Leh Ladakh in May – How to Plan your Trip & What to See !!!

by Vargis.Khan

If you were planning to visit Leh Ladakh in May this year, then in this article I will share some tips on how you can plan your trip; what you should expect out of the journey at this time; and how you can make the most out of it. I will cover details like how to reach, where to stay, what to see, things to do and precautions you must observe.

Together with the months of June and September, the month of May is widely considered as the best time to visit Ladakh. It may not be the best for people wanting to plan a road trip but surely has a few aces up its sleeve. It is the month of May that officially marks the beginning of the tourist season in Ladakh and brings thousands of enthusiastic tourists, travelers, motorcyclists and adventure junkies with it. The weather at this time is perfect with moderately warm days and pleasantly cool nights; which makes it a great time to plan a trip with your family as well.

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

Do you want to visit Ladakh when there are a bit fewer people around? Have you been imagining about the several feet high snow walls on both sides of the roads? Do you want to add a bit of adventure to your trip? If your answer to these questions is yet then May is a perfect time for you. You will see plenty of snow, have great fun and enjoy your trip to the fullest.

ladakh in may

Is Ladakh Open in May

Yes, Ladakh is definitely open in May. Most of the hotels and guest houses get functional by this time and several other tourism-related activities also get started. Bike rental agencies, taxis and public transport services too all get available. Internal roads in Ladakh leading to Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri are open as well. So once you reach Leh, you will have no problem finding a place to stay or going towards any other areas in Ladakh for sightseeing.

How to reach Leh Ladakh in May

Let us first talk about how you can reach Ladakh in the month of May. There are two aspects to it depending on whether you were planning to travel in early May or towards the end of the month.

Srinagar to Leh in May

If you are planning a road trip to Ladakh in early May then reaching Leh via Srinagar and returning via the same way is really your only choice. Manali Leh highway will definitely be closed at this time. There have been instances when the Manali route did open in early May as well but I wound not recommend counting on it. To track the latest updates on this route, please take a look at Srinagar Leh Highway Status and Road Conditions.

But traveling from Srinagar to Leh by road in May also depends on the weather conditions. Historically, however, the highway remains open for most of the month; or at least the second half. To be on a safer side, do not plan your trip in the early part of May though. Even after the snow has been cleared, avalanches at Zoji La at this time are quite common which can block the road for several days altogether.

To ensure that you do not get stuck somewhere and are able to travel as planned, prepare your itinerary around or after the 15th of May. On a general basis as well, the condition of the road is bad in the early days as BRO works to stabilize it. Delaying your trip by a few weeks will ensure that your trip will be a bit smoother and a lot safer. For more information, please read Srinagar Leh Highway Route Guide & Road Map.

Manali Leh Highway in May

Manali Leh highway remains closed for either all or most of the month in May. Sometimes it does get open earlier, like towards the end of April or early May but that happens very rarely. Most of the time, it will only open towards the end of the month, around 20-25th or later. To track the latest updates on this route, please take a look at Manali Leh Highway Status and Latest Updates.

It is best advised to not plan a Manali to Leh road trip in May. This is because even if the road did get cleared of snow, its condition will be terrible with a high chance of temporary closures. BRO works rigorously during the initial few weeks to make the road as safe as possible and sometimes closes sections of it for a few hours or even an entire day. If that happened, you will be stranded on the road; and forced to turn back to the nearest available accommodation.

If you, however, do want to travel from Manali to Leh by road in May; then ensure that you either start your trip in the last week of May if going by Manali. If you were starting earlier, than go to Ladakh via Srinagar and return via Manali. But keep the dates of your Leh to Manali journey in the last week of May only. For more information please read Manali to Leh Route Guide and Road Map.

Reaching Ladakh by Air

This, in my opinion, is the best way to plan a Ladakh trip in May. This will eliminate all the ifs and buts and you can rest assured that your plans will not get cancelled, postponed or changed.

This is also the best way for people who are short on time. As a rule of thumb, plan a road trip only when you have at least 9 days or more. If you had a lesser number of days, then reaching Leh by Air will be the best way. Book your tickets a few months in advance and you can save some money as well.

The only challenge in reaching by flight will be of AMS in Ladakh which I have covered further in the article.

Availability of Public Transport

Reaching Ladakh by public transport in May will be a little difficult. The HRTC bus from Manali to Leh starts in the first week of June. The HPTDC Bus only starts in the second half of June. The Delhi to Leh Bus service also starts in the latter part of June.

