Continuing from the previous article where I talked about how you can plan your visit to Ladakh for 4 days; in this article I will provide a sample itinerary to cover Ladakh in 5 days. While a 5 day trip to Ladakh will still be a rushed one; it will still however allow you more time to cover the places at an eased pace; than a 4 days trip. Another benefit will be that the itinerary can be modified in several days; per your convenience. Places to be covered too can be changed a little bit. The disadvantage however is that your sightseeing will still pretty much be limited to the major tourist attractions. If you want to cover some remote areas or not so famous places of Ladakh; you will not be accomplish that in a 5 day trip to Leh Ladakh.
Most important thing to remember here will be that trying to cover Ladakh in 4 days will mean that you are reaching Leh by flight. There is no possible way at all that you can make this a road trip. You will not be able to travel on Manali to Leh or Srinagar to Leh roads and will have it leave it for another time. For now; you will reach Leh by air and spend next 4 days in local sightseeing.
Your second biggest concern while trying to cover Ladakh in 5 days will be of acute mountain sickness. When you visit a place like Ladakh, you bring your body to heights that it has never been to; that it is not accustomed to. It then becomes of utmost importance that you allow sufficient time for acclimatization. Slow gain in altitude and ample amount of rest become the key factors here. A 5 days Ladakh tour will however result in the exact opposite of it. In order to cover as many places as you can, you will be rushing for most part of your trip which may trigger your body going in to a shock and suffering symptoms of acute mountain sickness. For more details on how to handle AMS, please read How to handle acute mountain sickness in Ladakh.
Next question in line is about how much sightseeing you can really do in a 5 day trip to Ladakh. As I mentioned above, your list of places to visit will strictly be around the most known tourist destinations. Don’t worry, you will still get to witness the beauty that Ladakh is; experience the enchanting culture; get a taste of adventure and have plenty of time to click loads of pictures. The remote regions however; like Changthang valley, places like Hanle and both the roads leading to Leh will have to be left out for another plan at another time.
For a complete list of all tourist attractions in entire Ladakh, please read A complete list of tourist attractions in Ladakh.
Last but not the least is the overall cost of the trip. To be honest, your options to make this a budget trip are next to none unless you got a really cheap deal on flight tickets and traveling in a group of 5 to 6 people. You cannot rely on public transport of course because of strict timelines and renting motorcycles may become a little stressful. Best way out is renting a private taxi; charges of which are quite steep in Ladakh. Unless you are in a group and the overall cost of the cab can be split between multiple people, be ready to shed quite a big amount for your 5 day Ladakh tour.
Ladakh in 5 days
With all the above said and done, mentioned below is a sample 5 day Itinerary for Leh Ladakh. I will first post the itinerary that I recommend following; followed by a few variations. You can chose either of these travel plans that suit you the most.
Leh Ladakh Itinerary 5 days
- Arrive in Leh – Day 1
- Sham Valley Tour – Day 2
- Leh to Nubra Valley – Day 3
- Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso – Day 4
- Pangong Tso to Leh – Day 5
Most of the flights to and out of Leh are early in the morning which really works in your favor while visiting Ladakh in 5 days. It means that you will arrive in Leh early in the morning on Day 1; which will give you an entire day to rest, acclimatize and take care of a few necessary things. On Day 6, you can take a flight out early in the morning again and be home in couple of hours. Below is a detailed explanation of the itinerary mentioned above.
Day 1: Arrive in Leh
The first task of the day would be to find a hotel first and check in which is not really a big deal. No matter what your budget is, you will easily find a hotel in Leh. Read Good Budget Hotels in Leh for a list of some recommended places you can stay at.
Second task would be to arrange for Inner Line Permits. It can either be applied for online or obtained in person from DM office Leh. Please note that the permit is absolutely mandatory and without it; you will not be allowed to travel towards places like Nubra Valley or Pangong Tso.Please read How to Obtain Inner Line Permit for Ladakh for more details on how to get the permit and what the related charges are.
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 I recommend that you book it 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 here.
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.
A couple of things you can do to make your first day a bit easier is to take care of a few things in advance; before your arrival in Leh town. This will include booking a hotel, a taxi and arranging the Inner line permits as well. Call a few hotels in Leh 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, you can rest all day long and let symptoms of AMS subside. 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 Lamayuru to Leh
The plan for today is to take a drive on Srinagar Leh highway and return to Leh by evening. Do not plan Nubra Valley or Pangong Tso for this day as it is just your second day in Ladakh. AMS can still hurt so it is best to not go towards a high altitude pass; which you will have to cross in order to reach Nubra and Pangong both. For second day, ask your drive to pick you from the airport early in the morning and start driving towards Lamayuru. On the way, you will see Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, Indus – Zanskar Confluence and Magnetic hills; apart from the natural beauty of Srinagar Leh road. Go as far as you are able to until noon and then start your return journey.
Since you have reached Ladakh by flight, this day would give you at least some taste of the famous Srinagar to Leh road. If you have time, you can also include a tour of Sham valley. Hemis Shukpachan village in Sham Valley is definitely worth a visit. Read How to Plan a Trip to Sham Valley for details on how you can visit there for your second day.
