Leh Ladakh is or probably was, on the travel itinerary of all of us. Boasting of out of the world landscapes, pretty lakes and gorgeous setting, the place is a top hit among travellers all over the world. It takes pride in being home to the highest motorable road- Umling La. Besides, there are a number of things to do in Leh Ladakh that attract a large tourist influx all around the year. From exploring the umpteen monasteries, to taking nature walks, trekking, camping etc., the list is endless. Given below is an elaborate list of the best things to do in Leh Ladakh. Have a look!
Here is the list of 41 Things to Do in Leh Ladakh for an Action-Packed Fun Trip
The large mountain ranges of Zanskar and Ladakh will be your companions through most of your trip to Ladakh. They may even be intimidating at times. These huge mountains can make anyone feel small. However, the key is to enjoy the beauty that these mountains have to offer. The steep terrains covered with snow reflect the heavenly skies. The loud rivers rush through these mountains making for an absolutely beautiful combination of view and sounds. Every point here is an echo point so if you find yourself in a safe area, you may want to risk a shout to hear the echos ricocheting from the hills.
Remember the breathtakingly beautiful lake from 3 Idiots where Chatur lost it all? It’s the Pangong-Tso lake that traverses the boundary international boundary to stretch from India to Bhutan. The lake offers awesome site for camping and is the current hotspot for all people traveling to Ladakh. The rules do not allow boating on Pangong-Tso Lake but when the lake freezes in the winters, if you’re feeling too brave, you might want to ice skate at just the bank of the lake.
The place is a canvas colored with the blue-white skies, blue-green mountains with white tops, the calm blue water of the lake and lush green pastures. Who needs any place better than this? The Tso Moriri lake is probably not as famous as the Pangong Lake but it is still a must place to visit in Leh Ladakh for anyone taking a trip in this region. Be sure to include visiting here in your top list of things to do in Leh Ladakh.
The Chadar Trek as it is popularly known as is basically trekking over the frozen rivers. The trek over the Zanskar river is the most popular one and is often undertaken in large groups by adventure enthusiasts. The Chadar trek is generally taken in November when the river is frozen and safe to trek on while the rest of the surroundings are still friendly enough to let you survive. This is one of the toughest and most adventurous treks.
It might not look like much of a road but it’s the best that there is. Managed by the Border Roads Organization, Kardung-la Pass is the gateway to the north and can be considered by many as a tourist spot in itself. However, being at such a height, one has to take extreme care of health while traveling through the pass. On the fun side, the numerous Tibetan flags that are said to ward off bad spirits and keep you safe set up a beautiful contrast with the white snow.
A desert is probably the last thing one expects while planning a trip to Ladakh but there it is. The sand dunes of the Nubra Valley offer the tourists a very much Arabian Nights like experience. The famous two-humped camels are also found in the region and are often the highlight of the trip for those interested in animals. The origin of the desert is supposed to be from the Tethis Sea from the depths of which the Himalayas are said to have risen.
The science behind the phenomenon is unknown but it has been observed that if you leave your vehicle at the base of the hill with the brakes unlocked, it will start moving uphill slowly on its own. Magic? Definitely not. It’s simply the superpowers you get when you reach this place ;)
Ladakh is known as the land of the monks and monasteries and rightly so. Spituk is one of the many monasteries in the region. This is famous for its beautifully carved location at the top of a hill. With nearby mountains being much taller, the location is not exactly a vantage point but the view from the monastery is still pretty amazing. The winds at the night however may chill you to the bones.
Namgyal Tsemo Gompa or the Namgyala Monastery is particularly famous for the Buddha statue it hosts. It has previously also been visited by the Dalai Lama himself. Monks and Buddhism enthusiasts flock from all over the country to spend a few days here. Like most monasteries in Ladakh, it allows volunteers to stay and help with the daily chores at the Gompa while enjoying a few peaceful days here.