Depending on the weather, the Srinagar Leh Bus may start in May but only towards the end of the month. So if the only time that you can plan a trip is in May and you can only do so by public transport, then your best would be to board a shared cab from Srinagar. These definitely get operational as soon as the highway is declared open.

From the Manali side as well, shared cabs start the moment the civilian traffic is allowed, way sooner than the bus. So if you were lucky and the road was open at your time of travel, a shared taxi is what you will travel by.

In Ladakh however, buses on all routes like Nubra, Pangong, and Moriri will be available. From the bus stand itself, you can also find shared cabs in Leh as well. Just reach there in the morning and if you couldn’t find a bus for your destination, look for a shared taxi which is mostly a Sumo or Bolero. Fare per person will be a little higher than the bus but these are more frequent and easily available.

brahmi duck at pangong

Weather of Ladakh in May

The weather in Ladakh starts to clear in the month of May. This is the time that officially marks the arrival of the summer season here. But when it comes to a place like Ladakh, summer is almost non-existent and very short. The only difference is that it will not be uncomfortably cold. You will be able to greatly enjoy your trip and enjoy weather that is tricky and unpredictable.

I have seen snowfall in Ladakh even in the month of May at the top of Khardung La. But for the most part of the day, it is going to be moderately warm and pleasant cold in the evening and morning.

Temperature of Ladakh in May

The temperature will hover between 15°C to 20°C during the day but will drop close to 5°C at night. Please note that these are average maximum and minimum numbers based on historical data. Depending on the weather and time of the day, the temperature may go up or even further down.

Clothes to Wear in Leh Ladakh in May

The weather of Ladakh in May is going to be unpredictable and tricky. What I mean by this is that the temperature will differ heavily depending on the time of the day and where you were. For example, there will be a huge difference between the temperature of Leh City and Pangong Tso. So the clothes that you can comfortably walk around in the city will seem less when taking a stroll on the banks of the lake.

There will also be a major difference in the temperature at day and at night. Sun will be quite harsh while the wind will carry a chill so your clothing will also change accordingly. One moment you will be feeling warm and the next moment you will be cold as you step in the shade. The temperature will be cold at high altitude passes while it will turn a bit warm as you start to drive down.

So you need to bring clothes that can be worn or removed one by one in layers per your comfort. Clothes that you can adjust until you are comfortable. Do not bring all your thick woolens because then either you will be feeling hot, or feeling cold if you remove. At the same time, you cannot also bring all tight clothes because they cannot be worn on top of one another. For more details on this topic, please read What Clothes to Pack for Leh Ladakh Trip.

What to Pack

If it was me, I will pack my regular cotton clothes, some light woolens, a heavy windproof jacket, thermals (that I can wear under my trousers) and a pair of gloves. I will ensure that my jacket has a hood to it and if it doesn’t, I will also pack a cap to protect my head and neck.

To be honest, during the day, your regular cotton clothes with a light jacket will do just fine. It is the morning and evenings that you will need some heavy stuff for.

Your packing will also vary if you were traveling to Ladakh with family. If you had kids in the group, please make sure that you plan on keeping them completely covered at all times.

Things to Carry for Leh-Ladakh Trip in May

Some other things to carry while traveling to Leh Ladakh in May are a pair of sunglasses; some basic medicines like for flu, cold, headache, upset stomach; a sunblock lotion of the highest SPF that you can find; cold cream, lip balm, and moisturizer; a pain relief spray or balm; and other toiletries based on your needs. For more information, please read Ladakh Checklist : Things to Carry for Leh Ladakh Trip.

Shoes for Leh Ladakh Trip

Just carry a pair of shoes with a good grip. Once I drove to Ladakh and my entire trip was spent in Crocs (I am not kidding). So there are no special shoes needed for Ladakh. Your normal sports shoes will do just fine. Just check the sole and make sure it has enough grip left on it.

Best Jacket for Leh Ladakh

For a trip in May, you will need a jacket that is a little heavy (thick), is warm and windproof as well. If you were buying a new one, then look for one that has a hood to it.

accommodation in leh ladakh in may

Accommodation Choices

May is peak tourist season so you will have no problem finding a place to stay. Hotels and guest houses everywhere will be completely up and running including Leh City, Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Srinagar Leh Highway and Manali Leh Highway (if it was open).

