Best Time to Visit Zanskar Valley – Road Status, Sightseeing

by Vargis.Khan

best time to visit zanskar valley

When is the best time to visit Zanskar Valley? The answer to this question will depend on several things really. You must take into consideration the weather, road openings, and availability of accommodation. If you were traveling by public transport, then it has to be a time when buses and shared cabs are easily available.

The road to Zanskar Valley remains open for about 6 months a year, from May to October. Steps are being taken to keep the valley open for the entire year but that is not something that will happen anytime soon. For now, your trip has to be planned within these 6 months only.

In the article below, I will provide a month-by-month comparison of how life and connectivity in Zanskar Valley are in the year. Depending on what your preference is, you can then decide which month will be the best for you to visit.

Please note that in this article, I will only talk about the best time to visit Zanskar Valley. For other details like how to reach, where to stay, and what to see, please take a look at How to Plan a Trip to Zanskar Valley.

About Zanskar Valley

Zanskar is one of the remotest and least visited regions of our country. It literally defines terms like “A land far far away” or “in the middle of nowhere”.

The road to Zanskar remains closed or non-existent. For the most part of your journey from Kargil to Padum, you will remain on a dirt road with no Tar. Your cellphone will be nothing but a dead paperweight. Accommodation choices are limited, and chances of getting stranded will be high.

If you are there at the wrong time, you will have trouble finding a place to stay and may have to return halfway if the roads are snowed out. If you are not prepared well, even something as simple as a flat tire will be enough to ruin the day.

best time to visit zanskar valley

Weather in Zanskar Valley

The weather in Zanskar Valley remains to be cold throughout the year. The only difference is whether it was pleasantly cold or freezing cold. It starts to snow here in early October and continues well until May. Even in the summer months, the possibility of a snowfall always remains.

Below is a breakdown of how the weather in the valley trends and how it affects the lives of the people here. Please note that the temperature that I am mentioning below are just the average figures. Depending on the weather and time of the day, these numbers will changes. Nights will be even colder.

Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Leh Ladakh – A Complete Travel Guide

Zanskar Valley in January

The average temperate in January remains to be around -20°C minimum and -10°C maximum. January is when the valley receives the highest amount of snowfall.

You cannot reach Zanskar by road in January. The only to get here is the famous Chadar Trek from Nimmu. It is a hazardous trek that requires that you have an experienced guide, porters, and camping gear with you. In recent years, even this trek was canceled a few times due to weather conditions.

The road from Kargil to Rangdum will be open though. The stretch from Rangdum to Padum will be closed.

Zanskar Valley in February

If you are planning Chandar Trek and to walk along the Zanskar river, then the best time would be early in the year, in the months of January and early February.  The average temperature in February will remain at around -20°C minimum and -10°C maximum. You cannot travel to Zanskar by road at this time.

Kargil to Rangdum road will be open at this time as well and in the following month of March.

Zanskar Valley in March

It is usually in the month of March that BRO starts the snow clearing operation on the Srinagar Leh Highway. There have been times when the entire route from Leh to Srinagar was declared open by the end of March including the Kargil Padum road.

Chances of this happening are very rare though. Even if it does happen, it is always followed by road closures because the entire region continues to receive snow in March as well.

To be on the safer side, my recommendation will be that you assume that you cannot go to Zanskar in March as well. If you want to follow and get the latest updates on road status, you can check this thread Srinagar Leh Highway Road Status & Conditions for the latest updates.

The average temperature in March remains at around -13°C minimum and -3°C maximum.

best time to visit zanskar valley

Zanskar Valley in April

Srinagar Leh highway is usually always open by the middle of April. You are free to travel from Kargil to Rangdum as well but the stretch from Rangdum to Padum may still be closed. You can follow the thread I provided link of above for the latest updates.

The minimum average temperature in April is around -5°C and 5°C at maximum.

Zanskar Valley in May

The tourist season starts in the valley in the month of May. Things will start to warm up a bit and the average temperature will range between -1°C minimum and 10°C maximum.

