Itinerary: 10 days in Ladakh by road

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Are you headed to Ladakh this summer? And have about ten days with you? Here is a suggested itinerary for you assuming you are on the road from Manali onwards.

Posts on Ladakh

  • Click here to read all my posts on Ladakh so far
  • For driving tips from Delhi to Leh in Ladakh, click here


Day 0
Reach Manali by air or by road

Day 1
Manali to Jispa, reach in about 6-8 hours. Stop at Rohtang Pass and Keylong if you like. You can also read the following posts on Jispa

Day 2
Drive from Jispa to Leh: There is no need to spend a night at Sarchu on the way as many travel operators will advise you unless you are on the way to Tso Moriri from Jispa. Read my post on the experience at Sarchu: Sarchu in Ladakh: Spending the longest night of my life

Day 3
Take it easy in Leh, just roam around town and get familiar with it. Avoid going to monasteries as it will entail steep walks up and down. You can visit Shanti Stupa in the evening for some stunning sunsets. Check out the Donkey Sanctuary too – its unique. If you are missing a good coffee, drop by at Desert Rain located right in the main market.

Day 4 / 5
Visit Hemis Monastery, Thiksey Monastery, Stok Palace, Shey Palace and Leh Palace for sure. Each of these can take half or one third of a day – they are all villages around Leh. If you have the time check out the monasteries at Matho, Phiyang and a few others too. Take a dawn or dusk walk along the Indus river: a good place is from across the Shey Palace.

While at these monasteries, besides looking around, do chat up the lamas. They are usually willing, are very friendly, some even have a sense of humour and they always have stories to share. Even without asking you, some of them prepare butter tea for you as their way of being hospitable. Go early morning to monasteries like Thiksey where they have a highly serene and worth attending prayer session with over a hundred lamas praying together.

Day 6
Head out to Pangong Tso for an overnight trip

Day 7
Go to Nubra Valley via Khardungla Pass. You can keep moving on the way back from Pangong Tso – it may mean a full day drive but you may want to save time.

Day 8
Nubra Valley

Day 9
Head out straight to Alchi from Nubra Valley. You will reach in the afternoon and you can look around the village and the monastery.

Day 10
Go to Likir and Lamayuru monasteries, spend a few hours there and back to Leh.

Day 11
Take a flight or start the drive back.

Variation 1: Tso Moriri
From Jispa head out to Tso Moriri. If you start very early you can make it the same day. Or take a break in Sarchu. You can also go to Tso Moriri from Leh – I have not been there but believe it is a full day drive. Spend two nights there and then come back to Leh. Another way is to go to Tso Moriri on the way back from Leh, and head out towards Jispa and Manali from there.

Variation 2: Zanskar
If you want to go to Zanskar, you need to set aside two days to get there. On day one from Leh, go to Kargil. Spend a night in Kargil, and then do a full day drive to Zanskar. On the way back you will have to stop at Kargil again, and then return either via Srinagar or Leh. You can spend only one full day in Zanskar but at least two are recommended.

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41 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Ajay,

    I am planning a trip to Leh-Ladakh around end of May…
    I have enlisted the tentative itenary for the trip but i am still kinda of confused with the places to visit. Your inputs will be of great value.
    Also can you suggest an approx expenditure for such a trip for 2 ppl…

    25.05.09 Mumbai to Delhi (Air)
    Delhi to Manali (Bus)
    26.05.09 Manali
    27.05.09 Manali
    28.05.09 Manali to Leh (Jeep)
    29.05.09 Ladakh (Need help with Iternary)
    30.05.09 Ladakh (Need help with Iternary)
    31.05.09 Ladakh (Need help with Iternary)
    1.06.09 Ladakh (Need help with Iternary)
    2.06.09 Ladakh (Need help with Iternary)
    3.06.09 Ladakh (Need help with Iternary)
    4.06.09 Leh to Kargil (Is this a good detour)
    5.06.09 Kargil to Srinagar
    6.06.09 Srinagar-Delhi-Mumbai (Air)

    Cheers
    Amar

  2. Hi Ajay,

    let me congratulate you for the beautiful site…we met in Delhi for a short while during photofair @ Olympus stall…

    We are a bunch of friends planning to drive down to ladakh from Mumbai…this is around 3rd July…unfortunately we have only 9days..some say it is possible comfortably, some say this is impossible and we should not try…I would reallly appreciate if you could advice if this the the right time for the trip..if yes is it possible to completle the 6000Kms in 9days..which is back to mum…also if u could suggest the route etc..we have never done this route…

    thanks
    manish

  3. This time around just the walk by the Indus in the sunset, Shey palace, Shanti stupa, coffee at desert rain, overnight at Pangong Tso and day trip to Alchi. But in future if I have ten days will do Nubra and Zanskar…Can’t be too greedy you see :-)

    Cheers!

