Think of Ladakh and you’ll be dreaming of the pristine blue skies, the motorcycle ride, monasteries and perhaps the movie ‘Three Idiots’. Known for its breathtaking landscapes and a culture that is remarkable, Ladakh is more than just a destination. The cold deserts, snow clad mountains and glaciers all make Ladakh special. The rivers and lakes are mesmerizing enough and offer opportunities for water sports. There are a lot of things to do in Ladakh. But before we go to them, here’s a little more about Ladakh
Ladakh is a landlocked region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The region is known for its adventurous spirit and it has emerged to be a popular tourist destination in India. A ride to Ladakh is every bikers dream. Ladakh is a place where one can find romance, adventure, spirituality and a whole lot of tourist attractions in case you are not looking for anything in particular. Ride a bike, go on a trek or simply spend time listening to the Buddhist chants at the monastery or sit by the lakes and stargaze. There is a lot you can do in Ladakh. Here is our recommended list of things to do in Ladakh.
Ladakh is well known for its moderate and tough terrain. This also means one gets to see and explore some extremely stunning landscapes. Travelling by road in Ladakh means passing by the high altitude passes, visiting lakes and driving through the rugged region and all of this is best experienced through a jeep safari.
The most popular jeep safaris take the route from Manali and follow the Leh- Manali highway. This route is so alluring with its majestic mountain passes, splendid views and jaw-dropping sceneries which make for an experience, topped with the ultimate excitement of a road trip. The most popular destinations to enjoy Jeep Safari in Ladakh include Tso Moriri Lake, Dah Hanu, Pangong Tso Lake and Nubra Valley. Do not miss the Khardungla pass, which is regarded as one of the World’s highest motorable roads.
As city goers, the sight of camel lights up faces, the excitement and wonder is double when travellers come across the double-humped camels in Hunder. Yes, camel safaris exist and are highly recommended. The sand dunes at Hunder in the Nubra Valley have earned itself a sobriquet and are known as the ‘desert in the sky’.
Don’t get surprised with Camel Safari in Ladakh. This is a lifetime experience for adventure seekers. Take a camel safari and ride the double-humped Bactrian Camels which once were an integral part of the caravans on this trade route. While you are in Nubra, visit the various Gompas or monasteries and the hot sulphur springs. The landscape at the Nubra valley changes abruptly. The transition from a dry rugged terrain to snow-capped mountains to lush apricot orchards is almost instantaneous. All in all, an experience to last a lifetime.
If adventure is your middle name and that is what you seek then take a trip to Ladakh on a bike. Take a mountain bike and explore the bounties of Ladakh, you will not be disappointed to come across some of the most enchanting and alluring sceneries. So while you tend to your travel bug, you also get to savour the adventure by exploring destinations. Take the biking routes and explore places like Alchi and Hemis. Not to forget, the Khardungla pass which is the highest motorable pass in the world and is sure to give you an adrenaline rush.
Situated on the Leh-Kargil-Baltik national highway, the Magnetic hill not just attracts iron, but also travellers from all across the world, who come to watch this spectacular phenomenon. The magnetism is believed to be so strong that it can pull cars uphill if they fall within its radius. Incredible, isn’t it? Aircraft avoid flying over this hill for the very same reason. The mysterious nature of this hill makes it one of the most fascinating things to do in Ladakh.
Distance from the Airport: 24.7kms from Leh Airport
Operating hours: 24 hours
Trip Advisor rating: 5/5
5. Let Nature Mesmerize you while you Trek up the Mountains
Ladakh is full of stunning landscapes capable of rendering anyone speechless. It is also every trekker’s dream destination. With some breathtaking views and routes that will redefine adventure for you. Ladakh is all about nature and trekking is all about exploring the purest form of nature in the most beguiling way. Lumayuru to Darcha trek, Ripchar Valley trek, Padum to Darcha trek, Lumayuru to Alchi trek, Lumayuru Stok Kangri, Markha Valley trek are a few trekking routes to mention.
Cost for two: Depends on the tour operators
Best time to visit: July and August
6. Go River Rafting in Zanskar River
Ladakh has three major rivers where one can experience river rafting, another top attraction in our list of things to do in Ladakh. Try your hand at river rafting The Indus River in Leh region, Zanskar River in Zanskar and Shayok River in Nubra. The Zanskar River rafting trip is an exciting and an exhilarating one, simply because it starts with a flight over the Himalayas into the Trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh. The most difficult river rafting is between Padum and Nimo in the Zanskar mountains and is only suitable for white water rafting.
Ladakh is home to the famous Hemis National Park which spreads over 4,000 square kilometres and is one of the largest National Parks in India. Extending from Hemis to Zanskar, the park is home to the snow leopard. It is also home to a few species of wild goats and sheep, including the Great Tibetan Sheep. The National Park also has a lot of birds and is a great place for birding and ornithology enthusiasts. Look out for the Robin Accentor, Brown Accentor, Tibetan Snow Finch and Himalayan Snow Cock among others.
