How to carry petrol on Bike or in a Car? This is among the first few questions to be asked when you visit a place where gas stations are scarce. If the distance between two petrol pumps cannot be covered in a tankful, you will have to figure out the best way to carry petrol on a motorcycle or in your car safely. Talking on the same lines, in this article, I will provide details on where do you need to carry spare fuel for Ladakh trip and how can you manage it.
When you are preparing for a trip to Ladakh, there are several things that you need to prepare yourself and your vehicle for. From AMS to bad roads to itinerary planning, the list is endless. But I believe one of the topmost concerns for anyone will be the scarcity of fuel.
Places that you can hope to find a gas station in Ladakh are still just a few. Depending on your itinerary, there may be instances when you will have to run a stretch for miles or days without a refill.
Petrol Pumps in Ladakh
To begin with, let us take a look at where can you find petrol stations in Ladakh. On Manali Leh highway, the last petrol pump is in Tandi. After that, there is no other gas station until Karu, for 320 odd kilometers.
Coming from Srinagar, you will find a petrol pump in several places until Sonamarg. After Sonamarg, there will be no petrol pump until Kargil, for about 125 kilometers. You will come across another petrol pump will be in Khalsi while traveling from Kargil to Leh. After Khalsi, there is no petrol pump until Leh, for about 90 odd kilometers.
For local sightseeing, there is one petrol pump in Padaum (Zanskar Valley) and one in Diskit (Nubra valley). But the functionality of both these petrol pumps is highly questionable. There is a high chance that you will reach here only to find it closed.
There are no petrol pumps near Pangong, Tso Moriri, or on the routes leading to these lakes. Chushul route is highly remote so do not expect to find a gas station.
In the end, to sum it up, the only fuel station in Ladakh is in Leh town. So before you leave here, you need to decide how much spare fuel you should be carrying.
Spare Fuel for Ladakh Trip
The first thing to do is to be sure of your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Whether is it a car or motorcycle, please have a close enough estimate of how many kilometers can your vehicle run on a liter of Petrol or Diesel.
For example, if your car’s mileage is 15 km per liter, then to be on a safer side, assume then it would go down to 10 to 11 km per liter in Ladakh. Up there, you would constantly be running in low gears so fuel consumption will be high.
The second thing to consider will be the tank capacity of your vehicle; followed by the distance you will be traveling before reaching the next gas station.
Put all these facts together, do a little math, and you would know how much fuel you need to carry to ensure an event-less trip.
I will provide the information related to distance and gas stations that you can add up with your vehicle’s mileage and fuel tank capacity.
Manali Leh highway
Between Manali and Leh, the last petrol pump is at Tandi. It is a reliable petrol pump and always functional so you should tank up here. After Tandi, there is no other gas station for about 320 odd kilometers until Karu.
So in the case of a Royal Enfield for example, it has a tank capacity of 12-13 liters. Its fuel efficiency is about 25 to 30 kilometers per liter in the hills. So I would carry about five liters of petrol, just to be on a safer side. In the case of a Pulsar with 18 liters of tank capacity, I would not carry any fuel for the Manali Leh highway.
Calculate the same way for any vehicle you are traveling in, be it a car or motorcycle. This can help you decide if you should carry any spare fuel on this route at all. For more details, please take a look at How to Plan a Trip from Manali to Leh.
Srinagar Leh highway
Unlike the Manali Leh highway, Srinagar to Leh is better connected and populated. There is no need to carry spare fuel on this road, no matter what your mode of commuting is. You can easily find a gas station at several places like Srinagar, Kangan, Sonamarg, Kargil, Khalsi. All of these are authorized gas stations and supply good quality fuel. For more details, please take a look at ATMs, Mechanics & Petrol Pumps on Srinagar Leh Highway.
Routes in Ladakh
Now let us take a look at some of the inner roads in Ladakh. For destinations like Nubra Valley or Pangong Tso, one tankful in Leh will suffice for a return journey.
However, if you are planning to commute on roads like Agham Shyok road; the Chushul route, you will have to make arrangements to carry spare fuel. Below is information on these routes in detail that can help you decide if you need to carry spare fuel for Ladakh trip.
Leh – Khadrung La – Nubra Valley – Leh
If you just want to travel to Diskit / Hunder and come back to Leh while covering Panamik on the route, the total distance of the journey would be about 330 – 340 kilometers. In this case, you do not need to carry spare fuel.
If however, you want to touch Nubra Valley end to end (Turtuk on one side and Warshi on the other); then the total distance of the journey will be 510 – 520 kilometers. This means that you will need to carry some fuel with you. For more details, please take a look at How to Plan a Trip to Nubra Valley.
Leh – Sakti – Chang La – Pangong Tso – Leh
The last petrol pump while traveling towards Pangong Tso from Leh is at Karu. From here, Pangong Tso is about 190 kilometers.
So it will be a journey of 380 kilometers in total. You may or may not need fuel, depending on your vehicle’s tank capacity and fuel efficiency. For more details, please take a look at How to Plan a Trip to Pangong Tso.
Leh – Tso Moriri – Leh via Chumathang
The last petrol pump again is at Karu. Karzok is about 180 kilometers fro Karu via Chumathang. So it will be a total of 360 kilometers for a return journey. Your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and tank size will decide whether you need to carry spare fuel on this route or not. For more details, please take a look at How to Plan a Trip to Tso Moriri.
Leh – Tso Moriri via Chumathang – Leh via Tso Kar
If you want to go to Tso Kar from Leh via Chumathang but return via More plains while covering Tso Kar on the way then you will have to bring spare fuel with you. The total distance covered would be close to 500 kilometers in this case.
