Zanskar Valley Itinerary – How to Plan your Trip

by Vargis.Khan

zanskar valley itineraryZanskar valley off-late is becoming the favorite spot for anyone who is looking for a bit of solitude and peace. This place is one of the least visited areas of our country and is perfect if you are looking for an offbeat destination for your next trip. You can either include it with your trip to Ladakh or as a standalone trip. In this post, I will share examples of a Zanskar Valley Itinerary detailing how you can do so.

Even from people visiting Ladakh, only a very small portion of people go towards Zanskar. Lack of knowledge about the area is one factor due to which not many people visit here. Some other reasons are that Zanskar is connected to the rest of the country by road by only a single lane and highly damaged road.

This road remains open for just 5 months a year. Even some of the basic amenities like cell phone reception, gas station, availability of accommodation are still missing. It is a sparsely populated area where you won’t see a single living soul for miles.

Whatever the reason, the fact, in the end, is that it is a place that is not yet touched by the tourism mania. The untouched beauty of the place will surely charm you and memories of the trip will last a lifetime.

How to reach Zanskar Valley

You can go to Zanskar either from Srinagar or from Leh. Coming from Leh means that you reached Ladakh from Manali, and now are visiting Zanskar on your way home. Coming from Srinagar would mean that you are either coming for the sole purpose of visiting Zanskar valley or to be on your way to Ladakh after visiting Zanskar.

There is no requirement of obtaining any permits for Zanskar valley. It doesn’t matter if you are coming from Srinagar or Manali, you can just drive freely to Suru Valley & Zanskar without anyone asking for any permits.

Zanskar Valley Itinerary

Drafted below is a sample Zanskar valley itinerary that you can follow to visit Suru and Zanskar. You cannot of course follow this itinerary to the point because a lot of things will change depending on how many leaves you have, how you are traveling, what your budget is etc.

It is however an itinerary that can at least guide you on how can you plan your trip ensuring that you do not miss anything worth a visit. I will try to keep the plan neither too rushed nor too relaxed but you can of course add or reduce days as per your own convenience.

This itinerary assumes that you are traveling using either your own car or motorcycle or a hired private cab. Even if you were traveling by public transport though, you can still easily follow the below-mentioned travel plan.

I will start the itinerary from Srinagar and Leh. So any time taken to reach both these places from your home town will be in addition to the total count of the days.

Day 1: Srinagar to Kargil (209 kms)

This journey can take anywhere between 8-10 hours depending on your speed and breaks. Enjoy the beauty of Kashmir and mesmerizing views all day.

Cross some of the famous tourist places like Sonamarg and Drass. View the famed Tiger Hill at Drass, it is visible from the road itself. Cross Zoji La Pass and reach Kargil by evening. You can also visit the Kargil War Memorial if you have reached it in time.

Before we move any further with the itinerary, I must mention here that in case you are traveling in a hired private cab, you will have to rent another cab from Kargil to go towards Zanskar valley. Non-local cabs, including the ones from Ladakh and Srinagar too, are not allowed in Zanskar.

You would need to arrive at Kargil, leave the cab you are traveling in parked at the hotel, rent another cab from Kargil and then continue towards Zanskar.

srinagar leh road

Day 2: Kargil to Rangdum (127 kms)

I will recommend breaking your journey to Padum in 2 days. Though the distance definitely sounds doable in a day, it will be one hell of a long journey; thanks to the terrible condition of the road after Sankoo.

Your speed will be terribly limited and for the most part of the journey, you will be traveling on a broken dirt trail. If you have enough time, then stop for this day at Rangdum.

On your way, enjoy the beautiful Suru Valley, views of Nun and Kun peaks, and Parakchik Glacier. Roads are mostly good until Panikhar. After that, it is a mix of good and bad all the way to Padum. Depending on your speed and breaks, this journey can take anywhere from 5-7 hours.

suru valley

Day 3: Rangdum to Padum (105 kms)

Rangdum is the least populated place in Suru valley. Padum from here is just 100 odd kilometers but this will still be a long journey because of bad roads.

