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How to Prepare for Ladakh Trip

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How to Prepare for Ladakh Trip

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Upload By: Kabir Ansari on June 15, 2023
Travel Info,

Leh / Ladakh: Overview


Ladakh, the newly created Union Territory in India (previously a part of Jammu & Kashmir), boasts a landscape that can leave you with your jaws dropped. It is a place where the landscape changes dramatically; it is truly astonishing to see the mountains, snow, cold desert, alpine meadows and lakes at a short distance from each other. Tourism in Ladakh is an absolute delight for nature lovers as well as adventurers.



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Know more about Leh / Ladakh.


How to Prepare for Ladakh Trip: Common FAQ's

In this will try to sum up all relevent questions related to how to prepare for Leh / Ldakh trip. Once, you go through these questions you will find how you can easily plan for your upcoming Leh / Ladakh Tour.

Know more about Srinagar - Leh Road Status


What is the Best time to Travel to Leh / Ladakh?

It is always nice to plan your journey in June to mid – July when the roads to Ladakh are open from both Srinagar as well as Manali sides. In addition to it, this is the time when you find a good amount of snow on the roads, especially June.

However, please keep in mind that road conditions hardly improve on Manali – Leh road and remains almost quite challenging/adventurous throughout the season. It improves towards the end of the season that is September or October but by that time snow is all gone and the risk of road closure increases especially towards the end of October.

So, you need to be prepared for all the adventure that Manali – Leh Highway offers a traveler in June – July and the situation worsens when the monsoon hits Northern Indian in late July and August.

In monsoon/rains, you will need to face challenges almost up to Baralacha La pass with slush on the roads beyond which it becomes a bit dry as you enter the rain shadow region of Ladakh.



How to reach Ladakh?

You can reach Leh Ladakh either by road or by air. Unfortunately, there is no connectivity to Ladakh by train. You can either reach Jammu or Srinagar by train and then reach Leh by road to Leh from either of these places.

By Road: Ladakh is connected by the two adventurous roads popular by the names of Manali Leh Highway which connects Leh to Manali and the other one is Srinagar Leh Highway that connects Leh with Srinagar.

By Air: Leh is also connected with Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar airports by direct flights. Delhi to Leh there is a daily direct flight service offered by many airlines.



How do I plan my Ladakh trip by air?

You can check a very balanced and most common itinerary for Ladakh by Air for 8-9 days which is followed by many travelers including myself, in the article Leh Ladakh Most Common Itinerary by Air.



How many days do I need for a Leh Ladakh road trip?

It will take four days to reach Leh from Srinagar Leh Highway starting from Delhi with stopovers at Jammu, Srinagar, Kargil. Then, it takes three days to come back to Delhi from Leh using Manali – Leh Highway with stopovers at Sarchu/Jispa/Keylong & Manali.

This makes it seven days. Then, you need at least one day is required in Leh for acclimatization. So, overall in just eight days, you can cover Manali Leh Highway, Srinagar Leh Highway and Leh town only.

Now, at least three days are required to travel for sightseeing to Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso using the direct route from Shyok village.

So, a total of at least 11-12 days is required to make a road trip to Leh Ladakh that makes some sense.



How do I plan my Leh Ladakh Road Trip?

You can check a very balanced and most common itinerary followed by many travelers including myself covering Srinagar – Leh, Manali – Leh, Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri of about 12-14 days in this detailed travel plan for Leh Ladakh road trip.



Can I travel to Leh Ladakh in August or Monsoons?

The end of July and August is monsoon time in general up here in North India. At some parts of Manali – Leh Highway (like before Baralacha La) and Srinagar – Leh Highway (like before Kargil) you will face monsoon hassles.

What it means is that the rivers will be flowing violently, there will be mud on the roads (Zojila Pass, Rohtang Pass becomes hellish) and of course, landslides will be common in lower Himachal and other parts of J&K.

But once you get closer to Ladakh, then Ladakh being a rain shadow region is very less affected by monsoon rains. Things are changing all over the world, but it is a safe assumption.

As said above, intermittent landslides or roadblocks are pretty common in the month of monsoons but these landslides are cleared in a day or two unless there is a very major one or a big cloudburst/flash flood.

Having said all of that,

Rains do reach Ladakh nowadays but in general, it is overcast days or in the form of light rain. You should definitely read my 10 Tips for a Trip to Ladakh in Monsoons.



How can I plan a trip to Ladakh in Winters?

In winter, the roads to Ladakh from Manali and Srinagar are closed. Hence, the only way to make a trip to Ladakh in winters is to fly to Leh and then do the sightseeing within Ladakh to places like Pangong Tso, Nubra Valley, and Tso Moriri.

