Top 12 Myths About Traveling to Ladakh

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In the last 7 years of my love with traveling to Ladakh, I have passed over numerous myths which I busted for myself in one or the other trip to Ladakh and Zanskar Valley. I see them repeated many a times on Devil On Wheels by many of our readers. So, I thought let’s better create a article to help everyone and bust the top 12 myths commonly mistaken while considering a trip to Ladakh. I am sure this article will help you further gain confidence in planning your upcoming trip to Ladakh. In order to complete the context, I will share the “Top 9 Mistakes People Commit for a Ladakh Trip” in the next article.

Yes, I know – Traveling to Ladakh ain’t that easy as it looks…
Yes, I know - Traveling to Ladakh ain't that easy as it looks...
Top 12 Myths About Traveling to Ladakh

Here are few of the most common Myths and Facts about traveling to Ladakh which will surely help you break the ice and come out of the shells of misconceptions in order to make your memorable trip to Ladakh 🙂 🙂

1. Myth: Ladakh is a honeymoon destination or just another family vacation for leisure

This is one of the most common query I get on Devil On Wheels about making a honeymoon trip to Ladakh or I see people wanting to have a family leisure vacation in Ladakh.

Fact: IMHO, the fact is, Ladakh is neither a honeymoon destination by any means nor a leisure travel destination, rather Ladakh is an adventure tourist destination. So, please be very aware of it and the word “adventure” is the key here which comes with some risks. Honeymoon happens once in a lifetime and sometimes things can go weird in Leh – Ladakh with acute mountain sickness, fatigue levels, least expected physical exertion, etc.. I am sure you will not like to take a chance with your honeymoon. So, take a calculative risk before finalizing Ladakh as your honeymoon destination and make sure your better half understands it so that you are not blamed / accused for rest of your life 😉 😉 …

2. Myth: Leh is Ladakh and Ladakh is Leh 🙂

One of the most common myth among people is that Leh is Ladakh and Ladakh is Leh.

Fact: The fact is that Ladakh is one of the three region in the state of Jammu & Kashmir (others being Jammu and Kashmir). Ladakh has further two districts, one is Leh and the other is Kargil. Leh district is further divided into 3 tehsils + 9 blocks and has Leh town inside it, which is the district headquarters.

3. Myth: Ladakh trip can only be done if I have a Royal Enfield bike

Lot of people have apprehensions for a low power bike they own. They are always in doubt if they can make a trip to Ladakh on a low powered bike or scooty or not.

Fact: The fact however is, though it is not required to have more powerful bike like Bullet/RE but may be preferable. 100cc-125cc bikes or scooty have also been able to complete the Ladakh circuit mostly every season but they do struggle at some places with low speeds at high mountain passes or deep slush stretches, water crossings where it might be required to push them manually in case they get stuck. The key is, DO NOT push the bike beyond its limit in case your stuck rather user your own physical power to get it out. In the end, all that matters is the grit and determination of the rider riding the bike.

4. Myth: Ladakh trip can only be done if I have an SUV car

Similar to low powered bike, people do have apprehensions for small or low GC cars for making a Ladakh trip.

Fact: Well, yes, you will indeed face few tough challenges on the route with small cars. The hatchback/sedan will increase the level of every challenge even further, sedan is the worst candidate with its boot hanging behind. But, you can go from 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.

The challenges of taking small car to Ladakh
The challenges of taking small car to Ladakh
5. Myth: Ladakh has banned self drive cars, taxi mafia is creating nuisance and beating everyone

Most recent addition to the myths of traveling to Ladakh is that every self drive car is being beaten up and thrown away from Ladakh by Ladakhis 🙁 🙁 …

Fact: The TRUTH is that apart from that one very sorry incident in 2015 where private self drive car was attacked, nothing else major was reported in person with concrete proof except few cooked up stories. I personally went in a huge convoy of cars in September 2015 on our Mega Meet and did the remotest of places in Ladakh without any fuss at all. It is the outside RENTED self drive cars which are banned for sightseeing in Ladakh, they are also allowed to reach Leh and exit Leh. So, don’t let these cooked up myths spoil your self drive experience to Ladakh. To know more details, refer: Rented Self Drive Cars in Leh – Ladakh Banned “FORCIBLY”

6. Myth: Ladakh trip can be done on an extended weekend

This myth is one of the most dangerous where tourists assumes that Leh is just a flight away so they can make an extended weekend trip to Ladakh.

