Ladakh is India’s most physically remote and culturally distinct region,a desert in the mountain. It only takes an hour or so to fly there from Delhi, but the change of landscape and atmosphere is up side down. Vast, ice-encrusted mountains of bare brown, ochre and wine-red scree sweep from the floor of the Indus Valley, where the airport and capital city, Leh, is located. As you land, you’ll catch your first glimpse of the white-washed Buddhist monasteries that survey the valley floor from crags near the river, and of the pretty Ladakhi villages huddled around them, wrapped in stands of poplar trees and fields of vivid green or golden barley.
Leh itself is compact market town whose mud-walled, low-roofed core huddles below a Tibetan-style palace. In times past, its main bazaar was the hub of the trans-Himalayan trade in pashmina wool. These days, however, the town’s main income derives from the tourists. Leh lies at 3,524m (11,561 ft), so it’s advisable to spend a while acclimatising in your hotel, gazing across the valley at the eternal snows of the Zinchen & Markha Valley.
Pre-departure planning is important. Here are certain things you should watch for and plan for.
Check with the appropriate consulate or embassy in your country to find out if you will need a visa to visit the country of your destination, especially for an extended period of time. Some countries have extremely detailed and complicated entry/departure laws, and treat visits of a week or two very differently from longer stays.
If you’re traveling to one area, check the cost of living there. If it’s high you’ll probably want to budget more carefully and save some money before leaving. The lower the cost of living the less you’ll have to save, but be sure to have a back up reserve in emergency cases.
Talk to other people who have done a similar trip.
If you don’t know anyone personally, try any of the dozens of online travel web sites full of first-person travel stories covering every possible type of trip.
Plan big and loose. Read everything you can about the area.
There may be sights and attractions you didn’t know about. A rough outline of your trip might have three or four target points and a variety of ways to get between them.
Some trips will allow you more leeway than others. Travel plans in Asia can often be made day-by-day while summer travel in Europe should be organized at least a few weeks ahead, unless you’re prepared to hunt around for hotel rooms and train seats.
Set up a pre-trip time-line so you don’t end up with a full todo list your last week of work or school.
Things to consider are doctor’s visits for a check up, inoculations, and prescription refills; purchasing plane tickets; renewing passports and obtaining visas and other documents.
The longer the trip, the lighter you should pack. This might seem strange, but it’s true you can afford to lug a heavy bag around for a week or two, but do you want to have anything extra for a year?
Stick to the absolute basics and know what you can and cannot buy at your destination(s). There’s no point in bringing 6 months of toothpaste to Europe or buying a sarong at home to take to the tropics. If you are visiting several climates, try to arrange it so you visit the warmer places first and coldest last. That way you can purchase sweaters and long pants and not have to carry them any more than needed. Alternately, visit cold climates first and then ship unneeded layers home — or sell them off.
Make sure everything goes with everything else (if that’s important to you), and remember that layers are always best.
Be prepared for uncomfortable trips. You will often find yourself in a busy, cramped, economy class environment and it could be for many hours – especially long plane trips.
If you want to arrive at your destination refreshed and able to enjoy the sights, then try a good quality travel pillow to support your head, some ear plugs to block out the screaming babies, and an eye cover to block out the sun or cabin lights.
Make contact with the locals before you go.
Maybe you have a friend-of-a-friend or a foreign exchange student from high school you remember, or just found a friend through a travel web site; almost everyone is happy to welcome a foreign visitor to their home town. This might be as elaborate as a home-stay for a few weeks, or just coffee in their home town or dinner at a locals restaurant.
A perfect city for exploring on foot with a shop around every corner. Much of the inner city can be walked without trouble, however, in parts walking include crowds, uneven streets, heavy traffic, and skinny sidewalks. If that’s a problem, there are plenty of taxi’s to ride in and scooters to rent.
How to Travel
- Subway – The metro is the fastest transportation. Running 5am to 10pm every day.
- Bus & Train – Operated by an independent organization, busses and trains include wifi access for the public. You can take any bus or train marked with the (B Public) sign for free.
