35 Quick Tips for a Trip to Ladakh

The curtain hasn’t fallen yet; the sun hasn’t set yet; and the carnival is still on. The roads to Leh/Ladakh are still wide open. You might have done all the research about the places to visit here, but there’s a lot more to this journey than just research.

Road to Ladakh. (Photo Courtesy – babasteve)


You need to prepare – with the alacrity of Sherlock, with the spirit of Columbus. Thus, while you’re free to do all the research that you can, ixigo brings together 35 tips that you need to keep in mind before/on visiting Leh/Ladakh.


Here’s your checklist; make sure it tallies.


1) Do not take a night halt at higher altitudes; AMS is going to hit you sooner or later.


2) Keep yourself hydrated; keep drinking water every 40 minutes/1 hour.


3) Do not indulge in strenuous physical activity before you are adequately acclimatised.


4) Prepare for this journey in advance; build endurance, go jogging, do all the yoga in the world that you can think of.


5) AMS hits all; no matter how many times you hit the gym in the plains, or how fit you are.


6) AMS hits most after you cross 10,000 feet; be ready for a lot of pit stops after crossing that mark.


Tso Moriri (Photo Courtesy – Jochen Westermann)


7) Leh/Ladakh is a place where you simply don’t go for 4 day/5 night packages. This is not Andamans; there’s much to see, behold and, of course, prepare for even when you’ve reached. Go for at least 10 days.


8) After every advance of 3000 metres; do not advance for more than a 1000 feet further.


9) 75% of the people going to the region are hit by AMS; however severe or not so severe the symptoms are. So, relax.


10) ORS is your saviour for this once in a lifetime trip. Pack in packets and packets of it.


11) Stay away from alcohol/smoking on this trip.


12) Avoid sleeping for longer stretches; indulge in light physical activities to keep yourself going.


13) If you’re taking the road to Leh/Ladakh, Srinagar-Leh highway is a better option for it gives the relief of gradual acsent.


14) If you’re taking the Manali-Leh highway, keep in mind that Malling Nullah is the landslide zone. Be cautious when you cross this stretch.


15) Be careful while you trek through villages on the road to Kaza. The roads here are narrower than you could have ever imagined. Thankfully, motorable roads are being worked upon.


Prayers and prayer flags, your companions for this trip! (Photo courtesy – Moumine)


16) While you flit by these roads, soak in the wonders. Like the single house villages!


17) Tread carefully. Just to let you know, roads from the city of Shimla to Kaza are considered one of the deadliest in the world. 


18) Stick to a group. Being in a convoy always helps. Apart from reducing the risk, you won’t have a tough time while clicking your own photos!


19) Staying at Jispa is advisable because of comparatively lesser altitude.


That’s River Yunam skirting near Sarchu. (Photo Courtesy – Jace)


20) Also keep in mind that Sarchu has more decent stay options.


21) If you’re keen on burning some rubber, having a 4 x 4 car is advisable.


22) Though it would be starkly cold, UV rays will be hitting you bad. So take ample precautions, starting with a more effective sun block and eyewear.


23) Rather than relying on ATMs for ready cash, it’s advisable to carry more cash. Just to comfort you, there are now 4-5 ATMs in Leh, so you wouldn’t be totally out of money.


24) Using Vodka in places of windscreen washer fluid is advisable, for it won’t freeze even at a higher altitude.


25) If you’re taking a car, it’s advisable to get it fitted with emergency kits which are readily available for around INR 4000.


26) Choose vehicles that offer more ground clearance. Plus, you can also consider the option of going for an underbelly kit.


27) You might have to tow your vehicle, especially bikes, at certain times. And it might be water that you might be treading. So go for multiple pair of shoes, preferable rubber ones.


28) Tow Rope is something that’s a must for this trip.


29) Taxi fares are fixed for almost all the routes. So, all that you need to do is enquire.


Mani Wall at Zanskar. (Photo Courtesy – Shakti)


30) Just for a heads up, getting a taxi at Spiti is easier than getting a taxi at the Zanskar region.


31) For a general idea, fares on the route usually are – (they may differ for various reasons) 


Manali to Leh – INR 16,000

Leh to Nubra – INR 8500

Leh to Pangong Tso – INR 8500

Leh to Tso Moriri – INR 10000

Leh to Srinagar – INR 23,000


32) Two essentials for the medical kit for the journey are Disprin and Camphor (makes breathing easier).


33) Go for a quick descent if AMS hits you; it’s the fastest help that you can do for yourself.


34) Dress yourself in layers of clothing. A light jacket is always a must.


35) If you’re looking for a travel partner for sightseeing/taxi sharing around Leh, jot down your itinerary on the white boards that are kept outside the restaurants/cafes in Leh with your contact details. You’ll soon have company.


Once you’re back from this epic tour, do not forget to write to us. We are waiting for more tips for the list, do pitch in. I know that this list reads like a lot of preparation, and intimidating at the same time. But then, safe isn’t always good. A trip to Leh/Ladakh isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a sip. Travel, learn, enjoy.


Check out this route map to Leh from Manali if a road trip is on your mind. It’s a special one for bikers. 


And yes, happy travelling.


About the author


Shikha Gautam loves to play with steering wheels, roads, words, flute and guitar among other things. Not necessarily in that order! You can contact her on twitter @ShikhaGautam