Travel Guide to Ladakh

Located in the Greater Himalayas in far North India, Ladakh is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The rugged arid valleys are flanked by the jagged, snow-capped peaks of the Zanskar, Ladakh and Karakoram ranges and hilltops are dotted with crumbling ancient monasteries.

It’s a region that promises a great adventure, sitting at a lofty 3,500m+. From high altitude lakes, to trekking between remote villages, there’s so many memorable and otherworldly experiences and places to explore in this corner of the world.

I’ve now visited Ladakh twice; spending nearly six weeks each time based in Leh. With all this time and experience, I’ve decided to put together this comprehensive travel guide to Ladakh, with absolutely everything you need to know about travelling to Leh and beyond.

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Overview of Ladakh

Ladakh covers the far northern extent of the Indian subcontinent and is bordered by Pakistan to the west and China and Tibet to the north and east. Technically, the broader Ladakh region is also partly in Pakistan, which is known as Gilgit-Baltistan. Together, Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan are culturally, ethnically and historically very similar.

Ladakh was part of the former Tibetan Kingdom and is still home to a predominantly Buddhist population today. This means that the culture, language, food, atmosphere and architecture of the region are completely different to what you might find elsewhere in India.

Ladakh was also considered part of Jammu and Kashmir state in India, but since 2019, Ladakh is now a Union Territory.

Leh is the capital and transport hub of the Ladakh region. This is where you’ll want to base yourself when exploring Ladakh. While some people confuse Leh and Ladakh as being the same thing, Leh is the town while Ladakh is the name of the broader region.

travel guide to Ladakh pin

When is the Best Time to Travel to Ladakh

High season runs from June to August in Ladakh. This is when the region sees its best weather with warm days and relatively mild nights. The roads are also almost guaranteed to be clear of snow during these summer months, making places easier to access.

If you want to join any tours or treks from Leh, then this is the perfect season to meet other travellers and join groups. Outside of these months it can be hard to find regular departures for tours. 

The roads connecting Leh with Manali and Srinagar are usually open from April or May until September or October, depending on conditions. The Leh-Manali Road tends to open later and close earlier due to its higher elevation.

If you’re interested in trekking in the region, try to visit from August up to mid-September. This is when the weather is warm and the trails are cleared of excess snow and ice. High passes and peaks are usually much safer to cross during these months.

Driving to Lamayuru
Leh-Kargil Road

How to Get to Leh, Ladakh

Now, this is where the adventure really begins. You can reach Leh, Ladakh by road or by air. Flying is the only option available all year round, while travel by road is possible usually from May until October. There are shared and public transport options by road from either Kashmir or Himachal Pradesh.

By Air

If you’re short on time or aren’t up for many days spent doing long drives on some pretty rough roads, then flying is the better option. There are frequent flights throughout the year from Delhi to Leh. In winter, this is the only way into the region.

Flights are run by Air India, Vistara, SpiceJet, and IndiGo. Flights are around 1.5 hours and cost anywhere from 3000INR (AU$60) to 9000INR (AU$180) one way.

Kargil-Leh road
View from Kargil-Leh road

By Road

Undoubtedly, the road trip to get to Leh is one of the best in the world. It’s not for the faint-hearted though as the roads are rough, with steep drops down one side. However, improvements are made each year with large parts of the drive now sealed.

To reach Leh by road, you can come from two directions: Srinagar in Kashmir to the west or Manali in Himachal Pradesh to the south-east. There are public buses, government tourism buses and shared taxis plying these routes during the summer months.

For most travellers, coming from Manali is most convenient and the more popular option, although the road is far more arduous. The Srinagar-Leh road is less travelled but is a great option if you plan to explore Kashmir or think you might have problems with sudden changes in altitude.

The highest point on the Srinagar-Leh route is Fotu La at 4,100m, having a more gradual altitude change up to Leh at 3,500m. Whereas the Manali-Leh road runs at an average height of 4,000m, including three passes over 5,000m, the highest being Tanglang La at 5,320m.

