Things To Know Before Visiting Leh & Ladakh: A Must Read Guide For All Riders

Things To Know Before Visiting Leh & Ladakh

Leh & Ladakh is hard to conquer whether you are planning by bike or by car.

Fortunately, there are tour companies who can help you out in planning but their charges may stop your heartbeat for a while 😛

And for that reason, lots of riders and backpackers try to cover this route on their own.

Solo traveling or riding might sound COOL! But it is not when going to Leh!

Being a budget backpacker, I also tried to do the same and succeeded in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

So let me tell you it was not that easy at all.

For Ladakh, you have to take care a lot of things and even a small mishap may cripple your plan or trip.

So I always try to suggest and guide my readers on how can someone plan a trip to Leh and Ladakh.

And due to this, I always get a lot of questions on my mail and also on my Facebook and Instagram handles from May to October. you can even follow me as well :P)

So today, I will try to answer some of them or you can say the frequently asked questions about Leh and Ladakh.

You may also read:
03 Secret Places To Visit In Ladakh That No One Is Ever Going To Tell You
Best Tips And Tricks For Your Ultimate Road Trip To Ladakh (Travel Hacks)

So let’s not waste time and dig in

Q: Contact Details Of Good Mechanic In Leh and Ladakh?

Ans: There are lots and lots of good mechanics in this Leh.
But choosing one is different.
However, it also depends on the type of bike or car you are driving.
As some of these mechanics are specialized in Royal Enfields and some pulsar and some cars.
So would suggest you to have a talk with them before approaching them.

  • Royal Enfield Workshop
    Address: Near HP Petrol Pump, Housing Colony, Leh Manali Hwy, Leh, Jammu and Kashmir 194101
  • Mohan Enfield specialist
    Run By Mohan Sharma
    Specialist in Enfield Avengers
    Contact: 7298227455
    Address: Leh Manali Road Near to Royal Enfield Workshop)
  • Shashi Bhai
    Address: Leh Airport Road
    Contact:  09419344430
  • Tashi workshop,
    Address: Skara road near to Zorawar Fort
    Phone: 9622981841
  • You may even go to Tashi. Unfortunately, I don’t have his number or address.

Plus you may even check out with locals about the best Leh Royal Enfield or other mechanics.

Q: Can I visit Leh in November?

Ans: Yes, you can. However, November in Leh and Ladakh means 0 to 2 degrees during the daytime and subzero temperature during the night. So pack your bags accordingly.
And yes, also keep in mind stay in Pangong and Nubra might not be possible because of heavy snowfall. Plus most of the hotels and restaurants in Leh remain closed this time.

Q: I am looking for a good local guide for my Leh or Ladakh trip. Can you suggest me one?

Ans: I don’t have many contacts about tour guides or local Leh guides as I don’t take one. I always plan my trip by my own. However, you may contact Arif Khan: ak788803@gmail.com

Q: What precautions should I take if I am flying to Leh?

Ans: I would never suggest you to fly to Leh unless you from a hilly region. As sometimes its very hard for the bodies from plains to adjust with this high altitude. So better reach Leh by road.

However, if you still want to fly then make sure to spend 1 -2 days in Leh to acclimatize your body with the height and then start your trip.

You may even stay in Alchi or Uleytokpo which are located at a much lower elevation.

Q: Is there anything which I should avoid when in Ladakh?

Ans: Firstly, avoid liquor in Leh & Ladakh. Leh is extremely dry and is at high altitude. Plus liquor can drain your body fluid which in result, leaves you dehydrated. So better don’t drink till you reach Manali or Srinagar.

Q: How to avoid AMS when In Ladakh?

Ans: A difficult question, I must say!

There are certain things which lead to AMS

As we all know, AMS or Altitude Mountain Sickness is related to high altitude but apart from this, it also depends on your body fitness and body acclimatization.

Plus, if you don’t smoke and is into sports or exercise, chances of avoiding AMS is greater. So better be fit or get into regular exercise or sports to avoid AMS in Leh.

Plus, make sure to spend 1 or 2 days in Leh to acclimatize your body with this extreme height.

Many travelers plan to come to Leh by flight. If you are from plains and not into trekking or any kind of fitness… then trust me it would be a bad idea.

Better, plan your trip by roads.

Let your body get familiar with the altitude gradually.

Reaching Leh and then getting hospitalized!

How does it sound?

Q: Which medicines should I carry to avoid AMS?

