Ladakh is one of the most beautiful places to visit in India. It truly shows that India is capable of hosting any type of terrain with any kind of climate. Leh is the largest town of this union territory. There are so many places to visit in Leh Ladakh and it really could turn out to be the trip of a lifetime!
Ladakh is a wonderful playground for adventure lovers. This place offers trekking, rafting, paragliding and so much more! It has so many amazing views, cultural history, monasteries, forts, villages and a great Royal Leh Palace that is up for exploration!
Best time to visit
Covered with snow most of the time and being a region of high altitudes and mountains, the best time to visit Ladakh would be, obviously, during the summer season.
The best months to visit Leh Ladakh would be from the month of April to July when the temperatures are at the highest. This would mean that you would not have to be as worried about your cold-weather outfits as you would be during the latter months of the year.
The temperatures during the summer would range from 15 to 30 degrees.
The summers in Ladakh are truly beautiful. The moderate temperatures allow backpackers and travellers to be able to explore the region comfortably.
Regardless, if you do want to visit Ladakh in its winters and the cold temperatures seem like a challenge for you, then do not let this ‘ideal time’ stop you. There are plenty of places and adventures to go on in winters too. For example, The Frozen River Trek is one of the exciting experiences that would only be available to you during the winters.
So, think about it, and plan your trip according to what you want to witness and experience in Ladakh. Either way, be sure to pack everything that you need for what you have planned!
Top 10 places to visit in Leh and Ladakh
One of the most interesting and unique places to visit in Leh Ladakh is the Magnetic Hill. Imagine if you park your vehicle and it goes up the hill on its own! This image is brought to reality right about here.
There are many theories behind this hill. One of the theories says that it is because of the magnetic force that is present in the area. This pulls vehicles within its range. The other theory is that there is no source of magnetic force. It is all just an optical illusion and that, the hill is actually not a hill but is a downslope. So, when you think that your vehicle is going uphill, it is only going downhill.
Whatever the theory might be, you can still see your vehicle move around without you having to do it. Isn’t that pretty cool?
Thiksey Monastery is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Leh Ladakh. It is a Tibetan Buddhist style monastery and is located around 3.6km above sea level. Thiksey Monastery is considered to be the largest Tibetan monastery. It has numerous Buddhist stupas, statues, and other artefacts.
It is the beauty of the monastery along with the landscape that it has been constructed in, which makes it a win to get there. The monastery also hosts Maitreya to acknowledge and celebrate the 14th visit of the Dalai Lama. A Maitreya, in the Buddhist tradition, is the future Buddha. This spirit is said to descend on earth to renew the teachings of Gautama Buddha if and when they have completely decayed.
There is an entry fee of 20 INR. The monastery is open all days of the week, from 7 in the morning to 7 in the evening.
Hemis National Park
If you are fascinated by exotic animals, then this is the right place for you. Hemis National Park is known to be the capital and home of snow leopards in India. It is famous for its high population of snow leopards. Along with this exotic animal, it is also home to many colourful and exciting birds.
After the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, it is the second-largest continuously protected area. It is about 3,350 sq. km. This park not only welcomes enthusiasts or travellers, photographers and trekkers are also welcomed with plenty of opportunities.
The park is home to about 16 mammal species and 73 bird species. Some of the high altitude, rare to see, animals here are the blue sheep, Shapu, Himalayan Marmot, Himalayan Mouse Hare, Red fox, and Tibetan Wolf. Some of the birds that you could get to see would be the golden eagle, robin accentor, streaked rosefinch, and red-billed chough.
Zanskar valley is one of the best places to visit in Leh Ladakh. It is usually quite empty and the steep terrains of the mountains, covered with snow, can produce a reflection of the skies.
You can raft through the river that flows through the region. You can partake in other activities like trekking and paragliding. Another beautiful feature of this valley is that it is considered to have close relations with Buddhist beliefs, meaning centuries-old monasteries.
However, do beware that during the winter months, temperatures can drop to a scary low of
-30 degrees. It would be advised to travel to this region during the months of June, July, August and September. This is because of the snow that is going to hinder any road travel you might have planned.
It is located around 105 km from Leh but is definitely worth the visit!
