Important Tips For Your Ladakh Trip

by Manoj Keshwar on 28 May 2014

Whilst taking a Ladakh trip can be an exciting prospect, it is important to arm yourself with some tips and hints to ensure that your trip runs smoothly. The good news is that we have outlined many of these tips here!

The best time to visit is from June to September

1. Hotels
Foreign travelers should carry photocopies of their ID and passport, as this will be required during check in.

2. Taxis
Taxis from outside the state are not allowed into Ladakh for sightseeing. They are allowed in only for pick up and drop and will have to be parked at your hotel in Leh. There is, however, no restriction on private cars.

3. Weather
The months of June to September are pleasant during the day (~30 deg), while it is comfortably cold during night (~12 deg). It is always colder at higher altitudes. Make sure you carry warm clothes with you in Ladakh at all times.

4. Acute Mountain Sickness
Leh is at an altitude of 3500 metres and, at this altitude, acute mountain sickness (AMS) can occur to anyone. The most common symptoms of AMS are: headache, disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, nausea, coughing, breathlessness and lack of concentration.
If you're flying into Ladakh, you must allow your body to get used to the reduced oxygen. To achieve this, use your day of arrival at Leh for resting. If, however, you are travelling by road from Srinagar to Leh and have stayed a night at Kargil, the chances of getting affected by AMS are lesser. If you notice any warning symptoms (such as headache, nausea, dizziness and fatigue), take immediate rest and descend to lower altitude without any delay.

A few things to keep in mind for better acclimatization –

  • To adapt to the low atmospheric pressure, you need to give yourself time for proper acclimatization.
  • Some preventive medicines do aid acclimatization and treat altitude sickness. The most popular is Diamox (please contact your family doctor for more information or your country’s alternative).
  • Don’t exert yourself physically too much, especially on passes. A low level of oxygen could lead to fatigue in an instant and it could be very difficult to catch your breath. It is best to return to lower altitude ASAP.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol on high altitude to prevent AMS.
  • Keep yourself well hydrated.

5. Cash and ATMs
For the purchase of commodities or services in Ladakh, cash is generally preferred. Credit card charging is not common in Ladakh and is uncertain due to frequent connectivity problems. Therefore, carry a good amount of cash with you. If you find carrying cash a bit risky, go for debit cards and withdraw money from ATMs whenever required. ATMs of several banks (like SBI, AXIS Bank, J&K Bank, PNB, etc) are available in Leh Town. More inland places, like Pangong, don’t have these facilities so carry cash when traveling to inner areas of the Ladakh region.

6. ID Proof and Permits
Inner line permits are now no longer required for Indian citizens. You will need to carry copies of your Nationality ID proof (Drivers License, Voter ID, etc.), which will have to be presented at certain check posts. For all foreign travelers, your inner line permit has to be taken, which can be obtained through your travel agent. Be sure to carry 8-10 photocopies of the permit while traveling, to submit at the check points.

7. Local Culture

  • While on a trip to the Ladakh region, refrain from activities that are against the norms of Tibetan Buddhist culture. The Tibetan Buddhist culture is quite ancient and conservative. One should avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless tops (especially in monasteries, mosques, temples and gurudwaras).
  • Please do not take photographs of local people without seeking permission, nor of, or within, any religious building and of any religious ceremony.

8. Communication Facilities in Ladakh
Your pre-paid mobile connections will not work in Kashmir and Ladakh. Only post-paid connection of BSNL is operational in most parts of Ladakh.

9. Use of plastic
As plastic is officially banned in Ladakh, avoid the use of plastic bags.

10. Must carry items

  • Carry sun hat and a pair of good quality sunglasses with sufficient filter-factor to block the sun’s ultraviolet rays. It is advised to also carry sunscreen.
  • Carry light woolens for Leh and jackets for inner areas (like Tsomoriri and Pangong) if travelling between June and September.
  • Walking shoes with comfortable soles.
  • Carry a flashlight, especially when spending nights outside Leh town (such as Pangong Lake and Nubra Valley).
  • Carry all your necessary medicines, anti-allergic pills, antiseptic, anti-nausea pills, bandages and other prescribed medications.