Can you plan a trip to Ladakh in 9 days? The answer is a definite yes. It is surely doable. A road trip to Ladakh in 9 days can be a little tricky but if you were traveling by flight, then 9 days is more than enough time to explore the region. In this post, I will share a few examples of a Leh Ladakh 9 Days itinerary for a trip by road, flight as well as public transport.
A journey to Ladakh is best done at ease. You will enjoy it more if you are rushing yourself at any day or any point. It is not really a place where you can accelerate your car to over 100 kilometers per hour and cover distances quickly. Up here, you need to take the journey slow to ensure your safety and also to enjoy the trip to the fullest.
With that being said, the fact is that not all of us can afford to be away from our jobs and regular lives for several days or weeks. Add to it the fact that the tourist season in Ladakh is limited to just 4-5 months in a year. Due to this a lot of people try to make a short trip to Ladakh with whatever time they can afford.
If that sounds like your story and 9 days are all you can manage for this trip, here is how you can travel.
How to plan a Leh Ladakh 9 Days Itinerary
For the sake of this article, I will assume that you are traveling from Delhi. If you are starting from another place, only the journey on the first and the last day will be different. The rest of the details will still apply.
I will first suggest the most common and the best itinerary you can follow for 3 days. After that, I will mention a few other ways that the journey can be completed. You can pick the one that suits you the best.
Leh Ladakh 9 Day Itinerary
The itinerary below will see you reaching Ladakh and returning the same way. This is the best way to complete the journey when you have just 9 days in hand.
- Delhi to Manali – Day 1
- Manali to Jispa – Day 2
- Jispa to Leh – Day 3
- Leh – Day 4
- Leh – Khardung La – Nubra Valley – Day 5
- Nubra Valley to Pangong Lake – Day 6
- Pangong Lake to Pang / Sarchu – Day 7
- Pang / Sarchu to Manali – Day 8
- Manali to Delhi – Day 9
The above-mentioned itinerary is only doable if you are traveling by your own vehicle, either a car or a bike. Later in the article, I will change and present another version of it if you are traveling by Bus.
Day 1 – Delhi to Manali
On Day 1, start as early as you can from Delhi. There is not much to this day except for a long monotonous drive. The most important factor here is to ensure that you have your permits for Rohtang ready otherwise your Day 2 would be wasted trying to obtain these from the SDM office in Manali.
Either you obtain these online or contact a travel agent/hotel in Manali to keep your permits ready. Read How to Obtain Rohtang Pass Permits for complete details.
In case you could get the permit beforehand online, the next best choice would be a hotel. They usually provide these services in order to win over customers. Call the hotel, ask if they can arrange your permit and if they agree, check in with them for your night stay at Manali.
If that did not work either, skip Rohtang Pass entirely and travel through the Atal Tunnel to exit near Keylong. You can cover Rohtang Pass on your return journey. The permit is not needed if you are climbing the pass from the other side.
The total distance covered is about 540 kilometers in 12-16 hours, depending on your speed and breaks. The road conditions are mostly good all the way to Manali with a few bad patches in between.
Day 2 – Manali to Jispa
Start early from Manali on Day 2 in order to avoid the usual traffic rush at Rohtang top. You will cross your first high altitude pass, Rohtang La, and descend into Lahaul valley. Continue all the way to Jispa and either check into a hotel here or any of the available campsites.
The total distance covered will be about 140 kilometers in approximately 7-8 hours. Road conditions are mostly good except for the bad roads near Rohtang top.
If you did not go to Rohtang, you can easily manage to reach Sarchu on Day 2 itself. But before deciding to do so, please know that Sarchu is at a very high altitude. Most of the travelers suffer from altitude sickness if spending a night here. My recommendation will be that you stay in Jispa only to avoid AMS.
Day 3 – Jispa to Leh
Once again, start early from Jispa, possibly by the first light of the day. You will cross the remaining 4 high-altitude passes, Baralacha La, Nakee La, Lachulung La, and Tanglang La today.
