Yes, the news is true that rented Self Drive cars in Leh – Ladakh are FORCIBLY banned now by Ladakh taxi union. Over the past few days, there have been several reports put up on various social media platforms and online travel forums/communities.
Further, a lot of panics have been created in the last week regarding traveling to Ladakh and travelers are now reconsidering their plans.
I would like to summarize the issues for you after going through all the sad incidents and also talking to various local people in Ladakh spanning from taxi guys to travel agents to hotel guys.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
What is the Ladakh Taxi Union Rule for Self Drive Vehicles?
After all these discussions and incidents, we still strongly feel that as long as you’re following the taxi union forced rules, nothing will spoil your high altitude dream trip to Ladakh.
The taxi union forced rule for Leh – Ladakh says
“You cannot take any rented self-drive car to Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, and Tso Moriri lake. In case you or anyone in your group will do, then the problem arises, and you can be part of collateral too even if you have a white plate car, but someone in the group has rented a self-drive car. You can get into Leh from Srinagar or Manali and get out of Leh to Srinagar or Manali in any car including outside rented taxis, rented self-drive cars too. The private white number plate car should be in the name of you or anyone in the car or belong to your family/father/company, which you can prove to them with some proof if confronted for a white number plate. The moment they feel it is a rented car going sightseeing and does not belong to anyone in the car, you are in trouble.”
Why are rented self-drive cars not allowed in Leh Ladakh?
It all began in June 2015 when the Ladakh Taxi Union reached their own (non-approved by administration, please read) resolution that the tourism potential of Ladakh is being exploited by use of malpractices such as privately hired vehicles (white number plate), self-drive vehicles (black number plate vehicles) and motorbikes for commercial use in Ladakh. You can find the resolution below.
Do check these tips on self-drive to Leh Ladakh.
Soon after the resolution, there were isolated incidents of blocking hired self-drive cars and bikes in Ladakh and forcing its occupants to hire a local vehicle to do sightseeing within Ladakh. In some cases, some people deflated tires, and in other cases, they surrounded tourists. You can even read the official Zoomcar advisory which they sent to all their customers below as well.
This clearly says, that Zoomcar also knows about this forced rule of taxi union and advice taking rented cars for sightseeing in Ladakh thereby. The law is legal or illegal, as of now it does not matter unless you want to go and fight it out in court which I feel a similar case is being fought in Jammu High court against the ban of outside rented bikes not allowed in Ladakh for sightseeing since last year.
But, yes, this forced up issue or rule has been around now and also appears that will continue too. So, all fellow travelers must have a caution that they are panics with this forced non-approved rule by taxi union.
What about cars getting smashed by union guys?
However, in the past week, we have learned of a couple of unfortunate incidents where people from the local taxi union have attacked self-drive rental cars breaking their windshields, piercing body armor with metal rods and injuring occupants in the process. The height of insanity we feel of this forced upon rule.
From its discussions with sources and drivers in Ladakh, DoW has learned that in addition to the attacks, tourists with private vehicles (white number plates) are also asked to prove that the vehicle belongs to them and isn’t hired. For example, they ask tourists that the person mentioned on the registration certificate of the vehicle should be present in the vehicle. Or if the vehicle belongs to a relative (father, mother, husband, wife), it has been asked to prove it using other documents like driving license, or so. The idea being, privately hired vehicles are also being confronted for controlling the malpractices of renting cars from outside Leh. But this might be a temporary phase for self-drive cars with white number plates, and in case you are in your vehicle or someone with you, NOTHING TO WORRY AT ALL.
Given the above, DevilOnWheels would like to issue a strict advisory to all its members/readers to avoid using services of any self-drive rental company for sightseeing within Leh – Ladakh to Pangong Tso, Nubra Valley, and Tso Moriri Lake. You can freely use such rental services to get into Leh and get out of Leh without any issues. Till the time matter is not resolved or confronted, please stick to the rule to avoid any hassles.
Should I carry a NOC if taking a
relative car to Ladakh?
While carrying your own can or car of some relative, please carry sufficient documents to prove ownership of your private vehicle to avoid any trouble at all. If the vehicle is not in your name, consider migrating the RC or, at the very least, get an affidavit executed from the owner to prove that the vehicle is private and isn’t used for commercial purposes.
