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5 reasons not to visit Tso Moriri from Manali side

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There have been many queries where people ask to visit Tso Moriri from Manali side, that is while going to Leh they want to cover Tso Moriri lake as well and then reach Leh. This trend of queries of visiting Tso Moriri from Manali side has especially become common after 2014, when the inner line permits were exempted for the Indians visiting major tourist places in Ladakh including this beautiful Tso Moriri lake. The urge to visit Tso Moriri while coming to Leh from Manali side definitely seems logical because it is a short detour and those who plan to exit from Srinagar side, it makes perfect sense to save a day for them. However, though what looks on map in terms of distance does not qualify what looks on maps in terms of altitude. Hence, in today’s article I will like to answer this in detail why not to visit Tso Moriri lake while coming to Leh from Manali side.

Tso Moriri - Wondering the blue hues

Tso Moriri – Wondering the blue hues

Planning to visit Tso Moriri from Manali side?

Below are five reasons I believe you should not visit Tso Moriri when you are traveling from Manali to Leh:

1. No Acclimatisation to sleep at Tso Moriri

You should not visit Tso Moriri while going from Manali to Leh because your body will never be acclimatised to sleep at such a high altitude. DoW never recommends people to even sleep at Sarchu while traveling from Manali to Leh. Keep in mind, Sarchu is about 300 Mtrs less in altitude than Tso Moriri lake and 300 Mtrs is quite a lot when it comes to altitude and if you are suffering from AMS even a difference of 100 Mtrs can save or take your life. Search is even considered to be vomit hilton as most people keep vomiting while sleeping up there or they mostly don’t tend to sleep. Very few people gets away with without experience symptoms of AMS even at Sarchu.

Now, Tso Moriri lake is even higher, so there is no gradual ascend of altitude for your body to accept such a high altitude to sleep that early in the trip when you have only slept at Manali or even Jispa does not help. While on the other hand, if you are coming back from Leh side after covering other high altitude places in Ladakh especially sleeping at Pangong tso, then your body is much more perfect condition to accept sleeping at the altitude of Tso Moriri. This will help you enjoy the beauty of the lake much more and without any worries of falling sick. You can read more about acclimatisation at: Acute Mountain Sickness and Importance of Acclimatization

2. No help nearby in case of medical emergency

Tso Moriri is a located at desolated place in Ladakh and in case if there is any help that is required whatsoever after falling severely sick due to AMS (which you can), you are looking for about 8 Hrs drive to Leh. Any wise person can judge what it means to be away from medical help about 8 Hrs in any medical emergency. Hitting with AMS badly, is indeed is an emergency as AMS can be fatal if not dealt with quickly. The main problem is when people are suffering from AMS, they tend to avoid admitting it and either says it is motion sickness or says it is fatigue. This aggravates the symptoms further and the condition worsens mostly.

3. Only Leh taxis are allowed to visit Tso Moriri

As per Leh taxi union rules, you will have to have a taxi based out in Leh in order to visit Tso Moriri lake unless you are not traveling by your own personal car. When coming from Manali, you will be having Manali taxi in most cases unless you plan to call a Leh based taxi to pick you from Manali or make such an arrangement on Manali – Leh Highway. Hence, you cannot visit Tso Moriri on such taxis unless you want to end up in a tussle with an already unacclimatised body 😉

Keep in mind if you are traveling by bus including HPTDC deluxe bus to Leh, there is no option to travel to Tso Moriri directly in such a case as all buses run between Manali and Leh only.

Tso Moriri – The other colors

Tso Moriri – The other colors

4. Only Leh rented bikes are allowed to visit Tso Moriri

As per Leh bike rental union rules, you will have to have a rented bike based out in Leh in order to visit Tso Moriri lake unless you are not traveling by your own personal bike. When coming from Manali, you will be having Manali or Delhi rented bike which will not be allowed at Tso Moriri, if confronted at the various checkpoints installed by union guys. Hence, similar to taxis, you cannot visit Tso Moriri on outside Leh rented bike unless you want to end up in a tussle with an already unacclimatised body 😉

5. For foreigners permits are required to visit Tso Moriri

In case you are a foreigner, you need protected area permit to visit Tso Moriri. This permit is issued from DC office in Leh and hence, you have to reach Leh first in order to get your permits done and then only you can travel back to Tso Moriri. You can more read about Protected Area Permit.

