Manali to Ladakh Itinerary : A Sample Travel Plan

by Vargis.Khan

When you are travelling to a land far away like Ladakh, careful planning and a well laid travel itinerary becomes of utmost importance. Ladakh is not your typical vacation where you can just pack your bags and go. Everything is different up there, bound by timelines, hostile weather conditions, bad roads and for most of the people, it may be several years before you can plan another trip there. Just so that you do not face any hassle and enjoy your trip at the fullest and also in terms of safety, you must have details on where should you break the journey for night, which route should you take; information on the road conditions and availability of basic amenities. It is also helpful to know what all places are worth covering and what are the major tourist attractions that you must not miss. In this article, I will provide a sample Manali to Ladakh itinerary that you can follow.

manali to ladakh itinerary

Manali to Ladakh Itinerary

There are two routes of course that you can take to reach Leh, one from Manali and the other from Srinagar. In this article however, I will talk about travelling from Manali to Leh, local sightseeing in Ladakh, and return via Srinagar. In case you do not intend to cover Srinagar highway at all, then I will also provide an alternate itinerary to return via the same route to Manali.

Several things come into consideration of course when you plan a travel itinerary like how many days you have in hand, what your budget is and how you plan on travelling. For the sake of this article, I will assume that you are either using your own vehicle, motorcycle or car, or renting a private cab for this trip. If however, you are using public transport services or a shared cab, then the itinerary will be different and you cannot use this one to the point. I will lay down a plan for 2 weeks journey which in my opinion is advised if you truly want to cover and travel at ease. Based on the number of days you have, you may modify, add remove places from this itinerary or may ask in the comments section below and I can suggest a different one.  I have tried to cover almost all major tourist attractions here and as many more places as I can so that you can make the most out of your journey.  I have only included days from Manali onwards and until Srinagar. The time you will spend to reach Manali or reach home from Srinagar will be additional days to this plan.

The most important thing that you need to keep in mind while travelling from Manali is the permit for Rohtang Pass. A quick fix for this would be that before starting from home, contact a hotel in Manali and ask them if they can arrange permits for you. If their answer is yes, book your night stay with them and collect permits after you reach Manali. This way, you will not have to spend an entire day in Manali arranging permits. Please note that the permits are mandate and there is absolutely no way around this. If caught without a permit, you will not be allowed to travel beyond the check post and will get sent back to Manali.

The following Manali to Ladakh itinerary mostly focuses on an easy travel plan without too much rush and covering all major tourist attractions. It is more of a common itinerary that can apply to almost anyone, irrespective of whether you are travelling solo or with family. You cannot of course follow it to the point but can use it as a base plan and then modify it as per your needs.

Day 1 – Manali to Jispa

It is advised that you start as early as you can from Manali to avoid traffic congestion at Rohtang. Cross the first high altitude pass of your journey and enjoy beautiful vistas all day long. There is mostly a lot of slush towards the top of Rohtang Pass and roads too are narrow so drive carefully. If you must stay in a cemented hotel and are on a budget, then stay at Keylong. You can find several moderately priced hotels here. If a hotel is not a must, then by all means go to Jispa and stay there. There are a couple of camp sites and a hotel in Jispa where you can stay. Jispa is a beautifully located town and in my opinion, you must stay at one of the camps there rather than Keylong. Depending upon your speed, this journey can take you anywhere between 6-10 hours.

Day 2 – Jispa to Pang

Start easy by 8-9 AM from Jispa, cross Baralacha La, Lachulung La, Nakeela on the way. Also see two small lakes, Deepak Tal and Sooraj Tal and witness the beauty and challenging nature of Manali Leh highway. Gata Loops are another major attraction. After Sarchu, you will cross into the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Reach Pang by evening and check into one of the camps / chadar tents.




Most people will advise you against staying at Pang because of high altitude sickness which you are bound to suffer from here. But if you have 3 days in hand, there is not really much of an option to stay other than Sarchu or Pang and you are bound to feel AMS at both places.  The only other way around this is to really rush through the journey on day 2, start from Jispa by 5-6 AM and reach directly to Leh by evening. This is also a preferred choice if you are not comfortable staying at a camp or chadar tent at either Sarchu or Pang.

