Today I am answering a big question, “Can I make a budget trip to Ladakh“? Over the last couple of years, there is a steep climb of several tourists, especially domestic, visiting the wonderland called Leh Ladakh. Many of them are favoring those newly constructed comfortable hotels and varied cuisines sold with meal plans.
However, there is still a good bunch of budget travelers like me looking out to make a budget trip to Ladakh and enjoy it in a manner that is pocket-friendly too. In this article, let me share some tips that will help you save money on your upcoming Ladakh trip.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Why Leh Ladakh trip is costly?
The problem is that a road trip to Ladakh needs a good number of days in hand, a minimum of about 10-11 days ex. Delhi. And any trip to Ladakh has a whole lot of uncertainties owing to bad roads, landslides, AMS / health issues, etc.. which puts a risk on the bookings for you.
Hence, the importance of the amount of money spent or going to spend per day basis becomes important to reduce the overall cost of the Ladakh trip. Several days are the key factor in making a budget trip to Leh Ladakh.
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Tips on Budget Trip to Ladakh
I am not sure if you are aware, but in the past, I did write an article on how to calculate cost or budget for the Ladakh trip which can help you calculate your budget for Ladakh trip in eased out manner. If you have any doubts about it, I will be more than happy to answer them.
However, in this article today, I will try to enlist some of the tips which I follow for making my budget trip to Ladakh. I am sure following these tips will help you too to optimize your budget for the Ladakh trip as well, and you will be able to enjoy more rather than worrying about the dent over your pocket.
So, let’s look at them one by one.
1. Travel in April/May OR August/September to save cost
Traveling in the less touristy season has its very own advantages or disadvantages. We have already talked about the best season to travel to Ladakh. But traveling in a bit low season like April/May just when the season starts OR mid-August/September just when the season is about to end, has the biggest advantage that most of the hotels/guest houses are empty and are more than welcoming for tourists/travelers.
Advantages of a trip to Ladakh in the shoulder season
This gives you three basic edges to cut down Ladakh trip cost:
- a. You can make on the spot bookings easily which automatically reduces the cost when compared to over the phone or pre-booked costs of the same hotels.
- b. Since most of the hotels are empty so they are ready to offer good discounts too either in terms of room cost or letting an extra bed for free. In our case, most of the guesthouses did not even care if we were 3 or 4 in the rooms.
- c. Finally, you have fewer tourists, so less fuss and rush even in tourist places. Hence, you better enjoy those places rather constantly waiting for someone to clear the spot before taking the picture 🙂
You do not need to search for any Ladakh budget tour packages, rather in shoulder season the cost of Leh Ladakh trip will be reduced.
I will say that disadvantages are trivial like a bit cold conditions, fewer tourists to share taxis, fewer restaurants with proper cooks, etc. but if you look in totality the advantages are more pocket-friendly as well as experience friendly too.
2. Commute & Stay in Group of 3 to 5 on your Ladakh budget trip
I feel it is always optimum to commute as well as stay in a group of 3 to 5 people. Having three people means that if you follow Tip 1, then you can have three people to share the cost of the room where, in most cases, you will need to pay only room rent, and the extra bed will be free.
In one of the Ladakh trips, we usually had a share of Rs 100-250 for the room per day and we stayed 3-4 guys in one room with 1-2 extra beds, mostly.
Pro Tip: If you want to reduce the overall cost of the trip to Ladakh, then you can also consider camping in Leh Ladakh.
In terms of the commute as well, I suggest that the taxi cost is shared in a balanced way if you are in a group of 4-5. More than five means you will need two taxis, so avoid that and make groups in the multiples of 4-5 only.
According to me, based on the number of people we shall use the following options for transport/commute:
- a. 1-2 people, then choose Bike Rental OR Shared Taxis. Hitch Hike / Public Transport where ever possible and routes of least interest like Delhi – Jammu – Srinagar Highway, Manali – Delhi Highway.
- b. 3-5 people, then choose Taxi as SUV type.
- c. 6-10 people, then choose Taxi as Winger/Tempo Traveller which will save you directly 65% over hiring 2 taxis.
What about a self-drive budget trip to Ladakh?
