In the last decade of my love with traveling to Ladakh, I have passed over numerous myths which I busted for myself in one or the other trip to Ladakh and Zanskar Valley. I see them repeated many times on Devil On Wheels by many of our readers. So, I thought let’s better create an article to help everyone and bust the top 12 myths commonly mistaken while considering a trip to Ladakh. I am sure this article will help you further gain confidence in planning your upcoming trip to Ladakh. In order to complete the context, I will share the “Top 9 Mistakes People Commit for a Ladakh Trip” in the next article.
Top 12 Myths About Traveling to Ladakh
Here are few of the most common Myths and Facts about traveling to Ladakh which will surely help you break the ice and come out of the shells of misconceptions in order to make your memorable trip to Ladakh 🙂 🙂
1. Myth: Ladakh is a honeymoon destination or just another family vacation for leisure
This is one of the most common queries I get on Devil On Wheels about making a honeymoon trip to Ladakh or I see people wanting to have a family leisure vacation in Ladakh.
Fact: IMHO, the fact is, Ladakh is neither a honeymoon destination by any means nor a leisure travel destination, rather Ladakh is an adventure tourist destination. So, please be very aware of it and the word “adventure” is the key here which comes with some risks. Honeymoon happens once in a lifetime and sometimes things can go weird in Leh – Ladakh with acute mountain sickness, fatigue levels, least expected physical exertion, etc.. I am sure you will not like to take a chance with your honeymoon. So, take a calculative risk before finalizing Ladakh as your honeymoon destination and make sure your better half understands it so that you are not blamed/accused of rest of your life 😉 😉 …
If you are planning to have a relaxing honeymoon in the Himalayas, it better to pick from any of these honeymoon destinations of Himachal Pradesh.
2. Myth: Leh is Ladakh and Ladakh is Leh 🙂
One of the most common myth among people is that Leh is Ladakh and Ladakh is Leh.
Fact: The fact is that Ladakh is one of the three region in the state of Jammu & Kashmir (others being Jammu and Kashmir). Ladakh has further two districts, one is Leh and the other is Kargil. Leh district is further divided into 3 tehsils + 9 blocks and has Leh town inside it, which is the district headquarters. You can read all about Leh in its travel guide.
3. Myth: Ladakh trip can only be done if I have a Royal Enfield bike
Lot of people have apprehensions for a low power bike they own. They are always in doubt if they can make a trip to Ladakh on a low powered bike or scooty or not.
Fact: The fact, however, is, though it is not required to have a more powerful bike like Bullet/RE but may be preferable. 100cc-125cc bikes or scooty have also been able to complete the Ladakh circuit mostly every season but they do struggle at some places with low speeds at high mountain passes or deep slush stretches, water crossings where it might be required to push them manually in case they get stuck. The key is, DO NOT push the bike beyond its limit in case you are stuck rather use your own physical power to get it out. In the end, all that matters is the grit and determination of the rider riding the bike.
4. Myth: Ladakh trip can only be done if I have an SUV car
Similar to low powered bike, people do have apprehensions for small or low GC cars for making a Ladakh trip.
Fact: Well, yes, you will indeed face few tough challenges on the route with small cars. The hatchback/sedan will increase the level of every challenge even further, a sedan is the worst candidate with its boot hanging behind. But, you can go from Srinagar route as it will help you feel comfortable with the driving, provide more acclimatization and then once you have done the local Leh-Ladakh, then come back via Manali side.
Secondly, since you are in hatch/sedan, then you need to drive with extra care as well. There will be some sections on the Manali – Leh highway in which you might need to sacrifice some scratches on the underbelly. Just make sure you do not bump the engine sump (know it before where it is placed in your car). You need to protect it all around the trip.
Thirdly, whenever in doubt do not rush into the section rather park aside and feel the section with your foot, see how other vehicles are crossing it and make a planned route in your mind to cross that section. At the very least you should carry some important essential things for a self-drive trip to Ladakh
5. Myth: Ladakh has banned self-drive cars, taxi mafia is creating a nuisance and beating everyone
Most recent addition to the myths of traveling to Ladakh is that every self-drive car is being beaten up and thrown away from Ladakh by Ladakhis 🙁 🙁 …
Fact: The TRUTH is that apart from that one very sorry incident in 2015 where a private self-drive car was attacked, nothing else major was reported in a person with concrete proof except few cooked up stories. I personally went in a huge convoy of cars in September 2015 on our Mega Meet and did the remotest of places in Ladakh without any fuss at all. It is the outside RENTED self-drive cars which are banned for sightseeing in Ladakh, they are also allowed to reach Leh and exit Leh. So, don’t let these cooked up myths spoil your self-drive experience to Ladakh. To know more details, refer my article on Rented Self Drive Cars in Leh – Ladakh Banned “FORCIBLY”
6. Myth: Ladakh trip can be done on an extended weekend
This myth is one of the most dangerous where tourists assume that Leh is just a flight away so they can make an extended weekend trip to Ladakh.
