Is Ladakh Safe for Tourists to Travel?

by Vargis.Khan

Is going to Ladakh safe? This is one of the most common thoughts pondered upon by people planning a visit here. In fact, this question will actually apply to any place that you may think about visiting. But because of the remoteness; high altitude; harsh terrain; challenging roads; close proximity to the border; incursions by China and unrest in Kashmir; people feel a little hesitant about visiting Ladakh at all. You may not worry about it as much if traveling solo or with friends, but when you have your family accompanying you on the trip; this probably will become your greatest apprehensions. Is Ladakh safe for tourists or not and what measures can you take to make it even more so is what I will provide details on in this article. If after reading the article you have any other doubts, please do comment and ask.

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

Your safety in Ladakh really depends on the aspect you are inquiring it in about. For example, you may be worried about the unrest in Kashmir and Chinese incursions; or you may not be confident about driving or riding your motorcycle there. The high altitude could be giving you sleepless nights because you may also have your children accompanying you on the trip. In the end, however, the fact remains that thousands of people travel to Ladakh each year with both their children and elders. So to answer the question in one statement, yes Ladakh is perfectly safe to visit; provided that you do not put yourself in a risky situation.

is ladakh safe

Below is an index of information that  we will be discussing in this post.

Safety in Leh – Ladakh after Chinese Incursions

This is probably the biggest apprehension that people have while going to Ladakh.  Chinese incursions in several areas here have increased in last few years and they get wide coverage in all the newspapers and channels. This creates a panic like situation among travelers. I am not saying that it is not all that serious because it indeed is; but contrary to common belief, incursions happen close to the border areas which are far away from tourist destinations. Tourists are anyways not allowed in those areas.

Some of the places where incursions happened are as a matter of fact about 2 days of travel from until where tourists are allowed. There have been several instances of Chinese crossing over to Indian territories but far from being a risk to people visiting Ladakh. In fact it will never be a situation like this unless China declares an all out war against India.

And to be honest, it is not just Ladakh. It is the case with any city that is close to border areas. Large army presence, tight security, minor disputes over the border are common in such places. Ladakh is a very well protected region and you really have nothing to worry about. Put this fear out of your mind and only focus on the natural beauty of the place.

How safe is Leh Ladakh because of Pakistani Shelling?

Like Chinese incursions, the incidents of Pakistani soldiers crossing over; or cross-border shelling too is not near tourist destinations. Places that are prone to such attacks are not open for tourists.  While going to Ladakh via Srinagar, you will traveling through places that do not see any Pakistani incursions unless it is an open war; like of Kargil in 1999. If that happens than the entire region will anyways shut down for any tourism at all.

Also read: Mobile Phone Services in Ladakh

Is Ladakh safe to visit during unrest in Kashmir?

Things can change in Kashmir overnight and there is no denying this fact. The often protests, stone pelting incidents do pose a worrisome threat; but in all of this, people of Kashmir know of the importance of tourism in the region. Their very own livelihood depends on it heavily and they will do anything to ensure that their source of income does not get disrupted. They take extra care to not cause any unrest in areas that are popular among tourists.

You will rarely hear about any such incidents at places like Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Yusmarg or Pahalgam where most of the tourism happens. But you too can take certain steps to ensure your own safety. Please take a look at the article below where I have suggested a few tips on the same.

Also read: Is Srinagar Leh Highway Safe for Tourists?

How Safe is Srinagar for Tourists?

Most of the violence in the valley most of the times is centered around Srinagar; so if that worries you, than you can skip Srinagar altogether and head straight to Sonamarg which is about 2-3 hours’ drive from the city. Not traveling to a destination that is too offbeat will be another great step. Even when in Srinagar, do not wander to places where you have no business going; places like the old city. If possible than do keep a local contact; someone you can call in case you needed any immediate assistance.

Another point to consider is that Srinagar is about 450 kilometers and 2 days of journey away from Ladakh. Unrest in Kashmir rarely causes any impact in Ladakh. Even traveling on Srinagar Leh highway is quite safe as long as you do not put yourself at a wrong place at a wrong time. Please take a look at How to Travel on Srinagar Leh Highway and Hotels on Srinagar to Leh Route on how a journey on this route can be planned for the best and where can you stay.