Hemis Gompa is the biggest monastery in Ladakh. The annual Hemis festival that takes place in July is visited by people in large numbers. The masked parade is the highlight of the festival and is said to be one of the most sacred rituals here. Every year, on the 10th day of Tibetan Lunar month called as Tse Chu, the Monastery holds this two-day celebration to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava who is often said to be a reincarnation of Buddha.
Ever wondered why the sky looks so beautiful when seen in movies but not from your home? This places shows you how being in the lap of nature and away from all the hustle of the city can let you have one of the best nights of star-gazing in your life. If you want to have the maximum from The Lamayuru monastery, plan your trip to Ladakh in sync with the time of shooting stars in the area.
The beautiful wood work is probably the best non-Buddhist thing about this Monastery. The museum that caters to the history of the Ladakh region comes a close second. The picturesque surroundings come third and the list is unending. Visiting here is one of the topmost things to do in Leh Ladakh.
Ladakh is an ideal region for all mountainous adventure sports. The trek through Suru Valley to the Drang Drung glacier is one of the best in this aspect offering a mix of all the possible things one may do on the mountains. The trek is among one of the tough ones in the region and is only taken up by the experienced trekkers.If you an adventure enthusiast, you should definitely include visiting here in your top list of things to do in Leh Ladakh.
What better place to invoke some thoughts from within to asses yourself in life. One of the many reasons why people take a trip to Leh-Ladakh is to find some time to take a break from the everyday schedule and re-assess their lives. Shanti Stupa offers the perfect location for the same. The nighttime view is even better and a little meditation besides the Stupa might help you get what you came here for. It is one of the magnificent Tibetan structures that has ever been built. The architecture and the beauty of this place are unexplainable.
The ancient Leh Palace might have lost its grandeur but the wood and stone ruins are still a must visit for anyone who is interested in the historical architecture of the area. The palace was built by the Namgyal king in the 17th century and is 9 stories high. The building is under the control of Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and offers a panoramic view of the Stok Kangri and Zanskar ranges across the Indus Valley.
Leh is a multicuisine city serving Indian, Tibetan, Chinese and even Korean. The cuisine here exhibits tints of these foreign influences. Visitors must try out the local dishes which almost define the cuisine here such as Thukpa, noodle soup;Tsampa, known in Ladakhi as Ngamphe (roasted barley flour), and Skyu which is a heavy pasta dish with plenty of veggies as well as the very popular and delicious Momos which are steamed dumplings stuffed with vegetables or meat. Drinks include Tea, coffee, beer and Chang which is an alcoholic beverage drunk especially on festive occasions.
One of the most exiting things to do in Leh Ladakh is experiencing the river rafting. The white waters of the mountain rivers in Ladakh including Zanskar are considered to be one of the best rafting destinations in India. However, do not be fooled by the fact that it is only done in summers. The water will still be cold enough to freeze you should you fall in. Only if you’re planning to have some extreme adventure sports in Ladakh, should you take up this ride down the river.
The close vicinity with raw nature means the Ladakh region is very rich in flora and fauna. Wildlife particularly has adopted greatly to the climatic conditions and has made a distinct space of its own. Snow Leopard is a specialty of the area; although you might not want to meet it in person in the wild. The local zoos will offer you the best experience in terms of wildlife and is a must-do-activity for anyone visiting Ladakh.
Leh-Ladakh, as already mentioned earlier, is a must visit place for all photography lovers – especially, Astro-photographers! The Major reason why Ladakh is a favourite among astrophotographers is because it provides clear night skies to complement the scenic beauty. Cities don’t generally have such pellucid skies owing to the pollution around.
It might come as a surprise to even some of the most hardcore animal rights enthusiasts but there exits such a thing as the Donkey sanctuary. It caters to the old and sick donkeys in the region that are always needed by the locals owing to the geographical conditions but left when sick or old. The place in Leh Ladakh is a very lively barn and will probably set a smile on the face of children and adult alike with its witty posters and graffiti.
