How to travel to Ladakh under a budget of 20,000 INR

 

Updated Rates for 2021

(Note: A lot has changed since I first wrote this blog in 2015. From 2017 onwards, domestic tourists are also required to acquire Protected Area Permits (PAP) from the DC Office in Leh. The transportation & accommodation costs have also gotten a bit pricey, but nevertheless, Ladakh is still Ladakh and is definitely an incredible place to be at).

❤ Ladakh❤ the mystical land to the world’s highest motor-able passes. Its breath-taking high-altitude mountains, cold deserts, saltwater lakes, and insane landscapes make it a spiritual journey for travelers, nature enthusiasts, and adventure fanatics.

For all those wanting to do a budget Ladakh trip, this is how you can do it for under 20,000 INR.

This land of wonder had been on my visit list of dreamy places for over 3 years. Considering all the packages I came across on the internet, it took me 3 months of working in a call center to arrange 60,000 INR to make this dream come true.

In August 2015, I finally set out solo to the land that was keeping me awake for years. Traveling from flights to buses, cars, and motorbikes, dozing off with a million stars, sleeping in different locations every night, and waking up to barren mountains every day, this was indeed a journey of a lifetime.

 

Renting a Bike in Leh

You can get a Royal Enfield Classic 350 for 1200 INR a day or a 500 cc for 1500 INR (No deposits needed). Depending on the model and make of the bike you rent, it is advised you carry extra fuel for those extra miles as reliable petrol pumps are only available in Leh.

(Note: There are other bikes available for cheaper rent).

Hiring a Taxi in Leh

Just walk across the travel agencies in Leh, they all have notice boards put up for people wanting to share cars. Below are the estimated return prices for an XUV;

  • Leh to Tso Pangong (Spangmik) 2000 INR.
  • Leh to Nubra Valley (Hunder) 2000 INR.
  • Leh to Tso Moriri & Tso Kar 3000 INR.

(Note – All fares are for a taxi shared by 6 people)

Protected Area Permit (PAP)

It is mandatory for Foreigners as well as Domestic Indian Tourists to obtain a Protected Area Permit or also known as Inner Line Permit for visiting some of the protected areas of Ladakh such as: Nubra Valley, Tso Pangong, Tso Moriri, etc.

The Protected Area Permit can be obtained directly from the District Magistrate Office in Leh or through any local travel agent. PAP’s are valid for a period of 7 days and can be extended for INR 20 a day.

Cost

  • If applied directly INR 400 as an environmental fee + INR 20 rupees per day
  • A local agent would charge between INR 700 – INR 800

Documents Required

  • Indians – Original & Xerox of Aadhaar Card or Driving Licence
  • Foreigners – Original & Xerox of Passport

 

Leh Ladakh Short Itinerary from Delhi (14N/15D)

Day 1: Delhi to Manali

Day 2: Arrive in Manali

Day 3: Manali to Keylong

Day 4: Keylong to Leh

Day 5: Explore Leh

Day 6: Leh to Nubra Valley (Diskit/Hunder) via Khardung La

Day 7: Nubra Valley to Leh via Khardung La

Day 8: Leh to Tso Pangong via Chang La

Day 9: Tso Pangong to Leh via Chang La

Day 10: River Rafting or Explore Leh on Foot

Day 11: Leh – Kyagar Tso – Tso Moriri via Chumathang

Day 12: Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Startspuk Tso – Leh via Tanglang La

Day 13: Leh to Srinagar via Kargil

Day 14: Explore Srinagar

Day 15: Depart Srinagar

 

Leh Ladakh Detailed Itinerary from Delhi 14N/15D

Day 1: Delhi to Manali: You will get an A/C Semi-Sleeper Volvo ranging from INR 1100 to INR 1400.

Day 2: Arrive in Manali: You can easily get a guesthouse costing around INR 400-500 near Mall Road and Old Manali or you could book a bunk bed in any of the youth hostels online. You can book hostels on www.hostelworld.com.

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View of Manali (6725 ft.) in Himachal Pradesh

Day 3: Manali to Leh: The Himachal Tourism Bus (Manali to Leh) is the most comfortable way to cover this stretch. The bus departs at 09:00 hrs and arrives in Leh at around 19:00 hrs the next day. Costing INR 2900, it offers a night halt at Keylong that includes your dinner and breakfast as well (accommodation in 4 & 6-bed dorms). Tickets can be booked at www.booking.hptdc.in. The bus is not available in 2021 due to Covid-19.

Adding to that are those 10-minute halts at all the major engrossing locations on this stretch.