Is Leh Ladakh safe from terrorism?

There is no long terms answer to the question of is Ladakh safe from terrorism because things can change overnight anywhere. With that being said, there have never been any terrorism-related incidents in Ladakh. Whatever happens in Kashmir valley has little or no impact on the lives of people of Ladakh. Is Ladakh safe now is actually the question that should be asked in terms of terrorism. Take a look at the news and if there are any reports of clashes or unrest in Kashmir, then better plan it from Manali side only. Or postpone the trip altogether and plan at a later time if it gives you the peace of mind.

Safety issues in Ladakh in terms of Bad Roads

Yes, the roads here are challenging, bad, broken and unpredictable. But I thought that is why you wanted to visit Ladakh, right? To accept the challenge? If not then you really have no business going there; better stick to other safer tourist hot spots. Roads here are bad yes, but they are no threat as long as you have decent enough experience of driving both in plains and hills and as long as you go slow and carefully.

Just follow the basic rules of driving that you would in a city as well and you will be OK. And I am really talking about simple rules like do not drink & drive, do not over speed, do not rush, do not lose focus etc. Follow this and these rough roads will become fun to be on. If you are not confident of your own driving then better not take the risk and hire a local driver. Take a look at Driving Tips for Leh Ladakh for some tips of how to handle tough roads while going to Ladakh.

How serious is altitude sickness?

Yes AMS is real and yes it is serious but not applicable to just Ladakh. You will suffer from it at other high altitude places like Spiti valley as well. As a matter of fact, I have seen people suffering from altitude sickness even at Manali. Slow gain in altitude is the key to avoid suffering from its symptoms. If you are worried about it too much then just take the Srinagar Leh route to get to Ladakh and give it some time. Take the journey slow, do not exert yourself, avoid smoking and drinking and you should be OK. To read more in details about what acute mountain sickness is, what causes it, what its symptoms are and what can you do to avoid it, please read How to Handle Acute Mountain Sickness in Ladakh.

Is it safe to go to Ladakh after the Taxi Union Incident?

A couple of years ago, there were some incidents of tourists vehicles attacked by local taxi union people that also caused panic. That however was just one odd incident and to be honest, no one really knows the reality of it. No one can tell for sure what happened or the entire chain of events that eventually led to that attack. There have never been any such incidents in Ladakh except for this one time. Just follow some basic rules that taxi union here enforces.

Do not use a non-local rented vehicle for sightseeing. Which means that if you rented a car of motorcycle from Ladakh, then only use it to travel to your hotel in Leh. Do not take it to any other place in Ladakh or even use it in Leh city. If traveling by a personal car, then please make sure that it is registered in our own name and not that of a friend’s. Please read Non-Local Rented Taxi and Motorcycles Banned in Ladakh for more details on this issue.

Also read: Clothes for Ladakh Trip – What to Pack?

Is it safe to travel to Ladakh with Family?

If you are planning a trip with your family that includes either your elders or children, then the first step would be to consult a doctor and take a professional opinion. Children have the same tolerance level for mountain sickness as that of adults so the same rules will apply that I mentioned above. Keep a check on their overall behavior and for any symptoms of AMS. Kids are more active by nature which makes them prone to AMS by exerting themselves so keep their movements under control. Give plenty of water or other fluids and keep them covered from cold. If your parents have any medical conditions like Asthma, heart problems then bringing them to Ladakh without going to a doctor’s first will be a bad move.

Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Ladakh with Children?

Is Ladakh safe for Infants?

My one line answer to this question is that no, Ladakh is not safe for infants or babies. I would not recommend you to plan a trip to Ladakh until your child is at least a couple of years old; and is able to communicate clearly enough for the other person to understand.

Why is Ladakh not safe for Babies?

There are two reasons behind this. The first one is a baby’s lungs are not mature enough to handle altitude sickness. So if your child is not yet at least a year old, then give up your plan of visiting Ladakh for the time being.  The second reason is that in the end, Ladakh is a high altitude desert where the climate is harsh. Tourists have in fact died there due to altitude sickness (Google it and you will get the news articles about it).

