Ladakh travel is a mind-blowing experience. In which ever season you plan, the cold desert in the Himalayas will leave you with fond memories. We have been there twice and are not satiated. Any Ladakh Travel will only leave you yearning for more. We wanted to put “Ladakh in a Box” to help our readers to go to one place where they can find all about travelling in Ladakh. Ladakh travel is much easier now compared to 6 years back when we went there first. The road condition has improved a lot and so are the accommodation options. But Ladakh, especially Leh gets crowded during the peak season. So are the other important landmarks like Pangong lake and Khardung La. Still, it is a place which will leave you mesmerised.
In this post, we will not give you a typical itinerary or sightseeing places that are not to be missed. What we do here is we share our experience of this “Cold desert”. A personalised experience with lot of insights. A trip to Ladakh requires homework and we are here to help you make it interesting and easy for you!
Juley! Join us on this lovely trip!
1 Spectacular Manali – Leh drive
Leh can be reached in three ways. Either from Manali or Srinagar or to fly directly into Leh. But the road trip from Manali to Leh is something every itinerant traveller should do. It is spectacular. It is risky. It is once in a life time experience. A road trip which takes you through some of the highest motor-able roads in the world with spectacular snow bound valleys. A road trip where you will be driving on non-existent roads. We did in two days but we strongly advise the journey to be made in three days which will help better acclimatisation.
Take a look at these two posts for a first hand experience of driving from Manali to Leh
2 Leh – The Mountain Town
Leh is laid back and a small town. It is a good amalgamation of traditional and modern. You have some of the oldest Buddhist Monasteries in the world here. You also get some of the yummy Pizzas or Pastries in this town. Spend quiet moments on the bank of Indus river or on the Shanti Stupa. Allow your eyes to get moist in Army Museum reading the last letter written by Kargil Hero Lieutenant Manoj Pandey to his Mother.
Keep a day or two to explore Leh.
You may find more details in our exploration of Leh here – Leh – Lovely Sights of a mountain town!
3 Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake – “Three Idiots” lake!
We went to Ladakh first time just after “Three Idiots” movie got released. Fortunately, the tourist inflow had not picked up and we were only ten people at Pangong Tso when we landed in mid July. It was pristine. Lovely. Meditative. The vastness of the lake covered by mountains humbles you. The drive to lake itself makes your jaws drop.
You are welcome to enjoy the drive to Pangong by clicking this link – Pangong Lake – Picturesque and Pristine!
4 Khardung La – On top of the world!
Do you want to experience what every mountaineer goes through in altitudes beyond 18,000? Welcome to Khardungla Top or KT as locals call it. The highest motorable road in the world. You can feel your lungs craving for extra oxygen. When you stand near the gompa and chant “Om Mani Padme Om” on the tallest road, it is nothing but bliss!
Follow us as we climb up to the top of the world by clicking this – Khardung La – On top of the world’s highest road!
5 Nubra Valley – Vast and Spectacular
Nubra is special. As you drive down the Khardung La, you can feel the vastness of valley in front of you. The river Shyok has carved out one of the spectacular valleys in the world. The rugged terrain covered by snow caped mountains, green patches in the middle of nowhere providing lovely contrast, the winding road and the river makes this journey spellbinding.
Take a trip to Nubra Valley with us by clicking this link here – Nubra Valley – Vast and spectacular!
6 Hunder – A desert within a desert!
Sand dunes in Himalayas? Are you kidding? Yes, welcome to Hunder. Home to spectacular sand dunes which change colours with the sun. Make a stop over at the lovely monastery at Diskit which has a beautiful statue of Avalokiteswra. Time permitting take a day camel safari in the dunes of Hunder.
Read all about Hunder here – Feeling heavenly in Hunder
7 Tso Kar – The White lake @ 15000 feet!
Tso Kar is a lovely lake which does not get too many visitors. Tso Kar is a small lake in comparison to Pangong Tso. But it is beautiful. Covered by tall mountains of Taglang La on one side and Moreh Plains on the other, it is pretty and pristine.
