Leh – Ladakh | Most Common Itinerary by Air

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I see a lot of queries which keep coming up from people directly flying to Leh – Ladakh and have about 7 – 8 days in hand to explore various places in Ladakh. Looking at the requests of some many avid readers of the blog and so many like minded travellers seeking guidance for their tour to Leh – Ladakh by Air, I would like to sketch below one of the most common itinerary for it. This itinerary covers all three major tourist destinations of Ladakh including Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso Lake and Tso Moriri Lake.

Flying directly to a high altitude place like Leh (3500+ Mtr) can cause serious issues sometimes if proper care is not taken to combat Acute Mountain Sickness. Hence, one must always be aware of importance of Acclimatization and tips to help acclimatize to some extent before venturing to further high altitude. When you fly to such high altitude place like Leh you must give your body a chance to acclimatize a bit before actually getting started with the trip. That is the precise reason why road journey to Ladakh is more fun because it allows your body to gradually increasing the altitude and hence, acclimatize to the raising altitude day by day, especially the Srinagar – Leh Highway. But, let’s look at how one can combat most of the AMS issues with very basic tips and can enjoy his/her Leh – Ladakh journey for about 8 – 9 days.

Runway to Heaven…. Runway to Heaven...
8 – 9 Days Itinerary for Leh Ladakh by Air

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.
  • Overnight at Leh.

Day 2 | Leh Local Sightseeing + Inner Line Permits

  • For more details on inner line permits process and to download application form read the link here Inner Line Permits are not required for these places for Indian Nationals, starting May 2014.
  • 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 – Deskit – Hunder

  • Head for Nubra Valley and stay overnight at Hunder / Deskit.
  • On the way enjoy a cup of soup at Highest Motorable Pass (as claimed) Khardung La. DO NOT stay more than 10-12 minutes.
  • Deskit has monasteries with tallest lord Buddha statue and Hunder has sand dunes and bacterian camel safari.
  • About 5-6 Hrs drive, depending upon the breaks you take in between and at Khardung La.

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.
  • About 7-9 Hrs drive, depending upon the breaks you take in between.

Day 5 | Leh – Hemis Monastery – Pangong Tso Lake

  • Cover either of Hemis, Thicksey and Shey on the go towards Pangong Tso
  • Overnight at Pangong Tso (Spangmik or Lukung)
  • About 5-6 Hrs drive, depending upon the breaks you take in between

Day 6 | Pangong Tso Lake – Thicksey Monastery – Shey Palace – Leh

  • Cover either of Hemis, Thicksey and Shey on return to Leh
  • Overnight at Leh
  • About 5-6 Hrs drive, depending upon the breaks you take in between

Day 7 | Leh – Hemis – Tso Moriri via Chumathang

  • Cover either of Hemis, Thicksey and Shey on the way towards Tso Moriri.
  • Cover Korzok Monastery.
  • Overnight at Korzok or Tso Moriri.
  • About 7-8 Hrs drive, depending upon the breaks you take in between.

Day 8 | Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Debring (Manali – Leh Highway starts) – Taglang La – Upshi – Leh

  • Come back via Tso Kar and Manali – Leh Highway to Leh.
  • Cover either of Hemis, Thicksey and Shey on the way towards Leh.
  • Overnight at Leh.
  • About 9-10 Hrs drive, depending upon the breaks you take in between.

Day 9 | Rest Day OR Sham Valley Tour

  • Rest day at Leh to enjoy local culture and some shopping OR
  • Sham Valley include Alchi, Likir, Basgo Palace, Magnetic Hills, Confluence at Nimmu, Gurudwara Pather Sahib OR
  • Overnight at Leh.

Those who have 8 days in hand, can make a Day trip to Pangong Tso as below but that makes it a bit rushy / hectic.

Day 5 | Leh – Chang La – Pangong Tso – Chang La – Leh

  • Make a Day trip to Pangong Tso via Chang La Pass.
  • Overnight at Leh.
  • About 8-9 Hrs drive, depending upon the breaks you take in between.

