6 Special Tips for a Winter Trip to Ladakh

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Winters have started to settle in the trans Himalayas including Leh – Ladakh and now the most common question “How to make a winter trip to Ladakh” will start coming up on the DoW Travel Platform, very soon. I thought to act proactively and try to provide some valuable tips for the fellow members so that they can smoothly plan a winter trip to Ladakh keeping them in mind. I have already documented a detailed article on planning a winter trip to Leh – Ladakh under Leh – Ladakh in Winters – Most Common Itinerary, which can be referred as the starting point on planning a winter trip to Ladakh by anyone of you looking for such details.

A Winter Trip to Ladakh…
A Winter Trip to Ladakh

Most of the high mountain passes have started getting snowfall and they will start to close or shut down for coming winters closing both the roads to Leh – Ladakh from Srinagar – Leh or Manali – Leh highways.  The journey over Srinagar – Leh Highway and especially the Manali – Leh Highway gets too risky to traverse as you enter the month of October owing to snowfall at passes, black ice on road that skids the vehicles making driving risky and above all extremely harsh cold conditions with not much shelter and food at disposal on these roads in winters. So, the only option to travel to Leh – Ladakh in Winters after October, is to directly fly to Leh from Delhi…

And if you say Why Leh – Ladakh in Winters?

Winter tourism in Ladakh is always special but lately it is rising like anything. Many senior travelers and lovers of Ladakh including me, who use to love this once upon a time remote place named Ladakh, now see much filth, garbage and litter in season time & hence, try to avoid visiting it in summers. Especially, owing to the rise of domestic tourists (forgive me on saying the bitter truth, but you know it is true, don’t you?? ?? ) who litter like anything on the shores of holy Pangong Tso or Tso Moriri, at remotest passes, in remote corners and where not they throw those shitty plastic bottles out of their moving cars or those wafer packets which such morons eat like asses, open the window and throw out… disturbs the ecological balance, flora and fauna just for the mere show off of the 4×4 capabilities their super cars posses, for few 100 likes, smileys, RTs in the age of this virtual Social Media???… Confronting them means getting into trouble, spoiling the mood, sometimes taking on punches and spoiling your own trip as locals have closed their eyes and they don’t come forward to beat the shit out of such jack a*** morons…. Aah, my heart bleeds as I write all this but anyways lets come back to topic 🙂 🙂 …

PS: You can help save this beautiful heaven from this filth & littering by learning, sharing, spreading and educating these Tips for Responsible Travel in Himalayas.

Here, are 6 special tips for making a winter trip to Ladakh in coming season for you…

1. It will be cold, read very cold, so go prepared well enough!!

Flying directly to a high altitude place like Leh (3500+ Mtr) can cause serious health issues sometimes if proper care is not taken for Acute Mountain Sickness. And when it is winters, there should be extra care that needs to be taken in order to help your body fight & cope with extreme cold plus high altitude together. Hence, one must always be at least aware of importance of Acclimatization and tips to better acclimatize to some extent before venturing to further high altitude. But, in winters the highways to heaven called Leh – Ladakh are closed and hence, flying to Leh in harsh cold conditions in the only option one has on disposal.

Since, it will be winters, keeping body hydrated is a challenge up there as you need to drink plenty of water and water must be warm or hot to drink. Keep sipping black tea, black coffee or hot honey lemon tea to combat cold and still keep your body hydrated. Carry Garlic & Black Pepper too as they provide warmth in the body and support it fight cold.

You should go prepared with the heavy woolens, keep yourself covered all the times and do now expose body parts to cold especially the chest and next areas. Wrap muffler around your neck so as to keep warm or keep zippers of jackets closed to cover neck. Remember that if you get hit by cold then there could be issues in acclimatization as well. You can read more details in the article: Tips for Carrying Clothes for Ladakh Trip

Partially frozen Tso Moriri in Ladakh…
Partially frozen Tso Moriri in Ladakh
2. Carry good sleeping gears

It is always good that you carry your own Sleeping Bag, rated at least 0 to -10 degrees Celsius OR you can buy a fleece sleeping bag which can be inserted into your low temperature rated sleeping bag as a layer to increase the temperature beating. You will get some quilts or blankets any how that can act as further layers over it. You can check this sleeping bag in case interested: Quechua S0 Light Right Zip Adult Sleeping Bag

There will be guest houses or home stays offering quilts and blankets and at times heater if you lucky with power availability, but your own sleeping bag will surely provide you that mental satisfaction of survival in such cold. The layers of blankets or quilts can always act as layers of further warmth. Remember that Tso Moriri will be very harsh, don’t know why, but it will be and hence, in case you plan visiting it then stay at Chumathang which is much warmer place in comparison.

