Is Srinagar Leh highway safe? This is usually the first question that gets asked when someone plans on traveling to Ladakh from Srinagar. Considering all the fuss that you hear about Kashmir every day and all the violence, the question, and the concern are definitely justified.
After all, no one wants to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Adventure and exploring new areas is fine but not really worth it if it poses a serious and unnecessary risk, isn’t it?
So how safe is the Srinagar Leh highway? Can you travel on it without fearing for your own safety? If you too were wondering the same, then below is some information on the topic, and a few safety tips that I am sure can be of help.
For more information on traveling from Srinagar to Leh like how to travel, where to stay, what to see, and a road map, please take a look at Srinagar to Leh Travel Guide and Road Map.
Tourism in Kashmir & Unrest in the Valley
The first thing to know is that tourism is a big part of Kashmir’s economy, probably the biggest. A common man here depends a lot on tourism and will do their best to not disrupt a steady source of income.
In a trouble-stricken state where there are not many job opportunities, people wait for the tourist season to begin. They also suffer heavily if there is a decline in the annual tourist footfall.
Whatever it is they are angry about, a local Kashmiri will always try to ensure to not let a tourist get hurt because of it. Places that are popular as tourist destinations like Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Pahalgam, Yusmarg never really get affected by any violence. Most of the protests and agitations most of the time are usually centered around Srinagar city.
Thousands of people including both Indians and foreign nationals arrive in Kashmir each year. Some visit just the Kashmir valley while others travel towards Kargil and then Leh. People even rent motorcycles and taxis from Srinagar for their trips.
So one thing is for sure. You will not be the only tourist in the city, and not without help if something goes wrong.
Is Srinagar Leh Highway Safe for Tourists?
To answer this question, you will have to consider two sides of it.
- The first one is that you just arrive in Srinagar City, stay for the night and be on your way to Ladakh the very next day.
- The second is that you want to go to Leh but first want to visit a few places in Kashmir valley as well.
If yours is the first case and you have no intention of staying in Kashmir, then I will say that the Srinagar Leh highway is quite safe. All that you need to do is to keep a check on the news. If there is a word of ongoing protests, violence, or curfews, then do not head towards Srinagar. Do not take the risk.
If there is no such major incident in the news then it is quite safe to plan a journey on the Srinagar Leh highway. If staying at Srinagar makes you nervous then you can head straight towards Sonamarg and stay there for the night. It is merely 2-3 hours of the journey at most.
Traveling to Ladakh via Srinagar
Even if you were not planning on staying in Kashmir and were just passing through, mention below are a few things that you should be aware of.
Avoid Traveling in Monsoon Season
If possible at all, you should avoid traveling in the monsoon season. Usually, it starts to rain in Kashmir sometime around mid-July and lasts until August. But there could be pre-monsoon showers at June end and post-monsoon showers in September first week as well.
A safer time to travel will be May, June, early Jule, September, and early October. Zojila starts to receive snow towards the middle of October and after that, it becomes a little risky to be driving on this route. The road however usually remains open for all of October.
Amarnath Yatra begins in the month of July and lasts until the end of August. This is also a good reason to avoid this route in these two months. There will be a lot of traffic and an increase in security which can cause delays on the road.
Do not Plan for November
In recent years, the Srinagar Leh route has started to remain open in the month of November as well. I will strongly advise you to not travel by road to Leh this month though. Heavy snowfall could block the road at any of the three passes en route. If that happened, you will be left stranded until the authorities are able to clear the route.
Also Read: Srinagar to Leh Travel Time & Itinerary Planning
If you are traveling early in the season, you may find the traffic across Zojila Pass to be controlled. What this means is that traffic from each side of the pass is allowed during certain hours only. This is done to ensure there is no traffic clog at the top of the pass.
The timings are usually changed each year, depending on the traffic. But you should be prepared that you may have to wait at Sonamarg for a few hours until the traffic movement is allowed. For an update on the timings, you can check Srinagar Leh Highway Road Status & Conditions.