Fact: No matter what if the flight to Leh is just couple of hours away from Delhi, but the fact is that traveling to Ladakh requires your body adjustment or acclimatisation to the high altitude terrain. For the very same reason, you need to complete rest your body after reaching Leh for at least 36-48 Hrs and then only you can go for any sightseeing. If you intend to just visit Leh town, then yes, it is possible over weekend but if you want to cover major tourist places in Ladakh like Nubra Valley / Pangong Tso / Tso Moriri, you need at least 6-7 days minimum to see couple of these tourist attractions.

7. Myth: Ladakh is unsafe to travel

I keep on hearing that Ladakh is not a safe place to travel from my parents and so does on this website by lots of travellers.

Fact: In last 7 years of traveling, except an incident here and there, I have never heard/experience anything in particular to the safety concerns of the travellers in Ladakh. There have been couple of instances when unrest in the valley especially in Kashmir may have disrupted the traffic movement but in general it remained safe, especially in the tourist areas. It is advised always that you leave the city in the early morning hours in cases of bandhs which usually are pre-declared. As long as you can stick to main highway roads and tourist areas, in general there aren’t much issues that I had came across in last 7 years. Having said that, it is an adventure travel destination and the word adventure does comes with risk, sometimes the risk of life…

8. Myth: Ladakh is a place where only young people travel not old age people

Lot of people feel that aged people cannot make a trip to Ladakh.

Fact: Well, a trip to Ladakh does not associate with your age, gender, sex, physical fitness levels rather it solely depends upon your well being / good heath and the way you have planned your trip with proper acclimatization. Using our most common itinerary for Ladakh, which is quite balanced and helps acclimatise better, lots of veterans make memorable trips to Ladakh every year.

A trip to Ladakh on bike
A trip to Ladakh on bike
9. Myth: Ladakh is very very cold, I cannot travel in that cold

Ladakh is synonym for cold for many of us out here living in plains.

Fact: The fact is that, indeed, in winters the chill gets too cold to bear in Ladakh for people like us living in plains. However, in the season time from mid of June to September, if you are going well prepared with woollens, the weather is usually quite pleasant. The foremost important tip is to carry at least one light jacket to cut the wind chill and at least one heavy woollen jacket to beat the cold conditions in case weather turns up its course. And do remember, weather can change in a matter of hours in trans-Himalayas including in Ladakh. So, go prepared and don’t be heroic in removing your clothes 🙂 :)…

10. Myth: Ladakh is very very high, I will fall sick and may die

Lot of people feel that Ladakh is very high, sometimes giving an impression from their expressions that it is higher than even Mount Everest 😀 😀 …

Fact: Well, yes, Ladakh is a high altitude desert but if you follow the principles/tips of acclimatisation and go prepared with woollens, at any given day you will make an unforgettable trip to Ladakh.

11. Myth: Ladakh is very very far, journey is tedious and hectic, I cannot undergo all that pain

Many people feel that it is a journey very far land and quite painful.

Fact: I do not feel that it is really true. You must make a balanced trip to Ladakh with sufficient days in hand while resting your body as well as gradually ascending the altitude. The problem comes when we try to cramp up the Ladakh trip plan in less number of days as we do not have the luxury of leaves mostly. So, yes, if you make a trip to Ladakh in hush-push then for sure it will have a toll on your body and you will certainly feel the pain f travel. But, if you plan your journey well with enough days in hand, it is a trip which you want to undergo “Life Mein Baar Baar” 🙂 🙂 …

12. Myth: Ladakh by air means, I will fall sick and keep vomiting

Most people feel that if they travel by air to Ladakh they will fall sick and keep vomiting.