Whether or not to book in advance is entirely your choice. I will recommend booking your stay in Leh City but for the rest of the places, you can negotiate an on the spot deal. If you need my recommendation for a hotel in Ladakh, you can contact Rohit @ 9999622213 or 9910722252.

Road Connectivity and Condition

Since the Srinagar route has just opened a few weeks before, it will be in its worst-ever shape. Melting snow would have created numerous water streams and slush all across. Bad sections of the road will majorly be between Srinagar and Sonamarg.

The worst section, however, will be between Sonamarg and Drass in the form of Zoji la. You will have to tackle a lot of mud and slush while crossing over Zojila at this time. Between Drass and Leh however, roads will be average with a few bad patches in between.

The same will be the case with Manali Leh highway as well after it gets opened in the last few days. Numerous water streams, damaged roads, and sections under repair by BRO will be a normal occurrence.

All the internal roads in Ladakh remain open in May so you will have no problem reaching any of the local places for sightseeing. The roads towards Nubra, Pangong and Tso Moriri will be a mix of good and average. Bad sections will be limited to the top of Khardung La and Chang La. Presence of snow and water streams creating by melting of it will, however, be in plenty on these routes as well.

Also read: A Complete and Comprehensive List of Places to see in Ladakh

Places to Visit in Leh Ladakh in May

Pretty much all of Ladakh remains open for tourism in May. About 10 years ago, it was the month of June that used to mark the opening of tourist season here; but now, this window is increasing by each passing year. Now it is the month of April that flags off the tourist season and by May, almost every tourist business out here is up and running. You will be able to visit all of the major attractions and explore as much as you can. Let me break it down by some of the most visited tourist places in Ladakh.

Nubra Valley in May

Nubra valley remains completely open for tourists in May. You will be able to reach here easily via Khardung La and travel as far as Turtuk or Warshi. Hotels too will be all up and running. You can either travel by your own vehicle or book a private taxi. If traveling on a budget, you can either board a Bus or shared cab from Leh Bus stand; both of which will be easily available in May. For more details, please read How to Plan a Trip to Nubra Valley in Ladakh.

So during your Ladakh visit in May, You will be able to visit all the local villages like Diskit, Hunder, Turtuk, Sumur and Panamik.

Pangong Lake in May

Like Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso will also be open for tourists in May. You can reach here via Chang La route and stay at either the campsites or guest houses at the nearby villages. All the camps will be up and running in May and you will not have any problem finding a place to stay. If you want to stay within cemented walls, then look for accommodation in either Spangmik, Man or Merak villages where you can stay here as a paying guest.

The Bus service as well becomes operational in May in case you were not traveling by your own vehicle. If not the Bus, you can board a shared cab from Leh Bus stand; or book a private taxi. For more details, please read How to Plan a Trip to Pangong Tso Lake.

Pangong Lake Weather in May

The weather at Pangong always remains freezing cold, throughout the year. Even in the month of May, the night temperature will drop close to 0 Degree Celsius or even further below. During the day, it will be warm but the sun will be very harsh. After 9 or 10 AM, you will actually find it hard to stay out in the sun for too long and will go back to your camps.

Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso Direct Route

There are three ways that you can travel from Nubra Valley to Pangong Lake or Vice Versa. The first way is that you go back to Leh and go to the lake the next day. Or you can take the road across Wari La pass which is the toughest of all three routes.

The third way is the Shyok road which is the shortest and now also the easiest. By this route, you can make it to Pangong from Nubra is just about 6 hours. In the month of May, this road will remain open and safe to travel as well, except for a few bad sections which is anyway a common occurrence in all of Ladakh.

Wari La will most probably be closed in May and it will be best for you to inquire about the road status before finalizing your itinerary. For more details, please read How to Travel Directly from Nubra Valley to Pangong Lake.

Tso Moriri in May

Tso Moriri is all open for tourists in the month of May. You can easily reach here via Chumathang from Leh or the Chushul route from Pangong. There are several guesthouses and campsites here which will be up and running in May; and you will have no problem finding a place to stay. In fact, accommodation choices at Tso Moriri are better than even Pangong. For more details, please read How to Plan a Trip to Tso Moriri.

Pangong to Tso Moriri via Chushul

The direct route from Pangong to Tso Moriri via Chushul too is open for tourists in May. It is ideally a 2 days journey with a night halt at Hanle but if you wanted to, you can make it directly to Karzok as well. Just make sure that you start early in the day. It will easily be a 12 to 14 hours journey so start and plan accordingly.

