Duration – 10 Days
Delhi – Manali – Keylong – Jispa – Sarchu – Leh – Pangong Tso – Nubra Valley – Srinagar
Ladakh can be explored from Srinagar side. But since most of the travellers prefer the Manali – Ladakh route, I will provide a very comprehensive ‘Leh Ladakh Itinerary‘ you can follow along with an on-the-go route map to reach Leh. I will also talk about the bus schedules if in case you want to explore this hill station at a minimum cost.
Manali is chosen for many reasons as the start point. Travellers believe that the route is very beautiful as compared to Srinagar and one can also hire bikes from here. I got a chance to visit Ladakh with ‘High Mountains’. From mighty mountains to cold dessert, riding amidst such a landscape on a bike is worth every experience.
Below is a step by step ‘Leh Ladakh Itinerary’ to help you plan your trip a little better.
Day 0 – Leave from Delhi
Catch an overnight bus from Delhi. Delhi has several points where buses to Manali can be taken. The government one leaves from ISBT Kashmiri Gate and the private ones leave from Majnu ka Tilla.
Bus Duration from Delhi to Manali – 14 hours
Distance between Delhi and Manali – approx. 600 KMs
Day 1 – Manali
The major reason for staying in Manali for a day, instead of heading to Leh directly is to get acclimatized. Moreover, since people from cities are not used to high altitudes and low oxygen, staying in Manali for a day helps. After reaching Manali somewhere around 8 AM, freshen up and start exploring. There are many things you can do, either go to the hidden gems, or explore Old Manali, or trek to Jogni Falls.
Furthermore, you can also rent bikes from here.
Also, make the permits by asking your hotel manager in advance for Rohtang route and beyond.
Manali – Rohtang Pass – Gramphoo – Tandi – Keylong – Jispa – Darcha – Patseo – Zingzing Bar – Baralacha La – Sarchu – Nakee La – Lachulung La – Pang – Tanglang La – Upshi – Karu – Leh
Day 2 – Manali to Jispa/Keylong
The next day, leave from Manali for Keylong or Jispa. You can choose any of the places out of Keylong or Jispa to stay, as per your preference. The upside of Keylong is that here you will get many options for accommodation. But I really loved staying in Jispa rather, since it is a very peaceful and serene village.
The drive is really beautiful. You will cross Rohtang Pass as well as witness snow covered mountains at a far distance.
You can also stop in between to have lunch and overnight camp at Jispa.
Road Condition – The road till Rohtang Pass is really smooth, but after Rohtang Pass the real challenge begins. The road becomes really rugged from here.
Duration from Manali to Jispa – 5 hours
The distance between Manali and Jispa – approx. 120 KMs
Bus Timings – 4.00am, 6.00am, 9.00am, 11.00am, 12.00 noon
Note: You can reach Sarchu as well which covers half distance to Leh on the first day itself. Although I will advise you against it because Sarchu is at a height of 4,300m which is double the height of Manali. Reaching here and staying overnight can lead to acute mountain sickness. Jispa helps in the acclimatization of your body even further.
View this post on Instagram
The wild orchids gave path to the wet mud that was swollen due to rain of the past day. Dawn was seeping in through the dark clouds and the sun's rays brushed itself against the water droplets on thick green leaves. I was treading slowly, lost in the green wood below, just to look up in time to witness the change in scenery from dawn to harsh sunlight in split of seconds. Here I was, soaking in all the beauty and getting draped in it when the wind blew soft melodies in my ears. #Nomllers
Day 3 – Jispa/Keylong to Sarchu to Leh
This is the most challenging day of the entire Ladakh trip. The roads have so many pins and there is a sharp rise in the altitude from Sarchu onwards.
Leave as early as possible in the morning from Jispa. Preferably by 6 AM. There are many stoppages you can take in between to eat. You can stop either at Sarchu or at Pang.
If you are staying in Keylong, you can also take an HPTDC/HRTC bus that leaves early in the morning.
Duration from Jispa to Leh – 10 hours
The distance between Jispa and Leh – approx. 340 KMs
HPTDC Bus service
HPTDC provides a service of a semi-deluxe bus which provides a comfortable journey. The bus starts at 11 AM from Manali. It stops at Keylong for an overnight stay and the ticket prices include the night halt at the HPTDC hotel. This is the most accommodating way for those who are travelling solo. Read our tips on solo travel here – link.
