When you travel to a remote area, the aspect of “where to stay” becomes most crucial. Ignore this and you may find yourself standing in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night with nowhere to go. You must carefully consider if the place you are visiting has accommodation available in any form and if what they offer will be as per your taste. Same rule applies to Zanskar valley. Accommodation in Zanskar valley is really not an easy affair. While there has been a definite boost in tourism in Ladakh, Zanskar still remains to be a place least visited, a place that only a small percentage of tourists traveling to Ladakh add on their itinerary. Like rest of the Ladakh, even this entire valley consists of a handful of villages put together. A place where even the basic amenities continue to remain missing and the only choice of accommodation is in the form of either government run tourist bungalows or very simple guest houses. Options are severely limited and the ones available are very simple, nothing fancy. If you are planning to visit Zanskar anytime soon, here is a little information on accommodation in Zanskar and where can you hope to find it.
Hotels & Guest Houses: Limited to only a couple of places. Padum is the only place where you will find a three star hotel and a couple of other decent enough hotels.
Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Bungalow: These are government run tourist bungalows and the best option to stay while visiting Suru and Zanskar valleys.
Paying Guest: If you are willing and can find a villager kind enough to invite you in his home, you can pay him for food and accommodation in house for a night.
Renting a room at the monastery: This is my favorite. Experience the lifestyle of a monk and rent a room at one of the numerous monasteries in the valley. It is once in a lifetime and one of its kind experience. Karsha Monastery I know offers accommodation and same arrangement is available at Phuktal Monastery as well. You may ask around at other monasteries too while you are there.
Camp Sites: There are a few camp sites available where you may either rent a camp or rent some space to pitch your own tent.
Below is a breakdown by towns / villages in Suru and Zanskar Valley and what kind of accommodation you can expect there. Also mentioned are names and contact information of a few hotels I am aware of. Please note that I have not stayed in all of them (cannot of course) and these are just some hotels that I am sharing the names and contact information of.
Sankoo: Accommodation in Sankoo is available in the form of a J&K tourism bungalow , very basic home stays and a few guest houses. It is the largest and most developed town in Suru Valley. Road condition is good until Sankoo and it won’t take you long to reach here from Kargil because of which not many people stay here for the night. Most of the tourists visiting Suru and Zanskar valleys stop here for a quick break, have breakfast and be on their way. There is no hotel here as far as I know.
Panikhar: Panikhar too has a J&K tourism bungalow which is the best place to stay here, if you can find the caretaker to open it for you. Apart from this government run bungalow, only other option is to talk to the locals here and request them to make arrangements for your night stay which they gladly will in exchange of a small charge. Most of the villagers in Panikhar rent out their spare or store room to travelers during tourist season. Please be advised though that you will only be getting a matters, blankets and an “angeethi” type room heater. There are no dhabas or restaurants available and your dinner will be simple home cooked food served by your host.
Parkachik: Pretty much the same story as Panikhar. You can stay at the J&K tourism bungalow in Parkachik or ask the locals for a home stay. The tourism bungalow here goes by the name of “Parkachik Alpine Hut” which leads people to believe that this is a different guest house but it is not. Meals are prepared at the bungalow by caretaker on request.
Rangdum: Rangdum has a PWD guest house and a J&K tourism bungalow as well. There is also a camp site here by the name of Nun-Kun Deluxe Camp (01982 252153 or [email protected]) They will quote price as high as Rs. 2500 per person but you can also just walk in there and negotiate for as low as Rs. 1000 per person, depending on your negotiation skills. There are a couple dhabas (cafes) in Rangdum where you can stop for a cup of tea and some snacks. These cafes too offer some very basic accommodation. It is also a good site to pitch your own tent. Another place to stay is Zanskar Express Guest House. You can stop here for some very simple food and they can also arrange a night stay in a village home for a price as low as Rs. 200 to Rs. 300.
Padum: Padum is the headquarters of Zanskar Valley and thus the most developed town in the region. Here you can find a phone booth, internet cafe, variety of restaurants, hotels, and guest houses.. Mentioned below are names and contact information of a few hotels in Padum in case you would like to call and inquire in advance. Most hotels close from Late October to June, except when booked in advance for winter trekking groups. There is also a camping ground in Padum, opposite Tourist office.
- Chamling Kailash Hotel ( Located on the main street of Padum)
- Mont-Blanc Guesthouse – Phone : 01983 245183. Price can be anywhere between Rs. 300 to Rs. 500.
- Phukhthar Guesthouse – Phone : 01983 245226. Price range close to Rs. 500.
- Marq Guesthouse (Has Wi FI facility)
- Hotel Ibex – Phone : 01983 245214
- Hotel Kailash
- Hotel Changthang
- Gakyi Hotel – Prices close to Rs. 1000
- Hotel Rigyal – Phone : 094692 24500
Karsha: A small village approximately 10 kms from Padum on the road towards Hanumil. There are three guest houses here, all priced close to Rs. 500.
- Chetan Guesthouse
- Thieur Guesthouse
- Tinkuling Guesthouse
However, if you are planning to stay here than Karsha Monastery is the best place. You can rent a room at the Monastery for a very small charge. You may inquire at other monasteries as well.
Reru: There are two small eateries here with possibility of a very basic home stay.
Hanumil: Accommodation is available only in the form of home stays.
A few other tips regarding travelling to and staying in Suru or Zanskar valleys
- Facilities here are very basic due to the remoteness of the region.
- Electricity supply in the entire area is limited to just a few hours in the day.
- Room rates are considerably cheap and you can easily find a good enough room for less than Rs. 500 (charges are usually between Rs. 200-500) per room excluding food.
- There is no running hot water and you may need to pay separately for hot water which will be provided in buckets.
- In case of medical emergency, only hospital in the region is Community Health Center in Padum. The hospital surprisingly is well equipped considering the location.
- Padum also has a phone booth from where you can make STD / ISD calls.
- Only bank in Suru and Zanskar too is in Padum, a J&K bank branch but no ATM.
I hope this information was helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below and I would be glad to answer. If you were to Zanskar recently and have more updated information, name or contact of another place to stay or know of accommodation in any other village not in the list, I request you to please comment and suggest so I may add it to the article.