The roads within Ladakh over Khardung La and Chang La remain open all around the year barring few days of heavy snowfall. So, you can make a trip to both Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso over them, respectively.

There are no high passes that come on the way to Tso Moriri via Mahe bridge route. Hence, the road from Leh to Tso Moriri remains mostly open all around the year from the Mahe bridge route. Similarly, the road connectivity between Leh and Hanle exists in the winter months.

The key things to note when planning a winter trip to Leh Ladakh are mentioned below:



What are the tips to prevent Acute Mountain Sickness?

Ladakh is a high altitude place in trans Himalayas, and when you make a trip to Ladakh, Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is always on the cards. The majority of people suffer from AMS symptoms knowingly or unknowingly, some mild and few sever. It is biology; one cannot defeat or trick it if you are not following the basics of acclimatization, that is to give time and allow your body to adapt to change in altitude.

Generally, people can go up to 8000 feet without much problems with mountain sickness. As you start to increase altitude, the barometric pressure starts to decrease, which reduces the Oxygen intake per breath. Hence, people start to suffer from AMS as the body does not adapt to the change in high altitude.

Some of the tips that you can follow to minimize the chances of getting hit with AMS are outlined below:

  • Increase the altitude gradually
  • Keep your body properly hydrated
  • AVOID overhydration
  • Avoid sleeping at high altitudes
  • Avoid overexertion
  • Avoid tobacco and smoking and alcohol and other depressant drugs
  • Keep your body warm
  • Eat lots of Carbohydrates
  • Avoid sleep during the day
  • Sleep in an upright position, if possible
  • Carry preventive medicines for AMS
  • Carry Small Oxygen Kit


The best cure is to acclimatize properly or descend. In case you feel the person is suffering badly, then ask him to walk in a straight line by placing toe to toe. If the person is not able to walk in a straight line, i.e., he is suffering from ataxia. IMMEDIATELY DESCEND!!



Can a person with asthma visit Ladakh?

People with Asthma issues are in general, OK to travel to Ladakh or other high altitude places because of purity in the air and less pollution. Asthma is mainly related to pollution and dust mites, which are a common allergen. These are not present at high altitude places.

So, it is believed that people with Asthma issues do just fine in Ladakh. You can read about it in the reference article Pre-existing Medical Conditions at High Altitude.

Having said that, I am not a doctor, so please do consult your doctor and do not take my advice as medical advice. It is a question that you MUST consult your doctor before traveling to high altitude region of Leh Ladakh.



Can a person with hypertension or high blood pressure visit Ladakh?

This one is tricky because a lot of variables go into controlling the blood pressure. In general, people with controlled blood pressure at low altitudes with medication or without it do fine at high altitude. Still, I highly recommend consultation from a doctor, and you should not ignore it.

Usually, there will be an increase in your blood pressure as you reach high altitudes because of the lack of oxygen that infuses stress and adrenaline in the body. The high blood pressure subsides over some time as you stay at high altitude, usually 1-2 weeks, when your body is acclimatized to rarified oxygen. However, by no means, you should alter any dosage of medication that you are already taking within consulting your doctor.

Hence, if you have hypertension or high blood pressure, then you MUST consult your doctor before making a call to travel to Leh Ladakh. You can read about it in the reference article Pre-existing Medical Conditions at High Altitude.

Again, having said all that, I am not a doctor, so please do consult your doctor and do not take my advice as medical advice. It is a question that you MUST consult your doctor before traveling to high altitude region of Leh Ladakh.



Can I take my 2-3-year-old kid to Leh Ladakh trip?

It depends on person to person to take the children of less than five years of age group because AMS does not matter concerning age or gender or any fitness level. It can happen to anyone of any age or sex or fitness, I shall say.

Personally speaking, I will not take a child of less than five-year-old to high altitude places like Leh Ladakh, and I will wait for them to get older. You MUST remember that no matter how much they sell, Leh Ladakh is not a family or leisure destination. It is an adventure travel destination and will always remain that way. Adventure comes with risk always, and I will prefer not to take any risk with such a young child or toddler.

The issue with small kids of any age group is that they tend to exert the body considering it the same kind of place they belong to, and this elevates the chances of getting struck with AMS.

Secondly, the children in such an age group of fewer than five years are not too expressive about their uneasy feelings. So it is the parents who need to watch out and take care that the child is not suffering from uneasy feelings, headache, or nausea and is behaving properly.

With less than five-year-old child, I think he/she will also be NOT able to convey the uneasiness they are feeling. You have to be very vigilant, and if you notice any such feeling or he/she tells you about such a feeling, then please do not ascend anywhere, either descend to lower altitude or stay at the same place to watch things overnight.

