DoW Himalayan Travel Community

7 Useful Tips for a Self Drive to Leh – Ladakh


With Leh – Ladakh season in full swing now, lots of adventure lovers prepare themselves to go for a self-drive run over the roof of the world via the ever-enthralling and adventurous Manali – Leh Highway and Srinagar – Leh Highway. I would like to share 7 useful tips for your upcoming self-drive expedition to Leh- Ladakh that you might want to keep at the back of your mind, rather always on mind, before you dive into the dream drive of your life to Leh – Ladakh:

Ladakh 2012 | Nubra - Shyok - Pangong Tso Route

Other parts of the series
1. Over-confidence is your biggest enemy, so keep it away!!

Never be overconfident that you are master of driving, you have done Rohtang Pass ‘x’ number of times, you are a champ driver in plains etc. because driving to Ladakh especially via Manali – Leh Highway could be one of the strangest and adventurous drive you will ever undertake in life. Never think that any overlying stone will not hit the underbelly, never think that the road ahead is straight as an arrow like runway and you can cruise through it etc. … Such a thinking can get you/your vehicle stranded in the middle of nowhere for hours to up to days.

Even the smoothest and straightest of the roads, which look like super fine, newly laid tarmac are washed in between or have sudden bumps in them which can badly hurt your vehicle. If you see a big rock lying in between on-road especially at sections with loose gravel then it is always you better step out and throw it away to make your way instead of taking any chance and getting your car’s underbelly hurt with it.

2. Never rush through any tricky section of the road

Whenever, you are in doubt about some rough section of the road, maybe landslide section or pathetically rough road or a water crossing etc. then never, ever rush through it. Rather, carefully analyze that section by parking your vehicle aside and judging the situation. Try to see how other vehicles are crossing that section. And, if required, check/inspect the trouble section on your foot to prepare an exit route through it in your mind. Then finally go for it.

Pro Tip: If you are doing a self drive to Umling Las Pass and Leh – Ladakh, then make sure to read my article on 40 Must Have Things to Carry on a Self Drive Trip to the Himalayas

3. Know Your Vehicle Well

It is very important to know about your vehicle because you might find some of the stretches or sections of the road which are not possible to cross without a hit or scratches under-belly, especially with hatchbacks and sedans. In such, situations you need to know which parts of the underbelly of your car you might need to protect especially oil sump (which you need to protect all around the trip) and which parts you can let get hit from below or have some scratches.

4. Do Not Use Heaters

Use of heaters should be avoided at any cost especially at the places like Manali – Leh Highway and Ladakh because the warm air by heater destroys the levels of oxygen content present inside and can make breathing very difficult and aggravate the AMS Symptoms.

Road to Photi La

5. Do Not Drink & Drive

Should be first and foremost, but still, PLEASE do not take booze/drink at all while you are driving in the Himalayas, especially the Manali – Leh Highway which runs above 14000 feet at the major portion of it. Drinking means you will have some real trouble in getting acclimatized with alcohol in your belly 🙂 and of course, will create the lapse in concentration while driving. You already know the other perils of drunk driving apart from being a legal offense.

6. Always Help Others

While traveling in the mighty Himalayas, you must always help other people stuck on their way with whatever you can offer, be it a lift, push, pull, fuel, spares, rope etc. because the help is always hard to find especially at places like Manali – Leh Highway, Changthang or other remote routes of Ladakh. Do not forget, this can happen to you at the very next turn and it does not feel much good when someone comes after hours and passes by without offering any help. So, please always help others who are in need. It actually defines the spirit of Traveller inside you 🙂

7. Carry Essentials and other Spare Parts

On a self-drive to Ladakh trip, one should always try to carry:

  • Basic Toolkit including Jack and Spanner
  • Air Compressor and Foot pump
  • Hydraulic Jack
  • Spare Tyre (Check for puncture before leaving)
  • Screwdriver Set
  • Jump Start Cables
  • Spare Bulbs
  • Tow Away Rope approx. 3-6 ton Capacity
  • 1-2 Jerry Cans / Coke Bottles to carry spare fuel
  • Funnel
  • Spare Coolant and Engine Oil
  • A Long Stick/Rod
  • A Shovel and a Hammer
  • 2-3 Packs of M-Seal and Quick Fix/Fevi-Quick/Elfy
  • Plenty of Drinking Water and Snacks/Dry Fruits
  • A water bottle to refill water and save environment

For a more comprehensive list of spare parts & tools to carry with you in your car on a Ladakh trip, you can read our guide at the link: How to prepare your car for a Ladakh or Himalayan Trip

Apart from the above driving related list, I use to follow my list of things to carry whenever I travel anywhere including Leh – Ladakh. Also, do not forget to get your vehicle serviced before 2-3 weeks when you go on a self-drive to Ladakh.