For a detailed look at all these transport options running between Srinagar and Leh and Manali and Leh, read this: How to Get to Leh, Ladakh by Public Transport

Leh Palace
Leh Palace

Is it Safe to Visit Ladakh?

The politics of the region can be confusing and can flare up at any time. However, Leh town has remained peaceful for many years now. The border regions close to Pakistan and close to Tibet occasionally have tensions flare up, so keep your eye on local news if you plan on heading up to Ladakh, but in general this occurs far from Leh.

However, I would say Ladakh feels very safe when travelling there. There’s a huge military presence everywhere you look, so border clashes rarely spillover anywhere close to Leh.

Ladakh also has one of the lowest crime rates in India. The people are extremely lovely and welcoming; it’s definitely one of the most relaxing places to experience in India.

Where to Stay in Leh

There are so many accommodation options in Leh, from backpacker hostels to 5 star high end hotels. The best option in my opinion is one of the many local guesthouses. These are usually family owned and a great way to get to know the Ladakhi culture. I’ve stayed at many different places in Leh, so I can recommend a few at different price points.

Read more: Best Places to Stay in Leh, Ladakh For All Budgets

Where to Eat in Leh

The food is one of the highlights of Leh for me. The town is packed full of great cafes and restaurants, serving local Tibetan and Ladakhi food , as well as a range of cuisines from Thai to Italian. Some of my favourites include:

  • Bodhi Terrace
  • Tibetan Kitchen
  • Chopsticks
  • Wanderers Terrace
  • Asian Corner

Read more: 10 Best Cafes in Leh, Ladakh

Monasteries on the Kargil-Leh Road
Monasteries on the Kargil-Leh Road

How to Get Around Ladakh

Once you find yourself in Leh town, getting around Ladakh is relatively easy with a variety of options. Whether you hire your own transport or opt to go with public transport, travelling by road in Ladakh is one of the best experiences in the region.

I opted for a combination of public transport and organised group tours to get around to most places. I found this the perfect balance as a budget traveller. Although taxis come in handy too, especially to more obscure places.

Here are your options:

Public Transport

Once in Leh, public transport is a little limited. You’ll need a lot of time and patience if you plan on using local buses to get to all the best places.

Heading east of Leh, if you want to explore Shey Palace, Thiksey Monastery, and Stakna Monastery, you can start by taking one of the local buses leaving from Leh main gate to Choglamsar. From there, you can take another local bus which runs along the main road past Shey and Thiksey. Tickets cost as less than 50 INR and these buses run regularly throughout the day when full. Getting back to Leh can be difficult, as you’ll have to wait on the highway and flag down a passing bus. Hitchhiking is an option.

It is also possible to get to other popular destination further afield by bus. There are usually weekly buses to Diskit in Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake, and Tso Moriri. But you’ll have to check at the main bus station in Leh for the latest timetable.

For other places out west, there are daily buses to Lamayuru. Usually a few buses per week to Likir (for the Sham Valley trek) and Chilling (for the Markha Valley Trek). But again, check at the station for the latest timetable. Photos above are the current schedule as of 2023.

Note: The local bus timetable tends to change each year and throughout the season depending on demand. Heading down to the station to ask in person is usually the only way you’ll find out the latest information. Unfortunately, the buses aren’t overly reliable in Ladakh.

Jeep tour to Pangong Tso
Jeep tour to Pangong Tso

Shared Taxis and Group Tours

By far the most convenient way of getting to the main attractions is by joining a group tour. While I don’t usually do this while travelling, in Ladakh it makes a lot of sense for budget travellers.

Agencies in Leh organise group tours to Pangong Lake, Nubra Valley and Turtuk. These are generally four days, three nights, or three days, two nights if you omit Turtuk.

Prices start from 24,000 INR (AU$450) for a whole vehicle and driver for three days to Pangong Lake and Nubra Valley. More if you add Turtuk. You can then divide this amongst 6-7 people to share the cost.

