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How to get to Ladakh?

How to get to Ladakh?

Getting to Ladakh is very simple and you can reach either by road or by flights. The best way to reach Ladakh is by Flight. There are two ways to reach Ladakh and its capital city Leh: by road via Manali (Himachal Pradesh) or Srinagar (Kashmir) and by air with a flight to Kushok Bakula Rimpochee airport located just 4 km from Leh city centre.

Ladakh used to be almost completely cut off from the rest of India 6 months per year due to harsh weather conditions in winter keeping the roads blocked with snow for many months. Nowadays, reaching Ladakh has become easier with daily flights to Leh all year round. There are approximately 8 flights per day in each direction between Delhi and Leh which makes the travel to Ladakh very easy. The recent increase in flight is due to huge inflow of domestic tourism recently. The capital of Ladakh is also directly connected to other major cities such as Mumbai, Chandigarh, Srinagar and Jammu but flights are less frequent. The airlines operating flights to Leh are Air India, Vistara, SpiceJet and IndiGo and you can book at any of this flights. Earlier the better if you are looking for cheaper flights.

Flights to Leh Ladakh:

The scenic flight from Delhi to Leh takes one and a half hours. Try to get a window seat so that you can contemplate the wonderful bird’s eye view of the Himalayan snow-clad mountains. Flights are only in the morning because it gets usually windier in the afternoon. Leh airport remains operational for all 12 months of the year though flights are sometimes delayed or cancelled in winter due to bad weather conditions.

Summer Flights to Ladakh: In summer, flights are very reliable. The official name of Leh airport is Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport and its IATA code is IXL. It is one of the highest airports in the world at an altitude of 3,500 metres above sea level and you should spend the first day acclimatizing in Leh before heading to higher altitude. Leh airport is a military airport, therefore the security is tight and a printout of your e-ticket can be required when going through the security checks. Just outside the terminal, you can easily find a taxi to drop you at your hotel. Leh city centre is only 4 km away from the airport and a prepaid taxi costs approximately INR 600.

Taking a flight is the most comfortable option compared to the bumpy 2-day road trips to Manali and Srinagar. A one-way air ticket between Delhi and Leh costs approximately INR 8,000 in average but there can be significant price variations. Airfares tend to skyrocket during the peak tourist season (June to August) and in winter during the Ladakhi Losar (New Year) and the winter school holiday (mid-December to end of February). Websites such as www.makemytrip.com and www.yatra.com are useful to compare the flights and find the cheapest tickets.

Ladakh by Road:

While taking a flight to Leh is the fastest and most comfortable option, leaving Ladakh by road is an experience of a lifetime. There is a Ladakhi saying: “the land is so harsh and the passes so high that only the best of friends or the worst of enemies would visit you”. Indeed, the route is amazing but strenuous so it is recommended to fly one way (from Delhi to Leh) and return by jeep (via Manali or Srinagar).

Shared jeeps as well as private jeeps from Leh to Manali and from Leh to Srinagar take 2 days and it is the most comfortable option if you opt to go by road. Another option is to take a HRTC bus or SRTC bus this is the cheapest option but also the slowest and it is more difficult to stop en route for photos.

It is perhaps one of the most thrilling road adventures in India or for that matter anywhere in the world. Traveling Leh Ladakh by road involves crossing some of the highest motorable mountain passes in the world, driving through vast semi-arid planes.

During the Leh Ladakh road trip, one can enjoy glimpses of the distinctive lifestyle of nomads who live in small settlements all along the way. Ladakh by road offers spectacular sights of barren mountains in Great Himalayas and Zanskar ranges, sweeping valleys and stunning panoramas. Colorful Tibetan prayer flags, prayer bells, monasteries and Tibetan Buddist populace that one meets along the way are some of the unique aspects of traveling to Ladakh region by road.

There are two roads that bikers, road trip lovers and drivers take to reach Leh town. One is Srinagar-Leh Highway and the more popular one is Leh-Manali Highway.

Leh-Manali Highway is preferred among bikers as it involves crossing several breathtaking high mountain passes. The journey from Manali includes riding along scenic mountain ranges. Feel the thrill as you ride with the Himalayas on one side and the gushing rivers on the other. Above all the sheer excitement of riding some of the toughest motorable terrains is beyond description.