I hope the above tips would be useful for your upcoming Leh – Ladakh trip. Please share it with others and if you happen to have done a self – drive to Leh – Ladakh before, kindly share your valuable inputs and suggestions as tips to other travel self-drive enthusiasts here who are ready to take on this remote region of mighty Himalayas – Ladakh

And by the way for any questions you may still have about your Leh – Ladakh trip, feel free to post them under Ask A Question section of our website or using the ASK YOUR TRAVEL QUESTION form available below in the article. You can also post questions and connect with other fellow travelers in our community forums. In the end, if you have been to self drive trip to Ladakh before, kindly share your thoughts and other information you might feel is worth sharing with other fellow travelers and help them.

Are you looking for the CUSTOMIZED TOURS?? Get in touch with our our handpicked & trusted Destination Specialists from the Himalayas who offer SPECIAL DISCOUNTED RATES to all the readers/followers of the Devil On Wheels website.


About Author

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 ...


  1. Hi Deeraj, we have XUV base model. Wanna drive in July first week to Leh and Nubra valley ourself. Is it advisable ?? Our car is ok for that ?? Coz I’m gonna starts it from Jaipur. Pls advise me.

  2. Hi Dhiraj, kudos for the the article… We r planning a road trip from Delhi to leh in d month of June (15-22). Pls suggest the route and also if we can go to Dharamshala or Badrinath en route..
    We will hire an SUV from Delhi and travellers include my parents (age 53-55) and me n brother (25-28) any precautions that we need to take??
    Thank you.

    • It will take 4 days to reach Leh from Srinagar side starting from Delhi and 3 days to come back from Leh from Manali side to Delhi. This makes it 7 days. 1 Day is required in Leh for acclimatization. You have about 10 days. 1 Day can be used as Day trip to Pangong Tso and other day can be used as day trip to Nubra Valley or just Khardung La pass.

      Opt to go via Manali – Leh Highway and I will suggest that you refer the thread for more details on the route and night halts though it is of 9 days: Manali – Leh – Ladakh – Manali | Itinerary for 9 Days. You can fit in plan I suggested in above para in this plan

  3. Mudasar naik on

    Heyy hlo I m from jammu and want to go leh via manali in my suv,so u plzz help me out how i complete this 475 km stretch from manali,and plz guide me where to stay in between from manali.,

  4. Amit Dembi on

    Hi I am planning to drive in tata bolt , petrol with family 10 May 17, Delhi- Jammu-sonmarg-leh and return same road ..Is that fine with the overnight halt at respective locations…Car is 2 years old .. will it survive the trip..

    • Hi Amit, pretty much everything is covered in the article above for taking a sedan or hatch to Ladakh. Every year 100s of people take their hatches and sedan. Just follow the tips in the article above and you should be OK. Be cautious and smart, don’t try anything foolish.

  5. Manek Awasty on

    Hi am planning a trip from delhi you leh-Ladakh , will try and cover both Manali And Kashmir, enter from one side and exit the other to round off the trip..
    have the following queries –
    I have a Mahindra XUV automatic, will it be wise to do the trip in it (since it’s an automatic and not a AwD or 4×4) or does it make more sense to hire an SUV for the trip ?
    How much approx does hiring an SUV cost for the trip?
    Is it safe to travel via the Kashmir route?
    Is it advisable to have 7-8 year old kid (boy) make this trip ?

    • Firstly, I will suggest you that please plan it in other direction as going via Srinagar – Leh Highway will be much much easier on your body and help you acclimatize to the high altitude of Manali – Leh Highway. Also, it allows you to enjoy the beauty of Manali – Leh by splitting the journey almost evenly in two days which is very difficult in the other direction. Thirdly, it will allow you to fit Tso Moriri lake into the itinerary in better way. You can read more reasons on the link here

      You can check a very balanced and most common itinerary for Leh – Ladakh followed by many travellers including me at the link here for 13-14 days: Most Common Itinerary for Leh – Ladakh.

      You can check the nice, preferred list of accommodation options in entire Leh – Ladakh (Leh, Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri) including moderate (cheap budget hotels as well) in the series of articles starting on the link here

      Regarding taking your car, well, there should not be much of an issue but have you taken your car to Himalayas ever? How did it perform?

      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!!

  6. Hi dheeraj,i hv jst one question that i am planning to leh via manali in june.will fortuner 4×2 will help or i need to get 4×4 .
    Plz help
    Thanks and regards

  7. We are planning a trip from Mumbai to Leh.

    Me, wifey and a teenager

    Duster (2013 NON-AWD version) done 40,000 kms, stock tires which have had multiple punctures in the past but are running flawless within city, spare tire untouched

    Day 1 – Mumbai – Ahmedabad
    Day 2 – Ahmedabad – Udaipur
    Day 3 – Udaipur – Jaipur
    Day 4 – Jaipur – New Delhi
    Day 5 – New Delhi – Chandigarh
    Day 6 – Chandigarh – Mandi
    Day 7 – Mandi – Manali
    Day 8 – Day X – Manali – Leh

    Return via Srinagar and follow similar route back home to Mumbai

    Need your valuable inputs:

    1. Will it be too hot to drive through Gujarat & Rajasthan in the month of April? What precautions should we take to avoid heat related troubles to the car and to ourselves.