Rangdum Gompa, also known as General Zorawar Singh fort is worth visiting while on your way towards Padum. You will cross Pensi La, an easy high-altitude pass.

At Pensi La top, view the mighty Drang Drung glacier and the twin Ta Tso & Lang Tso lakes. After Pensi La, you will descend into Zanskar valley and head straight to Padum.

There are several hotels and guest houses in Padum and you should not have any trouble finding a place to crash here. Sani Gompa, which is also known as possibly the oldest Gompa in Zanskar valley, is a place worth visiting in Padum.

There is not much to see in Zanskar valley except for the natural beauty of a cold desert and several old monasteries but the place is still worth a stay for a couple of days. If time permits, spend a day here and visit the nearby areas.

There is a road that goes towards Hanumil, another towards Dzonkhul, and a third under construction road that goes towards Shinku La. It is a high altitude pass which when completed will connect the Zanskar valley to Lahaul valley. This road will link the towns of Padum and Darcha. Let us take a look at some of these other roads.

drang drung glacier

Day 4: Padum to Hanumil to Padum (120 kms)

Stay for a day at Padum and do some local sightseeing. Several monasteries in the region are definitely worth a visit. Take a drive towards the small village of Hanumil. This is good but under construction road which when completed will connect Padum to Nimmu.

Drive as far as you are able to return to Padum after that. The total distance covered would be 100-120 km including the return journey. Apart from stunning landscapes, a few other places to see on this route are Pibiting, Karsha, Stongde gompas, and the Zangla fort.

stongde monastery

Day 5: Padum to Reru to Padum (90 km)

If you are short on day, you can actually merge this day with Day 4. In the morning, go towards Hanumil and come back to Padum. Have your lunch and then go for a drive on Shinku La road. This is another under construction road which when completed will run all the way till Darcha in Lahaul valley, across Shinku La, also known as Shingo La.

Take a drive on the road while enjoying the beauty of the valley. Drive all the to the small village of Reru and visit Bardan gompa on the route. This gompa is located on a huge rock right next to the river and is worth a visit.

The road towards Reru is good for the first 20 odd kilometers but then it is just a dirt trail for another 25 after which it ends.

zanskar valley itinerary

Day 6. Padum to Kargil (230kms)

Start as early as you can from Padum since this will be a long journey. You will take the same route back that you took to reach Padum.

Day 7. Kargil to Gulmarg (171 km)

From Kargil, you will take the same road back to Srinagar. If you want to add a place in your return journey, you may take a small deviation and reach the beautiful town of Gulmarg instead of Srinagar. Stay at Gulmarg for the night, it is highly recommended.

The beautiful town is merely 60 kilometers from Srinagar and will only add 2-3 hours to your next day’s journey but is totally worth it. If time allows, then this will be an additional day in your travel plan. The next day you can go to Srinagar and stay there visiting some of the local tourist attractions in Srinagar.

Day 8. Gulmarg to Srinagar or Jammu (60 or 170 km)

Start early from Gulmarg. If you can stay at Srinagar then head straight to Dal Lake and stay at a houseboat if within budget. Else you can continue to Jammu on this day, stay there for the night and head home the next day.

zanskar valley itinerary

Zanskar Itinerary # 2

An alternate way to complete this journey is as mentioned below.

  • Srinagar to Kargil – Day 1
  • Kargil to Padum – Day 2
  • Padum – Day 3 & 4
  • Padum to Rangdum / Sankoo – Day 5
  • Rangdum to Dras via Umba La Pass – Day 6
  • Dras to Srinagar – Day 7

The change here is that on Day 2, you will complete the Kargil to Padum in a single day. While returning, you will stop at either Rangdum or Sankoo. From there, you will take the Umba La Pass road and exit near Dras, without having to go back to Kargil.

For more information on this route, please read this travelogue Zanskar Valley Bike Trip – A Solo Bike Ride to Zanskar Valley.

Ladakh & Zanskar Itinerary

If you however are including Zanskar in your Ladakh travel plan, then from Kargil, you will head straight to Leh town. This can easily be completed in a single day.

