Ultimate Guide To Leh Ladakh Bike Trip 2021:
Leh Ladakh is one of the most remote places located in the Indian Himalayas. Each motorcycle enthusiast always dream of going to Leh Ladakh bike trip once in their lifetime. But before fulfilling your dream of riding on this mighty Himalayan landscape please read through this blog and make yourself 100% ready before the trip.
About Leh Ladakh Bike trip
Ladakh is one of the most visited places in the Indian Himalayas on Motorcycles because it offers one of the world’s highest motorable roads, most dangerous terrains, and never-ending snow-capped mountains.
Best time for Leh Ladakh road trip:
Ladakh lies at an altitude of about 3300 Mtrs ASL and receives heavy snow during the winters, so the best time to visit Leh Ladakh will be from June to September. This will be the summer season in the Himalayas and the sky will be clear most of the time. So it's the best time for Leh Ladakh bike trip will be from June every year.
How much time required for Leh Ladakh bike trip:
It completely depends on each individual, you can explore Leh Ladakh either from the Manali side or Srinagar side and both will take at least 10-12 days to complete the circuit, however people with less number of days in hand can take a flight to Leh and do 5 days Leh to Leh bike trip circuit covering major attraction places. But few of the travellers who like leisure experience spend more than 30 days to explore the entire region at their own pace.
Leh ladakh trip budget:
There are a lot of parameters which decide the cost of your Ladakh trip budget, firstly starting point and ending point, type of vehicle you choose, number of days you are planning for Leh Ladakh bike trip, type of accommodation you choose, and whether you opt to travel in a small group, big group or solo. So all this will add up to your cost, in an ideal scenario if you want to do a pocket-friendly Ladakh bike trip then it will cost you around anywhere between INR 45000/- to INR 60000/- per person for a 12 days tour to Ladakh which will start from Delhi and end in Srinagar. (Please note this will include travelling in big groups with standard accommodation or hotels). If you need a leisure and luxury Ladakh motorcycle tour then you may need to spend around INR 1,00,000 to INR 1,50,000/- for 15 days Leh Bike trip with a small group and luxury & boutique properties.
Best motorcycle/four-wheel for Leh Ladakh road trip:
So after deciding the number of days and budget for your Leh Ladakh road trip, the next parameter will be on choosing the right vehicle for your Leh trip. If you decide to travel by Motorcycle then Royal Enfield is the best to travel in the Himalayas, they are reliable and sturdy as well. Bullet 500cc and Himalayan 411 cc motorcycles are the best ones in Royal Enfield. If you want to choose any car then any 4x4 would be good or any cars with higher ground clearance will be sufficient for Leh Ladakh road trip.
Leh Ladakh bike trip route:
There are 2 major land routes to Ladakh, one will start from Manali and end in Srinagar and another will start from Srinagar and ends in Manali.
Leh Ladakh route 1: Delhi – Manali – Keylong – Sarchu – Leh – Khardung La pass- Nubra Valley – Pangong lake – Kargil – Srinagar
Leh Ladakh route 2: Srinagar – Kargil – Leh – Nubra – Pangong Lake – Sarchu – Keylong – Manali – Delhi
Leh Ladakh route 3: Arrive at Leh by flight – Nubra valley – Pangong Lake – Local sightseeing – And departure from Leh by flight
Leh Ladakh route via Spiti valley bike trip: Delhi – Chandigarh – Shimla – Narkanda – Sarahan – Chitkul – Nako – Tabo – Kaza – Chandratal – Keylong – Sarchu – Leh – Nubra – Pangong lake – Kargil – Srinagar – Jammu – Chandigarh – Delhi (Longer route but it’s a once in a lifetime trip)
Top places to visit on Leh Ladakh motorbike trip:
Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake
Pangong Lake is situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh at the height of 4350 Mtrs. The lake is 134 Km long and extends from India to the Tibet region(Mainland China). 60%of the lake that means 80kms of the lake lies in the Tibet region and rest with India. While riding to Pangong Lake we will cover Changla Pass, which is the 3rd highest motorable pass in the world. There are only a few permanent villages in the Pangong region. Spangmik is the importance of them, where major accommodation in the Pangong lake available there. You can either visit Pangong on a day tour or overnight stay as well. I would suggest staying overnight to enjoy the pristine blue saline lake.