Reaching Hanle in May will also not be a problem. To get here, you will first travel from Pangong to Chushul via Man and Merak. Then you will take the road to Loma via Tsaga. At Loma, you will register yourself at the check post, turn left and drive for about 50 kilometers to arrive at Hanle.

There is a guest house in Hanle where you can stay. If not that, then just talk to the locals and stay at a villager’s house as a paying guest. The next day, you will drive back 50 kilometers and then take the road towards Karzok (Tso Moriri) via Nyoma, Mahe, and Sumdo. For more details, please read How to travel directly from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri.

chushul route

Tso Kar

There are three ways that Tso Kar can be visited. If you were coming from Manali to Leh by road, then it will fall on the way. You can just take a short diversion of about 20 kilometers from Debring (after More Plains and Pang) and make a short visit to the lake.

The other way, if you reached Leh by flight or via Srinagar, is to take the road across Tanglang La and visit Tso Kar via Debring.

The third way is to reach here from Tso Moriri via Sumdo and Polo Kongka La and then continue to either Leh or Manali.

All three roads will remain open in May and you will have no problem including Tso Kar in your itinerary. Accommodation here is available in the form of campsites and Chadar tents if you want to stay for a night. For a visual presentation of the routes I explained above, please see The Most Comprehensive Road Map of Entire Leh Ladakh.

Zanskar Valley in May

To reach Zanskar Valley, you need to take the road from Kargil to Padum via Suru Valley. In the month of May, the road will definitely remain open until Rangdum. But Pensi La Pass may be close towards the start of the month. So please check the weather and road status before finalizing your itinerary.

Sham Valley / Leh to Kargil Route

Last but not the least; you can also visit Sham Valley in May. The road between Leh and Kargil actually remains open all year long so you will definitely be able to visit places like Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, Magnetic Hill, Indus Zanskar Confluence, Lamayuru Monastery, Mulbekh Maitreya, Moonland, etc. If you were traveling on the Srinagar Leh Highway, then all these places will fall on the way and you can cover them all taking short sightseeing breaks.

Sham Valley is actually a little different. It is the area around the villages of Likir, Suspool and Hemis Shukpachan. It is best known for its trek routes; and is among the least visited places in Ladakh. It will be open in May and you can definitely visit here. To know more, please read How to Plan a Trip to Sham Valley.

Snow in Ladakh in May

By May, most of he snow would already have melted away; and the only chance of finding some will only be at top of the high altitude passes. Rohtang Pass, Zoji La and Baralacha La are some of the passes that have those famed snow walls on both sides of the road as the route gets opened in May. In Ladakh, you will find snow at top of Khardung La and Chang La as well.

But it will only be the high altitude areas where you may find some snow on the ground. There will be none in lower areas.

Chances of catching a live snowfall in Ladakh in May are next to none.

leh ladakh in may

Things to do in Ladakh in May

Now let us take a look at some of the other fun things that you can do in Ladakh in May. Actually, visiting all of the above mentioned places will mostly cover your itinerary and eat up all your time. But if you wanted to know what else can be done then below is the list.

Leh Ladakh Bike Trip in May

Yes, a bike trip to Ladakh in May is definitely possible. Thousands of motorcyclists wait eagerly each year in May for Manali Leh road to open and embark upon the trip of a lifetime as soon as it does.

Going to Ladakh in May by motorcycle will actually be a preferred way over going by car.  Bad road conditions, water crossings, all the slush at Zojila will be easier to manage if you were on a bike. Other passes en route like Khardung La and Chang La will also have bad road stretches towards the top in May where riding a motorcycle will be easier than driving a car. This however is just a small part of trip and cannot be the deciding factor on whether you will go by car or motorcycle.

If you were catching a flight to Ladakh, enjoying a bike ride is still possible. You can rent a bike in Leh and then use it for local sightseeing. Even if you do not want to rent it for the entire duration of your trip, do a short ride towards Khardung La or on Srinagar Leh Highway.

Renting a bike is a great choice for moving around in Leh City as well, for visiting local market, Leh Palace and Shanti Stupa etc. If not a motorcycle, then you can opt for an automatic scooter like Activa.

Photography

I do not think I need to list it as a separate activity because your cameras will remain active for most part of your trip anyway. Every turn of the road in Ladakh will force you to take your cameras out and click thousands of pictures.