    2. In the past Rajasthan highways have been in the news for wrong reasons (read: loot / rape / murder). We plan to start driving early by 8 and stop and take shelter in hotel before sunset. Are the highways for the planned route safe? Will there be enough traffic on the road to feel “safe” or are the roads mostly deserted even during day time?

    3. Will Duster survive on Manali – Leh route? Please note it’s a NON-AWD version.

    4. Is April end a good time to visit Manali – Leh route safety wise? I mean will there be snow? Will the roads be drive-able? Will there be any tourists during that time? What precaution to take to drive in snow, like snow chains etc?

    5. How to cope with high altitude? My wife has medical issues, she is anemic and generally weak.

    Looking forward to your suggestions and valuable inputs.

    Thanks in advance for your time to answer.

    • Sanju, the roads to Ladakh will start to open by mid of May from Srinagar side and first week of June from Manali side. So, you cannot make this trip in April.

  8. Pawan Kumar on

    Hello Dheeraj,
    I am from Bangalore and I have planned a road trip from delhi to Jammu – Srinagar – sonamarg – Kargil – leh – sarchu – manali – Delhi. (Jun 2017)

    Before booking Car for this trip I have two questions, Could you please give your advice on this :
    1. Do we need 4wd car ? or any SUV will do ?
    2. Some blog says that we can take rental/self drive cars till leh and there for nubra, pangong, and khardungla pass can be viewed by local cars only. Is it true ?

    Please advice.


    Dear Friend,

    Me and my wife and my son 13yr old were planning to do a trip from manali to leh through rohtang pass by self drive and we have a maruti wagonR, 2010 model. can you suggest this car can do it nice drive on mountain road and what is the right time to go to visit ?.

    • Right time to visit by a small car is September when it is easiest to make this trip. Apart from that you should read the article above and it should be able to help you out with your doubts related to taking small car.

  10. Kiran A Pillai on

    Dear Dheeraj,

    We’re planning for a road trip from Bangalore to Manali on our Honda Brio. My wife, son 4 year old and I.
    Is it advisable?

    Kindly key in your valuable comments.

  11. Hi,

    Wonderful article there, helped a lot.
    Planning a trip next year, I have two cars Skoda Rapid Diesel and Hyundai Creta Petrol, Let me know which one is better to go for the trip.

    I planned to go via manali and return via Srinagar. Let me know if this is fine or should i do Vice-Versa. And which of the two Cars will be better to take?

    • Better to go with Creta owing to its high ground clearance. I will suggest you that please plan it in other direction as going via Srinagar – Leh Highway will be much much easier on your body and help you acclimatize to the high altitude of Manali – Leh Highway. Also, it allows you to enjoy the beauty of Manali – Leh by splitting the journey almost evenly in two days which is very difficult in the other direction. Thirdly, it will allow you to fit Tso Moriri lake into the itinerary in better way. You can read more reasons on the link here

      You can check a very balanced and most common itinerary for Leh – Ladakh followed by many travellers including me at the link here for 13-14 days: Most Common Itinerary for Leh – Ladakh.

      You can check the nice, preferred list of accommodation options in entire Leh – Ladakh (Leh, Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri) including moderate (cheap budget hotels as well) in the series of articles starting on the link here

    • Thanks for the response, then will plan will go as per your itinerary.
      Will let you know as soon as i plan the journey.


  12. Hi, I am planning to travel from Hyderabad to Delhi by train and Delhi to Ladakh by road. I will start from Hyderabad on 15th of October. Is this the right time.


    Is it good idea to travel to Leh via Srinagar with family (4-5) persons on Maruti CIAZ?


    HI ,

    Thanks for a wonderful blog
    We are planning to go Leh via manali on september 16, 2016, 4 person by road through Cheverlet Beet Car, can you suggest, it is the best time for travelling, and one more question , any permit required for this journey and how we can get this permit.


    • Brij, September is a great time to visit Ladakh. Since, you will be going from Manali side, you need to get permit from SDM office in Manali to cross Rohtang PAss to go to Leh. Rest you do not need any permit if visiting regular sightseeing places in Ladakh.

    • No. There is no permit required for ladakh. Permit is required for rohtang pass from manali which you can get online before 2 days from your journey. We are also going to ladakh by mahindra scorpio from up on 23rd sept. Contact me on

      • Rohit, the online permit is applicable only to visit Rohtang Pass not to go beyond it. In order to go beyond Rohtang PAss to Leh or Spiti, you have to apply permit in person at SDM office in Manali by showing your RC, PUC and DL.

  15. Kapil Sharma on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    Thanks for such a good info. We are 6 people driving through Zoomcar (Scorpio) from Delhi to Leh via Manali. I just wanted to ask if there are any specific permits required on the way.Also is there any need for servicing of the car allotted.