The roads in Ladakh are a necessity for effective safety at the border. This means they are always kept in the best possible condition and offer perfect opportunity for a bike trip into the unknown territories. Bikes are easily available on rent as well in Ladakh and surrounding areas. The bikes usually scale these roads smoothly. However, the roads might become treacherous at times so its better to keep some necessary backup items.
How about getting allured by a camel ride amid marvelous sand dunes?! These camels are not even the usual ones that you must have seen in Rajasthan or in pictures. These are bactarian camels, having two humps and were the major mode of transport to travel to silk route. The ride starts from Hunder to Turtuk and the timings are 9:00 Am to 12:00 Pm and 3:00 Pm to 6:00 Pm. The activity is one of the exotic things to do in Leh Ladakh.
Ladakh is a very friendly place and you’ll find many people willing to share their own experiences and stories of Ladakh with you. The monks and children are particularly helpful and will go out of their way to get you accustomed to the culture of Leh and make you feel at home. This is one of the top touristy things to do in Leh Ladakh.
For all those who like to fill their bags with souvenirs and local produce, the market offers beautiful Tibetan jewellery, motifs, decorated carpets and woolen clothes which are sure to fulfill your shopping appetite. From pocket-friendly tokens to pieces of sartorial luxury, and adornments for home, there is much for everyone's taste while shopping Ladakh. Market Browsing is one of the topmost things to do in Leh Ladakh.
Umling La Pass is the most famous highest motorable roads situated at an elevation of 19,300 feet in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. If you are a motorbike enthusiast, you would be surprised to know that Umling La is the world's highest motorable road filled with a lot of adventure and thrill. This fascinating pass stretches over a distance of 86 km connecting two quaint villages lying on the Indo-China border namely Chisumle and Demchok. Apart from its altitude, the reason that makes Umling La Pass special is the fact that this place is devoid of civilization and lies completely barren.
The Phuktal or Phugtal Monastery is an isolated monastery situated in the south-east part of Zanskar region in Ladakh. The Gompa owes its legacy to the renowned preachers and scholars who in ancient times resided in this cave. It has been the place for meditation, teaching, learning, and enjoyment. Phuk means "cave", and tal means "at leisure" in Zanskari dialect. The Phugtal monastery, which once was a retreat, looks like a honeycomb from a distance, hence giving it the name. The 2250 years old monastery is the only one that can be reached by foot. Trekking lovers would find this as a great getaway full of enchanting sights and sounds.
Known for its majestic and moon shaped terrains, Ladakh is visited by nature lovers and adventurous enthusiast. Sitting in the lap of the mighty Himalayas, trekking in Ladakh is an experience with countless thrilling and exciting trekking routes and trails. From traversing over a glacier, climbing long stretches of mountainous terrain, and manoeuvring their way through a long and steep ridge, Ladakh treks have easy to difficult challenges, even for professional trekkers. A myriad of beautiful and serene high altitude passes, valleys, flora and fauna make Ladakh a dream vacation destination.
Located close to the Indus river, it was built in 1825 AD by King Tsespal Tondup Namgyal. Well known for its architecture and design, beautiful gardens and amazing views, the palace presents a collection of royal attires, crown and other royal materials. Easily reachable through jeeps and shared taxis, the palace is a worth seeing place. Spituk Monastery is a nearby attraction to visit.
Chemrey Monastery, a 400-year-old yet unexplored Buddhist monastery, is located approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) east of Leh, Ladakh, northern India. It belongs to the Drugpa monastic order and was founded by the Lama Tagsang Raschen and dedicated to King Sengge Namgyal in 1664. The major highlight of this grand edifice is the high statue of Padmasambhava. The other notable item at Chemrey Monastery is the huge collection of ancient scriptures with the text emboldened in gold letters with the titles in silver. The two major highlights, along with the dazzling view of the surrounding areas make Chemrey Monastery a well-known and visited attraction in Leh Ladakh region.
