Can you visit Ladakh in November? The answer is that yes you can but you will also have to plan your entire trip very carefully. Extremely cold weather, freezing temperatures, snowfall, roadblocks are some of the key features of a trip to Leh Ladakh in November and you will have to be prepared for them all.
By November, the tourist season would have ended in Ladakh and there will only be a few people around. Though you will still find tourists, the number will be way less as compared to the previous months. As winter progresses, even locals start to move out to other areas of the country. Those who stay start preparing for the harsh winter ahead.
During this time, a trip to Ladakh kind of becomes an acquired taste. In this article, I will provide information on how you can plan your journey to Ladakh in November, including details like how to reach, where to stay, what to see, and other important tips.
How to Plan a Trip to Leh Ladakh in November
To be honest, if asked, my advice to everyone would be to best avoid a Ladakh tour in November altogether for several reasons that I will cover later in the article. But if November is the only time you can go, below is how you can plan your complete itinerary.
Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Leh Ladakh in November
How to reach Ladakh in November
A road trip to Ladakh in November is not actually possible. On rare occasions when it is indeed possible, it is neither recommended nor safe. The best and safest way to go is by Air and then either hire a taxi or a bike in Ladakh for local sightseeing.
Manali to Leh by Road in November
Is Manali Leh highway open in November? No, it is not. A journey from Manali to Leh by Road is not possible in the month of November. The road is closed for civilian traffic sometime in the month of October itself. By the time November arrives, passes like Rohtang and Baralacha La will already be buried deep under the snow.
From the Manali side, the latest you can reach Ladakh is the first half of October.
Srinagar Leh Highway in November
The road from Srinagar to Leh is declared closed sometime in November. Sometimes this date did get pushed up to October or pushed down to December as well. What this tells you is that the weather at this time is very unpredictable. There is no telling when can a snowfall block the road and cut off the traffic on both ends.
If this happened while you were either in Ladakh, there will be no way out for you. Manali to Leh road would already be closed and you will have no option but to wait it out. If BRO decided to call it the end of the season and not clear the road until the winter is over, you will have to leave your vehicle in Leh and catch a flight home.
Even if the road did not get closed in November, the cold weather, chances of snowfall, the risk of the black ice on the road, and getting stranded after a temporary closure do not make it an ideal time for a road trip.
By Public Transport
There is no public transport available either to or in Ladakh in November. There will be no buses or shared cabs to Leh from either the Manali or Srinagar side.
Reaching Ladakh by air will be your safest bet. Flights to Ladakh remain operational for all 12 months. Actually, the ones in the winter season are considerably cheaper than in summer. If you booked a few months in advance, the total airfare for a return trip will cost you less than what you would have spent on a road trip to get to Leh.
Local Commute in Ladakh in November
After you reach Leh, you have three choices for commuting locally. You can either rent a private taxi or a bike or use public transport. They all have their own pros and cons.
If you hired a taxi, you will remain protected from the cold and will have a local driver to show you around. He will know how to handle the wet and slippery roads that you will definitely find in November. Your trip will remain hassle-free and you will enjoy it to the fullest.
The problem however is that this will not be a cheap affair and will definitely cost you a bit. Please take a look at Taxi Rates in Leh Ladakh to know how much it may cost you.
Renting a bike can help you save some money but there will be a lot of risks involved. You will have to survive both the cold weather and the roads of Ladakh. There will be black ice on the road where there is Tar and the snow will cause slush where there isn’t. The availability of bike rentals in Leh also will be very limited in November.
The chances of finding a bus will be very little. Buses do operate in winter to the local areas but cannot be counted upon. You will have to majorly rely on shared cabs if you were thinking of traveling by public transport. Even shared cabs will be only a few and you may not find a vacancy in any of them at times.
Sightseeing in Ladakh in November
Contrary to common belief, the roads within Ladakh actually remain open for all 12 months. This means that after you arrive in Leh, you can easily plan a trip to places like Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake, Tso Moriri, and Sham Valley.
The only catch is that sometimes, heavy snowfall can block the road across Khardung La and Chang La passes. But even if that happened BRO usually clears the road as soon as they are able to.
