How to Travel to Pangong Lake


Pangong Lake is one of the most popular and mesmerizing alpine lakes of Ladakh. Not just the beauty, Pangong Tso is also amongst the world’s highest brackish water lakes. It is located towards the Indo-Sino Border, where 2/3rd of the lake is in China and only ⅓ in India. A lot of travelers visit here every year to witness the beauty of this lake because throughout the day; the water of the lake change colors.

The lake picked up popularity after getting featured in one of the Bollywood flicks. And since then, it has been a go-to destination. The lake is 5 km wide and 134 km long and is visited by people throughout the year. Owing to such a high altitude, Pangong Tso freezes in winters making it a completely different sight for the tourists.

How to reach Pangong Lake

Pangong being a popular destination in Ladakh sees a lot of visitors throughout the year; majorly during the summertime. Road trips are something that people love to take and that calls for planning things in the best way possible. If you want to visit here then make a note of these important things.

Pangong Tso is well connected with the other important parts of Ladakh such as Tso Moriri, Nubra Valley, and Leh as well. Here are the best routes that you can take from different places.

1. Reaching Leh to Pangong Lake

If you are planning on visiting Pangong Tso Lake from Leh, the total distance that you will have to cover will be approximately 171 km. Embarking your journey from Leh and reaching Spanmik which is one of the halting destinations or villages near Leh. Here is the route you should follow for a comfortable visit.

Route: Leh- Karu- Sakti- Chang La- Tangste- Lukung- Spangmik

While traversing on this route, you have the chance to visit Hemis, Thiksey as well as Shey monasteries. Throughout the route, you will have no problem with the road because it is decently maintained.

2. Reaching Nubra Valley to Pangong Lake

The other place from where people usually plan their trip to Pangong Lake is the Nubra Valley. Most people visit the iconic lake after they have visited the valley. So, if you too want to do the same, here are two routes that you can follow.

The first one is through Shyok Village and the route for the same is:

  • Route 1: Diskit- Khalsar- Agham- Shyok Village- Durbuk- Tangste- Lukung- Spangmik

This entire route is about 175 km and has its share of hiccups because there are a few waterlogs in the route. But the challenge offered by Ladakh is something that travelers cherish. It is one of the elements that is most enjoyed by people.

The other route from Nubra Valley to Diskit is through the Wari La Pass and this is a bit more challenging. People enjoy a lot while traversing through the pass because it infuses a sense of thrill in the visitor’s head and heart. So, if this is the route you wish to take, then follow the below-given path:

  • Route 2: Diskit – Khalsar- Tangyar- Wari La- Tathok- Chang La- Durbuk- Tangste- Lukung- Spangmik

For this route, you will have to obtain a special pass to cross Wari La. So, get that beforehand and yes, you will have to also keep spare fuel before leaving Leh. It will be about 300 km from Leh to Nubra to Pangong Lake and then back to Leh. So, be well prepared for the entire trip.

3. Tso Moriri to Pangong Lake

There are still a handful of people who prefer visiting the serene Tso Moriri Lake before Pangong. If you too have similar plans, then this route will be the best for you.

  • Route: Tso Moriri- Mahe- Nyoma- Loma- Tsaga Village- Tsaga La- Chusul- Kakstet- Merak- Man- Spangmik

You might not see many people visiting Pangong From Tso Moriri but people do take the route other way round. So can you!

Petrol Pump en route Pangong

Fuel availability is one of the biggest concerns of people traveling by their own vehicle. Knowing about the petrol pumps and their locations is also important while you travel to Pangong Tso from Leh or Nubra Valley. There are just two places where you can find a petrol pump; one is in Leh itself and the other one in the Nubra Valley in Diskit. But there are high chances that you might not get fuel in Diskit which is why it is advised to carry spare fuel while leaving Leh.

To know about How and Where to Carry Spare Fuel for Ladakh Trip

Traveling to Pangong by Car

This is the best and the most convenient way to travel to Pangong Tso. You can start your drive from Leh and reach Pangong Lake directly via Chang La. Most tourists who wish to go to Nubra Valley also choose to reach Pangong Lake from Nubra Valley via Wari La.

This route is less explored but offers an incredible experience to travelers. While traveling from the Nubra Valley route, you will cross Khardung La Pass, Wari La Pass, and Chang La Pass, which are among the highest mountain passes in the world. The Wari La Pass and Chang La Pass are a bit difficult to cross.

There are several water crossings involved in this route and the road condition is not very good. You need a tough car to cross these passes as the ascent is steep and road conditions are also not very good. However, if you are planning to visit Pangong Tso directly from Leh then you have to cross only Chang La Pass.