Read the article below on more details on how to deal with acute mountain sickness. Total journey would be of 6-8 hours.

How to deal with acute mountain sickness in Ladakh

In my opinion, a 3 days journey on this road is better however if you are short on time, then you can change it to Manali to Jispa on Day 1 and Jispa to Leh on Day 2 to finish the journey in 2 days.

Day 3 – Pang to Leh

Leh is not too far from Pang so you can start at your own convenience. Cross the magnificent Moore Plain and Tanglang La on the way. Journey from Pang to Leh is not more than 6 hours even if you travelled at a slow pace so you should comfortably be in Leh by late afternoon at most which gives you ample time for hotel hunt. Once you have decided on a hotel, you can either chose to rest or may even visit Shanti Stoopa, Leh Market or Leh palace in the evening.

Day 4 – Leh

Stay for the day in Leh. Rest and give your body some time to adjust to high altitude. If you are planning to visit some restricted areas like Changthang Valley or Batalik, then you can use this day to arrange permits. If you are short on time, you can skip this day altogether.

Day 5 – Leh – Khardung La – Diskit / Hunder

Travel to Nubra valley and cross Khardung La on your way. Spend some time at Khardung La top and have a cup of tea at Army canteen. You can stay at either Diskit or Hunder for the night. The tall Buddha statue, sand dunes and Bactrian camels are the most famous tourist attractions that you should see. It is a 6-8 hours journey depending on your speed.

Day 6 – Diskit / Hunder – Panamik – Khardung La – Leh

Start early from Diskit or Hunder and head towards the small village of Panamik. See the hot water springs in Panamik and start your return journey to Leh via  the same route that you took to reach Nubra Valley. An alternate way to do the journey here can be to take the Wari La route to reach back Leh or take the Agham Shyok road to head straight to Pangong from Nubra Valley.

Day 7 – Leh to Pangong Tso

This may be a long journey depending on your speed and breaks you take so an early start is advised. While on the way, you can also cover a few monasteries like Hemis, Thiksey, Shey Palace and get across mighty Chang La. You can chose to stay at either Tangste, Lukung or Spangmik. If you want to stay close to the lake, then you will have to stay at a camp site. If you want to stay at a cemented hotel, you will have to look for accommodation at either Tangste or Lukung.

manali to ladakh itinerary

Manali to Ladakh Itinerary

Day 8: Pangong Tso to Leh

Take the same route back to Leh that you took to reach Pangong on day 7. If you did not visit the monasteries, Shey Palace on Day 7, you may cover it on Day 8. An alternate way to do the return journey can be that you take the Changthang route from Pangong and head directly to Tso Moriri from here via Man, Merak, Loma, Nyoma, Mahe and Sumdo. Please note that this area still requires ILP so if you have not obtained permits from Leh, you cannot travel here and will have to return to Leh.

Day 9: Leh to Tso Moriri

This will again be a long journey not because of the distance but because you will be travelling on some terrible roads today. Head back on Manali Leh highway until Upshi and take the diversion towards Chumthang. Road until Sumdo will be a mix of good and bad but after Sumdo it will pretty much be a dirt trail all the way until Karzok. This can easily be a 8-10 hours drive depending on your speed and breaks you take in between. The monasteries, Shey palace that I mentioned for Day 7 and 8 can be covered on this day and on Day 10 as well.

Day 10: Tso Moriri to Leh

Spend some time at the lake early in the morning and head back to Leh via the same route that you took to reach Karzok. Another route that you can take for the journey is to take the diversion towards Polakongka La frm Sumdo  and exit on Manali Leh highway just after Pang in which case you will again be crossing Tanglang La to reach back Leh. I will advise to take this route because the road is good, won’t add much time to the journey but you will get to travel right through the amazingly beautiful More plains.