Additional Points:

  • For accommodation, check the nice, preferred list of accommodation options in entire Leh – Ladakh (Leh, Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri) including moderate and cheap budget hotels as well in the series of articles starting on the link here.
  • For the leh – ladakh taxi union rate list 2014-15 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.
  • Any doubts related to budget of the trip?? Don’t worry, check: How to calculate cost or budget for Leh – Ladakh trip

Request everyone that instead of putting up the comments below, 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

Conclusion

I hope this plan or itinerary for Leh – Ladakh when traveling by Air will be useful for travelers planning their journey, at least for the first time. I will look forward for any queries or doubts or valuable suggestions and inputs you have and would love to discuss about your custom plan as well in comments section.

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 ...

465 Comments

  1. Nisarg Kapadia on

    SRINAGAR – KARGIL – LEH – PANGONG – LEH – NUBRA – LEH – KARGIL – SRINAGAR

    17th May: Reach Srinagar, Proceed to Sonmarg & Night Stay at Sonmarg
    Reach Srinagar & Proceed to Sonmarg. Relax the entire day. Night Stay at Sonmarg
    Meals: Dinner
    Hotel provided will be:

    18th May: Sonmarg – Kargil & Night Stay at Kargil
    After breakfast proceed to Kargil.Reach in afternoon and spend rest of the day relaxing. Night Stay at Kargil.
    Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
    Hotel provided will be: Hotel Zero Miles

    19th May: Kargil – Leh & Night Stay at Leh
    After breakfast, proceed to Leh via the world famous Srinagar Leh highway. Overnight stay in Leh
    Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
    Hotel provided will be: Dawa Guest House

    20th May: Night Stay at Leh
    After breakfast, proceed for a local sightseeing tour and visit Stok Palace, Hall of Fame (A museum developed and maintained by the Indian army) and Leh Palace. Overnight stay in Leh
    Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
    Hotel provided will be: Dawa Guest House

    21st May: Leh – Pangong & Night Stay at Pangong
    After an early breakfast, proceed to Pangong via Changla Pass (17,586 feet) and the third highest pass of the world. Pangong Lake is a salt water body of 120 km in length and 6 – 7 Km broad at the longest point. It is bisected by the international border between India & China (2/3 of the lake is in China’s possession). Visit the exact location of the famous movie “Three idiots” & enjoy outing along the banks of the lake. One really feels very close to nature at Pangong Lake with its scenic surroundings. On a clear sunny day, you can see seven color formations in the crystal clear salt water lake. Overnight stay in Pangong
    Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
    Camp provided will be: Wonderland Camp

    22nd May: Pangong – Leh & Night Stay at Leh
    After breakfast, travel back to Leh. En route take a short halt at Changla Pass to enjoy a cup of hot steaming tea. Visit Shanti Stupa and Leh market in the evening. Overnight stay in Leh
    Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
    Hotel provided will be: Dawa Guest House

    23rd May: Leh – Nubra & Night Stay at Nubra
    After breakfast, drive to Nubra Valley (Known as the Valley of Flowers and the warmest region in Ladakh) via Khardungla pass. This road is considered to be the highest motorable road of the world. En route, admire the spectacular views of the never ending snow-capped mountain ranges around Khardungla Pass (18,380 feet). After spending some time at Khardungla, proceed to Nubra. After Hotel check-in, enjoy camel Safari in the evening. Overnight stay in Nubra
    Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
    Hotel provided will be: Olgok Guest House

    24th May: Nubra – Leh & Night Stay at Leh
    After breakfast, visit Diskit & Hunder Villages and monasteries take a stroll around the place to see the life style of people living at the northernmost region of India. Drive back to Leh via Khardungla pass. Overnight stay in Leh
    Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
    Hotel provided will be: Dawa Guest House