Do not forget to carry these important things for any self-drive trip to Leh Ladakh.
However, we cannot assure if the local taxi union will accept such an affidavit or not. Just a thought on mitigating the risk, in the case arise when the car does not belong to you and not a rented self-drive car.
DoW also suggests that every traveler should carry a copy of the resolution of the taxi union, which mentions that “non-local vehicles will only be allowed to drive on the highways from Srinagar and Manali to Leh and fro.” Carrying the resolution copy will help you to avoid a confrontation with the taxi union if you’re driving to Leh since you are allowed to park your vehicle in Leh and hire a local vehicle thereon.
Should I travel to Leh Ladakh in big car convoys?
DevilOnWheels also suggests to an extent possible, avoid traveling in big convoy and rather go solo or in a small group of 3-4 cars at most for this season to avoid any issues of confrontation as well. Also, avoid traveling by anyone who is using a hired self-drive car as you might find yourself in the line of fire and end up being under collateral damage.
Beyond what is discussed above, we do not believe there is any reason to panic or reconsider your dream trip to Ladakh. Until a resolution on the above activities is reached, please follow the taxi union forced upon rules to avoid hassles. However, shall a confrontation still occur, DoW recommends exercising restraint and resolving the matters amicably, offering to drive the vehicle to Leh, parking it there and hiring a local vehicle thereon?
To keep you updated on this sad unapproved taxi union forced rule, we have started the entire thread in DoW Community on this forced rule of taxi union of self-drive cars in Ladakh and other updates where you can find the incidents which happened over last few weeks and reported online. The link to the community thread is Self-drive cars in Ladakh – status and updates. Feel free to post your experiences as well once you are back from your Leh – Ladakh trip to help other fellow travelers in a dilemma too.
You can always get in touch with this List of taxi drivers for Ladakh – Srinagar- Manali – Zanskar tours, if you are not self driving.
General FAQs – Self Drive Car to Leh Ladakh
- Are self-drive rental cars allowed in Leh Ladakh trip?
Self-drive rented cars outside Leh Ladakh are not allowed to do any sightseeing within Ladakh, including places like Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, and Tso Moriri. You can use these outside rented self-drive cars to reach Leh over Srinagar Leh Road or Manali Leh Highway only. However, further sightseeing within Ladakh is not allowed on the self-drive rental cars.
- Can I get a self-drive rental car in Leh Ladakh?
No, unfortunately, there is no option to get a self-drive rental car in Leh Ladakh. You will have to rent a local taxi in Leh to do sightseeing within Ladakh. At max, you can ask the local driver to let you drive in some stretches, if possible for him.
- Can I take someone’s else private or personal car to Ladakh?
In case, the private white number plate car is in someone else’s name, then it is better that you carry a “no objection certificate” from them. The document should declare that the owner agrees to let you drive the car for personal use. Get your name and license number on the document along with the name of the owner and vehicle RC number. If confronted by the Ladakh taxi union on your trip, you can show this NOC document to them. Try to resolve the matter amicably and do not get into a struggle. If the situation is going out of hands, better to return to Leh and rent a local taxi.
- Can I take my own private or personal car to Ladakh?
Yes, you can take your personal or private cars to Ladakh. The cars with white number plate registered under your name, your wife's name or your father’s name are allowed to do sightseeing within Ladakh and to travel to places like Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, and Tso Moriri.
- Where can I get a self-drive rental car for a Leh Ladakh trip?
You can get self-drive rental cars for your Leh Ladakh trip only from the nearby major cities like Delhi and Chandigarh or any major cities near your home if you plan to drive from home. There are no self-drive rental car services available in Leh Ladakh or Manali or Srinagar.
- Can I get a self-drive rental car in Manali?
No, like Leh, there is no option to get a self-drive rental car in Manali. You need to take a taxi from Manali to reach Leh first and then rent a local taxi in Leh. At max, you can ask the local driver to let you drive in some stretches, if possible for him.
- Can I get a self-drive rental car in Srinagar?
