Ladakh, located in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, is a highly sought after destination by tourists in India. Apart from its fabulous landscape and rugged topography which is charming in a unique way, it’s renowned for its monasteries. Also famously known as the “Cold Desert,” it shares an international boundary with Tibet. As a result, its overall lifestyle is heavily influenced by Tibetan culture. However, owing to its extreme climatic conditions, tourists are required to exercise certain precautions on their Leh Ladakh tour. These precautions ensure that you remain safe and sound while enjoying every part of the journey. To know about the travel tips for Ladakh, continue reading below.
It should be known that Ladakh is a land of contrasts. The altitudes at Ladakh range from 9,000ft at Kargil to 25,170ft at Saser Kangri, at the Karakoram Range. While summers are quite comforting, winters can be very unforgiving. The months between December to February witnesses this region experiencing subzero temperatures. However, as compared to the lower altitudes, the sun’s intensity is felt strongly here due to the thin air.
Permit & Passport:
Tourists do not require any permit for travelling to Leh. However, all international tourists and foreigners are required to complete their registration, particularly those traveling by road. The registration process can be completed at Drass, Rumtse and Sarchu. Similarly, all tourists traveling by air should get their registration completed at the airport. Visits to restricted areas including Tso Moriri, Tso Kar, Pangong Tso Lake, Dhahanu and Nubra Valley require tourists to obtain a Protect Area Permit. These permits are obtainable through registered travel agencies. One should always carry six copies of the permit as these are required for the purposes of verification at various checking points.
Acute Mountain Sickness, or AMS, is one of the major difficulties encountered by those on the Leh Ladakh trip. It’s caused due to the lower percentage of oxygen at higher latitudes, and is manifested by one or more of the following symptoms – fatigue, headache, dizziness, loss of breath, vomiting, rapid heart rate and loss of appetite. However, by observing certain rules and precautions, one can avoid facing this problem. Resting for a day or two after every climb of 2000ft above 8000ft altitude is one way. Besides, one should also carry oxygen cylinders and medicines like Diamox, Dexamethasone, Aspirin and Disprin.
Which medicines to carry:
A trip to Ladakh bring you face to face with unexpected situations and encounters. One should always carry medicines in order to deal with all basic medical conditions like stomachache, headache and fever. Further, because AMS, or altitude mountain sickness is quite common here, it’s advisable to carry enough stock of medicines like Diamox, Dexamethasone, Aspirin or Disprin.
Hospitals / Clinics:
SNM hospital is the main hospital in Leh, and is perfectly equipped for dealing with emergencies of any kind. Sub-district hospital at district headquarters and medical dispensaries in major villages can be found in other parts of the region. These are attended to by well-qualified doctors. Besides these, private clinics are also available in Leh. In case of any emergencies, tourists can visit the Army’s General Hospital. Plenty of chemists’ shops are also available in close proximity to the SNM hospital, besides a few in the main market.
If you are faced with any kind of emergency or unexpected circumstances, you can contact the police station in Leh, which falls under the jurisdiction of Jammu and Kashmir Police. Nubra Police Station in Nubra Valley and Nyoma Police Station in Nyoma are two other police stations which one can contact in case of any difficulties.
Phone / Internet Services:
The only mobile network which works in Ladakh is a post-paid BSNL mobile connection. Tourists can get this connection from any mobile shop. In Leh, and in the areas surrounding it, there is full connectivity. The mobile network will begin disappearing as soon as you begin descending on the other side of Rohtang Pass. As far as the Srinagar Leh highway is concerned, your connectivity will disappear completely after leaving Srinagar and will remain like that all the way to Leh.
It’s therefore advised to keep a copy of your emergency numbers with each person on your team. In case you happen to be travelling with family, make sure that the family of every person has the contact number of atleast one other person if an emergency arises.
Bank / ATM Facilities:
When in Ladakh, it’s preferable to keep an adequate supply of cash with you at all times. This is because, the last ATM which you will come across on the Manali-Leh highway is in Manali. At Tandi, should the need to refuel arise, you will have to depend on cash as credit cards are not expected. However, there are several ATM’s in the Leh market belonging to different banks including SBI, J&K Bank and PNB. In area such as Nubra, Pangong and Tso Moriri, all your transactions will be conducted in cash.
Stays and Food:
Most of the hotels found in Leh Ladakh are family run establishments that offer personalized services. This region is also home to a number of luxury hotels including Hotel Charu Palace Leh and Grand Dragon. Deluxe hotels which offer comfortable and luxurious stays are Hotel Shangrila and Spik n Span. The standard hotels include Hotel Asia and Hotel Dreamland, among others.
There is no better way of getting acquainted with the people of Ladakh and their amazing hospitality than opting for a homestay. Some of the best homestays in Leh Ladakh are Gangba Homestay, Gangs Shun Homestay, Ladakh View Homestay and Tukchu Homestay, among others.
During the summer months, which last from mid-June to September, this region experiences friendly weather where single T-shirts or shirts are sufficient. During the winters, which last from November to February, it’s mandatory to be dressed in heavy woolen clothes and warm jackets. Most parts of the Leh Ladakh region also experience a daily fluctuation in the weather conditions. Tourists are therefore advised to carry woolen clothes and sweaters while packing their bags for the trip.
In Ladakh, there are a lot of buses and private vehicles available for the purposes of intra city transportation. Buses are available from Leh City to the major places of Ladakh. However, due to unpredictable weather conditions, the bus services are quite irregular. Leh offers an impressive range of transportation facilities with more than 2000 vehicles. Taxis, Innova, Mahindra Scorpio, Xylo, Toyota and Tata Grande, besides other vehicles, are also available here.
The whole of Himalayan region experiences heavy snowfall during the winters. This often leads to delays in the opening of the roads. Moreover, during this time, the roads are in a bad condition, and the occurrence of landslides and roadblocks are quite normal. Due to the rough terrain here, roads are damaged and rebuilt year after year. Apart from these factors, the roads are perfectly maintained by the BRO.
Keep Identity proofs:
During the entire course of the journey, one should always keep multiple copies of one’s driving license, PUC, insurance, PAN and vehicle registration papers with oneself at all times. This makes it easier to go through military checkpoints at all times. However, if you are planning to travel to Pangong Tso or the other interior parts of the state, be prepared to submit various copies of your identity roofs at various checkpoints.
While going on a trip to Leh Ladakh, one should always keep certain gadgets like a high definition camera which will capture some beautiful memories of your wonderful trip. It’s very important to carry extra supplies with you when out are on the road. Other gadgets which one should always carry with oneself at all times are gadget chargers, power banks and car chargers.
Boti is the main language spoken in the Ladakh region. The other languages spoken in this region are Balti, Brokshat, Changshat and Shina. The use of English and Hindi is common in schools, offices and restaurants.
Leh city, Pangong Lake, Tso Moriri Lake, Zanskar Valley, Khardung La Pass, Nubra Valley, Hemis National Park, Pathar Sahib, Nubra Valley, Tso Moriri Lake, Hemis Monastery and Village, Shanti Stupa, etc.
Ladakh is a haven for those seeking adventure. One can go for some adventure activities like mountaineering, trekking and white water rafting, besides others. Besides, traditional sports like archery, polo and camel safari are also common in the countryside.
The best time to travel to Ladakh is during the summers, which starts from May and continues till September. Most of the tourists, however, plan their trips in winters because this is when most of the Ladakhi festivals take place.