    • You need to get permits to cross Rohtang Pass from Manali side. Secondly, the car will not be allowed for sightseeing in Ladakh, so be prepared to get a local taxi once you reach in Leh.

        • No major landlside has been reported, but be ready to face monsoons challenges and hassles in the lower hills if it rains. There will be slush stretches for sure.

  16. Hi Dheeraj and others,

    Appreciate this website, proving very useful!

    Just some queries: myself and a friend are coming over from Australia for 14 days. And looking at flying from Delhi to Srinagar then traveling to Kargil – Leh -Manali and back to Srinagar and flying back to Delhi.

    We do not have a motorcycle license but have international drivers permit. Can we hire a bike without a motorcycle license?

    If not, am I correct that we have to hire a car with a driver for this trip? I would like to hire a car and self drive instead.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    • Hello Cussa,

      Well, I will suggest you go from Srinagar side and come back from Manali side. No need to go back to Srinagar again from Manali. You can check a very balanced and most common itinerary for Leh – Ladakh followed by many travellers including me at the link here for 13-14 days: Most Common Itinerary for Leh – Ladakh.

      I feel it shall be fine if you have a international driver permit and renter guy can help you out with it. You do not need to hire a taxi with driver at least to enter Leh and come back from Leh. So, you can rent a self drive car from Delhi to reach Leh from Srinagar side and come back from Leh from Manali side. However, for all sightseeing in Ladakh, you will have to hire a taxi with driver in Leh as outside rented cars are not allowed for sightseeing in Leh. Same is true for bikes as well. You have to rent a local Leh bike for sightseeing in Ladakh.

  17. Hi Dheeraj.
    Just wanted to know, we have planned trip from chandigarh – patnitop- srinagar-kargil-leh-sarchu-manali-chandigarh but as per current situation in srinagar,

    1. can we pass from patnitop to directly to sonamarg?

    2. Is it possible or shall we shift it to like chandigarh-manali-keylong-sarchu-leh-sarchu-manali-chandigarh.

    We are bit confused what to do now coz thing are changed on srinagar route. Please help.

    3. Also in manali route we wont b able to visit kargil And magnetic hill. So is there any other alternative please suggest.

    4.if u have any other plan than this please feel free to suggest.

    • 1. Best is to avoid Srinagar and go via Manali side
      2. Yes, I will recommend that only unless things are settled for few weeks.
      3. You can visit Kargil from Leh side. Make two day trip to Kargil from Leh

  18. Saket Panicker on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    Need a little counselling on this.

    I recently got to know from a colleague that there is a little of trouble and irritation from Army/Militants in the Kashmir Valley? I mean there’ll be a female friend of mine alongwith me for the trip!

    So, how to deal in those situations and how to beware of such persons… In fact, please tell me if you know, if such situations can be avoided as we’ll be travelling alone..


    • I will suggest to have a word with some hotel guy in Srinagar 2-3 days before the trip and then take a call to go from Manali side. These things are dependent from person to person judgement call and what a person feels is OK to him or her given the circumstances. So, best is to talk to a local hotel guy in Srinagar and confirm about the ground situation in tourist places and Srinagar – Leh route. Having being stuck in riots/curfews myself at times, my personal suggestion will be to avoid unless unrest is over and take the Manali route.

      • Hi Dheeraj,
        We a group of 9 people are traveling to Ladakh from Friday onwards.
        I would be the only person on my ersonal bike & rest would be traveling using a tempo traveler.
        As, I would be reaching Manali on Saturday afternoon, can I collect the permits on Sunday? Do we need permits for own bikes too?

        Our planned itinerary: (please share if you have any suggestions/feedback for this plan)
        Day1 Fly to Chandigarh. Collect Bike. Overnight at Chandigarh
        Day2 Chandigarh to Manali
        Day3 Stay at Manali, Permits
        Day4 Manali to Jispa
        Day5 Jispa to Leh
        Day6 Leh
        Day7 Leh to Nubra.
        Day8 Nubra
        Day9 Nubra to Leh
        Day10 Leh to Pangong
        Day11 Pangong to Leh
        Day12 Leh to Tso moriri
        Day13 Tso Moriri to Sarchu
        Day14 Sarchu to Manali
        Day15 Manali to Chandigarh
        Day 16 Flight from Chandigarh


        • Hi Varun,

          Couple of days before Manali administration has announced that permits will be issued on Sunday as well. So, rightly timed with your trip 🙂

          Yes, you need permits for own bike as well. Your plan is well drafted and looks very nice to me. Do visit Turtuk on the extra day you have in Nubra Valley.

        • Hi Dheeraj,
          Glad that you liked our itinerary.. 🙂
          Yes.. would surely include Turtuk in the plan.

          We are deeply grateful for the info that you keep on sharing with us, all the explorers.