If symptom increase then starts descending immediately. The same principle is applicable to any adult as well. And yes, do keep the body adequately hydrated always for everyone!!

PLEASE read the comprehensive topic that covers all the tips on Traveling to Leh Ladakh with Kids or Babies and it will give you a complete understanding of the details of it.



Can I take my 5-10-year-old kid to Leh Ladakh trip?

It depends on person to person to take the children of less than five years of age group because AMS does not matter concerning age or gender or any fitness level. It can happen to anyone of any age or sex or fitness, I shall say.

The issue with small kids of any age group is that they tend to exert the body considering it the same kind of place they belong to, and this elevates the chances of getting struck with AMS.

Secondly, the children in such an age group of more than five years become expressive about their uneasy feelings and do tell if they are having any issues. It is still the parent’s job to watch out and take care that the child is not suffering from uneasy feelings, headache, or nausea and is behaving properly.

If you notice any such feeling or he/she tells you about such a feeling, then please do not ascend anywhere, either descend to lower altitude or stay at the same place to watch things overnight.

If symptom increase then starts descending immediately. The same principle is applicable to any adult as well. And yes, do keep the body adequately hydrated always for everyone!!



Can I take my pet or dog on a trip to Leh Ladakh?

As the travel industry is booming in India, more and more hotels are becoming pet-friendly and welcome pets. Hotels in Ladakh even provide food for pets. You can otherwise choose the carry your frozen food. As you will do to yourself, do keep your pets adequately hydrated.

Do consult your veterinary doctor for any medicine for motion sickness or high altitude that he would like to prescribe. Finally, make sure you always carry your pet’s vaccination records with you on all your trips.



Can I take my old age parents on a trip to Leh Ladakh?

As we have discussed in the previous questions, acute mountain sickness does not matter concerning age, gender, or physical fitness. It can happen to anyone and of any age. So, yes, as much as you can go yourself to Ladakh, you can surely take your parents provided they are in healthy condition and can endure the fatigue of this long journey.

You should plan a relaxing and comfortable itinerary for your Ladakh trip when taking your elder parents. Travel from Srinagar – Leh Highway with night halts at Kargil and Alchi. Finally, after doing sightseeing in Ladakh, come back from Manali – Leh Highway.

Plan to hire a comfortable vehicle as a lot of distance needs to be covered; they must be comfortable on the journey. Make sure to keep everyone in the group always adequately hydrated.

If they are on medication or have any existing illness, make sure you consult your doctor only after the doctor’s approval travel to the high altitude places carrying proper medication.

Again, having said all that, I am not a doctor, so please do consult your doctor and do not take my advice as medical advice. It is a question that you MUST consult your doctor before traveling to high altitude region of Leh Ladakh.



Should I carry oxygen cans or cylinders on my Ladakh trip?

If possible for you, you may carry oxygen cylinders to Leh Ladakh trip which are medium to large size, that is big enough to last for several hours and that’s the whole point for carrying them.

Small oxygen cans do not provide much support as they do not last for a long time. They can mentally psych you up only. Hence, you need to carry medium to large-sized oxygen cylinders, which help to restore your dropped oxygen levels to safety. This trick buys you time only and is not a cure for AMS.

The charges of renting these oxygen cylinders may look a bit high if you are a budget traveler. However, it is somewhat like buying insurance for yourself, and the best return with any insurance is that you do not get to use it.

Some reasons why you should be carrying an oxygen cylinder on a Ladakh trip are:



  • Traveling with Kids or Elders to Leh – Ladakh
  • Traveling with People having Medical Conditions to Leh – Ladakh
  • Traveling with a Large Group to Leh – Ladakh
  • Having Rushed Travel Plan for Leh – Ladakh Trip
  • Flying Directly to Leh
  • Starting Leh Ladakh the trip from Manali – Leh Highway



What are things to carry on my Leh Ladakh trip?

