Ladakh is a dream destination for many. Scores of tourists plan a trip to partake in numerous things to do in Ladakh which offer an exceptional experience. From motorbiking tours in Ladakh to trekking on a frozen river, these distinctive activities can make your trip count. Once here, you won’t have enough of the sublime beauty, inviting lakes, scenic monasteries, high passes and so much more.
Many surprises offered by Ladakh promise to leave you in a state of awe. Read on about what you can do in Ladakh to transform your much-awaited trip into once in a lifetime experience.
1. Trek to Markha Valley
Hold on your breath as you are about to undertake the Markha Valley Trek. Carry your essential gear, wear your trekking shoes, pack your bags and challenge the trekker in you. Reckoned as one of the most famous treks of the Ladakh region, the expedition beguiles with several attractions.
Passing through the Hemis National Park, waist-deep river crossings and Buddhist villages, the trek has a lot in store for you. Gandala, Kongmaru La, Spituk, Rumbak Village and Skiu are the major highlights of the trek. Soak in picturesque views en route.
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2. Gear up for the Chadar Trek
The ultimate thrill of trekking on the frozen Zanskar River is beyond description. Adventure enthusiasts wish to visit Ladakh in January to undertake the arduous Chadar Trek. Hats off to the trekkers who manage to walk on this frozen river with the temperature dropping down to -5 to -15 degrees during the day and -20 to -30 degrees at night. Tilad Do, Tibb Cave, Tsomo Paldar, Nerak, Gyalpo and Pathar Sahib Gurudwara cast a spell on the visitors.
Are you daring enough to take this challenge? In fact not many can actually boast of walking on water, though in a frozen solid form.
3. Test your biking skills
Several motorbiking enthusiasts love to try their hands on this one of the popular things to do in Ladakh. Every time you hear the sounds of the bikes reverberating in the valley, you will fall in love with it. Winding roads making ways through valleys, mountains, streams of water, etc. will lure you to traverse them again and again. Defy gravity at the magnetic hill and cross Khardung La – one of the highest motorable roads in the world. Savoring local cuisines of Ladakh available en route is one of the best ways to treat your taste buds with something delicious.
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4. Explore Ladakh on Cycle
Cycling in Ladakh is an amazing way to get the most out of this awe-inspiring destination. Counted as one of the best things to do in Ladakh, the activity soothes your senses with a visual retreat. Cool breeze, surprising trails and empty roads urge to start pedaling instantly. At a times, you feel gliding over the smooth roads whereas at other instances you fight hard to cross the bumpy roads.
Bask in the charm of the age-old monasteries, rugged terrains, snow-covered mountains and from anything to everything that adorns the route. Well planned itineraries complete the cycling tours to Ladakh.
5. Indus River Rafting
The challenging rapids ranging from Grade I to V pose a challenge even for the expert rafters. While on this expedition, tourists can admire the beauty and spectacular views of the landscapes. Choose any of the routes and you will return with lots of memories to be cherished forever.
6. Spotting the Snow Leopard
Nothing comes close to the chills that run down your spine as you spot a snow leopard. Dwelling at the Hemis National Park, these big cats prove to be a head turner. Wildlife lovers love to embark on the snow leopard trek in Ladakh just to catch a sight of the endangered species.
Sightseeing an enigmatic snow leopard wandering freely in its natural habitat is a unique spectacle. Due to this, the Snow Leopard Trek always finds a place in the list of things to do in Ladakh. Active between the dawn and dusk, these Asian Cats can be spotted at an altitude between 3,000 meters to 4,500 meters.
7. If not camel, you can ride over a Yak
If the idea of Camel Safari didn’t excite you, go can always choose Yak Safari in Ladakh. Imagine yourself seated on a 6 ft. huge creature who very gently and ably transports you to nearby areas. Yak or Dong as they call is the beast of the cold desert that survives the harsh climate and is used for the various domestic purposes. If you seek transport yak gives some of the best rides, easily moves on the marshes and into the valleys.
