Ladakh, located in the northern most region of India is actually a cold desert. The reason this destination is a must visit is because of its awesome natural landscape. Ladakh holds it’s beauty in Asia’s highest salt water lake, picturesque sand dunes, high rising mountains and much more.
Leh town situated in Ladakh is at an altitude of 3,500 m (approx. 11400 ft.) above the sea level and in spite of its extreme climatic conditions, today we can see a large number of tourists adding this place to their bucket list. The peaceful and serene environment of Ladakh will definitely leave you with a lifetime experience to cherish. Here is my travel guide to help you plan your trip to this paradise!
One of the most visited spots near the town is the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers. The site is absolutely spectacular as you can clearly see the color differences between the two rivers. River rafting sports enthusiasts will enjoy spending time due to the terrain and the backdrop.
The Shanti Stupa is approximately 14 minutes drive from the town. It was built by a Japanese Guruji to spread world peace. The stupa is located at a hill top and overlooks the entire Leh town. The walls of the stupa are filled with vibrant colors depicting numerous beautiful figures of Buddha.
Leh Market is the only place where you can tick stuff off your To-Buy list so ensure you do not miss the opportunity since it is the only market where you can shop when in Ladakh. Here you can buy many souvenirs for your friends and family. This is a very lively place filled with tourists and has a lot of small restaurants where you can try the traditional ladakhi cuisine.
The famous and the richest Hemis monastery is about 30 miles (50 km) from the town. There is a multi-cuisine restaurant for the tourists and a school where the would-be lamas acquire knowledge about Buddhism.
Druk White Lotus school became famous after it was pictured in one of the most watched Bollywood movie ‘3 IDIOTS’ is another spot you won’t want to miss. This school also got a title of most beautiful schools in the world by BBC London in 2016. You can visit the school and see the shooting spot, but cannot take pictures with the students. Visiting hours are between 9am-6pm only.
WHERE TO STAY IN LEH
Varied range luxurious to budget hotels are available in Leh. I stayed at Ladakh Himalayan Retreat hotel which offers scenic views of the mighty mountains. Moreover, it is only 11 minutes away from the Leh airport. You can book well in advance and save your money.
Nubra valley is at an altitude of about 3000 m (10000 ft.) above sea level. This valley is around 5 hrs. drive from Leh town. On the way from Leh to Nubra, we can ride on the highest motorable road in the world- Khardung La pass which is at an altitude of approx. 5,359 m (17,582 ft). This pass has a café which is said to be the highest altitude café in the world. Due to the high altitude make sure not to spend more time on this spot as it may cause medical conditions.
Nubra is famous for double humped camels on which tourists can ride and click pictures. This valley is also famous for its stretch of sand dunes. Diskit Monastery is the largest and oldest monastery in Nubra and you will find a lot of monasteries when in Ladakh because its culture and tradition largely influenced by Buddhism. This monastery has a huge statue of Buddha which is visible from any corner of the valley. Make sure to visit the top of the monastery to get panoramic valley views and treasure those memories forever.
WHERE TO STAY IN NUBRA
Nubra valley has very few places to stay. Tourists mostly prefer to stay in the tents with vast surroundings and almost no commercial establishments.
PANGONG TSO LAKE
This lake is a must visit for anyone who is traveling to Ladakh. Pangong is approximately 6 hrs from Leh town and the roads are very narrow and are not in their best condition. You may get tired until you reach Pangong but as soon as you witness the beautiful lake your tiredness will go away! The view is simply breathtaking. The sheer blue color of the water and the clear blue sky above it is all worth the long travel from the town.
Pangong lake is at an altitude of 4,250 m (approx 13900 ft.) so make sure to carry all the medicines before heading towards the spot. Lately, the thing that has made this lake tourist attraction is the shooting of many Bollywood movies. On the way back to Leh town you can visit Chang la pass which is the second highest motorable road in the world after Khardung La. It offers scenic views to cherish and also has a little café for quick refreshments.
WHERE TO STAY IN PANGONG
Accommodations available at the lake are camps (tents). These camps are banked by mountains with a serene lake between mountains and tents. I stayed at the Pangong Retreat Camp which was facing the lake, the tents were spacious and it also offered various multi-cuisine food.
OTHER INFORMATION ABOUT LADAKH
- How to get to Ladakh: 1. Flight- Leh is well connected by flights from Delhi, Chandigarh, Srinagar, Mumbai; 2. Road- Ladakh is connected to two main highways: Leh-Srinagar and Leh-Manali.
- Altitude is the key consideration before planning your trip to Ladakh. Leh is at an elevation of 3,500 m (approx. 11400 ft.) and it is advisable to visit your doctor and carry all the essential medicines.
- Acute mountain sickness (AMS) can occur to anyone because of the low oxygen levels in the atmosphere. Read more about AMS.
- It is advisable to take proper rest for 24-36 hrs after reaching Ladakh for acclimatization.
- It is highly advised to rent an oxygen cylinder and keep it with yourself while traveling. Oxygen cylinders are available in the local Leh market. Tourists generally need oxygen intake while visiting Khardung la pass, Pangong lake, and Chang la pass.
- Best time to visit- Ladakh experiences summer from April to July when the climate is not very chilly and all the spots are open for the tourists. Also, the sky is very clear offering perfect lighting for photographs.
- What to carry- You may experience the scorching sun and chilly wind on the same day so make sure to carry appropriate clothing. Also, carry proper sun screen and other skin care essentials as the UV rays are very strong.
- Food- When in Ladakh you must try momos. Besides momos, noodles are the second favorite fast food dish for the tourists. The main market in Leh has many restaurants which cater to every taste.
- Getting around- Renting a car is the best option if you are traveling with a group. There are many tour operators in Ladakh. Although one needs to be careful while selecting a tour operator. It is better to book with a recognized operator in case anything goes wrong. For bikers, they can rent bikes and enjoy the thrill while reducing costs.
I hope that this article has inspired you to visit Ladakh. If you have any questions about Ladakh, please don’t hestitate to contact me or ask them in the comments below. Read Next > 5 Tips To Make Your Himalayan Trip A Success