- Taxi – Available in all parts of the city. From a restaurant or hotel you can have them call the city taxi service.
- Car – Rental cars are easy to get and hotels have good parking prices. Once in the main city, you can often walk so we suggest returning the when you arrive.
- Bike – The best way to get around, other than walking, is by bike. If you don’t mind hills, you can bike anywhere. If that’s not for you, stick to the inner city with your bike.
Just a few miles away you can explore the history and legacy, drink wine and relax. You can wander the hills or be lulled by the fountains. If you have time, the attractions can fill 3 days. We’ve highlighted the best ones here.
Because of the number of sights to see, some first-time visitors should start with an organized tour. Some things can be covered in depth, other are just useful for getting your bearings.
The leading tour operators use local historians to lead their tours. Guides offer walking tours, including visits to monuments, museums, and historic locations, as well as eating tours. Tour prices can be high, but most participants consider them a trip highlight. In addition, there are many family related tours, sights and more appealing activites to children.
Walking tours, like the 3 hour ghost tour, is an exclusive in the early evening. A bus excursion ruins special tours like you’ve never seen. Also worth consideration, a group of art historians and architects do a theatrical retelling from dramatic scripts. Go on a tour, expect guides to break out into a rendition of “Singing in the Rain”, it’s a lot of fun.
- Leh – Shankar Gompa, Shey, Thiksey & Hemis
- Spituk – Monestry & Trek to Zinchen
- Markha – Markha Village
- Nimaling – Treking & Visit to Hemis Monastry
- Banks – Open Monday to Friday 9am to 2pm. Some banks are closed for lunch.
- Emergencies – For police, dial a local phone number; for ambulance call a hospital.
- Internet Access – Wifi is standard in most hotels and free in many coffee shops.
- Mail – Buy stamps at the Post Office. Convenient post offices are located all cities. Most are open Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
- Safety – Pickpocketing can be a common problem. It is suggested for men to keep wallets in their front pocket. Purse snatching also occurs at times.
This site contains information with a very personal and friendly structure. It also has great links to other related sites online.
Information, internet access, maps, and train passes are available at local Tourist Information terminals. These are located at various sites around the city. Expect a wait if you arrive late in the afternoon or during lunch time. Local travel agencies are also helpful for quick information and finding hotels. There is no service charge for these services. Hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, and Saturday 10am to 2pm.
Getting in from the airport and other arrival locations. Travel planning is about more than just knowing where you’re going. Prepares to navigate, take control and be ready for anything. This section helps you steer clear of disaster and stay open enjoy the unexpected.
- Plane – Flights arrive at the main airport near city center. If flying from European cities, you might land at a connecting airport. There is a tourist information office at the Terminal E, international arrivals, open 8am to 6pm.
- Train – A train station is on the lower level of the airport. To get into the city, follow the marked signs.
- Taxi – From the airport there is a flat-rate for the 1-hour trip, depending on traffic. Hotels charge up to $80 for shuttle service.
- Train & Bus – Trains and buses arrive a city center. This is the transportation hub for the city and is surrounded hotels.
A perfect place for exploring on foot, with local shops around every corner. You will eventually walk somewhere, it’s just going to happen. If you don’t like crowds, uneven cobblestones, heavy traffic or narrow sidewalks, take a taxi or rent a scooter.
Day 1 : Arrive / Delhi
On reaching Delhi International Airport you will be received and transferred to your Hotel. Overnight at Hotel
Day 2: Delhi / Leh
Today morning you will be transferred to Delhi Airport in order take flight for Leh, on reaching Leh you will be met and transfer to hotel. PM Sanker and Shanti Stupa. Overnight at Hotel.
SHANKAR: The Sankar Gompa is a couple of kilometers away from Leh town. It belongs to the Gelukspa school of Tibetan Buddhism . This small Gompa is branch of the Spityk Monastery, founded by the first incarnation of Skyabje Bakula (head monk of Spituk).Shanti Stupa The Japanese for World Peace built the Shanti Stupa, at Changspa, on the hilltop, and was inaugurated by Dalai Lama in 1985. Its state of the art work attracts a lot of tourists to Ladakh and is spectacular to watch.
