How to Plan a Trip to Leh Ladakh – A Complete Travel Guide

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Nestled in the Trans-Himalayan region of Jammu and Kashmir in northern India, Ladakh has recently become one of the most popular summer holiday destinations in India. Hiking high-altitude mountains, visiting monasteries and camping on some impressive high-altitude lakes is Ladakh’s great attraction.

In addition to charming landscapes, Ladakh is known for its ancient Buddhist monasteries. Ladakh is often nicknamed ‘Little Tibet’ as it shares an international border with Tibet and houses a sizable population of Tibetan Buddhists.

Although a trip to Ladakh has a lot to offer, tourists are bound to take some precautions as it is a barren land and has low atmospheric pressure and low oxygen levels at higher altitudes.

In this article, I would like to mention some important points that every tourist planning a trip should know about and answer some frequently asked questions in online travel forums.

The most common questions are related to acclimatization, ATMs, gas stations, acute mountain sickness, and internal line permits, as well as how long Ladakh tourist itineraries usually take.

All my tips are based on my personal experience in the region.

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How to deal with high altitude and acclimate in Leh Ladakh

Acclimatization is an important part of building your Ladakh itinerary. Be sure not to rush your trip and allow time for your body to adjust to low atmospheric pressure. You must book the first two days after your arrival in Leh to get used to the altitude. Do not expect to arrive in Leh and go immediately to Nubra or Pangong. How can you be seriously affected by AMS, which can lead to severe headaches, nausea, restlessness or even inability to walk or think and ataxia that will ruin your vacation. Even the fittest people are affected by acute mountain sickness. Here are some precautions to keep in mind:

  • Physical fitness is the main thing you need to consider when making a trip to the Ladakh region.
  • Gradually increase your altitude and balance your climb with rest to help your body get used to it.
  • Due to the low atmospheric pressure, tourists need to rest for about 2 days or 48 hours after arriving in Leh.
  • If you suffer from high blood pressure, heart disease and asthma, you should consider not visiting Ladakh.
  • Hydration is necessary, but overdoing it can harm you. Increase the normal water intake by one liter, and that will be enough. Dehydration does not necessarily lead to AMS.
  • During cold weather, cover your head and ears with something warm. Do not exercise too much physically. Never be without emotion, especially in the passes. Low oxygen levels can lead to fatigue and it can be difficult to catch your breath. You can feel the earth spin or even faint.
  • Some preventive medications help acclimatize and treat altitude sickness. The most popular is Diamox. The local version of this medicine, a tried and true alternative, is garlic soup or soup made with a lot of garlic.
  • If you notice symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness or fatigue, rest immediately and get down without delay if you are at a high altitude (as in Khardung La Top).
  • I know this is hard to do, but you should avoid smoking and drinking alcohol at high altitudes to avoid AMS.
  • If you are on Leh-Manali Highway, stop at Keylong, Jispa and Darcha and avoid staying at Sarchu if possible. Otherwise, if you are on Leh-Srinagar Road, you should spend the night in Kargil (I suppose you have already spent one night in Manali or Srinagar, respectively).

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Obtaining Indigenous Line and Protected Area Permissions for Foreign Travelers

To visit certain internal areas such as Turtuk, Panamik, Khaltse, Pangong, Changthang, Hunder, Tso Kar and Tso Moriri, etc. In Ladakh, even foreign residents must obtain internal line licenses.

Visiting the Hanle, Chusul (from Pangong to Tso Mori RI by road), Tsaga, Loma bender, Chumur, Marsimik La, and Batalik sectors will still require Indian citizens to obtain internal line permits.

Overseas travelers (except residents of Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, and Pakistan) must obtain Protected Area Authorization (PAP) to visit the above places. In the case of foreigners, permission is issued only for a group with four or more foreign tourists.

For foreign tourists, it is also mandatory to go through a registered travel agent to obtain permission. The travel agent will also help you get together with others, whether traveling alone or as a couple, so that your permission can be obtained.

Internal line licenses for Indian citizens are valid for up to three weeks, and the Protected Area License is issued for a maximum of seven days. You need to re-apply for the same permission if you are planning to visit the most remote areas of Ladakh.

You must have a valid photo ID and photocopies of your proof of nationality (passport, ID, voter ID etc.)

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One person can apply for the entire group as long as they are proving the nationality of all group members.

Once you have permission, be sure to bring 4-5 copies and proof of photo ID. You may be required to send them to certain checkpoints by military personnel accompanying entry and exit at certain points to ensure that all tourists return.

This is more for your own safety as you may get stuck or stuck while hiking or walking due to bad weather.

Mention all the major places you are traveling to with the license, ie if you are staying overnight in Spangmik, you only need to mention Pangong Lake. In some cases, certain locations or routes need to be mentioned.

To follow the Chushul route from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri with a visit to Hanle, it is necessary to mention Pangong Tso, Man, Merak, Chushul, Tsaga, Loma, Nyoma, Mahe, Hanle and Tso Moriri in the permission request.

