Top 5 Tips for a Budget Trip to Ladakh

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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 a number of 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 which is pocket-friendly too.

Why Leh Ladakh trip is costly?

Actually, the problem is that a road trip to Ladakh needs a good number of days in hand, minimum 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 advance bookings for you.

Hence, the importance of the amount of money spent or going to spend per day basis becomes really important to reduce the overall cost of the Ladakh trip. This is the key factor in making a budget trip to Leh Ladakh.

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 an eased out manner. If you have any doubts on 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 Ladakh trip as well and you will be able to enjoy more rather worrying about the dent over your pocket 🙂 …

So, let’s look at them one by one…

Are you planning a budget trip to Ladakh?
Are you planning a budget trip to Ladakh?

1. Travel in April/May OR August/September

Traveling in the less touristy season has its very own advantages or disadvantages. We have already talked about the best season to travel 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.

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 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 guest houses 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 on the tourist places. Hence, you better enjoy those places rather constantly waiting for someone to clear the spot before taking the picture 🙂

I will say that disadvantages are really 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.

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.

The beautiful monasteries of Ladakh
The beautiful monasteries of Ladakh

2. Commute & Stay in Group of 3 to 5

I feel it is always optimum to commute as well as stay in the group of 3 to 5 people. Having 3 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 an extra bed will be free.

In one of the Ladakh trip, 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 really 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 the group of 4-5. More than 5 means you will need 2 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.

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 really 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 itself is costly unless you ride with a pillion.

Budget Trip to Ladakh
Ready for Bike Ride??

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 hotel 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 phone OR booking over the Internet will always cost you more, remember it always. Hence, do 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 on planning a Ladakh trip? You can always refer 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 allow you any last minutes changes. In places like Ladakh where road conditions are uncertain enough to force a change in plan, the flexibility always top the list.

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 there ;))… 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 a quick & handy reference, you can always take the printout of this preferred list of accommodation options in 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 very little margin of bargaining remains because they understand that you have least options in 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, by directly getting in touch with the drivers without any travel agent in between will at least help you get about 12-15% discount in general and in the fewer tourist seasons, even more. You can check List of Taxi Drivers for Ladakh – Srinagar – Leh – Manali

Budget Trip to Ladakh
Taxi Service in Ladakh?

4. Wisely Choose your Accommodation & its location

The list I shared above in the article of stay options will surely help you choose wisely BUT always try to forget the name HOTEL 😀 … 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 hotel only to stay or spend night at such lovely beautiful place because beauty is outside the room not inside 😉 …

Hence, in order to spend a night comfortably, you can stay in the guest houses and do not need a fully fledged hotel with amenities you might not be even needing while sleeping.

The only drawback to some of these guest houses 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, just stay nearby Changspa or Main Market 🙂 …

In order to find decent yet economic places to stay in Manali, you can stay at Old Manali, Manali – Naggar Road, Vashisth. Similarly, Leh has full of such small budget very clean guest houses at Upper Tukcha Road, Fort Road, some clusters near Main Market, Zangsti road etc. 

A Budget Guest House in Nubra Valley
A Budget Guest House in Nubra Valley

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, but all I am saying is make a mix of both to balance out the budget.

Eating at Local Dhabha on Manali - Leh Highway
Eating at Local Dhabha on Manali – Leh Highway

Bonus Tips 🙂

6. Pay for Individual Meals

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 and people in the group are not pro-active but if done properly, it does help in saving money.

If you take this up, you can additionally save about 10-12% in 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 much well because in season time the one-sided tickets can go even like 10K and if booked in advance the same Ladakh flight tickets can cost you about 5K types. Same is true for Srinagar flights as well with a cost saving of almost 33% of tickets cost nearing to 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 budget trip to Leh Ladakh.

1. 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.

2. Where can I find 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.

3. How to calculate minimum budget for Ladakh trip?

The minimum cost of Ladakh trip will be using public transport only. All other options of 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.Bus Services in Leh - Ladakh

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 which people put at cafes, dine-ins, restaurants, travel agent desks/shops/whiteboards wanting to share the taxis for different trips within Ladakh.

Even travel agent organize such 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 share cultural thoughts and values over the trip. Nowhere else in the world you will find more smiling and helpful people as Ladakhis are 🙂 … 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. 

Conclusion

I hope these tips will help you in some way or the other to reduce your 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 some good amount of money by following these Ladakh budget tips. 

Have a travel question?? You can follow me on Instagram and ask your travel questions in a direct message on Instagram too. I also conduct a weekly Q&A session every Saturday evening on Instagram, so see you there.

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 on how to help the local Himalayan people when you travel in the Himalayas and if possible contribute towards these causes on your own with a very little portion of that saved money with the help of these tips. This will do nothing BUT definitely provide you some real smiles & blessings from the locals up there in such remote villages of Himalayas. Thank You !!

Are you looking for the CUSTOMIZED TOURS?? Get in touch with our our handpicked & trusted Destination Specialists from the Himalayas who offer SPECIAL DISCOUNTED RATES to all the readers/followers of the Devil On Wheels website.


