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Things to know for a Road Trip to Ladakh

Picture Leh-Ladakh! What do you see? Cars, jeeps and bikes in the barren mountains? All inviting for a trip that has been sitting long on your bucket list? 

This setting has become more of a thing in one frame in the recent past. And why not? It is no surprise that Ladakh road trips are becoming more and more common by the day. Not only bike tours but group car trips are a fad too and rightly so, the real beauty of Ladakh can best be felt and experienced when you travel through the stunning and changing landscapes as you go from Srinagar to Leh, or alternatively, Manali to Leh. 

For the seekers of thrill, excitement and adventure, the Ladakh road trip is ideal to tick all the boxes. The experiences, we promise will be spectacular and the views soul-stirring. A Ladakh road trip from Delhi is high on the list of many travellers who are wishing to go on a journey of their lifetime, and this trip will definitely be that, in every possible way. The memories and pictures will be etched for eternity, this is a guarantee! The long journeys on road are a great mix of ample time for reflection, experiencing solitude and oneness with nature, all with an adrenaline rush and a high like no other. 

Ladakh landscape with road

The image shows the barren landscape of Ladakh and roads traversing through

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So get out there, out of your comfort zone to experience something you’ve never experienced but always yearned for! If you have been dreaming of a road trip to Ladakh for a while, then this is the right impetus for you: plan it now! Read on to know the best time to visit and all that is required before you embark on this outstanding odyssey. 

Number of days

The number of days depends completely on you but we recommend at least two weeks so that you can cover all the major places to see in Ladakh. Anything more than 15 days will be best. 

Best time for a road trip to Ladakh

Metalled roads in Ladakh

The image shows good road conditions in Ladakh

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The best time to go on a Ladakh trip is between the months of June to September. This is due to the reason that in the summertime, all the passes are open and the areas are easily accessible on road. Needless to say, you will meet many roadsters on bikes and cars who are out to explore this high cold desert. A point to note here, though, is that August does see some rain in the region and the area is prone to landslides, owing to the barren hills and muddy road patches in between. 

Snow and road in Ladakh

Winter scenery in Ladakh

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The roads and passes, most of them are closed this season, but the flights are operational. It is a good idea to take a flight from Delhi to Ladakh and then embark on a road trip in and around Leh Ladakh. A word of caution though, a bike trip is not recommended since it is risky. But cabs ply through most of Ladakh and are a safer and better option. 

The sub-zero temperatures make the place very cold and driving through thick snow is quite challenging by bike. The beauty of winter is also the makeshift stay arrangements which may not be the ideal setting but isn’t it a great idea to do something offbeat? This is where we come in, and rest assured, all your stays and halts will be carefully curated for you so that the entire experience is as offbeat as possible. 



Ladakh spells its charm on the visitors, be it any route. There are two main approaches to Ladakh via road. Whether you are a solo traveller or going in a group, you can take either of the routes or make a full circuit by going up one way and returning via the other. 


Srinagar to Leh: Option 1


The multiple facets of Ladakh and also some parts of Kashmir are what you are in for when you travel to Ladakh from the Srinagar side. Pretty quaint villages, mystifying monasteries, gorging Himalayan valleys and much more await the travellers here. The route covers a total distance of 435 km covering scintillating Sonmarg, villages along the Sindh river and many of nature’s creations that are awe-inspiring, to say the least. 


The route followed is from Srinagar to Sonmarg to Drass via the Zoji La Pass, then to Kargil, Mulbek, Lamayuru, Saspol to finally reach Leh. A little information about Zoji La pass. This high mountain pass is located at an elevation of 11,600 ft above sea level. It is right on the boundary of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. It is known to be one of the most dangerous and precarious roads in the world. Most of the road is unpaved and can be accessed in good weather. It is the Srinagar-Leh highway. The pass is simply spectacular and the beauty is the views that will make your heart skip a beat. You can get to witness dense jungles and snow-covered mountain peaks. All your driving and riding skills are put very well to use going through this risky pass. 


Zoji La is an important link between Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. It is about 119 km long and runs from Srinagar to Kargil. The pass is very narrow too and that is the reason cars can fit in but other heavy vehicles find it difficult to manoeuvre their way through. 