Darkness over Tso Moriri Lake

Darkness over Tso Moriri Lake


Well, I have tried to enlist five reasons not to visit Tso Moriri from Manali side. However, the first reason combined with second reason should be enough for any wise person not to risk the life of himself and play with the emotions of family/friends sitting back at home wishing for his safe return. Why I say so, because I have been through many such incidents where young bloods set aside such important tips and thinks their young bodies can over power the nature, the body’s acclimatisation needs. However, most of such incidents brings agony, chaos or panic to them as well as family and friends who can’t do anything sitting three days away from them.

In the end, a humble request to you all to seriously consider above tips and avoid ending up in trouble. Add one extra day in your plan or drop any other place as I am sure that is not more valuable than your life or your loved ones 🙂 🙂 … Did you face any issues while at Tso Moriri or you have more such reasons? I will be glad to hear them in comments section or in DoW Community and of course, it will helps other fellow travellers too. Also, feel free to share it with your friends or family who you know will be going on a trip to Ladakh or planning to visit Tso Moriri from Manali side, you may end up saving a life 😉 🙂 …

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About Author

You can call me an avid traveler, a day-night dreamer and a passionate lover of the Himalayas who has a high zest for driving whilst exploring new places in the 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. Hrishikesh Chakraborty on

    Hi Dheeraj. This yaer again we are planning for Ladakh Trip, but start from Manali side. We are planning to reach LEH in below schedule
    1 Day – Manali to JIspa
    2 Day – Jispa to Tso-Moriri
    3 Day – Tso-Moriri to Leh City.
    Can we able to do this trip by any Innova Car with Manali Numbers, if yes – what will be the cost
    If HP numbers are not allowed, then what will be the best options for this route and what will be thae cost in Innova.

    Thanks in Advance

  2. do we require permit for pangong to tso moriri or leh to tso moriri if yes from where and how

    • Update April 2017 = Pay environment fees and apply for permits again
      The environment fees of Rs 400 & Inner Line Permits (most likely as well) will again be required in Ladakh for Indian Tourists / Nationals with effect from April 1st, 2017. This has been recently announced and is available on official website of Leh administration. It is expected that a public circular should follow soon as well. Hence, like it used to happen before 2014, all Indian Nationals or Indian Tourists WILL need to pay environment fees and may need to also get the inner line permits in Leh – Ladakh region in order to visit the restricted places like Dah, Hanu Villages, Pangong Tso, Man, Merak, Tso Moriri, Nyoma, Loma Bend, Khardung La, Nubra Valley, Turtuk, Tyakshi, Digger La, Tangyar (for trekking only).
      For details on inner line permits process and to download application form read the link All you want to know about Inner Line Permits for Ladakh

    • Nupur Chandra Saha on

      Dear sir thanks a lot for this nice page their lots of thing to learn about Ladakh , There is lots of information about Ladakh , can u help me by giving any innova car driver for our 8 days tour ,
      Actually we r from Bangladesh so that we have not good idea regarding this Ladakh if possible please help me

      • For the leh – ladakh taxi union rate list 2017 – 18 including the contacts of some reliable taxi drivers within Leh – Ladakh, check the link here. You can get about 12-15% of discount by directly getting in touch with drivers and of course, talking in person rather on phone always help in bargaining more. You can call the local drivers directly to connect with them and check the more comprehensive List of Taxi Drivers for Ladakh – Srinagar – Leh – Manali with recommendations/reviews for DoW community members.

  3. Hi, We are planning to visit leh on 23rd may 2017 and will hire bike from srinagar to leh. Is it possible for us to do local sightseeing in leh on those bike and if not what options do we have?
    Hiring another bike in leh for local sightseeing means we have to hire twice one from sri to leh and other for leh sightseeing thereby incurring double cost. Please give your suggestion. Thank You.

    • You will have to hire the bike twice in such a case. It is best to travel by public transport to Leh and then hire a bike over there unless you are OK with paying twice and do not have any budget constraints.

