How to Travel From Leh to Khardung La
For every seasoned traveler, especially bikers, Ladakh is a dream place that sits on the top of their go-to destination. The heaven of India, Ladakh is a picturesque destination with jaw-dropping beauty all around. Rugged mountains, awe-inspiring landscapes, majestic mountains, numerous high passes, dramatic hillocks, and clusters of bikers having their share of thrill and enjoyment every year. This is how a person can describe the land of high passes. Although the territory of Ladakh starts from the challenging Zojila Pass but the actual fun begins from the capital city of the newly made union territory, Leh. Beautifully tucked away in the Great Himalayas, Leh Ladakh is a place that every traveler wishes to go to at least once in their life. It is an experience of a lifetime. Though the memorable trip starts the moment you kickstart your engine with the backpack-mounted on it, there are several other small trips inside the UT that people enjoy. One of the best journeys is from Leh to Khardung La. Undoubtedly, like the rest of the parts of Ladakh, this pass also offers some breathtaking views of the surrounding, an additional benefit here is the thrill of visiting one of the highest motorable roads in the world.
Visiting Leh to Khardung La by road is the only option but there are several means like taxis, shared cabs, bus, hired bike, or hired car. Leh Ladakh is a place that’s not only confined to mesmerizing sights and thrilling activities, there are several serene and pristine spots where one can enjoy their time. There are places filled with serenity and a completely relaxing ambiance. But for those who are looking forward to enjoying Leh to Khardung La road trip, there is a lot more than just enjoyment and thrill. Khardung La pass is one of the gateways to some of the enchanting landscapes, lesser-explored territories, and a lot of spine-chilling roads to conquer.
How to reach Khardung La from Leh
Khardung La is approximately 40 km from Leh and the only way to enjoy this trip is by road because there are no airstrips. Though there is a helipad at the checkpoint but from there, it's the road trip that everyone has to take. People can either rent a bike, hire a cab, or take a bus to reach Khardung La. One of the highest motorable roads in the world, Leh to Khardung La distance might not be too much but the altitude gain is drastic and sudden. There is only one way to travel from Leh to Khardung La pass and that’s by crossing South Pallu all the way to the summit. The entire trip will take about 2 hours or more depending on the vehicle and driving/ riding.
The roads are well-maintained in some areas (Leh to South Pullu) but thereafter the road throughout the 40 km stretch is challenging and filled with water puddles. It is advised to keep a steady pace and not rush to the summit if driving or riding on your vehicle.
Route: Leh-South Pallu-Khardung La
Distance: 40 km
Travel Time: 2 hours (approximately)
Places to visit en route Khardung La
The entire journey from Leh to Khardung La is quite memorable and thrilling. The challenging height and road make it even tougher and enjoyable for people visiting here. Apart from the panoramic sights and thrilling roads, there are just a few places where you can stop by and click some pictures. Places en-route Khardung La are:
- South Pullu
- Khardung La
Places to eat en route Khardung La
Traveling Leh to Khardung La is not the only thing that can be enjoyed while in this city. There are a lot of tourist attractions in Leh. On the other hand, the Ladakhi cuisines significantly reflect the history, values, interests, and culture that the city has been following since ancient times. In the Ladakhi cuisines, one can find a hint of Chinese, Tibetan, Indian, and Continental taste that makes it wonderful and different from the others served in the country. There are several restaurants in Leh that serve all kinds of cuisines that are scrumptious and apt as per the high-altitude one has to adjust in.
Leh is a wonderful place to taste some of the best cuisines of India that are only served here. Though many people have a mindset that Leh is popular for just their momos, thukpa, and noodles but there is so much more to relish here. For those looking for the finest eateries in the city, here is a list of a few.
- The Tibetan Kitchen
- Bon Appetit
- Alchi Kitchen
- Sky Wok Restaurant
- Namza Cafe
- Lamayuru restaurant
- La Piazetta
- Penguin Garden Restaurant
- II Forno
- Pumpernickel German Bakery
- Neha Snacks
- Lala’s Art cafe
- Coffee Culture
- Lehvenda Cafe
- 3 wise monkey cafe
Places to stay en route to Khardung La
En route Leh to Khardung La, there are no staying options and there is no reason for anyone to ask for one. People usually either go-ahead to the Nubra Valley after staying for some time at Khardung La or come back to Leh. Being the capital city of Ladakh, Leh has a lot of places to stay and the number of options in each of them is huge. Right from Hostels to hotels, there are numerous places for travelers and things are building year after year adhering to the crowd that gets attracted here each year. Here is a list of places where you can stay.
