10 Tips on Mobile Phone Connectivity in Leh – Ladakh

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Season for Leh – Ladakh is going to start soon and one of the most common question I used to answer at Devil On Wheels is “How is the mobile phone connectivity in Leh – Ladakh?”. Well, in this article today, I will share some tips on mobile phone connectivity in Leh – Ladakh as communication or staying connected with our loved ones is one of the prime necessity of our lifestyles in this era. Unfortunately, things aren’t as rosy as we may assume when it comes to communications or staying connected when we talk about remote parts of the Himalayas including Leh – Ladakh. Hence, below tips will surely help you to set your expectations right in terms of phone or mobile connectivity before you make a trip to Leh – Ladakh in coming season.

Asking about Mobile Phone Connectivity in Leh – Ladakh??
Asking about Mobile Phone Connectivity in Leh - Ladakh??

Tips on Mobile Phone Connectivity in Leh – Ladakh

Given below are some important tips on details related to mobile phone connectivity in Leh – Ladakh and surrounding regions including Srinagar – Leh Highway and Manali – Leh Highway. Please read them carefully before planning for your Leh – Ladakh trip.

1. Only post-paid mobile connections work in Leh – Ladakh

First and foremost thing to keep in mind is that only postpaid mobile connections of outside J&K work in Leh – Ladakh and other parts of Jammu & Kashmir. So, carry a post paid connection only from your home town else it will be dead all throughout your stay in Leh – Ladakh and parts of Kashmir. You might be able to get pre-paid SIM cards within Leh – Ladakh or Kashmir in case you have forgot to carry one from home. You can give it a try to stay connected wherever possible, at max, they will say NO 🙂 🙂

2. Only few routes/places have connectivity in Leh – Ladakh

Only places like Leh, Nubra Valley (Deskit, Hunder), Pangong Tso (Lukung, Tangste 34 KMs before Pangong Tso), Chumathang (about 60-65 KMs before Tso Moriri) and recently on the list, Hanle will have any connectivity and it will be erratic mostly.

3. Intermittent connectivity on routes to Leh – Ladakh

Most of the places or majority part of journey on Manali – Leh Highway (beyond Jispa/Darcha) and Srinagar – Leh Highway (excluding near Lamayuru or Kargil) will not have any mobile connectivity whatsoever. So, again plan passing message before leaving on these long routes as you may not be able to pass any message on the way. Extremely important to pass the message or connect with family/friends before leaving on Manali – Leh Highway.

4. Well inform your family and friends

On most of the routes to sightseeing places in Leh – Ladakh you will not get any mobile connectivity, so do call at home or inform your loved ones whenever there is connection at hand before venturing out for the day for sightseeing or reaching another place.

5. Use satellite phones only in emergency

Many of the remote places or villages in Leh – Ladakh or Manali – Leh Highway does have satellite phones available at Rs 2/minute for STD/ISD to make a call in case of emergency but again keep them only for emergency not to call your girl and say that you love her so much 😛 😉 .. Who knows that abusing such life saving emergency facilities may end up in lost cause in real emergencies and you could be the one to suffer too. Hence, use such facilities only in case of emergencies not for any personal use.

6. BSNL has widest coverage followed by Airtel

BSNL has the widest coverage of connectivity but not quality wise, so carry a post paid BSNL or MTNL connection if possible with you. Other networks just remain alive around Leh city only but Airtel may have better call quality than BSNL at any given day. I personally over-weight wide coverage over better quality any day because at least you can convey your message by SMS if you have connectivity with you. However, sometimes SMS also does not work. Having said all that, the connectivity and reach has greatly improved in last few years and improving every year.

7. Data connectivity in Leh – Ladakh

7. Data connectivity in Leh – Ladakh is mostly limited to 2G/GPRS that too around Leh or Kargil. The 3G connectivity is rarely experienced and of course, do not match up speeds you are used to in cities :)… Otherwise you can use WIFI connections which available in hotels,restaurants or cyber cafes. What I remember most from my remotest and disconnected experience is that, whatsapp always work to communicate somehow. You might not be able to transfer pictures BUT for sure you will be able to pass the messages or communicate most of the time even when in rarest of rarest of cases when connection is too slow to even load google properly 😉 ;)…

8. Plan for no connectivity in Ladakh

Never plan a Leh – Ladakh trip based on the fly communications believing you will call someone and get connected to prepare for next move or help find better stay. This might not favour you due to non-existence of network when in need. Hence, plan everything before venturing into the trip.

9. Be proactive and disciplined

9. Be ready to be proactive & disciplined because at times in remote places the mobile connectivity tower will work just in morning working hours and or when there is light. So, make best use of connectivity you get anytime in the day at any remote place to connect with your family and friends.

