The thought of making a solo trip to Ladakh feels quite enchanting, exciting, filled with full of adventures but at the same time sends the chills down the spine, if not for us but for our families back home for sure 😉 😉 …
When you are on a trip to Ladakh, then, already, there are tons of uncertainties in the plans you create. The absence of inhabited places/civilization, medical facilities, phone connectivity and fuel for 100s of miles, extremely high private taxi charges, lack of frequent public transport, and above all acute mountain sickness, makes matter from bad to worse for a Ladakh solo traveler.
You can make a solo trip to Ladakh by planning your trip in the season time to share the cost of taxis and sketching out the flow for your solo Ladakh trip rather than trying to follow a fixed itinerary.
These two things will more or less help you with many uncertainties of a Ladakh trip and also keep a check on the overall solo trip to Ladakh’s cost. Let us look at these points in detail in this article.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Top 10 Tips for a Solo Trip to Ladakh
Yet, there are 1000s of men and women who pack their rucksacks and make a solo Ladakh trip every year.
But, why do people plan a solo Ladakh trip??
Well, many of us want to overcome our fears, we want to come out of our comfort zones and live life as free as a flying bird within the noble spirit of adventure in the Himalayas.
In this article today, I will talk about some essential and practical tips which might help you on your next solo trip to Ladakh or any remote corner of trans-Himalayas. These tips will help you build enough confidence to take this first bold step ahead.
This first step is all that is required to get out of your comfort zone for living the life of a solo traveler and backpacking Ladakh 🙂 🙂
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1. Plan the flow, not the trip
When traveling solo to Leh Ladakh, you must plan for the flow of the trip rather than following a day by day-wise plan. The fixed itinerary for a Ladakh trip might suit people with groups and their own commute. But, when you plan a solo trip to Ladakh, following a fixed itinerary can be a challenge.
However, planning a solo Ladakh trip requires you to be free from a fixed schedule. Traveling with just a sketch of your plan will help you remain focused, and especially when these places have shared taxis of locals as a backbone for the commute, it becomes less practical for you to rely on day by day fixed Ladakh plan.
Traveling to Ladakh in this manner will help you enjoy whatever time on hand and also be focused on covering most of the places you planned to visit rather than just worrying about the commute to hop from one place to another and match your day-wise Ladakh itinerary plan.
Hence, when any kind of solo trip to Ladakh, it is always best to just have a rough sketch of the trip
2. Travel in season time that is June to September
The majority of people travel to Ladakh in the season time, which is from June to September period. Since private taxis are pretty costly, you must rely on public transport or shared tourist taxis to travel between places in Ladakh.
When traveling solo to Ladakh, you need to rely on the frequency of public transport. But, the frequency of public transport in Ladakh is not that great. And in the off-season time, public transport becomes much less frequent in Ladakh owing to roadblocks and snowfall.
Hence, it becomes all the more important for you as a solo traveler to travel in a season to Ladakh when there is a good number of tourists around to share the private taxi cost. Hitchhiking in Ladakh during tourist season time is much easier as compared to traveling in the shoulder season months or winters in Ladakh.
If you are on a solo bike trip to Ladakh, the transport should not matter, but then again, making such a Leh Ladakh solo bike trip in season time will have its advantages as more folks will be on the roads. So, in case of any help that you may need, the probability of getting such help on the Ladakh trip will be more in season time than in the off-season time.
3. Taxi budget for a solo trip to Ladakh
You are alone and private taxis are very costly in Leh Ladakh. But, you will be able to find the shared taxi without much fuss at all in the season time.
There are lots of flyers that travelers/tourists put at cafes, dine-ins, restaurants, travel agent desks/shops/whiteboards who want to share the cost of taxis for different trips within Ladakh. These trips include traveling solo to places like Pangong Tso, Nubra Valley, or Tso Moriri. Even travel agents organize such shared tourist taxi trips as well to various sightseeing places in Leh Ladakh.