The coldest desert is what we call, Nubra valley is situated next to Shyok and Nubra river. Diskit, Hunder, Panamik, and Turtuk are some of the important villages in Nubra Valley. It is also close to the Siachen base camp. Nubra valley is famous for the Double hump Bactrian camel and Diskit monastery.
Leh Ladakh local sightseeing:
One can visit Thicksey Monastery, Shey Palace, Hemis Monastery, War Museum, Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, Likir Monastery, Alchi Monastery, Indus-Zanskar Sangam, and river rafting as well.
Essential things to carry for Leh Ladakh bike trip:
After doing a lot of research and years of hands-on experience in travelling to Leh Ladakh on a motorcycle, we have listed down the important things to carry on your Leh Ladakh road trip are as follows:
Clothing – carry riding jacket, riding pants (If not good quality Knee Guard, winter riding gloves, balaclava or face mask, thermals, socks, high ankle boots or gumboots which are economical and reliable, winter wear hoodies, jeans and T-shirts and lastly waterproof or rain gear jackets.
Accessories: Sunscreen lotion SPF 50 and above, Sunglasses, Skull cap, warm gloves & woollen socks during the night
Daily use packs: Face cream, lip balm (always keep in your pocket), petroleum jelly, cold cream(Himalaya or Nivia), Tooth Brush, Toothpaste, liquid soap, toilet paper, shampoo, towel, deo, and waste bin covers to dispose any unwanted things.
Short bites: It's essential to carry a few short eats or eatables like dry fruits, chocolates, energy bars, and water bottles
Medicines: Personalised first aid kits, Diamox, disprins, and basic medicines for fever, stomach upset, vomiting & etc
Electronics: Phone Charger, power bank, spare camera battery, memory cards, multipurpose plug points,
Important documents: Driving license, RC book of the vehicles, valid insurance, Passport, Voter id, VISA copy.
Tips for Leh Ladakh bike trip:
Each rider must be above 21 years old with a valid Driving license
One should have minimum riding experience on any motorcycle
Must be fit and healthy to take such an adventurous trip
Always try to ride in a group instead of riding solo, it does not only give you a sort of confidence also it will help you during uncertainties (However, if you are an experienced solo traveller then it’s not a problem. For the first-timers group ride is the best and safest)
Know the terrain and weather info before you start the journey.
Choose the right motorcycle for the trip which suits your riding style and should be good enough to ride on such harsh terrains.
Keep yourself well hydrated
Read about Acute Mountain Sickness
Understand the culture of Ladakh and its people
And one last thing, respect nature and nature will respect you back
Is Ladakh motorcycle tour safe to do?
Yes, riding in the Himalayas is always once in a lifetime experiences and one cannot deny that, but however you should be very cautious while riding on these terrains, if you are not well prepared or you are not any part of a group rides then it's gonna be very tough in some stretch. Don’t jump into conclusion easily, do your homework well and study enough blogs and get practical exposure about riding the motorcycles and maintaining them. Apart from that Ladakh is one of the safest places in India to travel; people are very humble and helpful. They are the one who comes first when you struck due to landslides or any health issue, remember one thing Never hurt their cultural feelings and don’t insult their terrain, they are very sensitive about Ladakh and its culture.
Money, Banks, ATM’s and Currency conversion:
Leh being the headquarters of Ladakh region, you will get a couple of good banks and ATM’s which work round the year, but however sometime it may interrupt due to bad weather conditions and heavy snowfall. There are at least 5-6 ATMs available in Leh town.
There are plenty of currency exchange centres in Leh, but get in touch with you travel guide or hotel reception for better currency conversion, they can get a good deal.
Mobile connectivity and Internet:
Only postpaid sim cards will work outside J&K and Ladakh regions, you can get prepaid sim card in Leh on arrival. But there is always a restriction on buying a local sim card since it is closely located to border areas. Only BSNL, Airtel and Idea works in Leh. Apart from Leh, no other regions like Nubra or Pangong will get a proper network. It depends on the weather condition.
Internet connectivity is also fluctuating always, have seen sometimes there is no internet and phone connectivity for weeks. So better be prepared for a complete disconnect from other parts of the world!!!
Altitude Mountain Sickness or AMS:
Altitude sickness is one of the most common problems that occur in during Travelling to Ladakh, because of its altitude. Common cause of AMS is due to lack of oxygen and our body won’t get acclimatise to that altitude so easily.
