SOME ESSENTIAL TRAVEL TIPS

Ladakh is one of the most popular tourist destinations, located in Jammu and Kashmir state of India. This popularly known “Cold Desert” attracts lots of tourists from all across the globe. It shares its boundaries with Tibet and has a huge impact of Tibetan culture on its culture and lifestyle. The major part of Ladakh is barren land with low atmospheric pressures.

Due to extremely low-pressure conditions, rigid climatic conditions and high altitude places, there are certain tips and suggestions for tourists to consider while traveling to Leh Ladakh:

1. Best time to go to Ladakh

Ladakh is known to be a summer destination and it gets completely isolated during winters because it gets covered with the several feet of snow for about half of the year and thus becomes inaccessible in its major portions. Thus the best time to visit Ladakh is from May to September. But, some tourists also travel to Ladakh in winters so as to enjoy Ladakhi festivals that take place during this time.

2. How to reach Ladakh?

a. By Air: This is the easiest mode of transport to reach Ladakh. The nearest airport is Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport. It is well connected with major cities like Delhi, Srinagar, Jammu, Chandigarh, etc. This airport is a military terminal so the security is a bit strangling. Hence, it is advised to carry the hard copy of your e-tickets and all the required documents with you when you enter the airport premises. You can board a taxi to reach your desired destination.

b. By Train: The nearest railway station is in Tawi, which is about 700 Km away from Ladakh. This railway station receives trains from major cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, etc. From the railway station, you can reach Ladakh via taxi or cabs. This is the most inconvenient method to reach Ladakh as it will take two days to reach there from Tawi railway station via taxi.

c. By Road: There are two routes to reach Ladakh:

    • Srinagar to Leh Highway: The distance between Leh and Srinagar is 434 Km. It covers Sonmarg, Zoji La Pass, Drass, Kargil, Mulbek, Lamayaru, and Saspol. This route is open from May to October.
    • Manali to Leh Highway: This route is 490 Km long covering Rohtang, Gramphu, Kokshar, Darcha, Baralacha La Pass, Gata Loops, Lachulung La, Tanglang La, Gya and Karu on the way. This route is open from May to September.

You can many options for vehicles to board while traveling to Ladakh:

  • By Bus: There are many government and private buses available from Srinagar and Manali to Ladakh. For buses, the Srinagar route is open from June to October and the Manali route is open from June to September.
  • By Bike: Most of the tourists love to reach Ladakh via bikes. There are the world’s top three mountain passes that can be scaled via bike. If you are traveling through the bike, choose the brand that can take you through rocky mountains and are with higher displacements, like KTM Duke, Royal Enfield, Hero Impulse, Bajaj Avenger, etc.
  • By Jeep: You can also book a jeep if you want to experience the adrenaline rush of a bike ride but are not comfortable for the activity. Jeep ride is much more comfortable than the bike ride.
  • By taxi/ shared taxi: You can also hire a taxi from Manali to Leh but bargain before you agree upon the rates. The most important thing to keep in mind here is that if you are hiring a taxi from Manali to Leh, then a car with Manali registration or any other registration is allowed. But, if you want to do sight-seeing in Leh, then only the cars with Leh registration are allowed. Cars with other city registrations are not allowed for sight-seeing in Ladakh.

3. Permits and Passport

No permit is required for Indian tourists while traveling to Leh. But for international tourists, registration is needed and can be done at Drass, Rumtse, and Sarchu. Tourists traveling by air should get their registration done at the airport.

Tourists are required to take a Protect Area Permit through registered travel agencies to visit restricted areas like Tso Moriri, Tso Kar, Pangong Tso Lake, Dhahanu and Nubra valley. It is advisable to carry the six copies of the permit as they will be submitted at the checking points.

4. The temperature at Ladakh

The altitudes of Ladakh ranges from 9000 ft at Kargil to 25,170 ft at Saser Kangri at the Karakoram range. Summers are quite comfortable in Ladakh as compared to winters, as the temperature during winters falls below -30 degrees in Leh and Kargil and -60 degrees in Drass. During December to February, the region experiences subzero temperatures and the intensity of the sun is greater here as compared to lower altitudes due to thin air.