The road from Kargil to Padum will be all open unless there had been a heavy snowfall recently causing a roadblock. Even if this happens though, it will only be for a day or two.

With that being said, if the entire region received heavy snow throughout the winter, the road may not be open in early May but will be by the end of the month.

Zanskar Valley in June

This is the peak tourist season in Zanskar Valley. The roads will be all open and you are free to include Zanskar in your Ladakh itinerary. If you go early in June, the sight of a frozen massive Drang Drung glacier is bound to leave you breathless.

Hotels will be all open and you will have no problem finding a place to stay. The average temperature will range between 4°C minimum and 15°C maximum.

drang drung glacier

Zanskar Valley in July

Snow will be mostly gone except for Pensi La Pass and Suru valley would be lush green all around. The weather at this time is very pleasant with temperatures ranging between 8°C minimum and 17°C maximum. and you will be able to enjoy your journey to the fullest.

Monsoon hits the Kashmir region in July. Even though Zanskar is in a rain shadow area and receives almost no rainfall, you will have to face the rains while traveling from the Srinagar side. Zojila Pass at this time can be a little troublesome to cross.

Zanskar Valley in August

Much like July, it is another great month to visit Zanskar Valley. The temperature will remain around 6°C minimum and 15°C maximum. Monsoon will be in full swing in the Kashmir Valley so you should remain prepared for that.

Zanskar Valley in September

September is generally considered to be the best time to visit Ladakh & Zanskar. Monsoon will be gone from Kashmir but there will be plenty of greenery left, making the views even more scenic. The temperature in Zanskar will range between 0°C minimum and 12°C maximum.

If you were visiting towards the end of the month, you may be lucky enough to even catch a light shower of snow in the valley or at Pensi La Pass.

Zanskar Valley in October

Autumn arrives in the month of October and Suru Valley is a sight to behold at this time. You will the magical orange all around and this will make the journey even more pleasant.

Winter also starts to settle in by the middle of the month and Pensi La would already have received its first spell of snow. The temperature will drop further down to -5°C minimum and 7°C maximum. The road usually is closed by the end of the month beyond Rangdum.

umba la road

Zanskar Valley in November

Pensi La would be closed by November and the entire valley now starts to get snow. The weather will be very cold with temperatures ranging between -9°C minimum and 0°C maximum. You can travel between Kargil to Rangdum but not beyond that.

Zanskar Valley in December

Things will continue to get colder. The temperature will drop further down to -12°C minimum and -3°C maximum. You can travel by road to Ragdum still though.

There will be snow in the valley but it will still not be frozen enough for the Chadar trek. For that, you will have to wait until January and February.

When is the Best time to visit Zanskar Valley?

The best time to visit Zanskar Valley is the months of June and September. You can go in July and August as well but will have to face the monsoon season in Kashmir Valley. If the Chadar trek was on your mind, late January and early February will be the best time to go.

zangla road

Best Time to Visit Zanskar Valley – Conclusion

I hope this information on the best time to visit Zanskar Valley 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 happy to answer.

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26 comments

Prabhat September 25, 2021 - 5:45 am

Hello Vargis,
Your information us relly helpful to know about the valleys.
I need some advise from you as you are the best one to guide for it, we are ( in team of 2 vehicles one thar 4×4 and another Force Gurkha 4×4) planning for zanskar trip in November second week and ti enter from darcha-padum- lamayuru circuit, will it be possible for us to cross and can we get some stays over those places.
Regards

Reply
Nilesh March 1, 2020 - 7:55 pm

Ur information is really helpful sir. Can u please let me weather I can travel manali padum on my mountain bike(bicycle) solo in month of aug2020. What r stay and food options after darcha.

Reply
Vargis.Khan March 2, 2020 - 1:47 am

Not right now you cannot. That road is still not completely operational.