          Thanks again,


    Hi Everyone

    Just Completed yet another Ladakh Trip by Road ( Self Driven Innova ) .Here’s How we did it .

    1. 25 June 2016 – We left around 3:00 Am from Panipat and went straight to Gurudwara Anandpur Sahib ( Little off the way , but worth going ) . Reached Manali by afternoon , checked in hotel . Could not gather courage to roam around the overcrowded Mall Road . Had a good dinner at Johnsons Cafe and hit bed early .

    2. 26 June 2016 – As warned by locals that there would be traffic jams enroute Rohtang , We left Hotel right at 4:00 A.M. AND we had crossed Rohtang by 6:30 A.M. just by showing our permit and literally no Traffic at all . Had Some aloo paranthas at Khoksar . Had earlier planned of staying at Jispa , but we had reached Jispa by around 11 AM so thought of crossing it . Croosed Baralacha LA with disappointment , Suraj Tal was not frozen , very less snow around and temperature was around 11 or 12 .Reached Sarchu around 3 or 3:30 , had some maggi and milk tea .Recalling bad experiences of staying sarchu we thought of trying some extra miles and reaching Leh only . And Yes we did it , though i felt power of my car decreasing as we scaled Tanglang La but the roads from More Plains till Leh Are Amazing and you can easily reach 90 – 100 KMPH at few streches . AND we reached LEH right at 7:30 with a beautiful sun set .

    3. 27/28/29 June Enjoyed local sight seeing and visited Sanchi Stupa , A few Monastries , Hall Of Fame ( Must Visit ) and checked out almost every cafe on Changspa and Fort Road . I would rate dinner at KC Restaurant the best .

    4. 30 June – We left for Nubra Valley , Roads are in seriously bad conditions just before Khardungla and till Khardung Village . As we had to visit Siachen Base Camp , we collected our permit from Partapur Brigade area and headed to our hotel in Hunder – Earth Homes Mystic Meadows – Amazing Property and Glam Tents with Concrete walls , good toilets and just tents in place of concrete ceiling and to top up with Home styled food .

    5. 01 July – We left early morning from Hunder , got the Tank Refuelled from a makeshift Petrol Pump in Diskit .
    A few bad patches but the Road till Sosoma Checkpost is almost fine , Army check post and they cross check the permit , Beyond SOSOMA only the locals living in nearby villages or civilians with permit can cross this check post . After Sosoma Checkpost the road is again fine till base camp with few nalaas and few bad patches . And we reached THE SIACHEN BASE CAMP . Yet another TCP , they verify our permit again and let us through .
    It is the worlds most difficult battle field , Worlds highest battle school . We went straight to the Siachin War memorial and then headed for the OP BABA SHRINE . Suddenly a soldier from Palwal just seeing our Haryana number car comes sprinting towards us and gives us an amazing guided tour of the OP BABA SHRINE and we had goose bumps . He offered us prasad and after a short conversation we left . We got to interact with a young officer from Rajasthan who just returned from glacier posting , and the experiences he shared gave us the true feeling that it is the most difficult posting for army ppl and still they do it with great courage and smiling faces , HATS OFF . With very high spirits we left the base camp and reached back Hunder Hotel . The drive each side takes around 4 Hours .

    6 . 02 July – We left for Pangong Tso . And the drive from Nubra to Pangong is indeed a good experience . with roads being built by BRO PPL , a few streches are bad and a naala crossing a few KMs after Agham has to be carefully Crossed . To our surprise we did not find much crowd at Pangong Tso . But later we came to know that road from Leh via Chang La was closed due to Land slides . We had to return to Leh and luckily by eve the road was open again .

    7. 03 July – We left Leh around 12:00 , Crossed Kargil , Drass , Had Dinner at Sonmarg and stayed overnight at Srinagar .

    8. 04 July – Srinagar to Jammu

    9 05 July – Jammu to Delhi

    • DR.Narayan on

      Hello Karan, Thanks for your advice about traveling to Leh.
      We live in UK and from Hyderabad and planning to drive to Leh next year.
      Can you send me your email for future advice.
      My email-

  20. Rahul Joshi on


    I am planning a road trip from Udaipur to Leh Ladhak from 11 Oct 2016 to 25 Oct 2016.
    I want to know that will it be the nice time to travel of I should plan it from 11 Sept To 25 Sept.

  21. Hi Deeraj,

    We have plan of riding to leh on August 2nd and 3rd week of August. Our current plan in overview is Delhi – Srinagar – Leh – Manali – Delhi. We would be renting bikes from Delhi.
    I have few clarifications on latest rule in leh where outside rented vehicle are not allowed to Nubra and Pangong.
    I am hiring bikes in Leh to Nubra valley, now for Pangong we have a plan of returning to Sarchu directly from Merak via Pang instead of coming back to Leh. (I have done this route 2 years back).
    Could you please let me know if we can ride bikes rented from Delhi. Will the there be any problems on the way to Pangong lake?
    Requesting to replay on this post as this would help me to plan my itinerary better.