A list of things to carry on a Ladakh trip is one of the first questions that I may have answered in the last decade of running my blog. However, I will be concise here and suggest that you may carry the following essentials on any Ladakh trip:

    Basic Travel Kit Essentials:
  • At least two copies of PhotoIDs for all members
  • Pen and a small diary
  • Bag locks (2 or more)
  • Backpack or Daypack
  • Extra spectacles with cover
  • Torchlight or Flashlight
  • Small Scissor
  • Hand Watch
  • Sunglasses – Recommended
  • Multi-Plug – Recommended for remote areas
  • Match Boxes or Flint or Cigarette Lighter, Couple of candles
  • Plastic Bags / Plastic Zip Lock Bags
  • Twist-ties, safety pins. You can find twisties at the link: Twist Tie 20m (Pack of 2)
  • Swiss Knife (optional) I have a Victorinox Huntsman Red Swiss Army Knife which I have been using for 6-7 years. It has helped in many situations in the mountains and still works as new. One of the best products I have bought in life.
  • Small water bottle, say 500 ml
  • Pens, pencils, colors, crayons, chocolates, toffees for distribution among local children


    Toiletries, Grooming & Hygiene:
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Oral Hygiene – Toothbrush and paste
  • Bathing essentials – Soaps, Shampoos, Face wash, Hair Oil
  • Tissue Papers
  • Deodorants
  • Moisturizing Cream
  • Lip Guard
  • Cologne Talc
  • Comb
  • Small Mirror
  • Feminine Hygiene, if required
  • Shaving Kit


    Clothing & Mountain Must-Haves:
  • Cold cream
  • Cold Cream
  • Sunscreen lotion (SPF 50 or greater) or Sunblock
  • Lip Guard with sunscreen
  • Hats / Caps
  • Clothes as per the schedule
  • At least one light jacket
  • Heavy woolen clothing including woolen socks (Winters)
  • Woolen hand gloves (Winters)
  • At least 2 pairs of thermal
  • Towels
  • Socks
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Slippers


    Camera Kit & Other Electronic Essentials:
  • Camera, charger, spare batteries, cleaning kit, memory cards, tripod
  • May carry, remote releases, filters, headlamps for night photography
  • Mobile, charger, power banks, AC-DC converter for the car
  • Basic First-aid, medical kit & any ongoing medicines


In the end, I have prepared for you this comprehensive list of things to carry on Ladakh trip, which covers all the items listed above in detail.



What clothes should I carry on a Leh Ladakh trip?

Carrying clothes on a Ladakh trip mainly depends upon the season in which you will be traveling. The winters may have altogether different requirements than summers while the shoulder season months of April to May and September to October may prove to be tricky ones.

The peak season months of late June, July, and August are considered to be pleasant where light woolens mostly do the job for you. In the winter months, when both Manali Leh Highway and Srinagar Leh Highway are closed due to heavy snow, then the conditions are extremely cold.

Hence, in such winter months, very heavy woolens are required to survive on a Leh Ladakh trip. The tricky windows of visiting Ladakh are from April to June and September to October.

The basic thing for making your Ladakh trip a successful one is that at any cost, you MUST KEEP yourself warm enough always with proper woolen clothing and always wear shoes all the time with woolens socks.

The second thing on clothing is that you must carry clothes that can be worn in layers as it helps you adjust to the fluctuating temperatures in the sun and shades, up there in Ladakh.

Yes, in the season start and season end months, when the sun is shining, then everything appears good, and suddenly you enter a shaded portion with the wind blowing, which is cold enough to have a jacket. So, take due care around it and avoid letting the cold flow inside the body in such cases as well.

Keeping these factors in mind, I will recommend carrying the following clothes for Ladakh trip:


  • 2-3 pairs of Inner thermal suits
  • 3-4 sets of heavy woolens
  • 1 heavy woolen jacket is always handy throughout the year
  • 3-4 pairs of woolen socks
  • 1 good insulated boots or trekking shoes in winters. Summers, any sports shoes should be fine.
  • Carry at least 1-2 caps to protect yourself from direct sunlight as it is too harsh in this region.
  • Kids especially should wear caps or hats all the time when out there in the sun.


    Especially, in the month of September and October, the UV rays are harshest and you must protect your skin using Hats / Caps and good high SPF sunscreen lotions.


  • Carry at least 1 Balaclava or monkey cap
  • Sunglasses to protect your eyes from the reflections from snow
  • An extra pair of shoes/gumboots in case people are on bikes and are expecting a lot of water crossings,
  • Hand gloves must-have in the months of October to June.


In the end, it is always nice to take some candies, chocolates, books, pens, pencils, crayons, etc. anything that you can distribute among the local children. Nothing but the smile on their face would be too much worth it.



Are there any ATMs in Ladakh?

There are 4-5 ATMs available in Leh town but you will not find any ATMs anywhere else in Ladakh. Sometimes, especially in offseason or winters, the ATMs may face difficulties and maybe nonoperational due to weather conditions and power issues.

Hence, make sure you carry sufficient cash with yourself to pay your bills and do not rely heavily on these ATMs.



How much cash should I carry on a Leh Ladakh trip?

There are few ATMs in Leh town, but you should not rely heavily on them and carry enough cash with you on your Ladakh trip. The total amount that you should carry depends upon if you have done your hotel bookings or the taxi bookings or you are planning to book everything after arrival in Leh.

