Leh Ladakh Travel Guide
A panoramic wonderland with vivid monasteries and a quaint landscape to amaze you with, Leh and Ladakh promise a stunning treat. For every traveler craving with wanderlust and every adventurer seeking adrenaline rush its a striking adventures! Its peaks replete with snow and a lovely blue sky as the roof for the world here is mesmerizing. Exploring Leh Ladakh is filled with amazing things and adventures. You will feel rejuvenated and your backpacks will be full of memories! So, to assist you in making the most of your time here in Leh Ladakh here is a complete travel guide. It has full-fledged information about traveling and discovering these gorgeous heavens!
Leh is a town in the region of Ladakh which comes under the territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, Ladakh is surrounded by the stunning mountain ranges of Himalayas and Karakoram. It is also blessed with the scenic Suru and Zanskar Valleys. Sited on a higher altitude, the Indus River is an essential part of many towns of Ladakh including Leh. There are several other small rivers flowing all around the land of Ladakh.
Flora and Fauna
The fauna here is much of scattered nature with stream lands and wetlands at mostly higher altitude. Some areas are fertile which are used for irrigation. Further, when it comes to fauna, Ladakh has blessed with a huge range of birds. A part of the bird population migrated to warmer areas during the months of summer. There are a total of 225 species of birds that Ladakh witnesses every year. It includes black-necked crane, brown-headed seagull, chukar, Tibetan snowcock, hoopoe, etc. Coming to the animal species evident here, the prominent ones are the blue sheep or Bharal, Asiatic ibex, Tibetan antelope, Tibetan gazelle, Tibetan wild ass, to count a few.
Activities to do in and around Leh Ladakh
Leh Ladakh offers a plethora of activities for every avid traveler. There are tons of things you can indulge yourself in when you visit these quaint lands! The first and foremost thing to do in Leh Ladakh is to soak in the picturesque panoramas of these towns. Try to wake up early and go out to catch the early sunrise by the mountain. It will make your day for sure! Then travel all across Leh, visit monasteries like the Hemis Monastery, Thiksey Monastery, Nimgey Monastery. Don’t forget to see the stunning lakes including, Tso Kar Lake, Tso Moriri Lake, and Sangam Point is a must as well!
Here you can try cycling, motorbiking, camping amidst the gorgeous valleys, trekking, jungle safaris, camel safaris and shopping in the colorful markets of Leh Ladakh for bringing souvenirs back home! Moreover, you can also opt for mountaineering expeditions, river rafting and travel excursions to the local villages!
Places to visit
Leh Ladakh has a charming bunch of attractions you need to explore here. Most of these places are monasteries, lakes, and historical places. The monasteries in Leh Ladakh include Hemis Monastery, Nimgey Monastery, Alchi Monastery, Phyang Monastery, amongst others while the Shanti Stupa and Leh Palace are also significant places to discover here! Further, there are tons of other attractions you can sightseeing in Leh Ladakh like Drass War Memorial, Nubra Valley, Hall of Fame, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Vajra Bhairav Shrine, Alchi Village, Jama Masjid, and Riasi Fort.
How to reach Leh Ladakh
This vibrantly charming land of Leh and Ladakh is open to travelers mostly from the month of June when routes are opened to here. The closest airport to here is Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport which links flights from all the major cities including Delhi, Jammu, and Kashmir. Moreover, if you are planning to travel by road, there are plenty of buses that are accessible from Manali to Leh availed by Himachal Pradesh Tourism and J & K Road Transport Corporation also provides several buses for those traveling from Srinagar to Leh.
For those who are taking the route by road, there are two alternatives, the first one is of the route associating Kashmir Valley to Ladakh and the other one is of Manali-Leh road. Also, the route of Kashmir Valley connecting with Ladakh is only open June to November so you can opt for the second one during other months. Leh and Ladakh also have good transport facilities for explorers to assist them travel hassle-free.
Best time to visit
Leh and Ladakh look gorgeous both in summers and winters. While the routes open around June and get closed by November you can still visit these stunning towns via regular flights at any time of the year. So, let’s explore the best months in Ladakh, i.e. May, June, July, August, September, October, January and February by taking a look at the weather and the charm of Leh and Ladakh during these months!
Leh Ladakh in May
May actually comes in the seasonal travel time of Leh Ladakh when hundreds of travelers come to these towns and immerse themselves in the beauty of Leh Ladakh. Most of the snow from winters begin to melt by this time but road passes like Khardung La and Chang La still remain strikingly encircled with snow and you can actually experience the loveliness of Leh Ladakh at its height during May.
Leh Ladakh in June
By June, the travel routes by road are opened and Leh Ladakh welcomes more visitors in thousands and if you are someone avoiding crowded destinations, then this month might not be ideal to explore Leh Ladakh. Further, snow slides and other blockages can also occur during June so avoid traveling by road in this month.