If you were returning from Ladakh, then you will travel from Leh to Kargil and stay there for the night. The next day you will go to Padum and spend time there. For your return journey, you can take the Umba La road from Sankoo and exit near Dras on Srinagar Leh Highway.

zanskar valley itinerary

Zanskar Valley Itinerary – Conclusion

I hope the information above on planning a Zanskar Valley itinerary was of help. If you have any questions or need any other details, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or at our Community Forum, and I will be happy to answer.

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Tapan De October 4, 2023 - 9:39 am

Can I visit Zanskar starting from Srinagar and ending at Manali , is separate car is to be taken from Kargil and if taken it will go up to Manali

Tapan De October 4, 2023 - 9:36 am

I want to visit Zanzibar valley from Srinagar and end to Manali , can I do . Is separate car is to be taken for Zanskar from Kargil even if I take J K registered car ? For Padum sightseen also separate car is to be taken? If I take car from Kargil for Zanskar it will go to Manali?

Sudip maitra July 4, 2022 - 5:54 am

Is Darcha – Padum road is complete now?
And also want to visit Zangla. How shoud I do that?

Amrit pal Singh May 21, 2022 - 4:57 am

Hello Vargis,
I just want to now that New Manali Shinkula Zanskar road is open now . I am planning to visit on 28th may on my vehicle.

Roman January 8, 2022 - 12:20 am

Dear Mr. Khan, thank you very much for your highly useful content!! Please give me an advice is it trek Karsha-Wanla for hiking alone still interesting? Is this path together with motorcycle now or there is a trekking paths only for hikers :)? What could you recommend?

Soumik Chanda November 4, 2021 - 7:02 am

Hello Vargis Sir, I have one question. I have heard a new road has been constructed along Padum-Nimmo/Lamayuru. Is this route can be done on a 4 wheeler? If it can be done, can you please tell if Nerak waterfalls (which is a visiting spot in Chadar Trek) can be visited by this road?

Adventurer September 11, 2021 - 10:17 am

How is the road situation for Bike travel from Sankoo to Padum as in 2nd week of September 2021?

Anyone traveling from Sankoo to Padum on 21st Sept 2021?

Am scheduled to go there on a Motorbike. Looking for other adventurists! SUV or Bike …

Sunil Khairnar August 1, 2021 - 1:57 am

Hello Vargis Bhai,

We are travelling to leh and zanskar from 2nd Aug, first we will complete leh then go to zanskar on 9th August from lamayaru – vanla, shinge la route. Can you please update on the current road conditions there?

Vargis.Khan August 1, 2021 - 5:12 am

Shingo La can only be done by a 4×4 vehicle right now Sunil Bhai. The condition of the road right now is very bad

sumit May 25, 2021 - 11:54 am

hello sir, if not cab is there any other transport vehicles for solo and budget travel from leh to zanskar

Aveek Sen April 10, 2021 - 9:29 am

Hi Vargis,
Please let me inform whether the Padum to Darcha Road is completed or not. We’re planning a 10 days trip to Zanskar. We want to start from Srinagar and be back from Manali.

Vargis.Khan April 11, 2021 - 7:49 am

Hi Aveek – It was completed and open but badly broken at a lot of places

Vargis.Khan April 11, 2021 - 4:15 pm

Keep in mind though that this route does not open before June.

Karishma March 27, 2021 - 7:13 pm

Hi there, I am looking for some more time to spend in Zanskar and explore more than Padum and rangdum. Can you pls advise more places to cover. No.of days is not the major concern.

Tanmay March 29, 2021 - 2:27 pm

Definitely try trekking till Phuktal Monestry. If Padum Darcha road is in condition and okay to travel then it will be easier journey.

Do update the status of road once you complete your journey.