Accommodation is then up to you to organise and pay for yourself. You can either wait until you arrive and find something that the driver’s recommend, or you’ll find many options for Pangong Lake and Diskit or Hunder (Nubra Valley) online.

Prices will be much the same across all agencies as the drivers work as part of a union with set pricing structures. You can simply walk around Leh and just find an agency that has a group leaving on the your preferred date. They often have signs on their doors displaying the next departures.

Khardung La Road
Khardung La Road

Private Taxis

For closer day trips around Leh, getting a taxi can be a convenient and relatively inexpensive way to go. As mentioned above, the taxis are part of a union, so they all carry a booklet and price list inside their cab. You can simply ask to check the price, with no room for bargaining.

Popular day trips include combining Shey, Thiksey and Hemis together, which can cost around 3700 INR (AU$70) for the day.

Otherwise, taxis are also convenient if you want to get dropped at the trailhead of a trek for example, like to Likir (2000 INR or AU$40) or Chilling (3600 INR or AU$70).

Road to Nubra Valley
Road to Nubra Valley

Hiring a Motorbike

Hiring a motorbike is a popular choice for Indians who love to explore the Ladakh roads on two wheels. There’s plenty of places in Leh to hire a Royal Enfield, with prices starting relatively low per day.

However, the roads are not for inexperienced riders and I would suggest making sure that you’re competent and have a motorbike license before thinking about hiring a bike in Ladakh.

I noticed a lot more scooter rentals around Leh on my last visit. This would be a good alternative to get around if you’re not confident on a motorbike.

Pangong Tso
Pangong Tso

How Long to Spend in Ladakh

You’re asking the wrong person! I’ve spent 12 weeks in total over two trips to the Ladakh region, so I will likely encourage you to spend as long as possible. But if I’m being practical, I would say 10 days minimum if you want to do some sightseeing outside of Leh. Two weeks if you want to also add on a short trek like Sham Valley or Markha Valley.

You can spend much longer than that as well, if you want to add on lesser visited places like Zanskar Valley or Tso Moriri.

Stakna Monastery
View of Stakna Monastery

Sightseeing Permits for Indians and Foreigners

While you generally only need your passport to travel to Leh, you will also need a permit to reach some places considered sensitive. Both Indians and Foreign Nationals require permits to visit some places. For Indians, this is called an Inner Line Permit and for foreigners, it’s called a Protected Area Permit.

The following places require this permit:

  • Pangong Lake
  • Nubra Valley
  • Turtuk
  • Tso Moriri Lake
  • Dha-Hanu Valley

You can either do all the work yourself at the Permit Office (Deputy Commissioner Office) in Leh or if you book a tour with an agency like to Pangong Lake etc., they will do the permits for you. It takes just a few hours to get a permit usually, although it depends how busy the office is.

The cost of the permit is 400 INR environment fee, 100 INR Red Cross donation, and 20 INR per day for wildlife protection fee. So, for a three day trip to Pangong Lake and Nubra Valley, expect the permit to cost 560 INR (AU$11).

For other places like Thiskey, Hemis, and Lamayuru, you just need to cary your passport on you for ID. A permit is not required for these places.

Leh Bazaar in Ladakh
Leh Bazaar

Best Things to Do and See in Ladakh

There are plenty of things to do and see in Ladakh such as remote valleys, rural villages, hilltop monasteries and high altitude lakes. Here are the essential places to visit during your time in Ladakh:

Leh Market

The main hub and tourist centre of Leh is the market. The main thoroughfare is Leh Bazaar Road, which is a wide pedestrian market and shopping street. Filled with souvenir shops, book shops, general stores, trekking gear stores, tour agencies, cafes and banks, you can get whatever you need around the market area.

At the northern end of the Main Bazaar Road is Jama Masjid (main mosque), and you’ll also find the main Leh Buddhist Temple on the western arm of the bazaar road. Decorated with prayer flags and with the towering Leh Palace above the old town, it’s undoubtedly the most vibrant place to be in Leh.