Plan for 2 Days Journey
A lot of people try to rush through the highway in an effort to complete the journey in a single day. This is risky, dangerous, and not at all recommended. You are not only taking an unnecessary risk but also missing the point to be on this road at all.
A journey on the Srinagar Leh route needs to be taken slowly with plenty of sightseeing breaks. If you just rushed all the way, you might very well have just booked a flight to Leh and not bother coming this way at all.
You must at least give 2 days for this journey with a night halt at Kargil. You can also choose to stop at Sonamarg, Dras, or Lamayuru.
Go Slow, Drive Carefully and Enjoy the Journey
With all said and done, this is still a road that has its own sets of challenges. You will be driving up and down the hills across 3 high-altitude passes, on narrow and bad roads, through the mud and slush, and crossing water streams. Do not lose focus, keep your eyes on the road, drive carefully and ensure that the journey is a safe one.
Sightseeing in Kashmir Valley
Now let us talk about when you want to do some sightseeing in Kashmir as well; either before heading towards Ladakh or while on your way back from there.
What you must know is that things can change in Kashmir overnight. There is really no one who can tell you with a guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong.
There have been a few incidents when tourists got caught in between and were hurt (even died) during stone-pelting. To ensure this does not happen to you, I would recommend that you follow the below-mentioned tips.
Also read: Guest Houses & Hotels on Srinagar Leh Highway
Stick to Major Tourist Destinations
Everyone loves to visit offbeat destinations, places that are not crowded and less visited. When it comes to Kashmir however, it is a really bad idea.
Stick to main tourist places like Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Pahalgam, Aru Valley, and Yusmarg, etc. It is best to not plan a trip towards offbeat destinations or restricted areas.
Your focus anyway is to head towards Ladakh after a little sightseeing in Kashmir Valley. So use this time to just cover the main tourist areas.
Also read: Srinagar to Leh Bus Service: Fare Schedule and How to Book
Do Not Wander
Even during your stay in Srinagar, do not wander towards areas where you have no business to be.
Curfews and stone-pelting incidents happen majorly towards the old city or Lal Chowk. You will really not find any agitators, protestors near tourists spots so restrict yourself from wandering away. Do not go exploring if you heard of even the slightest possibility of unrest.
Trust Your Driver and Get a Good One
This will apply if you hired a local taxi and driver in Srinagar city. There will not be any violence at tourist spots but curfew usually gets imposed all over the city.
If that happens that there will be road closures and traffic delays. In this case, your driver will come to the rescue; avoiding violence-struck routes and getting you to safety.
As I mentioned above, Kashmiris ensure the safety of tourists. So your driver will then take it on him personally to get you to a safe place. Being a local, he will also be able to talk out of a situation if you got into trouble.
Also Read: Taxi Rates in Srinagar for Ladakh & Local Sightseeing
Stay at the Hotel
If there is any curfew or problem in the city, stay inside your hotel until things calm down. As long as you are in your room, there will not be any trouble at all. No one will come breaking doors to drag you out, that never happens.
Be Prepared for No Phone and No Internet
The first that happens in the valley in times of violence is a total closure of internet services and sometimes even all telecommunication services. When you plan a visit to Srinagar, you need to be mentally prepared for this. Landline phones however remain operational so you can use those to call your family.
Carry Some Essential Medicines
As a precautionary measure, carry some essential medicines like for cough, stomach ache, headache, cold, etc. If a curfew is imposed, even medical stores will be shut down.
Keep Buffer Days in your Itinerary
This is of extreme importance. When you go to Kashmir, you must have at least 2 days as a buffer in your overall plan. This is just to make sure that if you got stuck somewhere, there will really be no harm done back home because of your delay.
If everything went smoothly, then you may stay in the valley for 2 days by choice or just come back home.
Also read: ATMs, Mechanics & Petrol Pumps on Srinagar Leh Highway
Have a local Contact
No, I do not mean that you have a friend or family member in the city. But if at all possible, go with a local travel agent or at least hire a local driver. This way, if anything goes wrong, you will not be all on your own and will have at least one local contact to help you.