Find complete information here on how to reach Ladakh by road through bus. Our travel guide offers complete details and important information like riding distance, basic facilities available en route, eating and accommodation along the way. The all-inclusive guide also includes necessary information on ATMs, petrol pumps and other facilities to help you plan your road trip to Ladakh via either Leh-Manali or Leh-Srinagar Highway.

Manali – Leh Highway: Ladakh by Road

Out of the two highways which lead to Leh-Ladakh, one is Manali- Leh Highway. Owing to a number of matchless experiences it offers, the highway is preferred by the adventure enthusiasts. The 490 km long Highway was designed, built and is maintained entirely by the Border Roads Organization of Indian Army.    

It is anytime better that you should try Leh to Manali instead of Manali to Leh. The main reason for this is, after becoming comfortable to such high altitudes already, moving downwards will not be much of a problem.

You can halt at Sarchu, which is at an equal distance from both the destinations. It is a beautiful place and has numerous accommodation options too. If you do the other way round, day 1 will be Manali – Keylong and day 2 will be Keylong to Leh. Since Sarchu is placed on a high altitude, it is not advisable to spend an overnight here.

But in the end, it depends entirely on the traveler, whatever he feels comfortable with. This highway also offers a beautiful journey.

Best Season to travel on Leh Manali Highway

The highway is not open all year round due to extreme climate and heavy snowfall at high mountains. Manali-Leh Highway depends entirely on the opening of Rohtang Pass and Baralacha La. It is open for about four and a half months that too in summer from June. Thus, the best time to reach Ladakh via Manali-Leh Highway is during the months of June to September. In early June, there still are road blockages because of ice but in August-September, the condition of the roads becomes perfect.

Restriction of Vehicle registered from other states to travel on this Highway

The movement of non-HP vehicles on Manali- Rohtang Pass is banned by Himachal Pradesh Govt from 27th June 2011 onwards. To go to Leh-Ladakh or Keylong, non-HP registered vehicles will have to take permits from the SDM Office in Manali. However, there is no restriction on bikes. Make sure you get yourself registered at the various check posts and show your permits wherever necessary while traveling.

Hire a Private Transport for comfortable and stress free travel.

While coming from Manali, a taxi with HP number can drop you at Leh-Ladakh. But, for sightseeing in Leh, a taxi with Ladakh number would be required.  If you are hiring a taxi that is not from Leh, then opt for the one which has a private number plate. In case of any kind of interrogation, you will have to convince the other person that this vehicle is not hired.

It is advisable to hire a taxi from Manali, as the local drivers are experts in driving through such difficult roads. They are also accustomed to any kind of problems. They know how to handle any kind of hurdles.  

Fuel or Petrol Pump on the Highway

The journey is long with mountain terrains and vehicle tend to consume more fuel on this journey. Its important to know the fuel station for the refill. After the hill town of Manali, you will get a petrol pump only at Tandi. Therefore, you’ll find the next petrol pump at Karu which is roughly 380 km from Tandi. So make sure that you have your tank full and also keep extra jars and cans of petrol. The next one is at Upshi / Karu which is nearby Leh. Make sure to fill your tank completely at Manali. Also, fill in a few extra bottles of petrol as well.

ATM on the Highway

Its always better to carry enough cash for emergency use. ATM is available only in  Manali and Keylong. After Keylong, the next ATM is in the town of Leh.

Places on Manali – Leh Highway with their Altitudes

Manali: 1950 Mtrs

Solang Valley: 2590 Mtrs

Marhi : 3300 Mtrs

Rani Nala

Rohtang Pass: 3980 Mtrs

Gramphu: 3200 Mtrs

Khokhsar: 3140 Mtrs

Sissu : 3170 Mtrs

Tandi: 2573 Mtrs

Keylong : 3080 Mtrs

Jispa: 3320 Mtrs

Darcha: 3360 Mtrs

Deepak Tal : 3810 Mtrs

Patseo: 3811 Mtrs

Suraj Tal: 4950 Mtrs

Baralacha La: 4890 Mtrs

Sarchu: 4290 Mtrs

Gata Loops: 4190 Mtrs

Nakee La: 4740 Mtrs

Lachulung La: 5079 Mtrs

Pang : 4600 Mtrs

Moore Plains: 4730 Mtrs

Debring : 4835 Mtrs

Taglang La: 5328 Mtrs

Rumste: 4260 Mtrs

Upshi: 3480 Mtrs

Leh: 3500 Mtrs

Facilities or Amenities on Manali – Leh Highway



Hotel / Guest Houses

Khoksar, Sissu, Gondla, Patseo, Tandi, Keylong (Many options), Jispa, Upshi

Tents / Camps (Dhaba / Swiss / Normal)