10. Have patience

Last but not the least, have patience within yourself and consider you are back in era of landlines with poor connections, either calls not making through or dropping off or takes 100s of attempts to make a call. Be ready to have tons of missed call alert messages once you return :)… This is mostly usual at places with connectivity other than Leh. Hence, tell your family and friends too before leaving for a Ladakh trip because they might also not connect through due to same issues, so nothing to worry about, it is usual in general.

Conclusion

I hope the above tips on phone connectivity in Leh – Ladakh will help you plan your trip to Ladakh in better and expected way without any surprises. In case, you have any questions, tips or story to share on communications in Leh – Ladakh, feel free to leave a comment under or in DoW Community

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65 Comments

  1. harry sharma on

    hi dheeraj ,, i m landing on leh on 14 september ,, if i have to buy sim there ,,, how much time does it take to start sim??

    • I don’t have that idea Harry. I think it will take time same like it takes locally for pre-paid. However, you need to consider how you will buy the local sim as they might need local address proof.

  2. Sashwata Bhowmick on

    Hi Dheeraj,
    Please inform…vodafone postpaid will work in leh ladakah.
    If it’s in between the city then it’s also ok.
    Please let me know.

    Thanks
    Sashwata

  3. Hi,
    Nice informative article.
    we are planning a leh trip from aug 13th to 20th. Places we are planning to cover is leh–nubra–turtuk–pangong–leh. Wanted to know about the weather conditions ,so that we can carry clothes accordingly.
    Also would it be raining at that time?

  4. Hi Dheeraj…

    Sincerely thankful to u for the tips u provide on ur blog…

    We are 4 friends planning a trip to laddakh from Ludhiana. Trip will start on 25th of june and we are planning to reach Ludhiana by 5th of july. Can you please tell us if its a good idea..?? If yes.. then please provide some suggestions for the trip regarding precautions & weather & road conditions etc. Will be extremely thankful to u my Bro…
    Regards
    Akash.

  5. Dr Sundrani on

    We are staying overnight at pangong is facilities are good there haw is temp. There in June end

    • There are many camps available in Pangong Tso. 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

  6. BHARATI SHAH on

    Very Informative.we are senior citizen friends Group of 6 is it advisable to travel leg ladakh?

      • Bharati shah on

        Thanx my brother is travelling from Usa to visit Leh ladakh in mid June. He will be in Delhi for one night only from your posts I understand he should have post paid Bsnl.can I mail one from Ahemdabad?

  7. Hi Dheeraj, a very informative post. As a non-indian tourist I will be in Delhi for a few days then I will go to Srinagar – Ladakh. What would you recommend regarding provider or possibly multiple providers?
    Being able to call in Leh is essential I think to book hotels etc.
    Also being able to call/use whatsapp/google maps in Delhi, Pathankot and Srinagar would be nice.

    • Hello Zarm,

      If you are comfortable searching for few hotels here and there after reaching Leh, it should be OK. You will get a prepaid number only as a non-Indian which does not work in Leh – Ladakh as post paid connections only work up there. So, buying it in Delhi will not be a choice unless you want to just make reservations which if required you can do over emails as well, now.

      You can only use Google Maps and Whatsapp too unless you have not entered J&K state because post that only postpaid connections work up there. So, you may need to buys the sim again.

      Regards
      Dheeraj

  8. Hey Dheeraj.. I want to ask u that we are 5-6 person nd we are planning for leh in start of april. What u say,it works?

  9. Rahul Sharma on

    Hiiee Dheeraj

    Just wanted to know is it legal to carry and use satellite phones in India. Read that civilians are not allowed to carry and use them

  10. Thanks a lot Dheeraj!!
    What about hookah?
    Is it allowed to smoke there? If yes do we need to bring our flavours or we get there at pan shops
    And one more thing is there any type of rafting available as I can see some options in tours and travelers list

    • It may or may not be there, carry your own flavours. I will restrain from smokking and drinking in high altitude places of Ladakh. Rafting can be done near Leh in Zanskar and Indus rivers around Phey and Nimmu

  11. Hey we are going to come on 25th July to ladakh!
    Can u tell how will be the weather at that tym so we can carry clothes according to that!!
    Which is the best network so we can carry that!
    And do we get wine shops easily in ladakh or we need to carry from Delhi

    • Hello Aadarsh,

      Only post paid connections work in Ladakh. BSNL has the widest coverage in Ladakh so it is always preferred to be carried with you.

      There are couple of wine shops in Leh but drinking alcohal may cause AMS symptoms to elevate and cause more trouble. Weather will be nice and pleasant, cold at times. So, one light jacket is a must to carry with light woollens.