  4. Luke Amsterdam on

    Thanks Dheeraj! I will take your reccomendation into account and not go in that direction. My compliments for your extensive and very informative website, it has helped me a lot in my preperations!

  5. Manish Swarup on

    Dear Dheeraj,
    Hi Just a suggestion or may be i am doing something wrong, whenever I open to read any article,
    on the left side there is a vertical table of facebook, twitter printer etc, which hide the some of the writing and we have to often do ups and down, can it be shifted to right or bottom for so that we can read your brilliant articles without much scrolling.

    warm regards,

    • Hi Manish, Sorry about that. Can you please tell me which browser and which phone are you using to open the web pages. We corrected that issue an year back to disable the share article bar on mobiles.

  6. Hi Dheeraj,

    I’m planning to drive down to tso moirir from Leh on a bike rented from Leh itself but a couple of my friends who went there were saying there have been a few incidents where cars and bikes have been burned by the locals. Just wanted to check if you know if there’s been any change in the situation of travelling to Tso Moriri on bikes rented from leh??

    • Ishaan, they are all rumours. There is no issue of taking a personal bike or Leh rented bike anywhere in Ladakh. The issue arise when you take outside Leh rented bike to sightseeing places in Ladakh.

  7. Subhasish Sengupta on

    Dear Dheeraj,
    Please do suggest an itinerary of leh tour.We had planned for leh ladakh via Srinagar, we will reach Srinagar on 31st August ’16 and back on 11th september from delhi to kolkata. So I would request you to help us for making the itinerary , we would like to visit maximum places including Tsomoriri ,Pangong ,Nubra,etc.

  8. Subhasish Sengupta on

    Dear Dheeraj,
    Please do suggest an itinerary of leh tour.We are 4 friends planned for ladakh tour, we will reach Srinagar on 31st August ’16 and back on 11th september from delhi to kolkata. So I would request you to help us for making the itinerary , we would like to visit maximum places including Tsomoriri ,Pangong ,Nubra,etc.

    • You can follow the below plan:

      Day 1 | Delhi – Srinagar
      — Enjoy walk around Dal lake and may be Shikara ride as well
      — If you have time then check out, floating market, Shalimar Garden.
      — Overnight at Srinagar

      Day 2 | Srinagar – Sonamarg – Zozi La – Drass – Kargil
      — Enjoy the vistas enroute
      — Have late drunch meal at Drass is you are a vegetarian as sometimes it gets difficult to find veg. food at Kargil
      — Overnight at Kargil

      Day 3 | Kargil – Lamayuru – Leh
      — Cover Mulbekh Maitrey, Lamayuru Moanstery, Lunar Landscapes
      — On the way you can also see Gurudwara Pather Sahib, Magnetic Hills, Confluence at Nimmu
      — Overnight at Leh

      Day 4 | Leh Local Sightseeing + Acclimatization
      — To know the about the places to visit check the link: Travel Guide for Local Sightseeing of Leh Town in Ladakh
      — Overnight at Leh

      Day 5 | 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 6 | 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 7 | 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)

      Day 8 | Pangong Tso Lake – Thicksey Monastery – Shey Palace – Leh
      — Cover either of Hemis, Thicksey and Shey on return to Leh
      — Overnight at Leh

      Day 9 | Leh – Tso Moriri via Chumathang
      — Cover Karzok Monastery
      — Overnight at Karzok or Tso Moriri
      Day 10 | 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 11 | Fly back

      • Luke Amsterdam on

        Dear Dheeraj, A bit short notice but we, two friends fromHolland, will fly to Delhi and travel to Manali 3-5 september where we will rent bikes to ride up to Leh. From what I read on your wonderful site, it might be nice to continue after Leh to Kargil and Srinagar to head back to Manali. Do you have a suggestion of what would be a good route from Srinagar to Manali and in how many days?
        Thanks! Luke from Holland

        • Hello Luke, there is an unrest in the Kashmir valley with curfews just lifted but conditions at some places are still not so good. It is not recommended at all to travel beyond Kargil. So, you can travel to Kargil from Leh, at max Drass and come back the same route to Leh. Then, you need to follow the same route back to Manali from Leh.

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