Welcome to the mystical land of Ladakh, situated in the northernmost part of India. This stunning region is blessed with high-altitude desert landscapes, rugged mountains, ancient monasteries, and serene lakes. The beauty of this place is simply breathtaking and attracts visitors from all around the world. It’s a place that should be on every traveler’s bucket list.
In this article, I’ll take you through a 10-day itinerary that covers all the best places to visit in Ladakh. So pack your bags, buckle up, and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime.
Day 1: Arrive in Leh, Visit Gurudwara Pathar Sahib and Drive to Kargil
Our journey starts in Leh, the capital city of Ladakh. You can reach Leh via flight or road, but I recommend taking a flight to avoid the long and treacherous journey by road. Upon your arrival at Leh airport, take a deep breath and soak in the fresh mountain air.
Your taxi driver will pick you up from the airport and you can head to Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, a beautiful Sikh temple built in the 16th century to have lunch.
Post lunch, start your drive to Kargil, a historic town situated on the banks of the Suru River. The drive takes about 6 hours, so sit back and enjoy the scenic views along the way. Spend the night at Kargil.
Travel time: The distance between Leh and Kargil is approximately 216 km via the NH1 highway. The travel time by car is usually around 5-6 hours, depending on road and weather conditions.
Day 2: Explore Kargil
Kargil is a quaint little town steeped in history and has witnessed some of the fiercest battles in India’s history. It is situated at an altitude of 2,676 meters and is known for its scenic beauty. The town is famous for the Kargil War Memorial, which is dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives in the 1999 Kargil War.
You must visit the Memorial built to commemorate the brave soldiers. The walls of the memorial are adorned with the names of the martyrs, and it is a humbling experience to pay our respects to these heroes.
Also check-out the Drass War Memorial, located 60 kilometers from Kargil. Take your time to explore the town, learn about its rich history and culture, and interact with the locals. Spend the night at Kargil.
Day 3: Drive to Nubra Valley
After an early breakfast, start your journey towards Nubra Valley, which is situated at an altitude of 3,048 meters. The journey to Nubra Valley takes you through the Khardung La Pass, which is the highest motorable pass in the world. Stop for a quick break at the pass to take in the breathtaking views but don’t stay for too long as you could experience acute altitude sickness.
On reaching Nubra Valley, you will be greeted with stunning views of the valley and the surrounding mountains. If you’re feeling too adventurous don’t forget to ride ATVs at the famous Milkha Singh point. Spend the night in Nubra Valley.
Travel time: The distance between Kargil and Nubra Valley is around 130 kilometers, and it takes about 5-6 hours to reach by car.
Day 4: Explore Nubra Valley
Explore the beautiful Nubra Valley by visiting the Diskit Monastery, the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in Nubra Valley. The monastery is home to a 32-meter statue of Maitreya Buddha and offers stunning views of the valley.
Additionally, visit the Hunder sand dunes which are located on the banks of the Shyok River and enjoy a thrilling camel ride on the double-humped Bactrian camels. In the evening, you can watch the traditional Ladakhi dance performances at the Hunder sand dunes. Spend the night in Nubra Valley.
Day 5: Drive to Pangong Lake
After breakfast, drive to Pangong Lake, one of the most picturesque lakes in the world. The lake is situated at an altitude of 4,350 meters and stretches over 134 km. The lake is famous for its changing hues of blue and green and is a popular spot for photography.
The drive will take you through the Chang La pass, the third highest motorable road in the world. You can stop for a quick break at the pass and then continue our drive to Pangong Lake.
Spend the evening admiring the scenic beauty of the lake and watching the sunset. Spend the night at a hotel near the lake.
Travel time: The distance between Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake is around 140 km via the Shyok River route, and it takes around 5-6 hours by car to cover this distance. It is advisable to start early in the morning to reach Pangong Lake before sunset. It’s also recommended to check the weather conditions before embarking on this journey, as the route can be affected by landslides and road closures during the monsoon season.
Day 6: Drive to Tso Moriri Lake
Wake up early to catch the beautiful sunrise over the Pangong Lake. After breakfast, drive directly to Tso Moriri Lake, another beautiful high-altitude lake in Ladakh, which is situated at an altitude of 4,522 meters.
The drive will take you through the Chushul valley, one of the most beautiful valleys in Ladakh. Spend the night at a campsite near the lake.
Travel time: The distance between Pangong Lake and Tso Moriri Lake is around 220 kilometers, and it takes approximately 7-8 hours to travel by car or taxi. The road between the two lakes is scenic, but it can be challenging as it involves crossing a high altitude pass called Chushul. It is recommended to start early in the morning to avoid any delays due to bad weather or roadblocks.