Is Srinagar Leh Highway Safe – Conclusion
So yes, traveling on the Srinagar Leh highway is completely safe as long as you stick to main tourist spots, keep yourself away from troubled areas, and follow the above tips I mentioned above. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or at our Community Forum, and I will be happy to answer.
hi Need your help to plan the trip. Starting 16/4 from Srinagar via Kargil to Leh and fly back on 24/4 from Leh. Will be family of 3. Please suggest
Hi sir we are planning a trip via motorcycle on September 4th from srinagar to leh and exploring leh but we heard that we have to rent another bike for traveling in leh. is this for himachal registered bikes or for all bikes?
i will be travelling by bike (solo) after my laddak ride from Sonmarg to AMRITSAR OR chandigrah . is it safe to ride.
i need 3 more information which are as follows.
1. Petrol Bunks
2. Stay in any unforseen situation
3. Garage for bike repaire
because i will all alone from sonmarg to chandigrah or amritsar.
Hi Vargis we are an Australian family of 5 living in Kolkata (for the past 5 years). We are finally looking at travelling to Leh/Ladakh in September and wanted some info re car hire. We were looking at travelling to Delhi to Jammu like your 11 day itinerary but due to the recent issues in Kashmir we’re very nervous to do so. If things do settle down can you tell me of a company that shall travel to Leh, taking in the sights along the way. I don’t want to pay “foreigner” price so just need some advice please.
Hello Amanda – Please talk to Hashim at 7051909192 (Primary) or 9622222987 (Secondary) for renting a cab between Jammu to Srinagar and then Srinagar to leh.
Hi Vargis. It was nice to read about your detailed information.
We are 5 people doing a road trip in August 2019. We will be traveling in our own car with the route Pune – Jammu – Srinagar – Leh – Turtuk – Sumur – Pangong – Hanle – Karzok – Manali – Pune. I have two questions and would be glad if you have the information –
1) I heard that Jammu – Srinagar road is closed on Sundays & Wednesdays. Are there any other closure also?
2) The Amarnath yatra is also scheduled in July & August 2019. Is there any possibility of getting stuck up due to the same?
We intend to travel from Jammu to Srinagar, stay the night in Srinagar (or at the outskirts), and immediately proceed to Kargil next day morning.
Your feedback / information / comments on this would be highly appreciated. Thank you, in advance.
1. Not anymore
2. Yes. There is usually a lot of traffic during Amarnath Yatra which could cause delay
Your plan looks good though, nothing too big to become a hindrance.
Dear Mr. Vargis khan,
First of all, thank you for your valuable explanation and informative blog regarding tour to entire ladakh and at the same time wish you good luck success in every field if life.l
Your through knowledge, vast experience, relevant, appropriate and descriptive explanations and information regarding various matters of Leh such as climate of Leh-Ladakh in different seasons, language, culture, livelihood of Ladakhi people, hotel booking, car booking, AMS, Oxygen Cylinder rent etc. etc. have enchanted me greatly.
So, I can’t resist myself to say something regarding my upcoming tour from Srinagar to Leh [Travel period @ 23-05-2019 to 01-06-2019 = 10 Days & 9 Days; Family Members:- 3 / Myself, my wife and my daughter (9+ years old)]
It is pertinent to mention here that the tour plan for Leh which I’ve arranged is totally inspired by you. My tour plan is as follows:-
1. 23-05-2019 = Srinagar – Kargil = Sonamarg – Zodjila pass – Drass Village -Tiger – Tololing –
Overnight stay at Hotel.
2. 24-05-2019 = Kargil – Leh = Mulbek – Uletokpo – Lamayuru / Monastery and Moon Landscape
– Samgam (confluence river Indus and zanskar ) Magnetic Hill –
Pathar Sahib Gurudwara – Hall of Fame – Giant Living Buddha
Sculpture on Rock Mountain Alchi – Likir Monastery.
3. 25-05-2018 = LEH – LOCAL SIGHT SEEING – LEH = 3 Idiot school (Druk Padma Karpo
School), Hemis Monastery Shey Palace and Monastery – Thiksay
Monastery – Overnight stay at Hotel.