- Mommy’s BnB
- Morning sky guest house
- Zee guest house
- Tsetan Guesthouse
- Ladakhi Safari Resort
- Adu’s Eternal Comfort
- Jimmy Homestay
- Barath Hotel & Guest House
- Raku Guest House
- Indus River Camp
Petrol Pumps en route Khardung La
There are no petrol pumps that can be spotted when one travels from Leh to Khardung La and thereafter. The only petrol pump that can be found is in Leh itself. While you start your journey from Leh to Khardung La get your bike or car tank full and that would be sufficient for the round trip.
Traveling from Leh to Khardung La by car
For those traveling from Leh to Khardung La by car, it is advised to leave early and enjoy the entire trip without rushing. The roads are not in a good shape from South Pullu, so cautious driving is always advised. Make sure that there are all the necessary items available like a puncture kit, spare tire, and sufficient fuel. Those having a 4WD or an SUV get added benefits.
Things to carry by car
Though it is just a 40 km stretch from one side but in the challenging conditions of Khardung La, one should always be prepared for everything. So here are some of the key things that should be there in the car.
- Jack and Spanner
- Foot Pump
- Spare Tire
- Engine oil
- Fill up the tank in Leh itself.
- Check everything in the car before starting the journey from Leh to Khardung La.
Traveling from Leh to Khardung La by Taxi
Hire a taxi during the early hours and try to bargain as much as possible. It is going to be a 40 km bumpy drive so get set and keep your camera on for the rest of your trip. Rest in the backseat and enjoy the drive to such a high altitude. Ensure all the medicines are there in the medikit you carry.
Traveling from Leh to Khardung La by Bus
It is not preferred to take a bus from Leh to Khardung La. Firstly, because there are no buses only to Khardung La. Buses ply every day but till Nubra Valley. They stop by at major attractions en-route such as Khardung La for quite some time but for those who wish to spend more than 20 minutes here will have to look for other options.
Note: Staying at Khardung La for more than 15-20 minutes can be dangerous because of the less oxygen and low atmospheric pressure in the area. Apart from medicines, keep a dark chocolate bar in the bag.
Things to carry by bus
- Identity Proof
- Light backpack
- Some snacks
Tips for Leh to Khardung La by Bus
Buses usually leave early from Leh so either get your tickets a day before (highly recommended) or get them early in the morning. Make sure your body is acclimatized to the atmospheric pressure before this journey because, after South Pullu, there is a sudden gain in altitude.
Traveling from Leh to Khardung La by Motorcycle
One of the most preferred and ideal ways to go to Khardung La is by bike. The road Conditions to Khardung La are not very good. Till South Pullu checkpoint the roads are good but thereafter one has to be very cautious while riding. Gravel, mud, puddles, and uneven roads can make the ride challenging but enjoyable.
Things to carry by bike
- A few things that one should keep in the backpack include:
- Spare Spark Plugs
- Puncture kit
- Chain Clean & Chain Lube
- Spare Bungees
- Brake and Clutch wires
Tips by bike Leh to Khardung La
- Do not take a long stretch at once, give adequate rest to your bike.
- Wear a good and ISI certified helmet
- Wear a riding jacket and knee guards
- Keep the fuel tank filled
Best time to visit Khardung La
The best time to visit Khardung La is between May-September when the temperature is good and the roads are unblocked. Apart from that Leh experiences heavy rainfall during spring and snowfall during winters. So the area becomes inaccessible during these months.
ATMs are not available anywhere except for Leh. It is advised to withdraw extra cash in case you need to buy some souvenirs from the army camp at the summit.
Inner Liner Permits required
Every traveler has to get the inner line permit from Leh itself. This is an important permit and this needs to be shown or even submitted at times at the South Pullu checkpoint. There can be bike/ car verification as well at these checkpoints so be ready for that as well.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
One should not underestimate the altitude and the sudden change of atmospheric pressure. Be very cautious about it and make sure that your body is acclimatized to the altitude difference. Still keep medicines and if you think there are chances of things getting uneasy make sure you carry an oxygen tank. Many people do and so should you.
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