Day 7: Drive to Hanle
Head to Hanle, which is a small village located at an altitude of 4,274 meters. The village is home to one of the world’s highest observatories at an altitude of 4,500 meters, and the clear night skies make it an excellent place for stargazing.
You can also visit the Hanle Monastery, which is located on a hill overlooking the village. If you’re lucky and the sky is clear you may be able to see the entire milky way galaxy with your naked eyes. Spend the night at a cozy guesthouse, enjoying the peace and quiet of this picturesque village.
Travel time: The distance between Tso Moriri Lake and Hanle is approximately 64 kilometers and it takes around 2-3 hours to travel by car, depending on road conditions. The road from Tso Moriri to Hanle is a dirt track and can be quite bumpy, so it’s important to take your time and drive carefully. However, don’t worry the drive is absolutely worth it as you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Himalayas and the rugged terrain of Ladakh.
Day 8: Drive to Leh
After breakfast, hit the road towards Leh. It’s a long drive, but the stunning views of the barren yet majestic landscapes of Ladakh will keep you company. You will pass by picturesque villages and the occasional nomadic settlements of the Changthang region.
Once you reach Leh, check into your hotel and freshen up. Then head out to explore the city. Visit the famous Thiksey Monastery, one of the largest and most impressive monasteries in Ladakh, with its stunning architecture and intricate artwork.
Next visit the Hemis Monastery, which is the wealthiest and largest monastery in Ladakh. The Hemis Festival, which takes place in July, is a major attraction for tourists and locals alike.
After an eventful day of sightseeing, head back to Leh and treat yourselves to some delicious Ladakhi cuisine at a local restaurant. Spend the night at a hotel in Leh.
Travel time: The distance between Hanle and Leh is approximately 150 kilometers and it takes around 4-5 hours to cover this distance by car. The road from Hanle to Leh is a scenic drive, passing through high altitude desert landscapes, mountain passes, and stunning views of the Indus River valley.
Day 9: Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, and Magnetic Hills
Today, you can explore some of the most iconic landmarks in Leh. After a leisurely breakfast, head to the Shanti Stupa, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Leh. The Stupa is a white domed structure that offers stunning views of Leh and the surrounding Himalayan ranges. Take a moment to soak in the peaceful vibes of this serene monument.
Next, head to the Leh Palace, which is an impressive nine-story palace that was built in the 17th century. The palace, which is made entirely of stone and wood, offers panoramic views of the Leh valley.
After the palace, visit the Magnetic Hill, which is a popular attraction due to its unique gravitational pull that appears to defy the laws of physics. Here, you can witness the fascinating phenomenon of vehicles appearing to move uphill without any external force.
Spend your evening exploring the local bazaars, which are filled with all kinds of souvenirs and handicraafts. It is the perfect place for doing some last-minute shopping and buying gifts for your loved ones back home. Spend the night at a hotel in Leh.
Day 10: Departure from Leh
On the last day of your Ladakh trip, it’s time to say goodbye to this magical land and head back home. After breakfast, you can pack your bags and make your way to the airport in Leh for your flight back home.
As you leave behind the stunning landscapes and peaceful monasteries, you’ll carry with you memories of a lifetime. Ladakh is a place that touches the heart and soul, and the experiences you had here will stay with you forever.
As you board your flight, take one last look at the towering Himalayas and the majestic Indus River, and know that you’ve just experienced a truly unique and unforgettable adventure.
Of course, I cannot forget to mention our amazing taxi driver who accompanied us throughout the journey. Our driver was a local Ladakhi and had a wealth of knowledge about the region. He was not only extremely experienced but also very kind, funny and always went the extra mile to ensure we were comfortable and enjoying our trip.
He took us to some of the most incredible places in Ladakh and always had great recommendations for us. He even helped us take some amazing photos to remember our trip by. I highly recommend him to anyone planning a trip to Ladakh. Please comment on this article to get his contact details.
In conclusion, Ladakh is truly a remarkable destination that offers an unforgettable experience. From its stunning landscapes, rich culture, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality, Ladakh is truly a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Ladakh is a paradise on earth, and we were lucky enough to experience it.
I really hope this itinerary will inspire you to plan your own adventure in this beautiful region and that you have an equally memorable experience. Remember, Ladakh is not just a destination; it’s an emotion. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Leh Ladakh today! Pack your bags, book your tickets, and get ready for the journey of a lifetime!