Pangong Tso Lake
If you have watched and loved the film 3 idiots, then this wonderful lake needs to be one of your places to visit in Leh Ladakh. This lake, situated, at a high of about 4.5 km and so this makes it the world’s highest saltwater lake. It also stretches about 140 km. Only a third of lies, here, in India and the other parts of it, are located in China.
The word ‘Pangong Tso’ is a Tibetan word which means high grassland lake. It is truly a beautiful lake and to add to its beauty, it is also a lake that changes its colours. It appears in blue, green and red during different times.
So definitely, do go check this lake out when and if you plan to take a visit to Leh and maybe witness the lake in a different colour than usual!
Nubra Valley is the northernmost part of Jammu and Kashmir. So, this is totally worth going to and it is about 150 km from Leh.
This valley is truly breathtaking. It is actually present in the middle of Tibet and Kashmir. The valley shimmers with snow during the winters and during the summers it is still green. Pick your arena!
Getting here is another fun part! You will have to cross Khardung La. This is the highest motorable pass in the entire world. Fortunately, getting to Nubra Valley would mean checking off two major places to visit in Leh Ladakh.
Nubra Valley is an important trade centre for woollen textiles made of Pashmina wool. It is also known for its local produce fruits such as apples, apricots, and nuts like walnuts and almonds.
Khardung La Mountain Pass
Khardung La Mountain Pass is located about 5.5km above the ground. It is the highest motorable road in the world. Of course, just travelling through this road can get really exciting. This pass is pretty much the entrance to Nubra valley and Shyok valley, two great places to visit in Leh Ladakh.
Obviously, travelling at such a great height would mean that the views of the mountainous surroundings are truly a sight to see. You get a view of Leh City too.
Unfortunately, with all the goodness comes an obstacle caused by the high altitude. You are more prone to fall sick of Altitude Mountain Sickness. This is because of the low oxygen and air pressure in this area. Hence, it is advisable to not spend more than 15 to 20 mins, here. Nonetheless, this should not be a problem if you are staying or have stayed in Leh 3-4 days prior to this travel.
Markha Valley is the right valley for you if you want to spend time trekking or setting up camp. It is one of the most popular and best trekking routes in Leh Ladakh. The starting point of this trek is Leh. Through this trek, you are likely to meet with the great Indus, Markha and many other beautiful streams. This trail also takes you through Hemis National Park. If you would like to visit some beautiful snow leopards, then taking this enlightening trek could help you with it.
The trail is a pretty easy one. It is quite suitable for you if you are a beginner.
This trekking area offers stunning views of Ladakh and the Zanskar ranges. You would also be going through many villages which host about 10-15 houses. The villages that you would encounter are Skiu, Rumbak, Hankar and of course, Markha.
It takes about 2-8 days to complete this trek, depending upon where you start and end your trek. The best time to do this would be from the middle of June to the middle of October.
Royal Leh Palace
The Royal Leh Palace is a must-visit. This palace is a symbol of the history of the royal family that once accommodated this luxurious abode. It stands on a clifftop overlooking the stunning town of Leh.
The Leh Palace, constructed in the 17th century, is a 9-storeyed structure that is a true example of Tibetan architecture in India. If you are an admirer of architecture then this is the sight for you. The architecture of the palace is inspired by the Potala Palace of Lhasa.
Despite the wars and the years of violence this palace has seen, it is still seen to hold peace and tranquillity.
Another surprise is the museum in the palace that stores a great collection of artefacts, helping visitors to understand and learn more about the cultural history of the region.
Chadar Trek is one of the best experiences you can have!
The Chadar Trek is on the Zanskar River. Every year this river freezes and so, the route is open to any enthusiast who would love to trek on this frozen water surface. Obviously, this is not a very easy and simple task. It is quite physically and mentally taxing.
The duration of this trek is anywhere from 6 to 20 days. It depends upon your experience with trekking and your physical and mental state. The temperatures vary from -5 to -10 degrees during the day and could go down to -25 degrees at night.
The way to get here is by reaching Chilling, which is at a 64 km distance from Leh and the best time would be during the winter months.
There are some stunning views that you could come across like frozen waterfalls, monasteries and forts.