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Accommodation in Ladakh

Due to the conditions and nature of the Ladakh region, luxury hotel properties are generally not available in the region. There is a luxury hotel in the city of Leh called Grand Dragon. You will also find luxury tents in places like Thiksey, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri and Nubra Valley.

Elsewhere, you’ll find luxury and luxury or budget tents and camps, some with basic facilities and some with running hot water and attached western bathrooms. Homestays are easily available in most places with basic facilities and would cost 700-1200 per room per night.

Luxury camps with attached bathrooms and hot water cost between 3000 and 5000 for two people. You can also book your accommodation in advance via the internet or by calling the hotels and camp suppliers. You can also simply check in on arrival, as Ladakh is not one of the places that has a “high season” when rooms are fully booked in advance.

Motor Cyclist accommodations along the Leh-Manali and Leh-Srinagar highways

For motorcyclists, accommodation is available all the way on the Leh-Manali and Leh-Srinagar highways. To allow acclimatization, cyclists following the Leh-Manali Highway are offered accommodation in Keylong, Jispa, Darcha and Sarchu and one night should be spent at one place.

Most motorcyclists stay in camps in Sarchu. But if you arrived at Zingzing Bar in the late afternoon, avoid crossing Baralacha La, as the water flowing through the road at this pass becomes dangerous due to the strong current.

You must go to Darcha or Jispa for the night. One can also stay in Pang, but beware of AMS as Pang and Sarchu are located at an altitude of 15,100 and 14,100 feet respectively. Do not cross Baralacha La if you are already feeling sick in the mountains or if you have symptoms such as headache or nausea. In this case, you should stay in Jispa or Darcha at 10,800 feet and 11,020 feet respectively.

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If you are traveling from Srinagar, I recommend stopping at Mulbekh instead of Kargil or even Lamayuru if you can. Accommodation in Kargil is very expensive and is an overrated place to spend the night.

Personally, I recommend following the Srinagar route and returning via Manali as it helps in acclimatization. If you are on a trip to Ladakh via the Manali route, I advise you to stay overnight in Jispa, Darcha or Keylong to avoid AMS.

Petrol stations in Leh Ladakh

If you are traveling by road and practicing motorcycle or four-wheel Ladakh, you need to know where the gas stations are and where you need to get extra gas in cans and pots so you don’t run out of fuel in the car. highway.

This is important especially if you have chosen the Leh-Manali Highway for your trip. The last gas station you will find on this route is located in Tandi and the next in Karu, about 380 km away. It is always advisable to carry gasoline in reserve so you don’t get stuck because you run out of fuel.

Similarly, if you are planning Leh – Pangong – Tso Mosriri – Rumtse – Leh or Leh – Nubra – Pangong – Leh that would be like traveling over 700 – 900 km then fill the tank and load a lot of gas in the reserve. will need it.

In some places, gasoline is available at local shops and homes near roadside settlements along the route, but you have to pay a luxury surcharge to buy them, and gasoline quality is not guaranteed.

You do not have to worry about gasoline or fuel if you are on Leh – Srinagar Highway, as you will find enough gas stations on the way.

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Money Matters During Ladakh Trip: Tips on Cash and ATMs

Except in some antique stores, credit cards are not accepted by any hotel and travel agent. So carry a good amount of money with you. If you think carrying money is a bit risky, opt for plastic money, ie debit cards, and withdraw cash from ATMs whenever necessary.

ATMs from various banks like SBI, AXIS Bank, J&K Bank, PNB etc. are available in Leh city. More remote places like Pangong, Changthang etc. they do not have them, so carry your money when traveling to other countries in the region.

More Travel Essentials for Your Trip

Respect the local culture

When traveling in Ladakh, kindly show respects for the local culture and do not do anything contrary to Tibetan Buddhist culture norms. Tibetan Buddhist culture is quite old and conservative; so dress appropriately and cover your whole body. Always ask permission before taking pictures of anyone. If they ask for money, do not take pictures.

Communication facilities in Ladakh

STD stands are available in most markets in the Ladakh region, but they close before 10pm. In addition, Kargil has a global direct dial telephone service, as well as a courier and telegraph service. There is also a wireless radio telephone network service from Jammu and Kashmir tourist station with field stations in Leh, Padum and Kargil. From May to August (high tourist season), Jammu & Kashmir Tourism has wireless mobile stations in remote areas.

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Avoid using plastic bags

Locals and tourists are responsible for maintaining the environment. So do not throw trash. Plastic is officially prohibited in Ladakh, so you should avoid using plastic and polyethylene bags.

Bring proper documents for your bike trip

If you are driving to Ladakh on a motorbike, you will find some highland passes such as the Changla Pass, Zojila Pass, Fotula Pass and Khardungla Pass. Since all of these areas have a huge military presence, you must carry a license, vehicle registration, driver’s license and bicycle insurance paper.

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