Marhi, Jispa, Darcha, Zingzing Bar, Bharatpur, Sarchu (Many options), Pang

Food / Beverages

Marhi, Rohtang Pass, Khoksar, Sissu, Keylong, Jispa, Darcha, Deepak Tal, Zingzing Bar, Bharatpur, Sarchu, Pang, Rumste, Upshi

Diesel / Petrol Pumps

Tandi (107 km from Manali, at the confluence of River Chandra and Bhaga River), Karu (36 km from Leh)

Mobile Connectivity

Mobile signal of Airtel worked till Keylong only and then faded rapidly. The signals were restored after crossing Upshi for Airtel.

BSNL has more coverage and better connectivity within this range than any other operator. Airtel works in Ladakh but with poor connectivity.

SMS does work fine for both BSNL and Airtel.

Vodafone did not work at all after crossing Marhi and not even in Leh -Ladakh.

Packet data also works upto Keylong and in Leh packet data is available only with BSNL edge.

Fixed Phones

Keylong, Jispa, Darcha, Upshi


Sissu, Gondla, Keylong, Jispa, Darcha, Upshi

Medical Facilities

Sissu, Keylong



Police Checkpoints

Darcha, Sarchu, Upshi, Khoksar (For foreigners only)

Mechanic / Puncture Shops

Marhi, Khoksar, Tandi (not sure), Keylong, Darcha, Sarchu, Upshi

Liquor Shops

Marhi, Keylong, Darcha, Upshi

Natural Highlights

Rohtang Pass, Tandi Confluence, Sissu Waterfall, Deepak Tal, Suraj Tal, Baralacha La, Strange Soil formations, Moore Plains (Wildlife too), Taglang La or Tanglang La, Gata Loops


Srinagar Leh Highway: Ladakh by Road

Srinagar-Leh Highway, also known as National Highway – 1D (NH – 1D), is 434 km long. It is a lifeline in terms of road connectivity between Leh – Ladakh and other parts of India, en-route Kashmir Valley. Although out of the 464km long highway, 350 km doesn’t have civilization but it is more reliable than the Leh-Manali Highway. On this route, you will be accompanied by the river Indus which flows along the highway. On your way to Leh, you come across a number of passes. Out of them, three of the important ones are Zozi La (3528 m), Namki La (3815 m) and Fotu La (4108 m) are the most prominent one during the road trip to Ladakh.

The best Season to Travel Srinagar Highway

The Srinagar Highway remains closed for around 6 months in a year, mostly from November to May. The inaccessibility is because of the heavy snowfall in the mountains. It usually starts from mid-May or in the first week of July.  The best time to travel on this highway is between the months of June to October. The month of July is of monsoon and thus, landslides creating road blockings are unavoidable. One can clearly see army convoys stationed, all around the year. This highway is filled with army trucks carrying the necessary material.

Means of traveling on the Highway Private Vehicles (Cars and Bikes)

Most of the travelers to Leh-Ladakh opt for self-drive in their cars or bikes. Driving through the toughest terrain can actually be an exhilarating experience for an adventure enthusiast. You can also opt for rented cars or bikes that are easily available. It is advisable that you should know about the maintenance of the vehicle which you are driving, before embarking on the journey. SUV/MUV is a great option but sometimes hatchbacks also prove to be a good option. The difficulties on this highway are less than the Manali-Leh highway. Since this journey is a difficult one, you need to be careful all the time.

Your vehicle must be well-equipped with a small hammer, a basic tool kit, iron rod, screwdriver set, puncture repair kit and extra petrol in bottles. Other things that you should carry are towing rope, funnel, adhesive, spare tubes, wires, M-seal etc. Also, before starting the trip, get service of your bike or car done.

Hire a Private Taxi

According to the rules of the taxi union, taxis only with Ladakh number can roam around the region. If you are hiring a taxi that does not have a Ladakh number, rent a taxi that has a private number. You will have to convince any person interrogating you that it is not a hired taxi.  

Booking a taxi in Kargil or Srinagar is also easy and you can plan sightseeing accordingly. The local drivers may charge somewhere Rs 1200-1500 extra for a night halt on the journey towards Leh.