    • Yes Lohith, there are checkposts to sightseeing places in Ladakh which keeps checking the bikes every now and then for papers. If it is a lucky day, you may be spared but if not, you will have to return, waste a day and do Pangong Tso on Leh registered bikes. If you have to get Leh registered bikes, you have to come back to Leh to return them.

  22. Bal Raj Sharma on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    My compliments on a wonderfully informative write up. I am planning a self drive trip ( Jammu – Srinagar – Kargil – Leh and back) between 9th & 18th July. I plan to hire a taxi for Pangong Tse visit. Just one question – How would Volkswagen Vento Diesel be for the trip? especially Sonamarg – Kargil Section?


    Firstly thanks to the Dow community for the immense help i got from reading all experiences while planning the trip to laddakh.
    we were short of time so we planned a packed schedule
    1. started from Lucknow at 2 pm on 15th June in my innova and a friend on his tata aria.
    we crossed delhi by ten pm reached chandigarh by one pm. we had to halt here to pick one friend from his hotel in chandigarh which delayed us by 2.5 hours….but we continued to manali and reached there by 11am
    2. Both the drivers of the cars me and my friend in his aria decided to have an evening meal and sleep so we could start early the next morning. unfortunately a flat needed to be repaired so we couldn’t start eatly.started at 830 am on 17th june then got caught in a jam at rohtang la for 3 hours.
    about 30 km road down from rohtang to sissu was nonexistant. the road from sissu to sarchu was again bad with about every 30 km good alternating with 30 km dirt or gravel road. refueled at tandi and filled jerry cans to 80L per vehicle, as we planned to move in a loop after sarchu turning in from berring via tso kar lake then to pangong via hanle then either back to leh or through nubra back to leh. this however both fortunately and unfortunately we could not attempt and had to move to leh.
    3 . we reached sarchu by 8 pm. and rested in red rock camps. everyone showed signs of ams to varying degrees. my aria friends wife was hit the worst so seeing this as a warning we scrapped going to tso moriri. fortunately as we later discovered about 50 km stretch of road from tso kar lake was in a bad shape. taking 4 to 5 hours to negotiate with risk of rupturing tyres.
    4. 900am 18th june.The road from sarchu to pang was the worst kind with 80km being crossed in 4 hours. after pang the roads were excellent including the Moray plains, tanglang la pass right to leh. we reached leh by 5 pm. then we decided to rest and do a local tour next day before starting for tso moriri the day after.
    5. 19th june.local leh tour includes hemis thicksay shey monasteries if you go to kharu and drive back visiting each monastery in that order from kharu. then come to leh for leh palace
    evening in the market and dinner.
    6. started 7 am from leh on 20th june for tso moriri which is 210 km from leh. 10km from kharu a forty km stretch of road was under construction. but not very bad as it was wide and levelled . after kairi the road was excellent upto Mahe. en route we saw hot springs at chumathang. turn right from mahe to sumdo move to korzok. the last 13 km to korzok is a gravel road. we reached at 2pm.
    unplanned, on an impulse we decided to visit tsokar and come back via berring. after trying hard to drive through and 2.5 hours and 20km later we realized that it was not worth risking tyre damage so we turned back and stayed at tso moriri. morning 21 june we drove back starting at 7 am to kharu, refuelled and turned to pangong. about 40 km road to changla pass is damaged later roads are very good. reached pangong by 4 pm turned back for leh at 530pm
    8. 22 nd morning we started for nubra at 8 00am. roads were good only 20 km near khardungla was in bad shape took 2 hours to cross.
    hunder dunes are scenic
    panamic springs were not worth visiting
    we returned the same evening to leh
    9 23rd june. starting 10 am the rest went rafting on zhanskar river. i drove through pathar sahab gurudwara magnetic hills picking them from nimu at zhanskar confluence. drove to kargil and stayed there.
    10. 24 june started 7 am from kargil
    drove to dras visited war memorial en route
    the drive through zozilla was ok only about 15 to 20 km of bad roads
    breakfast at sonmarg.
    we drove straight to jammu reached by 11 pm
    11. 25th june 900 am we started back from jammu
    drove straight to lucknow it took 18 hours.

  24. Hi dheeraj
    I am a solo traveller from kerala. I plan to get lehd on july 14. I just want to know if i can get some cloak room or storage space at cheap rates so that i can keep a part of my heavy luggage safe at leh take a trip to pangong tsomoriri etc and come back and get the luggage and may be i will also need the same facility at manAli? Is it available?

  25. Abhishek Verma on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    Great article, would help a lot of people.
    We are 3-4 people, will be on bike from Manali to Leh (Delhi to Manali in a bus). Are 2 days sufficient? We are planning to ride Pulsar 220 and Avenger. Are these good for the trip? I have seen videos of crossing some rivers/nallah, they looked tricky and risky. We cant ride bullet/RE.