You need not carry spare fuel for Sham Valley. Either tank up at Leh or Khaltsi and you will be Ok. For more details, please take a look at How to Plan a Trip to Sham Valley.
Leh – Nubra Valley – Pangong Tso via Agham Shyok road – Leh via Chang La
This route means that you reached Nubra valley from Leh via Khardung La first. From there, you went straight to Pangong Tso via Agham Shyok road. After spending a night at Pangong, you came back to Leh via Chang La. The total journey will be over 550 kilometers and you should carry fuel in this case. For more details, please take a look at Travel Guide on Agham Shyok Road.
Leh – Nubra Valley – Pangong Tso via Wari La – Leh via Chang La
This route means that you reached Nubra valley from Leh via Khardung La first. From there, you went straight to Pangong Tso via Wari La and Chang La passes. After spending a night at Pangong, you came back to Leh via Chang La. The total journey will be over 600 kilometers and you should carry fuel in this case.
Leh – Pangong Tso – Hanle – Tso Moriri – Chumathang – Leh
The total distance covered will be between 700 – 800 kilometers so you will need to arrange fuel.
Leh – Nubra – Pangong – Hanle – Tso Moriri – Chumathang – Leh
This is a longer version of the route above and will also include Nubra Valley in the circuit. You will travel over 1000 kilometers without coming across a petrol station. So yes, you should bring spare fuel in this case.
Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Hanle
Leh – Nubra – Pangong – Hanle – Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Leh
You will also include Tso Karo in this circuit and the total distance will go up by 200 kilometers. The entire journey will be of 1200 kilometers roughly and you must bring spare fuel with you.
Leh – Nubra – Pangong – Hanle – Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Pang – Manali
This will be the longest stretch without a gas station. The distance traveled will be over 1500 kilometers so you should definitely carry fuel. This way, you start from Leh and just go back to Manali while covering Nubra, Pangong, and Tso Moriri on the way. For more details, please take a look at Nubra Pangong Hanle Moriri route guide.
Leh – Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Pang – Keylong – Manali
This is a shorter version of the route above. The total distance would be about 550 km so you should carry fuel.
Leh – Pangong Tso – Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Pang – Keylong – Manali
This way, the distance traveled will be about 950 km. Yes, you will have to bring spare fuel with you.
Kargil – Rangdum – Padum – Kargil
No need to carry any additional fuel for this journey. Just tank up at Kargil and it will be sufficient for a round trip. You may need to carry spare fuel for Ladakh but not in Zanskar valley. There is in fact a petrol pump in Padum as well.
These are just some common routes that I picked here as an example. But the journey can be done in several other ways. But these examples should at least give you an idea of how you can modify our itinerary and how much spare fuel you will have to carry.
Another important thing to keep in mind would be in regard to rented motorcycles. These bikes are not in the best condition and their fuel efficiency is always low. The agency that you will be renting it from will of course not give you the true picture so do not rely upon their word.
If you are doing the longer routes that I mentioned above, then you would need to make fuel arrangements. But if you are just planning to do the smaller Nubra, Pangong, and Moriri circuits, there are two things that you can do after you rent the motorcycle from Leh.
Either just carry spare fuel to be on the safer side or do a test run in order to get an idea about the mileage. I would advise going a few kilometers towards Khardung La as the ascent starts right after Leh. This will give you a fair picture of how the bike is going to perform while climbing and what will be its mileage.
Also Read: How to Rent a Motorcycle in Leh Ladakh
Getting Petrol from the Locals
I received an email from a reader asking if we can get Petrol or Diesel in Ladakh in black; or do any of the dhabas or chadar tents on the Manali Leh highway sell fuel. About a decade ago, the answer to this question would have been a no. But after the sudden rise in tourism in Ladakh, this kind of arrangement is ample.
Almost all the dhabas/chadar tents/ camping sites on the route keep spare fuel and sell it at a higher price. Expect it to be over Rs. 100 per liter of petrol. This however should be a sort of last option for you. Apart from the steep price, even the quality of the fuel is questionable. However if you do run in an unforeseen situation, then yes you can ask the dhabas on the way for fuel.
How to Carry Petrol on Bike
Now that we know where do you need to carry spare fuel for Ladakh, let us talk about how to carry it. Jerry Cans of course is the answer. If you can get your hands on one, then try to carry a metal one rather than the plastic one. You can even get it online these days. This will be your best option.
If you are buying a plastic jerry can, then please ensure that it is strong enough to withstand the journey. During my last trip to Ladakh, I came across a biker on Manali Leh highway whose Jerry can burst open due to air pressure. So please ensure that you are buying a quality product.
Do not fill up the can all the way to the top as it may start leaking. Leave some space and make sure that it is sealed tight. You may want to put polythene on the lid first and then put the cap on to ensure that it is sealed properly and there is no leakage.
Before mounting the cans on the bike, you should first wrap them in a piece of thick cloth to provide an extra layer of protection. This will prevent any damage to the cans from pebbles or stones while riding on the dirt tracks.
I have actually covered this topic in great detail in another article, How to carry Fuel on a Motorcycle Safely that I will urge you to take a look at.
How to Carry Petrol in a Car
If traveling by car, you can also consider those 20 liters Mineral water bottles. They are pretty strong and will not crack or burst open. If not that, then you can buy a Jerry can either online or from a hardware store. Just make sure that you are keeping it at a safe place and continue checking regularly for any leakages.
Spare Fuel for Ladakh – Conclusion
I hope this information on carrying spare fuel for Ladakh trip 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 glad to answer.