Having said that, Self Drive/Ride on your own car/bike is always the cheapest & most flexible way to commute anywhere. And if you make a Leh Ladakh road trip by car, then with this tip in mind, it can bring down the cost of travel because the commute is the major portion of the cost of Ladakh tour.
Please keep in mind that it is not easy to find RELIABLE Leh Ladakh bike trip packages at cheaper prices because per day bike rentals themselves are costly unless you ride with a pillion.
3. On the Spot Deals for Accommodation & Taxis
Places like Ladakh & Spiti Valley in Himachal are full of uncertainties like roadblocks, landslides, AMS / health Issues, etc.. and pre-booking some hotels means that you are running between the money as well as the flexibility of your plan with some tensions to reach the place for sure.
If we talk in terms of Ladakh trip cost, then there are two things to consider here primarily,
A. On Spot Booking is Cheaper & Flexible
Talking over the phone OR booking over the Internet will always cost you more, remember it always. Hence, make your bookings on the spot only. If you do not plan to stay at any specific hotel and if you are OK with searching the place a bit after seeing the room conditions once reaching the place, then I guess you could save some good amount of money too on the hotel bookings.
Pro Tip: Confused about planning a Ladakh trip? You can always refer to my article on how to plan a road trip to Leh Ladakh?
Secondly, it provides you with more and more flexibility in terms of dates you reach on a particular place and allows you any last minutes changes. In places like Ladakh where road conditions are uncertain enough to force a change in plan, the flexibility always tops the list.
Is it a must to book in advance on the Ladakh trip?
I do not feel that Ladakh is a place where you will be left stranded on the road without any place to stay if you have done your little research (of course DevilOnWheels blog is here to help ;)).
So, forget that, and just on the cost of little search and giving away a particular name of a hotel/guest house, you will save a lot for making a budget trip to Ladakh.
For a quick & handy reference, you can always take the printout of this preferred list of accommodation options in the entire Leh Ladakh (Leh, Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri) including moderate and cheap budget hotels as well. You can also note some of the preferred hotels/guest houses reviewed by other co-travelers in our DoW Community forums.
This will help you search for hotels or contact them on the fly that very day considering any change in plans. Also, if in a taxi, then your taxi guy will help you get a good deal at some hotel/guest house for sure.
B. Don’t Forget my Leave Early, Sleep Early Principle
If on the spot booking, then the late you reach in the day at some hotel/guest house or camp, then a tiny margin of bargaining remains because they understand that you have the least options in the dark. Hence, “Leave Early, Sleep Early” shall always be the principle while traveling anywhere in the Himalayas.
Even booking taxis in advance shall be avoided for similar reasons. Also, directly getting in touch with the drivers without any travel agent in between will at least help you get about a 12-15% discount in general and in the fewer tourist seasons, even more. You can check the List of Taxi Drivers for Ladakh – Srinagar – Leh – Manali
4. Wisely Choose your Accommodation & its location
The list I shared above in the article on stay options will surely help you choose wisely BUT always try to forget the name HOTEL when planning a budget Ladakh trip.
Most of the A-Grade or B-Grade guest houses in Leh Ladakh and even some homestays are well versed with cleanliness, comfortable beds & western toilets (though sometimes shared).
Keep in mind that you need a hotel only to stay or spend the night at such a lovely beautiful place because beauty is outside the room, not inside. Of course, it does not apply to those who have plenty of holidays and love to soak in one place.
Hence, to spend a night comfortably, you can stay in the guesthouses and do not need a fully-fledged hotel with amenities you might not be even needed while sleeping.
To find decent yet economical places to stay in Manali, you can stay at Old Manali, Manali – Naggar Road, Vashisth. Similarly, Leh has full of such small budget very cleanly guest houses at Upper Tukcha Road, Fort Road, some clusters near Main Market, Zangsti road, etc.
The only drawback to some of these guesthouses is that the food might not be available in some of them. Even then, don’t worry much as you will surely find nearby dhabha or restaurant to eat, stay nearby Changspa or Main Market.
5. Wisely choose the Places to Eat
If you eat at some of the basic restaurants / local dhabhas, then along with saving some good money, you also give yourself a chance to eat local as well as fresh food in general.
