The first time I visited Pangong about a decade ago, it was an entirely different scenario than it is today. I and a friend of mine were the only tourists at Pangong that day; just the two of us standing there with not a single living soul in sight except for a few villagers at distance. Accommodation at Pangong Tso back then was limited to just one government run hotel; which was always highly overpriced and booked months in advance. The only other choice was a single poorly maintained room that the villagers had put up near the lake. They would charge Rs. 100 per person; give you a blanket and a mattress to sleep on the ground in that room. If they got 10 tourists, then all 10 will be sleeping on the ground in that same small room. In other words, options were next to none.
While finding a decent enough place to stay was a challenge; there was however also an upside to being the only two people at Pangong that day. The Indian Army used to allow boating in the lake those days; in their own patrol boats of course. Since we were the only two tourists around, we spoke to them and got a chance to go boating in one of the most beautiful lake in the world. An experience that is no longer available.
Much has changed in last few years ever since the movie “3 Idiots”was released. Now right from the point where the lake starts also starts a series of Chadar tents which is later followed by a never ending line of camp sites all along till Spangmik. Now accommodation at Pangong Tso is not a challenge anymore.
You neither are required to book your stay months in advance after paying a hefty price; nor sleep on the floor of a broken room wrapped in a thin blanket (this was kind of fun actually now when I think about it). Now no matter what your budget is, no matter when you arrive, no matter how long your stay is for; you will easily find a place to stay for the night.
As a matter of fact, it is not just the village of Spangmik where you can stay now. A little further after Spangmik, also on the banks of Pangong Tso are the small villages of Man and Merak. Until a few years ago, no one had any idea about these tiny hamlets. People will just arrive until Spangmik and be back on their way to Leh from there. In recent years, a lot of tourists have now started visiting Man and Merak as well; as a result of which there are accommodation choices available here too.
There are 5 options available in terms of accommodation at Pangong Tso; hotel, guest houses, camp sites, chadar tents and paying guests. In this article I will provide further information on all these choices with a few names and their contact information.
Please note that Inner Line permit is required in order to visit Pangong Tso from Leh. You can either obtain this permit online or from DM office in Leh. Read How to Obtain Inner Line Permit for Ladakh for more details.
Pangong is at one of the highest altitudes in Ladakh and chances are that you may suffer from high altitude sickness while staying for the night here. Please read How to Handle Acute Mountain Sickness in Ladakh for more details on how you can tackle AMS better.
Chances are that no matter which network you are on; your phone will not work while staying at Pangong. Only network that may get a signal here is BSNL or MTNL; reception however for both would be extremely poor. Please read Mobile Phone Services in Ladakh for further details on where your cell may or may not work.
Pangong Tso Hotels
Hotels at Pangong Tso are a rare breed; in fact there is none but one. “Pangong Camp Resort” is the only cemented hotel at the lake and the oldest staying option. It’s a government run hotel, maintained by JKTDC, and a pretty good one too. Rooms are quite comfortable with hot water provided in buckets. Food is the best at this hotel and the service is quite satisfying. Expect the price to start from at least Rs. 3000 / 4000 for a double bed room and inclusive of meals. It is the preferred and probably the best option to stay if you are visiting with family.
Only downside however is that this hotel is booked months in advance and mostly by foreign tourists. It is at a walking distance from the lake and provides an amazing view of Pangong; especially from its roof. It is however definitely not a choice if you are on a budget trip.
Are you traveling to Ladakh with your kids accompanying you? Please read How to Plan a Trip to Ladakh with Infants or Children for a few tips on preparations and precautions you must observe in order to ensure a hassle free trip.
Update September 2017:
I wrote this article a few years ago when there were no other cemented accommodation by the lake but it seems now new structures are starting to come up. A new site by the name of “Mesmerik” has cemented rooms by the lake which you can get for Rs. 1000 per day (name shared by a fellow traveler). Apart from these rooms, there are several other wooden cottages as well that you may chose to stay at. One site that I have received negative feedback about from a few people is “Himalayan Wooden Cottages“. You may want to avoid staying at this one.
Pangong Tso Camps
Camps at Pangong Lake are probably the most popular accommodation choice, though may not be a budget option though. It’s a typical camp site with a sleeping capacity of 3 to 4 people per tent. Expect the charges to start from Rs. 1500 – Rs.2000 per person inclusive of meals. Usually they will tell you that it’s a fixed price but you can always negotiate. Last time I visited, I was able to talk the owner into half the price that he initially quoted. Tents are quite comfortable with attached washroom facilities. Quality of food will differ with each camp but mostly it is OK, neither too good nor too bad. Trick is to find a camp that has few or no guests at all because that person will be more prone to negotiating the price.
Chadar Tents at Pangong Tso
After camp sites, Chadar tents are probably the second most popular accommodation choice at Pangong, especially for people who are on a budget trip. So what is a Chadar tent? It is a dormitory style huge tent with a dhaba at the front and series of bed towards the back. These are in plenty in Ladakh and quite popular too mostly because they are cheap. Staying here makes a lot of sense when you know that all you need is a bed to crash on for the night because you will be on your way in the morning. They usually charge between Rs. 200 to Rs. 300 per person, depending on your negotiation skills, excluding meals. You just take your luggage in and sleep on the bed assigned which is quite comfortable considering the money you paid for it.
Though cheap, it is in my opinion a choice only when it is a bunch of guys traveling. You will pay less but will make a huge compromise on privacy which is a big concern when traveling with family or when you have women in your group. Washroom too is a big problem with these Chadar tents. You will be doing your thing at a place that god only knows how many people have gone to before you.