Ans: I never suggest my readers to go for medicines and always tell, to let their body to do the work.

However, in case of emergency there are many good medicines in the market which you can try like:

  • Diamox: Diamox is a preventive medicine so start taking it a day or two before you start your ascent. It’s not a cure and will not help in any way if you start taking after you start feeling headache or nausea or fever.
    Recommendations: 125 – 250 mg twice daily
    It has some side effects as well like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and numbness and tingling in your toes and fingers. Plus it also increases urination. So make sure to keep yourself hydrated regularly.
    Note: Always consult your doctor before taking Diamox
  • Dexamethasone: Taking 2-4mg of Dexamethasone in every 06 – 12 hours is surely an effective way to cure AMS. Have no idea about its side effects. So would suggest you to take it after consulting your family doctor.
  • Disprin /Aspirin: If you are not sure and not willing to take Diamox or Dexamethasone, then blood thinners like Disprin or even Asprin also helps to cure the symptoms of AMS. They basically help your blood carry more oxygen.
  • Oxygen Cylinder: If not, then carrying portable oxygen cylinders may help you in curing AMS related symptoms. You can buy them from any chemist shops or they are readily available in Leh as well.

Q: Which mobile phone network should I choose when in Leh? Vodafone, Airtel, Idea or Jio?

Ans: One question which is worth discussing is the mobile phone coverage in Leh & Ladakh.
As per my experience, you can make or receive calls till Keylong in Manali Leh route and Kargil on Leh Srinagar route. Beyond that Mobile phones can be used as paperweights as well.

However, in Leh town, the availability of network is comparatively good for Airtel, BSNL and Aircel users. So if you don’t have these connections, better purchase one from your home city before coming to Leh.
or else you will have to use the STD booths.
Note: STD booths are available in the main markets but they close by 10 pm.

Apart from Leh, there are some other places as well where you can get network connectivity:

Tso Moriri Lake: Apart from Chumathang, there is no network connectivity in Tso Moriri Lake, not even phone booths or cyber cafes.

Nubra Valley: BSL works fine in Diskit, Hunder, Sumur, and Turtuk. However, the only phone booth and café available in this route is in Diskit.

Pangong Tso Lake: BSNL works fine till Tangste but beyond that, there is no phone connectivity and STD booths in this region.

GPRS / Data Connectivity: As far as BSNL is concerned, its GPRS or data connection works fine in Leh and the places where towers are available. Unfortunately, it can be damn slow sometimes.

Apart from this, there are some other methods to connect as well:
Punguk -Satellite phone booth
Hanle – Satellite phone booth
Tangste – BSNL connection is there, but not that reliable
Chushul – Satellite phone booth
Tangste (15kms towards Pangong) – Satellite phone booth
Korzok – Satellite phone booth
Pangong Tso – Satellite phone booth towards Phobran
Man/Merak – Satellite phone booth

Q: Is it safe to take kids to Leh & Ladakh?
Leh Ladakh things to know

Ans: Yes, it is. However, high altitude sickness is applicable to both kids as well as adults. And that is why would suggest you to go by road and try avoiding flight to reach Leh.

Q: Petrol pumps on Leh Manali highway?

Ans: If you are traveling on Leh Manali highway by bike or by car, it is always suggested to keep a track of your meter and the petrol pumps on your route. As getting petrol here is a tough ask. There are not many petrol pumps available on Leh Manali highway and should keep reserve petrol cans and jars with you so that you don’t run out of gas.

You can fill your tank in Manali and then fill it again at Tandi which is the last gas station on this route. The next one is at Karu which is located around 380 km away and 30 km before Leh.

Plus there are two petrol pumps in Leh as well.

Unfortunately, if you are planning to take these two routes:

  • Leh – Nubra – Pangong Leh  or
  • Leh – Pangong – Tso Mosriri – Rumtse – Leh

Then you will have to carry plenty of reserve petrol. It’s like riding 700 – 900 km without any petrol stations.

Enroute, there are a couple of local shops and settlements who sell petrol but I cannot assure you the availability every time. As they always have a limited amount of it.

Q: Is there any ATMs in Leh? Does credit card work in Leh? And do I need a good amount of cash while traveling Ladakh?

Ans:  There are around 8 to 10 ATMs or more in Leh town. But be ready for a long queue during season time.
And yes, most of the hotels and travel agents don’t accept credit cards, so better keep cash with you. When starting the trip from Manali or Srinagar, take out cash for your next 2 to 3 days till you reach Leh.
Plus interior places like Pangong Tso, Hunder valley, Tso Moriri don’t have ATMs, so better keep your dollars with you

Q: Is there any authorized bike rental rates in Leh? Or it depends on your negotiation skills?