There are also two small but beautiful lakes on the route, Deepak Taal and Suraj Taal. Road conditions will be a mix of good, bad and ugly. The total distance covered will be about 340 kilometers in approximately 9-10 hours depending upon your speed.
If you stayed at Sarchu for the night, you can afford to start a little late as well. Sarchu to Leh can be completed in 6 to 7 hours as well.
Day 4 – Leh
You should spend day 4 in Leh and use this day for 3 things.
- The first is to allow your body some time to adjust itself to high altitude before you proceed to other high altitude places
- The second is to arrange Inner line permits for the journey ahead. Please read How to get Inner Line Permit in Ladakh for more details.
- The third is to visit local places in Leh like Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, and Leh Market.
Day 5 – Leh to Nubra Valley
It is going to be a long day so yet again. Take an early start by the first light of the day so that you have sufficient time for sightseeing in Nubra Valley.
Take the road towards Khardung La and descend on the other side into Nubra Valley. Spend some time at the top of the pass and have a cup of tea in the canteen run by the Indian army.
If you started between 6-7 AM, you can easily make it until Diskit by 12 noon. There are a few choices that you can make for your stay in the valley. You can either stay in Diskit that has the highest number of hotels or you can go to any other village like Hunder, Turtuk, or Panamik.
My recommendation will be that you visit the Diskit Monastery and be on your way to Turtuk for the night. The village is another 80 odd kilometers from Diskit, so manage your time accordingly.
The total distance until Diskit is about 115 kilometers and 205 kilometers until Turtuk. Roads are mostly good except for between South Pullu and North Pullu (Khardung La top). There are a few bad stretches between Diskit and Turtuk as well.
Day 6 – Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso Lake
On Day 6, you will go straight to Pangong Lake from Nubra valley via Shyok road. If you stayed at Turtuk, then please take an early start so that you can take a short detour to Panamik as well while on the way.
From Turtuk, drive back to Diskit and then reach Khalsar Village. The road will bifurcate after Khalsar. Do not drive uphill towards Khardung La pass because that will take you back to Leh.
Take the road towards Agham Village. At Agham, the road will bifurcate again and you need to take left to reach Shyok village. The one to your right will take you to Wari La pass.
From Shyok village, drive straight to Durbuk and then Pangong Lake. For your stay, you can stay at any of the campsites available as per your budget. If you want to stay at a cemented hotel, you will have to look for a guesthouse in either Spangmik, Man, or Merak Village.
The total distance from Diskit to Pangong is about 160 kilometers and can be covered in 5-6 hours easily. From Turtuk, it is about 250 kilometers and can take 7-8 hours to complete. If you visited Panamik on the way, the journey will be of 9-10 hours.
Day 7 – Pangong to Pang / to Sarchu
On this day, you will start your return journey on Day 7 towards Manali. Start early from Pangong and take the same road back all the way to Karu via Chang La Pass. From there, rather than going back towards Leh, turn right towards Tanglang La Pass.
Depending on the time you started, your speed, and your breaks, you should easily be able to make it Pang. If there was still sun in the sky, continue and reach Sarchu for the night.
Since your body would already have acclimatized by now, you will not have any trouble with AMS, which a lot of people worry about while staying here.
Pangong to Pang is about 265 kilometers and a journey of 8-9 hours. If you pushed further to Spangmik, the distance will increase to 328 kilometers in 10-11 hours.
Also Read: Clothes for Ladakh Trip – What to Pack
Day 8 – Pang / Sarchu to Manali
From Sarchu on Day 8, start really early and reach Manali by evening. If you were staying in Pang for the night, I will recommend starting by 6 or 7 AM so that you can get to Manali by 4-5 pm. If you stayed in Sarchu, you can start a little later after breakfast well.