Minor symptoms of AMS are headaches, vomit sensation, fatigue, shortness of breath and giddiness. Severe symptoms will be like shortness of breath even you are sitting or not doing any activity, severe vomiting and inability to walk.
Avoiding AMS is pretty simple if you follow the instructions of your Travel guide in Leh Ladakh bike trip, the primary thing is to avoid climbing the mountains quickly, take time and increase your altitude gradually, Drink at least 3-5 litres of water every day, this will keep your hydrated, Avoid smoking and consumption of alcohol at least for first few days till your body gets acclimatise, avoid having heavy dinner and non-veg during the night because having heavy food will trouble you in your metabolism and most of the oxygen in your body gets used to digesting the food inside the body. In case of primary symptoms occurs start taking Diamox tablets one per day after the breakfast and take another after dinner.
Leh Ladakh bike trip road condition:
Every year roads to Ladakh will be completely closed during winters starting from November till May end or early June. Here are some of the important recent updates on the road conditions of 2 major highways which connect Leh ladakh to rest of the world.
Manali – Leh Highway Status 2020:
· Manali to Keylong – Good roads almost till Keylong, since after opening of Atal tunnel the road connectivity to Keylong is much better. Average riding times 4-6 Hrs depending on the number of breaks you takes.
· Keylong to Sarchu – From Keylong till Baralachala pass the roads are average but from Baralachala to Sarchu condition are very bad with full of slush and mud. Average riding time 7-9Hrs.
· Sarchu to pang – Bad roads with dirt tracks and bumpy roads-Average riding time 3-4Hrs.
· Pang to Tanglangla – Good with straight road for 15 odd kms – Average riding time 1hr
· TanglangLa pass to Leh – Very good road till Leh. 2-3hr you can reach Leh from Tanglangla pass.
· Leh to Pangong – 60% of the roads are good and 40% bad stretch, average riding time 6-8Hrs
· Leh to Nubra valley – 70% of good roads and 30% bad stretch – Average riding time 6-7Hrs
· Pangong to Nubra valley via Shyok River – 80% off road and 20% good stretch. Average riding time 6-8Hrs.
· Leh to Tsomoriri – 70% good roads and last stretch of 40-50kms are bad roads with full of dirt tracks and bumpy roads. Average riding time 8-10Hrs
· Leh to Kargil – very good roads. 6-8hrs of riding time.
· Kargil to Srinagar – Very good roads. 6-8Hrs of riding time.
Riding difficulties on Mountain Passes:
There are 10-11 mountain pass you will get if you are riding on leh ladakh bike trip, starting from Manali to Srinagar via Leh and covering Pangong and Nubra. Each mountain pass is different in altitudes and one need to be extra cautious whenever you will be riding through these passes.
· Rohthang Pass – This is the first mountain pass you will get if you are riding from Manali to Leh bike trip, roads are decent to good from Manali till Rohthang , but after Rohthang once you start descending towards Koksar , the roads are horrible, look out for slush and slippery on curves
· Baralacha La pass – Average roads while ascending to Pass from Zing Zing bar, in between few water crossing are there. But while descending from Baralachala pass its tougher, roads are narrow and lot of water streams in between.
· Nakee La : Decent roads while ascending and descending, you will get Gata loops while riding
· LachungLa pass – Decent roads with small stones and dust, becareful during the curves
· Tanglangla Pass – Excellent roads while ascending from Moore plains and after the pass. One of the best roads to ride in Leh Manali highway
· Changla Pass – Trickiest pass on the entire Leh Ladakh Bike trip, very narrow and difficult due to its altitude, Better take break for few mins in Zingral and Tsoltak while riding
· Khardungla pass- It used to be a difficult pass to ride, but now the roads are pretty decent and can be done without much hassle.
· Fotu la pass – Easiest mountain pass to conquer, the roads are amazing
· Namik La pass – Same as Fotu La pass
· Zoji La – It used to be one of the trickiest and toughest mountain pass, but thanks to Border road organisation and the recent roads are pretty much decent, but still the roads are very narrow , slush and slippery.
Stay option during Leh Ladakh Motorcycle Tour:
After decided all other important factors on Leh Ladakh bike trip, you should also understand the stay options available throughout the journey. We have listed down the options available in each place from both the highways which connects to Leh Ladakh by road.