Join us for a lovely drive to the White lake by clicking this – Tso Kar – White and Awesome!
8 Siachen base camp – Where eagles dare!
This is a tribute to the spirit of Indian armed forces. We came back with moist eyes when we stood in front of the Siachen War memorial. Looking at the rugged terrain of the Himalayas and the heights at which these soldiers perform their duty, you can not but wonder at their indomitable spirit. The drive to Siachen is the most spectacular too.
Join us in saluting the “Snow warriors”. Click this link for details – Siachen Base Camp – Saluting Snow warriors!
9 Himalayas from the sky!
If the action on ground does not satiate you, then look down from the sky! Make sure you travel once by air to Ladakh. Make sure you have a window seat. Make sure you have a binocular and camera ready. For first fifteen minutes of take off or last fifteen minutes before landing, have a blissful experience of seeing Himalayas from the sky. We did it twice!
Check out how the Himalayas look from the sky here – Himalayas from the sky – Surreal and beautiful!
10 Markha Valley Trek
Are you a trekker? If yes, then Ladakh is the place for you. With many trekking trails in the region, it is trekkers paradise. We did Markha Valley trek in 2014. Unlike other parts of Himalayas, the warm and dry weather in the morning and cold and dry weather at night makes trekking in Ladakh an experience. Talk to locals. Stay at home stays. Enjoy local food. Forget the world and be part of nature!
For a quick look at what Markha Valley Trek is all about click here – Mesmerising trek in Markha Valley
11 A revered Gurudwara, a monastery and an amazing geological spot!
If you can get off the beaten path, you can visit Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, a revered shrine for Sikhs. Follow that with a visit to Basgo monastery for its fascinating wall murals. On the way stop over at Zero point to experience reverse gravity and also look down at the colourful confluence of Zanskar and Indus.
Check out our experience in clicking on this link – Basgo, Pathar Sahib and Zero point
12 Leh – A gourmet’s paradise
We are gourmets. We love local food. Leh was not an exception either. Whether it is the Tibetan Kitchen or German bakery, you are spoilt for choices. We listed few lovely places to eat in Leh. Don’t miss it. Click on the link below.
13 Ladakh Travel titbits
You will always be mesmerised by the sights in Ladakh. When you embark on Ladakh travel, you are always in for surprises. The landscape is mesmerising. The culture is interesting. The people are great. We captured many such moments. You may take a look at them here.
14 Try some offbeat stuff in Ladakh
If you are keen to experience Ladakh beyond the sight-seeing circuit, we are here to help you.
This list will tell you what you can do to experience Ladakh travel beyond Khardung La and Pangong Lake.
15 Srinagar Leh Road Trip – Highway to heaven!
If you have read about Manali – Leh road trip above and got bitten by the beauty of Himalayas, then you should not miss the other road trip from Leh to Srinagar. This is as spectacular as it can get. Lovely valleys. Lofty mountains. Colourful mountains, Moonscapes……. All these are waiting for you to explore and enjoy. Don’t miss it!
Please check out the complete details of this spectacular road trip here –
16. Srinagar Leh Road 2 – Surreal and Spectacular!
If you were bowled by part 1 of our journey from Srinagar to Leh above, you will be “wowed” on reading this part of the journey! Surreal mountainscape, colourful mountains make up for a spectacular ride. Check it out in this link here.
17 Ladakh for all seasons
We went to Ladakh in summer. How does Ladakh look in Winter and Spring? It looks gorgeous. No doubt about it. We haven’t been during these seasons. But it is there on our bucket list.
This link will show you what you can expect.
These 15 pieces on Ladakh should cover most of the places in Ladakh. Yes, we are yet to write a detailed post on the journey from Srinagar to Leh. Also on the Markha Valley trek we did in 2014. Will do that soon. The other places one should plan is Tso Moriri, Hanle, Turtuk, Changtang etc. We haven’t done these places and that is enticing us to go back to Ladakh again this year!
Plan to visit Ladakh this year. Come back with fond memories you will cherish forever.