8. Experience Tranquil Serenity at the Pangong Tso Lake
Ask any tourist who knows about Ladakh and they’ll tell you, visiting the Pangong Tso Moriri Lake is one of the most popular things to do in Ladakh. Situated in Changthang region of Ladakh, it is one of the sacred, calm and fascinating high-altitude lakes in India. It is the largest high altitude lake in the Indian Territory. The blue lake is 7kilometres wide and 19 kilometres long. It is also home to a lot of flora and fauna.
Distance from Airport: 225kms from the Leh Airport
The Hemis Monastery is one of the most ancient Buddhist Gompas in the Drupka lineage. Located in the Hemis region, it is extremely popular for its Hemis Festival. During the festival, the monastery is decorated in Buddhist and Tibetan colours. The major attraction of this festival is the mask dance. The locals call this dance form ‘Chams’. The monks perform the Chams to the tune of traditional Ladakhi music. Visiting Hemis should be one of the must experience things to do in Ladakh.
Distance from Airport: 43.5 km from the Leh Airport
Situated about 127 km from Leh is the Lamayuru village. Also known as the Moonland, since the colour of the soil is believed to be similar to that on the moon. The village is home to the Lamayuru monastery which is the main seat of the Drikung Kagyu tradition. While in Lamayuru, climb up the meditation hill for some breathtaking views and sight some of the stunning Stupas in Ladakh.
Distance from Airport: 112kms from the Leh Airport
Best time to Visit: May to September
How much Time to Spend: 2-3 hours
Trip Advisor rating: 5/5
11. Bow down in Reverence at the Pathar Sahib Gurudwara
While Ladakh is the land of monasteries, it is also home to the Pathar Sahib Gurudwara. This gurudwara was built in the 16th century to commemorate the visit of Guru Nanak Dev in Ladakh. It is located on the Srinagar-Leh highway. The major attraction of this Gurudwara is the image of Guru Nanak Dev and the footprint of a demon on the rock.
Distance from Airport: 21.1kms from the Leh Airport
Best time to visit: May to September
How much time to spend: 1hour
Operating hours: 6am -7pm
Approx cost for two: No entry fee
Trip Advisor rating: 5/5
12. Allow yourself to be Overwhelmed at the Zanskar Valley
The spell binding Zanskar valley is nurtured by the Zanskar River. Cosily sitting at an altitude of 3,500 metres and 7,000 metres above the sea level, the Zanskar valley is all about enticing landscapes. The frozen river is a playground for skiing enthusiasts during winters and just perfect for river rafting during the summers. This is why skiing is one of the top things to do in Ladakh. While on a trip to Zanskar Valley, don’t miss the visiting the Karsha Monastery, Drang-Drung Glacier, Nubra Valley and Penzella Pass.
Distance from Airport: 461kms from the Leh Airport
Best time to visit: May to September
How much time to spend: 2-3 hours
Trip Advisor rating: 5/5
Ladakh is one destination for that give you a glimpse of adrenaline rush and spirituality at the same. It will leave you speechless with its landscapes and treat your taste buds like never before with the simple yet delectable local cuisine. While in Ladakh don’t forget to try the butter tea made from yak milk and yak butter and momos or simply sip the local brew, Chang. While in Khardung la, do stop by to have the 2minute soul food. Savour on some Maggi as you watch the snow-capped Himalayan ranges. Take some time out to mingle with the locals. Stay with a local family to understand their food culture and traditions first hand. Buy some Pashmina shawls and feel lucky if you get to pet and pat a Pashmina goat.
A trip to Ladakh is not just a trip, but an unforgettable experience.
Also check: Ladakh tour packages to enjoy romance, adventure, spirituality and a whole lot of tourist attractions.
Made up your mind to enjoy all these amazing things to do in Ladakh? here are some Frequently Asked Questions that will help you plan
1.Is there a train to Ladakh?
No. There is no train service in Ladakh. Take a train up to Jammu and then take a bus or a shared cab to get to Ladakh.
2.Will higher altitudes make breathing difficult?
Rapid changes in altitude can affect breathing patterns and it is highly recommended that travellers get acclimatized to the altitudes. The acclimatization duration varies from person to person. It is strongly recommended to avoid alcohol, at least for the first three days. If you truly want to enjoy all the exciting things to do in Ladakh, keep yourself well hydrated with water and juices.
3.What is altitude sickness?
Anyone travelling 10,000 feet above sea level will find difficulty in breathing or is likely to suffer from altitude sickness. It happens due to the low level of atmospheric oxygen.
When in Ladakh, the most common problem faced by travellers are a loss of appetite, acute mountain sickness, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, nose bleeding, shortness of breath and drowsiness. These are the most common symptoms.
4.What documents should one carry?
The government approved IDs like driving license, passport and Aadhar card is accepted at all hotels.
5.Can I use credit and debit cards?
There are ATMs only in Leh, Manali and Srinagar.It is recommended that you carry enough cash since the most preferred method of payment here is cash.