Festivals in Ladakh in May

For more information on festivals in Ladakh and their dates, please read Festivals of Ladakh : A Colorful Celebration of Life and Ladakh Festival Dates

Camping

Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri are the best spots for camping in Ladakh. There are a few campsites in Nubra Valley as well. If you want to go self-camping, I will highly recommend Sham Valley. There are camps available on both Srinagar to Leh and Manali to Leh route too.

You can definitely pitch your own tent if you were carrying all the necessary gear. Just make sure you bring in the best quality sleeping bag to keep you warm in below 0 degrees temperatures. You can also rent the camping gear and sleeping bags in Leh city as well.

While self camping, please do not do so in the middle of anywhere. Try to pitch your tent close to a chadar tent or a Dhaba. You can pay them a little to give you a spot. This will also be beneficial in terms of meals since you can then eat at the Dhaba itself and wouldn’t have to worry about cooking on your own. You can also pay a little extra to use their washrooms as well. For some more tips on camping in Ladakh, please take a look at Tips for Camping in Ladakh.

Trekking

There are no really easy or short treks in Ladakh. There is a short trek to the waterfall in Turtuk which I will put in this category; rest all are just easy walks.

But if you are into trekking, then you can go on Sham Valley Trek, Markha Valley Trek and Stok Kangri Trek. An easy one would be from Lamayuru to Alchi. In Zanskar, the trek to Phuktal Monastery is another relatively easy one that can be done in 2-3 days. For an even longer duration and exploring deep into Himalayas, you can go on a snow leopard expediting.

Chadar Trek remains unavailable in May.

Rafting

This is one of the greatest and most fun activites you can do in Ladakh in May. Just talk to any of the local tour operators in Leh and they will arrange rafting for you.

Experiencing the local culture of Ladakh should be next on your list. Ladakh is a mix of Tibetan, Indian, Kashmiri, Buddhist and Muslim cultures and is really unique.

You must also try eating out at the restaurants in Leh and try some local dishes. For more details on this, please read What to eat in Ladakh – Foods you must try in Ladakh.

Shopping should also be on your list. Though the markets will not be at their best in April since it is just the beginning of the tourist season, you can still buy some local stuff as a souvenir. Please read Shopping in Ladakh – What to buy in Ladakh for more details on this.

Other than this, just relax, do plenty of sightseeing, have fun with your friends and family and enjoy life to the fullest; that is what you should be doing during your trip to Leh Ladakh in April.

amazing road in ladakh

Inner Line Permits

Speaking about the permits, Inner Line Permit or simply known as ILP, was reintroduced in 2017; and is a mandate to go towards areas like Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri. This permit can either be obtained in person from DM office Leh; or applied for Online. For complete procedure on applying for the permit and related charges that you will have to pay; please read How to Obtain Inner Line Permit for Ladakh.

Mobile Connectivity in Leh Ladakh in May

When it comes to mobile and data connectivity, it is only Leh where you will get a stable connection with good voice clarity everywhere and at all times. The most important thing you need to know however is that only postpaid connections work in Ladakh. Prepaid phones are as good as paperweights here.

BSNL here has the widest coverage. It will work very well in Leh and Nubra Valley. You will get network at Pangong Lake as well but very weak. Voice will be bad but you will at least be able to send text messages out.

Airtel will work very well in Leh city with 4G data connectivity. In Nubra Valley, you will have a good reception with 2G data. Airtel does not work at Pangong or Tso Moriri or any other area.

Jio has good reception and 4G connectivity in Leh. In Nubra Valley, you will get 3G data with good voice calls.

Vodafone and Idea will only work in Leh City. For more information on this topic, please read Mobile Services in Leh and Other areas of Ladakh.

Medical Assistance

There are hospitals in Leh city that will remain open in the month of May. but those are limited to Leh and Kargil only. There is no medical assistance available at Nubra, Pangong or Tso Moriri for anything serious. But in case of a medical emergency, you can approach the nearest Indian Army post for assistance.

If you have a medical history involved; or traveling with a child or your elders; then I would strongly recommend that you get a doctor’s advice before finalizing the trip.

Acute Mountain Sickness

Chances of suffering from altitude sickness are greatest if you were catching a flight to Ladakh. In order to handle it better, I will highly recommend that you rest in Leh City for an entire day after landing there. Do not travel anywhere and stay at your hotel only. If you feel better by evening, then you can step out to see the market and local places like Leh Palace and Shanti Stupa, etc.

Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri are where most people suffer from AMS. You must keep these places towards the end of your itinerary. On Manali Leh route, Sarchu and Pang are at the highest altitude and you will definitely feel some symptoms of AMS here.