Guest House at Pangong Tso
This is a great choice of stay, both comfortable and not that costly as well. The catch however is that there is no guest house at Spangmik. If looking for a guest house, then you will either have to stay at Tangtse which is about 35 kilometers from Pangong; or you will have to drive until the village Merak. With that being said, the guest houses at Merak are at a great location, right next to the lake. Rooms at these guest houses are quite spacious and clean; and food quality is decent. Please do know however that in peak tourist season, the guest houses at Merak too will charge you quite high; almost as much as the camp sites.
Homestay at Pangong Lake
Staying as a paying guest at Pangong Lake is popular among tourists who would rather stay within cemented walls, within budget, and would like to mingle around with the locals a bit. Gongma Homestay is a name that gets talked about the most in Spangmik but I have not really heard good feedback about it. As a matter of fact, almost every villager’s house in Spangmik serves as a guest house. You can talk to any villager and they may allow you a stay for the night in return of a nominal charge. Catch is that there will be no electricity and limited hot water provided in buckets.
Gongma maybe is an exception but in most cases, homestays are small neat houses with clean washrooms and your hosts too are quite friendly people. Another thing that could be a drawback for some people is that it is at a little distance from the lake; uphill in the village of Spangmik. So if sitting at the banks of Pangong is on your mind; you wouldn’t like it however you will get an amazing landscape view of the lake the moment you peek out of your window. If you need a homestay closer to the lake then try driving all the way until Man and Merak and talk to the villagers there.
Self Camping at Pangong Tso
A lot of people chose to pitch their own tents; which too is a great choice for overnight stay at Pangong lake. Up until a few years ago, places for self camping were far too many but these days, finding a good spot could be a bit of challenge. There are Chadar tents and camp sites one after another, claiming those grounds, and may not let individuals set up their own gear. Best way for self camping would be to talk to either of these site owners; pay them a little and in exchange, they will give you a spot to camp. You can also use the washrooms for that camp site for the same amount which is a great additional benefit.
Accommodation at Pangong Tso
Below is a list of a few camp sites at Pangong and hotels nearby with their respective contact information. In case you would like to call and book in advance; you may do so but I would advise against it. Best choice would be to reach their, find a place to stay that you like and is within your budget and check in. Booking in advance in most cases would only mean that you ended up paying more; and got deprived of the choice of staying at a different place that you liked more.
Please do note that I have not of course stayed at all the places mentioned below. These are just names and numbers that I gathered from either when I was in Leh myself or from over the web. The camp sites where I have mentioned Spangmik as location are the ones right next to Pangong, other are in nearby villages.
Pangong Camp Resort JKTDC : The government run and the only hotel right next to the lake. Price range would be anywhere from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 5000 for a double bedroom.
Phone: 0191 254 9065
Pangong Tso Kongma Resort
Phone: 094695 30962
Camp Martsemik La
Phone: 075030 33585
Camp Whispering Waves
Wonderland Camp: This camp I have heard is open during winters as well but it is not confirmed. If you are planning a winter trip and want to stay at the lake, you can give them a call and inquire.
Phone: 094191 77723
Pangong Delight Camp
Phone: 095968 11649
The Kora Pangong Camp
Phone: 094192 15066
Phone: 094191 77245
Phone: 094198 19078
Gongma Homestay: A good option if you want to stay as a paying guest in the village.
Phone: 094695 34270
Peacefull Home Stay:
Another good place to stay in Merak.
Phone: 070511 11988
Dorjay Delbu Guest House: Another place to stay that comes highly recommended. To reach here, continue driving after Spangmik until the village of Merak. The location of the guest house is amazing, close to the lake. Rooms are quite comfortable and food is simple but delicious.
Phone: 099069 93462
Hotel Pangong Residency: A cemented hotel and good option to stay if you do not want to stay in the camp, could not get booking at Hotel Pangong Camp Resort and do not mind staying a little far from the lake.
Phone: 094192 43495
Marzee Home Stay: This too is in the village of Merak, another good place to stay.
Phone: 099069 93462
Peacefull Home Stay: Yes there are two home stays there with this name, of the same owner though.
Phone: 094692 80274
Himalayan Wooden Cottages: If you do not want to stay far from the lake or in camps, this is a great option to be considered. About 8-10 wooden cottages close enough to the lake with decent enough cottages and food.
Price Range: Around Rs. 4000 for a double bed cottage with two meals included
Yakmik Changla Guest House
Price Range: Rs 1500 for a double bed room
Phone: 9469567990, 9469726902
Dothguling Guest house
Price Range: Rs 1500 for a double bed room
Phone: 01981-201156, 09469726914, 09469188966
Eco Huts: Luxury tents at Lukung village, price range between Rs. 3000 to Rs 4000.
Contact: 09419177658, 09906981777, +91-1982-257030, 01982-253010
If I was to be asked the best choice among the ones listed above, It would be the camp sites. You get your own tent, not highly overpriced, have attached washrooms, hot water, food is OK and they are right next to the lake. You can squeeze them into your budget too if you have some negotiation skills. During our last visit, I on purpose searched for a camp site where there were no other guests except for us because that camp site was more prone to dropping the charges. If this doesn’t fit in to the budget then the guest houses and home stays at Spangmik and Merak will be the next best option.
If you are on a strict budget and need the cheapest option available, then you need to go for Chadar tents. People ask me if they need to make arrangements in advance and my answer is no, unless you are planning to stay at the hotel Pangong Camp Resort. Just go there and see what suits you the best, no need to make any arrangements in advance.
I hope this information regarding accommodation at Pangong Tso was useful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum and I would be glad to answer. If you have stayed at a camp site at Pangong, have good or bad feedback about it, please do provide it in the comments section in order to help others.