Reply
Asesh Singha Roy February 25, 2020 - 12:41 pm

Hi Vargis.Khan want to visit Zanskar valley from 21st October,2020 with wife aged 56 yrs,son 32 yrs daughter 27yrs and myself 64 yrs. my programme is Srinagar to Kargil-to Padum and back to Kargil.Then Kargil to Leh,Pangong lake,Nubra valley. back via Leh Manali road.Please let us know wheather it is possible or not.

Reply
Pooja November 30, 2018 - 2:09 pm

Hi, very useful information. Just want to ask you that we are planning to visit leh ladakh in june. We want to go by srinagar route and come by manali route. Please answer my questions given below.

1 i am travelling with my 3 kids age 8, 9 and 2 years . My mother age 59 also accompany us. Wanted to ask you about the health issue if they can encounter with or is this fine to travel with them

2 which route we should take first to see snow on both sides of the road

3 how many days are required to compelte the trip peacefully

Thanks

Reply
Vargis.Khan November 30, 2018 - 10:32 pm

Hello Pooja,

1. They should be fine as long as there is no previous medical history. I will still advise you to consult a doctor as well before going on the trip.
2. It depends really on how much it will snow this winter. Hard to tell right now but Manali Leh route will be a better bet.
3. I will say 2 weeks.

Reply
PARTHA SARATHI BISWAS August 24, 2018 - 7:17 pm

Dear Mr. Vargis,

We want to travel from Kargil to Leh and then entire Ladakh by a rented Toyota Innova.

Can you please name any Car Owner either at Kargil or at Leh who is providing his car for extensive travelling on rental basis ?

Thanking you,

Sincerely Yours,

PARTHA SARATHI BISWAS

Reply
Aeejaz July 8, 2021 - 3:16 pm

Shangri-La tour and travel

Reply
SUVHARUP SAHA August 21, 2018 - 9:24 pm

Hi Vargis Bhai,

Information sheared by you are really useful, I am planning a trip to zanskar valley in October 2018, below is my visit plan, can you please suggest the following.

1. Can we make this trip during this time 13 to 17 October 2018
2. Can you please suggest some contacts who can provide good quality rented car for this trip.
3. Can you please provide contacts numbers for accommodation in rangdum

My Visit plan
13th October 2018 Travel to Kargil from Srinagar and stay at Kargil
14th October 2018 Travel to Rangdum and sight scene stay at Rangdum
15th October 2018 Travel to Padum and sight scene stay at Padum
16th October 2018 Travel to Zangla and sight scene stay at Zangla/Padum
17th October 2018 Travel to Kargil and stay at Kargil
18th October 2018 Travel to Srinagar

With regards,
Suvharup Saha

Reply
Aeejaz hassan July 8, 2021 - 3:17 pm

Travel agency in kargil
Shangri-La and travel
7051204456

Reply
Maroof Khan August 20, 2018 - 9:52 am

Hi Vargis, We are arriving in leh via flight in the morning of 24th Sep and will be staying there for 5 days, For our return we are planning to rent bikes from leh to manali for one way, we have spoken to many and struggling in finding one way rental bikes, can you or any one help us finding bikes? Any help would be appreciated.

Reply
Prasoon Awasthi July 15, 2018 - 5:51 am

Hi Vargis bhai,

We are 5 peoples planning for Zanskar Valley from Leh to Leh this August i.e. 24th August to 31st August, please tell me is this the good time to visit Zanskar ? We are on a bike trip from Leh, will hire bike from Leh to Zanskar Valley and back.

Thanks

Reply
Vargis.Khan July 15, 2018 - 6:03 am

Prasoon Bhai timing is OK but the problem will be the bikes. The Kargil union will not let you take the Leh rented bikes to Zanskar. They ask that you rent their bikes from Kargil. So please talk and clarify this first before you take delivery of motorcycles in Leh city. Only pay if the rental agency can guarantee that you will not face any problem. If they are apprehensive, then reach Kargil by Bus or shared cab and rent bikes from there for Zanskar.