Day 11: Leh

Take a rest day in Leh. Visit some of the tourist attractions in town like Leh Palace, Shanti Stoopa, Leh market etc and relax. Please note that you can skip this day if you are short on time.

Day 12: Leh to Kargil

You will start your return journey to Leh via Leh Srinagar highway. See the magnetic hill, Zaskar river confluence, Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, monasteries at Mulbekh and Lamayuru and Lunar Landscapes. Road will be mostly good with a few bad patches in between. Easily a 10-12 hours journey if you cover all the places I mentioned above, spending some time there or else it can be easily covered in 8 hours. I would still advise on starting early from Leh, by 7 AM I would say. Kargil has several hotels so finding one will not be a problem but finding one within a budget can be.

Day 13: Kargil to Srinagar

Travel on the Srinagar Leh highway and enjoy the mesmerizing and heavenly beauty of Srinagar. Take a lunch break at Sonmarg and continue to Srinagar. About 8-10 hours journey depending on your speed and the breaks you take. If within budget, head straight to Dal Lake upon reaching Srinagar and stay in a houseboat; highly recommended and totally worth it.

Day 14: Srinagar to Jammu

Reach Jammy via Patnitop. About 8-10 hours journey but there is mostly traffic on this route so can even take a bit longer.

RETURN VIA MANALI

The above itinerary is covering both the Manali Leh and Srinagar Leh highway however if you intend to return via Manali itself, the journey will change Day 10 onwards. On Day 9, you will reach Karzok (Tso Moriri) and from there, rather than going back to Leh you will head back to Manali.

Day 10: Karzok to Pang / Sarchu

Depending on what time you started from Karzok, you can chose either to stay at Pang or Sarchu. If you started by say 9-10 AM, you can comfortably make it to Pang by 4-5 PM. If you can start before 9 AM, you can make it all the way till Sarchu which will be a better option because it will reduce your travel time on the next day. Sarchu also has better and cleaner choices in terms of accommodation.

Day 11: Pang/ Sarchu to Manali

If you stayed at Pang and intend to reach Manali today before dark, you must start your journey by first light of the day. It will be cold like hell and if you are  on a motorcycle, first couple hours of the journey will be tough so early in the day but it will see you in Manali before it gets dark. Do not take too many breaks as well. If you stayed at Sarchu, even then I would advise to start early after having breakfast and you will take the same route back via Rohtang Pass to reach Manali.

I hope this information was helpful. This as I mentioned above is more of a common Manali to Ladakh itinerary that you can follow even if traveling with family. There is not too much of travel time any days, no risky areas involved and covers most of the tourist attractions. If you have any further questions, would like to amend this itinerary a bit to fit your timelines, please feel free to ask in the comments section below and I would be glad to answer.

 

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20 comments

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Ramen Bhatta February 18, 2020 - 5:51 am

Mr. Vargis Khan
Sir, I am planning to visit Ladakh this September and following you blogs regularly. It is so informative and helpful in all respect of ladakh tour. i wish to enter Ladakh via Manali and return via Kargil if political situation of JK is godd enough. Apart from Leh city and its heritage valued monasteries my main point of attraction in Ladakh is Nubra Valley, specially Tutuk.
Here is my proposed itinerary
Day 1 Manali
Day 2 Jispa
Day 3 Leh
Day 4 Leh
Day 5 Turtuk
Day 6 Leh
Day 7 Leh- Pangong
Day 8 Pangong – Tsomori
Day 9 Tsomori-Jispa
Day10 Manali

Your advice is solocited.

Ramen Bhatta

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Vargis.Khan February 19, 2020 - 3:44 pm

Hello Mr. Bhatta,

It will be better to travel this way. How are you traveling though?