As you cross over from Zoji La, you land at Kargil. Kargil forms a part of the Ladakh Union territory that was earlier part of the Jammu and Kashmir state. Kargil is of great strategic importance to India as it lies in the Zanskar ranges of the Himalayas and is at the LOC or Line of Control between India and Pakistan. Kargil is said to be the gateway to Ladakh. The landscape of this town is rugged and mountainous with elevation starting from 8000 ft above sea level. 

Roads in Winter

The image shows starting of winter in Ladakh

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Drass, located close to Kargil is known to be the second coldest inhabited place in the world with the mercury dipping as low as -40 degrees C in the extreme winter months. 

Duration of the road trip


Day 1: On day one, the recommended route would be to drive from Srinagar to Kargil via Zoji La pass. 

Frozen Indus in winter Ladakh scenery

The image shows the frozen Indus river on the Srinagar-Leh route

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Day 2: Day 2 will take you from Kargil to Leh with a bounty of areas you will see along the way. The top attractions, with just little detours, include the Hall of Fame (made in remembrance of the soldiers martyred in the Kargil War of 1999), Confluence of the Indus and the Zanskar rivers, Leh Palace, Lamayuru monastery and the Magnetic Hill. 


Manali to Leh: Option 2

Road in Ladakh

The image shows a road in Ladakh with barren mountains in the backdrop

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On the Manali to Leh route, the distance covered is slightly more than the Srinagar approach. But the 490 km that you will be on the road will simply make you lost in the lovely unforgettable sights that are to behold! Of course, there will be high mountain passes that you’ll cross, hairpin bends on roads that you will traverse and some enchanting and ethereal views all across. 


Duration of the road trip

Day 1: Manali to Jispa via Atal Tunnel

Manali  – Rohtang La Pass – Kokhsar – Tandi – Keylong – Jispa

Day 2: Jispa to Leh. 

Jispa- Darcha – Deepak Tal – Sumdo – Patseu

Ladakh snow sprinkles

The image shows snow in Wintertime on the barren hills of Ladakh

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Ideally, the journey from Jispa to Leh will take you a total of 2 days covering a distance of 355 km in total with a travel time of about 8-10 hours, if you really want to experience the beauty of this route. Alternatively, it is also doable in a day. We advise you to take some time on hand and really explore this beautiful road that has so much to offer you. 


You will cross many high passes on this route, namely Rohtang La (via the Atal tunnel), Baralacha La (where you get to witness the surreal Suraj Tal Lake with its blue, brown and white coloured landscape that looks like some beautiful wallpaper), Nakee La, Lachulung La and Tanglang La.


Patseu – Zingzing Bar – Suraj Tal -Baralacha La – Sarchu – Gata Loops – Sarchu – Nakeela La – Lachulung La – Pang – Debring


Debring – Tanglang La – Rumste – Upshi – Karu – Leh

The image shows the road leading to Karu and Upshi on the Manali-Leh highway

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The enigmatic villages you’ll pass through will give you an insight into the quiet and simple lifestyle that the locals here have. The unbeaten paths will take you to tough charming monasteries, stark and raw beauty and stellar views that will never be enough for your camera clicks. 


The route map to follow is from Manali to Gramphu via Manali to Sissu via the Atal Tunnel. 

Stuff to carry on the Ladakh Road Trip

  • Sufficient woollens and comfortable clothes
  • All weather shoes
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Water bottles
  • Medicines
  • Food supplies (ready-to-eat and instant kinds)
  • Toiletries
  • Sanitisers
  • Caps and head bandanas
  • Important documents for visiting near border areas

If you plan to rent bikes from Manali to Leh, then it is important to note that bikes registered in HP are not allowed beyond Sarchu. 

Get in touch with us for organising your car or bike trip hassle free!

Leh Manali route

The image shows scenic beauty on the Leh-Manali route

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Infinitely breathtaking mountain views, crisp blue skies, brilliant topography, and isolated and idyllic villages await you! So, what are you waiting for? Plan your Ladakh road trip with us and up your travel excitement with a journey that you’ll never forget. Let’s lose our souls in Ladakh and let the land completely mystify the traveller in us! Cheers to good Ladakh times!