Anish Muthigi March 27, 2020 - 4:18 pm

Hi Vargis,

Would you be able to help me know is Darcha – padum road is motorable (even if remotely so) in July 2020 (we will be taking this road on July 28th, the plan is Tsomoriri- Sarchu- Darcha- Padum. We have 1 bolero and 3 bikes. I have read a few articles in the papers such as TOi that Darcha- Padum road is now open. Pl suggest. thanks in advance

Nisha February 24, 2020 - 6:32 pm

Hi Vargis,

Am planning to visit Leh- Ladakh in the 1st week of May for 10 days. My journey will start from Mumbai to Srinagar to Leh. Main places don’t wanna miss is Chader lake, Pangong Tso, Khardung la pass, Magnetic Hill, Tso Morori Lake,Diskit Monestry,Tso Kar,Nyoma.. Pls advise itaneary. Also spoke to local Driver at Srinagar and he had advised to book SUV ex-Srinagar/ Leh and back. Is it advisable?
Pls comment.

Vargis.Khan February 25, 2020 - 1:32 am

how are you traveling Nisha? Flying in and out of Srinagar?

Herbert February 2, 2020 - 2:34 pm

Thanks for sharing this and other interesting posts. I have a question- what is the name of the mountain/peak at the centre of the picture in this post/page- the one with small clouds on top of it. Is ithis Doda Peak? Thanks,

Vargis.Khan February 2, 2020 - 3:26 pm

No that is just a nameless mountain seen from Pensi La top.

SIDHARTH October 23, 2019 - 6:58 pm

Hi Vargis bhai
Mera ek question ha ki ma by car ja sakta hu Delhi To Zanskar by my own car my SUV

OMKAR August 19, 2019 - 6:48 pm

Very good work. I wanted to know if its possible to enter zanskar from dras through umba la?

Vargis.Khan August 20, 2019 - 12:00 am

Yes you can

HKar August 13, 2019 - 10:34 pm

If I may bother you a little bit more… Do you think the padum darcha road will be doable by motorcycle sometime in June next year

Vargis.Khan August 14, 2019 - 1:44 pm

Hard to say right now, all depends on the BRO. But it looks like that it would be.

HKar August 12, 2019 - 7:48 pm

Is the padum darcha road complete or near completion

Vargis.Khan August 13, 2019 - 11:56 am

Near completion

Srijith uk June 30, 2019 - 1:01 pm

Can we take Zoomcar to padum
ie from kargil to padum

Vargis.Khan June 30, 2019 - 4:12 pm

No, will have to leave it at Kargil

Srijith uk June 30, 2019 - 4:56 pm

Thanks for the information and I very much appreciate your interest in giving prompt and to the point reply

Vargis.Khan June 30, 2019 - 8:54 pm

Thank you Srijith

Nilavra Ghosh January 21, 2019 - 11:51 am

I am eyeing for Zanskar valley in coming October. I know June to Sept is good but I want to see autumn colour and I have office work till September. I am planning to start from Srinagar on October 9 and complete Padum back to Kargil by October 15. I know it may snow anytime in October. In Manali Leh highway even if there is snowfall, BRO clears road in a day or two to keep it open at least til October end, what about Zanskar valley ? just in case the road is blocked due to snow, does BRO give support in October middle ? How long do they provide support to get the Kargil Padum route open ? Please let me know this information.

Vargis.Khan January 21, 2019 - 5:43 pm

Srinagar Leh highway and Zanskar will remain open in early October. You got nothing to worry about.

Prasoon Awasthi August 4, 2018 - 4:22 am

Hi Vargis,

Please provide the information regarding the stay in Rangdum. We are 5 peoples and require accomodation in Rangdum for one day.


Vargis.Khan August 4, 2018 - 6:15 am

Hi Prasoon – There are a few budget hotels and guest houses in Rangdum. Just reach there and check into any hotel per your liking, Zanskar thankfully is not crowded yet so you will easily find a place to stay upon your arrival. There is also a J&K government guest house here which can be good choice.

bulbul khoda July 31, 2018 - 10:26 am

Hi Vargis,

We are staying at Kargil for one day while traveling from Srinagar. After that we wish to see the Zanskar Valley. Is a night stay at Padum enough? and next day we leave to Leh?

Thank you so much 🙂

Vargis.Khan July 31, 2018 - 3:29 pm

Hi Bulbul – You will need 2 days actually.