For a very detailed version of the information on AMS and tips on how can you tackle it better, please read How to Handle Acute Mountain Sickness in Ladakh.

Challenges You may Face

Visiting Ladakh in May means that you are traveling early in the season. If traveling by road from Srinagar, then bad road conditions and unpredictability of weather will be your biggest challenge. You are bound to face some really bad sections of the road, Water crossings, slush. BRO continues to work on the road in April and temporary closures are not surprising at this time. If that happens, then you will be stuck or stranded unless the road is opened again.

If flying by Air, then Acute Mountain Sickness will be your biggest challenge as I described previously in the article.

Manali Leh highway will have to be kept off the itinerary in initial part of the month which will be your greatest disadvantage of going to Ladakh in May.

Why you should Travel to Leh Ladakh Trip in May

Believe it or not, even Ladakh has started to get a bit crowded these days. In the months of June, July and August, there is a huge rush of tourists. It can even be so much that you will have to get in a line to get a picture clicked at some of the tourist spots; like in front of the board at Khardung La which reads the highest motorable road in the world.

This, however, will not be the case if you went in early May. Tourists will be limited in number and you will enjoy the journey better. Getting cheaper accommodation and commute deals will also be an added benefit of this. Snow walls at high altitude passes will be another sight to see.

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

itinerary for leh ladakh in may

Itinerary for Leh Ladakh by Air

Mentioned below are a couple of sample itineraries that you can follow for your trip. I will first suggest an itinerary if you reached Leh by Air; and then I will suggest an itinerary for road trip as well.

If reaching Ladakh by Air, below is an example of an itinerary that you can follow.

  • Arrive in Leh. Rest and arrange Permits – Day 1
  • Leh to Lamayuru to Leh – Day 2
  • Leh to Diskit – Day 3
  • Diskit to Leh – Day 4
  • Leh to Pangong – Day 5
  • Pangong to Leh – Day 6
  • Leh to Tso Moriri – Day 7
  • Tso Moriri to Leh – Day 8
  • Fly Out – Day 9

This, of course, is just a sample itinerary but it is one plan that you can follow irrespective of your time and mode of travel. There is still no public transport available on Shyok road, across Wari La or Chushul / Hanle route. So people traveling by bus or shared cabs will have no choice but to follow this itinerary only.

By Private Cab

If you were renting a motorcycle of booking a private cab, then you can modify the plan to something like below.

  • Arrive in Leh. Rest and arrange Permits – Day 1
  • Leh to Lamayuru to Leh – Day 2
  • Leh to Diskit – Day 3
  • Diskit to Pangong Tso – Day 4
  • Pangong Tso to Hanle – Day 5
  • Hanle to Karzok (Tso Moriri) – Day 6
  • Karzok to Leh via Tso Kar – Day 7
  • Fly Out – Day 8

Also read: How to Plan a Solo Trip to Ladakh

By Road from Srinagar to Leh in May

If you were planning a complete road trip to Ladakh, below is a sample itinerary that you can follow. For the sake of this article, I will assume Delhi as the starting point. Manali to Leh route mostly remains closed in May so you really will have no choice but to get to Leh by Srinagar and return the same way.

  • Delhi to Jammu – Day 1
  • Jammu to Srinagar – Day 2
  • Srinagar to Kargil – Day 3
  • Kargil to Leh – Day 4
  • Leh – Day 5
  • Leh to Diskit – Day 6
  • Diskit to Pangong – Day 7
  • Pangong to Hanle – Day 8
  • Hanle to Karzok – Day 9
  • Karzok to Leh via Chumathang or Tso Kar – Day 10
  • Leh to Batalik / Kargil – Day 11
  • Batalik / Kargil to Srinagar – Day 12
  • Srinagar to Jammu – Day 13
  • Jammu to Delhi – Day 14

Following this itinerary, when you reach Leh from Kargil on Day 4, you will do so via Lamayuru. But on your way back on Day 9, you can chose an alternate route via Batalik. However, please note though that a permit is needed to travel on Batalik route; so ensure to add this name on your ILP application form.

By Road from Manali to Leh in May

If the Manali route was open, then you can follow either of the following two itineraries.