No, like Leh, there is no option to get a self-drive rental car in Srinagar. You need to take a taxi from Srinagar to reach Leh first and then rent a local taxi in Leh. At max, you can ask the local driver to let you drive in some stretches, if possible for him.
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EDIT: Headline Updated. Also, we DO UNDERSTAND that the livelihood of the people up there in Leh – Ladakh does depend upon the tourism and having self-rented cars from outside Leh, maybe 50-60 cars at a time in Leh is affecting the lives and earnings of 50-60 drivers and their families while benefiting the people outside Leh in commercial terms, however, we strongly condemn such acts by Taxi Union of hurting the tourists or travelers for such forced upon rules by them and not getting to the situation in the same way.
You can also check this short video on DevilOnWheels YouTube Channel about some practical tips for making a self-drive trip to Leh Ladakh. If you like my video, please do not forget to SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel.
PS: Really sorry for not writing on a frequent basis for last few weeks, but now I am back from Sach Pass trip and other things are also sorted, you will get a post every Monday morning as it used to happen weekly earlier, starting with Sach Pass only ;).
Happy traveling to Leh – Ladakh folks!!
Comments section gets closed in 90 days. You can follow my YouTube Channel or follow me on Instagram to ask your travel questions. I also conduct a weekly Q&A session every Saturday evening on Instagram, so see you there !!
i m planing for a solo trip and i m little confused where to go as it is my first solo trip for me and and my blog. my blog is about food can you suggest me some good place where i can find peace and calm and good food for my blog too…
PS: Don’t say Delhi coz ive been there.. 😀
You can go to Dharamshala or Kasol where there are good cafes and you can eat up there 😀
We are planning to take zoomcar from delhi via srinagar, leh, and back by manali. Is it safe. Is zoomcar allowed inside leh. we can take a bike/taxi for our inside leh visits. Whats your advice.
Yes Kevin, it is safe to take the car up to Leh and exit from Leh and keep it on Srinagar – Leh and Manali – Leh route only. For other sightseeing you will need to have local bike rented or local taxi
Is it possible to hire a car in Chandigarh and rive down toLeh via Manali? And drop off the car in Leh?
No Satish, there is no such service available that let you drop off the car in Leh. Also, you need to rent a taxi only for Ladakh sightseeing as local taxis are only allowed to do it.
Just wanted to know whether white plate self owned vehicles are allowed and have access to all the points around leh and ladakh..
Yes Shirish, the white number plate mostly won’t have any issues. However, 100% assurance will only be there if the vehicle is registered under the name or relative name of someone present in the car.
We are planning a trip from Delhi to Leh in a car registered on my dad’s name…and along with me I will have a couple of friends….we are planning via Manali and thereafter to Pangong Lake and Nubra Valley by our own vehicle…is it advisable to go by our own car.we are heading from Darjeeling and we have a white no plate…do we need to worry about these taxi union laws and all… We are planning to leave by mid August…
There is no need to worry about taxi union issues. Car is private and in your father’s name which you can always prove by showing the DL. So, no issue at all. You can check a very balanced and most common itinerary for Leh – Ladakh followed by many travellers including me at the link here for 13-14 days: Most Common Itinerary for Leh – Ladakh.
So there is no mean to hire a taxi from delhi for Leh ??? Or we have to hire a taxi from manali only ?
So according to ur artical, personal private car is the best way. I have Chevrolet BEAT . i request you to please share ur experience and suggestion about best stoppage between manali to Leh. wat is the cheap &best option to stay in Leh and Pangong lake, nubra valley and tso moriri lake.
For hatchback/sedan taking on Manali – Leh Highway Or Spiti Valley via Manali Or Ladakh, please refer the link: FAQ | Can I do Leh – Ladakh / Spiti / Manali – Leh trip in Hatchback or Sedan? for more details.
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
You should do Manali – Leh as per below:
Manali to Jispa on Day 1 and then Jispa to Leh on Day 2. Avoid sleeping at Sarchu
I am planning for leh from Kolkata in my own Pajero Sport.
I am worried because My car is registered in my company name (white no. Plate) and I am director of company.
Is there any chance of problem by local if yes then what type of papers help me to get out of the problem
Thanks in advance
Bharat, in such a case it shall be fine. You will be able to prove the relationship being the director.