  26. Asif Khan on

    Just returned from amazing journey (self drive in Inova) Delhi-Srinagar-Kargil-Leh-KeyLong-Chandigarh-Delhi. The road conditions were better than expected with not major hurdle on roads. Some of the points which may help other travellers (although they are subject to change)
    1. We started from Srinagar at 5:00AM, thinking that we can reach Kargil early or even try to reach Leh on same day, but we were not allowed to cross Sonmarg till 11:30 AM because they only allow inbound (Kargil-Srinagar) traffic to ensure clear passage for army trucks convoy.
    2. Road from Sonmarg till Drass is dirt road, however crossing ZojiLa pass was easier due to mainly one way traffic
    3. Road from Drass to Kargil is excellent high way and you can easily achieve around 70 to 80 KM per hour average speed. Same applies from Kargil to Leh with the exception of one bad patch of around 8 KM.
    4. Road from Leh to Pangong lake is again not well maintained in hill areas, around 50% of the road is in bad shape
    5. Road from Leh till Pang is excellent, therefore crossing Tanglang-La was very smooth.
    6. Road from Pang till Darcha is not in good shape, with only few patches which are still not fully damaged,
    7. Road from Jispa till Delhi is excellent with the exception of around 40KM area while crossing Rohtang-LA.
    During entire journey, cross Rohtang-La was more difficult only due to heavy movement of trucks and bad road condition.

    You need a form (available from all travel arrangement for a payment of Rs 5) in case you want to visit Pangong or Nubra valley, though it looks like a formality only, but better to keep multiple photo copies.
    You don’t need any other permit or permissions if entering from Srinagar side.

  27. Hi Deepak

    We are a group of 6 people planning to travel to Leh in August ( 2nd week) . Need your inputs/guidance on three points
    1. Hope August second week is not a bad option ( actually we don’t have much of a choice due to office commitments but still wanted your suggestion in terms of weather conditions)
    2. We are planning to take an Innova or mobilio for this trip . Hope it won’t be an issue with 6 people inside.
    3. While going thru Srinagar route do I need to take any permit & which all places should I must stop at to enjoy the beauty

    • Hi Chandan,

      1. August, you may find rain hassles in lower hills. Slush will be there too.
      2. Innova should be OK but with 6 people always I feel tight for such long trips.
      3. No permit required from Srinagar to Leh route.

    • Sandeep Kumar on

      we r a couple..planning for a road trip …complete circuit LUDHIANA-JAMMU-SRINAGAR-LEH-MANALI-CHANDIGARH-LUDHIANA-….starting 18th sep….if u have some flexiblity…pl reply

  28. Hi
    My concern was that can I take my duster to Leh but I haven’t got RC yet it will take few more days but I do have the Note that car showroom provided to drive the car out on Indian roads until I get my RC.
    I have all others documents except RC
    So, whether i’ll be allowed to go through such check post during leh journey or not……??

  29. Hello dheeraj . We are 5 persons planning our tour from delhi to manali then manali to leh By personal car diesel creta 2016.
    Is it OK.
    And please it’s a request if you tell me about permissions for taking personal car in other state.

    • Please reply dheeraj ji.
      I listened from somewhere that we have to take permission from sdm office manali to go to leh.

      • Yes Yanky, you have to take permit from SDM office in Manali to cross Rohtang Pass from Manali side. If you are coming from Leh side, no permit is required

        • Sir please tell me how to get permit from sdm office . It’s easy to get permission? And where is sdm office, and how I contact there.
          Any compulsory documents ??

        • Yanky, you have to get the permit from SDM office in Manali by showing the valid DL, RC of the car and polluction certificate. There is a congestion charges of Rs 50.

  30. Davender Singh on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    I plan to take etios via Srinagar route in last week of June to Ladakh. Need your advice on the vehicle.



    hello dhiraj we are planning to go leh on last week of august which route we will take from delhi

  32. Sidharth . on

    Dhiraj Ji I have safari 2008 model 70000km. Driven. it will be OK with safari to go to ladakh

  33. Hi Dheeraj
    I am planning a trip to leh by self driven own car with my wife and kids of the age 7 and 11 years in june. I am very excited but as the days comes closer i am getting nervous and tensed too. Please confirm me one thing, can i get Ladhaki driver cum guide there for Nurba & Pangong trip .His company will boost our confidence.


  34. jaspreet singh on

    hi dhiraj,

    we are planning a trip to leh in july last week on tata indigo.. is it ok with tata indigo in this trip…

  35. I plan a tour for laddakh by personal car. I have both dire vxi and dire vdi. Which one is best to choose. Both are 5 mth old.