The distinctive experience teaches you a lot of things and most importantly brings you in close contact with Ladakh. There is nothing better than this ride to get insights about the culture of the area. If you also want to enjoy this one of the enthralling things to do in Ladakh, make sure that you do prior bookings for it.
8. Delight in a Camel Safari
Desert amid the mountains, seems incredible, but Ladakh is blessed with such a unique spectacle. Not only does Ladakh have as desert it’s also has camel the ‘Ship of the Desert’ but Ladakh features an exception. Don’t be shocked to find a camel that too with two humps at ‘India’s own Moonland’.
Practiced from Hundar to Diskit in Nubra Valley, Camel Safari in Ladakh is gaining popularity amongst tourists. Riding over the two-humped camel known as the Bactrian camel is a unique experience that only Ladakh can offer you. Ladakhis have been using these creatures as a mode of transport in the cold desert for over many centuries. But, now this joy ride is being offered to the visitors as well.
9. Shop till you drop at the Leh Market
How can you return from your Ladakh trip without a bag full of souvenirs? Markets in Leh offer amazing opportunities for shopping till your heart’s content. All the shopaholics and even the first time travelers can spend hours browsing through the various items available here. Leh markets exude their own charm and you won’t mind getting influenced by this.
From beautiful trinkets to vibrant murals and paintings, you can find everything at a single place. The statue of Buddha is a must add-on in your house to cherish that spiritual bliss. Combat the chills of winter by wrapping yourself in Pashmina Shawls, one of the popular items of Ladakh. The list of things to buy from Ladakh is endless.
10. Go for Skiing
Yes, you heard it right, Skiing is another best thing to do in Ladakh which many are not aware of. The exhilarating activity helps you glide down the gentle slopes covered with snow. You are sure to get an adrenaline rush while cherishing the activity.
The adventure of skiing in Ladakh is simply matchless. Even the professionals head towards Ladakh in the months of December to March to participate in this. Ski Treks are preferred by adventure enthusiast traveling to Ladakh. If you also want to enjoy a quality time with your friends, do try this must-thing to do in Nubra Valley and Khardung La.
11. Excursion to the Donkey Sanctuary
Standing out amongst the rest, the Donkey Sanctuary is a wonderful outcome of the efforts made by a citizen. Sheltering a number of donkeys, the sanctuary showcases a distinctive aspect of the Ladakhi culture. Homeless and hurt donkeys stay here and try to regain their lost strength. An excursion to the sanctuary is one of the best things to do in Ladakh and is also a great way of appreciating a noble cause. You won’t regret sparing your time for this activity which will surely transform your Ladakh trip into an eye-opening experience.
12. Unwind at the Lala’s Art Café
Spend some quality time with family and friends at the Lala’s Art Café. A gallery-cum café lures international artists, aboriginals and shutterbugs to showcase their talent. Adorned with intricate carvings at the entrance and black and white soul photography, this best place to visit in Ladakh offers a soul-soothing experience. Sip on the authentic espresso coffee to get rid of the weariness of the day. Enjoy the company of books and a giant cup of coffee to make your trip memorable. Don’t forget to click a picture with a nine-foot-tall statue of Buddha made up of granite.
13. Step on Drang Drung Glacier firmly
Connected by road, the Drang Drung Glacier presents a unique spectacle. Brace yourself for a 3 days strenuous trek to reach the glacier. By setting on a trekking trip to the Drang Drung glacier, one can cherish a first-hand experience of the beauty and essence of the glacier. The breathtaking views from Pensi La will surely make you fall in love with the place. Overlooked by the snow-covered Himalayas, the glacier offers one of the compelling reasons to visit Ladakh at least once. The trek to the off-beat destination is ideal only for them who love trekking and exploring the undiscovered aspects of a place.