Hi dheeraj, Narendra here. As a Traveller its really bad that they are illegally & forcefully doing all dis. I really want to take some concrete action on it so dat other fellow travellers enjoy hassle free Leh – Ladakh trip.
If we are paying all commercial taxes for a particular state then no1 has right to stop ur vehichle & if u have private vehicle wid all documents no1 need to proof anything to any civil person. If any such incidents are still going on then its a responsibility of local administration ( DM) along with Law Ministry of India to take suitable legal action against such taxi union. Forward me some brief details at [email protected] along with your contact details.
Narendra, well, things have settled over last couple of year. Outside rental and rented taxis are banned now. Private vehicles were never affected by it. Rest I do not have more details than what is presented in the article
Is self drive bike option available from Leh for site visit in Ladakh region
Abhinav, you can visit any destination within Ladakh on a rented bike from Leh. You can refer: Leh – Ladakh Bike Rental Rates 2017-18
Just wanted to know whether these issues occur with people who rent bikes from Manali and take upto Leh Ladakh . Are there any restrictions on bike rental also as if toady.
Bikes rented outside Leh are not allowed for sightseeing inside Ladakh except Tso Moriri and Tso Kar lakes which can be done while going to Manali from Leh. Private bikes are completely allowed. You can use the outside rented bike to reach Leh but then for going to Pangong Tso, nubra Valley, etc.. you need to hire rented bikes from Leh only.
To know more about this rule and present situation, please refer the link: Bikes Rented Outside Leh Banned in Ladakh
This year as per reports, rule is going to be stricter. Manali rental guys have formalized a deal that for the days Manali bike is parked in Leh and Leh bike is rented, they will charge 50% of the rent of the bike. So, confirm with Manali rental guys first about this signoff.
Dheeraj, Thank you for all the help you provide to people traveling in & around Leh. I have a question.
If we have a zoomcar & returning from Leh to Manali, can we take our car to TSO Moriri via TSO kar & stay for a night there before reaching sarchu the next day? Is that allowed? We believe the ban is for Pangong & Nubra.
Many a times, the taxi union guys will create hassles over there, so it is better to avoid it.
Just want to know how is the situation today . Whether it has improved or not or any local jurisdiction is available to help you out if by bad luck you get stuck in such a situation.
Is private vehicle a better option to take with white number plate and how safe are you in your own vehicle.
Replied to your other comment. There may not be any help at all in case you get caught up. IN your own vehicle as long as you can prove the vehicle belong to you or to your family, you should be good to go. Rest depends upon your stars on that day in case RC of vehicle does not have either yours or your family name.
We’re planning a trip to leh in july this year and plan to take a zoomcar from srinagar to leh, drop the car at leh and again while going back take a zoom car from leh to srinagar. So, please could you help me know if at all there are any drop and pick up points in leh ladakh for zoomcar, because we don’t intend to keep the car with us for the whole trip and as it is its banned to take a self drive car so better drop it at arrival and do the sight seeing in taxi’s.
Thanks in advance.
And yes, nice work buddy!
You will have to keep it parked in your hotel and better with some cover to cover that logo so that it does not provoke anything. You can do sightseeing within Ladakh on local taxi and then take the same car from hotel to drive back homoe over Manali – Leh highway
Yes, but the problem with keeping the zoomcar with us would be, zoomcar will charge us for the whole 7 day trip. So, i was thinking of dropping the car at leh if any zoomcar drop point available or if you have an idea of. [so i’ll be charged only from srinagar to leh(450kms) and back leh to srinagar(450kms), so in total 900kms]
Or for that matter do you know any other zoomcar like travel services wherein they’ll provide self drive car to us, and we can drop it at leh and take it back while going back to srinagar. My point being i don’t want to be charged for the whole trip. Because i’ll be taking self drive 2 wheelers or taxi’s in leh for sight seeing, so no point in keeping the car parked at the hotel while zoomcar keeps billing me 😉
And also, we have our tickets back from srinagar only, so we cant take manali-leh highway while going back.
There is no point available to drop it. There is no such service that I am aware about.