5. Availability of Basic Facilities in Ladakh

a. Hospitals/ Clinic: The main hospital in Ladakh is SNM Hospital, which is very well equipped to handle various emergency cases. While in other parts of Ladakh, one can find various sub-district hospitals at the district headquarters, private clinics are there in Leh and medical dispensaries in villages, attended by well-equipped doctors. In the case of undeclared emergencies, tourists can also be taken to the Army’s General Hospital at Leh.

b. Phone and Internet Services: The postpaid BSNL network is the only mobile network that works and gives full connectivity in Ladakh and its surrounding areas. If you are coming via Manali-Leh Highway, your mobile network will disappear as you start descending on the other side of Rohtang Pass.

If you are coming via Srinagar-Leh highway, your mobile connectivity will disappear the moment you leave Srinagar and will remain like this till Leh.

It is advisable to keep a list of emergency contact numbers handy with each person in your team.

c. Bank/ ATM facilities: When you are traveling to Ladakh, it is recommended to carry enough cash at hand because the last ATM that you will see in the Manali-Leh highway is in Manali only and there is no any ATM all the way to Leh. If in case you need to refuel in between, then there is no petrol pump that accepts credit/debit cards. In the Leh market, you can find some ATMs of different banks like PNB, SBI, J&K. In areas like Tso Moriri, Pangong Lake and Nubra valley, ATM facility is not available and you have to make transactions in cash only.

d. Police Stations: In case of an unexpected difficulty, you can contact the police station in Leh, that falls under the jurisdiction of  J&K Police. One can also reach any one of the police stations: Nubra Police Station in Nubra and Nyoma Police Station in Nyoma.

6. Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness is one of the major problem encountered by tourists while traveling to Ladakh. The cause of altitude sickness is exposure to lower levels of oxygen at high altitudes. The symptoms of acute mountain sickness are dizziness, vomiting, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, nausea, rapid heart rate and loss of breath. Some precautions that can be taken to deal with this problem are:

  • Give your body rest for a day or two after every climb of 2,000 ft above 8,000 ft. This will allow your body to acclimatize.
  • There are certain medicines that can help you tackle this problem. Example: Aspirin, Disprin, Diamox, and Dexamethasone.
  • You should also carry portable oxygen cylinders with you which can give you temporary relief.
  • If the problem still persists, consider descending before going up again.
  • Avoid smoking or drinking.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Do not use a heater while traveling by car.
  • Get enough sleep.

7. Accommodation

Various hotels in Leh Ladakh are family run establishments and offer great services and hospitality. Some of the best hotels are Hotel Charu Palace Leh and Grand Dragon. Some bets deluxe hotels are Hotel Shangrila and Spik n Span that promise comfortable and luxurious stays. Standard hotels include Hotel Asia and Hotel Dreamland. If you want to experience hospitality by Ladakhi people, then opting for homestays is a good option. Best homestays are Gangba Homestay, Ladakh View Homestay, Gangs Shun Homestay, Tukchu Homestay, etc.

8. Intra-city Travel

To travel intra-city, there are options or buses and private vehicles available in Ladakh. There are buses leaving from Leh city to the major parts of Ladakh. These buses are not regular due to unpredictable weather conditions. Leh offers a fleet of tourist transport facilities with more than 2,000 vehicles- taxis, Innova, Mahindra Scorpio, Xylo, Toyota, Tata Grande, etc.

9. Carry your ID proofs

It is advised to carry multiple copies of your ID proofs like PAN card, driving license, Aadhar card, Voter ID, PUC, Insurance, Vehicle registration papers, and passport.  This will make it easy to go through military checkpoints. For example, if you are traveling to Pangong lake or any other interior parts of the state, you may need to submit the copies of your ID proofs at various checkpoints.

10. Languages Spoken in Ladakh

The main language that is spoken in Ladakh is Boti. Other languages spoken in this region are Changshat, Brokshat, Shina, and Balti. The use of English and Hindi is common is schools, offices, and restaurants.

 

A Complete Guide

Every biker, irrespective of the gender, dreams of going on a Leh Ladakh bike trip once in their lifetime. While they dream of a flawless journey, the reality does come into contact with a lot of shortcomings. Having understood that bikers are bound to stumble upon a few barriers on a rugged landscape like that of Leh and Ladakh, we’ve put in our best efforts to collate every information in this blog that will help them encounter any such difficulties on the way.

About Leh Ladakh Bike Trip

The old saying “there’s beauty everywhere, all you have to do is just look around” is true to the core when it comes to the mesmerizing Leh Ladakh travel. Offering scenic vistas of one of the a trip to Leh Ladakh India is all about the feel of snow-clad mountains, rugged landscape, soaring peaks, dangerous routes, and roaring bike engines. In short, going on a Ladakh bike tour is all about the good vibes and the undying spirit of a rider.