Shanti Stupa view of Leh
View from Shanti Stupa

Shanti Stupa

Offering one of the best views in all of Leh town, Shanti Stupa is the white peace pagoda you can see north-west of the bazaar on a small hilltop. It was built in 1991 with funds from the Japanese, similar to the one in Pokhara, Nepal.

The platform around the stupa offers a panoramic view of the town and surrounding valley. It’s undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Leh at sunset time, when the last light of the setting sun streams through the valley creating some beautiful shadows on the ridgelines of the mountains.

You can take a taxi up to the stupa and temple complex or walk up the 500 stairs from the end of Changsha Road. A taxi from Leh market up to the stupa and back, including waiting time costs about 400 INR (AU$8) per car.

Entry fee is 50INR (AU$1).

Leh Palace at dusk
Leh Palace at dusk

Leh Palace

The most imposing landmark of Leh town, the old palace has undergone plenty of renovations over the last few years and has been opened to the public as a museum and incredible vantage point.

It was originally built in the 17th century by the royal family, Namgyal, as they ruled over the Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh, in Western Tibet. It was then abandoned in the mid-19th century when the Dogra forces invaded Ladakh and the royal family was forced to flee to Stok.

Today, you can explore the nine levels of the palace, although it’s mostly empty with not much remaining from its time as a palace. There has been a lot of effort to turn some rooms into a museum, which makes it a really interesting place to visit. Plus, the view from the ninth floor is outstanding, looking right across the town below.

You can drive up to the palace, but it’s much quicker to walk up from the bazaar and old town area with stairs leading up from the bottom.

Entry fee is 100 INR (AU$2)

View from Tsemo Monastery Leh
View from Tsemo Monastery

Tsemo Maitreya Temple

The beautiful monastery that sits perched above Leh Palace is my favourite place to be at sunset time. This incredible ruined fort complex and Buddhist temple is one of the highest points in town to enjoy the view of the valley as the sun sets.

You can drive up to the temple, or hike up to it from two different directions. The walk up from Chubi is done on a paved trail with stairs. It starts beside the Chubi HP Petrol Station on Sankar Road. But, most people hike up from Leh Palace, with a dirt trail cut into the mountain. It’s a bit of a workout if you’re not yet acclimatised to the altitude.

Entry fee is 30 INR (AU$0.60)

Khardung La
Khardung La

Khardung La Road Pass

Ladakh is known as the Land of High Passes for a reason. There are several high passes you can drive or hike over in the region, but none are as famous as Khardung La. Once the highest motorable road in the world (now overtaken by another road in India), Khardung La sits at 5,360m.

It connects Leh with Nubra Valley and is the most used pass for tourists heading over to Hunder, Diskit and Pangong Lake. However, some also just drive up to the pass as a day trip and drive back to Leh, but the real adventure is continuing onto Nubra Valley.

The road is generally in decent condition and mostly sealed, but it can close suddenly due to landslides or snow fall, so check ahead of time. It’s generally only open from June until September for tourists.

Monks riding camels in Nubra Valley
Monks riding camels in Nubra Valley

Nubra Valley

The most popular excursion from Leh is to Nubra Valley. This fabled valley carved out by the Shyok River and bordered by the Karakoram Mountains was once part of the old Silk Road trading route across Asia. Connecting Pakistan with Tibet, it is one of the most remote parts of India that has only been open to tourism for a couple of decades.

To reach the valley, you must cross the Khardung La pass from Leh and then head to Diskit, the main town in Nubra. Diskit is home to an old monastery built into the side of the rocky cliffs. There is also a large 100 ft Maitreya Buddha statue with incredible views down both sides of the valley.

Heading west of Diskit is Hunder, where you’ll find sand dunes backed by snow-capped mountains. If the landscape was enough to blow you away, there are also double humped camels or Bactrian camels roaming the dunes as well.

