Solo travel is getting popular with each passing day for places like Ladakh, and a lot of budget solo travelers inquire about Leh to Pangong Tso Bus service every other day on my blog. In today’s article, let’s answer the question of “Is there any bus service from Leh to Pangong Tso?“
Private taxis are very costly in Leh Ladakh, and if you are solo or a couple, they may leave a heavy dent in your pockets. So, what are your options for sightseeing in Ladakh to the places like Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, or Tso Moriri without spending too much money?
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Why do you need Leh to Pangong Tso Bus Service?
Well, luckily tourism in Ladakh is blooming, and the streets are filled with tons of tourists in season time. You can always find travel partners in Changspa road area or Leh main market area to share taxi costs with them. The taxis to cover sightseeing places near Leh will not cost much. So, even if you get a couple of people, you can afford the taxi for local Leh sightseeing.
However, if you want to make a trip to Pangong Tso from Leh, you will have to spend Rs 10,000 on the taxi. Even if you get five people to share the cost of this private taxi to Pangong Tso, it means you have to spend Rs 2000 each for a two-day trip to Pangong Tso lake from Leh in a private taxi.
Some travelers are on a shoestring budget, and spending Rs 2000 could be a decent portion of their overall budget of Leh Ladakh trip. So, let me share the details with you about the bus service that runs between Leh and Pangong Tso including the bus schedule, timings, and the bus ticket fare.
Leh to Pangong Tso Bus Service – Timing & Schedule
Let me start with the details on the schedule and timing of the bus from Leh to Pangong Tso.
Two buses travel from Leh to Pangong Tso every Saturday and Sunday of the week. Hence, you can only plan your trip from Leh to Pangong Tso by bus on these days of the week. The Leh to Pangong Tso bus leaves at 6.30 AM every Saturday and Sunday from the Leh bus stand.
Pangong Tso to Leh Bus – Return Journey
The bus from Pangong Tso to Leh leaves on Sunday and Monday of every week. It is the same bus that comes from Leh to Pangong Tso on the previous days, and hence, it leaves the next day. The timing of the bus from Pangong Tso to Leh is 6.30 AM on Sunday and Monday, which means the bus leaves from Spangmik Village, Pangong Tso at 6.30 AM.
This means that only two buses are available in a week to travel from Leh to Pangong Tso by bus and come back to Leh. So, plan your trip to Pangong Tso lake on these dates only in case you are interested to travel by bus from Leh to Pangong.
Please note that the Leh to Pangong Tso bus may not say Pangong Tso on it but it may have the name of the nearby village as in Spangmik, Merak, or Chusul.
Lukung village is the first village at Pangong Tso lake and then 16 KMs ahead comes Spangmik Village and then Merak, Chusul is further ahead of it. You will have to get down at Spangmik as most camps or stay options at Pangong Tso are available at Spangmik village.
Bus Fare for Leh to Pangong Tso Bus Service
Well, it is always better to buy the ticket for the bus from Leh to Pangong Tso in the prior evening itself from the Leh bus stand. This advance purchase helps to ensure you are boarded the next morning on the bus.
- The one-way bus fare for Leh to Pangong Tso bus service is about Rs 256 per person
- The one-way bus fare for Pangong Tso to Leh bus service is the same about Rs 256 per person
So, a round trip bus ticket from Leh to Pangong Tso trip will cost you Rs 512 per person. You can easily get a homestay or dorm tent at Pangong Tso lake for about Rs 300 – 400 per person, and the two meals will cost you about Rs 125 – 150.
Hence, the two-day budget trip from Leh to Pangong Tso by public transport will cost you only about Rs 1000 – 1100 in total with transport, food, and stay.
Other Alternate Options to Travel to Pangong Tso from Leh
Apart from these two weekly JKSRTC buses that run between Leh and Pangong Tso, other buses run from Leh bus stand to the nearby villages like Tangtse, Durbuk, Pobrang, Merak, Chusul, Tsaga, etc.
If the direct buses to Pangong Tso from Leh are not matching your schedule, you can also travel to Pangong lake by these buses and either get off at the Pangong Tso lake or travel further to Pangong Tso from these villages by hitchhiking.
Sometimes you might find a locally shared jeep traveling to Pangong Tso from these nearby villages.
Finally, if nothing works out for you in these nearby villages, then you also have an option to ask some villagers to drop you at Pangong Tso lake in his private car/vehicle and charge the fare for it. You will surely find someone at these villages who have a camper or pickup or truck that you can hire and get dropped near the shores of Pangong Tso lake.
