Is it safe to travel to Ladakh alone? Yes, it is and a lot of people do so each year. You just need to make sure that you plan well, stay out of trouble, and do not take any unnecessary risks. Mentioned below are a few safety tips that you should keep in mind while travelling to Ladakh alone.
There has been a definite increase in tourism in Ladakh in recent years. But the fact still remains that it is still a highly remote region. Some of the very basic amenities like phone services, gas stations, mechanics, public transport, medical facilities still continue to remain missing in several areas.
Hence, when you think about traveling alone through an area like that, it is of utmost importance that your planning should be very meticulous to ensure a hassle-free and safe journey. Out here even a single miscalculation is enough to ruin the entire trip for you.
Things like acute mountain sickness, limited accommodation choices, miles of barren wasteland with not even a single soul in sight, treacherous weather, challenging roads can turn things from joyous to troublesome if you were not prepared.
Top Safety Tips for Travelling to Ladakh Alone
Let me start by saying that you will not be the only person in Ladakh traveling alone. You will find a lot of other solo tourists in Ladakh and a lot of them are lady travelers. So yes, a Ladakh solo trip is not something impossible.
You can take a look at Solo Woman’s trip to Ladakh – An Exciting Adventure to read about the journey of a friend of mine who traveled to Ladakh alone by public transport.
Travel in Tourist Season
This is beneficial if traveling by your own vehicle and must if traveling by public transport. During the peak tourist season, the valleys of Ladakh come alive and the availability of facilities gets much better.
In case your vehicle breaks down, you will still be able to find help either in form of a mechanic or some other traveler. The chances of being stranded on the road are the least during this time.
If traveling by public transport, then you have three choices. Either a bus, local shared taxi, tourist shared taxi, or private taxi. Private taxis are way too expensive for a solo trip. The most cost-effective way of traveling is by Bus or local shared taxi, both of which you will only find in tourist season.
Next in line is accommodation choice. In the off-season, almost all the hotels and guest houses are shut down so you are going to have a huge problem finding a place to stay. Even if you found one, it will cost you way more than its regular price.
If you were stuck at a place and couldn’t find a bus or shared taxi, in tourist season you will still have the choice of hitchhiking. Routes like Chushul or Agham-Shyok road do not have any public transport service on them. But you will definitely be able to find someone heading that way and board a ride with them.
You must travel light if traveling alone and carry things only that you need. Dragging too many bags around is just unnecessary trouble which becomes a pain if boarding a bus or taxi.
People will not even stop to give you a lift if they noticed all your extra luggage. Carry only one bag if possible. That way you will at least have the choice of tagging along with a motorcyclist when in need. You will find them here in ample amounts in tourist season.
Do Not go too Remote
This applies to both traveling by your own vehicle and public transport. You must stick to the roads often traveled and avoid remote areas. Chushul route, Marsimik La, Chumur, Kaksang La, Wari La route are prime examples of this.
These are areas where only a handful of people go. Roads are extremely bad and not even the locals travel on these routes. If you were stuck on the road here, then only God knows when will someone pass you by next. You will be all by yourself and if something happened to you, nobody would even know.
Carry your Identity Cards
Always ensure that you are carrying a valid government-issued Identify card like Aadhar Card, Pan Card, Voter’s ID, etc.
Emergency Number and Address
Write down your home address and complete details on a piece of paper and carry it in your pocket. Include details of the person who can be contacted in case of an emergency; Ensure that you are mentioning both a mobile and landline number.
Do not just save this information on mobile but write it on an actual piece of paper.
Also Read: How to Plan a Solo Trip to Leh Ladakh
Be Careful While Renting a Bike
There are two aspects to it.
First is that if you were planning to rent a bike from Manali or Srinagar, or any other city other than Lah, then you can only use it to reach Leh. This motorcycle will not be allowed to visit places like Nubra Valley, Pangong, or Moriri. For this, you must rent another local registered motorcycle from Leh only.
Your Manali or Srinagar rented motorcycle will have to be left at the hotel. Please do not take any chances in this aspect. Locals here put up barricades on popular tourists routes to check the vehicles. There have been instances when non-local rented vehicles were attacked and vandalized as well.
The second aspect is of renting a bike in Leh. Do not book a motorcycle over the phone. Reach Leh, test a few bikes and then finalize one. You do not want to be traveling around on a bike that wasn’t up to the task, broke down, and left you stranded somewhere.
Get a Postpaid Connection
Only postpaid connections work in Ladakh. Your prepaid phone will be only as good as a paperweight. Since you are traveling solo, it will be very important that you have a phone that can at least work in Leh, if not other areas.
As a matter of fact, prepaid connections do not work anywhere in J&K. So you may actually go off the network for several days altogether if you were using one. You should either get a new postpaid connection or convert your existing one.
For more details, please take a look at Mobile Network in Ladakh & Data Connectivity.
Get a BSNL / MTNL Connection if Possible
This is not absolutely necessary and I do not really recommend this to people. But since you will be traveling alone, try to get a BSNL / MTNL postpaid connection if possible at all.
The thing is that all other phones work only in limited sections but the BSNL phone has the widest connectivity. It will work in Nubra, at Pangong, Moriri, and may even work even at the high altitude passes on the way.
Keep Your Family Informed
This is probably the most important tip of all when travelling to Ladakh alone. You must keep your folks informed of your whereabouts. Before you leave home, give them a copy of your itinerary clearly mentioning where do you intend to be on which date. If you booked hotels in advance, then give them the name and numbers of those hotels as well.
This way, god forbid if something goes wrong, they would at least know what your travel plan was and where you could have been last. Apart from this, keep calling or texting them regularly whenever you are on Network.
Also Read: How to Handle Altitude Sickness in Ladakh
Respect the Restriction
Ladakh is a sensitive area. There is a large army presence here due to its close proximity to Indo-China Border. Do not wander around Army or Police areas. In short, do not portray yourself as a suspicious character taking interest in things that you are not ought to.
Be Careful With the Camera
Ladakh is a place that invites you to click as many pictures as you can. Right from the challenging roads to majestic hills to enchanting valleys to the people here, it is all a photographic opportunity. While you can shoot all that your heart desire, you must be careful with what you are pointing your camera at.
Do not take photos of anything related to the Indian Armed forces. Most of the monasteries do not allow photography in the prayer halls. While clicking pictures of the locals, make sure you seek permission first.
Carry Some Essential Medicines
When you are traveling solo, you got no one with you to rely on to look after if you fall sick. Before you leave home, ensure that you are carrying some necessary medicines like fever, headache, nausea, body ache, upset stomach.
While you may get these medicines easily in Leh City, it may become a challenge to get them in remote areas.
Stay Away from the Dogs
This specifically applies in remote regions. Dogs here are not accustomed to seeing strange faces and may not react the same way as the city dogs. As a practice, try to stay away from the dogs.
This tip is out of my own personal experience and as told by the locals later on. Read The Beasts of Changthang Valley in Ladakh for the story behind this tip.
Travelling to Ladakh Alone – Conclusion
I hope the information above on travelling to Ladakh alone 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.