Entry fee for Diskit Monastery is 40 INR (AU$0.80)

Pangong Lake
Pangong Lake

Pangong Lake

As one of the world’s highest saltwater lakes, Pangong Tso is also one of Ladakh’s most famous attractions. Located at 4,250m, it’s a long drive to reach the lake from Leh over at least one high pass. Most people include a trip to Pangong with Nubra Valley, but you can also simply head to Pangong Lake from Leh, crossing the Changla Pass at 5,360m.

It’s a sacred site for Buddhists, with almost 2/3 of the lake actually lying across the border in Tibet. It’s bright blue colour against the arid, desert-like mountains makes it an otherworldy sight that draws thousands each year.

Due to the long drive, most people spend a night at the lake. The most popular place is Spangmik, a cluster of glamping style tents and small hotels. However, the overcommercialisation of this village has led many people to continue further to Man or even further to Merak. Here, you’ll find more laidback tents and homestays.

Turtuk village
Turtuk village

Turtuk

If you can allow an extra couple of days, I highly recommend heading to Turtuk from Nubra Valley. This is the northernmost accessible village in India and is home to ethnic Balti people, who now mostly reside in Baltistan across the border in Pakistan.

The remote village is a beautiful spot to explore, with friendly people who are very welcoming and happy to show you their traditional lifestyle. Because of the long drive, you must stay the night in the village, which only adds to the experience.

You’ll find plenty of homestays who provide beds and meals to travellers fro about 1000INR (AU$20) per night.

Thiksey Monastery
Thiksey Monastery

Thiksey Monastery

A short drive from Leh along the Keylong-Leh Road, you’ll find several outstanding monasteries to visit. However, arguably the most beautiful is Thiksey Monastery. It’s known to have a distinct resemblance to Lhasa’s Potala, the former seat of the Dalai Lamas in Tibet.

Built cascading over a small hill with the grandest temples sitting at the top, you can either walk up to the top through the alleyways passing monk residences on the way. Or you can drive closer to the top, and simply walk to the temples.

Entry fee is 50 INR (AU$1)

Hemis Monastery
Hemis Monastery

Hemis Monastery

Arguably the most important monastery to visit during your time in Ladakh, Hemis Monastery is the largest in the region. While it was officially established in the 17th century, many believed that it’s meditation caves go as far back as the 11th century.

The monastery is hidden, tucked into a gorge in Hemis National Park about an hour’s drive from Leh. There is a large courtyard in the middle of the complex, from where you can visit the main temples and the museum.

The museum is fascinating, holding some of the most important Buddhist monuments, artwork, relics and artefacts. It also provides an interesting insight into the local culture and history of Buddhism in Ladakh.

Entry fee is 100 INR (AU$2)

Alchi Monastery
Alchi Monastery

Alchi

Hidden away off the main highway connecting Srinagar to Leh, Alchi Monastery has remained untouched throughout centuries of invasions and attacks. This is not a typical monastery that you see in Ladakh, but a complex filled with sacred shrines and important Buddhist art.

Some of the nearly 1,000 year old murals are considered to be some of the best preserved in the world. Even if you think you’ve seen enough monasteries in Ladakh, this is an important one you’ll want to make time for.

Entry fee is 100 INR (AU$2)

Lamayuru
Lamayuru

Lamayuru Monastery

Lamayuru is the oldest monastery in Ladakh. Back in the 11th century, it is said that Mahassidha Naropa came to meditate in a cave there. A temple was built around the cave (which can still be visited today) and then the remainder of the complex was built in the 16th century by King Namgyal. 

Built over several levels across the rocky landscape, the Srinagar-Leh Highway passes right through the village and monastery. It’s easily one of the most impressive sights, with the towering peaks surrounding it and the incredible geological area known as moonland running through the valley.

It’s a long but beautiful drive along a sealed highway from Leh to Lamayuru, it takes around 3 hours one way. There are restaurants and homestays around Lamayuru village if you want to stay the night.