Khardung La buried under snow…
Khardung La buried under snow
3. Prepare you budget well, expect least from stays or food and carry enough cash

Do not expect much discounts as most of the hotels or accommodation options will be closed and the ones which will be open, will charge almost the same amount of tariff and sometimes far more in order to include heating facilities these hotels provides that of course comes with a cost. This is barely limited to Leh only and I am not talking of Nubra Valley or Pangong Tso or Tso Moriri. There you have to rely on basic guest house or home stays which are run by local families.

Some hotels even provide rates with meals as it is mostly hard to find food nearby and especially at night I am not sure that you will actually want to walk down the lanes in bone freezing conditions. So, check for sure about the availability of food before fixing the deal and how charges are being offered, that is inclusive of meals or not. Be ready to satisfy your hunger with basic food of rice, dal and if at all lucky, chapati 😉 … May be just Lamayuru and Gesmo restaurants will be open in Leh main market among well known names.

Do not depend upon ATMs as they might not be functional due to no power or less cash.

Frozen moments at Tso Moriri Lake…
Frozen moments at Tso Moriri Lake
4. Prepare decent budget for transport too

Continuing from stays, taxis will mostly be available as personal taxis only. Shared taxis will be rare to spot and most buses also discontinue the services to tourist places in Ladakh. There will be less number of tourists and hence rare possibility to get shared taxis to share such costs. Prepare your budget accordingly that you might need to own a private taxi and taxi prices like we all know are quite hefty in Leh – Ladakh. For the leh – ladakh taxi union rate list 2015-16 including the contacts of some reliable taxi drivers within Leh – Ladakh, check the link here. You can get about 10-15% of discount by directly getting in touch with drivers and of course, talking in person rather on phone always help in bargaining more. As it will be winters, there is no need to pre-book taxis what I feel personally.

Traffic at Khardung La on a Winter Trip to Ladakh…
Traffic at Khardung La on a Winter Trip to Ladakh
5. Plan at least couple of buffer days in hand avoid hassles from an abrupt snowfall

Check weather forecasts before venturing over Khardung La pass or Chang La pass and see there is no signs of heavy snowfall for that very day or coming days, else you can easily get caught for 2-3 days in Nubra Valley or Tangste in case it snows heavily on Khardung La Pass or Chang La Pass respectively. So, take calculative risk after seeing weather conditions even if the roads will open soon when snowfall resides but it is always best to keep the overall plan safe as well 🙂 🙂

It is always better to keep couple of buffer days for such abrupt snowfall contingencies as many a times it also snows in Leh resulting in cancellation of flights. Hence, always good to have couple of buffer days to be spent in Leh or around Sham Valley for all such contingency cases.

Roads on a Winter Trip to Ladakh…
Roads on a Winter Trip to Ladakh
6. Enjoy the frozen vistas & book a window seat of your flight

Well apart from everything we talked about above, do not forget to enjoy the magnificent shades of infinite landscapes and endless horizons covered with abundance of snow like an ocean of snow till the point eyes can see them 😉

Do book a window seat of the flight, if possible on the left hand side to enjoy some of the magnificent white gold covered aerial views of Himalayas from the window. Since, there will be not much tourists around, you can enjoy the places, monasteries along with very very hospitable people of Ladakh in a calm, peaceful and relaxed manner.

Leh in Winters…
Leh in Winters

Conclusion

Well, I hope the above tips for making a winter trip to Ladakh will help you in your upcoming trip.  I will look forward for any queries or doubts or valuable suggestions and inputs you have to share with me…

Request everyone that instead of putting up the your travel queries below as comments, please start an itinerary advice thread in the forums so that it can be replied in more structured manner as well as more people can get benefit from the replies by reading existing threads.

Here is the link: DoW – Himalayan Travel Community | Ladakh Itinerary Advice

If you found above article useful, then PLEASE stay connected with us on Facebook or Twitter or Email Subscription for any himalayan travel queries or travel updates / tips / news / guides on Traveling to Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kashmir and other parts of Himalayas. Travel, off the road with us...


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You can call me an Avid Traveler, a Day - Night Dreamer and a Passionate Lover of Himalayas who has a high zest for driving whilst exploring new places in Himalayas & sharing back those Himalayan Travel experiences with the other fellow Travelers... I am in love with Spreading Smiles in Himalayas through DoW Causes & currently enjoying life as Happy Traveling Soul at DoW Community. You can read more about me in detail at the link here ...