Best Time To Visit Leh Ladakh On A Bike Trip

The best time to go on a bike trip to Leh Ladakh is from the months of June to September. These months enable the bikers to enjoy the best of Ladakh, as much as they enjoy their bike trip to Lahaul & Spiti. However, most of the riders love to kick-start their new year with this crazy bike trip as Ladakh offers magical vistas which can be cherished round the year except for monsoon season.

Ideal Duration For A Bike Trip

Depending on a lot of factors like the route you’ve taken, your entire schedule, and mainly the weather conditions, an ideal duration for a Leh Ladakh bike tour would span over a period of 15 days or more. Also, this duration is apt when one opts for Manali to Leh bike trip from Delhi.

Leh Ladakh Trip Cost

A lot depends on the vehicle you are selecting for your journey and the Leh Ladakh road trip cost would also vary on the accommodation and kind of food you choose to eat. Still, an average budget can be arrived upon considering basic factors such as accommodation, meals, and fuel. Hence, under normal circumstances, you will end up spending approximately INR 35000 for a trip to Leh Ladakh on bike for 15-days. This also includes the cost of permits and miscellaneous expenses for the Leh Ladakh bike trip.

Best Bikes For Leh Ladakh Bike Trip

Talking about the first things first, every biker must give his or her total attention to their first love, which is their bike. One must be very careful and picky when it comes to choosing their Leh Ladakh road trip bike. So whenever you’re choosing a bike for any road trip, make sure you go for suitability more than popularity. Consider it one of the most vital aspects of your Leh Ladakh trip plan!

Opting for the kind of bikes that one can easily handle and are easy to maintain, has always proven to be safe, and helpful for the riders for journeys like Leh Ladakh bike trip. Hence, the five best bikes for Leh Ladakh bike trip are:

  • Royal Enfield – A powerful bike with an engine of either 350 CC or 500 CC is enough to be a lifesaver on road trips.
  • Royal Enfield Himalayan – With a strong engine of 400 CC, Royal Enfield Himalayan will make your ride smooth and hassle-free on any rugged trail and offbeat roads.
  • Bajaj Pulsar – By far, no bike has been a hit in the Indian market when compared to Bajaj Pulsar. Being the most favored bike after the Bullets, Pulsar offers variants of 150CC, 200CC, and 220CC, either of which can be your trustworthy partner on any of the adventures.
  • KTM Duke – Being a featherweight bike can be advantageous on roads like that of Ladakh. With the series of new engine variants of Duke 390, and Duke 250, KTM can be a good choice for a bike trip to Ladakh too.
  • CBR 250 – This bike from Honda is indeed a stunner except for its Contigo tyres which can be a little tough to handle on Ladakh’s terrain in case of a change in weather. On the bright side, if the tyres can be replaced, one can put the bike’s torque and fi technology to great use, and a greater purpose.

Other bikes that the association of bike rentals in Ladakh has taken into consideration are that of Yamaha Fazer, Bajaj Vikrant, Yamaha FZ, and Hero Impulse. Though these bikes are not so heavy on the engine, they can surely pick up some speed (without breaking any rules) on the go.

Bike Rentals

No bike. No worries. The bike rentals at Delhi and Manali are ever willing to offer you a ride on rent provided you submit all the required documents. In Delhi, Karol Bagh is the hub from where you can rent a bike for INR 900 per day. All you have to submit is a valid photo id proof, your driving license, INR 10,000 as the security deposit, and a consent letter from your parents in case you’re still under 25, and you are all set for a bike trip to Leh Ladakh from Delhi.

Best Leh Ladakh Bike Trip Route

Considering Delhi as a base for the Ladakh trip by bike, Srinagar to Leh and Manali to Leh are the two main routes that offer the best road conditions and picturesque views. While the first route doesn’t overlap and forms a complete circle from end to end, the second route encircles the rugged mountainous landscapes, offers better views, increases the level of difficulty, and the level of danger.

Basic Expenditure On Leh Ladakh Bike Trip

Petrol

Keeping petrol as the priority for a bike trip, at an average, you’ll be covering a distance of 3500 kilometers. Of all the bikes that have been considered, the average mileage is that of 35 kilometers per liter. This means that you’ll be needing somewhere around 100 litres of petrol for which, you will roughly need an amount of INR 7000 to INR 8,000.