Day 1 Manali
Day 2 Jispa
Day 3 Leh
Day 4 Leh
Day 5 Turtuk
Day 6 Pangong via Shyok
Day 7 Pangong to Hanle
Day 8 Hanle – Tsomori
Day 9 Tsomori-Sarchu
Day10 Manali

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prashant kumar July 27, 2018 - 9:22 am

hello Mr. Vargis, Thanks a lot for such detailed itinerary. We are three people myself+my wife + one female friend. I have XUV 500 2WD in almost perfect conditions with all tyres changed and car serviced one week back.
We are planning a 14 day trip from delhi-leh-srinagar-delhi or delhi-srinagar-leh-delhi. But still I am not sure if I should go from manali or srinagar. Here is my itinerary from manali side. Same I will use from sri nagar side except not going back to leh from tso moriri:

day 1 delhi to chandigarh , night stay at chandigarh
day 2 chandigarh to manali , night stay at manali
day 3 manali to jispa, stay at jispa , night stay at jispa
day 4 jispa to pang (or sarchu. Only problem is that sarchu is too close to jispa), , night stay at pang/sarchu
day 5 pang to leh , night stay at leh
day 6 sightseing leh , night stay at leh
day 7 leh to nubra valley/hundar , night stay at hundar
day 8 hundar to pangong (through Agham shyok) , night stay at pangong
day 9 pangong to tso moriri , night stay at tso moriri
day 10 tso moriri to leh , night stay at leh
day 11 leh to kargil , night stay at kargil
day 12 kargil to sonmarg/ , night stay at sonmarg
day 13 sonmarg to ludhiana , night stay at ludhiana
day 14 ludhiana to delhi
==========
Here are my questions
1) What are your recommendations of the itinerary.
2) Should we go from manali side or srinagar side.
3) I am an avid driver and have a good experience of driving in uttrakhand mountains with same car. Do you think I can cover hundar>pangong>tso moriri as this is my first trip to leh?

Thanks
Prashant

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prashant kumar July 27, 2018 - 10:31 am

One more question Mr. Vargis. My car fuel tank capacity is 70-75 ltrs and in mountains gives mileage of 10K per litre. So I can cover a distance of 650-700 Kms. Is this fuel sufficient to cover leh> hundar > pangong > tso moriri > leh

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Vargis.Khan July 27, 2018 - 12:27 pm

If you can then carry those 20 or 40 liters cans for spare fuel. If not then you can actually buy fuel in black at almost all places in Ladakh now. Quality of that is however questionable so it is better to buy it from Ladakh only.

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Vargis.Khan July 27, 2018 - 12:35 pm

Hello Mr. Kumar,

Your itinerary is good and definitely doable. Going from Srinagar side is better in terms of AMS. Following the itinerary you have laid out, you will definitely suffer from mountain sickness at Pang. The only change I will recommend is that you start early from Jispa, avoid staying at Pang and reach straight to Leh on this day. Pangong to Moriri is ideally a 2 days journey so use this day here. From Pangong, reach Hanle and then do Hanle to Moriri the next day.

And yes, if you have some decent amount of driving experience in the hills then you can easily complete the journey.

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prashant kumar July 27, 2018 - 2:57 pm

Thanks Mr VIrgis, I will modify the itinerary accordingly.

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Vargis.Khan July 27, 2018 - 9:36 pm

You are welcome Mr. Kumar

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Shashank Kandulna May 3, 2018 - 3:42 pm

Sir please update me regarding permits beyond rohtang pass. I am having a diesel vehicle and will start from my hometown Ranchi on 10th may. How can i get a permit from manali to travel beyond rohtang on my own vehicle. Also what other permits do i need to get to travel to leh ladakh and pangong lake.

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Vargis.Khan May 3, 2018 - 6:03 pm

For Rohtang Permit, please see the article below.

https://vargiskhan.com/log/rohtang-pass-permits-details-charges-apply/

For Permit in Ladakh to visit Nubra and Pangong, please see the article below..

https://vargiskhan.com/log/obtaining-ilp-for-ladakh/

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Sayantan Jana March 26, 2018 - 3:52 am

Hi Vargis, your blog is really informative.we have gone to leh once via kargil. We have visited leh, pangongg and nubra valley then. Now we wish to visit leh from Manali along with spiti valley.Can u suggest an itenery of 8days(in ladakh week wish to visit tso Mori and may be Turktuk)

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Vargis.Khan March 26, 2018 - 3:49 pm

Hi Sayantan – Covering Spiti and Ladakh both in 8 days will be next to impossible. Where are you starting from?