  36. Hi Dheeraj shakti this side i just want to know you that we 3guys planing to leh ladakh on next sunday night by our car maruti swift can we go there with this car please suggest

      • Dheeraj ji, I am planning chandigarh to leh- ladakh via manali with own swift dzire,
        Which route is good for me via srinagaer or via manali??bcoz frinds are suggesting manali route is good for going

        • Firstly, I will suggest you that please plan it in other direction as going via Srinagar – Leh Highway will be much much easier on your body and help you acclimatize to the high altitude of Manali – Leh Highway. Also, it allows you to enjoy the beauty of Manali – Leh by splitting the journey almost evenly in two days which is very difficult in the other direction. Thirdly, it will allow you to fit Tso Moriri lake into the itinerary in better way. You can read more reasons on the link here

          You can check a very balanced and most common itinerary for Leh – Ladakh followed by many travellers including me at the link here for 13-14 days: Most Common Itinerary for Leh – Ladakh.

          For hatchback/sedan taking on Manali – Leh Highway Or Spiti Valley via Manali Or Ladakh, please refer the link: FAQ | Can I do Leh – Ladakh / Spiti / Manali – Leh trip in Hatchback or Sedan? for more details.

      • Dheeraj actually we have two cars one is swift and secend is XUV swift is 3years old qnd XUV is 5months old so which is good for make this trip please suggest we dont have enough time

  37. Hello dheeraj,
    First of all thanks for giving valuable information to all about leh journey I am going to plan leh trip via Srinagar as suggested by u we are only two persons me and my wife I just wanted to know which car we should prefer Ritz or sx4 I will wait for ur advice thanks again

    • Pawan, both the cars will surely struggle a bit though manageable but most of the time hatch is more preferable due to non-hangging boot which trouble sedans in many cases.

      • Is this mean we should choose Ritz please help in making decision because we want to go on self driving and we are not easy with SUV segment and we want ur best opinion regarding this
        Thankyou and Sry to disturb u

        • Yes Pawan. Ritz will be better with drriving rather than having something with boot. Please read the above article and you should be good to go.

      • Rajiv Salhotra on

        Hello Dheeraj
        Your informations really helps many of us. I’d also like to ask you that I am going with my family Manali, Manikaran and Tirthan valley with Maruti Ciaz. will it be OK? please suggest.

  38. Hello dheeraj ji,
    We are planning to go to leh ladakh from 23rd June to 8th July through maruti Ritz car via Srinagar and we will come back via manali is it safe

      • I just wanted to know which car we should prefer Ritz or sx4 for this journey in June July and I have slight breathing broblem via Srinagar how much chances for AMS

        • Monika, it is alwaysbetter to make a trip via Srinagar side. Take it easy with night halts at Kargil and Alchi and you should do fine. DO NOT forget to carry your medicines or inhalers if you take and DO NOT exert yourself. both the cars will surely struggle a bit though manageable but most of the time hatch is more preferable due to non-hangging boot which trouble sedans in many cases.



  40. Nitin Pathak on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    Is there an age restriction for people travelling to Leh ? I am planning Leh via Srinagar and return via Manali. My father is 83 (an ex-army / Doctor / fit and fine). He is willing to do the road trip with me… is it advisable to tag him along ?

    Please advise.



    • There isn’t age restrictions as per law but Nitin bhai, you must consult a doctor for sure and in fact he himself is doctor, I wont say much. Opt to go from Srinagar side and very slowly. May be stay at Alchi before reach Leh, then rest and do Nubra, Pangong Tso, Tso moriri in that very order.

  41. Hi everybody! I was wondering if Ertiga is a suitable car for a road trip to ladakh via kargil and then return via manali! Do advise. Thankyou.

  42. Shrayance pandit on

    I Dheeraj this is Shrayance pandit I am planning to go to Leh in my Indica 2001 model to complete my dream of Leh should this Carl is perfect to go as all the functions mare working properly and recently I drove it to Shimla

  43. Amit kumar on

    Me n my friends are planing a tour from delhi to leh via manali rohtang in scorpio s6+ in july end. Is scorpio s6+ good for this tour?

  44. Rohit Watmode on

    Dear me and my frnd plan leh by bike from Delhi to ladakh so is it plan for us good or not means bike will be better or not so kindly suggest dear

  45. Me and my 3 friends were planning to do a trip from Srinagar to leh .Its a maruti Alto 800, 2008 model with a GC 160mm.can you suggest this car can do it and what is the right time to go this year for us.

    • Eric, I have known many people doing Ladakh trip in an Alto. You need patience and caution to make it through. September will be the best time to do so.

  46. Sreedhar Jayapalan on

    Hi Guys,

    Any one travelling from Bangalore in June 2016 to leh by car????
    I will be on a 22 day trip to Leh & Spiti.

  47. Hi Dhiraj,
    Thanks for a wonderful blog. I plan to travel from Delhi to Leh and Ladakh by mid of June.
    Can you please help clarifying below?
    – We have a SWIFT 2015 model LDI. Is this a good car to take for the road trip. The other car , honda city is already ruled out for the trip.
    – Are the Road condition good and safe?
    – Is there a forum where people drive down from Delhi? Most of the links refer to two wheelers only.

    Thanks for your help

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