Over the last few years, Ladakh has become a dream destination for almost everyone with even the slightest interest in traveling. But the fact still cannot be denied that a trip here will cost you a bit more, both in terms of the time and the money. If you wanted to make a low budget Ladakh trip, there are several things that you will have to take into consideration and plan ahead.
When it comes to Ladakh, the travel cost and accommodation charges will be your two biggest expenses. If you are able to cap these, then your overall cost of the trip will be significantly less. How can you do so is what we will be talking about in this article.
For more details on visiting Ladakh like the best time to reach, places to visit, things to do, altitude sickness, and several other tips, please read How to Plan a Trip to Leh Ladakh – A Complete Travel Guide.
How to Plan a Low Budget Ladakh Trip
Why does a Ladakh trip cost so much? It is actually a direct result of the time you spend on the road. Ladakh is not a place where you can just plan a trip over the weekend. It would at least need 10-14 days for a road trip and 6-7 days for an air trip.
If you put all this together, you will actually realize that it is pretty much in line with any other tourist place. If you go there for 10-14 days, your overall cost of the trip will be about the same.
With that being said, mentioned below are a few tips on how you can keep your Ladakh trip within a budget.
Hotel Cost in Ladakh
A lot of people tend to think that this will become the biggest expense of a Ladakh trip. But it is not really true. The accommodation cost in Ladakh does not really come out to be that great. You just need to be a little careful with your choices.
At most of the places in Ladakh, you can find a guest house for as low as Rs. 700 – Rs. 800 per day. At places like Pangong, the charges of regular campsites are a bit steep. But even here, you can find a homestay at Spangmik, Man, and Merak. Their charges will be lower than the campsites.
Chadar tents are another cheap accommodation that is available in most of the remote regions in Ladakh; even alongside the roads at a lot of places. Here you can get a bed to crash on for the night for as low as Rs. 300 per person. Before you decide on a hotel, filter through all your options and settle for the one that is costing you the least.
Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Ladakh with Children
Food Cost in Ladakh
This is more of a personal choice really. But except for the city of Leh, there are really no expensive eating joints elsewhere in Ladakh. Local Dhabas are available at most of the places and will work well for budget meals. On average, if you choose wisely, you can easily manage your meals per day with a couple of hundred bucks per person.
Book Your Flight in Advance
If you were planning an air trip to Ladakh, ensure that you are giving at least 2-3 months of advance booking; both for Leh and Srinagar. In tourist season, the price of the tickets can go well beyond Rs. 10,000. But if you booked a few months in advance, you can get a deal for much less.
Do not Book Your Stay in Advance
Except for your flights, do not book anything else in advance which will include your accommodation and mode of commute. Pre-booking hotels will just mean that you ended up paying more.
Rather, reach your destination, find a hotel per your liking and negotiate a deal. In tourist season and the majority of the cases, hotels will lower down their prices from what they originally quoted you. If a certain hotel does not, you have plenty of other options to choose from.
Time of Travel
This will play a very important role in defining your final budget for the trip. As I mentioned previously, Ladakh has seen a great boost in tourism in recent years. A lot of people are in it to get their share of the cake.
People visiting here include both Indian and foreign nationals; both in ample amounts. Most of the tourism however happens in the months of June, July, and August. This is when your chances of getting a budget deal are the least. Hotels, taxis, and motorcycle rentals will not lower their prices because they too have plenty of customers to choose from.
Same way, traveling in the off-season (months from October till April) means that most of the hotels would have already shut down and your options are severely limited. Prices of even basic accommodation in Ladakh at this time will be sky-high.
So for a budget tip, you are best planning your trip either in the month of April, May, September, or October; when the tourist season has either just begun or is ending. In both cases, there will not be many tourists around and your chances of bargaining will be high.
Avoid Traveling Solo
A solo trip is always going to cost you high because there is really no one to share the cost with. Every expense will come out of your pocket alone.
Fuel expense (if you went by motorcycle) and hotel rent are two major expenses. It would be great if you have anyone to share this cost with. You may have to talk your way in but at most of the hotels in Ladakh, they will allow 3 people in one room which will greatly reduce your overall accommodation cost.
Try traveling in a group of at least 2-3 people if a low budget Ladakh trip is on your mind.
Opt for Chadar Tents
This is by far the cheapest accommodation choice throughout Ladakh. It is a dormitory-type tent where you get a bed to sleep on for as low as Rs. 300. This choice is available at most of the places in Ladakh; including Manali Leh highway, Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, and Tso Moriri.
Since you would anyways just need a bed for the night and will be on your way the next morning, opt for Chadar tents wherever you can find one.
Avoid Travel Agents
Goes without saying, every travel agent will charge their own commission of about 10-15% if you were planning your trip with their assistance. For every detail of your trip, including your stay, motorcycle rental, taxi booking, etc, do it on your own. This will help you save this additional 10-15% that you will pay as commission.
Local Shared Taxis
After the local bus service, this is the most cost-effective mode of travel available in Ladakh. These taxis run on a daily basis to all the major tourist places including Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, and Tso Moriri.
Fare is almost the same as a bus will cost you and you can easily find these taxis from Leh Bus stand. Do note though that most of the taxis start early in the morning so reach there well in time.
For more details on this topic, take a look at How to Plan a Budget trip to Ladakh Bus & Shared Cabs.
If you are on a severely limited budget then hitchhiking is another great option to move from one place to another. A lot of people travel to Ladakh in the tourist season and helping each other becomes a trend during this time.
If you were walking on the road and put a thumb up asking for a ride, it is extremely rare that the person passing by will not stop. I have myself given a lift to several people during my trips to Ladakh and almost everyone who is able to do so does it.
Low Budget Ladakh Trip – Conclusion
I hope the tips above on planning a low budget Ladakh trip were 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.