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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 ...

309 Comments

  1. Comments section gets closed in 90 days. You can follow me on Instagram and ask your travel questions in a direct message on Instagram too. I also conduct a weekly Q&A session every Saturday evening on Instagram, so see you there !!

  2. Kunal Sutar on

    Hi and thank you for a great article. I really just love your blog. I will bookmark it and come back for more.

  3. fefri pratomo on

    hi! i’m planning to visit Leh with my wife, and we’re planning to take the bus from Delhi via Manali. my question is, it there any bike rent or car rent in Leh so that we can travel around? or is there any public transportation in Ladakh to take us from one place to another?

    • It depends upon your budget. There are all the options available taking bike on rent, taking HPTDC tourist bus to Leh, renting taxi.

  4. Hi,
    We are planing for leh ladakh trip from chandigarh, we are 4 people. Is it good to choose flight or go by road? We are planing around 2 nd week of july. Should we buy package online or do everything on time? Please suggest everything.

    • Hi Roop,

      You have all the required information to plan a memorable trip to Ladakh on this very site, so if you are OK to read and ask right questions you should be easily able to manage the Ladakh trip on your own and save good money for some other trip 🙂

      Now, between flying to Leh and doing road journey, I will say it depends on number of days. If you have about 7-8 days or less, then fly to Leh. If you have 9-11 days fly from one side and do road journey while going to Leh and in case you have 12 or more days, you can plan for a road trip to Ladakh from both sides.

  5. Hi Dheeraj

    This is nitin again, thanq again for your response and sorry for disturbing you again 😉

    Will surely call the admin to understand the process, can you help me with some contact where i can connect directly to the right person or do i need to call the number given in hptdc.in ?? because i am not sure whether any body will pick it up or will it help me with my concern.

  6. Hi Dheeraj,

    I am planning for a road trip from manali to leh in may be last week of june with my wife, wanted to know whether it is safe to travel as a single couple ? Or we should avoid road trip ??
    I am not worried about driving/Breakdown/Road condition/Health…..what i am worried about is safety over that stretch, will have two days to reach Leh from Manali.
    Please tell me your opinion

    • Hey Nitin,

      100s of couple make a trip to Ladakh every year. Now, you have mentioned many things you are not worried off after which it comes down to human crimes only. I have not heard of such incidents, so can say more or less OK to travel 🙂

      • Hey Dheeraj,
        Thank you very much for ur prompt reply 🙂

        I have another query, was looking in to the process of taking permits online, there they are asking for vehicle number, which is not possible till i wont get it, means people generally hire Bike from manali.

        So what to mention in that box ?? Should i mention “NA” or anything else, or should i have to take permit from manali itself ?? because that box is mandatory to fill.

        • Hey Nitin,

          I am really not sure if NA will work or not as it is the first time but yeah, then in that case what happens is completely up to the guys at checkpost who will check the permit. Can you call up the admin office and confirm on it, else you will have to apply for it after reaching Manali and renting the bike.

  7. hi dheeraj

    we are group of 6 planning to go in month of july or august is it the right time to for the trip.
    We will be hiring a self drive car which have commercial no. plate. can we face issues as i have heard commercial car from outstation are not allowed to some places if so which are the places.
    Thanx.

  8. junaid.ali2009 on

    dear dheeraj

    me and my wife is planning a vacation to leh and ladakh from 2 to 7 aug. is it safe to travel.

  9. Arjun Dhawan on

    HI DHeeraj,
    Thanks for all the help that you always provided, I am reaching leh with my wife on 13 August via flight from Delhi,
    1. From where we can get good condition bike for 4 days ?
    2. we have planned to go around during day time and come back to hotel. ( shall we do prior booking or on spot booking can be done – budget 2500 – 3000/-
    3. From 14 aug to 17 aug which all places you recommend us for must visit there.

    Thanks in advance.

    Regards,
    Arjun Dhawan

  10. Arjun Dhawan on

    HI Dheeraj,
    i am reaching leh on 13 Aug and leaving on 18 August, i am looking for a hotel for 4 days and 5 nights- my budget is 2500-3000 per night.

    which all hotels you can recommend at Leh, we as a couple have planned to hire bike at Leh and see places and come back to hotel.

    Thanks in Advance.

    • 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

  11. Hi,
    we are four people for this leh- ladakh trip, planning on 1st of june from Srinagar-kargil-leh-ladakh -manali rout.
    Is it possible to travel on our own- without any travel groups?
    can we get taxis from Srinagar to leh on the spot or we need to book it before(inclusive of all permissions to enter this itinerary)?

    Please suggest..

    Thank you..

  12. Yogesh Kumar on

    I would love to go ladakh on my vacation.
    can you tell me about beautiful locations?

    • 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.

      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

  13. Inês Cabral on

    Hi. Is it possible to roadtrip from manali to leh-ladakh in May ?

