Ladakh remains on top of every traveler’s bucket list. At first, it was renowned as a biker’s paradise but in recent years, it has become a dream destination for all kinds of tourists across the globe. The balance of solitude and adventure that is ever-present in the land of high passes is one of the reasons why it’s so popular among tourists. However, this off-track nature of Ladakh is exactly why you need to be prepared for everything; from harsh weather conditions to high altitude sickness, poor connectivity, and more. Whether you’re traveling with a friend or are on your own, everything you need to know before visiting Ladakh is listed here. These Ladakh Travel Tips will surely make your trip smoother.
Here’s everything you need to know before visiting Ladakh:
1) Routes and Passes:
Srinagar – Leh route is open as of April 2022. However, the Leh- Manali route remains closed and will probably be accessible from May onwards. Rohtang Pass will open sometime around 15th May 2022. If you want to traverse through the iconic Rohtang La, then you’ll have to wait.
When it comes to all the motorable mountain passes that Ladakh is known for, there is good news. As all the passes including Khardung La pass, Changlang La Pass, Zoji La Pass, and Naki La pass are now open. Baralacha La Pass is closed due to heavy snowfall and will remain inaccessible until further notice. The most important Ladakh travel tip is to be aware of the road conditions and which passes are accessible when you’re planning your road trip, so make sure that you’re always up to date with the news.
Prepaid connections don’t work in Ladakh. When it comes to mobile network providers, for now, you can only rely on Airtel. BSNL networks are not working currently. Jio is still a work in progress.
But here is a Ladakh Travel tip that will help you make sure that you never lose connection with your loved ones. You can buy a postpaid SIM card for 300 – 500 INR in Leh itself. You’ll just have to show an ID proof like your voter ID card or passport.
However, the SIM card would most probably stop working as soon as you leave Ladakh. When it comes to Wi-fi connectivity, the speed is painfully slow. You’ll be able to send WhatsApp messages anyway.
Suggested read: Commonly asked questions about Ladakh.
One of the most important things to know about Ladakh is that on-road commutation is the key. Hence you must be always in tune with a reliable platform that can help you navigate different directions and routes.
You should download Offline Maps on your phone before heading out to Ladakh. You can’t always rely on a strong internet connection, and offline maps will help you keep track of your journey.
What makes a destination special is the opportunity for people to indulge in the local food. It is the best way to embrace the vibrant culture of a place.
Tibetan influence is prominent in the valley and the Ladakhi cuisine is no different. Most of the food that you’ll find in the region helps in keeping your body warm. Also, the ingredients used are mostly home grown which means that you’d only be devouring the most authentic food.
Some food that you must try in Ladakh are:
Gur-gur chai: Gur-gur chai or butter tea is a very popular beverage in Ladakh.
Tingmo: It is a bun shaped steamed bread which is served with veggies and meat.
Chhutagi: Chhutagi is a true Ladakhi delicacy. It is a thick soup made of veggies or meat with pieces of cooked dough shaped as a bow tie.
Chulli Jam: Apricots are called Chulli in Ladakh. They’re mostly home grown and so apricot jam is something that you must try in Ladakh.
Thukpa: One of the most popular Tibetan dish is Thupa. It is a soupy noodle dish that can consist of veggies or minced meat. The noodles are homemade which is why they’re delicious.
Most of the food in Ladakh has meat in it. If you’re a vegetarian, then you should carry instant noodles with you. However, many dhabas and restaurants serve vegetarian food as well.
It is crucial that you consult your doctor before making any travel plans to high altitude regions such as Ladakh. It is also extremely important that you’re always aware of how your body responds as you’re gradually ascending.
AMS or acute mountain sickness is your body’s way of responding to the change in altitude. AMS occurs when your body doesn’t get enough time to adapt to the conditions. The symptoms of AMS include headache, nausea, dizziness, breathlessness and more.
It is advisable to carry a medical kit consisting of Diamox, medicine for headache and nausea in it. You must also drink plenty of water to avoid your chances of developing AMS. Simply covering your ears as you are traversing through some of the high mountain passes will save you from a lot of discomforts.
In the wake of Covid restrictions, you need to carry a Double vaccination certificate or a mandatory RT-PCR negative report that shouldn’t be older than 72 hours.
Other Documents that should be on your person are your Identity Proof such as your Aadhar Card, PAN Card, and Driving License works just fine.
In case, you’re traveling on your own, then you need to carry all your vehicular documents as well. For Foreign Nationals, a Passport with Visa and OCI Card is necessary.
There are certain Inner Line permits / Protected Area Permits that you need to acquire when traversing through the below-mentioned regions specifically:
- 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 which is open from Monday to Saturday (10 AM – 4 PM). These permits are valid for 3 weeks for Indian Nationals and 15 days for Foreign Tourists.
The most important thing when planning a trip to Ladakh or anywhere else is to be respectful to the destination as well as the people. As long as you’re being a responsible tourist, then everything else will eventually work out for you as well.