From Keylong, the bus leaves the next day at 5 AM and reaches Leh at 7 PM. The tickets can be bought on mall road, Manali.
HRTC bus will be the cheapest most of transport to opt. From Keylong, you can take the HRTC bus at 5 AM which reaches Leh at 7 PM. The bus does not leave from Manali directly. The starting point of the bus is either from Delhi or from Keylong.
But you can always take the connecting bus from Jispa or Manali based on your preference.
Day 4 – Explore Leh
Leh has many points and adventurous activities which you certainly do not want to miss. Start early again and explore Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, monasteries, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Hall of fame. But the most important is rafting on the Zanskar river.
You can divide the day in this order – Shanti Stupa, Hall of Fame, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, river rafting, Leh palace and monasteries.
Try to reach Gurudwara Pathar Sahib by noon so that you can have langar.
Rafting takes approximately 1-1.30 hours. Also remember, the entry for Hall of fame is only till 6 PM. So manage your time accordingly.
Day 5 – Leh to Pangong Tso
Again leave from Leh early in the morning to reach Pangong Tso. You will also be able to explore Hemis, Thicksey and Shey monastery on the way. To reach this lake you will have to cross Changla Pass, the third highest motorable road in the world.
It gets really cold in Changla Pass. Do not forget to carry wind cheater and gloves.
There is also a café here where they serve snacks and tea.
Camp overnight near the lake, in (Spangmik or Lukung). You will be able to find many camping areas, along with the entire stretch of the lake. So accommodation is not a problem here during the season. However, these camps are only for the months of June – September. If you are visiting Pangong in any other month and still want to camp, carry your tents here.
Day 6 – Pangong Tso to Leh
It will be better again to leave early from here, however, do not miss the sunrise. I suggest you to leave early because if in case you missed any spot in Leh the previous day you can easily cover on this day instead.
Do not miss Sakti Village on the way. It is the greenest village I have seen in Ladakh.
Duration from Pangong Tso to Leh – 6 hours
The distance between Pangong Tso and Leh – approx. 230 KMs
Every Saturday and Sunday a direct bus leaves from Leh early in the morning at 6 AM for Pangong Tso. This bus reaches late in the afternoon and has an overnight halt. So you do not have to worry about not catching the bus the next day.
The bus has no advance booking system. Reach the Leh bus stand early morning and book the tickets that time itself.
Day 7 and 8– Leh to Nubra Valley and Back
Leh – South Pullu – Khardungla Pass – North Pullu – Khardungla Village – Khalsar – Sumur – Panamik – Warshi – Dikshit – Hunder – Thoise – Bukdang – Turtuk
Start early from Leh and stop at South Pullu. The view is really good from here also the roads are really nice. Despite the slope and reaching a very high altitude at such a short span of time, you won’t feel sick on this pass.
At South Pullu, submit copies of the permit. Take more than one copy with you all the time, since you will be required to submit copies at several check posts.
You will cross the highest motorable road in the world this time – Khardungla Pass.
Road Condition – From Khardungla Pass the road is really bad and rugged. But it is only for half an hour of a distance. You will have your best ride on this stretch. The roads are so amazing and lovely to ride on.
Warshi is the last village until the tourists are allowed. From here take a U-turn to visit the Dikshit monastery. After this, take the other route towards Hunder to reach Turtuk. On this route, Turtuk is the end village accessible by civilians on this road
The distance between Leh and Khardung La – 39 KMs
The distance between Khardung La Warshi – 90 KMs
The bus runs on three days to Deskit – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and leaves at 6 AM. It returns the next day from Deskit at 7 AM.
There is also a bus for Sumur and Panamik every Tuesday and departs from Leh at 6 AM.
Day 9 – Leh to Srinagar
Leh – Nimmu – Khalsi – Lamayuru – Fotu La – Namika La – Mulbekh – Kargil – Dras – Zoji La – Sonamarg – Kangan – Ganderbal – Srinagar
You can take two types of buses from Leh – either the government one, which is operated by Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation or the private ones.
The bus leaves at 2 PM and will reach by 7:30 AM the next day. The bus takes very fewer breaks and completes the entire journey in about 18 hours.
Do buy the tickets in advance.
I hope this was helpful. Do comment below if you have any questions regarding the itinerary. We love to answer questions! 🙂