45 Comments

  1. Can you tell me sir ?is it ok to study in kargil ?and how may higher secondary schools (class 12 ) schools are there in kargil cuz my son need to study there … plz send me the list of schools in kargil

  2. Deepshikha on

    Hello,

    My name is Deepshikha, am from Delhi, Your article is really very informative 🙂 I am planning to visit Leh this winter in Dec last week with my husband. If any one visiting in same time, same dates and would like to join us. Please let me know.

    • In case you are looking out for travel partners, you can submit a travel calendar entry from the menu to increase the visibility of your request. Else in comments it will not be that visible.

      • Deepshikha on

        Hello Dheeraj,

        Thanks for the info, I missed that calendar option. Just checked now but I am unable to select dates. Could you please help me with this?

  3. Hi Dheeraj. We have been to Ladakh thrice by road all time by road in June and August. We are planning to visit this time in end November Is it fine. Pl suggest itenry for4-5days. Me and my wife aged49and46

    • Harish ji, you can plan the trip lke below:

      Day 1 | Delhi – Leh (By Flight)
      — Checkin at Hotel. Many hotels provide free pick and drop from Airport. Ask while you book them.
      — Take ample of rest as well as water or anything that keep your body hydrated enough. DO NOT OVER HYDRATE. Take ORS Soluted water or ORS – L tetra packs from home.
      — Do not over exert your body at any cost. Avoid too much up-down on stairs or avoid it in entirety, if possible.
      — After 5-6 Hrs of rest you can visit Leh Palace, Local Leh market, Shankar Gompa .
      — If you feel exerted go back to Hotel, have dinner at Hotel and take rest. Avoid any exertion. Else continue and,
      — Follow the sunset by stroll at Changspa road and have a nice dinner on varied cuisines offered in-around Changspa road.
      — Go back to hotel for overnight stay at Leh.
       
      Day 2 | Leh Local Sighseeing + Acclimatization
      — Hire a taxi from Leh taxi stand or Hotel whichever suits you.
      — Bargain hard with taxi driver. Book that single taxi for entire trip after explaining the complete plan.
      — Take his inputs if you feel reasonable and if required modify the plan accordingly but should suits you best.
      — Ask him to be with you guys starting first day itself, if required and charged reasonable else do it at your own.
      — Again DO NOT over exert and take little steps and slow walks only.
      — If feeling OK then do Local sightseeing. To know the about the places to visit check the link: Travel Guide for Local Sightseeing of Leh Town in Ladakh
      — Do not use stairs at any of these places just to see them as it will exert your body much more.
      — Overnight at Leh
       
      Day 3 | Leh – Khardung La – Diskit – Hunder
      — Head for Nubra Valley and stay overnight at Hunder / Diskit
      — On the way enjoy a cup of soup at Highest Motorable Pass (as claimed) Khardung La
      — Diskit has monasteries with tallest lord Buddha statue and Hunder has sand dunes and bacterian camel safari
       
      Day 4 | Hunder / Diskit – Sumur – Panamik – Sumur – Khardung La – Leh
      — Sumur has a famous monastery to check out and Panamik has hot water springs
      — Overnight at Leh

      Day 5 | Leh – Pangong Tso – Leh
      — Do not plan to stay overnight at Pangong Tso as you will not be acclimatized and may fall sick. So, make a day trip only.
      — Overnight at Leh

  4. Sumit Mishra on

    Hi Dheeraj,
    Me along with 3 other friends planning for Winter in Leh, we all are aged b/w 25-27, we are planning for a 6-7 days stay in Leh-Ladakh and to explore possible itinerary. Could you please tell us what would be the approx expenditure considering the above itinerary you have mentioned for 6 days. Please do reply it would be very much helpful.
    Thanks

      • Sumit Mishra on

        Hi Dheeraj,
        I really appreciate your concerned reply and my sincere THANKS to you for this.

        Is it possible to rent a taxi and take the same to all the itinerary we’d cover ? it’s must to pay differently for different locations.

        • Best is you get one taxi and keep it with you. PRices in Ladakh are based on Point to Point. Example 11K for return trip to Pangong Tso and 11 K for Nubra Valley. For the leh – ladakh taxi union rate list 2016 – 17 including the contacts of some reliable taxi drivers within Leh – Ladakh, check the link here. You can get about 12-15% of discount by directly getting in touch with drivers and of course, talking in person rather on phone always help in bargaining more.

        • Sumit Mishra on

          How do I book a taxi for all of the travel in Leh ? is it possible only after going there in Leh or is there any other way ?

