This post was last updated on July 17th, 2020
Many people who travel to Ladakh don’t have much time up their sleeve. A trip to Ladakh – if you are really looking to explore this greater Himalayan kingdom – could take anything between 15 days to a month. Foreign travelers mostly come for a longer duration but the same is not possible for Indians due to their work culture.
While 3-4 days is never enough, I have come up with this middle ground 9 days itinerary of Leh and Srinagar. This is probably the best that you could do In Ladakh without stretching your holiday too much.
On Day 1 you’ll be traveling to Leh and land at the airport by afternoon. Ideally, you arrive, book a hotel and then rest your body on the first day.
But if you are excited enough to explore this magnificent place, you may visit and explore Leh Town in the evening. A stroll is a perfect way to get the feel of this cozy little town.
Eat in one of the German Bakeries. Did you know that most of the bakeries in Leh Town call themselves German Bakery? Makes me wonder!
An important factor during Ladakh Trip is acclimatization. Acclimatization refers to getting used to high altitude conditions when you are traveling around destinations in Ladakh. You should at least spend the first 2 nights in Leh to getting used to the conditions.
Here’s more on why acclimatization is important in Ladakh.
On the second day, you should wake up early. Have your breakfast and try to reach Leh DC office by 9 in the morning.
You need to carry a photo ID to apply for the permit and 1 can apply for the entire group. Getting the permits won’t take much of your time. It takes around half an hour and 230 rupees of you apply in person.
After obtaining the permit you could do to things. Head out for monasteries which may include Shey Palace & Monastery, Thiksey Monastery and Hemis Monastery along the Leh – Manali route and do-able in a day.
Another is to head out towards Nimoo in Leh – Srinagar direction. Here, you may cover Confluence of Indus and Zanskar River near Nimoo and go as far as Basgo.
Make a halt at Magnetic Hills for the photo shoot and fun and visit Gurudwara Pathar Sahib for spiritual reckoning. If you still have time, then do visit Spituk Gompa when you are returning to Leh Town.
Today you may choose to visit Pangong Tso, Changthang or Nubra Valley. I’d recommend that whichever destination you choose; do stay back for a night to enjoy these spectacular destinations in Ladakh.
Choosing Nubra Valley will let you cross the famous Khardung La Pass and explore Diskit which is the headquarters of this valley. There’s a beautiful Monastery here. In Nubra, you’ll also get to travel to hot sulfur springs of Panamik and then the famous Double Humped Bacterian Camel safari in Hunder.
If you choose to go to Nubra Valley I’d suggest that you stay overnight at Hunder. If you choose Spangmik, then you’ll be heading out for the spectacular Pangong Tso Lake. This place was made famous by the Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots. The climax scene of the movie between Kareena Kapoor and Aamir Khan was shot with Pangong Tso in the background.
Affordable homestays and luxury tents are available at Spangmik Village which is located close to the lake. If you choose Changthang, then you are heading towards yet another stunning Lake Tso Moriri. Tso Moriri wetland is also home to several bird species. You can spend the night either in Korzok or tents by the lake.
Today, return to Leh and spend your time exploring the neighborhood. In the evening head to Shanti Stupa. Shanti Stupa is a Japanese Pagoda which offers a sweeping view of the Leh Town. You could also visit Leh Palace in the evening.
Again choose 1 of the three mentioned above.
Return to Leh and do some shopping for souvenirs and gifts in one of the many Tibetan Markets.
Today, you should wake up early in the morning and leave towards Kargil on Leh-Srinagar Highway. I’d recommend a halt at Lamayuru for lunch and monastery visit. Mostly, people spend the night at Kargil, but personally, I’d recommend night stay at Mulbekh.
Kargil is way too crowdy, commercial, overrated and overpriced.
Arrive in Srinagar and check into a hotel or houseboat and rest. You may also go on an evening stroll by the Dal Lake.
Today visit the famous Mughal Gardens of Srinagar which were built by various Mughal Emperors. 3 must visit gardens are Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh, and Chasme Shahi. You should also do shikara ride in the Dal Lake in the evening to enjoy the picturesque beauty of Srinagar.
Today your journey concludes. This is one of those itineraries which cover the best of Ladakh. You may always tweak your itinerary to suit your needs and time. For example, if you want to do more in Srinagar, then you could just drop Day 5 schedule and then you could do both Gulmarg and Pahalgam near Srinagar.
I’d look forward to your comments and suggestions and your thoughts on improving this itinerary.