Fact: Well, to an extent, this thought is very much true. All thanks to many of the travel agents/companies out there in travel industry who have never stepped into Ladakh but DO sell trips to Ladakh. If getting to Leh, you will travel to Pangong tso the next day, you are bound to puke whole day and in fact lucky to live thereafter. If you fly to Leh, you MUST take complete rest after reaching Leh for at least 36-48 Hrs and then only you can go for any sightseeing. The key to any memorable Leh – Ladakh trip is to acclimatise well and gradually ascend.

Yes, at times it does gets cold in Ladakh
Yes, at times it does gets cold in Ladakh
Conclusion

I hope the above myth-busters helped you cleanse your mind from the uncertainties of planning a Ladakh trip and you or your family now feel more confident while making the next or first trip to Ladakh. Do you know any other common myth abut traveling to Ladakh?? If yes, feel free to share in comments section below else feel accomplished to share this article with your friends/loved ones who are combating these myths and resisting their first trip to Ladakh.

As said, I will share the “Top 9 Mistakes People Commit for a Ladakh Trip” in the next article which will further help you understand what goes wrong and why, that creates such an impressions of Ladakh being harsh place.

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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 ...

39 Comments

  1. Vinod Sherawat on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    we are planning to trip ladakh Srinagar to Leh highway by rant a motorcycle from Srinagar…Can You Please Suggest Tour….we are reaching Srinagar on 18 June.

  2. Hi Dheeraj… I just read ur bolgs on Leh.. we are palnning a trip in Oct 1 week… is it possible to cover following in two days.. Leh- Pangong- Tsu Morri- Leh?
    We are in Leh for 7 nights.. 8 day early morning leaving back. It will be great if you let me know how can we utilize these 7 days fully…?

    • No Ashish, best is that you do one of these lakes in two days. Below is the plan I will suggest:

      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 with taxi driver and you can refer the thread for a comprehensive list of drivers: List of Taxi Drivers for Ladakh – Srinagar – Leh – Manali
      — 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
      — Make a Day trip to Pangong Tso
      — Overnight at Leh

      Day 6 | Leh – Tso Moriri via Chumathang
      — Cover Karzok Monastery
      — Overnight at Karzok or Tso Moriri
       
      Day 7 | Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Debring (Manali – Leh Highway starts) – Taglang La – Upshi – Leh
      — Come back via Tso Kar and Manali – Leh Highway to Leh
      — Overnight at Leh

      Day 8 | Fly out

      • Thanks a lot for th quick response Dheeraj… we are reaching on Sep 30 and will fly out on Oct 7. How will be weather that time… I know its starting of winter… will it be too cold or manageable?

  3. Hi Dheeraj,

    Great work. Very useful & informative.

    Dheeraj, We are planning a trip to Leh in May end. Del-Leh-Del by air. We are two, me & my wife. We will reach Leh on 27-May morning & will be returning on 1st-june morning. Request you to suggest some suitable itinerary for this short trip, including the must see places.

    Also advise on following concerns:
    1. We have not booked any hotel room yet. Will it be OK to book the same on reaching Leh after having a look? Also suggest the same about Nubra Valley overnightstay.
    2. Will it be OK to do the sightseeing in around Leh on rented bike or should we book some land only package with some reputed Tours & Travel firm (like mmt, DP, sotc etc.) or should we contact some local tour & travel agents there?

    Thanks.

    • You have just 4 days in hand Saurabh, that is too less a day for a Leh trip 🙁 all I can suggest is 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 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 | Day trip to Khardung La
      Day 4 | Day trip to Pangong Tso if feeling well.

      1. It is OK to search on the spot in Leh, you cant stay overnigth anywhere except Leh
      2. You can do the around Leh on your own. In anycase you have to complete rest for first two days.

  4. Siddhartha.srivastava@yahoo.co.in on

    Dear Dheeraj,

    Wonderful practical piece of information.

    I need your suggestions as well, as I am planning to travel from Ghaziabad on 3rd Sep. 2016 and would like to cover Sach Paas, Leh, and Kargil. I have 9 days in total (+1 buffer day). We will be driving in Fortuner. We would be mostly concern to look for natural beauty, and less of religious places.

    Could you pls. advise:
    1. Can we cover these 3 places in 9 days/ I mean is it a good idea or even possible?
    2. If yes, what route to be followed for best utilization of time, and cover nature sight seeing?
    3. Is there any of your blog which mentions places to visit at these locations ?
    4. Any checklist of items to carry.
    5. Any other important info.