  • Delhi to Jammu – Day 1
  • Jammu to Srinagar – Day 2
  • Srinagar to Kargil – Day 3
  • Kargil to Leh – Day 4
  • Leh – Day 5
  • Leh to Diskit – Day 6
  • Diskit to Pangong – Day 7
  • Pangong to Hanle – Day 8
  • Hanle to Karzok – Day 9
  • Karzok to Pang via Tso Kar – Day 10
  • Pang to Jispa – Day 11
  • Jispa to Manali – Day 12 (Skip this day if you were short on time and go straight to Manali from Pang)
  • Manali to Delhi – Day 13

If you were wondering what to do about petrol or Diesel on such a long route, please read How to Manage fuel availability on Ladakh Trip.

Another way to do this trip will be to start from Manali and end at Srinagar, like below.

  • Delhi to Manali – Day 1
  • Manali to Jispa – Day 2
  • Jispa to Pang – Day 3
  • Pang to Leh – Day 4
  • Leh – Day 5
  • Leh to Diskit – Day 6
  • Diskit to Pangong – Day 7
  • Pangong to Hanle – Day 8
  • Hanle to Karzok – Day 9
  • Karzok to Leh via Chumathang or Tso Kar – Day 10
  • Leh to Kargil – Day 11
  • Kargil to Srinagar – Day 12
  • Srinagar to Jammu – Day 13
  • Jammu to Delhi – Day 14

Manali to Manali Ladakh Itinerary

Or you can do the entire trip from Manali to Manali only, in the following manner.

  • Delhi to Manali – Day 1
  • Manali to Jispa – Day 2
  • Jispa to Pang – Day 3
  • Pang to Leh – Day 4
  • Leh – Day 5
  • Leh to Diskit – Day 6
  • Diskit to Pangong – Day 7
  • Pangong to Hanle – Day 8
  • Hanle to Karzok – Day 9
  • Karzok to Pang via Tso Kar – Day 10
  • Pang to Jispa – Day 11
  • Jispa to Manali – Day 12 (Skip this day if you were short on time and go straight to Manali from Pang)
  • Manali to Delhi – Day 13

In all of the itinerary above, you can add more days wherever you feel comfortable; like adding another day of stay in Leh City and or in Nubra Valley at Turtuk.

leh ladakh trip in may

Other Tips

Listed below are some other tips that can be of help.

When to Book a Flight

If your plan is to travel in the first few days of May, then it would be better to book a flight to Leh. The motorcycle rental agencies and taxi services become operational this month; so after landing in Ladakh, you can easily rent a motorcycle or a taxi for local sightseeing. Shared cabs too become available that you can board from Leh bus stand. If renting a private taxi or motorcycle was not a convenient option for you then shared taxis are a great way to travel locally.

Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Ladakh by Bus and Shared Taxis

Honeymoon in Leh Ladakh in May

Gone are really the days when Ladakh was a place of motorcyclists and adventure junkies. Now people have started to consider Ladakh for family vacations as well as their honeymoon. If you were thinking of planning your honeymoon in Ladakh in May then my answer is yes you can do it. Weather will be pleasant and the number of tourists wouldn’t be too high like it gets in the following months; making it a perfect place to plan your honeymoon.

There are plenty of luxurious hotels in Leh City these days suitable for a honeymoon. I would strongly recommend that you book a private cab for the entire trip though.

Also Check: Leh Ladakh Highway Status and Road Conditions

How is Ladakh in May

In the end, just to summarize the information above,

Ladakh in Early May

In earlier part of the month, only Srinagar Leh highway will be open. Chances of finding snow on the ground are great. Weather will be pleasantly cold. All hotels and tourist areas will be open and number of tourists too will not be that much. Road conditions will be a bit bad specially around Zojila and at top of other passes. Traffic too at Zojila is one sided at this time.

Ladakh in May End

The only difference if you went by end of the month is that Manali Leh highway too may be open. Number of tourists too would have increased. Melting snow would have caused the water level to rise in water crossings.

Also Read: How Safe Ladakh is for Tourists?

Keep Buffer Days

This actually applies irrespective of your time of travel. Due to the challenging and unpredictable nature of the region, a Ladakh trip will always have the uncertainty factor attached to it. There is always a risk of things not going as planned to the point and you getting forced to extend your stay by a day or two.

This could either be because of a certain road getting temporarily closed by BRO; or if the weather closed in causing a landslide. These are two just to mention here but your trip may not pan out as planned for many other reasons. To handle it better, you should draft your itinerary in a way that if you had to extend your stay in Ladakh by a couple of days; you would be able to do so without any problem back home.

Is May a good time to visit Leh Ladakh?

Yes, May is definitely a good time and one of the best months to plan a trip to Leh Ladakh.