Accommodation

There are a lot of budget hotels in Ladakh wherein one can find easy accommodation options within the range of INR 500 to INR 2,500 per person, on a double-sharing basis, and including taxes (as per booking.com).

Places To Visit On Leh Ladakh Bike Trip

Wondering what all attractions to cover on your Leh Ladakh bike trip? Plan your itinerary around these best places to visit in Ladakh.

1. Pangong Tso

Popularly known as the Pangong Lake, this natural marvel set in the lap of Ladakh is a must visit tourist attraction on your Leh Ladakh bike trip. Located in the heart of Himalayas, the lake stretches at a distance of about 134 kilometers offering scintillating views in sync with the rustic mountains. The lake is so gigantic that sixty percent of lake’s length lies in China making it one of the largest lakes in Asia.

2. Namgyal Tsemo Gompa

Much famed to be one of the famous monasteries in Ladakh, Namgyal Tsemo Gompa or Namgyal Tsemo Monastery is located right in the heart of Leh district. It is believed that Ladakh’s King Tashi Namgyal founded the monastery in 1430, that serves as a home to the famous golden statue of Maitreya Buddha. You can even have a glance of it from the top of Leh Royal Palace. If you are staying in the town of Leh, this is one of the best places to visit nearby.

3. Zanskar Valley

Hues of soothing blue and beautiful brown can only be witnessed at the famous Zanskar Valley which is surrounded by the massive snow-clad peaks on all sides. One visit to the bustling Valley is sure to leave you charmed forever. In winters, the river gets frozen giving adventurers a chance to do the famous ‘Chadar Trek’ where people walk over the frozen ice for days.

Things To Do On Leh Ladakh Bike Trip

If you want to get high on adrenaline, these are some of the exhilarating things you should consider doing on your Leh Ladakh bike trip.

4. Experience The Magic Of Nubra Valley

Serenity is what strikes one’s mind on reaching the renowned Nubra Valley. The valley is popularly known as “the valley of flowers” referring to the beautiful and colorful blooming flowers that are worth a visit to the Nubra Valley. It is one of the best found treasures of Ladakh that you must definitely visit on your bike trip to Ladakh.

5. Find Solace At The Shanti Stupa

Perched atop a hill, the famous Shanti Stupa is set at an elevation of whooping 4267 meters. Offering panoramic views of Leh, it is a must for the bikers to witness either sunrise or a stunning sunset from the Shanti Stupa. It is one of the best places to find peace and tranquility. The stupa is blessed to be located amidst wondrous surroundings of nature. You may also find relics of old Buddhism culture inside the shrine.

6. Test Your Riding Abilities At The Khardung La

Any biker who is planning a trip to Leh already has the ride to Khardung La on his list. Set at a heart-wrenching height of 18,379 ft. and located at a distance of about 40 kilometers from Leh, Khardung La Pass is one of the most dangerous motor-able roads in India. Challenging the bikers and the drivers in the face, your Leh Ladakh bike trip is incomplete without experiencing a ride through the “Pass of Lower Castle”.

Must Experiences

Don’t say you have visited Leh Ladakh unless you have had all these experiences on your bike trip. Every person visiting the region must strike these off their lists.

7. Royal Leh Palace

Considered to be a gem in the heart of Ladakh, the 17th-century royal Leh Palace was built by the famous King Sengge Namgyal. Standing tall at a height of about 9 stories, you can soak in the natural beauty of Leh’s whole town, Stok Kangri, Zanskar ranges, and Indus Valley from the roof of this elegant yet rugged palace.

8. Magnetic Hill

Feel the pull of nature and adventure at Magnetic Hill, a sorcery of nature. Magic and Magnetic Hill go hand in hand. Encircled by the Sindhu river on all sides, Magnetic Hills rise to a height of about 14,000 ft. and possess a unique kind of magnetic force that pulls the bikes and cars uphill. Sounds magical, isn’t it? Try it for yourself!

9. Drass Valley

Famous for its natural hot springs that are blessed with medicinal benefits, Drass Valley is located in the heart of Kargil district, Jammu & Kashmir. Renowned to be the second coldest inhabited region in the world, Drass Valley strikes a perfect balance between the lush greens, soothing blues, and bold browns. The stark contrast of nature in the valley of Dras will make your jaw drop to the floor. Pay your homage to Indian soldiers at Kargil.

