When you are planning for a road trip to Leh, there are bound to be a lot of questions that you’ll have in your mind. We thought that we would compile some of the most frequently asked questions about Ladakh in one place and answer them here once and for all.
A Ladakh road trip is a dream for many travelers because of the diverse trails, opportunity for adventure activities, and the abundance of peace that exists in the monasteries of this region.
But since Ladakh is nestled at a high altitude, and is offbeat except for a few places like Leh that are commercialized and have people who have completely different lifestyles, there is a lot of people who still don’t know much about it.
Ladakh is a vast region situated in the trans-Himalayan ranges, and it requires a lot of preparation when it comes to planning a trip to Leh Ladakh. The first step that you can take is to be informed about everything related to Ladakh which is why we are answering all Frequently asked questions about Ladakh down below.
1) Can you explore the entire Ladakh region if you rent a car to reach Leh?
Local travel unions have restricted rented vehicles from other states. Only vehicles registered in Leh can be used for sightseeing in Ladakh. If you rent a car from any other state, then you won’t be allowed to traverse through the state.
2) Do I need a passport to visit Ladakh?
If you are an Indian citizen, you require neither passport nor visa to visit Ladakh. Foreigners require Passport, Visa and OCI card.
There are certain Inner Line permits / Protected Area Permits that you need to acquire. These permits are extremely important to carry when traversing through these regions:
- Khardungla Pass
- Nubra Valley
- Changla Pass
- Pangong Tso
- Tang Tse
- Chumthang Valley
- Tso Moriri
- Dha Hanu Valley
Permits are delivered via Deputy Commissioner (DC) Office in Leh. The office is open from Monday to Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM. These permits are valid for 3 weeks for Indian Nationals and 15 days for Foreign Tourists.
To acquire these permits, you need an Indian Government approved ID proof like an Aadhar card, Voter ID card, or Driver’s License.
3) What is the best time to go on a road trip to Leh?
One of the most frequently asked questions about Ladakh is what months are best to visit The Land of Highpasses.
The best time for a Ladakh road trip is from June onwards. The main reason is that all the motorable high passes that get closed in winters are accessible from thereon.
It also depends on the route that you’re taking to go to Leh. When it comes to the Manali- Leh route, it is roughly accessible for around 5 months. The best time to go to Leh via Manali would be from Mid May Late October. The passes open in early May sometimes. But, BRO only allows a few vehicles to pass through and it depends on the conditions of the roads.
If you’re traveling to Ladakh via Srinagar, then the best time would be from Late June to Mid October. BRO starts restoration work in early June and by the end of the month, they’re most accessible.
4) What type of clothes do I need to pack when traveling to Leh Ladakh?
Since Ladakh is a cold desert, situated at a high altitude, it is advisable to layer up properly. At least 3-to 4 layers of clothing are necessary to avoid any discomfort. These 4 layers include:
- Fleece Jacket. Either a sweatshirt or a hoodie.
- Down Jacket.
- Quick-dry t-shirts.
Many people are unaware that the chances of getting sick are higher when you’re traversing through the passes. You can avoid such discomfort by covering your ears. Hence, woolen caps or scarves are preferred as well.
5) How safe is Ladakh for female travelers?
Ladakh is one of the safest places in India for women. The cultural belief in equality between men and women is extremely predominant in the region. The locals are simple people who lead their lives and the crime rates are extremely low as well. The local police is always patrolling ensuring that the roads are safe. You can be assured of your safety and can even rely on locals in case of emergencies.
6) What are some things to keep in mind when planning a bike trip to Ladakh?
First and foremost, you need to know where to rent a bike from in Ladakh. There are many rental bike providers in Leh Market itself. You can also rent bikes from Changspa Road as well as Fort Road. The average cost per day exclusive of fuel would be somewhere around 1600-2500INR. The best places for an off-roading experience include Khardung La Pass and the Zanskar region. En route Tso Moriri as well as patches on the Chang La pass offer adventurous trails as well. A few things to keep in mind when going on a bike trip to Ladakh are as follows:
- The terrains of Ladakh are hard to navigate through and hence you need to have prior experience in off-roading.
- A proper itinerary that allows you to have an adventure, as well as rest, is extremely important to plan.
- Proper riding gears are crucial for your safety and so is your vehicle. Always make sure to get your bike checked by a mechanic in case it needs any modifications.
- Layering up is key to avoiding catching a cold especially when traveling. The chances of rain are always high in the mountains and so it’s better to have a raincoat or poncho with you.
7) Are the roads leading to Leh safe to travel?
Driving on a normal road is completely different from driving in the mountains and Ladakh is no different. It’s even harder as the terrain is extremely different. In recent years, road conditions have become better. But there are still rough patches that you need to drive on skillfully.
If you’re traveling via Manali, then the road conditions are as follows:
- Manali to Sissu via Atal Tunnel: The roads are fairly good for driving.
- Sissu to Baralachala Pass: Not as good as before but still extremely easy to drive upon.
- Sarchu to Moore Plains: The dirt tracks will make your ride bumpy.
- Moore Plains to Leh: The roads are paved smoothly making it easy to drive.
On the other hand, if you’re traveling via Srinagar, then the road conditions are as follows:
- Sonamarg to Zojila Pass: The roads are moderately good for driving.
- Zojila Pass to Kargil: Fairly good conditions with a few bumps along the way.
- Kargil to Leh: The roads are paved smoothly making it easy to drive.
Winding roads and traffic jams around the mountain pass could test your driving skills. You just have to be careful while driving especially when it comes to the high passes.
8) Where can I camp in Ladakh during the trip?
In Ladakh, there are three places where you can do camping; Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso lake and Tso Moriri. Nubra Valley is famous for the double hump Bactrian camel safari, ATV rides, and other adventure activities. Pangong Tso is a pristine lake that got popular after featuring in the movie 3 idiots. The lake offers a spectacular view of the night sky. Tso Moriri is yet another beautiful lake popular for overnight camping.
There are swiss camps with attached washrooms available in all of these tented accommodations. The price starts from 2500INR onwards. These camps are only accessible for roughly six months. From June onwards, when peak tourist season begins is when these campsites become open.
9) What are some health related issues one can face when traveling to Ladakh?
Ladakh is situated at a high altitude and is a cold desert. This is why your body will have a hard time adjusting to the low oxygen levels in the air. When that happens, your body reacts by showing symptoms that include breathlessness, nausea, dizziness, and loss of appetite. This is what AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) is.
The best way to avoid this would be to get an ample amount of rest. More importantly, keep yourself hydrated at all times.
Also, including a buffer day that can help your body acclimatize better will reduce your chances of AMS.
10) Will I get a mobile network in Leh?
Only postpaid SIMs work in Ladakh. Airtel and Jio get a decent network in most regions. However, you can also buy a SIM in Leh itself by showing your passport or voter ID card. Note that the SIM would only work in Ladakh. BSNL gets decent network throughout.
But there are certain areas in Leh, where you won’t be able to use any mobile network at all.
There are endless questions that pop into people’s minds when they’re planning a trip. Although we’ve tried to cover the most frequently asked questions about Ladakh here, we might have missed a few points. In which case, you can gain more information about Ladakh by reading more about it here.