In a place like this is, it is of utmost importance that your child is able to convey their thoughts to you if he or she wasn’t feeling well. You do not want to be in a situation where your toddler is crying non-stop and you are taking guesses about what could be wrong. That will just make the situation worse. Ladakh isn’t going anywhere and waiting for another year wouldn’t make the sky fall. Let your baby grow a bit so that even you can enjoy the trip better rather than running around changing diapers.

Is Ladakh safe for Couples?

Yes, Ladakh is very safe for couples. You will find plenty of couples traveling to almost every area of Ladakh by car, motorcycle and even public transport. As long as you yourself do not take any unnecessary risks, you are perfectly safe. When I say unnecessary risks, I mean traveling after dark, camping in the middle of nowhere or getting into arguments with strange people, putting yourself in situations where your own behavior would seem suspicious, crossing over into restricted areas, etc.

Is Ladakh safe for senior citizens?

Yes, Ladakh is safe for elders as well as long as there is no serious medical history involved and you are taking all necessary precautions. A lot of people these days bring their parents to Ladakh so you will definitely not be the only one doing so. I have in fact covered this topic in great details in Traveling to Ladakh with Parents – Senior Citizens that I would recommend you to read for some quick tips on how to make the trip safer for elderly people.

Solo woman trip to Ladakh?

Can a woman travel alone to Ladakh? Or can a group of girls plan their trip without a male companion? The answer again would be a definite yes. A lot of women have done it, both Indian and foreign nationals. Google for it and you will get plenty of travelogues of solo female travel to Ladakh. A friend of mine went by public transport all by herself without any trouble at all. Please read My first and Solo Trip to Ladakh for a complete and detailed log of her journey.

Is Ladakh safe for foreigners?

Yes Ladakh is as safe for foreigners as it is for Indian citizens. However, as a foreign national, you need to make sure that you do your homework and gain knowledge on what areas you can visit; and which ones are off limits or best avoided. You will also need to obtain a PAP (protected area permit) that is specific for foreign tourists only. In order to visit areas like Nubra valley and Pangong, you will have to get a local registered travel agent to sponsor you; without which you will not be issued a PAP. Areas like Hanle, Changthang Valley, and Batalik are restricted for foreigners so do not go that way. As a general rule, keep yourself to major tourist spot and avoid going too remote or offbeat.

Read How to Obtain Protected Area Permit in Ladakh for more details on permits required for foreign nationals.

Is Ladakh safe for Heart Patients?

My knowledge in the field is next to none but as far as I know, traveling to high altitude places for people suffering with coronary Heart Diseases is not the best thing to do. Ladakh is a remote area and it is not just about the present medical condition of the person; but an even serious matter is the absence of medical support anywhere in Ladakh except for Leh city. If any medical emergency arises to a heart patient, it is bound to turn into a disaster; because the nearest help would be miles and hours away. Still if you want to go, then you must find a good cardiologist and get a medical opinion. Please do not go looking for this answer on the web.

Is Ladakh Safe for Asthmatics?

The answer to this question too would be the same that I gave for heart patients above. These are not conditions or situations where a generic or vague answer can work; and these are answers that you would want to get from a qualified professional and not some blogger like me. If you have breathing related ailment, you must get yourself checked and ask a doctor if it is OK for you to go to Ladakh. Some general tips for asthmatic patients are not what you are looking for. What applies for one person may not be applicable to you as well. You would want to get an opinion that is specific to you so please go seek a doctor and don’t look for this answer over the web.

Is it safe to visit Leh Ladakh in June?

Yes, it is safe to go to Ladakh in June but you will have to be prepared for some really bad roads. June is early in the season which means that the condition of the roads will not be the best at this time. Manali Leh route would have just opened in June so there will be a lot of snow en route that can even cause avalanches. Please read How to Plan a Trip to Ladakh in June for more information on what is the safest way to complete this journey.

Is Leh Ladakh safe in July?

Yes, it is but you should try to plan your trip in the earlier part of the month before monsoon hits the region around Manali and in Kashmir. Ladakh is in a rain shadow area and it is not supposed to rain here much. But things are not really the same or ideal now due to the impact of global warming. It has now started to rain in Ladakh as well; so if you are going in the latter part of July, make sure you are well prepared. For more details, please read How to Plan a Trip to Ladakh in July.