Nubra Valley in November
Nubra Valley remains accessible for all of November. The valley is actually at an even lower altitude than Leh City and does not receive a lot of snow in November. Most of the snowfall will be around Khardund La Pass with a few light spells of snow in the valley.
The bus from Leh to Nubra Valley remains operational in November but the frequency is very less. If there was snow at Khardung La and the roads were slippery, the bus service gets canceled due to the risk involved.
You will be able to visit all places in Nubra, including Diskit, Hunder, Turtuk, and Panamik. Some of the hotels and guesthouses may have gotten shut down for the season but you will still have no problem finding a place to stay.
For a list of hotels in the valley and their contact numbers, please take a look at Accommodation in Nubra Valley – Hotels & Campsites.
Pangong Lake in November
You will be able to reach Pangong from Leh without any problem barring the rare instances when Chang La may be blocked for a day or two after heavy snowfall. This can happen while you were either in Leh or at Pangong and then you will have no other option but to wait for BRO to clear the road.
Campsites at Pangong are not available in November. There may be a handful open but only in the first few days of the month. The guesthouses and homestays at Spangmik, Man, Merak, and Tangtse will however still be open and you can find a place to stay there.
The direct route from Nubra Valley to Pangong via Shyok road remains closed in November. The frequency of the bus service mostly gets reduced to just once a week.
Tso Moriri in November
The important thing to remember in the case of both Pangong and Tso Moriri is that the lakes will not be completely frozen in November, which is one of the biggest reasons why people visit here in the winter months. That only happens between Mid-January to Mid-February, like in the picture below.
In November, the lakes will still be in a melted and blue state. There will be snow or frozen water around the banks in the morning but that is pretty much it.
The route from Leh to Tso Moriri remains open in November and you can easily reach Karzok. There will be no bus available though and you will have to rely entirely on shared cabs.
There are a few guesthouses and hotels at Tso Moriri where you can stay. The campsites however may not be available.
Chushul Route & Hanle
The direct route from Pangong Lake to Tso Moriri via Chushul remains open as well as the Hanle Village. If you were short on time, you can travel straight between the two lakes without having to go back to Leh. There is no public transport available on this route though and accommodation will only be available in Hanle village.
Sham Valley Tour
The road from Leh to Kargil actually remains open throughout the year. It never gets blocked even if it had snowed on the route. Places like Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Magnetic Hill, Sangam Point can all be visited in November.
If you were short on time, you can plan a day visit from Leh. Drive all the way to Lamayuru and return to Leh by evening. If time allows, you can even spend a night in Kargil and return the next day.
The chances of snowfall on this route in early November are very less. Even if it did snow, it will just be a little and will melt away shortly.
Leh remains completely open in November. Market, restaurants, hotels will still be open, at least half of them if not all. Places like Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, Thiksey Monastery will continue to allow tourists and visitors throughout the month.
Where to Stay in Ladakh in November
As you probably would already have guessed by now, finding accommodation in Ladakh will not be a challenge anywhere. All of the hotels may not be open but a few will still be. Considering the fact that the number of tourists at this time will be very less, you should not face any challenge with finding a place to stay.
Whether or not to book in advance is entirely up to you but I will recommend that you do so. As the tourist season ends, hotels usually start working with very limited staff and are not really prepared for guests. If they were expecting you already after booking, they will at least be prepared to entertain guests.
Acute Mountain Sickness
One of the biggest challenges of visiting Ladakh in November will be altitude sickness. Since you will reach there by flight, you can be sure that you will feel at least some symptoms of altitude sickness for the first couple of days of your trip.
Plenty of rest and not tiring yourself are the key factors here. The weather will be very cold and if you also throw altitude sickness in, it does not really paint a pretty picture.
Do not rush around on at least the first day of the trip. Reach your hotel and rest for the entire day. This will allow time for your body to acclimatize to the altitude and will make things easier in the coming days.
On Day 2, if you were still not feeling well, then continue to stay at the hotel. If your condition worsened, seek medical help immediately. There is a hospital in Leh that is well equipped for handling medical emergencies, especially the ones related to altitude sickness.