Alternate Route to Leh from Kargil (en-route Batalik and Dah)

To reach Leh, there is an alternate route too. This route is from Kargil and goes like Kargil– Mulbekh – Lamayuru Leh. The other one is also from Kargil but goes like Kargil – Batalik – Dah – Skurbuchan – Leh. If you take the route through Batalik then an Inner Line Permit from DEC office of Kargil or Leh will be needed.

Sightseeing on the Highway

Srinagar-Leh Highway has a number of sightseeing options (some on the way, while others with slight diversions). These attractions are mentioned below:

Maitrey at Mulbek, Spituk Monastery, Lunar Landscape, Redzong Monastery, Alchi MonasteryLikir Monastery, Basgo Palace, Confluence at Nimmu, Pathar Sahib Gurudwara, Phyang Monastery, Lamayuru Monastery, Magnetic Hills.

If you consider sightseeing, then you might cover the highway in three days.

Accommodation Options on Srinagar – Leh Highway

Srinagar – Leh Highway has a number of accommodation options, which you can find after crossing around every 125 km. At Drass, Mulbekh, Sonamarg, you will basically find guest houses and homestay types. In Lamayuru or Kargil, accommodation options are still better. In Alchi and Likir also, there are hotels and homestays too.

Accommodation options on Srinagar – Leh Highway with distances – Srinagar – Sonamarg (80 km): Comfortable accommodation options in Sonamarg

Sonamarg – Drass (65 km): Comfortable accommodation options in Drass

Drass – Kargil (55 km): Accommodation options in good number at Kargil

Kargil – Mulbekh (40 km):  Few homestays at Mulbekh

Mulbekh – Lamayuru (70 km): Comfortable accommodation options in Lamayuru

Lamayuru – Alchi / Likir (55 – 65 km / 65 – 75 km): Few home stays at Alchi / Likir

Lamayuru – Leh (125 km): Accommodation options in good number at Leh

Alchi / Likir – Leh (65 km / 55 km): Accommodation options in good number at Leh

Fuel or Petrol Pumps Srinagar Leh Highway

You can easily find petrol pumps on this highway at (Starting from Leh)

  • Leh
  • Khaltsi
  • Wakha
  • Mulbekh
  • Kargil
  • Sonamarg
  • Mangan
  • Srinagar

ATMs on the Srinagar to Leh Highway

There are ATMs at Srinagar, Ganderbal, Drass, Kargil, Sasapol and Leh. It is still advisable to carry cash.

Destinations on the Highway (with distance)

Following are the places on Srinagar-Leh Highway:

  • Srinagar – Sonamarg (80 km)
  • Sonamarg – Drass (65 km)
  • Drass – Kargil (55 km)
  • Kargil – Mulbekh (40 km)
  • Mulbekh – Lamayuru (70 km)
  • Lamayuru – Leh (125 km)

Facilities or Amenities on Srinagar – Leh Highway



Accommodations / Other Stay Options

Sonamarg, Drass, Kargil (Many options), Mulbekh, Lamayuru, Alchi

Food / Beverages

Sonamarg, Drass, Kargil (Many options), Mulbekh, Lamayuru, Alchi

Diesel / Petrol Pumps

Mangan, Sonamarg, Kargil, Mulbekh, Wakha, Khaltsi

Mobile Connectivity

Up to Sonamarg both BSNL and Airtel postpaid connections work, then in Drass only BSNL. Once you reach Kargil, you will get the Airtel signal, but then in Mulbekh and Lamayuru only BSNL works, in Nimmu Airtel is restored along with BSNL and once you reach Leh, both Airtel and BSNL work.

BSNL, Of course, has more coverage and better connectivity within this range than any other operator. Airtel works in Ladakh but with poor connectivity.

SMS does work fine for both BSNL and Airtel users.

Vodafone does not work after Srinagar and not even in Leh Ladakh.

Packet data works but only with BSNL that too with EDGE only.

Prepaid connections from outside Jammu and Kashmir do not work in Leh – Ladakh.

Fixed Phones

Ganderbal, Sonamarg, Drass, Kargil, Mulbekh, Lamayuru, Alchi, Nimmu and in between these places as well


Almost all the towns on the way have electricity

Medical Facilities

Sonamarg, Drass (limited), Kargil, Lamayuru (limited)


Ganderbal, Drass, Kargil, Sasapol

Mechanic / Puncture Shops

Ganderbal, Sonamarg, Kargil, Lamayuru (Puncture), Mulbekh (Puncture), Nimmu (Puncture)

Liquor Shops

Sonamarg, Drass, Kargil





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