You can always refer to the complete Leh Ladakh bus schedule to read about all the buses that operate in the Ladakh region. However, I have mentioned brief details of the buses in Ladakh that go to nearby Pangong Tso from Leh.
Buses for Nearby Villages
Leh to Chusul Bus Service
Chusul is 50 km from Pangong Tso and is the quaint little village from where you can see China. Just before Chusul village, Pangong Tso turns into China.
There are two buses from Leh to Chusul. One bus starts from Leh bus stand at 6.30 AM every Wednesday. The one-way bus fare from Leh to Chusul by this bus is Rs 394. This bus takes the Erath – Harong route, so you can get down at Tangtse and carry on to Lukung or Spangmik villages at Pangong Tso as advised above. Tangtse is 34 KMs from Pangong Tso.
The other bus travels to Chusul from Leh at 6.30 AM every Sunday. The one-way bus fare from Leh to Chusul is Rs 406. It is the same direct bus that travels from Leh to Pangong Tso on Saturday, but you get down at Spangmik.
Leh to Phobrang Bus Service
Phobrang is 15 km from Lukung, the starting village at Pangong Tso lake. The bus from Leh to Phobrang starts at 7.00 AM every Saturday. So, you have two options to travel to Pangong Tso on Saturday (the other being 6.30 AM direct bus too). The one-way bus fare up to Phobrang from Leh is Rs 300.
Leh to Tangtse Bus Service
The buses running from Leh to Phobrang, Spangmik, and Chusul on Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday mentioned above all go to Tangtse. The only that matters to you is the one going to Chusul from Tangtse on Wednesday, where you can get down at Tangtse and carry on the rest of the journey to Pangong Tso by hitchhiking or help from villagers. The one-way bus fare up to Tangtse from Leh is Rs 186.
Some Important FAQs about Pangong Tso – Leh Bus Service
1. Is there any other way to travel to Pangong Tso from Leh if I miss the bus?
As you can see that buses to Pangong Tso from Leh only run on Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday. So, on all other days, you only have the option to travel by shared tourist taxis. You will have to find either the group looking to share cost or go to a travel agent and book a seat on their shared tours.
There are lots of flyers that people put at cafes, dine-ins, restaurants, travel agent desks/shops/whiteboards wanting to share the taxis for different trips within Ladakh.
2. How much time will the bus take to reach Pangong Tso from Leh?
Pangong Tso is 170 km from Leh and this bus journey will take about 7-8 hrs to reach Pangong from Leh over Chang La pass.
3. Can I do pre-bookings for Leh to Pangong Tso bus service?
No, there is no pre-booking option available for Leh to Pangong Tso bus service. These are ordinary buses run by the state JKSRTC department.
4. Is it possible to book the Pangong – Leh bus online?
No, there is no online booking facility available to purchase tickets for Pangong Leh bus service.
5. Is the journey on a Pangong Tso to Leh bus comfortable?
These buses are ordinary JKSRTC buses with no deluxe comfort. Hence, do not expect much and try to travel like a local. Some local travel agents do run tempo travelers, but then you are looking for shared tourist taxis or tempo travelers which costs higher than these standard buses.
You will find such options in plenty in Leh main market or Changspa road as mentioned in question #1.
6. Do these JKSRTC buses from Leh to Pangong Tso stop for any sightseeing on the route?
These buses do not stop for any sightseeing on the route to Pangong Tso. Hence, you will not be able to click photos wherever you like as the bus will not stop at your wish.
However, you can try to grab a left-side window seat on Leh to Pangong Tso bus to capture some basic photos from the moving bus or enjoy the journey. The views will keep on changing from left to right, but overall the left-hand side will offer you the most scenic views and of course, the first sight of the lake.
Please note that the bus will stop at the cafeteria at Chang La pass briefly (about 20 minutes) for a tea break. You can grab a soup or tea and quickly take some photos on the 10th Highest Motorable road in the world.
I hope this article will help you learn about the bus service from Pangong Tso to Leh and vice-versa. I have tried to cover the most important FAQs towards the end, but if you still have got any questions on making a trip to Pangong Tso by public transport, please feel free to post those questions in the comments section.
Have you done the trip from Leh to Pangong Tso by bus? I will be happy to hear about your experience in the comments section of the article.
If you know your friends or family are planning a trip to Ladakh, do share this article with them to help them make a memorable trip.