 6 to 7 hours. It is advisable to contact local travel operators such as Go2Ladakh, for more info on routes between popular tourist attractions and better itinerary preparation. 

#9 Are there any shops near Pangong Lake?

Yes, there are many food joints selling basic Maggi, momos, thukpa, lentil and rice along with tea and coffee near the lake. If you’re looking for something else, you can head to the camping sites and get it at an extra cost.

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