Reply
Vijay April 23, 2018 - 11:19 am

Hi Vargis, This is very useful information. Thanks

We are 4 friends planning to Zanskar vally in July 3rd week (8days trip). Do we get accommodations near Zanskar valley. Can we use our own tent for the night stay? can we with stand the cold in the nights if we plan to use our own tents? Is the River rafting open during that time?

Please suggest..

Reply
Vargis.Khan April 23, 2018 - 3:06 pm

Hi Vijay,

1. Yes you will get accommodation in Zanskar at thsi time
2. Yes you can pitch your own ten as well but do not do it in the middle of nowhere
3. Whether or not the tents will stand the cold really depends on the quality of the tent.
4. Yes river rafting is open at this time.

Reply
Aeejaz hassan July 8, 2021 - 3:27 pm

Rental bike is available at Shangri-La tour and travel+917051204456

Reply
Mhp March 28, 2018 - 9:20 am

Sir, your posts are worth to go through.. It helps the tourists to plan their tour.. thanks you for sharing the latest information..

Reply
Vargis.Khan March 28, 2018 - 5:10 pm

Hi Mhp, Thank you for your kind words. I am glad that the information was of help.

Reply
Tony January 30, 2018 - 12:10 pm

Hi Khan..love your articles and tips for travelling in Zanskar and Ladakh it’s difficult to get upto date information on these places. I am planning on visiting Zanskar this coming June hopefully on a rented Enfield. However after reading your article it seems I will have to hire a bike in Kargil so I was wondering if you know of any places there where this is possible as I can’t seem to find anything on the net.Keep up the good work…cheers Tony

Reply
Vargis.Khan January 31, 2018 - 5:06 pm

Hi Tony – There are several mechanics and rental agencies in Kargil offering motorcycles. Do not book anything in advance. Just reach Kargil, ask around, find a motorcycle that is in good condition and can survive the trip with no trouble, negotiate a deal and rent it.

Reply
KPM Basheer May 14, 2017 - 12:18 pm

Hi Vargis, this is really informative and useful article. Thank you. I am thinking of visiting Zanskar in teh first week of June. I plan to go there from Leh by taxi with my wife. I am 58, please advise me how to plan the trip.
Cheers. KPM Basheer.

Reply
Vargis.Khan May 14, 2017 - 3:04 pm

Hello Mr. Basheer – For visiting Zanskar from Leh, you will have to first rent a taxi from Leh to Kargil and then another for Kargil to Zanskar. The local taxi union does not allow Leh taxis to ply between Kargil and Padum. I can give you the number of the driver I know in Ladakh. You can talk to him and see if he is ready to take you. Please let me know.

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kpm basheer May 25, 2017 - 6:23 am

Dear Khan: Please tell me how can I get the permit to visit Siachen. I am thinking of visiting Siachen on June 8-9 (two persons). Btw, I want to congratulate you on your language and writing skills. Your post on preparations for Ladakh visit is extremely useful. Cheers. Basheer

Reply
Vargis.Khan May 25, 2017 - 2:16 pm

Hello Mr. Basheer, Thank you very much for your kind words Sir. I really appreciate it.

Coming to your question, the only way you can get a permit for Siachen is that either you have very high end contacts in Indian Army or you are a professional mountaineer. If you have contacts, then ask them to pull some strings and see if that works.

I heard that Indian Army was allowing civilian mountaineers to Siachen camp but a limited number only, that too on first come and first serve basis. This quota too usually gets occupied already by organizations working with defense services or people who have contacts. Most important thing, to qualify for this quota, your age should not be over 45 years.

So in a nutshell Sir, common man like us cannot go to Siachen Base camp unless someone from the family is a high end Army officer. You will only be allowed up to Warshi, not beyond that.

Reply
kpm basheer May 25, 2017 - 2:31 pm

Thanks a lot Khan. I am told they dont let in journalists..(I am a journo, btw)! cheers for your blog.

Reply
Vargis.Khan May 25, 2017 - 2:48 pm

Oh yes, if you are a journalist than no way you are going to Siachen 🙂

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