14. Get an adrenaline fix at the adventurous roads
Ladakh features some of the adventurous roads which can challenge even the professional riders. With difficulty level varying at different turns, this road trip will be something that you will cherish forever. Be it driving on the Leh-Manali Highway or traversing the Zojila pass, testing your skills at these roads is a no child’s play. Titled as one of the highest motorable rods, the Khardung La Pass grabs the attention of many adventure fanatics. Chang La is another popular mountain pass in Ladakh which is also a must-visit place. Risk level associated with driving on these roads is quite high. So, make sure you drive in a controlled manner and enjoy the ride. Dare to drive on these roads?
15. Excursion to the Leh Palace
Perched on the Namgyal Hill, the Leh Palace overlooks the scenic city. Offering amazing views of the town, the palace is known for having a museum. Some of the intriguing festivals in Ladakh take place in the courtyard of this magnificent palace. Cultural performances bring the palace to life and are worth witnessing. The royal residence, although now in ruins, grabs the attention of anybody visiting Ladakh. Followers of Lord Buddha love to visit the palace because of it enjoying the popularity as an important hub of Buddhist religion and culture. Tibetan thangkas are the major highlights of the palace and add to its charm.
16. Camping amidst picturesque mountains
One of the best ways to explore a place completely is by spending a few days and probably nights at some of its remote locations. Ladakh, being bestowed with bountiful nature is an ideal place to delight in an amazing camping experience. Be it beside the scenic lakes or amidst the lap of Himalayas, camping in Ladakh presents the intriguing town like never before. Treat your eyes to the immense beauty and enjoy the blissful serenity. None of the other activities presents so many aspects of the town the way Camping does. For the extra pampered souls, glamping offers the same experience but with a royal difference.
17. Reach Ladakh by road
A road trip to Ladakh is slowly becoming a dream come true for many. Traveling to this wonderland by your private vehicle is surely one of the best things to do here. Not just a trip, the Ladakh road trip is a journey of a lifetime. Enchanting views, highest passes, surprises at every turn, rugged terrains, beautiful meadows and what not! Reaching Ladakh by road offers them all. Some of the best sights and sounds will urge you to plan a trip time and again. One of the best parts of the expedition is that you will get enough of time to acclimatize in Ladakh.
18. Marvel at the Thiksey Monastery
Exhibiting a fine collection of the statues, wall paintings, thangkas and weapons, the Thiksey Monastery is well-known for a number of reasons. Mirroring the Potala Palace in Lhasa, the 12-storied monastery also houses some monks. People from far and near visit the monastery to marvel at the huge pillar which contains teachings of the Buddha engraved on it. During the visit to the monastery, one may find the 15m high statue of the Buddha simply irresistible. An interesting folklore associated with the monastery make it rank amongst the most visited places in Ladakh. If you want to learn about vivid aspects of Buddhism then Thiksey Monastery is the place to be.
19. Brace yourself for the Lamayuru Alchi Trek
One of the most talks about treks in Ladakh is the Lamayuru Alchi Trek. Alluring trekking enthusiasts from all over the world, the exciting expedition takes you to the oldest surviving monastery in the area. Dating back to the 11th – century, the Yung Drung is also known Lamayuru Monastery. You will start your trek from a famous gompa and the trek will end at another famous monastery, the Alchi Monastery. The ultimate goal of the trek is to witness the ancient assets and know about the interesting history associated with them. Home to some of the exemplary murals and paintings, the monastery exudes its own charm.
20. Attend the Hemis Festival
People of Ladakh feel immense pleasure in celebrating the popular Hemis Festival. Organized in the Hemis Monastery every year, the gala marks the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava. Be a part of the festival to make out the most of your Ladakh holidays. Mask dances performed by the monks present a visual retreat. The rhythmic sounds of musical instruments like cymbals, drums, long horns etc. are an added plus. The craze for the popular festival in Ladakh is apparent from the fact the people anticipate the fiesta throughout the year. Don’t miss to partake in the festival to cherish different colors of Buddhism.