Tso Kar is a fluctuating salt lake in scenic Ladakh Valley. Popular as the white lake, and unlike its counterparts Tso Moriri and Pangong Tso, Tso Kar Lake is the most peaceful and calm of them all and also the smallest of the three. There are only a few yak sheds, a monastery and a couple of nomadic families in the surrounding. An overnight camping expedition is recommended as the experience is unlike any other. Tso Kar also has a large variety of birds for bird lovers as the marshlands surrounding the lake supports an amazing array of birdlife.
Often termed the paradise of mountain bikers, Leh Ladakh has thousands of tourists coming in every year to experience the thrill of driving on its steep slopes and adrenaline gushing paths. For adventurous daring mountain bikers, Leh-Manali highway is spectacular road while enjoying the picturesque landscapes. Mountain Biking in Ladakh is best possible or opens in late May and closed by September end when the snowfall reclaims the high passes.
Sankar Gompa is well known for its excellent styles and elements architecture and is an official residence of Kushok Bakul, the head of one of the Buddhists sect, Gelug-pa sect. It shares its walls with the monastery and is an important tourist spot in the city.
The villages of Dha (also called as Dah), and Hanu are amongst the only few villages that are home to the Drogpa tribe of Leh. The tribe, which is different from the Ladakhi tribe found in the rest of the area are quite hospitable people. The Drogpa are culturally, racially and linguistically different from the rest and are said to be the only living descendants of the original Aryan (Indo European) race.
At an altitude of about 4000 to 9000 feet, Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary is a world away from the world offering its visitors something extraordinary from the wildlife reserves one usually sees. You can spot rare wildlife like the black necked crane and the Tibetan Wild ass and roam around a host of lakes and marshes. The sanctuary is frequented often for the Pangong Lake that it houses, which is quite a highlight of Leh's tourism scene.
Located at approximately 4 km from Leh, the Hall of Fame Museum was built in memory of the brave soldiers who lost their lives fighting for India at the Indo-Pakistan war. Maintained by the Indian Army, the museum showcases seized arms and amenities of Pakistani Army, pictures and biographies of brave soldiers. A section of the Hall of Fame Museum also displays Siachen area, exhibiting apparel and amenities used by the Indian Army in the region. Apart from this, one can also witness items related to Ladakhi culture, history, vegetation and wildlife found across the globe.
Kargil lies near the Line of Control facing Pakistan-administered Kashmir's Baltistan to the west, and Kashmir valley to the south. Zanskar is part of Kargil district along with Suru, Wakha and Dras valleys. Kargil was at the center of a conflict between India and Pakistan in 1999.
An amazing experience that all the trekkers yearn for, Darcha Padum Trek is one of the popular treks which lead to the Zanskar Valley. Situated in Himachal Pradesh, the trail continues to lead through Zanskar and several monasteries there. In fact, the trek from Darcha to Padum has magnificent views of scenic beauty from Manali to Leh. The beauty of the pastoral mountains as you head towards Leh is unparalleled and glorifying. The ancient villages and inhabitants of the villages have a rustic feel to them displaying their beautiful culture and traditions.
A peculiar landscape near Lamayuru on Leh-Kargil Road is the MoonLand. It is called so fondly, because the landscapes here are said to be like that of the moon. It has also been said often, that on a full moon night, the area is an extraordinary sight to behold, something one doesn't get see everyday, making it a must visit area of the town.
Near the Diskit monastery stands a 32 meter tall statue of Maitreya Buddha facing towards the Shyok river. This statue has been recently built, with 8 Kg gold which was donated by the head of Gompa and was sanctified by H. Dalai Lama on 24th July 2010. It is said that this statue was built to protect the village from wars and to promote world peace.
This place is good to buy souvenirs for friends and family. Wooden choktse tables carved with images of mythical beasts are available from the Handicrafts Industrial Cooperative Shop.
One of the most exotic things to do in Leh Ladakh is to watch the Llams perform the Chhams. The performance involves a dance drama executed by the Llams in colorful costumes. The whole event is filled with euphoria and is a delight to witness. These performances get especially popular during the Hemis Festival or the Ladakh Festival.