Try and give yourself a chance to eat local Tibetan home-cooked food at such local eating joints. It does not mean that you don’t eat at good restaurants in Leh Ladakh, but all I am saying is make a mix of both to balance out the budget.
You should always carry your water bottle and refill it as many times as you need water. It will not only keep you hydrated always, but you will also help in saving the Himalayas from plastic garbage. Remember, every tiny step counts and your step in this direction can help save the Himalayas too !! 🙂 🙂
Bonus Tips 🙂
Given below are some bonus yet optional tips to help you further save money on your Ladakh trip.
6. Pay for Individual Meals on your Ladakh budget trip
Well, though in a group of friends sometimes it looks odd in a country especially ours but it is quite common to pay on the table individually, and I feel nothing wrong at all in it. Things get a bit messy if you are not used to it, and people in the group are not proactive, but if done properly, it does help in saving money.
If you take this up, you can additionally save about 10-12% on your overall trip or help someone in the group save it 😆
7. Air Travel? Plan in Advance
Air tickets in the season time for Leh Ladakh are CRAZILY high, but if you plan your trip to Ladakh well in advance, it is always better to book your tickets well in advance as applicable for other places.
However, for Leh sometimes it works too well because in season time the single tickets can go even like 10K and if booked in advance the same Ladakh flight tickets can cost you about 5K types. The same is true for Srinagar flights as well with a cost saving of almost 33% of ticket cost nearing travel dates.
Pro Tip: Many airlines offer some flash sales as well, so keep an eye on deals from Spice, GoAir, etc..
FAQs on Ladakh Budget Trip
Let us look at some of the frequently asked questions about the budget trip to Leh Ladakh.
- How much can a Ladakh trip on bike cost me?
Taking food and accommodation into account, traveling to Ladakh on a rented bike for 14 days, you are looking at about ((Bike Rent + Fuel = Rs 24500 – 30000) + (Food + Stay = Rs 10000 – 12500) = (Rs 34500 – 42500)) as the total cost for the Leh Ladakh bike trip.
- Where can I find the cheapest Ladakh tour package?
Well, if you follow the tips explained in this article, you do not need to find any cheap Ladakh tour packages. Still, if you are interested I can share some reliable agents with whom you can check the Ladakh trip prices.
- How to calculate the minimum budget for Ladakh trip?
The minimum cost of the Ladakh trip will be using public transport only. All other options for travel will cost you more than public transport. So, for the most common 14 day trip to Ladakh, you will end up spending about Rs 14500 – 16000.
Are you a Solo Traveler or a Couple?
Another interesting question is, Is it possible for a couple or a solo traveler to make a Ladakh budget trip?
Well, private taxis are very costly in Leh, but you will be able to find the shared taxi without much fuss at all. 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.
Even travel agents organize such a shared taxis trip as well but charge a little higher about Rs 200-300 more than it would ideally cost you on your own. So, in the worst case, you can always go back to them and book a seat for yourself.
Gelling up with people in Ladakh is more or less easy because many people travel solo and look forward to meeting new people and sharing inspirational thoughts and values over the trip. Nowhere else in the world you will find more smiling and helpful people as Ladakhis. Or you can search for Travel Partners online too (read below).
Online Travel Partners for Ladakh Trip?
You can even search for online Travel Partners for your Ladakh trip to reduce the overall cost, and at DoW Community we already have an easy way to spot Travel Partners through our dedicated forum linked in the main menu.
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 need to gel up or not.
Don’t have time to read the full article? You can check this short video on DevilOnWheels YouTube Channel on this topic. If you like my video, please do not forget to SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel.
I hope these tips will help you in some way or the other to reduce the overall cost of the Ladakh trip plan and help you make a budget trip to Ladakh. I am sure you will be able to save a good amount of money by following these Ladakh budget tips.
In the end, if these tips in the article really help you in making a budget trip to Ladakh as compared to some readymade Leh Ladakh Tour Packages then please, I will seriously suggest you read about DoW Causes – A Step Towards Responsible Travel.
The article guides you in the direction of how to help the local Himalayan people when you travel in the Himalayas. If possible, contribute towards these causes on your own with a tiny portion of that saved money with the help of these tips.
Contributing to local society will do nothing BUT provide you some real smiles & blessings from the locals up there in such remote villages of the Himalayas. Thank You!