Sarchu to Manali is around 190 kilometers and can be completed in 5-6 hours if you went via the Rohtang Tunnel. If you did not cross Rohtang while going to Leh and were doing it now, the distance and time will increase to 235 kilometers in 7-8 hours, depending on the traffic at Rohtang.
If you were coming from Pang via Rohtang, the distance will be about 320 kilometers and travel time of about 10 hours.
Day 9 – Manali to Leh
On Day 9, you will reach back home Delhi from Manali. There isn’t much to write about this day except that this will be a long and monotonous journey.
This is the most common and advised itinerary if you just have 9 days in hand. You will be able to cover most of the tourist destinations in Ladakh however will miss the Srinagar Leh highway.
By Public Transport – Bus & Shared Cabs
As I mentioned, the Leh Ladakh 9 Days itinerary above is best suited for someone traveling by their own vehicle. The journey however will change if you were traveling by public transport. Below is the itinerary that you can follow.
- Delhi to Manali- Day 1
- Manali to Keylong – Day 2
- Keylong to Leh – Day 3
- Leh – Day 4
- Day Trip to Nubra Valley – Day 5
- Day Trip to Pangong Lake – Day 6
- Leh to Keylong – Day 7
- Keylong to Manali – Day 8
- Manali to Leh – Day 9
You can also take a look at this travelogue How I traveled to Ladakh by Public Transport.
Delhi to Leh
You have two choices on how to travel between Delhi and Leh. The first one is the direct Delhi to Leh Bus. It starts from ISBT Delhi at 3 PM on Day 1 and will reach Manali early in the morning on Day 2.
After a short break, it will resume the journey and arrive in Keylong on Day 2 where you will stay for the night. The bus will start on the morning of Day 3 and reach Leh by evening the same day. For more details on this bus, please take a look at Delhi to Leh Bus Service.
Once you reach Ladakh, you have no other choice but to rent a bike for local sightseeing. Managing it by public transport here as well is really impossible, considering the short time you have in hand.
If you were on a limited budget, you can rent an automated scooter like Activa as well. Take a look at Ladakh Motorcycle Rental Rates to get a cost estimate.
Spend the 4th Day in Leh City only, arranging permits and doing local sightseeing in Leh City. On Day 5, start early by 6 or 7 AM and reach Diskit in Nubra Valley. Have lunch there, visit the monastery and be on your way back to Leh.
On Day 6, start as early as 6 AM to reach Pangong lake in time. Spend some time at the lake and be back in Leh by evening.
Leh to Delhi
For your return journey, board the Delhi to Leh Bus from Leh and reach Delhi by Day 9.
If Delhi to Bus was not an option, then you will have to break the journey into 3 parts. First, board a bus from Delhi to Manali, then another HRTC Bus for Manali to Keylong, and then finally Keylong to Leh.
Same way, for the return journey, board the Leh Manali Bus and then another overnight Volvo for Manali to Delhi.
Including Srinagar Leh Highway
One thing that both of the above itineraries are missing is the Srinagar Leh highway. If you are keen to be covering that as well then you can follow the below-mentioned Leh Ladakh 9 days itinerary.
- Delhi to Manali – Day 1
- Manali to Jispa – Day 2
- Jispa to Leh – Day 3
- Day Trip to Khardung La and Nubra Valley – Day 4
- Day Trip to Pangong Lake – Day 5
- Leh to Kargil – Day 6
- Kargil to Srinagar – Day 7
- Srinagar to Jammu – Day 8
- Jammu to Delhi – Day 9
You cannot plan a Leh Ladakh 9 Days itinerary by public transport covering both highways. It is only doable if you are traveling in your own vehicle.
The journey until Day 3 will be the same as I explained for the first itinerary. The details will change after that.
Day 4 – Leh to Khardung La to Leh
On Day 4, the first thing you need to do is to get your permits for Nubra and Pangong. Reach at DM office at Leh early, even before it opens. Arrange for your permits and the moment you have them in hand, start towards Nubra valley.