    25th May: Leh – Kargil & Night Stay at Kargil
    After an early breakfast, proceed to Kargil. En route, visit Mulbek (known for its huge Buddha Statue) and Lamayuru monastery (The oldest monastery in Ladakh). Admire the confluence of Indus – Zanskar Rivers and the effects of Magnetic Hill (Defiance of the law of gravity). Visit Gurudwara Patthar Sahib & Kargil War memorial on the way to pay tribute to the Indian Army. It was in this very region in which the Indian Army fought and won the famous war of Kargil. Take some memorable snaps of Tololing, Tiger Hill and the war memorial in Drass. Reach Kargil in the evening. Overnight stay in Kargil.
    Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
    Hotel provided will be: Hotel Zero Miles

    26th May: Kargil – Srinagar & Night Stay at Srinagar
    After an early check-out, proceed to Srinagar via Srinagar Leh Highway. Notice the gradual change in the colours of the mountains as you travel to Kargil. Cross the Zojila pass & Zero Point. Overnight stay in Srinagar.
    Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
    Houseboat provided will be: Deluxe Indian Houseboat

    27th May: Srinagar – Mumbai
    After breakfast checkout & proceed to Mumbai.

    This is our itenary and we are hiring 2 bikes and 1 scorpio from Srinagar throughout our journey.
    Kindly give feedback on our itenary and revert.Thank you

  2. Dheeraj, hii!

    My friend and I have finally received our Indian visa and our flights have been booked for Ladakh in May! We can’t wait to experience this majestic place and we have made a plan according with some help from a few members at Tripadvisor.

    12th May – Arrival at Delhi at 12 05 pm.

    13th May – Arrival at Leh at 7 am. Full Day rest.

    14th May – Leh to Sham Valley

    15th May – Sham Valley to Leh.

    16th May – Leh to Turtuk which is at the extreme end of Nubra Valley, overnight in homestay (don’t prebook).

    17th May – Post lunch start from Turtuk towards Dekit/Sumur in Nubra valley’ stay overnight in homestay/tent

    18th May – Early morning start from Deskit/Sumur towards Pangong via Shyok Village route.

    19th May – Pangong Lake to Leh. Thiksey or Hemis Monastery en route.

    20th May – Departure to home.

    We were looking for your feedback regarding this trip and whether this plan is feasible, given the distance and places we want to cover and how tiring it might be.

    Also, we had one last query, would it be better to visit Sham valley and be back in Leh in 1 day and then use the extra day to stay one more day in Turtuk?

    Looking forward to your response 🙂

    • The plan looks balanced and it does not make you travel too much except Leh to Turtuk, which is OK. You can do that too, there isn’t much in Sham Valley and it can easily be covered in one day.

      • Dheeraj!

        Thank you for your quick response 🙂 As you are saying the Leh to Turtuk part is quite long journey, I guess we’ll stay one more day in Turtuk and visit Sham Valley in one day.

        One last help, should we try to book a Jeep for the entire plan or book the jeeps like, one for Sham Valley, One for Nubra?

        Best Regards

  3. Hi Dheeraj,
    Thanks for your answer to my previous message.
    It might no be the best place for this post, but I was also wondering what would be the best way to arrange a 4 to 5 days trip from Leh in the Indus Valley mixing drive and trek. More precisely, we would like to visit the monasteries of the Indus Valley (including Likir and Lamayuru) in 2 days while spending half a day or a full day on the “baby trek”. Then we would head for a two days trek starting in Hinju via Khomze La and would return back in Leh by car.
    Thanks for your help,
    Yves

  4. Hi Dow,
    My trip in Ladakh in July is mostly inspired by this article. Thanks for this wonderful job.
    What would be your suggestion to share the taxi with other travelers for this whole trip? Hiring a taxi for only the two of us will be too costly…
    Best,
    Yves

    • Thank you 🙂 You are alone/couple and private taxis are very costly in Leh but you will be able to find the shared taxi without much fuss at all. There are lots of flyers which people put at cafes, dine-ins, restaurants, travel agent desks/shops/whiteboards wanting to share the taxis for different trips within Ladakh. Even travel agent organize such shared taxis trip as well but charge a little higher about Rs 200-300 more than it would ideally cost. So, in worst case you can always go back to them and book a seat for yourself. Gelling up with people in Ladakh is more or less easy because many people travel solo and look forward to meet new people and share cultural thoughts and values over the trip.