Can we see snow in Leh in May?

Yes, you will find snow in Ladakh in May but only at the top of the passes and on the ground. There will be no fresh snowfall this month.

Can we visit Ladakh in May

The answer to this question is that yes you definitely can. Just keep in mind the points I suggested above and you will have a fun and enjoyable journey. I hope the information above was of help. If you need any further details or have any other questions; please feel fee to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.

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18 comments

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Vineet Jain March 15, 2020 - 3:24 pm

Dear Varghis,
Please help me in planning a trip to Leh from 11th to 20th of may.
We intend to start from Srinagar to Leh and return from Srinagar to Mumbai. Please help me with detailed itinerary

-What is the chances of finding the snow wall during this trip?
– If we start by 15th and end on 24th of May what will be the chance of finding the snow and snow wall on the roads.

Regards,
Vineet Jain
Regards,
Vineet Jain

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Kumarjit Chakraborty February 14, 2020 - 5:52 am

Hi Varghis ,

We are a group of 6 people planning to travel to Leh in the first week of may (1st may to 9th may).
We will be reaching Leh by air on 1st may and planning to depart from Leh on 10th may morning.
Could you please suggest us an itinerary for us . (we want to cover nubra valley , pangaong tso , tso moriri and sham valley(indus-zanskar conclave))
We will use rented bike as a medium of transport with two pillion riders (4 bikes).
As its our first trip to Leh it would be really helpful if you provide us a list of Do’s and Dont’s during this time.

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Nilesh Desai February 5, 2020 - 4:22 am

Hi Varghis,

First of all. Thank you. I am planning a trip to Leh in May-June with family and have been doing research on the itinerary. Nothing comes close to your blog.

Now a query. As part of our trip in late May-early June, we are flying in and flying out of Leh so not doing the Srinagar-Leh highway. We are still keen on visiting Kargil. One part of the possible itinerary we are thinking is, while returning from Nubra valley, we head over to Uley. Stay the night. The next day morning we head to Kargil for a day trip, cover the memorial at Dras and return back the same day for another night at Ule. Next day morning we head back to Leh while covering Sham valley and points on way

Need your advice if this is doable? Will any of the roads in be shut in late May/Early June timeframe.

We will be travelling in a large group in Innova.

Kindly advice.

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Vargis.Khan February 8, 2020 - 2:46 am

Hi Nilesh – Can you tell your complete itinerary please and I can then suggest.

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Mohd Amir Iman June 13, 2019 - 11:03 am

Beautifully explained Bhai. I missed bike trip with my friends this May. Hopefully i will plan in 2020. Will get in touch with you when i plan my trip next year. Hope you keep writing and get blessed from Almighty.

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Vargis.Khan June 13, 2019 - 12:54 pm

Thanks Amir Bhai

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Rabi Sankar de March 15, 2019 - 6:46 am

Khan Shab beautifully detailed and narrated your article will help me immensely as I am reaching Leh with family on 26th May this year. Except more blogs from you, regards.

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Vargis.Khan March 15, 2019 - 12:54 pm

Thank you for taking the time to drop a note Mr. De
I am glad the information was of help. Do let me know how your trip went after you return.

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Rabi Sankar De March 15, 2019 - 4:36 pm

Certainly Khan shab I’ll let you know when I come back on 2nd June.

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Vargis.Khan March 15, 2019 - 8:36 pm

Have a safe trip !!! 🙂

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Darpan Dodiya January 13, 2019 - 5:02 am

Immaculate article with tons of useful information. I was able to get all the information I needed in just one article. Thanks a lot Vargis Khan!

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Vargis.Khan January 13, 2019 - 12:08 pm

You are welcome Darpan Bhai. I am glad that the information posted was of help. Thank you for your kind words.

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Rajnikant Das May 4, 2018 - 7:08 pm

How about visit ladhakh in September 2018?
It will be my first visit and I don’t want huge crowd…

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Vargis.Khan May 5, 2018 - 3:59 pm

September is the perfect time to visit Ladakh, best time actually.

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Rajnikant Das May 5, 2018 - 5:05 pm

Thank you for the reply…!!

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Vargis.Khan May 6, 2018 - 2:36 am

You are welcome

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Geetesh May 4, 2018 - 4:43 pm

Beautifully written Vargis Bhai. Keep it going.

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Vargis.Khan May 4, 2018 - 4:59 pm

Thanks Geetesh Bhai

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