Traveling to Pangong Lake by Motorcycle

Going on a bike trip to Pangong Lake is a dream of every biker. The journey from Leh to Pangong Lake directly or via Nubra Valley is a unique experience. Traveling by bike is an amazing way to travel. However, the major issue is climbing up the high altitude mountain passes and crossing the water streams. But with your driving skills and with the selection of the best motorcycle you can reach Pangong Lake. Climbing up the Wari La, Chang La, and Khardung La is not for faint hearted. You need to be very careful while driving on these rugged and winding terrains.

For this route, you need a motorcycle that has a good and powerful engine that can climb up and down the mountain passes. If the motorcycle does not have a powerful engine then it will not climb the mountain pass and you have to return without completing the journey.

Travelling to Pangong Tso by Bus

You can board a bus from Leh for Nubra Valley. It is the cheapest option among all. However, the timings and the schedule for the buses and fix, which you need to confirm at the Leh bus stand. Also, it is advisable to book your ticket in advance that can be done only from the Leh bus stand one day prior to the journey. There are government run buses for Pangong Tso from Leh that do not ply daily. So, if you are looking to travel to Pangong Tso by bus then you have to plan accordingly.

Travelling to Pangong Tso by Taxi

There are regular taxi services available in Leh for Pangong Tso. You can either book a private taxi or board a shared taxi from the Leh bus stand. Private taxis are costly, however, the shared taxi is cost effective. The fare of the shared taxi is almost the same as the fare of the bus. You need to confirm the shared taxi in advance from the taxi stand.

Best time to visit Pangong Lake

The best time to visit Pangong Lake is between the End of May and September. The temperature starts to fall after September and during the winter season it freezes. The reason behind this is the altitude and for those who are unaware, Pangong Lake is an alpine Lake.

Road Conditions till Pangong Lake

The road conditions from Leh to Pangong Tso Lake via Chang La is comparatively good. The roads are well paved and smooth. There is only one bad section on this route that is around Chang La top but the rest of the journey is comfortable. If you travel from Nubra Valley to Pangong Lake, then you have to cross Shyok River and there are several water crossings in the summer season. You may come across several rough patches along with the slushy roads.

The road from Shyok to Durbuk is mostly broken and this is majorly the only rough patch on this route. If you travel via Wari La, then the bad section of the road is limited between Agham and Sakti. Crossing the Wari La is a challenge on its own but with your driving skills and vehicle with the powerful engine, you can travel on this route also. This is the less explored route among all but worth visiting.

Places to stay near Pangong Lake

Pangong Lake is a famous lake of Ladakh. There are a large number of tourists visiting this place every year due to which you can find several places to stay. There is no dearth of accommodation options available here, which caters to every kind of traveler such as families, friends, honeymooners, solo travelers, and leisure seekers.

You can choose to stay at hotels, guest houses, camp sites, swiss camps, and chadar tents. The nearest place from Pangong Tso where you can stay is Spangmik and this village is sprawling with camps and hotels. To know more about accommodation near Pangong Lake click here!

Some quick facts about Pangong Lake

  • Do plan the route to travel to Pangong Tso earlier than leaving Leh.
  • Although there is a petrol pump in Diskit, there are high chances that you might not get fuel there. So, it is advised to vehicles extra fuel for the trip.
  • The route is highly challenging at some point so take a few breaks throughout. Make sure you are well-rested.
  • You will also have to keep a medical kit quite accessible throughout the trip.
  • Obtain the permit that is required to travel through Wari La and also to Pangong Lake.

Tips that can help in traveling to Pangong Tso better

  • Make sure you will leave your extra luggage in Leh as the ascent to the high altitude mountain passes is not easy.
  • It is advisable to travel light as the ascent to Wari La and Chang La is difficult.
  • Check the components of your vehicle and Get it serviced before the trip.
  • It is essential to get your vehicle's engine oil and oil filter changed before going on the trip as this will help you obtain optimal performance from your vehicle engine. Make sure that the electrical system of the vehicle is working fine with no worn-out wires anywhere.
  • Check all the shock absorbents and fluids.
  • Fill up the tanks and check the tires.
  • Check the braking system and carry the essential kit.
  • Adjust steering and check the wheel alignment of the vehicle.
  • Make sure that your vehicle is in good condition and has a powerful engine.


Pangong Lake is situated near the Indo-Chinese Border and lies in restricted/ protected areas. The permit is required to visit the Pangong Tso due to security reasons. If you are planning to visit Pangong Lake from Nubra Valley, then you need a permit for Nubra Valley as well. There are two types of permits - Inner Line Permit (ILP) and Protected Area Permit/ Restricted Area Permit (PAP/ RAP).

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