        • Sumit Mishra on

          could you please recommend us any guest house which is open in winter with the above mentioned price range (1000-1200 including food.) ?

  5. Hi Dheeraj,

    Your blog is amazing, really. Thank you for all the information.
    I am going to Leh with 2 friends on 12 September 2016 (next week!).
    We have to fly in to Leh from Delhi.
    We have actually bought flight tickets to Srinagar as we planned to use road from Srinagar to Leh.
    But we were advised against it (by a friend who just got back 4 days ago and also by a tour agent – a Kashmiri) due to the current unrest in Srinagar.
    We’ll be doing the common itinerary (Nubra Valley, Pangong).
    What’s the weather like now? Any advice?

    Thanks!

    • Weather is good and pleasant, couple of spells of snowfall so light woollens and one heavy woollen jacket is recommended. Yes, please avoid route from Leh to Srinagar.

  6. Biplab Roy on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    I am planning to visit Leh from Oct 25-Oct29, 2016. Please suggest what would be the climate like at that time. and also if a visit to Nubra valley and Pangong Lake are single day tours possible in consecutive days. I will be going with my wife and my 5 year old son. What would be the likely influence of weather on flights at that time. I am going to and from via AirIndia.
    Please suggest 4 days’s itinerary. Should I skip the Nubra valley and go only up to Khardungla? Which place among the 2 would be best suited for overnight stay the Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake.

    Thanks.
    MY mob number is 8768372233. I am from Kolkata.

    • I will not recommend a 4 day trip to Ladakh that late in the season especially with a kid of 5 yr. Better make a plan with at least 6-7 days in hand and in season time to enjoy the trip.

      • Biplab Roy on

        Thanks Dheeraj for the reply and suggestions. I would also like to know what would be a perfect scenario for a 5-6 day trip to leh with respect to itinerary, the routes and also the time when one should visit.

        Also, what could be the difficulties one 5 year old kid could face, and especially at the end of season in contrast to peak season? These all information I need for my future planning only. Thanks.

        • Biplab Roy on

          Thanks Dheeraj for the reply and suggestions. I would also like to know what would be a perfect scenario for a 5-6 day trip to Leh with respect to itinerary, the routes and also the time when one should visit.

          Also, what could be the difficulties one 5 year old kid could face, and especially at the end of season in contrast to peak season? These all information I need for my future planning only. Thanks.

        • Biplab, you will be flying in and flying out of Leh?

          Day 1 | Delhi – Leh (By Flight)
          — Checkin at Hotel. Many hotels provide free pick and drop from Airport. Ask while you book them.
          — Take ample of rest as well as water or anything that keep your body hydrated enough. DO NOT OVER HYDRATE. Take ORS Soluted water or ORS – L tetra packs from home.
          — Do not over exert your body at any cost. Avoid too much up-down on stairs or avoid it in entirety, if possible.
          — After 5-6 Hrs of rest you can visit Leh Palace, Local Leh market, Shankar Gompa .
          — If you feel exerted go back to Hotel, have dinner at Hotel and take rest. Avoid any exertion. Else continue and,
          — Follow the sunset by stroll at Changspa road and have a nice dinner on varied cuisines offered in-around Changspa road.
          — Go back to hotel for overnight stay at Leh.
           
          Day 2 | Leh Local Sightseeing + Acclimatization
          — Hire a taxi from Leh taxi stand or Hotel whichever suits you.
          — Bargain hard with taxi driver. Book that single taxi for entire trip after explaining the complete plan.
          — Take his inputs if you feel reasonable and if required modify the plan accordingly but should suits you best.
          — Ask him to be with you guys starting first day itself, if required and charged reasonable else do it at your own.
          — Again DO NOT over exert and take little steps and slow walks only.
          — If feeling OK then do Local sightseeing. To know the about the places to visit check the link: Travel Guide for Local Sightseeing of Leh Town in Ladakh
          — Do not use stairs at any of these places just to see them as it will exert your body much more.
          — Overnight at Leh
           
          Day 3 | Leh – Khardung La – Diskit – Hunder
          — Head for Nubra Valley and stay overnight at Hunder / Diskit
          — On the way enjoy a cup of soup at Highest Motorable Pass (as claimed) Khardung La
          — Diskit has monasteries with tallest lord Buddha statue and Hunder has sand dunes and bacterian camel safari

          Day 4 | Hunder / Diskit – Sumur – Panamik – Sumur – Khardung La – Leh
          — Sumur has a famous monastery to check out and Panamik has hot water springs
          — Overnight at Leh