Enty fee is 50 INR (AU$1)

Want more? Read next: 25 Best Things to Do in Ladakh

Markha Valley trek

Trekking in Ladakh

Trekking in the Indian Himalayas is completely different to trekking in Nepal. The ranges around Leh are rugged, wild and far less trafficked. Plus, it’s one of the best ways to get to know Ladakhi culture and spend time in rural villages.

Homestay Treks

If you’re interested in trekking in Ladakh, there are two main trekking routes that are popular for independent hikers (without a guide) which utilise homestays as nightly accommodation:

Sham Valley Trek: Known as the “Baby Trek”, although that’s a bit deceiving. This three day trek is a great introduction to the region. With relatively short distances to cover each day and beautiful villages to stop and spend the night in homestays, it’s easy to organise with minimal planning. The maximum elevation is just under 4000m, so it doesn’t ascend too much higher than Leh itself, making it a nice one to do for those short on time and not yet acclimatised to the region. Read my guide to the Sham Valley Trek.

Markha Valley Trek: The more popular option and one I highly recommend to keen hikers. The Markha Valley Trek is a 4-5 day one way trek through the Markha Valley just south of Leh. It also utilises a homestay system across all the villages along the valley floor, making it a convenient trek with minimal planning involved as well. It’s highest point is Kongmaru Pass on the final day at 5,250m, which means you’ll want to at least have spent a few days in Leh acclimatising before attempting this trek. Read my guide to the Markha Valley Trek.

Sham Valley Trek
Sham Valley Trek

Camping Treks

If you prefer to get off the beaten track and explore the landscapes beyond the villages, then you’ll have to opt for a camping trek. This means you’ll have a guide and a team of mules to help carry all the necessary gear and food. These require a bit more organising, but any of the agencies in Leh will be able to help.

Kibber to Tso Moriri (Parang La Trek): Certainly one of the most spectacular and challenging of the longer treks in Ladakh, the hike from Spiti Valley to Tso Moriri follows an old trading route between Ladakh and Spiti. Almost all of the 10 day trek is above 4000m, with the highest point being Parang La at 5,580m, meaning it’s quite a difficult one and is for experienced and keen hikers only.

Rumtse to Tso Moriri: Another stunning trek across rugged and remote country, this 8 day trek links Rumtse near Hemis National Park to the high altitude lake Tso Moriri, passing Tsokar lake and Changpa nomads along the way. Most of this trek is well over 4000m, with the highest point being at 5,400m, making this a very difficult trek as well.

Zanskar Valley (Padum) to Darcha: This used to be a popular long trek in the Zanskar region, but with road construction between Padum and Darcha, there is no real need to trek the route anymore. However, the 10 day trek will still be a regular offering at least for another couple of years until traffic really builds on the new road. It takes you from the remote Zanskar Valley down to Lahaul Valley, mostly sitting between 3,500 and 4,000, with one pass over 5,000m, Shingo La.

View from Hemis village
View on the Sham Valley Trek

Trekking Agencies

For those longer camping treks, you’ll need the help of a local trekking agency. While there are plenty of them in Leh, you can simply go around and talk to multiple agencies about cost, inclusions, and the general quality of gear.

However, it’s important to go with a decent company for these kinds of expeditions. Quality of gear, guide experience and reliability are extremely vital on high altitude treks. If you’re wondering what trekking agency to trust, I have two recommendations:

  • Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company: the first and only female owned and operated trekking agency in Ladakh, they only employ local women as guides and support local communities. Check their website.
  • Lungta Tours and Travel (based at Rock Castle Residency): for bigger expeditions and longer treks, I highly recommend Gonbo. He can organise a range of treks with over 20 years of experience in adventure tourism. Email: rockcastleleh@gmail.com
Festival at Phyang Monastery
Festival at Phyang Monastery