But the cost of taxis run by travel agents is a little higher by about Rs 300-400 than it would ideally cost you per person with your group of tourists. So, in the worst case, you can always go back to the travel agents in Leh and book a seat for yourself. You may also read my 5 Tips for a Budget Trip to Ladakh
4. Online Travel Partners for your Solo Ladakh Trip?
You can even search for online travel partners for your Ladakh trip to reduce the overall cost of a solo trip to Ladakh. There are various websites that allow you to find travel partners including IndiaMike Travel Partners forum or Lonely Planet Travel Buddies section.
Even at DoW Community we already have an easy way to spot Travel Partners through our dedicated forums & DoW Travel Calendar. Using our Travel Partners Forum & Calendar, you can pretty quickly and easily spot on which dates people are traveling and if some group suits your preferences to gel up or not.
So, take advantage of this nice little effective tool offered by Devil On Wheels and commute in a group of other travelers to reduce the cost of your trip 🙂
5. Keep sharing your plan or whereabouts with family or friends
You are in the Himalayas and that too in trans-Himalayas where no one knows what happens when. Trust me, no matter what, you MUST share your whereabouts and always plan with your family and friends. If you are traveling solo to Ladakh, it is of utmost importance because you are the only point of contact with them.
I have been into numerous instances when either mine or my friends or somewhere on the blog or forums, the family is searching for their loved one’s midst of landslides, natural calamities or flash floods, or even long roadblocks !!
Without knowing your traces or whereabouts or where you were supposed to reach or travel on your Ladakh solo trip and where were you a couple of days before, it becomes very very uneasy and tense for our family members to contact us.
Hence, because of already scarce or limited phone connectivity options in Ladakh, one must take all opportunities to keep someone trusted informed about the whereabouts and plans so that in case required you can be traced by your family without much fuss or panic.
6. Travel as lightly as possible
The more you travel light, the less cumbersome and quick it becomes for you to hop from one commute to another or move around from places without much discomfort.
When you are on a solo trip to Ladakh, this is crucial, especially when you are relying on public transport within Ladakh. There will be some routes on which public transport may not be as readily available, and you need to depend upon the hitchhikes.
Hence, it becomes quite necessary to travel as lightly as possible when making a backpacking Ladakh trip.
Well, even by statistics, we always pack much more than what actually is required or used by us on the trip. Hence, pack your stuff wisely and accordingly as you are not going on a photoshoot 🙂 🙂
7. Carry a personal ID card, medical insurance card, and emergency contact
Always carry a personal ID card, medical insurance card, and emergency contact on a solo trip to Ladakh. These documents should be kept somewhere open, and easily accessible, maybe as a hanging tag, wallpaper of an unlocked phone or in a wallet, or both, so that, in case of any emergency prompt action can be taken by anyone without any issues.
Please bear in mind that you are traveling to some remote corners of the Himalayas, and some of the roads in Ladakh are quite desolate. Hence, it becomes vital to have your important documents with you all the time. Being closer to the inner line region of the International border is quite important too.
8. Mingle and get friendly with the locals
When you travel solo to Ladakh, it is an opportunity to learn more about the local culture and lifestyle. It is also an opportunity to mingle with other tourists around.
Nowadays women solo trips to Ladakh are also common, and if you are one of them, Ladakh is one of the safest places that I have ever traveled. In case you are not comfortable forming a group for your shared taxi with some stranger male folks, you can look around a few women groups traveling solo to Ladakh to share taxi costs.
Gelling up with people in Ladakh is more or less easy because many people travel solo every year and look forward to meeting new people, and sharing inspirational thoughts and values over the various trips. Nowhere else in the world, you will find more smiling and helpful people as Ladakhis are 🙂 …
9. Wisely choose your accommodation & its location
When making a solo Ladakh trip, it is important to keep a tab on accommodation costs as well as ease of accessibility to nearby shops, eating joints, and transport options.
Choose your places to stay in Ladakh somewhere near the market or where you need to travel less on a day-to-day basis because, within Leh, there is no public transport. Walking at a high altitude of Leh takes a toll on your body, which might make you feel the symptoms of AMS. Being ill alone is not a healthy sign for making a successful solo trip.