Manali – Rohtang Pass – Chenab River – Koksar – Keylong – Bara-lacha La Pass – Sarchu – Nakee La Pass – Lachulung La Pass – Pang – Tanglang La Pass – Karu – Leh

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Keylong (10,100 ft.) on Manali-Leh Highway
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Nakee La Pass (15,547 ft.) on Manali-Leh Highway

Day 4: Arrive in Leh: You will find many homestays which in my opinion are the best options to stay in Ladakh as they are easy on the pocket, beneficial to the locals, and conveniently accessible. The price for a homestay ranges from 450 INR for a single room to 800 INR for a double. My personal favorite home-stay in Leh was at Greenland Guest House on Changspa Road, near the Changspa Bridge opposite Cafe de Leh. Call on 0198-822-53156 to book your stay.

Day 5: Explore Leh. Fall in for a jaunt of exploration with beautiful stopovers like the Leh Palace, Leh Market, Jama Masjid, Shanti Stupa, Hall of Fame, or maybe just a walk around this lovely town.

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View of Leh Palace (11,500 ft.) in Ladakh

Day 6: Leh to Nubra Valley (Diskit-Hunder), approximately 130 km’s via Khardung La (17,582 ft.).

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Independence Day Ride to Khardung La Pass (17,582 ft.) August 2015

Nubra Valley: Homestays & Luxury Tents are available at Diskit & Hunder. In Nubra Valley, visit Diskit Monastery. It is over 250 years old and is the oldest monastery in Nubra Valley. Next to that lies an imposing 100 feet statue of Maitreya Buddha, in its resplendent golden avatar. From here continue to the sand dunes at Hunder where you can spot the world-famous double-humped camels, one of the rarest mammals, lounging on the desert. (Note: Carry extra fuel as there’s only one functional petrol pump at Diskit).

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Homestay in Hunder, Nubra Valley (10,000 ft.)
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Sand dunes at Hunder in Nubra Valley
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Stargazing in Ladakh
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That moment in life when you not only see shooting stars but also capture one.

Day 7: After breakfast return to Leh, evening at leisure.

Day 8: Leh to Tso Pangong, approximately 160 km’s via Chang La Pass.

Tso Pangong: Lukung offers you basic stay options for INR 400-500. Spangmik which is some 8 km’s ahead offers Homestays for INR 1500 and Luxury Tents for INR 5500. (Note: These are the standard prices, but you can always bargain for better deals) that includes your dinner & breakfast. Embrace yourself for some astonishing fireworks in the sky at night).

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The mesmerizing Pangong Lake at 13,943 ft.
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Stargazing at Tso Pangong

Day 9: After breakfast return to Leh, evening at leisure.

Day 10: River rafting at Indus or Zanskar River will cost around 1600 INR. The rapids might not turn out to be that adventurous, but the view is totally worth it. (Note: Body surfing here is much more fun).

OR

Take this day to explore the small lanes of Leh by foot, try bouldering, or just go shopping and at Leh Market. You can try some local Ladakhi food which has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being Thukpa (noodle soup), and Tsampa, known in Ladakhi as Ngampe (roasted barley flour).

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River Rafting at Zanskar River in Ladakh

Day 11: Leh to Tso Moriri & Tso Kar, is approximately a 470 km round trip going via Chumathang and returning via Tanglang La.

Tso Moriri – Homestays and Luxury Tents are available at Korzok. Flanked by golden brown mountains on one side and lush green plains on the other, Tso Moriri is nothing short of surreal. It is one of those few places where you can spot the rare and endangered black-necked cranes, Tibetan wolves, Tibetan foxes, and Tibetan Gazelles. You can even spot marmots – incredibly cute rodents, often found nibbling on something.

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The surreal Tso Moriri at 14,835 ft.
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The endangered black-necked cranes

(Note: Riding here is personally not advised as it’s a remote area and the roads are in a bad shape. It’s also one of the longest journeys you will be making).

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Leh Bus Timings

(Note: There’s a state bus from Leh to Tso Moriri on the 10th, 20th & 30th of every month. Cost 370 INR one way). The bus is not available in 2021 due to Covid-19.

Day 12: After breakfast return to Leh, evening at leisure.

Day 13: Depart Leh: Check for flight fares from Srinagar to your home destination, if they are cheap you can return via Srinagar. If not, return the same way via Manali (Note: Flying out from Srinagar is way cheaper than flying out from Leh).

A shared taxi to Srinagar will cost around INR 2000-2300. The taxi departs Leh at 17:00 hrs and arrives in Srinagar by 09:00 hrs. (Note: A guest house in Srinagar near Dal Lake will cost around INR 400-500, wherein a houseboat will cost around INR 800 for a double room).

Day 14: Arrive in Srinagar: Explore Srinagar.

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Shikara Ride at Dal Lake in Srinagar

Day 15: Take a flight back to your home destination (Note: If you want to save days, then be wise and book your return tickets from Leh well in advance).

If you liked this blog, you may also like to read 10 Spectacular Lakes in Ladakh & The 5 Best Travel Routes to Ladakh.

A humble request – Garbage disposal in the region is a major issue. Please carry your trash with you and dispose of it at the appropriate place.

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