Leh Ladakh in July
July comes with the monsoon rains and snowfalls heightening the scenic aura of Ladakh and making it even more tempting to unravel. This is actually the best month to travel around Leh Ladakh with cool and romantic environment witnessing frequent snowfalls you can play and indulge in!
Leh Ladakh in August
Although traveling during August is quite risky as there are quite dangers of landslides and other things, August flows more spontaneously with the monsoon seasons and the rivers and lakes look exquisite with their azure colors and valleys appear green and lush!
Septembers shows Leh Ladakh in all its colors with monsoons blending with dry simple weather. You can travel without any hassles and enjoy Ladakh in all its amazing glory!
Leh Ladakh in October
October promises weather to take part in different adventures here from camping to picnics; Leh Ladakh also has many festivals that come during this month. Further, by the end of this month, the winters start arriving, so the weather gets a little chilly which makes it more pleasant and lovely!
Leh Ladakh in January
January comes during the cold winters and many travelers come to Ladakh by mid-January to take part in the popular Chadar trek as well. The snowfalls cover the valleys in a striking way that looks magical plus the frozen lakes are a sight as gorgeous in itself!
Leh Ladakh in February
If you want to witness the culture of Ladakh, February is the right time with several festivals like, Yargon Tunshak Festival and Stok Guru Tsechu Festival when you can indulge yourself with locals of Ladakh and be a part of their vibrant culture. Make sure to keep warm clothes along as its freezing temperatures in Ladakh during this month.
Ladakhi Cuisine is itself an endearing one to give a new taste for your palates. Thukpa and Momos cooked in Leh and Ladakh are actually favorites considered by many. But, there is more to Ladakhi Cuisine than just these two. The locally made Apricot Jam is a delicious one to try here. The bakeries of Leh and Ladakh are a must to visit if you feel like craving for sweet delicacies. Sku and Thukpa, Khambir, Pava, amongst other local dishes are the staple food here in Ladakh. Moreover, Ladakhi cuisine has a mild flavor to it and the sweet dishes are lip-smacking to savor your taste palates with!
Weather of Leh Ladakh
The ideal weather occurs in early June. You will see Ladakh in all its glory with snow-capped peaks and a lovely landscape to soothe your wanderlust with! Then by mid-June, the snow starts to melt and transforms into many streams that you will witness during your journey here. July and August welcome monsoon season in Leh Ladakh along with all across India. The rainy season is even more endearing to explore these two striking towns. Further by September, the off-season begins and the rates of hotels come down. That’s why this month is for those searching an inexpensive yet a full-fledged trip to Leh Ladakh.
You can even witness snowfall by late September along with those clear airy and sunny days. Then, the coming months of October, November, December, and January are purely winter months. Chilled and icy weather and snowy roads which are mostly closed during this time. From February to April, the snow starts to thaw almost with the weather becoming clear by the latter month. But even by April, the routes connecting Leh Ladakh by road remain closed so you can take domestic flights from the closest cities to Ladakh.
- Leh and Ladakh are quite pleasant in summers so you can easily keep light cotton clothes but if you are coming here in winters or monsoons, pack enough warm woolens that can help you spend the best time in Ladakh.
- When it comes to permits, Indian tourists are not needed to take permits but travelers coming out of India have to register especially if you are coming by road. These permits can be obtained from the airport or through travel agencies.
- If you are someone who can suffer from Acute mountain sickness or AMS, then make sure you carry medicines along and get a proper checkup done before traveling to Leh Ladakh. AMS can happen with symptoms include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, etc. so in those times it is better if you keep medicines along and some of the suggested medicines like Diamox and Disprin are a must if you think that you can experience Altitude sickness in Ladakh.
- Another important travel tip is to bring your IDs with you while traveling in Ladakh. Multiple copies of identity proofs like Aadhaar card or PAN cards will be a lot useful to go easily through various military posts without hassles.
- When it comes to mobile and internet networks, there is only postpaid BSNL connection that works in Ladakh. But from Rohtang Pass to Srinagar Leh Highway, it will start breaking and by the time you will arrive in Leh, the connectivity will disappear! So, keep a list of emergency numbers along and give yourself a break from your smartphones here in Leh!
- If you get short on money in Leh Ladakh, you can easily find some ATMs in Leh market but it is still advised to carry enough money in cash along as credit cards and debit cards will not be accepted by most of the places and you have to carry transactions in cash.