Kargil to Padum
Padum to Kargil
Kargil to Leh

You cannot do Padum to Leh on the same day.

Tamali Deb July 25, 2018 - 5:09 pm

Hi, I am going to visit Ladakh in the month of August. What should be the route for traveling to Zanskar from Leh City? Please advice.

Vargis.Khan July 25, 2018 - 7:40 pm

It is only one route actually. Leh to Kargil and then Kargil to Padum via Rangdum. And then you take the same road back to Leh.

Rahul Krishna July 18, 2018 - 5:47 pm

Hi Bro! Am doing a solo drive from Delhi to Zanskar Via Manali. It vaguely looks as under :
Delhi – Manali – Kaza – Pin Valley National Park – Sissu – Sarchu – Leh – Padum – Kargil – Srinagar – Pathankot – Delhi.
Am traveling in my SUV.
Can you guide me on the following –
1. Accomodation @ Pin Valley & Padum. (Is padum the best place to stay or you recommend some other place nearby)
2. Are home stay / home camping sites available. Does the place have provisions to pitch your own tent / camping equipment.
3. Availability of fuel stations both towards pin valley & zanskar.



Vargis.Khan July 18, 2018 - 7:51 pm

Hi Rahul,

1. Stay at Mudh village in Pin Valley and Padum in Zanskar. Both these places have several hotels and it is better to stay here.
2. Yes camp sites and home stays too are available. You can pitch your own tent too but don’t do it in the middle of nowhere. Do it near an existing camp site or dhaba and pay them a little if required to give you a spot to pitch your tent.
3. There is no fuel station in Pin valley, nearest is at Kaza. Same way, no petrol one in Zanskar but you will find one at Kargil.

Rahulkrish July 23, 2018 - 9:25 am

Thanks! 🙂

Vargis.Khan July 23, 2018 - 12:28 pm

You are welcome !!!

Ankita Dey July 7, 2018 - 7:39 am

Hello Sir,
I am visiting Ladakh including Zanskar for 12 days in the month of July.
Could you kindly help me plan me trip and also guide me about the weather conditions.


debasis mitra August 23, 2021 - 3:26 pm

Is it possible to go kargil to padum in mid October? will be the road open at that time? How will be the temp.?
thanks in advance.

Prasoon Awasthi July 4, 2018 - 12:26 pm

Thanks Vargis bhai ,

We have decided to travel Leh by plane and from Leh we will hire bikes for Zanskar Valley. I have a question regarding the bikes hired in Leh will be allowed for Zanskar Valley or not ?

Vargis.Khan July 5, 2018 - 2:57 am

The rental association at Kargil don’t really allow to do that Prasoon Bhai but it is mostly a matter of luck really. Unlike Ladakh, they don’t have any check posts or anything. If you get stopped, then return to Karil to rent another sets of bikes and tell them you did not know. If not, then ride on your Leh bikes.

Prasoon Awasthi July 5, 2018 - 6:45 am

Thanks once again Vargis bhai…
You are helping a lot in my tour planning,
I just want to ask if any bike rentals are available in Kargil or not, if yes please tell where to hire bikes in Kargil ?

Vargis.Khan July 5, 2018 - 2:12 pm

You are welcome Prasoon Bhai. Yes there are bike rentals available in Kargil definitely. I do not know anyone there as such because I have never rented on myself but just take a walk in Kargil or ask at the hotel.

Vishwa Bandhu July 3, 2018 - 1:21 pm

Hi Vargis,

I am planning to stay at Rangdum Gompa. We are 3. Me, my wife and kid (10 years).

Could you please guide me on how to be sure that we have confirmed space availability?


Vargis.Khan July 3, 2018 - 1:48 pm

Hi Vishwa – There is no way to guarantee space availability to be honest.

Prasoon Awasthi July 2, 2018 - 11:34 am

We are 4 peoples planning for Zanskar Valley bike trip from Srinagar- Padum-Srinagar. What are the road conditions we will be encountered with ? Are the roads dangerous or have too many water crossings ? Please share your views regarding this . We are planning for 8 day tour from Srinagar and back to srinagar .
Also can we hire taxi or bike from Leh to Zanskar and back.