Ans: Ladakh Bike Rental Association basically governs or look after the renting vendors and their rates in Leh  Ladakh. Their rates are as follows:
Royal Enfield 500 CC All Models: Rs. 1500 per day
Royal Enfield 350 CC Classic/Thunderbird: Rs. 1600 per day
Royal Enfield 350 CC Electra:  Rs. 1000 per day
Royal Enfield 350 CC Standard: Rs. 900 per day
Honda Activa Automatic: Rs. 1400 per day
Bajaj Avenger 200 CC: Rs. 900 per day
Bajaj Pulsar 200 CC: Rs. 900 per day
Bajaj Pulsar 150 CC: Rs. 700 per day
Yamaha FZ, Hero Impulse: Rs. 700 per day
Scooters 125 CC: Rs. 800 per day
Automatic Bikes without Gear: Rs. 700 per day

Q: How to get inner line permits for Leh?

Ans: Getting inner line permits is quite easy. If you are an Indian passport holder, you can just ask your hotel guy or if you are going with any travel agent to get it done. And they mostly do it without any extra cost.
You just need a copy of your ID proof and a passport size photo.

Q: Is it safe to take kids to Leh & Ladakh?

Ans: Yes, it is. However, high altitude sickness is applicable to both kids as well as adults. And that is why would suggest you to go by road. Try avoiding flight to reach Leh.

Q: What is the fuel budget for an Enfield 350 for a 10 day Ladakh trip?

Ans: It totally depends on your riding skills. However, for an Enfield 350, I would suggest you to keep aside around 6000 – 7000 INR.
Break up:
Royal Enfield 350 CC twin Spark
Average: 30 km / litre
Manali to Leh: 475 km
You will need 475 / 30 = 16 liters one way
Cost per litre: 80 INR, so 16 * 80 = 1280 INR one way
Both way (Leh – Manali – Leh) = 1280 * 2 = 2560 INR

All the travel in and around Leh & Ladakh (Kms include both to & fro)
Khardungla: 100 km
Pangong Lake: 360 km
Hunder Valley: 300 km
Sightseeing: 40 km
Total: 800 km
So total fuel cost for Ladakh would be: 800/30: 27 liters
Total: 27*80 = 2160 INR
Bike service: 1000 INR
So Sum Total: 2160 + 2560 + 1000 INR = 5720 INR
You can just add or edit your locations and the kilometers as per your plan.
Note: Keep in mind to keep a bracket of 02 – 03K extra for unprecedented situations
And yes, don’t go for a pillion rider or else it will increase.

Q: For a 09 day trip to Leh, how much I have to spend on hotels? Is there any approximate budget that I can keep aside?

Ans: It totally depends on the type of stay you are looking for. I am giving you an estimate with which you can do the calculation.
Per night stay cost for a single person:
Road Side Camps: 150 – 200 INR
Homestay: 400 – 500 INR
Budget range hotels: 500 – 1000 INR
Mid-range hotels: 1000 – 2000 INR
Resorts: 3000 – 6000 INR
Camping (Pangong, Hunder & Tso Moriri, Keylong): 1500 – 3000 INR
Note: The cost per person may differ with the group size.

Q: What can be the expected food cost for a 10 day Ladakh trip?

Ans:  I have been to Ladakh 02 times and both the times I did that trip with an approx. 4000 INR of food budget. It includes your breakfast, lunch and Dinner as well as evening snacks.
On an average, local food will cost you not more than 100 INR per meal. Some places will be dirt cheap whereas some places may cost you a fortune.
Road side Tents: 50 – 80 INR per meal
Budget range restaurants: 100 – 200 per meal
Mid range restaurants: 200 – 400 per meal
Posh restaurants & cafes: 500 – 1000 per meal
Note: the charges depends on the type of food you order.

Q: I am planning for a bike trip to Ladakh. However, the trip is going out of my budget due to the rentals and fuel cost. Would it be a good idea to go for a pillion rider to reduce my trip cost?

Ans: Yes, it is. However, I will never suggest you this.
As it takes a lot of toll on your bikes engine plus chances of break down are higher.
Not only this, if your pillion has no idea on how to ride or no idea on bikes, then the trip can be troublesome for you.
Have experienced it.
So better think on this prospect first before starting the trip.
Plus if you are a novice biker and have no idea on how to ride on tough terrains then this idea would be a big ‘NO’.