For more information on what altitude sickness is, its symptoms, and tips on avoiding it, please read How to Handle Acute Mountain Sickness in Ladakh.
Weather of Ladakh in November
Cold and harsh are the two words that describe the weather of Ladakh in November. There will not be any snow in Leh City or Nubra Valley but the temperature will still remain close to 0 degrees during the day and below 0 at night. There will be a chill in the wind at all times and you will have to keep yourself completely covered.
Chances of snowfall will remain throughout the month. All the high-altitude passes receive snow in November and there will also be some light spells of snow even in low altitude areas like Leh City, Nubra Valley, and Kargil.
Temperature of Ladakh in November
The average high temperature of Ladakh in November is -11.4°C (11.5°F), and the average low-temperature is -23°C (-9.4°F). But it will also depend on the time of the day and the place you were in.
For example, the temperature may not drop that low in Leh City but will definitely be this cold at the top of the passes and places like Pangong Lake. The day temperature will be close to 0 but at night, it will definitely fall several degrees below 0.
If we put together the entire Ladakh and calculate a historical 24 hours average, the numbers will come out to be the ones I mentioned above.
In Leh City though, you can expect the average high temperature in the day at around 10°C and the average low at -3°C.
Clothes to Pack for Ladakh in November
If you are in Ladakh in November, then you must prepare yourself both physically and mentally for the cold days and nights you are about to experience. Bring all your heavy woolens, thermals, and a heavy windproof jacket. Good quality gloves, woolen socks are a must.
Along with your head, you also need to worry about your ears, face, and neck and carry a cap/muffler that can protect all. Even if your jacket has a hood to cover your head, you should still bring a couple of warm caps and a muffler. If possible, opt for a pair of gloves that is also water and windproof.
You do not snowboots or anything like that. Just bring your regular shoes but pick the ones that do not allow the wind to enter. When packing your socks, opt for the woolen ones. For more details, please take a look at Clothes for Ladakh Trip – What to Pack.
Other Items to Pack to Pack
A medicine kit will be the most important thing to bring. Pack some basic medicines for ailments like fever, headache, cold, upset stomach, and body ache. Include a few Band-Aids and a pain relief spray as well.
Since the weather is going to be so cold, you need to pack a cold cream, moisturizer, and lip balm as well. Sun is harsh in Ladakh even in the winter months so put in a sunscreen lotion as well.
This may sound a little awkward but bring a pair of good sunglasses as well. The sun shining on the snow can cause strain on the eyes and sunglasses will help with that.
Mobile Network & Connectivity
BSNL has the largest network in Ladakh and works even in places like Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake. The voice clarity however is questionable with BSNL connections.
The best networks of Leh and Nubra Valley are Jip and Airtel. You can actually get 4G speed with these networks. At Pangong, only BSNL works but intermittently. None of the networks work at Tso Moriri. Between Leh and Kargil, Airtel is the best.
The most important thing to remember however is that only postpaid phones work in Ladakh. If you had a prepaid phone, it will be as good as a paperweight the moment you land in Leh. For more details, please take a look at Mobile Network in Ladakh & Data Connectivity.
There is a large hospital in Leh that remains functional for all 12 months. You can get medical assistance in Nubra Valley as well but not for anything serious. For that, you will have to come back to Leh only.
There are no hospitals or clinics in any of the other villages in Ladakh and that is the reason why I mentioned that you must bring in a medical kit with you.
The Army posts en route can provide some medical help but only very basic.
Itinerary for Visiting Ladakh in November
Below is an example of an itinerary that you can follow for your Ladakh tour in November. It is a very broad itinerary and covers all of the major tourist attractions in Ladakh. If you were short on time, you can remove places and days to form your own final travel plan.
The plan below can be followed by private taxis, bikes as well as public transport.
- Day 1 – Arrive in Leh. Rest at your hotel the entire day and allow your body to acclimatize.
- Day 2 – Rest and Local Sightseeing in Leh
- Day 3 – Sham Valley Tour. See tourist places around Leh City. If you were short on time, you can do this on Day or 2 itself provided that you were feeling well and were not down with AMS.