  12. DULAL KRISHNA DAS on

    We a group of 12/13 want to visit Ladakh in in middle of August, 2017. We will start from Srinagar and complete at Manali. Whether I can get a BSNL prepaid Mobile connection FROM Srinagar with necessary documents. I come to know that only post paid connection of other states are working but I want to use prepaid connection. Please advise me.

  13. Hey
    Dhiraj M planning to go on feb 16th to feb 23 ,2017
    Is dis gud tim to visit leh Ladakh….
    Wat vl b the climatic condition,weather n oxygen level??

    • Shrenik, if you are going as a tourist and have never been to Ladakh, I will highly recommend making a trip in Season time May to September. In winters, Ladakh is harsh and if not go well prepared, things can turn out bad.

  14. Varun TYagi on

    Hay DOW,

    Nice post. I am going to do a cycle trip this year to ladakh and currently preparing for the same physically and mentally. I have a question regarding the stay. I would be carrying tent with me eradicating the expense of staying in a hotel. Can I pitch tent anywhere of do I have to take permission to pitch tent in ladakh? If so any idea about the cost?

  15. Aakash sharma on

    Which network will provide me a better connectivity in BSNL Postpaid or Airtel Postpaid?

  16. Harender Rathi on

    i am planning a roadtrip on my Avenger 150 cc Street. is the bike safe and compatible enough to ride through leh ladakh??

  17. Hi! Does BSNL pre-paid connection work in Leh-Ladakh region? I’ll be travelling mid of August, from Bangladesh. I think getting pre-paid connection will be easier for me!

  18. Hi. I will be travelling to leh on July 15th 2016. just wanted to know will Bsnl prepaid work for incoming calls.

  19. Hi 🙂 I’m coming to Leh next month and I’m confused about getting BSNL or Airtel Postpaid. I’ll be staying @ Jammu n Srinagar n Leh n Manali. So can yu suggest which has better connectivity? BSNL or Airtel postpaid ? And I’m making a solo trip so network is important for me! Thanks 🙂

  20. Priyamvada on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    My husband is doing a bike ride from delhi to Leh. He started this Sunday at 2 AM. Last time I connected with him on Monday nite when he was in Mandi HP. After that his both of the no are coming switch off. I was very tensed as we planned everything except this connectivity issue. He is having an Airtel postpaid and a bsnl no. I am very tensed. I am also leaving for Leh this Friday via flight. And then we will b Cmg back together on bike. After reading ur blog feeling a bit relaxed but plz help me what possible I can do to get connected.

    • Priya, I think you should wait a couple of days once he reaches Leh, he should be able to connect with you. In between signals are scarce on Manali – Leh Highway

  21. Hey…i just wanted to ask when is manali leh highway opening this year..?? Any status update..?

  22. sangeeta sahae on

    Thanks a ton !! Just a small query which cars can go till leh ?? Can wagon r be a good option ??

    • Yes Sangeeta, for sure Wagon R can go to Ladakh. For hatchback/sedan taking on Manali – Leh Highway and Ladakh, I will say:

      You will indeed face few tough challenges on the route. The hatchback/sedan will increase the level of every challenge even further, sedan is the worst candidate. My suggestion will be to go via Srinagar route as it will help you feel comfortable with the driving, provide more acclimatization and then once you have done the local Leh-Ladakh, then come back via Manali side. Secondly, since you are in hatch/sedan, then you need to drive with extra care as well. There will be some sections on the Manali – Leh highway in which you might need to sacrifice some scratches on the underbelly. Just make sure you do not bump the engine sump (know it before where it is placed in your car). You need to protect it all around the trip. Thirdly, whenever in doubt do not rush into the section rather park aside and feel the section with your foot, see how other vehicles are crossing it and make a planned route in your mind to cross that section. At the very least do carry Mseal, quick fix, funnel, jerry cans and towing rope with you all the time.

      Also, I will strongly suggest that you go through and read my series on Ladakh Self Drive tips at the links below:

      7 Useful Tips for a Self Drive to Leh – Ladakh, Routes and Road Conditions In Leh – Ladakh | Ladakh Self Drive Tips, Fuel Availability In Leh – Ladakh | Ladakh Self Drive Tips

  23. Dheeraj, Good information once again. How about vodafone network? Only BSNL and Airtel works in Leh?
    Thanks for your info. Regards , Ravi

    • Vodafone at times work in Leh but mainly limited to only Leh only. AFAIK from the locals, they work on yearly contracts and hence depend upon year to year. From the last couple of years they do work in Leh and vicinity of Leh.

  24. The post is very informative but I feel you won’t realise there’s a world to connect to when you connect with the serene and mesmerising beauty of Ladakh..

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