Winters are almost here and some of you must be planning a winter trip to Ladakh, hoping to experience bone chilling temperatures, snow covered mountains and walk on the frozen Pangong Tso. This winter trip plan and itinerary for Ladakh is perfect for those who aren’t planning to visit Ladakh for trekking, rather to enjoy and photograph this heavenly abode in Himalayas.
Ladakh Winter Trip Itinerary
Day 1, Leh: Arrive in Leh; rest till noon or till lunch (depending on how you feel). If you aren’t feeling any effects of AMS (headache, breathlessness, nausea etc.), then visit Shanti Stupa and Leh Palace. Reach Leh Main Market by evening, have a light stroll of the market (should help you acclimatize) and have dinner at Neha Sweets.
Day 2, Sham Valley: Apply for Inner Line Permit (PAP if you are a foreigner) for Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri. Then visit Hall of Fame, Magnetic Hill, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Indus and Zanskar Confluence, Alchi, Likir and Basgo Monasteries. Stop at Nimmu for samosa and chole-bhature (not great, but decent). Dinner at Neha Sweets or at the hotel you are staying at.
Day 3, Khardung La and Nubra Valley: Travel on the Highest Motorable Road in the World, Khardung La. After having your customary photo taken at the pass, quickly descend to Nubra Valley, in order to avoid spending too much time at high altitude. Stay at Diskit or Hunder Village, and post lunch, visit Diskit Monastery.
Day 4, Nubra Valley: Visit Hunder Sand Dunes, thereafter head to Sumur and Panamik Villages for a short visit (you may wish to get your lunch packed from your hotel). Then head back to Leh and en route, visit Namgyal Tsemo Gompa (if you happen to arrive at Leh before dark.)
Day 5, Pangong Tso: Even though Khardung La is the highest motorable road, Chang La is steeper. So after a nerve wrecking ascend to Chang La and descend to Durbuk, head to Pangong Tso for beautiful views of this serene lake. If you are traveling between middle of January and end of February, you will see completely frozen Pangong Tso, on which you can even drive your own car. If you are visiting earlier than that, you will see Pangong Tso in various hues of blue, either way, you won’t be disappointed. Around evening, head back to Tangste for night stay. Make sure to have your breakfast at the second last dhaba in Karu, it has delicious parathas.
Day 6, Harong Wet Lands and Chumathang: Visit Harong Wet Lands and then head to Chumathang Village for night stay. En route have your lunch at Karu and then dinner at Chumathang. Night at Chumathang would likely be your comfiest night in Ladakh (if you aren’t staying in a centrally heated hotel in Leh), thanks to the hot springs under the Hot Spring Resort.
Day 7, Tso Moriri: Visit Tso Moriri Lake, then head back to Leh. Have your breakfast and lunch at Chumathang, since Korzok Village will have few if any amenities available at that time.
Day 8, Monastery Circuit: Visit Hemis, Shey, Thiksey and Spituk Monasteries. Also visit Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, Namgyal Tsemo Gompa and Hall of Fame, if you weren’t able to visit these earlier. Do a bit of shopping (there is a cooperative store behind the Main Market, little ahead of taxi stand), have your dinner at Neha Sweets and enjoy your last night in Ladakh.
Day 9: Fly back.
Above itinerary is perfect for those, who work 5 days a week and can afford to take 5 day leave from work. If all you can manage is 7 days, then you will have to skip Nubra Valley or Tso Moriri and do Pangong Tso as a day trip. If you have a lot more days, then well, lucky you, Ladakh have a lot more places to offer to travelers and you can leave a comment below, stating the number of days you have in hand and I will design a free personalized itinerary for you.
Tips: Make sure to drink plenty of water and eat good wholesome food to keep your energy up and avoid dehydration. Avoid taking off gloves while outside and make sure to avoid going out, when your hairs are wet. Also make sure you do not overexert yourself, since Acute Mountain Sickness can be a real killer. Check out my Ladakh Winter Travel FAQ for more information on traveling to Ladakh in winter.