      • Thanks Dheeraj. So I understand that you advice us to see directly on site rather than trying to sort this out from home with an agency. Is it correct? Would you have a travel agent to recommend to organize shared taxi?

        • Yes, that’s correct. It will be much easier to bargain and there is no short of it. Regarding shared taxi, both main market and changspa road will be full of such hoardings or white boards looking for people for shared taxi.

  5. Shweta Singh on

    Hi Deeraj, we are 4 adults along with 2 kids travelling to Leh in September. I have planned the below itinerary…let me know is it fine or should i do sme changes-

    23sep- Arrival at Leh airport after lunch visit, Shanti stupa,Leh palace, Leh market.(over night in leh).

    24sep,-Leh to Kargil via Fotula pass, Namkila pass, Visit, Hall of fame museum, Guruduwara pather sahib, Magnatic hill, Sangam point indus & zanskar river confluence view, Lamayuru moon land view, Lamayuru monastery, Mulbek stone carving statue,(over night in Kargil).

    25sep- Kargil to Drass back to leh visit, Drass 99war memoriel museum, Tiger hill, Tololing hill.(over night in Leh).

    26sep- Leh to Nubra valley via Khardongla pass visit, Disket monastery, Hunder sand dunes double hump camel safari.(over night in Nubra hunder).

    27sep – Nubra hunder to Pangong lake via Shayok valley visit, Spangmik village, 3Idots shooting point.(over night in Pangong lake).

    28sep – Pangong lake to Leh via Changla pass visit, Hemis monastery, Ranchoo school.(over night in Leh).

    29sep – Leh to Tsomoriri lake via Mahe bridge visit, Chumathang hot spiring water, Korzok monastery village.(over night in Tsomoriri lake).

    30sep – Tsomoriri lake to Leh via Taglangla pass visit, Tsokar lake.(over night in Leh).

    1oct – morning departure

    • Hey Shweta,

      Your plan looks quite good to me. Please make sure that you have some company to travel with you on Nubra to Pangong Tso direct route because it is a very desolated route.

  6. Hi Dheeraj , we are a group of 5-6 people and planning to flying into Leh and then hire a taxi. Do you think the following itinerary is possible ?

    Day 1 – Fly into Leh
    Day 2 – Local Sight Seeing
    Day 3- Leh to Nubra Valley
    Day 4 – Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso Lake
    Day 5 – Pangong Tso Lake to  Tso Moriri
    Day 6 – Tso Moriri to Leh
    Day 7 – Leh to Zanskar
    Day 8 – Rafting at Zanskar and back to Leh
    Day 9 – Fly back to Delhi

    • Hi Vidyun,

      I will recommend to ease out a bit. On Day 5, come back to Leh. Day 6 go to Tso Moriri from Leh and Day 7 come back from Tso Moriri. On Day 8 go for rafting in Zanskar river near Nimmu which is a day’s affair. Zanskar Valley is altogether different ball game which requires at least 4-5 days of travel from Kargil

  7. Hi Dheeraj,

    Is there an option for self drive?

    I was planning to have self drive for couple days when i would be in Leh/sham valley and hiring a taxi when travelling to Nubhra/Pangong .

    Please let me know.

    Regards,

    Sunny

    • Hey Sunny, the only option of self drive in Ladakh is to convince the driver to let you drive the car to some distance. Otherwise, self drive cars are not available for drive in Ladakh

  8. Hi,

    We are planning a trip to Leh in the third week of April (not a road trip).

    I have read a couple of articles which suggest that it may not be the best time, as the roads may not open, but what are your views? We may not be able to push our holiday. so if it is really not a good time to go, we will have to cancel it.

    Appreciate your suggestions.

    • Hi Aanchal,

      It is surely not the best time but a good time if you are OK with cold conditions and a bit struggle here and there on roads in case there is heavy snowfall during those days. Apart from that I have been to Ladakh in April, it was one of the best visits among all 7 🙂 … Roads within Ladakh remains open all round the year.= unless it snows on that very day or very heavy snowfall happens and then it closes for couple of days.

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