· Manali – All options available from Rs 500 to Rs50000 hotels , homestay, guesthouses and cottages
· Koksar – Road side dhaba with basic sleeping facilities and common toilet available
· Keylong – Decent hotels available with good facilities
· Jispa – Decent hotels with good facilities available , also tented accommodation down the valley also available
· Zing zing Bar – Roadside Dhabas with basic common sleeping facilities available
· Sarchu- One of the major pit stop location with lot of tented accommodation available, starting from Rs 1000 to 10000 options are available
· Pang - Roadside Dhabas with basic common sleeping facilities available, but food is very good in Pang and multiple options available
· Upshi – Basic hotels available
· Leh – Head quarters of Ladakh region and multiple options available from Rs 500 to Rs50000/-
· Lukung(Pangong Lake) – This is the first place you get once you enter Pangong lake region , few options are available with tented accommodation
· Spangmik(Pangong Lake) – One of the best destination to stay in Pangong Lake region with multiple options available, you can get tented accommodations starting from Rs1000 to Rs15000/-
· Hunder (Nubra Valley) – Lot of tented accommodation is available along with Guesthouse and Homestay as well.
· Diskit (Nubra Valley ) Guesthouse are very common in Diskit
· Turtuk (Nubra Valley ) - Only couple of good places to stay and rest all are basic homestay, one should book the accommodation well in advance here
· Lamayuru (Srinagar – Leh Highway) – Homestay are very common in this region, plenty of options available
· Kargil – Second important place in Ladakh region after Leh , so no need to worry about the stay, plenty of options available
· Drass – Few very basic hotels with basic facilities are available.
· Sonamarg – Good hotel options available
· Srinagar – Plenty of good hotels, guest houses, boutique properties and house boats available
How to prepare your Motorcycle for Leh Ladakh Bike Trip:
Condition of your bike is the most important factor during Leh Ladakh bike trip if you have decided to get your own bike for such trips. Basic things will be your bike must be in running condition and not kept in parking lot for a long time.
Which bike is suitable for Leh Bike trip?
This is first question where every biker who decided to do Ladakh bike trip, which bike is suitable. Well nobody can answer for this question since it is completely depends on individual perception. There are people who do on BMW 1200GS or Triumph Tiger 800 or any other adventure motorcycles, but on the other hand there are few people who have done on Honda Activa or 110cc motorcycle. But only difference between each motorcycles are the way you maintain it and the way you ride it. But any bike you ride just make sure it is well serviced and not an very old model, where you will get struck if proper spares not available in such terrains and because of that your trip may hamper.
Understand your Bike:
Every passionate rider will always know there machine very well than there life partners, so before you start your journey to Ladakh, first thing you should do is to understand your bike and its condition very well, try to recall how it used to response when you go on a long rides, during monsoon season and what are the pain point of the bikes and what troubles the machine more. Once you understand this pointer you will know what exactly you need to do for your bike and accordingly will you explain the same thing to your mechanic. Suppose your bike give more problem during monsoon season then understand that it might be a problem with carb and electrical due to water get blocked in few parts of the machine, like wise in long rides it may get overheat , then it may be a problem with overheating of engine and needs at most attention.
Get your bike service done:
After analysing the bike, choose your mechanic wisely who have extensive knowledge about particular models. Some mechanics are good with 150cc to 250cc bikes; few are good with Royal Enfield’s only and few on Super Bikes. Tell your mechanic a complete history of your bike like, its model, periodic service schedule, problems occurs during different season and different riding experience and etc. And importantly tell your mechanic that you are taking your bike to Leh Ladakh.
Gain knowledge about repairs:
After giving your bike for service, try to sit with your mechanic and learn some basic repairs like change of clutch cables, throttle cable replacement, spark plug check and maintenance, basic electrical work, puncture repair and chain cleaning and maintaining techniques, this will help in increase your confidence level and you will be trained enough to handle basic breakdowns during your journey.
Spares to carry for Leh ladakh bike trip:
After your bike is fully serviced , ride your bike for at least 4-5 days before you ship your bike or start the ride, this is will help you in understand that how your machine is behaving after the service. Also buy the following spares and carry with you for Leh ladakh bike trip;
· Puncture repair kit with extra tube