What To Pack

Going on a bike trip is like hard-core backpacking through the roughest of mountains. It is an adventure trip to Ladakh which needs packing to be light yet all the basic requirements need to be carried along.

  • An intelligent head on strong shoulders is a matter of life and death for everyone. Hence, carry a sturdy helmet and put it to use all the time while you’re riding.
  • Valid photo identity proofs and not to forget your driving license.
  • One or two leather jackets are a must to glide through wind and beat the breeze.
  • Carry sweatshirts, tees, jeans, shorts, shirts, tracks, inner-wear, socks, towels, handkerchiefs, and other clothing items that you may feel necessary.
  • Carrying an extra pair of sturdy trekking shoes or leather boots will keep you away from cold feet.
  • Match your shoes with an extra pair of gloves.
  • Riding goggles to protect your eyes.
  • It is a must to carry a first-aid kit for yourself and a tool-kit for your bike.
  • You’ll be equipped with GPS for sure but then carry a physical map for better navigation and clear routes.
  • Charger, power banks, bluetooth headset, batteries for backup, etc. are few other necessities to carry.
  • Keep a torch with you, even if you think you don’t need it. You never know when a need may arise.
  • A good-quality camera would be a necessity too to capture the breathtaking landscapes.
  • Carry a Swiss Army Knife for self-defense since traveling on a bike increases the level of danger automatically.
  • Camping tents, cooking utensils, sleeping bags, and other camping equipment can be easily rented whereas one can carry them as per their level of comfort.
  • Carry basic toiletries of toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo sachets (to save a little space and easy disposability), face wash, liquid soap, moisturizer, cold creams, etc.
  • Last but not the least, carry loads of sunscreen with maximum SPF to protect your skin from direct sunlight.

Tips For Leh Ladakh Bike Trip

It is believed that rules are meant to be broken and some of you may get the feeling of “your life, your rules” but then it is not at all advised to go on a bike trip with a wrong attitude.

  • Breaking the rules on one of the most dangerous and highest motorable roads can be dangerous as death itself. Hence, for your own sake and safety, abide by the rules and follow them wisely.
  • If you’re taking the route of Manali to Leh, it is recommended to carry extra jars of petrol apart from the full-tanks as there are only two petrol pumps on this route. On the contrary, the route from Srinagar to Leh has plenty of petrol pumps.
  • It is advisable that you learn how to change a bike tyre in case your bike suffers any punctures. For the rest of the times, one can find many mechanics along the way on both the routes.
  • Carry necessary medicines with you in case you, your partner, or your friends with whom you’re traveling suffer from altitude sickness.
  • It is important to note that Leh only has connectivity from the leading operators of Airtel, BSNL, & Aircel. Riders who don’t have these connections do not have any other choice other than standing in the long queues of over-crowded STD booths or getting a connection from one of the above-mentioned operators.
  • Though there are several ATMs at Leh, carry enough cash with you as the ATM you’ll find on Manali to Leh route is at Keylong.
  • Applying for an Inner Line Permit will only cost you INR 200 and will give you an access to remote places like that of Tso Moriri, Chushul, Merak, Loma, Mahe, Hanle, and more. One can apply and get this permit from the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Leh from 9 am to 3 pm.

And that’s a wrap from us. Also, other than the bike tours, one can also explore this natural marvel by customizing amazing Ladakh tour packages. As you embark on your journey, we hope you enjoy a safe and sound bike trip to Leh Ladakh.

Cheers!

Frequently Asked Questions About Leh Ladakh Bike Trip

Q: How far is Ladakh from Leh?

A: Ladakh is a region in Jammu and Kashmir that has been divided into two districts; Leh and Kargil. Leh is the capital of Ladakh, a land of high mountain passes.

Q: Is Leh and Ladakh same?

A: Leh is a district in Ladakh. So, they are not same.

Q: Which is the coldest month of Leh?

A: The coldest month in Leh is January when the temperature plummets down to lower than -15 degrees Celsius.

Q: What is famous in Leh Ladakh?

A: In terms of attractions, Nubra Valley, Magnetic Hill, Zanskar River, Pangong Lake and monasteries are famous in Leh Ladakh. Pashmina Shawl and traditional Tibetan items make for perfect souvenirs.

Q: What should I buy in Leh?

A: Buy pashmina Shawl, Mandala art and drawings, Tibetan handicrafts and handloom, silver jewellery are some of the things you should consider buying on your Leh trip.