Let me tell you a story. Story about a place that not too long was known but still unknown to majority of the people in our country. A place called Ladakh which we all heard and read about; but it still remained to be a mysterious land far and away. Not many people went there and the ones who did were mostly all travel enthusiasts or adventure junkies. That is however not the case anymore. Ladakh has now turned in to one of the most hot favorite tourist destinations of our country. Thousands of tourists travel here each year; some for weeks, others for several days while a lot of people try to squeeze their trip in a limited period of time. In this article, I will provide some information on how you can plan your trip in the least possible duration; that is to visit Ladakh in 3 days.
Quite honestly, if you asked me, I would advise against planning to cover Ladakh in 3 days. There are several reasons behind this. First and the foremost is of high altitude acclimatization. Trip to a place like Ladakh means that you will be bringing your body to heights that it has never been to before; and it becomes of utmost importance that you give it ample time to adjust itself.
Slow gain in altitude and ample amount of rest become the key factors here. Covering Ladakh in 3 days however will result in the exact opposite of it. You will be rushing through for most part of the trip which may trigger your body going in to a shock and suffering from symptoms of acute mountain sickness. For more details on how to handle AMS, please read How to handle acute mountain sickness in Ladakh.
Second reason is from the point of view of sightseeing. A trip to Ladakh is not an everyday affair. It is not your usual weekend getaway where you can just pack your bags and go. Who knows how long it would be before you are able to plan another trip so you need to ensure that when you get here; you cover as much as you can. 3 days however is not ample time for that. Ladakh is an endless list of tourist attractions and places that you must visit. You can spend weeks here and still not be done with it all. Trying to wrap up Ladakh in 3 days would mean that you will miss several places and will only visit a few, that too in a rushed manner.
For a complete list of all tourist attractions in entire Ladakh, please read A complete list of tourist attractions in Ladakh.
Third reason will involve the overall cost of the trip. There is no way that you can make this a complete road trip or rely on public transport. You will have to catch a flight to Leh, either rent a private taxi or motorcycle and then take a flight back home. Unless you got a really good and cheap deal on air tickets and rented a motorcycle for 3 days, your total budget of the trip will shoot up way too high.
Ladakh in 3 Days
With the above being said, the fact however still remains that not all of us can afford to be away from our regular lives and work for several days altogether. If you too fall in the same category and would like to make an extremely short trip to Ladakh; below is how you can do it.
Day 1: Arrive in Leh
Most of the flights to Leh arrive in earlier part of the day which means that you will have this entire day to yourself. Several important things that you will need to take care of today and you will need to start working on it the moment you land. First is to find a hotel and check in which is kind of an easy deal. No matter what your budget is, you will easily find a place to stay in Leh. Second will be to arrange Inner line permit which is a must to visit places like Nubra valley and Pangong. This permit can be applied for either online or arranged from DM office Leh. Please read How to Obtain Inner Line Permit for Ladakh for more details.
Also read: Good Budget Hotels in Leh
Third thing that you will need to take care of is to arrange your mode of travel for next two days. You can either hire a private taxi or rent a motorcycle after you land in Leh. In case you hired a taxi, then you can book in advance and have the driver pick you from the airport itself. In case of a motorcycle, it is best that you first reach Leh; check out a few motorcycles to ensure they are working in best possible condition before you rent it. Read How to rent a motorcycle in Leh for some important tips on renting a bike there.
Sightseeing in Leh
After taking care of this, you can either chose to rest at Leh or do some local sightseeing in the town. Leh Palace, Shanti Stoopa, local market and monasteries are some of the places you can visit. Please note though that since you caught a flight to Leh, chances are you will be suffering from acute mountain sickness all day long. You are however short on time so you really have no way around it. Take the day a bit easy, do not rush or exert yourself and chances are that you will be fine by next day morning.
A couple of things you can do to make your first day a bit easier is to first book a hotel in advance. Since you will be staying there for just a day, location is not much of an importance. Call the hotel and ask them if they can keep the permits arranged for you when you arrive. Several hotels in Leh provide this service in return of an extra charge. If your hotel agrees, then scan and send them your IDs, wire the money and book your stay.
Second would be to book a taxi rather than relying on a motorcycle. Suffering from high altitude sickness will just make it more difficult to ride around a motorcycle. Have your driver pick you from the airport and drop straight to the hotel. Since your permits too will be already arranged, rest all day long. If by evening you feel better, then you can visit the local places in Leh that I mentioned above.
Also read: What clothes should you pack for Ladakh Trip
Day 2 – Leh to Diskit to Leh
Today you will be making a day trip to Nubra valley so it is very important that you start as early as possible from Leh. Start at around 6 AM and take the road towards Khardung La; once known as world’s highest motorable road. Have a cup of tea at the army run canteen at the top and descend on the other side to Nubra valley. Reach as far as Hunder and Diskit. It is easily a 5-6 hours’ drive depending on your speed and the breaks you take. You do not have much time for local sightseeing so keep your breaks limited and short.
Once you reach Diskit, take a break, have lunch and start your return journey. If you reached well in time, that is by 12 noon at most; then you may pay a quick visit to the local monastery and see the tallest Buddha statue here. Start your return journey by 1 PM at most so that you have sufficient time to reach Leh before dark. Take the same road back to Leh across Khardung La that you took to reach Nubra valley.
Another way to spend this day would be to not go all the way till Diskit. Rather, start early in the morning, go up until Khardung La and then return to Leh. This should not take you more than 2-3 hours at most. Once back in Leh, take a drive towards Sham Valley on Srinagar Leh highway. You will see Indus – Zanskar confluence, Magnetic Hill and Gurudwara Patthar Sahib on the way; and return to Leh by evening.
Day 3: Leh to Pangong Tso to Leh
On day 3, you will make a day trip to Pangong Tso. The lake is at quite a distance from Leh so once again you will need to start early in the morning; possibly by 6 AM again. Take the road to Chang La; famous as third highest motorable road in the world. There is an Army canteen here as well where you can take a quick break. Descend on the other side and continue till Pangong. Keep your breaks limited on the way so that you have some time to spend at the lake. Overall, it will be a 10-11 hours of journey so please manage your day accordingly so that you can reach back Leh before dark.
In the morning of Day 4, you will catch your return flight home.
Leh Ladakh 3 days Trip
Few important things you must keep in mind are;
- Avoid renting a motorcycle as it will be a bit much to do in short time. Rather, book a taxi for the entire trip.
- Make sure that you arrange your Inner line permits in advance; before you arrive in Leh.
- Avoid traveling to any other place on Day 1. Due to AMS, you must spend this day in Leh to adjust to high altitude.
As I mentioned above, to visit Ladakh in 3 days is not the best choice; but if 3 days is all you can afford, this is how you should plan it. You will still get to see plenty of vistas, stay in the city of Leh; visit prime attractions of Ladakh like Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso and return home on Day 4. I hope the information above was of help. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or at our Community Forum and I will be glad to answer.