More Important Info for Exploring Ladakh

  • Water: The local water is not safe to drink straight from the tap, but take a LifeStraw bottle or other filtered water bottle and you won’t have to purchase single use plastic water bottles that end up in landfill.
  • SIM: A regular Indian SIM card will not work in Ladakh and Kashmir. You’ll have to purchase a new local SIM in Leh. The Airtel shop is tucked down a side alley at the southern end of the Leh Market. It’s listed as Airtel Store on Google Maps.
  • Money: There are a couple of SBI ATMs in the main Leh Market street. There is almost always a queue and they occasionally run out of cash, but generally fixed pretty quickly.
  • Alcohol: Drinking is not part of the culture in Ladakh and you won’t find it offered much at restaurants or cafes. However, there are a couple of wine and beer shops with limited hours.
  • Language: The local language is Ladakhi, but you’ll also hear other languages like Tibetan, Hindi and Kashmiri. English is pretty widely spoken, although some of the taxi drivers only speak basic English.
  • Festivals: There are many festivals and events on throughout the year in Ladakh and timing your visit with one is ideal. Each of the monasteries have their own festival, including a masked dance of the monks. Your guesthouse owner will be able to tell you if there is one going on during your stay. The Dalai Lama also visits Ladakh most years during the summer and conducts live teachings. Check his schedule online to see if you can time your visit for that as well.
  • Clockwise: Remember to walk clockwise around any stupa or prayer wheel you pass in Ladakh. For Buddhists, this purifies negative karma and is a sign of respect.
Stok Buddha Statue
Stok Buddha Statue

Altitude Sickness and How to Avoid

No guide to Ladakh would be complete without mentioning the altitude. Leh sits at an elevation of 3,500m making it one of the highest places in India. Almost everyone who arrives in Leh will feel the sudden change in altitude within a few hours and it will likely continue for a couple of days until you acclimatise.

Flying in from Delhi obviously leaves you more susceptible to altitude sickness because your body will have no time to adjust. Those who come from Kashmir or Himachal Pradesh will have had more time to slowly acclimatise on the way.

The common symptoms are headache, nausea, shortness of breath and tiredness. These are completely normal and will likely go away after a couple of days. More serious symptoms include, vomiting, difficulty walking and dizziness, persistent coughing, chest tightness, confusion or coordination problems.

Sunset from Tsemo Monastery
Sunset from Tsemo Monastery

Tips to Avoid Altitude Sickness in Ladakh

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink plenty of water starting from before you arrive in Leh. This is the best way to help your body acclimatise.
  • Rest. Prioritise rest in the first 2-3 days of arriving in Leh. This means minimal walking and activities for at least 48 hours. Try to eat in at your guesthouse and only go for a short walk of less than a kilometre at a time.
  • Eat small, regular meals. Nausea is a common initial symptom, so eat small, simple meals for the first couple of days regularly. Energy is important.
  • Diamox or other altitude medication. Some people like to take diamox or other medication to help prevent altitude sickness. However, they can have serious side effects, so talk to your doctor first.
  • Don’t ascend any higher for a few days. Plan your trip so you’re spending the first few days of your visit around Leh without going any higher. Try to allow at least 3-4 days in Leh before heading off on any trek or over Khardungla to Nubra Valley.
View from Central Asian Museum
View from Central Asian Museum

How Much Does a Ladakh Trip Cost?

If you’re on a budget, then here’s what you can expect to pay for things in Ladakh (if you want to spend more, you definitely can):

  • Accommodation: 450INR (AU$9) for dorm bed or 800INR (AU$16) for private room at a guesthouse
  • Meals: 150INR (AU$3) at a local restaurant or 350INR (AU$6) at a more tourist-oriented place
  • Entrance fees: Most monasteries charge around 50INR (AU$1) for entry
  • SIM card: They charge around 500INR (AU$10) for registration, setup and a 28 day package at AIRTEL in Leh
  • Three day tour to Pangong Lake and Nubra Valley: 4,000INR (AU$80) for a seat in a shared group tour
  • Permit: 560INR (AU$11) for three days to Pangong lake and Nubra Valley

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