Vargis.Khan July 2, 2018 - 4:13 pm

Road Conditions – Good till Sankoo. Mostly bad after that.
Dangerous – No
Taxi – You will have to hire from Kargil and not Leh.

Prasoon Awasthi July 3, 2018 - 5:32 am

Thanks Vargis for your prompt reply.
I am still confused is late August is good for the bike road trip to Zanskar Valley ? I am planning to hire bikes from Srinagar, are bikes available in Srinagar to hire ? Should I visit Zanskar Valley from Srinagar or Leh please share your view as Leh Ladakh I have already done it and conditions in Srinagar are making my friends afraid of to travel from Srinagar. Is it safe to travel from Srinagar?


Vargis.Khan July 3, 2018 - 2:01 pm

If you have already done Leh and are not too eager on it again then definitely go by Srinagar. The conditions there remain like this always but people visit nonetheless. Just stick to main tourist areas, do not wander too offbeat and you will be OK. August is monsoon season so you will have to be prepared for rains in Kashmir.

Mustafa Hathiyari June 12, 2018 - 7:33 am

Hi Vargis Sir,
I was planning to visit Zanskar Valley using public transport/Shared Taxi/Hitchhiking next week. I am initially Ladakh for about 4 days(2 days Acclimatize and 2 days Pangong ).
Then i have about six days to get back to Srinagar. I was planning to take a Shared taxi from Kargil to Rangdum .
After which i was not sure kind of transport would get me to Padum. Do you have an Idea of the same? Then stay about 2 Days in Padum and then head back.
Please Advise on what you think of it? or Do you have a better plan in mind?
Awesome Blog 🙂
Thank you

Vargis.Khan June 12, 2018 - 1:31 pm

There is a bus from Leh to Padum that you can board. If that did not work then you will easily find shared taxis from Leh to Kargil and then Kargil to Padum. For return journey as well you can board a shared cab from Padum to Kargil.

Mustafa Hathiyari June 12, 2018 - 1:41 pm

Hey Thanks for such a prompt reply… I was worried about getting a ride from Rangdum to padum.. How easy is it?

Vargis.Khan June 12, 2018 - 2:49 pm

Finding a bus would be tough but you should be able to get a shared cab.

Karthik NN June 6, 2018 - 12:51 am

Hello Vargis Sir,
Is the road connecting Padum and Lahaul Valley ready now??

Vargis.Khan June 6, 2018 - 7:40 pm

Hi Karthik Bhai, No it is not yet operational.

Neelabh Chakravarty March 31, 2018 - 9:29 am

Hello sir,

we are planing Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar-Kargil-Padum-kargil-Leh-Tso Moriri-Manali-Delhi this Year June and have approx 15 days in Hand.

Travelling in our Toyota Liva 169 GC, although a low GC car but we have done Himachal tribal circute and Srinagar-Leh-Hundar-Turtuk-Hundar-Pangong (via Sheok)-Leh-Manali with this car in 2016 without much difficulty.

can you please advise a travel plan after Padum-Kargil, and the road condition of Kagil-Padum is how bad comparing the route we have already traveled. I am more worried about the water bodies on the road/nallahs

thanks for your support.


Vargis.Khan April 2, 2018 - 2:52 pm

Hello Neelabh – If you have already done Ladakh in this car then you really got nothing to worry about. Padum road is mostly a dirt tral all the way but as long as you are going slow and carefully, you will easily manage it. It is a dirt tral but not too bad or broken,

Neelabh Chakravarty April 3, 2018 - 10:58 am

Dear Mr Khan,
Thanks a lot, I am relieved.

Vargis.Khan April 3, 2018 - 2:19 pm

You are welcome brother !!!

Monik kothari April 4, 2020 - 5:01 pm

Hello brother! According to you which place is more preferrable for first tym zanzkar valley or leh ladakh? Want to do either of them not both together


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