How to Reach Ladakh
The quickest and simplest way to reach Ladakh is by air. It is also the only means of transport with year-round access to the place — exceptional circumstances, not withstanding. The only airport is located in the town of Leh, called the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport. Many domestic airlines offer regular flights to Leh, from Jammu, Srinagar, Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Kolkata and from other urban hubs across the country. These include Go Air, Indigo, Vistara, Spice Jet and Air India. While shorter routes such as Jammu or Delhi have direct flights, longer routes could sometimes have a single stop along the way, usually at Delhi. The Leh airport is also a military base, so expect a higher level of security and carry printed copies of your documentation and paperwork for a hassle-free experience.
While flying can get expensive, especially during peak season, it’s still worth it for the reduced time of the journey and the higher level of comfort it affords. Once you land, a taxi and local bus service can be found right beyond the terminal. For about INR 400, you can hire a cab to take the 3.8 km ride to the city centre or your hotel.
You wouldn’t usually opt for train travel to Ladakh since the nearest station is located 700 km away in the town called Tawi. Stations like Chandigarh and Pathankot are the other closest options, but they are even further away. Even if you do choose to take a train from your departure city to any of these stations, you’ll have to hire a taxi, jeep or private vehicle to complete the rest of the journey — which could take up to three days. It doesn’t sound ideal but can be a perfect adventurous start to your holiday.
Road travel is a popular means of getting to Ladakh, with spectacular views and adrenaline-rush moments promised along the way. The only catch is that the routes are only accessible during the months of May to October, while winter sees Ladakh cut off from most places outside.
You can opt for buses, cars or jeeps or even motorbikes, for a road trip to Ladakh.
Bikes have become a favourite amongst those visiting the region, as it is said to be one of the more exhilarating journeys one can ever take. There are two possible routes — one from Srinagar and the other from Manali. The former is a distance of around 430 km, passing through some of the most majestic Himalayan vistas and scenic towns like Sonmarg, Drass, Kargil, Lamaruyu and the Zoji La Pass. The route from Manali is 490 km, passing through the Rohtang Pass, Keylong, Bharatpur, Upshi and Karu.
While riding to Ladakh sounds incredibly fun, it should only be undertaken if you’re a regular rider, using a sturdy bike such as the Royal Enfield. To get to Manali and Srinagar, you will have to make other travel arrangements such as bus or car.
The other options you could choose include cars, jeeps and buses which cover the same routes and distances. However, the bus rides can be tiring and bumpy. They are mostly offered by JKSRTC and HRTC, with tickets costing about INR 1800-2400. With jeep and car rides you can begin your journey from as far out as Delhi or Chandigarh, eventually bringing you to the gorgeous high passes en route Ladakh. Depending on the vehicle, the cost to rent a car with driver can be upwards of INR 20,000. But it’s worth it for big groups or those looking to travel at their own pace.
There is no way of reaching Ladakh by water.
Getting around Ladakh is easy considering how big Ladakh tourism is. Of course, the distances and terrain you have to cover to get to landmarks such as Pangong Tso Lake, Spituk Gompa and Nubra Valley, can be long and turbulent — though the magical views make it a small price to pay. It’s wise to keep Leh as your base, from where you can easily arrange transport to all must-visit sites.
By Foot / Cycle
Exploring Ladakh on foot or by cycle are hugely popular activities, that veer on the adventurous side. There are a host of organised treks around the region as well as biking tours. There are localised day treks for amateurs and overnight ones for the experienced, such as the Sham Valley, Lamaruyu to Chilling and Spituk to Stok treks.
Meanwhile, for bikers, there are tours organised for cycling around Leh with all the top sightseeing included. Or you could opt for serious mountain biking challenges similar to the long trek journeys.
The only airport of Ladakh is in Leh so there’s no way to travel regionally by air.
By Car / Taxi
If you drive your own vehicle into Ladakh or you prefer car journeys, it is easiest to move around. Though it is always advised to hire local taxis or jeeps which come with drivers who know how to navigate the terrain best. And there are plenty of those that you’ll find all across Leh, with costs varying on the intended route. One way to economise these trips is to opt for a shared-taxi for which you can book on a per seat basis.
Leh has a local bus service to nearby towns, villages and attractions. You can ask a local travel operator for the current timetable and do all your sightseeing on a budget.
Just as with a private or hired car, having your own bike or renting one on ground is another way to explore Ladakh. Just be sure you’re up for the ride!
Now that you know the many ways to reach and get around Ladakh, you’re ready for the next step — booking a tour with us. We do after all, have some of the best Ladakh Tour packages available on the market.