4. 26-05-2019 = LEH – KHARDUNG LA – NUBRA VALLEY – TURTUK – Overnight stay at TURTUK.
5. 27-05-2019 = Turtuk – Hunder – Diskit – Sumur – Panamik – Overnight stay at PANAMIK.
6. 28-05-2018 = PANAMIK – PANGONG TSO (VIA AGHAM – SHYAK ROAD) – Overnight
stay at PANGONG TSO
7. 29-05-2019 = PANGONG TSO – HANLE (VIA MAN/MERAK) – Overnight stay at HANLE.
8. 30-05-2017 = HANLE – KARZOK / TSO MORIRI – Overnight stay at TSO MORIRI.
9. 31-05-2019 = KARZOK / TSOMORIRI – TSOKAR – Taglangla – LEH – Overnight stay at LEH.
10. 01-06-2019 = LEH AIRPORT (END OF JOURNEY).
It is pertinent to mention here that I’ve got quotations regarding travel by Mahindra Scorpio MhAWK and Innova car for the same itinerary are Rs. 54,000/- and Rs. 60,000/- respectively without Inner Line Permit.
Please inform me whether the car rent which I’ve got is reasonable or not?
Also, please inform me if you have any reliable tour operator.
I’ve got ILP through online except Hanley. I’ve talked with the concerned official of the Tourist Information Centre, Leh and he assured me that permit for Hanley will be given from the District Magistrate Office.
Hence, in this regard, you are requested to follow my tour plan and if possible, you can modify this tour program for better tour program/schedule and please tell me which one is appropriate.
Hello Mr. Das,
Thank you so much for your kind words. I truly appreciate it and glad that the information I posted was of help.
You will have to rent two taxis for your trip. First one from Srinagar to Leh and then another one for sightseeing in Ladakh. So the amounts you mentioned above, which part of the journey are those for?
Dear Mr. Vargis Khan,
Thank you once again and I’m expressing my humble gratitude to you.
Yes, you are absolutely correct that I shall have to rent two taxis for my entire trip from SRINAGAR to LEH. So, I’ve contacted with the “LADAKH TAXI OPERATOR CO-OPERATIVE LTD.”of LEH. They have gave quotation Rs. 43,700/- for the entire LEH – LEH tour (@ from 24-05-2019 to 01-06-2019 = 8 nights & 9 Days). At the same time, they have told me that it will be charged double additionally if they pick-up me from Srinagar.
So, after that, I’ve asked quotations from various tour operators of Leh-Ladakh to minimize total car rent from Srinagar to Leh as a only single family of 3 members.
Once again, I would like to mention here that I’ve got quotations regarding travel by Mahindra Scorpio MhAWK and Innova car for the same itinerary are Rs. 54,000/- and Rs. 60,000/- respectively without Inner Line Permit (ILP).
Now, in respect of your query regarding the amounts mentioned above is total car rent from (SRINAGAR – LEH Tour from 23-05-2019 to 01-06-2019 (Duration: 10 Days / 9 Nights).
I’ve got quotations from the above mentioned tour operators, but, I’ve not finalized yet.
I shall take decision after getting your valuable advice. You may also inform me regarding reliable tour operators those who are well known to you.
Practically, it’s worth saying that without your detailed description and proper guidance, anybody can’t be able to get encourage to travel the entire Leh-Ladakh region with family members.
Once again, I wholeheartedly wish you good luck and success in every field of life.
I’m visiting India for 10 weeks later this year, from mid October through to late December. Kashmir was in my plans, but after the recent bombing issues there I changed my plans and simply left a 10-day window of opportunity open for that period – if things settle down I’ll go to Kashmir and then head across to Leh via the bus or a taxi, otherwise I’ll use the 10 days for some other part of India.
My other concern now is my nationality as an Australian. Until recently I used to laugh at anyone who suggested Australians could have issues in Muslim countries, because we don’t bother anyone. Then one psychopath changed it all in Christchurch and made life that much more difficult for Australians traveling overseas. I can’t but imagine that there are some radical elements within various Muslim communities who’d love nothing better then to bring reprisals against any Australians they can get hold of, so unfortunately that whole business has added a new element to my concerns for traveling in the vale of Kashmir. Any thoughts?