  4. Hi Pragya, That’s still a fair bit you will be covering. Since Ladakh will keep calling you back again and again, you will have ample opportunity to cover the rest.

  5. Hi Amar, this sounds like a good itinerary. Coming via Kargil and Srinagar is certainly a good idea. I have been up to Kargil but want to go beyond the next time. This post of mine already covers all the possible things you can do in Ladakh.

    I am afraid I cannot help you with the budgeting – there are too many variable and unknown factors. All the best with your trip. Cheers… Ajay

  6. hey, i ve a real packed schedule i.e. 12 jul – 23 jul. we leave on 12 jul fm delhi and we have 2 reach back 2 delhi on 23 jul.
    i want to cover tso mori, pangong tso,nubra, dras, kargil and srinnagar
    can u help me pls
    9312528009 – my no. if u msg me i wud cal u back, pls mail me asap

  7. Hi Ajay

    We (my friends and I) ran into you at the Ibex in Jispa- June 22 I think- at dinner. We were the 6 guys (Dipsites) doing the Manali-Leh drive in a Scorpio and a Safari. I had visited kunzum.com when planning the trip, but didn’t correlate it with you until after we got back.

    We had good luck and good weather during the drive- no car trouble. The Jispa-Leh drive took us 15 hours with plenty of stops- I recommend this instead of making a night halt at Sarchu/Pang- as long as the weather holds and one can make an early start (we moved at first light). Several of us experienced discomfort on the extended stretch above 14,000 ft, but nothing serious. On the way back we drove to Delhi via Kargil-Drass-Srinagar. No trouble there either, but the amount of loose dirt at Zoji La indicated the problems one would encounter if the weather turned bad.
    Woud be happy to share some pictures if you are interested.

    Hope you had a safe trip. Would like to hear how it went for you.

    Regards,
    -Ranjan

  8. Hi Ajay,

    Great pics… and the notes that you have put up are really informative about the trip. Is mid Sept to end Sept a good time to do a road trip from Manali to Leh – Ladakh? My wife and I are thinking of doing this, but not sure of how bitter the cold will be. Also wanted to check, do you know if we can get a car on hire from Manali, which we can then leave at the last destination and take a flight back to home.

  9. Hi Samit, Mid to end September should be fine unless you get some freakish weather. Provision for losing time on the high passes, rest should be fine. You can hire cabs from Manali with drivers – not self drive. The rule in Ladakh says that outside cabs can drop you but you have to hire local cabs after that to move around. So the cab will anyway have to drop you and go back. But you can get the exact info from the cab guys.

  10. Hi Frnds!!!

    I am interested in visiting Leh by road from Delhi in May/June. I am looking for the
    group/families who are interested in it so that we can make a group and can enjoy the Leh trip in a group.

  11. Dear Ajay,

    I’m getting married in the end of May 2010, and given the adventure lovers my fiance and I are, we want to visit Ladakh for our honeymoon in July first week. We are planning to reach Leh from Delhi by road and return by flight. We would have about two weeks in hand. What would be the best itinerary for honeymooners in the scenic locales of the region? What are the places of natural beauty, where we can begin our new life on a beautiful note?

    Would look forward to your reply…

    Thanks,
    Divya

  12. Hi Divya, a big congrats – and what a wonderful choice for a honeymoon. Will beat Paris and Rome anyday. :) Wish more couples would think this way. While all spots are romantic and beautiful, you may certainly want to visit Pangong Tso, some monasteries (Hemis, Chemrey, Thiksey, Bagso) and Nubra. Or just follow the itinerary I have suggested. Hope you a have great trip and a wonderful life together.

  13. Thanks a ton Ajay, for the wishes and the suggestions. Am looking forward to a real good trip, thanks to your itinerary :) And will certainly keep you posted!! Waiting to read some more of your travel details. Keep rocking and keep travelling!

  14. Hi Ajay. We are 2 couples planning to go to Ladakh from Mumbai for 9 – 10 days. Please advise the app Budget by Air or rail etc.

    Is May last week or June 1st week the right time to go

    Ravi

  15. Hi Ravi, cannot help you with budgeting. You will need to check with the airlines / railways. And sure, end-May / early-June is a good time to go if you are flying.

  16. Thanks for your comments, here is how my plan looks like……let me know your thoughts.
    14th Aug Sat – Hyd//Del by Flight and same day to Manali by car (Innova/Scorpio)
    15th Sun – Manali//Sarchu//Jispa
    16th Mon – Sarchu or Jispa//Leh
    17th Tue and 18th Wed – Leh acclimatization
    19th Thurs – 21st Sat – Leh and other sight seeing (3 days)
    22nd Sun – Leh//Sarchu or Jispa by car
    23 Mon – Sarchu//Manali by car
    24 Tue – Manali//Delhi by car
    25 Wed – Flight to Hyderabad…..

