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.

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451 Comments

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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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