When you travel in a group of 4-5 people, in general, you will end up spending somewhere between Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 for a complete Leh Ladakh trip. Of course, as discussed in this book, there are ways to make a budget Ladakh trip, but here I am giving a ballpark figure on how much cash you need to carry.

You can do the calculations based on the numbers that say a complete circuit of Ladakh trip from Srinagar to Ladakh to Manali covering all major tourist destinations will cost you a taxi of about Rs 60,000. Then you can consider Rs 900 – 1200 per person per day for food, stay, and miscellaneous expenses. Please note I am talking about a moderate budget trip here that has a decent level of comfort, neither too luxurious nor too basic.



Can I take my laptop to Ladakh?

Yes, you can surely carry your Laptop on the Ladakh trip. However, there are some considerations that you should take into account when taking electronic devices like Laptops to high altitude places in the Himalayas.

The new generation laptops have solid-state drives (SSD) in them, and hence, they will just do fine on a Ladakh trip. However, the laptops with old-style hard drives (HDD) may suffer a crash or data loss on an altitude of 10,000 feet and above.

To understand better, these old hard drives have a head that flies between the rotating disks/platters. When the air pressure is too low, then there is not enough lift for the flying head, so the head gets too close to the disk, and there is a risk of head crashes and data loss. The laptops with Solid State Drives (SSD) does not have this problem.

So, if you are carrying a laptop to Ladakh, try to follow the following tips for carrying a laptop to Leh Ladakh trip:


  • Carry Waterproof Bags / Pouches
  • Do Not Switch ON at Altitude above 10-11K
  • Keep them out in an environment before switching ON
  • Always Shutdown or Switch off Laptops
  • Protect them from Cold Conditions
  • Take care of your own belongings



Common FAQ's about LEH - Ladkah:

In this section I will try to answers all common about your trip to Leh / Ladakh.


It will be cold, very very cold, so go prepared well enough!!

Directly flying to Leh, that too in winters, may trigger some acute mountain sickness issues. So, keep sipping black tea, black coffee, or hot honey lemon tea to combat cold and still keep your body hydrated. Take garlic & black pepper too as they provide warmth in the body and supports in fighting the cold.


Carry good sleeping gears

As not all hotels will be open, so you might be staying at homestays, especially at Nubra, Pangong Tso, and Tso Moriri. Best is to carry your sleeping bags if you find the quilts provided by the homestay uncomfortable or inadequate.


Prepare your budget well, expect less discount from stays, taxis or food and carry enough cash

You must prepare your budget well as both stay and taxis will charge approximately similar amounts. Some stay even charge more than usual season time rates because of the continuous use of heating equipment.

The majority of the restaurants will be closed, so you will have to eat food at the hotels or homestays only.

Carry enough cash as ATMs in Leh might have operational issues.


Plan at least a couple of buffer days in hand avoid hassles from an abrupt snowfall

Snowfall in winters will be a common affair. BRO tries to keep the roads over Khardung La and Chang La open all around the year but in case of heavy snowfall, the road may get closed for a couple of days.

You must always have at least a couple of buffer days at hand when planning a Ladakh trip in winters because of unexpected inclement weather, roadblocks or flight cancellations due to weather.




Enjoy the frozen vistas & book a window seat of your flight

Finally, do not forget to carry good winter clothes or winter gear so that you can enjoy the frozen vistas without fighting much to just survive.

And do book a window seat to capture some of the majestic frozen aerial views of the Himalayas.

In the end, from these tips on traveling to Ladakh in winter, you can see that the Ladakh trip in winter indeed is fun yet requires some caution to travel safely. So, only plan if you are used to such cold conditions or at least know that you will be able to bear them.



Other Articles in the Series:

Leh Ladakh FAQs – Planning, Sightseeing & Routes
Leh Ladakh FAQs – Preparing for Ladakh Trip
Leh Ladakh FAQs – Eat, Stay, Permits, Phone Services & Others
Leh Ladakh FAQs – Taxis, Self-Drives & Bike Rentals
Leh Ladakh FAQs – Bike Tour Preparation

Conclusion:

Now, I concludes this section on how to prepare for Leh / Ladakh Trip. If you have any query related to this article just put your query in the below comment section, I will try to answer the same.



What's to Carry when you go for Leh / Ladakh Trip?

Must carry extra cloths and also carry medicine for general purpose
Must Carry some extra cash because there are limited network and Banking Facility around your location
Carry some food items
Carry some warm cloths
Not to travel alone



Leh - Ladakh Travel Map








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