Splendor of Ladakh in 9 awesome days

Ladakh trip is the best road trip ever…

Ladakh is heaven…

Ladakh experience is other worldly life…

This and so much more has been written about Ladakh. And I would be lying if I said I disagree with any of these. The Ladakh region is amazing. The landscapes are natural beauty wonders. The people are cool. But to be true, the experience cannot be described in words.

As most of the travel freaks, we had always wanted to visit Ladakh. It is like a holy grail for the nature lovers like us. This year we seemed to be adamant that we would definitely cross this off our list. But we couldn’t go as a couple as the taxi charges would have been out of our budget. And we were not in mood to drive. So we pestered our friends. Weeks turned to months as we tried to match our calendars and get a quorum. Even as couple of guys pulled out, we put our foot down and booked the flights. This seemed the only way we would finalize the plan. And luckily one more guys joined later reducing the expense further. All happy.

Colors of Ladakh
Colors of Ladakh

We wanted to cover the highways. We had heard so much about the natural beauty (read the first comment of the post). So our plan comprises of lots of road travel. After much research and talking to multiple taxi vendors we finalized our 9 days plan (10-days if we include the stay in Manali). We would have loved to spend more days but you know there are only so many vacation days we could take.

The great roads of Ladakh
The great roads of Ladakh

Here goes our itinerary which tries to cover the best of Ladakh. Do keep in mind that we stopped a lot on the way for just taking in the beauty so the time taken for road travel is on a higher side.

Day 1:

Plan: Travel Srinagar to Kargil on NH-1


  • Beautiful Sonamarg lies on the way. You may stop at the zero point where you might find snow (old and dirty by this time of the year)
  • Cross the Zoji La pass
  • Stop to pay homage to the martyrs at 99 war memorial at Drass
  • Admire the hardships Indian soldiers had to face on the steep slopes to recapture the Tololing hill and Tiger hill

Overall road time: 10 hrs.

Day 2:

Plan: Travel Kargil to Leh on NH-1


  • Admire the Mulbek stone carving statue
  • Visit the first monastery of the trip at Lamayuru
  • Stop at Lamayuru Moon land view point and wonder what gives it the name
  • The distinct confluence of Indus – Zanskar river sangam adds to the beauty of the valley
  • Exclaim like a cynic as your car moves on the Magnetic hill
  • Get blessings at Gurudwara Pathar Saheb
  • Visit the Hall of Fame museum on the outskirts of Leh and be blown away by the bravery accounts of Indian armed forces

Overall road time: 10 hrs.

Indus and Zanskar sangam
Indus and Zanskar sangam

Day 3:

Plan: Leh sight seeing

Places of interest:

  • Visit Shey palace and imagine how the royalty lived in now deserted palace
  • Visit Thikset monastery and Hemis monastery to understand Buddhism closely. The monks are more than happy to answer any of your queries. The monasteries are as interesting from inside as beautiful they are from a distance.
  • If a Bollywood fan, you may visit the Druk White Lotus School, more famously known as the Rancho’s school from the movie ‘3-idiots’.
  • Take in the peace and quiet at Shanti Stupa. Added bonus is a grand bird’s eye view of Leh from the stupa.

Overall road time: 8 hrs.

Day 4:

Plan: Travel Leh to Nubra valley and visit the Nubra valley


  • Must stop at Khardung La pass famously the highest motorable road in the world (though this claim strongly refuted on Wikipedia)
  • Stop at Disket Monastery in the heart of Nubra valley to admire the giant statue of Maitreya Buddha and if you have the stamina climb to the top of the monastery as well.
  • For the finale make your way to Hunder. Climb on one of the numerous sand dunes to sit and appreciate this amazing cold desert.
  • You could take a ride on the two-humped camels (but the camels look frail and malnutrition)

Overall road time: 12 hrs.

The gorgeous Hunder sand dunes
The gorgeous Hunder sand dunes

Day 5:

Plan: Travel back to Leh from Nubra valley


  • Take a detour to feel the heat at the Panamik hot springs
  • Visit the Sumur monastery
  • The way back is same as the day before so you may stop at sights you missed or reach Leh early for some souvenir shopping

Overall road time: 6 – 8 hrs.

Day 6:

Plan: Drive from Leh to visit the Pangong Lake


  • Stop at Chang La pass, titled as the third highest road in the world
  • Driving from Tangtse to Spangmik you would see the magnificent Pangong Lake for the first time
  • Touch the Pangong for the first time. Spend as much time as you have enjoying this feeling.
  • Again the Bollywood movie buffs could stop at the shooting point for the final scene of ‘3-idiots’ movie

Overall road time: 6 – 8 hrs.

Mighty Pangong lake
Mighty Pangong lake

Day 7:

Plan: Take the adventurous route to Tso Moriri


  • Driving through the Maan and Merak villages hit the untouched stretches of Pangong. Don’t know if it is possible but the lake looks more serene and beautiful from this end.
  • Stop at Major Shaitan Singh war memorial, one of the few pit stops on this route
  • Cross Chushul and Mahe Bridge to reach Tso Moriri with its own distinct allure

Overall road time: 8 hrs.

Amazing view of the Tso Moriri
Amazing view of the Tso Moriri

Day 8:

Plan: Travel from Tso Moriri to Sarchu on Leh – Manali highway


  • Visit the white lake – Tso Kar, which once provided the salt to Leh
  • Hit the Leh – Manali highway and enjoy the sights along the way such as Moore plains also called the rat ground
  • Cross the Lachung La pass
  • We found Sarchu to be the best option to stop mid-way to Manali. This way we didn’t get exhausted from the long journeys

Overall road time: 8 – 10 hrs.

Day 9:

Plan: Travel to Manali from Sarchu


  • Cross the Baralacha pass
  • Sooraj taal and Deepak taal are right on the way (Though after the mighty lakes they did seem a bit underwhelming)
  • As you near Manali, the landscape changes to more greenery and beautiful hill towns of Keylong and Jispa could be a pit stop
  • Rohtang pass was the next highlight. Climb on top of the hill and chase the clouds

Overall road time: 6 – 10 hrs. (Depending on the traffic while entering Manali, we spent 2 hrs. stuck there)

Again keep in mind this our itinerary based on our preference for road travel. You might want to tweak if to suit your needs for air travel or more/less days or lesser stoppages on-the-way. But whichever way you go, I think you cannot do much wrong in Ladakh. Every turn of road leads you to more astonishing sights than before.

Do you have a story to tell about your Ladakh experience? Drop in a comment or send us a mail. We will definitely reply. All the interesting tales will be published in a special feature.


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