Inner Line Permits
When it comes to Indian travelers, there is no need to get permits. Your ID proofs will work in Leh Ladakh if you are going through military proofs. Further, for foreign tourists coming in Ladakh, they have to get Protect Area Permits or PAPs. You can register with the assistance of any travel agent from Leh. Also, there are inner line permits needed by Indian tourists for visiting places like Chumur, Hanle, Tsaga, Chusul, Batalick sectors, and Marsimil La. Here are the few key points to help you easily register for them.
- The reason why you will need inner line permits is that Ladakh has its border aligned with Tibet. That’s why it becomes important to enter those areas by the shared border.
- If you are coming to Ladakh by air, then you can get inner line permits from the airport itself. For those traveling by road, you can take help from travel agents in Leh. Inner line permits are also accessible from the office of Deputy Commissioner in Leh.
- Further, there is an application form that you need to fill outside DC’s office in Leh. The town also has hotels that can ease out the registration process for you and get inner line permits provided to you hassle-free.
- Carry attested copies of your ID proofs along as you will need them for checking at various military posts. Also for filling the form of inner line permits, you need to submit copies of your identity proofs.
Ladakh has a rich culture and several festivals they celebrate with love and vividness! Losar is the new year and Flowering consists of celebrations filled with folk songs, dances, and feasting. They celebrate auspicious occasions of monasteries and that’s what makes them more vibrant and lively. Among the various celebrations of Ladakh, Hemis Festival, Thiksey, Karsha and Spituk Gustor, Stok Guru Tsechu, Yuru Kabgyat, Ladakh Festival, and Sindhu Darshan Festival.
Events in Leh Ladakh
Having a colorful culture, there are plenty of events in Leh Ladakh that you can be a part of and these events occur all around the year so you can even convince yourself to delay a trip for a long time and blend in the culture here! Most of these events include monastic festivals and related fairs and celebrations where you can just immerse along with the locals and celebrate the wonderful spirit of Leh Ladakh. Here is a brief list of the major events in Leh Ladakh that are organized all around the year:
Where: Likir and Diskit monastery
Coming in between the month of February, Dosmoche Festival is organized with the aim to eliminate evil. It is also a monastic festival and involves mask dance.
Yargon Tunshak Festival
Where: Nubra (Yarma)
Yargon Tunshak Festival is another zealous celebration coming in February. It involves mask dances and monk chanting Sanskrit and Tibetan chants that fill the atmosphere with magic.
Stok Guru Tsechu Festival
Where: Spituk monastery
This festival comes at the end of February with locals happily taking part in it. It also marks the appearance of two oracles with masked dances that also happen.
Where: Matho Monastery
This festival comes around March or more precisely during the 14th and 15th day of Tibetan Calendar’s first month. It is popular for the mask dances which show priests disguising themselves in the faces of their gods and goddesses.
Where: Hemis Monastery
Hemis Festival is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Tibetan Buddhism’s Founder, Padmasambhava. It is organized at the biggest Ladakh monastery, Hemis Monastery and comes in June.
Where: Shagaran, Chushot Gongma
Polo festival arrives to rejoice this sport that exhibits the Ladakhi culture. The people here love playing polo which came to this place during 15th century BCE. This sport played here is quite different from how it is played worldwide. Further, if you are not a Polo fan. You can indulge in the scrumptious Ladakhi cuisine prepared during this festival. Also don’t forget to shop for the locally made beautiful handicrafts.
Galdan Namchot Festival
Where: Everywhere in Ladakh
To remember significant figure in Tibetan Buddhism they celebrate this festival. This important figure is Tibetan saint and scholar, Tsongkhapa who established the Gelukpa School that is credited with teaching Tibetan Buddhism during the time of 14th century in Ladakh. Further, it also marks the beginning of New Year celebrations right from December when this festival is organized.
Altitude Mountain Sickness
Altitude mountain sickness can happen on arriving here if you feel nauseated and fatigued. It is because of Altitude mountain sickness that affects body due to the lack of oxygen at places like Leh Ladakh. It has major symptoms like loss of breath, loss of appetite, fatigue, vomiting, etc. To cope up with this issue, you can take rest for a while by stopping at a location and then start your journey afresh. Further, if the issue gets serious, get a checkup done by a doctor there and take proper medicine and precaution. You can also take oxygen cylinders along with medicines like Diamox, disprin, etc.
Bike Trips to Leh Ladakh
Biking in the striking mountains of Ladakh is an adventure you will never forget. It’s a must to try if you want to experience an adrenaline rush in Ladakh! You can head to Leh Ladakh on your bike. You can also arrive here via other transports and then hire a bike to go for a refreshing ride in the mountains! June to August is the ideal time when the roads in Leh Ladakh are in best condition for mountain biking. You can explore this destination on wheels making the most of your time in the quaint aura of Ladakh!
Camping at Leh
Bikamp Adventures has permanent campsites at
1) Leh, Ladakh