Planning My Epic Ladakh Road Trip Along The Indian Borders

This is Part 2 of a 4 part series.

Part 1 – This Lush Green Oasis Is Every Traveller’s Paradise: Leh, Ladakh

After exploring Leh City, it’s crucial that you keep more than enough time for an epic road trip through the Ladakh region, along the North-Indian borders. Personally, for me, this adventure was more healing than enriching. I needed to disconnect, I needed to be in the wild at that point in my life. And more than anything, this road trip was exceptionally exhilarating and enlivening. A sensation where I felt uplifted and inspired by the exquisite landscapes and alluring beauty that captivates you and leaves you gobsmacked.

So, let me get right into it…

This itinerary will cover Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake & Tso Moriri Lake. The road meanders along the Indian borders touching POK, China and Tibet.

Do beware: It is NOT possible to drive rental (or self drive) cars within Ladakh, so you will have to rent a cab. This is probably for the best because the roads in this region are in a bad shape and can be extremely challenging for outsiders however, local drivers are experienced and thus, safer!

 

The Route:

 

Permits:

One of the most important things to remember before you take off on your dreamy road trip are the numerous permits you need in order to visit these places, because they are in the high alert zones. Only recently, the Government introduced these rules and so it’s crucial that you don’t forget them.

I was not told about these permits until the very last minute, and so I had to do it all in hurry but you should get onto it immediately after you’ve arrived. The permit office is in close proximity to the Main Market, you can just ask any local and they will guide you.

You will need a permit for Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake and Tso Moriri Lake via Tsaka La Road.

 

Where to rent a cab?

You could go to the taxi stand in Leh City near the Main Market to find a cab & a driver for a competitive price.

Or, head over to Moon Light Travels just opposite the Main Market on the main road. Under the “Unique Adventure Ladakh” banner, you can meet Tashi Tundup who was very kind and helped us with a cheap deal and comfortable ride.

Expect to pay between INR 30,000 to 36,000 depending on what all places you want to cover, and how many days you would be spending. This price will include fuel and the driver’s living expenses; you do not need to pay anything extra.

Opt for a Mahindra Xylo, as not only does it have a comfortable cabin, but it’s also steady on rough roads. An Innova or any other vehicle would not be ideal for the mountain roads.

*Pro Tip – Try to find other tourists (who stay in your hotel, or ask the cab rental service if they know of someone who’s enquiring) who want to do this road trip and share the cab fare with them so it becomes cheaper!

 

Food:

Highly recommend that you carry enough or more snacks and munchies for on the road. Finding grocery or even a packet of potato chips can be unpredictable.

Nonetheless, will find small dhabas (shacks) at a few pit-stops where hot food for breakfast, lunch & dinner is plentiful, cheap and quite delicious. I’m a huge fan of pahadi (mountain) food, so I was more than happy!

Most of these places cater to vegetarian travellers. Expect to find hot paranthas (stuffed flatbread), sandwiches, momos (steamed dumplings) and Maggi (instant noodles) on the menus. This would range from INR 100 to 500 per meal depending on what you eat, and how much!

 

Total Expenses:

The total expenses of your trip to Ladakh are subjective, depending on how you travel, where you stay and what you eat – it could be drastically different. Personally, I prefer to prioritise my expenses. I like to spend on good food rather than a luxurious hotel or an expensive mid-holiday spa. So, it really depends from person to person.

Approximately, you can expect to spend between INR 50,000 to 75,000 (per person) or more including return airfare, permits, car rental, stay, food, travel, and other minor expenses.

 

My Final Itinerary: 

Day 1 – Mumbai to Delhi

  • Mode of Transport – Flight
  • Duration – 2 hours
  • Stay – 1 night in Delhi

Day 2 – Delhi to Leh

  • Mode of Transport – Flight
  • Duration – 1.5 hours
  • Activity – Rest (acclimatise with high altitude)
  • Stay – 1 night in Leh

Day 3 – Leh

  • Activity – Exploring Manali side of Leh
  • Mode of Transport – Rented Cab (INR 2500)
  • Duration – 6 to 7 hours
  • Stay – 1 night in Leh

Day 4 – Leh to Nubra Valley (via Khardung La)

  • Activity – Stop to explore Diskit & Ride Double Humped Camels in Hundar
  • Mode of Transport (Round Trip) – Rented Cab (INR 30,000)
  • Duration – 5 to 6 hours
  • Stay – 1 night in Hundar (Camping)

Day 5 – Hundar to Turtuk & Thang (Northernmost Village of India & POK Border)

  • Duration – 3 hours
  • Spend 1 hour at Thang and 2 hours in Turtuk

Same Day – Turtuk to Pangong Lake

  • Duration – 7 to 8 hours
  • Stay – 1 night at Pangong Lake (Camping)

Day 6 – Pangong to Tso Moriri Lake (via Tsaka La Road)

Tsaka La Road takes you along the Chinese & Tibetan Border Check Posts, make sure you have a permit for Tso Moriri via Tsaka La.

  • Duration – 7 to 8 hours
  • Stay – 1 night at Tso Moriri Lake (Camping)

Day 7 – Tso Moriri to Leh

  • Duration – 5 hours (with traffic 7 to 8 hours)
  • Stay – 1 night in Leh

Day 8 – Leh City

  • Activity – Explore Leh City, Shopping in Main Market & Rest
  • Stay – 1 night in Leh

Day 9 – Leh

  • Activity – Exploring Srinagar side of Leh
  • Mode of Transport – Rented Cab (INR 3000)
  • Duration – 6 to 7 hours
  • Stay – 1 night in Leh

Day 10 – Leh to Delhi

  • Mode of Transport – Flight
  • Duration – 1.5 hours
  • Stay – 1 night in Delhi

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