Q: Should I go with my own bike or a rented bike?

Ans: Understand, the Manali to Leh route is a rough terrain and even the roads to Pangong, Hunder and Tso Moriri have a good amount of bad patches as well. So a good bike with a working engine is a must.
The bikes which you rent from the rental stores have gone through a lot of wear and tear and chances of break down are higher.
Plus, I always say, the bike you ride is a part of your body and you should know your bike from its tires to its handles. In rental case, you have no idea about the bike its condition and how it behaves.
So if you have a bike with good condition, I would suggest you to go for that rather than renting it from Manali, Leh or Srinagar.

Q: What things should I keep in mind before planning a bike trip to Ladakh?
Things To Know Before going to Leh & Ladakh

Ans: Do’s & Don’t For Leh & Ladakh

  • Try carrying dry food and snacks enroute. As its very helpful when you have a dry stretch with no settlements
  • Don’t purchase those 1 ltr water bottles every time. It increases plastic pollution. Better buy a handy bottle and refill it from time to time.
  • Say no to alcohol. As during peak season, there are around 6000 bottles which get dumped every day. That’s a huge amount.
  • If you think breaking beer bottles is cool. Trust me it’s not.
  • Try avoiding plastics. Leh & Ladakh’s environment is degrading day by day with the use of these plastic bags and packed foods like lays, chewing gums, cakes, and biscuits. Try to carry your own food which are dry and easy to carry or have local food.
  • Conserve water or use it when really needed. Leh is a desert which doesn’t receive much rain.
  • Respect the nature and don’t litter it with your footprints. & help the local authorities to keep Ladakh clean.
  • Many places and even lakes in Leh & Ladakh are considered holy. So respect it.
  • Respect the local culture and people.
  • Don’t play loud music. You want to enjoy ‘Honey Singh’ enjoy it in Delhi. Let the prayers flow here.
  • Ladakhi culture is different and amazing. Don’t make fun as its different and don’t influence or compare it with other cultures
  • Cover your body while visiting Buddhist Gompas
  • Eat local food and try helping the local vendors. They are the lifeline of this region.
  • Take a day or two acclimatize in Leh before going to Khardungla or Pangong
  • Have plenty of fluid and yes, it doesn’t mean alcohol
  • Make a first aid box including medicines for fever, headache, and vomiting
  • Electricity is a luxury is some places so better keep extra batteries for your mobile and cameras. Plus due to extreme cold battery discharges soon, so make it a habit to fully charge your electronics whenever you get time.
  • If going by car, use vehicles with good ground clearance. Trust me, these roads can give you a nightmare.
  • Riding solo is not suggested unless you are GOD and know how to service your bike on your own.
  • Ride early and reach early or else get ready to get tired. But that doesn’t mean you start riding at 6 am. It can be dangerous due to the presence of Black Ice
  • Especially in Ladakh, Never, I said Never Ever trust the time mentioned on Google Maps. On an average, you will be riding at an average speed of 30 km / hr.
  • Say No to pillion.
  • Riding at night is Big Big NO
  • Indian Military is there to help you but they are not your ‘Chantu Bantu’ who are there to take your orders.
  • Helmets, riding jackets, and gloves are not a fashion accessory.
  • Book a local cab from Leh for Pangong, Hunder and other places. As outside vehicles are not allowed.
  • The term Wild Life is used for animals who have no idea on how to behave with human beings. So let not disturb them for our Facebook and Insta posts.
  • Carry headlamps or torches with you
  • Keep several copies of your permits, id proofs, and passport size photographs
  • Using sunscreen and a moisturizer is a must unless you like to get tanned
  • Keep your nails trimmed. As dry atmosphere makes your nails brittle with that increase the chances of breaking and injury.
  • Oxygen levels are low in Leh and Ladakh. So better don’t Smoke unless it’s okay for you to live without oxygen.
  • Try learning Kannada. As most of the Cab Association’s owners have either studied in Mysore or have a good idea on how to speak Kannada.
  • Wear 3 to 4 layer of dresses or warm clothes instead of wearing a single jacket. You will thank me later for this.

So here was y detailed guide and pointers on various things to know before going to Leh and Ladakh.
If you have any other questions you can mail me or can message me on my Facebook and Instagram accounts.

If find it helpful do share it with your friends who are planning to visit this beautiful piece of land.

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