  14. hi dheeraj,
    I am planing a solo trip to ladakh in the 3rd week of June for 8 days . how do i reach there, which is the safest option for a female. Also it would be great if you can provide me Itinerary. how much money should i save for this trip. my budget is approx 15k to and fro cost both.

    • It will take 3 days to reach Leh from Delhi via Manali side with stopovers at Jispa, Manali and 4 days to come back to Delhi from Leh via Srinagar side with stop overs at Jammu, Srinagar, Kargil . This makes it 7 days. 1 Day is required in Leh for acclimatization. You have about 10 days. 1 Day can be used as Day trip to Pangong Tso and other day can be used as day trip to Nubra Valley or just Khardung La pass.
      Opt to go via Manali – Leh Highway and I will suggest that you refer the thread for more details on the route and night halts though it is of 9 days: Manali – Leh – Ladakh – Manali | Itinerary for 9 Days. You can fit in plan I suggested in above para in this plan
      You are alone and 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 which people put at cafes, dine-ins, restaurants, travel agent desks/shops/whiteboards wanting to share the taxis for different trips within Ladakh. Even travel agent organize such shared taxis trip as well but charge a little higher about Rs 200-300 more than it would ideally cost. So, in 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 meet new people and share cultural thoughts and values over the trip. No where else in the world you will find more smiling and helpful people as Ladakhis are 🙂

      Rest please refer: How to make a budget Ladakh trip by public transport

  15. Nadir Khan on

    I am planning my trip in mid of may from Delhi to Ladakh. we are 3 peoples will be travelling by car.

    What’s the best time to visit ladakh and what will be the total cost for 3 peoples. Is it okay to travel by car or not ?

    • Hi NAdir,

      You will only be able to travel to Ladakh by road from Srinagar – Leh Highway and you may have to come back Srinagar route only as Manali – Leh Highway will not be open by that time of the year. Best timme for snow and completing the circuit is June whereas for good colors and stable roads, September is the best time. Which car are you traveling in?

      • Nadir khan on

        We’ll be hiring a car for us. Will i be able to experience snow in the month of may or june? Lemme know the total cost for 3 people trip.

      • Hi
        I am planning a Self drive Leh trip from Mumbai in the month of Sept’17, dates are 29th Aug’17 to 13th Sept’17
        We are five colleagues , I will be driving from Mumbai other will join me at Chandigarh on 1st from Chennai, Hydrabad, Delhi and Mumbai.
        Will be driving XUV 500 , Kms done 7k.
        Plan is as under-
        29th- Will start from Mumbai at 6 pm, will reach at Ahmedabad around 2 am, stay at Country Inn
        30th – Office work at Ahmedabad
        31st- Office work at Ahmedabad, Leave at 6 pm to reach Bhilwara around 1 am, stay overnite.
        1st- Leave Bhilwara at 7am, reach Chandigarh around 8 pm, meeting with colleagues, Cocktail & Dinner
        2nd-Leave Chandigarh at 7 am, arrive Srinagar by 7 pm, stay at Houseboat
        3rd-Leave Srinagar at 9 am, visit Sonmarg, reach Kargil by night, overnight stay at Kargil.
        4th-Leave Kargil at 9 am, reach Leh by evening via Kargil Memorial and Lamayuru
        5th-Leh Local-Hemis/Thiksey/Shanti Stupa
        6th-Leh to Nubra Valley, Stay at Hunder
        7th-Nubra to Leh or Pangong Tso ( Little doubtful on Nubra to Pangong Tso)
        8th-Leh to Pangong Tso, stay at Pangong Tso
        9th-Pangong to Sarchu, stay at Sarchu
        10th-Sarchu to Manali, stay at Manali
        11th-Manali to Chandigarh
        12th-Chandigarh to Jaipur
        13th-Jaipur to Mumbai ( Via Udaipur)
        This is the base plan, now I have few queries and suggestions to ask
        1-Is this itinerary doable, I find it too stressed, not able to cover Srinagar/Chandigarh/Manali , just for information I can drive 12 -15 hrs and at nights too and with XUV feel to do better. Have done Mum-Pali, Ahmedabad-Bikaner overnite, Ahmedabad-Uttrakhand at a stretch with driver.
        2-Nubra to Pangong is doable, just to cut short one day
        3-If point # 2 is not possible, how can we cut one day , as my colleagues have flights from Chandigarh on 10th. Need to fit in these days only.
        4-Is it a good time to go, will there is snow all over.
        5-Will Chandigarh-Manali-Leh-Manali-Chandigargh makes more sense with such a tight Schedule.
        6-What are the additional places which can be covered if we follow [email protected] route, within same time frame.

        • Hi Ritz,

          1. Doable yes, hectic yes. So, if you add more relaxing days it will help you ease out the trip.
          2. Nubra to Pangong tso is doable but make sure you do not venture alone on that route and have some company for mental peace and when there is a need.
          3. You will make it more hectic by doing Pangong Tso to Sarchu
          4. There will be no snow or just dirty remains.
          5. It saves you one day usually but since you are taking Srinagar from Chandigarh directly, it does not matter

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