Is Ladakh safe in August?

August is the time of the monsoon season and there is no way you can avoid the rains in this month. The most important thing to do while traveling in August is to check the news first. If there are reports of heavy rains or landslides then it would be best to delay your plans and wait for the monsoon to pass. If the weather is the regular monsoon season then traveling to Ladakh is OK but make sure you are prepared to handle the rains. For more information, please read How to Plan a Trip to Ladakh in August.

Is it safe to travel to Leh Ladakh in October?

Yes, it is safe to travel to Ladakh in October but you should not plan on traveling on Manali Leh route at this time. Go via Srinagar and return the same way or take a flight to Ladakh. If you do want to include Manali route then try to plan your trip in the first 10 days of the month. It can start to snow anytime at Baralacha La in October blocking the road; so traveling after 10th is not really a safe bet. While in Ladakh, weather is going to be very cold in October with high chances of snowfall so please be prepared. For other tips, please read How to Plan a Trip to Ladakh in October.

Is it safe to travel to Leh Ladakh in December?

A winter trip to Ladakh was not something that people considered doing until a few months ago; but now it is becoming way too common. Yes, you can visit Ladakh in December as long as you are prepared for the harsh cold weather; and make all the necessary arrangements. Please read How to Plan your Trip to Ladakh in December for more information on the topic.

Is Leh Ladakh safe to travel?

How safe is Ladakh is not really a question that only depends upon the region but also upon the traveler. Is Ladakh safe for tourists majorly lies in the hands of the tourists themselves. It will get decided by the decisions they make and actions they take. Just follow the advice I provided above and you will be able to travel to Ladakh without any hassle; have lots of fun; and return home happy. I do 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.

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14 comments

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Sajith August 29, 2019 - 2:20 am

Has the situation returned to normal in Leh-Ladakh after 370? I’ve planned trip in and around Leh in first week of Oct, Do you advice to continue with this plan?

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Vargis.Khan August 29, 2019 - 4:40 am

Traveling to Ladakh is fine. Problem is in Kashmir region only.

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Sajith August 30, 2019 - 12:14 am

Thanks for your response, much appreciated

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deepak RN August 5, 2019 - 6:54 am

I am traveling on Aug 14th to 20th to Leh, sham valley, Nubra valley, Pangong, Any concerns about travelling to Leh area now?
today saw news they have scrapped 370 and 35A. we already have booked the package. please let us know your suggestion, we can travel or not.

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Vargis.Khan August 5, 2019 - 7:01 am

Wait for a few more days before you finalize the trip and see how it goes. This move may have severe results in and around Kashmir.

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deepak RN August 5, 2019 - 7:07 am

Thanks for your prompt input. Feb Month i have booked thru trip agencies. I need to check with them.

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LOH WS August 3, 2019 - 11:11 am

Hi Vargis… Currently there is unrest in Srinagar region (as reported in the news on 2nd Aug 2019). Any concerns about travelling to Leh area now? I am visiting Lamayuru, Leh, Nubra Valley, and Pangong areas between 15-25 August 2019. Your advice is most appreciated. Thank you!

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Vargis.Khan August 3, 2019 - 8:44 pm

There isn’t any problem in Ladakh as of now. You are OK to go.

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Raj July 27, 2019 - 4:18 am

I am traveling to Nubra valley, Need some contact for a travel agent to sponsor me for PAP (protected area permit).
Also, need contact with any taxi company for Alchi-Lamayuru and Nubra-Panamik-Pangong tour

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Vargis.Khan July 27, 2019 - 9:44 am

Talk to Rohit @ 9999622213 or 9910722252

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Neeru August 20, 2018 - 7:10 am

Is ladakh safe for only women travellers. Especially tso moriri .

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Vargis.Khan June 5, 2019 - 9:10 pm

Yes it is

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Atul May 4, 2018 - 1:29 am

I have Thar that is in my wife’s name, can I drive it to Leh and within ladakh region?

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Vargis.Khan May 4, 2018 - 4:57 am

Yes you can but also carry ID cards that can prove that the owner of the vehicle is your wife.

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