  17. Our New Itinerary :

    14th Sat – Hyd//Del by Flight (first mrng flt) and drive to Manali (Innova/Scorpio) overnight at Manali, Hotel Yak
    15th Sun – Manali//Jispa, will need to start early.
    16th Mon – Jispa…overnight here to acclimatize. Hotel Ibex
    17th Tue – Jispa//Leh, will need to start very early in the morning as its a 12 hour drive to Leh
    18th Wed – Leh acclimatization, will need min 12/24 hours without exertion to acclimatize at this height. Hotel Snow Lion
    19th Thurs – 21st Sat – Leh and other sight seeing (3 days). Hotel Snow Lion
    22nd Sun – Leh//Jispa by car. Hotel Ibex Jispa
    23 Mon – Jispa//Manali by car. Hotel Yak Manali
    24 Tue – Manali//Delhi by car, start after breakfast by 09.00am and reach airport by late evening and stay there.
    25 Wed – Flight to Hyderabad…..first morning flight

    I want you to suggest places for us for the 3 days we intend to stay in Leh please.
    19th Thurs – 21st Sat – Leh and other sight seeing (3 days).

  18. Hey Ajay,

    I came across your posting. A quick question. Was planning a road trip to leh May end – June first week. Is it a good idea. Do let me know. I am a little sceptical as the season just starts then, but life is such that I can only go then.

    Regards,
    Shyam

  19. Hi every1
    I am planning to go to ladakh this summer b/w march to june ‘2011..
    Plzz suggest as much as possible..
    Coz i have a budget of about 7,000 rs..
    And i have a frnd along with me..
    I’ve searched a lot for the permits an al..bt i really want some1 real person to describe about what to do..like ”taking a bus from delhi that cost …. And a permit to take from …. Places to save some money ….”plz doston help
    i’ve been to places like WoW in a very low cost budget,travelling in woodland shoes with pepe jeans,sitting with the illetrates,buying food that is about 2 days old,spending nights on tree tops…done a lot of adventure…
    Please guys help..
    Thanks-Madhur Tahlani

  20. Hi Ajay,
    Thanks for the info out there in your post, we are planning out a trip From Mumbai to Leh, we’ll start by road from Shimla, the trip is scheduled in June mid, would it be the right time to go there??? Will the Manali-Leh-Srinagar road be open by that time??

  21. Hi All,
    I am planning to visit leh in Mid June. We have plan for Manali- Leh route as follows

    Day 1 : Manali to Keylong/Jispa (stay)
    Day 2 : Keylong/Jispa to Tso kar (night stay)
    Day 3 : Tso Kar to Tso Moriri and then Leh. Stay at Leh

    Give your suggestion on this plan.
    Who are experienced in stay at Tso Kar or Tso Moriri (Camp), please share their experience.
    I want to confirm that I would not have any nightmare while stay at Tso Kar/Tso Moriri.

  22. Sounds good Sapna. Suggest you stay at Jispa, not Keylong to save time the following day. And not sure if you can comfortably make it from Jispa to Tso Kar – some people take a night halt at Sarchu, a few hours after Jispa.

    Have not camped at Tso Kar, but it is a very lonely and
    forbidding place. Make sure you get the right advice before you pitch camp.

    Would you like to join us on some of our future journeys? Sign up for FREE at Club Kunzum: http://www.kunzum.com/club.

    Look forward to seeing you on Kunzum more often.
    Cheers….Ajay

  23. hi ajay…
    me n my husband both r planing to take SX4 from mumbai to leh. planing to go by NH8 ie via delhi n come back via NH3 ie via shrinager.we r planning to go around second week of sept…..we r planing this trip in around 15 days…..can u just help us in this ?????we r planning to go to pangoan, tso morirri, tso kar, zanskar, khardunga n kargil n drass to .will u plz help u n tell me that can we able to do these things in 6-7 days… i m excluding the time that i will be taking for my journay frm mum to manali n back to mum…. thanks
    plz throw sum light
    regardes..
    shweta

  24. Hi there,
    We are planning to go to leh ladakh mid june this year in SX4. my 2 children aged 11 n 9 will also accompany us. is it safe n comfortable enuf. Also I am a BP patient. Any advice is welcome.

  25. Hi Asha, children and BP should not be a problem. But not sure of the car. People do take all kinds of cars – if the ground clearance of the car is good, then sure. Ideally, a SUV like a Scorpio, Innova or bigger is always safer.

  26. Hi Shweta, from Manali you need 2 days to reach Leh, and another 2 days to reach Srinagar from Leh. You will need at least 1 day for Pangong, 2 for Tso Kar + Tso Moriri, 1 for Khardungla, 3 for Kargil – Zanskar – Kargil. So yes, you might just about be able to manage. This will not leave you any time for Leh and around though. Hope you have a great trip.