Day 3: Leh to Nubra Valley
By your third day, your body would already have acclimatized to high altitude and symptoms of AMS subsided. On this day, you will cross your first high altitude pass, Khardung La, and reach the enchanting Nubra Valley. An early start from Leh is highly recommended as it would give you ample of time for sightseeing on the way. Khardung La is merely 30 odd kilometers from Leh and it shouldn’t take you more than a couple of hours to get there. At the top of the pass, there is an Army canteen where they serve tea and some refreshments.
Do not stay for way too long at the top though; click a few pictures, see the snow capped peaks around and be on your way. Road conditions are mostly OK except for around the top of the pass, between South and North Pullu. From Khardung top, you will descend down towards Nubra valley while crossing the village of Khardung on the way. You can either chose to stay at Diskit, Panamik, Sumur, Hunder or Turtuk. Of all these I will recommend that you stay at Diskit because the choice of hotels and guest houses here is widest.
Depending on your breaks and speed, you should reach Diskit well in time for some sightseeing as well. Diskit Monastery, the Buddha status, Hunder sand dunes and Bactrian camels are some of the most famous tourist attractions in Nubra valley and can easily be covered in 2-3 hours. For a complete list of places to see here, please read Tourist attractions in Nubra valley.
Day 4: Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso
Plan for today is to visit Pangong Tso, the lake that has over the time become the very symbol of Ladakh. You will not have to come back to Leh and will take the direct road connecting Nubra to Pangong. There are two connecting routes, one via Shyok village and other via Wari La. Of the two, I will recommend that you take the Shyok road because it is shortest of the two. Traveling via Shyok road will see you at the banks of Pangong within 5-6 hours whereas road across Wari La will easily take you about 10-11 hours.
There is not really much to see on this road except for the natural beauty. You will be travelling right next to Shyok river and the journey will be quite scenic. Once at the lake, you can chose to stay at either the camp sites or guest houses available. For a list of accommodation choices at the lake and their contact information, please read Hotels, Guest Houses and Camp Sites at Pangong Tso.
Day 5: Pangong Tso to Leh
On last day of your trip, you will cross the second high altitude pass of your journey, Chang La and will return to Leh. Overall it will be about 8 hours of journey depending upon your breaks and speed. On the way you can also visit Thiksey Monastery which will be on your way from Karu to Leh.
You will take a flight back home on Day 6.
Leh Ladakh in 5 Days
If you would like to do it differently, then mentioned below are a few other plans that you may follow.
- Arrive in Leh – Day 1
- Leh to Nubra Valley – Day 2
- Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso – Day 3
- Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri – Day 4
- Tso Moriri to Leh – Day 5
Following this itinerary, the journey until Pangong Tso will remain the same; as I explained with Itinerary 1. You will however the day long trip on Srinagar Leh highway though and head straight to Nubra Valley on Day 2. You will then go to Pangong Tso on Day 3 via Shyok road and from there, you will head to Karzok; banks of Tso Moriri. This is the advantage with this itinerary; that you will be able to cover Moriri as well. Downside however is that the journey from Pangong to Moriri may very well take up to 10-11 hours so you must start from Pangong by first light of the day.
In order to reach Moriri from Pangong, you will return to Karu via Chang La; head to Upshi from there; take the diversion towards Chumathang and reach Mahe. From Mahe take the road towards Sumdo and head straight to Karzok from there.
Ladakh 5 Day Itinerary
A third version and probably the least recommended is as below.
- Arrive in Leh – Day 1
- Rest in Leh – Day 2
- Leh to Lamayuru to Leh (Sham Valley Tour) – Day 3
- Day long trip from Leh to Nubra Valley to Leh – Day 4
- Leh to Pangong Tso to Leh – Day 5
Following this plan, you will reach Leh on Day 1, rest there on Day 2 and take the drive towards Sham Valley (Srinagar Leh highway) on Day 3. On Day 4, start by 6 AM from Leh and reach Diskit in Nubra Valley by noon. Have lunch there and return to Leh by evening. Same Say, On Day 5, start by first light of the day and reach Pangong before noon. Spend some time at the lake and return to Leh by evening.
The only advantage this itinerary holds is that this gives you plenty of time and rest to adjust yourself to high altitude; as you spend two days in Leh itself. You may want to consider following this travel plan if,
- Traveling with children
- You have your parents or other elders accompanying you
- You continue to suffer from AMS on Day 3 as well and not feeling at all
Another advantage this itinerary holds is that it avoids spending night at either Nubra valley or Pangong. This is why I mentioned that if you continue to suffer from AMS as point 3 above. Staying in Leh only for the night will ensure that you can seek medical assistance at night if not feeling well. Pangong Tso is another place where most people suffer from AMS so it will be a good thing to avoid staying there in all three situations I mentioned above.
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.
- Try to plan the trip in a group of at least 5-6 people. Taxi charges in Ladakh are a too steep but if you are in a group, you will at least be able to divide it among few people; hence reducing the cost per person.
- Do not exert yourself on Day 1. Walk slowly and do not rush around as it will just leave you panting and out of breath real quick. Give your body time and rest to acclimatize.
- If you are traveling with kids or infants, please read How to Plan a Trip to Ladakh with Children or Infants
- For information on mobile services please read Mobile Services in Leh and Other areas of Ladakh
- For a list of items that you should pack for the trip, please read Ladakh Checklist – Things to Carry for Ladakh Trip
I would still advise to add a couple of days to your trip if at all possible to make journey more enjoyable. However if you cannot, then you can plan your visit to Ladakh in 5 days in the above manner. 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.