You will not be able to reach all the way to Nubra but at least you will be able to cover Khardung La. If you have some time, then descend from Khardung La on the other side and go as far as you can towards Nubra Valley.
However, keep a close check on the time to ensure that you are back in Leh before it gets dark.
Day 5 – Leh to Pangong Tso to Leh
Your journey for the next day is going to be long so you must start by 6 AM from Leh. Travel on Manali Leh highway and then take the diversion towards Chang La. After crossing the pass, it is a straight run to Pangong Lake where you should make it by noon.
Start your return journey after spending a little time at the lake and travel on the same route via Chang La to Leh.
The distance traveled will be approximately 450 kilometers and can take anywhere between 12-13 hours. Roads are mostly good except for a few bad stretches and a really ugly stretch around Chang La top.
Day 6 – Leh to Kargil
On Day 6, you will start your return journey to Srinagar. Start early so that you have some time for sightseeing on the highway. See Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, Indus & Zanskar river confluence, magnetic hill and reach Kargil by evening.
There are several hotels at Kargil so you will have no trouble finding one. You will also cross two high-altitude passes, Fotu La and Namika La, on the way.
Day 7 – Kargil to Srinagar
Day 7 will see you reaching Srinagar by evening after crossing Zoji La. Enjoy the natural beauty of the Kashmir valley throughout your drive. Have lunch at Sonamarg. If within budget, stay at a houseboat at Dal Lake in Srinagar.
Day 8 – Srinagar to Jammu
On Day 8 Have your breakfast at Srinagar and be on your way to Jammu via Patnitop.
Day 9 – Jammu to Delhi
On Day 9, it is nothing but a long monotonous journey from Jammu to Delhi.
Leh Ladakh 9 Days Itinerary by Flight
If you were reaching Ladakh by flight, then 9 days is more than sufficient time to cover all of the tourist places. Below is an itinerary that you will follow in this case.
- Arrival in Leh – Day 1
- Rest in Leh, Arrange Permits and Acclimatize – Day 2
- Leh to Nubra Valley – Day 3
- Nubra Valley to Pangong Lake – Day 4
- Pangong Lake to Hanle – Day 5
- Hanle to Tso Moriri – Day 6
- Tso Moriri to Leh via Tso Kar – Day 7
- Sham Valley Tour – Day 8
- Fly out of Leh – Day 9
For the above itinerary, you will have to rent a bike or a private taxi in Ladakh. If you were thinking about traveling by public transport, you can modify the plan like below.
- Arrival in Leh. Rest and Arrange Permit – Day 1
- Leh to Nubra Valley by Bus. Stay in Diskit – Day 2
- Spend time in the valley. Catch a shared cab to Turtuk or Panamik – Day 3
- Morning Bus from Nubra Valley to Leh – Day 4
- Leh to Pangong Lake by Bus or Shared Cab – Day 5
- Pangong Lake to Leh – Day 6
- Leh to Tso Moriri by Bus or Shared Cab – Day 7
- Tso Moriri to Leh – Day 8
- Fly out of Leh – Day 9
Other Tips for Leh Ladakh 9 Days Itinerary
9 Days is the least required time for a road trip to Ladakh. Any lesser than this and you are better off catching a flight.
The minimum time required for traveling from the Srinagar route is 4 days which includes your first-day travel to Jammu, to Srinagar on2nd, Kargil on the 3rd, and finally to Leh on the 4th day. Compared to this, you can easily make it to Ladakh via the Manali route in 3 days. If you are short on time, it is best that you go via Manali and come back the same way.
Even though doable, 9 days for Ladakh is still a short time and your trip will be rushed. So please be mentally prepared for this.
You are also most likely to suffer from Altitude sickness while traversing on the Manali Leh highway. Read How to deal with acute mountain sickness in Ladakh to know how you can handle it in a better way.
Leh Ladakh 9 Days Itinerary – Conclusion
I hope this information on Leh Ladakh 9 days itinerary 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.