  27. hi, loved your blog.Im travelling to India in Oct. really want to visit Leh, is it possible at that time and is 4 days enough?

  28. Hi Ajay,
    really happy to see this blog..we are planning to go this July to Ladakh, I would like to know few things, Should we book car for traveling there in advance or we can book once we reach there, same thing about the hotels..will that be better to book in advance?..please suggest
    Thanks in advance

  29. Hello Guys,
    An excellent blog, very usefule for adventure enthusiasts.
    I need to know if there is any Hyderabad based Royal Enfiels group which is planning a road trip from Delhi/Chandigad to Leh during May/June 2012.
    Thanks in advance,
    Vaibhav

  30. HI AJAY,
    WE R A GROUP OF 5 AND PLANNING FOR A ROAD TRIP FROM MUMBAI TO LEH/LADAKH… PLANNING TO LEAVE ON 15TH JUNE 2012. WANTED TO KNOW THE DETAILED ROUTE IF U CAN HELP VIA MUMBAI – MANALI – LEH AND ALSO MUMBAI – SRINAGAGAR-LEH… HOW MUCH TIME WILL IT TAKE FOR A RETURN ROAD TRIP???
    ALSO I HAVE HEARD THAT V NEED TO TAKE SOME PERMITS FOR CROSSING CERTAIN PASSES OR INTERNAL ROADS?????

  31. Hi Ajay,
    Need some advice from an experienced guy like u.
    Planning a road trip to Leh from Delhi in June-July with family (2 kids and parents) in SX4. I have not driven in difficult mountain terrain except perhaps Mt. Abu. Firstly is it possible for me to drive thru such a difficult terrain or its possible only for an experienced driver. SX4 has good ground clearance, is it good enough for the trip? How bad are the roads? Which approach is more easy- via srinagar or manali? Days are not an issue.
    Waiting for ur advice.
    Thanks .

  32. Hi Ajay,

    Thanks for such an informative blog. we are planning to go this July end to Ladakh from Delhi by road (Innova/Scorpio). I like to know few things.

    1. Will 9 days be enough.?

    2. Accomodation booking.?

  33. We have planned to travel LADAK by road in the month of May 2013. Is it possible for as to travel. Please kindly guide as. Waiting for your valuble reply.

  34. Hi All,

    We are planning a trip to Leh from Delhi and return via Srinagar. Need ur inputs on the following :

    1. Pit stops.
    2. The no. of days that we have counted in itinerary,sounds ok? Is buffer required?
    3. Places to visit around,Leh-Ladakh
    4. Medical-kit,aid,things that we may need(must) to carry.
    5. Food joints that we should not miss :)
    6. All other suggestions,let them flow.

    Here is the rough itinerary we have prepared :

    1. 28th June – people from Bangalore – Delhi 20:35, reach late in Delhi
    –> Overnight stay at Delhi

    2. 29th June –> Early morning 5-6am start from Delhi. 2 SUVs(People 11-12). Innova or Xylo. Is it enough if people are 12 or we should look at 3.

    3. 29th June –> evening around 8pm Manali pit stop. Either Manali or somewhere before Manali(to break the journey even)

    Delhi-Manali distance =560km,try for something like 470kms.Since we all have seen Manali.Night Stay.

    4. 30th June –> Start from Manali, morning to Sarchu. 250kms

    5. 30th June Sarchu stay in evening.Night Stay.

    6. July 1st –> Start from Sarchu to Leh 225kms

    7. July 1st –> Reach Leh in evening

    8. July 2,3,4,5 –> In and around Leh. This also counts for buffer for rest or if an additional day costs during onward journey.

    9. July 6th –> Early morning start for Kargil. Distance ~ 250kms.

    10. 6th July evening –> stayat Kargil, need to camp, are hotels available? Night Stay.

    11. 7th July morning Kargil to Srinagar via Drass ~ 200kms

    12. 7th July– Evening in Srinagar. Night stay.

    13. 8th July. Flight back to Bangalore

    Thanks in advance.

  35. Hi..can anyone advice me if me and my wife will be able to take road trip from manali to leh in last week of may? are roads open by then? please advice..
    Regards

  36. Hi there, we are a bunch of 5 guys and are planning for a road trip from Delhi to Leh from 13th – 21st July. May I please request you to suggest us the best possible route which covers all significant spots we must see. Also if you may please suggest places/hotels/lodges where we can halt and stay would be much appreciated.

    Regards
    Gaurav
    9769152348

  37. hi. ajay..
    i am chandan from kolkata..planing to visit ladakh for my honeymoon ..can u suggest me numbr of days needed to complete that part of india.. i can afford 12 days including the days of journey…one more querry..can u pls help me by me aware of the cost of the hotels over there?wil i b able to get a decnt hotel round 7-9 hundred..

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