Fact: No matter what if the flight to Leh is just a couple of hours away from Delhi, but the fact is that traveling to Ladakh requires your body adjustment or acclimatization to the high altitude terrain. For the very same reason, you need to complete the rest your body after reaching Leh for at least 36-48 Hrs and then only you can go for any sightseeing. If you intend to just visit Leh town, then yes, it is possible over a weekend but if you want to cover major tourist places in Ladakh like Nubra Valley / Pangong Tso / Tso Moriri, you need at least 6-7 days minimum to see a couple of these tourist attractions.
Still not convinced??
You should check my suggested itinerary of Ladakh trip for 5 days.
7. Myth: Ladakh is unsafe to travel
I keep on hearing that Ladakh is not a safe place to travel from my parents and so does on this website by lots of travelers.
Fact: In last 7 years of traveling, except an incident here and there, I have never heard/experience anything in particular to the safety concerns of the travelers in Ladakh. There have been a couple of instances when unrest in the valley especially in Kashmir may have disrupted the traffic movement but in general, it remained safe, especially in the tourist areas. It is advised always that you leave the city in the early morning hours in cases of bandhs which usually are pre-declared. As long as you can stick to main highway roads and tourist areas, in general, there aren’t many issues that I had came across in last 7 years. Having said that, it is an adventure travel destination and the word adventure does come with risk, sometimes the risk of life…
8. Myth: Ladakh is a place where only young people travel not old age people
Lot of people feel that aged people cannot make a trip to Ladakh.
Fact: Well, a trip to Ladakh does not associate with your age, gender, sex, physical fitness levels rather it solely depends upon your good being / good health and the way you have planned your trip with proper acclimatization. Using our most common itinerary for Ladakh, which is quite balanced and helps acclimatize better, lots of veterans make memorable trips to Ladakh every year.
9. Myth: Ladakh is very very cold, I cannot travel in that cold
Ladakh is a synonym for cold for many of us out here living in plains.
Fact: The fact is that, indeed, in winters the chill gets too cold to bear in Ladakh for people like us living in plains. However, season time is mostly pleasant and if you are going well prepared by carrying proper clothes for your Ladakh trip, you should not have any problems. The foremost important tip is to carry at least one light jacket to cut the wind chill and at least one heavy woolen jacket to beat the cold conditions in case weather turns up its course. And do remember, weather can change in a matter of hours in trans-Himalayas including in Ladakh. So, go prepared and don’t be heroic in removing your clothes 🙂 :)…
10. Myth: Ladakh is very very high, I will fall sick and may die
Lot of people feel that Ladakh is very high, sometimes giving an impression from their expressions that it is higher than even Mount Everest 😀 😀 …
Fact: Well, yes, Ladakh is a high altitude desert but if you follow the principles/tips of acclimatisation and go prepared with woollens, at any given day you will make an unforgettable trip to Ladakh.
11. Myth: Ladakh is very very far, a journey is tedious and hectic, I cannot undergo all that pain
Many people feel that it is a journey very far land and quite painful.
Fact: I do not feel that it is really true. You must make a balanced trip to Ladakh with sufficient days in hand while resting your body as well as gradually ascending the altitude. The problem comes when we try to cramp up the Ladakh trip plan in less number of days as we do not have the luxury of leaves mostly. So, yes, if you make a trip to Ladakh in hush-push then for sure it will have a toll on your body and you will certainly feel the pain f travel. But, if you plan your journey well with enough days in hand, it is a trip which you want to undergo “Life Mein Baar Baar” 🙂 🙂 …
12. Myth: Ladakh by air means, I will fall sick and keep vomiting
Most people feel that if they travel by air to Ladakh they will fall sick and keep vomiting.
Fact: Well, to an extent, this thought is very much true. All thanks to many of the travel agents/companies out there in the travel industry who have never stepped into Ladakh but DO sell trips to Ladakh. If getting to Leh, you will travel to Pangong Tso the next day, you are bound to puke whole day and in fact lucky to live thereafter. If you fly to Leh, you MUST take complete rest after reaching Leh for at least 36-48 Hrs and then only you can go for any sightseeing. The key to any memorable Leh – Ladakh trip is to acclimatize well and gradually ascend.
I hope the above myth-busters helped you cleanse your mind from the uncertainties of planning a Ladakh trip and you or your family now feel more confident while making the next or first trip to Ladakh. Do you know any other common myth about traveling to Ladakh?? If yes, feel free to share in the comments section below else feel accomplished to share this article with your friends/loved ones who are combating these myths and resisting their first trip to Ladakh.
As said, I will share the “Top 9 Mistakes People Commit for a Ladakh Trip” in the next article which will further help you understand what goes wrong and why that creates such an impression of Ladakh being a harsh place.