- Day 4 – Leh to Diskit
- Day 5 – Diskit to Turtuk. You can stay in Turtuk on this day but if you were short on time, you can skip it.
- Day 6 – Turtuk to Panamik. Skip this day if you were short on time.
- Day 7 – Diskit to Leh. You will have to come back since the Shyok route will not be open.
- Day 8 – Leh to Pangong Lake
- Day 9 – Pangong Lake to Hanle. This will completely depend on whether or not the route was open. If not, you will have to go back to Leh.
- Day 10 – Hanle to Tso Moriri (Karzok). If you came back to Leh on Day 9, you will go to Moriri Leh via the Chumathang route.
- Day 11 – Tso Moriri to Leh.
- Day 12 – Fly Out
If you need assistance in planning your own itinerary out of this one, you can ask in the comments section below.
Inner Line Permit for Ladakh
Please note that for all of the places I mentioned above, you will need to obtain an inner line permit from the DM office, Leh. You can either apply for it online or obtain it after you reach Leh from the DC office. You can also ask your Hotel in fact if they can arrange the permit for you at the time of booking.
For more details on the permit, please take a look at How to Get an Inner Line Permit for Ladakh.
Other Tips for Visiting Leh Ladakh in November
Mentioned below are some other tips that can be helpful in planning a trip to Leh Ladakh in November.
Try to Plan in Early November
If possible at all, then you must plan your trip for the first half of November. The biggest advantage of doing this would be that you can still consider making your trip by road if that is what you really want to do.
Srinagar Leh highway remains open in early November and you can use this road for both reaching Leh and returning home. Though the road can remain open even after 15th November, I would not recommend counting on it. There are high altitude passes on Srinagar road as well that can get snowed out anytime, leaving you stranded.
Plan Only Via Srinagar
The road from Manali to Leh gets declared closed sometime in October so it is best to just keep it out of your itinerary. Plan your trip from Srinagar only for a road trip.
Book Flight if Traveling in Later Part of November
If you cannot make it in the first half of November, then it is best to book a flight for getting to Ladakh and return journey. Even if the road is still open, it is best advised to not take the risk of a road trip.
Plan Your stay
You may easily find a hotel in Leh but it is better to inquire and plan your stay at other places like Nubra Valley, Pangong, and Tso Moriri. The phone networks do not work in places like Pangong and Tso Moriri so you may not be able to call anyone but you can ask your hotel in Leh city to arrange this for you.
Keep your Itinerary Simple
By keeping your itinerary simple, I mean to not include areas too remote. You should plan in a way that you reach Leh, visit Nubra, Pangong, and Moriri, and be on your way back. Areas like the Chushul route, Marismik La, Horla, and Charchagan La are best avoided while traveling so late in the season.
In November, you may not even get permits for these places. Even if you did, the chance of getting stranded due to bad weather or a breakdown will be greater here in the offseason.
Keep Buffer Days in Your Itinerary
While traveling to Ladakh in November, it is safe to assume that it will definitely snow at high altitude passes. There is a high possibility that you are in Nubra Valley and cannot return to Leh because Khardung La was all snowed out and blocked. The same applies to places like Pangong and Moriri as well.
Hence it is important that you do not bound yourself to dates strictly and keep at least 2 days as a buffer. In case you got stuck somewhere, you will be able to afford to be there for a day or two.
If all went well and according to the plan, you can use the buffer days to either rest in Leh or to explore some other areas; or maybe to rest at home for a while after you returned from the trip.
Avoid a Bike trip
A bike trip to Ladakh in November isn’t really the best idea. Low temperatures combined with cold winds are not the ideal climate to ride a bike through hills. Prefer to travel by your own car if driving via Srinagar and rent a taxi in Ladakh if reached there by flight.
Avoid Starting Early in the Morning
The temperature at night in Ladakh drops below freezing point and as a result, it forms black ice on the roads which can be extremely dangerous. As a practice and precaution, do not start early in the morning. Wait for the sun to come up which will melt the black ice and then proceed as planned.