    Thanks,
    Sid

    • Hi Sid,

      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. If you have about 10 days then 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.

      Sach Pass cannot be fit in as you see.

  5. Arvind Kumar on

    Very useful. I am planning a trip to Ladhak in end Jun 2016 in my Maruti Swift (Diesel) via Srinagar to Dras and then on wards returning from Leh via tso Moriri to Manali and back to Chandigarh

  6. Thanks Dheeraj,

    I am planning my honeymoon to Ladakh in first week of May. This is a short trip as we are not covering every Place. Please have a look at my Itinerary and let me know if this is okay.

    29th April Pune to Leh Via Flight
    30th April Rest and Marketing
    1st May Shey Palace, Thiksey, Hemis (Stakna) on a local rented bike
    2nd May : Visit Lamayuru on a rented bike
    3rd May : Rafting(Choklamsar to Phay)( According to my search this is easiest and smallest rafting route)
    4th May : Leave for Nubra on rented taxi
    5th May : Return from Nubra
    6th May : Flight to Jammu
    7th May : Vaishno devi
    8th May : return to Pune

    • Hi Abhimanyu,

      Well, I will suggest that you make a two day trip to Lamayuru in case you want to enjoy the ride at ease else it will be 250 KMs in a day which can be tiring just to visit Lamayuru. So, you can club 1st and 2nd May together. 3rd, 4th May you can visit Nubra Valley which will give you a buffer day just in case Khardung La is closed due to snow or snowfall. In the buffer day you can do rafting. Also, in case you do not wish to make a trip to Lamayuru, you can do a day trip to Pangong Tso lake

  7. Tirumala Kunder on

    Would you happen to know which travel company should we book for the trip? we are going on a family vacation to Leh Ladak.

    • you can connect with info@offbeatescapes.com as most of the readers in the past three years have had very good feedback about them and especially their transparent policies along with being there with you all the time in need. So, we trust them the most (please note that DoW except reliable reference has nothing to do with them)… You can refer my name or DoW to Gaurav, the guy who runs it. He knows us very well and should be able to offer some special rates being a DoW Member. You can just refer him the DoW Community Member Username in such a case or screenshot of this reply here.

  8. SOUMITRA MUKHOPADHYAY on

    Dheeraj,

    your posts are highly informative and written with a lot of insight and care.

    We have been planning a family vacation to Ladakh. Options being looked at are a) End of April b) End of May to early June, to be able to see the festivals. What would be your advice?

    Thank you

    Soumitra Mukhopadhyay
    Mumbai

  9. Pingback: Top 9 Mistakes People Commit for a Ladakh Trip - Devil On Wheels™

  10. Bhimangowda on

    Wonderfull Insight, been to Ladakh in 2015 from Bengaluru and want to ride once again. And this is penned with actual experiences. Thank for sharing and given us a chance to share it to other aspirants.

  11. One more to add
    While traveling on bike you need to carry 10 liters of petrol, petrol pumps are not frequently seen:
    Fact: If you have a bike with 15L plus fuel capacity then you don’t need to carry additional fuel. Make sure you fill petrol when it is available and you should be fine.

    • Thank you so much Amit, glad you shared this one. Should be quite helpful. All that matters is when you want to do LEh to Tso Moriri to Manali directly then it makes 550 KMs, if your bike can do 550 KMs in mountains then you need not carry but else you will have to carry it because I See even with 35 KMPL you will not clock 550 KM with 15 Ltr tank or will live on the edge. Rest of the Ladakh if not done the straight exit from Tso Moriri can surely be done as and when you see and fill the fuel in your bike. I will add it.

  12. VJ Sharma on

    Brilliantly explained all the details and anyone who is planning Leh must go through this post. very Helpful. Sharing it further.

  13. Anuradha Bakshi on

    Very nicely written…..we too have been to ladakh by road twice….and all the 12 myths are busted. We travelled along with 2 kids. We were careful and prepared.so it was memorable trip.we also met old couples at tsomoriri above 70 yrs of age….hail and hearty…

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