Day 3: Leh
After breakfast proceed for full day tour of Shey, Theksey & Hemis. Today we start our excursion by visiting the monastery of Thikse. Thikse is one of the most imposing monastery in Ladakh. The monastery has 12 stories, 10 temples, a nunnery and 60 lamas in residence. It contains numerous stupas, statues, tankhas, wall painting and a large pillar engraved with the teaching of Buddha. We can also see here a collection of Tibetan scripts. After the visit of Thikse we visit the village of Shey on the eastern bank of the Indus. Shey was the royal residence and was located at an important vantage point in the Indus valley. It has a large victory stupa which is topped with gold. After the visit of the monastery of Shey we visit the monastery of Hemis. The rich monastery of Hemis is the biggest in Ladakh and is perched on top of a pleasant green hill surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 4: Leh/Spituk and trek to Zinchen (3/4 Hrs Trek)
Leave Leh early morning by Jeep and reaches at Spituk. Visit the monastery and Start trek from Zinchen easy climb gently leaving a small pass on the left, continue onto a small valley, Overnight in Tents.
Day 5: Zinchen/Yurutse (4/5 Hrs Trek)
Easy gradual ascending and passing some interesting small pastures with shepherds and finally reaching Yurutse. Overnight in Tents.
Day 6: Yurutse/Gandala/Skiu (6/7 Hrs Trek)
Yurutse follow path along the mountainside, then cross a small valley and follow zig zag steep path. Thereafter cross Gandala. Then long descent towards Shingo. After 2 Hrs. descent arrive in the valley of Markha and then after few hundred meters further will reach Skiu. Overnight in Tents.
Day 7: Skiu/Markha (7 Hrs Trek)
From Skiu, follow a good path on the right bank of Markha where one can find great vegetation. Then cross right bank of river and cross through barren plain and arrive at Chaluk. Thereafter walk along the left bank of river and after another crossing climb towards Markha village. Good camp site beyond the village and near river. Overnight in Tents.
Day 8: Markha/Tchatchutse (6/7 Hrs Trek)
Start trek towards the main valley on the right bank. The path is sometimes difficult in the river bed and pass the monastery of Humlung. Then carry on trek along the right bank and arrive in Hankar where there are several houses. The path improves and cross a broad valley on the right side. The valley becomes narrow and higher and cross bridges on to the left bank and then reaches Tchatchuste. Overnight in Tents.
Day 9: Tchatchutse/Nimaling (4700 M) 3 Hrs Trek
Trek starts on good path and several small inclines. The river is rather far to the other side and walk near a small lake, then cross pasture to Nimaling. This is one of most beautiful high valleys in Ladakh dominated by the Kang Yaze. Trek ascent towards other side and gradually reach Nimaling. Overnight in Tents.
Day 10: Nimaling/Knogmarula (5150 M)/Shang 8 Hrs Trek and drive to Hemis than to Leh
Cross the Markha valley and follow long climb along the mountain side, then zig zag road leads towards Kongmarula. Follow steep descent into gorges and then keep walking on the left bank to Chukirmo. Thereafter crossing right and left bank and arrive Shang, a beautiful camp in groves and there is a monastery an hour away from the village. Trek starts from the riverbed, then follow a good path through large blocks and then go left bank. You reach a dusty trail suitable for motor vehicles and then pass a small house and series of Chortens. Leave Martsellang on the right and follow a gently rising trail towards Hemis. Visit Hemis monastery after that drive towards to Leh via Shey and Thiksey monastery.
Day 11: Leh/Delhi / Departure
Transfer in time to the airport to connect onwards flight for Delhi. On reaching Delhi you will be received and transferred to your Hotel for wash & change, later in the evening transfer to Delhi International Airport to Board Flight Back Home.
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