Why you Should Travel to Ladakh in November
With the above being said, there are of course a few benefits of traveling to Ladakh in November. There aren’t many really but I will list down a couple.
Find plenty of snow
If the idea of a live snowfall is on your mind then chances are that you will catch one here in November. It starts to snow in Ladakh at high altitude passes by September end and by November, a snowfall may even occur at the lower altitude areas as well.
If not a live snowfall then you will at least get to see plenty of snow around while crossing the passes like Khardung La or Chang La.
Since the tourist season has ended and a lot of locals too have moved to other cities, there will be fewer tourists all across Ladakh. If you reached here seeking solitude and tranquility, then the month of November will suit you just fine.
I agree that December and January will offer even a lesser number of people. But the weather will not be as harsh in November as it will be in the months of December onward. Facilities, though limited, will not be as scarce as they become in December, January, February, and March.
Good Deals on Accommodation
If you have a natural talent for negotiating then you may even manage to talk yourself into getting a low-cost deal on accommodation. Since there are not many tourists or guests around, some hotels or guesthouses may allow you to stay at a lesser price before the final close for the season.
With the number of tourists getting reducing and fewer customers, you will be treated well at any hotel or restaurant you visited. In some hotels, you may be the only visitor and have your host’s attention completely.
No Water Streams
This actually applies if you were traveling by road from Srinagar. In the months of summer, when the snow starts to melt, it creates a lot of water streams on the road. While traveling in November, snow will be more freezing than melting. Hence, there will hardly be any water streams on the way.
Also read: 10 reasons why you should NEVER visit Ladakh
Last Window to Make it a Road Trip
If you must travel to Ladakh by road, couldn’t do it in the year so far, and cannot wait until the next year, then the month of November is probably your last window to reach Ladakh by road. You will go via Srinagar and return the same way though.
Why you Should Not Travel to Ladakh in November
After the advantages, let me list down a few disadvantages of traveling to Ladakh in November.
Cannot cover Manali to Leh route
One of the prime attractions of a trip to Ladakh is driving through the notorious Manali to Leh highway. Every adventure enthusiast and travel junkie dreams of covering this road at least once in their lifetime. In the month of November however, this road would be long closed and you will not be able to keep it as a part of your itinerary.
Chances of Getting Stranded
This may happen irrespective of whether you are on a road trip or reached Ladakh by air. Any of the passes on the Srinagar to Leh route or towards Nubra or Pangong may get snowed out leaving you stranded. In the worst situation, you may even get stranded on the road in cold weather, looking for the nearest village to seek shelter.
Will be Cold
I know I said it a few times already but will add it again. Ladakh is a dream destination for everyone but not all of us are capable of handling cold weather that well.
Nights in Ladakh in November will be extremely cold and even days will be no better. If you are someone who gets bothered by cold weather a lot then it is best to give up Ladakh entirely until next summer.
In all probability, I will strongly advise against a road trip to Ladakh in November, even via the Srinagar route. Black ice is a huge risk and even a small miscalculation can prove to be fatal.
What is black ice exactly? It is a thin coating of ice on the surface of the road, formed on relatively dry roads, rendering it invisible to drivers. It is formed because of moisture present in the road texture which when frozen, creates a honeycombed invisible sheet of ice.
The ice itself is not black, but visually transparent, allowing the often black road below to be seen through it. There is, thus, a risk of skidding and subsequent accidents due to the unexpected loss of traction.
Should You Visit Leh Ladakh in November?
The answer to this question is a straight no. The pros of visiting Ladakh in November are far less than the cons. There is not much that a November trip to Ladakh has to offer.
The only reason people go to Ladakh in winter is to witness the entire region buried under a thick sheet of snow. They want to see a frozen version of lakes like Pangong and Tso Moriri, to drive across the high altitude passes through a thick snow wall on both sides of the roads.
November however doesn’t offer this in any way. The weather will be cold and dry but snow will still not be that much. If you want to see Ladakh in winter then it is best to plan it sometime in January or February. If snow is not on your mind then go to Ladakh in Summer to experience the real fun of the trip.
I hope the information on planning a trip to Ladakh in November 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.