10. Travel with confidence and enjoy yourself within limits
Lastly, when you travel solo, enjoy your company to the fullest but always within limits and travel with full confidence so that stalkers do not stalk you or followed with uneasy advances spotted as easy prey. Still, wondering about a Solo Trip to Ladakh??
Itinerary for Solo Ladakh Trip
As I mentioned in the article, when traveling solo to Ladakh, you should sketch out a rough plan only. The plan for your solo Ladakh trip should keep in mind the principles of acclimatization. I will try to suggest a rough travel plan that you follow on your solo trip to Ladakh.
Reaching Leh Ladakh
Day 1 | Delhi to Jammu or Delhi to Srinagar
You can travel to Jammu by train or road on Day 1 or otherwise, you can travel to Srinagar by flight from Delhi. If you do the maths of staying overnight, eating for two days, and comfort, the flight prices from Delhi to Srinagar are worth skipping the Delhi – Jammu journey.
I will assume you took the flight to Srinagar from Delhi; otherwise, there are plenty of buses and shared taxis that ply between Jammu and Srinagar. You can easily travel by using public transport.
Day 2 | Srinagar to Kargil
You will find shared local cabs as well as JKSRTC buses running between Srinagar and Kargil. The buses running between Srinagar to Leh also stop overnight at Kargil.
You must avoid traveling by shared jeeps or buses that do the Srinagar to Leh trip in a single day. It may cause AMS issues upon reaching Leh. As you are on a solo trip to Ladakh, it is crucial to stay healthy.
Day 3 | Kargil to Leh
Continue on towards Leh from Kargil in the shared local jeeps or in the JKSRTC bus from the previous day going to Leh from Srinagar.
Find a place to stay in Leh’s nearby main market. Staying near the main market or Changspa Road will help you walk around Leh for food and to search for commute options for the next few days. Remember there is no public transport within Leh town.
Sightseeing within Leh Ladakh
Day 4 | Leh acclimatization and permits
You must have applied for the Ladakh inner line permits online and on this day you can go over to Tourist Information Center in Leh to get them stamped for sightseeing in Ladakh.
The next thing you should do is either find a bike to rent for traveling to Nubra and Pangong Tso. Or, you may wish to find travel partners within Leh town to share taxi costs. Find a shared tourist taxi for a three-day trip to Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso.
Remember that you are on a solo trip to Ladakh and private taxis are costly.
Day 5,6,7 | Leh – Nubra Valley – Pangong Tso – Leh
Make a three-day trip to Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso by taking the direct route from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso via Shyok village. Return to Leh after enjoying this trip to start the journey back home.
Traveling back home from Ladakh
Day 8, 9 | Leh – Jispa – Keylong – Manali
Again being on a solo Ladakh trip, you can travel to Manali from Leh by the HPTDC Deluxe bus service that runs in season time from July to mid-September. The bus fare includes the stay at Keylong as well as a couple of meals.
In my opinion, it is one of the best modes of travel between Leh and Manali especially when you are traveling solo or as a couple.
Day 10 | Manali – Delhi
Finally, after some rest in Manali take the overnight HPTDC Volvo back home to return to the mortal world. By now you would have created thousands of memories to cherish from your solo trip to Ladakh.
This is overall a rough sketch of your solo trip to Ladakh. I am sure there will be exceptions, but I hope this gives you an idea that it is not that difficult to make a solo trip to Ladakh nowadays as compared to 15 years back when I started to travel.
I hope the tips mentioned in this article help you in your upcoming solo trip to Ladakh. The joy of any solo trip cannot be expressed in words. You learn a lot by making solo trips to places like Ladakh.
You can also read one of the related topics in the DoW Community regarding Customize Tour v/s Self Organized Tours to Ladakh to really see the benefits of traveling on your own.
If you have any questions about making a solo trip to Ladakh, feel free to post them in the comments section of this article. In case you have made a Ladakh solo trip, you can share some tips with other fellow travelers too to help them.