          Day 5 | Leh – Pangong Tso – Leh
          — Do not plan to stay overnight at Pangong Tso as you will not be acclimatized and may fall sick. So, make a day trip only.
          — Overnight at Leh

          Day 6 | Rest day at Leh to enjoy local culture and some shopping OR Monastery tour OR Sham Valley tour OR Fly back home
          — Overnight at Leh
          — Monastery tour may include Hemis, Thicksey and Shey monasteries. They come on the route of Pangong Tso but as you will be doing day trip, it will be a bit hectic to include them on that day only.
          — Sham Valley include Alchi, Likir, Basgo Palace, Magnetic Hills, Confluence at Nimmu, Gurudwara Pather Sahib

          In general, it is fine to take the children of such age group because AMS do not matter with respect to age or sex or any fitness level. It can happen to anyone of any age or sex or fitness I shall say :D.. The issue with children is that they tend to exert the body considering it the same kind of place they belong to and this elevates the chances of getting struck with AMS. Secondly, they are not much expressive about their uneasy feelings, so it is parents who need to watch out and take care that the child is not suffering from uneasy feelings, headache or nausea and is behaving properly. With 5+ year child, I think he/she would be able to convey the uneasiness with little efforts. If you notice any such feeling or he/she tells you about such a feeling then please do not ascend anywhere, either descend to lower altitude or stay at the same place to watch things overnight and if symptom increase then start descending immediately. Same is applicable for any adult as well. And yes, do keep the body adequately hydrated!!

        • Biplab Roy on

          Hi Dheeraj,

          Many many thanks for the very detailed and informative article. I am now prepared to plan Leh next year as per your schedule and as you have said to go there in season time.

          I will make my Leh trip at Diwali time this year to now a Rajasthan trip.

          Thanks again.

  7. Sabyasachi on

    Hi Dheeraj,..Sabyasachi here…I am going for Chadar trek in 2016 in first week of February. I am planning to visit Tsomgo lake after the trek. How many days it will take to visit the lake and coming back to Leh???…what are the staying options in Tsomgo lake in winter and what are the taxi fare from Leh…thanks in advance

      • Sabyasachi on

        sorry…I was refering to Pangong Tso…I am going in 2017…by mistake I wrote it 2016…thanks

        • Roads to Pangong Tso remain open all round the year barring few days of heavy snowfall. You will not be able to stay at Pangong Tso BUT you should be able to stay a Tangtse which is 34 KMs before it. The guest houses up there should have heaters too in case light is available.

  8. Tanvir Alam on

    Hi, we are planning to Manali to Ladakh around 1st week of January 2016. Can we go by taxi during that time?

    Brgds,
    Tanvir

  9. Abdulla Abdulgafoor on

    Iam frm Kerala …we 3 frnds r planning to kullu – manali on april 8or9 days trip…..
    Which way is suitable to reach kullu….and what all accessories we needed

  10. Kamal Sarin on

    Hi I am retired and Senior Citizen. I have booked for 5 nights in Leh with my wife from 8/3/16 to 13/3/16. Please suggest the best itinerary. thanks and regards

    • Kamal sir, things will be very harsh and cold in Leh during that time of the year. Most hotels will be closed too. Are you sure you will like to give it a try? Even the lakes will be white and frozen.

      • kamal sarin on

        Thanks Dheeraj for the reply, This year in February we had visited Srinagar, Gulmarg , Pahalgam and Son Marg and had an experience of extreme snowfall. 3 times, we had to miss the flight from Srinagar due to heavy snowfall. Had a memorable experience. However, for Leh, we have booked our flights and the Hotel “The Grand Dragon”. Please suggest as what best we can do. Preference wise as and when the roads are clear, we shall follow your itinerary and miss the last options of preference when the roads are not clear. I have also spoken to Labsang the Cab owner as suggested. Regards

  11. Hi Dheeraj,
    Such an amazing post it is. Brief yet capturing the soul of the leh.

    I have been in september in leh 2 years back for a cycling trip and the weather around that time was great and so was the whole experience of cycling in around leh.
    Have actually planned this time for a short 5 day trip in feb 16.
    Need your guidance as to what places can I explore as will be travelling as a couple this time.

    Thanks!!
    Anuapurv

  12. Plz suggest me I m frm ajmer I plan my travel AJMER to Jammu. Than srinagar, gulmarg, patnitop, sonmarg,leh ladakh..
    Second one I plan ajmer to Chandigarh than go to manali and rohtanag…my plan date 11 dec to 18 dec..suggest me which one is better..
    Third one.is ajmer to Goa

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