Welcome to India my friend. I am a Muslim myself and trust me when I say this, it is us Muslims who are most annoyed and frustrated by these radical elements causing hatred worldwide in the name of Islam. No one wants that. We don’t want that. We too want to live in peace and harmony as much as any other community. Now the entire world links the world Muslim to terrorism and it is a common Muslim who pays the price everywhere he goes.
With that being said, coming to your question, you got nothing to worry about really. No one is going to bother you in Kashmir. Rather, you will be treated like a king knowing that you are a tourist. Kashmiri people are very sensitive towards tourists because a major part of their livelihood depends on tourism. And believe me, you will definitely not be hated for being an Australian. For them, you will just be a foreign tourist. Majority of them won’t even remember or know actually that the guy behind Christchurch shooting was an Australian and even if they do, it wouldn’t matter.
Thanks for this great info. If you can recommend a tour company that would do a 10 day tour starting in Srinagar and ending in Manali via Leh by road, that would be great
Please contact Rohit Mishra in Ladakh at 99996 22213
Hello i am planning Leh Ladakh Trip with my husband on Bike from Chandigarh, we decide to go therough Srinagar – Kargil – Leh and coming back through Manali. What do you suggest as its our first time. Any recommendation of stay in leh, kargil srinagar, manali?
I am planning to visit Kashmir and Leh in September 3rd week.
Would you be able to refer a local agent for a vehicle and reliable driver please.
I am planing travel leh by 21st April And want travel from leh to sonmarg on 23rd april2019 please suggest me that if i plan travel thisttie
Hi sir, I’m Sutapan Das. I’m planning a tour to Leh in May 2019 with my family.Following are the details.
21 may 2019-srinagar to kargil.
22-kargil to leh.
23-leh’s local sight seeing
24-leh to turtuk.
27-pangong to leh
28-leh to delhi flight.
Sir please answer my queries regarding this plan:-
1.is the srinagar-leh highway open and safe the time we are visiting?
2.how much is the fare of tempo traveller from srinagar to leh?(8 people total)
3.there are two children going, one of 6 and the other is 10. will there be any problem?
4.which is better? Delhi to Leh by flight or srinagar to Leh by road?
5.is my planning all right?? Please suggest if changes are needed .
2. Please talk to Faisal in Srinagar at 9596410670. He can give you a cost estimate and if you agree, can even arrange the tempo for you.
3. It should be OK as long as the kids have no medical ailments. I will still strongly suggest that you visit a doctor as well before the trip to consult about the kids
4. Srinagar to Leh by road will be better
5. Planning is good
Thanks a lot sir. I had one more query i.e, if I want to go from Pangong to Somoriri lake via Hanle with my family for 2 days extending my tour dates, will I be getting a permit and will it be possible and safe? -Sutapan Das.
Yes for both your questions.
I am planning a bike trip from Srinagar to Leh from 28th August. Since, from 27th August there is Supreme Court hearing on Article 35A, do you think it will be safe to travel that time ?
Hi Vaibhav – To be honest, no one can really predict anything about Srinagar.Things can change there by the minute but as long as you stay along the main highway, you will be OK to travel.
Hello Vargis Bro,
We(group of 8) are planning to visit LEH by August 17th.
Need help to figure out which vehicle will be better to travel from DAL LAKE to LAMAYURU(1St day)
& LAMAYURU to LEH (2nd day). We prefer to travel in a single vehicle(8 people).
Could you suggest the better option?
Thanks in advance
Deepak Bhai any vehicle will do to be honest. The only thing you need is good ground clearance and someone good driving the car.
Need anny permit between srinagar to leh by own car?
No permit needed
Hi vergis could you please share aome local contact from Srinagar? I am plannnpl Srinagar to let bike trip in juky
Hi Prachi – A local contact for what purpose? Do you rent a bike there?