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sayantan March 27, 2018 - 12:51 pm

Hi Vargis,
We will be starting from Manali.
A proposed plan in september-

day0-kolkata to delhi flight, overnight bus to manali, stay at manali/solang(?)
day1-manali to langza, stay at langza
day2-langza siteseeing (ke,kibber,tashiang)
day3-langza to mud(via hikkim,komik,dhanker)….should we stay at mud or return to kaza?
day4-kaza /mud to chandratal
day5-chandratal to jispa
day6-jispa to pang/or directly to tso mori
day7-tso mori to leh
day8-leh
day9-leh to turktuk
day10-turktuk to leh
day11-leh to kolkata flight

we have previously visited ladakh once and have covered sham valley,nubra,hunder, panggong and leh local site seeing (so excluding them this time)
Can you suggest any possible modifications?
Also the time of travel each day?

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Vargis.Khan March 27, 2018 - 1:43 pm

Hello,

Your itinerary looks Ok exccept for that you cannot go to Tso Moriri directly. You will have to get inner line permit first for which you will have to go to Leh city.

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Chirag Jain November 30, 2017 - 8:29 am

Hey sir! Your blogs are so great, They are really helping a lot. I need to ask that we are 6 people or can say 3 couples. We are planning for a road trip with all 3 RE classic 350 and are moving from Jaipur, we will prefer manali leh highway. So I just want to ask is there any problem travelling with girls here at little dark or staying at camps or any other problem which we may face? And some more stuffs, I have already been to your blog for driving with pillion but still need to comfirm that that RE classic 350 will be capable enough to hold two people with a little luggage.

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Vargis.Khan November 30, 2017 - 5:06 pm

Hi Chirag – Thank you for your appreciating words. Yes you can ride to Ladakh on RE 350 with a pillion provided that your motorcycle is very well maintained. I myself own an Electra 350 and off all the times I have taken it to Ladakh, 4 times were with Pillion and all the luggage. So yes, the motorcycle is capable of the journey but ensure you get it serviced and prepared for the journey. Take a look at this article.

https://vargiskhan.com/log/how-to-prepare-your-motorcycle-for-ladakh-trip/

Regarding traveling with ladies, there is no concern related to safety as such but as you can very well guess, washrooms can be a bit of a problem. Better plan your journey as Manali to Keylong or Jispa and then straight to Leh the next day. The chadar tents / Dhabas at Sarchu and Pang do not have facilites and washrooms are horrible. Being a guy we could hardly stay there for over 5 mins, so with girls it will be a huge hassle. Avoid staying at these places unless you are planning to stay at the camp sites at Sarchu. These are comfortable luxury tents with good washroom facilites but prices are a bit steep.

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Chirag Jain November 30, 2017 - 5:14 pm

Thank you for giving your precious time to answer my question and one more thing to ask, that can we cross khardung la with pillion and what about marsimik la?

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Vargis.Khan November 30, 2017 - 5:39 pm

You are welcome !!!

Khardung La yes you can but not Marsimik La. That road is very steep and extremely bad. Motorcycle will probably refuse to climb if you have a pillion with you.

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pariksheet March 1, 2017 - 6:18 pm

sir I am travelling to ladakh on 26 may2017 from manali by bullets ,we are six persons by five royal enfields of our own means not rented ,we want to know that travelling from pangong to tsomoriri by road is safe or not because we heard about some dog attacks on bikers ,pls help us by providing current situation so that we can take further step for our journey

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Vargis.Khan March 2, 2017 - 6:39 pm

Dogs are indeed dangerous in that region Pariksheet. You will be OK traveling on the route, just do not stop near any human establishments alone, do not wander away. Just continue with your journey and when taking breaks, ensure that you either stop at near a check post or at a canteen or dhaba where are some locals around

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