Ladakh has always been a dream, but there’s such a short window of travel that our fates never met! Till I decided to not follow the window and just go for my Ladakh trip while I still can! I spent 8 days in Ladakh and it was nothing short of amazing. To completely and fully explore Ladakh you need far more time. Especially since you’d be spending a lot of time on the road. This was my first time in Ladakh and I took it slow! I did not want to pack my days with too many stop-overs and tiring one-day trips. I wanted to really get the pulse of Ladakh and perhaps leave some ‘things to do’ for next time. So if you are planning your first trip to Ladakh I have just the right mix for you. Here’s my 8 day Ladakh itinerary to plan your Ladakh trip at just the right pace.
But before that here’s a little bit of musing from the first day in Leh Ladak.
It’s 3:00 AM, can it be 3:30 already?
3:25 dismiss my alarm and off the bed, I go.
A spring in my step and glee in my voice.
'Good morning!' I greeted the personnel at every checkpoint.
First flight to Delhi, I take the middle seat.
Knowing that the window on the one to Leh is mine.
Buckle up and put on my eye mask.
I slowly drift away in the world where I am already in Ladakh.
*Ding* reached Delhi, I walk towards the gates.
Some familiar faces & many new ones.
A gush of excitement was shared by all.
20 mins into the flight and I hear *ka shik*
First sight of the mighty Himalayas on the right.
And majestic mountains on the left.
Mountains that change colour!
Mountains that leave you mesmerized!
Mountains that show vastness and intimacy at the same time!
*Ka shik* *ka shik* everyone wants the best shot.
And each is postcard perfect.
Eyes glued to the window till touch down.
And the bell goes *ding*
A twinkle in my eye and rush in my soul.
I thank the crew and deboard.
The crisp mountain airbrushed my cheeks.
Perhaps mountains way of chiming julley?
A smile on my lips and wonder on my mind.
I had landed in #Leh, #Ladakh.
8 Day Ladakh Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Leh, take this day to acclimatise. It’s really important to rest well, eat properly and drink plenty of water to avoid any signs of acute mountain sickness (AMS). You can take this time to explore the Leh market.
Day 2: If you feel low health-wise, it is good to take this day to rest as well. Otherwise, head to a day full of explorations! Take a trip to visit a couple of different places starting with the ‘sangam’ this is the meeting point for the two rivers – Indus & Zanskar – soak in the beautiful view either from the top or go down to take a closer look. You’ll see the mighty Indus following gracefully through the day. Next, buckle up to visit Lamayuru (also known as Moon land) explore the unique mountain formation that almost resembles the surface of the moon. Go ahead and pay a visit to the Lamayuru monastery. On your way back to Leh check stop at Alchi Monastry, pay homage to all 5 shrines in the Choskar temple complex.
Day 3: Pack your bags and head to Nubra valley. The route is as beautiful as it gets! The terrain magical changes as you drive by and not even once would you want to take your eyes off the mountains. While going to Nubra stop by Khardungla, the highest motorable pass. Make it a quick one though, since it is at over 18000 ft above sea level chances of getting AMS is really high. Take this day to really stop and smell flowers (not literally) but make random stops to admire the beauty and also stretch (believe me it’s a long drive to Nubra). Trek to the beautiful hidden lake – Yarab Tso – it’s a beginner level 40-60 min long trek and will definitely be worth it. After the trek head to Dishkit Monastry, soak in the breathtaking view of the valley. Head to the hotel to recover from the long journey.
Day 4: Another day calls for another Road trip, this one will take you a step closer to the country life in Ladakh where you’ll explore two of the most remote villages – Turtuk & Thang. First up you drive all the way to Thang which is the last village in India, overlooking the border of Pakistan. Villagers here have some really interesting anecdotes to share along with the sweetest seabuckthorn juice! On your way back to Nubra stopover at Turtuk, a fairly famous and commercial village. Unlike Thang, you’ll notice the village bustling with tourists, but don’t let that sight put you off! The locals are warm and welcoming. Explore the little village and their sustainable ways of living.
Day 5: Time to leave Nubra, but not without some adventure! Stop by for a thrilling ATV ride over the sand dunes (quite literally, my ATV was mid-air!). After that adrenaline rush, get ready for a long journey all the way to Pangong Tso. It will take you a good 7 hours, again my advice is to take stops now and then to be with the natural surroundings and stretch. Pangong greets you with vast openness, the landscape changes and you’ll notice patches of marshlands. Stay over at one of the camps overlooking the lake and get up to the most beautiful sunset!
Day 6: Journey back to Leh is going to be a long one, 8 hours long. Stop by at Changla for a break, it is after all the third highest motorable pass and is covered with snow for most of the year. Back in Leh spend some time at the Leh market and pick up some souvenirs. Or simply have good food and rest it out!
Day 7: Explore Leh city, visit the Stok Palace, the Leh Palace & Shanti Stupa. Do visit the Central Asia Museum hidden in the myriad alleyways of Leh market (it was the highlight of all the things to do in Leh).
Day 8:Head back home with a ton of memories and with the hope to come back soon. Because Ladakh has a lot more to offer!
Where to Say in Ladakh
Ladakh has all kinds of accommodation options for the tourists, here’s a list of places I stayed at:
- Leh: Lakrook Boutique Stay. Full points for location, it is within walking distance from Leh market. I managed to book this in INR 1848/night on double occupancy using my credit card points.
- Nubra Valley: Stone Hedge. An exceptional place to say the least! The staff is welcoming and will go above and beyond to make you comfortable. The food spread is delectable with loads of local dishes to try from. Booked the family suite for INR 4500/night on double occupancy with my credit card travel points.
- Pangong Tso: Polaris Cottage. When my driver said it’s the best, I was relieved to have made this choice! The cottage opens up to an unobstructed view of Pangong Tso. And if that isn’t the selling point, I don’t know what is. A word of caution, if you are visiting in the shoulder season (winter) do carry enough layers the winters can be really harsh. Booked it directly via their website for INR 5500/night for 2 people, this includes Dinner & Breakfast.
Cost of 8 Day Ladakh Trip
I made all of my flight bookings using air miles and most of my hotels using credit card points. This is why I did not shy away from taking fligt connections that suited my needs or a luxury property in Nubra Valley. Also, the cab I booked was an Innova, and highly recommend booking him. If you need the contact, reach out to me on Instagram and I’ll share it with you. Here’s a breakdown of expenses for 2 people, for the 7 day Ladakh trip:
- Hotels: INR 21,892
- Cab: INR 39,912
- Flights: INR 4,720
- Entry Fee/Activities: INR 2,658
- Food: INR 12,773
Total cost-shared by 2 people for a 8 day Ladakh trip would come out to be INR 81,995, which brings the cost for 1 person to INR 40,977. A great deal if you ask me!
If you are looking for generic information on Ladakh I have the ultimate Ladakh travel guide!