Hello brother your information very helpful to me. I am planning to travel in my own car from Jammu to let. I want to know there is a any permit or pass required to a Indian citizen on this route . Please guide me. Thanks.
Hi Davinder – There is no permit needed for going from Srinagar to Leh. Permit is required for sightseeing in Ladakh after you arrive in leh city.
Hi Vargis.. The latest news regarding the construction of Zojila tunnel.
The normal traditional route between srinagar to leh will not be impacted by this construction, right?
Dear Vargis, will ceasefire have any impact, I mean will this make srinagar vulnerable to terror attacks. I will be travelling next month. Is it advisable to stay in srinagar only or we can freely visit sonmarg, gulmarg and other area also, given that a south indian tourist was stone pelted to death recently? Thanks
Hi Naresh – From what I heard from the locals there, that death was a very unfortunate incident. Stone pelting was going on and the area was not safe to travel through. Tourists were advised to not go but that certain group still insisted to pass through; because half of their group had already crossed. The driver too was dumb enough to agree and the result was unfortunate. One tourist was hit on the head and succumbed to his injuries. They were not targeting that person. They just tried to squeeze their car through with both civilians and armed forces throwing stones at each other. The deceased got hit by a stone that was not intended for him.
I am not saying that Kashmir is completely safe and there is nothing to worry about. but the golden rule while you travel through Kashmir is that if there is any word of unrest, head back to your hotel and rest there until everything is clear and you will be OK. Do not wander to areas you were not supposed to, do not take chances; avoid any place where a protest is going on and you are free to go.
Hi Vargis Sir,
i am planning an alternative route from Jammu to srinagar via Banihal using the railway travel from Banihal to Srinagar
Do you or any of your contacts or friends have traveled by this route
as far as i know i can nly travel by road from Jammu tawi to Banihal and then from Banihal station to Srinagar by DEMU
Do you knw any idea on cheapest transport mode from Jammu tawi railway station to Banihal railway station
I will be reaching Jammu tawi afternoon by 3
Thanks in Advance
Jack Bhai I have never been towards Banihal so I don’t really know. But I have dropped a text to my contact in Srinagar to find out. I will let you know when he responds.
I am planning to drive from Jammu to Srinagar in my own vehicle in mid May 2018. Then go further to Leh and exit from Manali. Is it safe to drive on your own now since I am travelling with my family and kids?
Things change in Srinagar by the day and hour so no one can really give a 100% guarantee. With that being said, what I can in fact tell you is that tourists are indeed traveling right now to both Kashmir and Ladakh. So unless there is a curfew in Srinagar city, it is mostly OK to traveling from Srinagar to Leh as you are just passing through.
Guidance of Vargis Khan is best to follow and useful in every steps of Journey, I followed it in last year and enjoy the complete trips. But do not prefer JKSRTC bus to travel from Srinagar to leh.
Thank you so much Mr. Sahoo. I appreciate your kind words.
Hi Vargis, when we enter srinagar, which is the best route to exit the city while going sonmarg. Via Lal Chowk or around dal lake which further joins the leh highway.
Around Dal would be best Mani. Avoid Lal Chowk.
Hi Vargis Sir.. regarding the current news in kashmir (Jammu & Srinagar), even if there is tension around, will the jammu-sringar highway & sringar-leh be open? for traveling for bus/cars etc
I am lil tensed since my vacation days are coming nearby in june and all my tickets for traveling to leh are already booked & confirmed 🙂 😛
Jack Bhai the highway remains open even if there is curfew in Srinagar so don’t worry, you will be definitely be able to trvel.
Hello, Vargas! Could you suggest if it is safe to travel solo by bus between Srinagar and Leh?
Hi Rai – Yes it is very safe to travel solo by Bus
Hello Vargis Bhai,
Could you please help me with contact number fr for Gurez valley Dawar Guest house run by JKTDC.
I am planning to travel there in May 1st week.
Any info on the travel mode and any guide would be really helpful.
Thanks in advance.
Hi Ronson Bhai – I am sorry but I do not have number for this guest house.