Ladakh By Road

When we say that travelling to Ladakh by road is one of the most stimulating road adventures in the world, it is no exaggeration. Trip to Ladakh by road means driving past some of the highest passes in the world, maneuvering your vehicle through semi-arid planes, savoring the wonderful view of the mighty mountains as well as breathtaking vistas and, catching the sight of simple lifestyle of the nomads, staying in tiny settlement. Monasteries, huge prayer bells, fluttering prayer bells and Tibetan Buddhist people are all interesting parts of a road journey to Ladakh.

There are two highways that take you to Leh- the Srinagar-Leh Highway and the Manali-Leh Highway. The second one is more popular amid road travelers and bikers as it offers a chance to travel across some of world’s highest mountain passes, admire the wonderful natural beauty of the place, the Himalayas on one side and the gushing rivers on the other. The excitement to drive on these thrilling roads is matchless.

This page offers complete information on how to reach Ladakh by road. You get details on distances, accommodation, petrol pumps, basic facilities available and more.

Manali - Leh Highway

Ideal for road trippers and adventure seekers, Manali-Leh Highway has a total length of 464 km. Out of this, there is no civilization on 350 km. You are not going to find any fuel pump on a distance of 365 km. This clearly points out to the fact that if you wish to travel to Ladakh via this highway, you need to do proper preparation.

We advise that instead of driving from Manali to Leh, choose the other way round that is Leh to Manali because as you would as it is be comfortable on high altitudes and driving down is not really going to be a problem for you. You can stay overnight in Sarchi, a destination with a number of accommodation option. This lovely town has an equal distance from both Manali and Leh.

However, if you are willing to drive the other way round, day is going to be Manali - Keylong and day 2 is going to be Keylong to Leh. Overnight at Sarchu is not advisable at it is positioned on a high altitude.

Best time to travel on Manali – Leh Highway

Going for a ride on this highway completely depends on the opening of Rohtang Pass and Baralacha La. Mostly, this happens in second half of May. From June to September is the best time to travel on Manali-Leh Highway. As ice is still melting, there can be road block in June, but in August and September, the roads are clear. Try to avoid June as it is the monsoon month and landslides do occur.

Means of travel on Manali-Leh Highway

From 27th June 2011, Himachal Pradesh government does not allows non-HP vehicles on Manali- Rohtang Pas road. Permission from the office of the SDM in Manali must be sought by vehicles with non-HP numbers, if they want to drive to Leh or Keylong. Conversely, bikes can travel without restraint.

Private Cars and Bikes

Adventure enthusiasts and people fond of road journeys opt for self-drive as self-riding on such difficult roads is surely is a memory worth cherishing. You can either rent a bike or car or can drive you private vehicle. You should be sure of your driving skills as only an expert driver can easily maneuver his vehicle on his tough terrains. Also, learn little maintenance skill, in case no mechanical help is available when you need it. Clear all your doubts before embarking on this journey on your own.

Keep some tools like puncture repair kit, screw driver set, some bottles of petrol of diesel, small hammer and iron rod, handy. Some other important stuff that you must pack include towing rope, cables or wires, M-seal, adhesive, funnel etc. Get your vehicle service done before the journey.

Rent a Private Taxicab

When you are coming from Manali, a cab with HP number can take you till Leh. However, city tour of Leh can be done only in a cab with Ladakh number. If you rent a cab with non-Leh number plate, book a cab that has a private number plate. If any interrogation happens, rely on your convincing power to assure the other person that your vehicle is not rented.

You can rent a cab from Manali as their drivers are experts on such roads and know the roads well. Rent a cab from Manali taxi stand and do not forget to use your bargaining skills. If there is an overnight stay while travelling to Leh, INR 1000 extra is mostly charged. The cab charges from Manali to Leh fall ssomewhere between INR 1200 to INR 1700.

Hire a taxi from Manali taxi stand. Do not forget to bargain. Generally Rs 1000 extra is charged, if there is night halt while going towards Leh. From Manali, to go to Leh, you will have to shell somewhere between Rs 12000 to Rs 17000.

Manali – Leh Bus Service

Solo travelers and couples can also opt for bus service offered by HPTDC to travel from Manali to Leh. The fare of semi-deluxe buses is somewhere between INR 1500 to INR 2000. You can book the tickets online after confirming the schedule and timings of the bus.

Keylong – Leh Bus Service

HRTC offers bus service to travel between Leh and Manali, only from Keylong where you can reach in a shared taxi. While the fare of traveling Manali – Keylong is between INR 100 – INR, 125, the fare of traveling from Keylong – Leh is between INR 450 – INR 550.

Shared Taxis

Shared taxis also travel between Manali to Leh. This journey mostly involves a night stay and they cost somewhere between INR 1200 - INR 1800 (per person).

Petrol Pumps on Manali-Leh Highway

After you completely fill your tank in Manali, the next fuel pump is in Tandi on the whole highway. The next petrol pump is 380 km away from Tandi, in Karu. When in Tandi, fill your tanks completely and also carry extra cans of petrol for safety. After Karu, the next pump is in Upshi, near Leh.

ATM on Manali-Leh Highway

You must carry enough cash as ATM is only found in Manali, Keylong and then only in Leh.

Destinations on Manali – Leh Highway

Destinations

Altitude Destinations Altitude Destinations

Altitude

Manali 1950 m Solang Valley 2590 m Marhi 3300 m
Rohtang Pass 3980 m Gramphu 3200 m Khokhsar 3140 m
Sissu 3170 m Tandi 2573 m Keylong 3080 m
Jispa 3320 m Darcha 3360 m Deepak Tal 3810 m
Patseo 3811 m Suraj Tal 4950 m Baralacha La 4890 m
Sarchu 4290 m Gata Loops 4190 m Nakee La 4740 m
Lachulung La 5079 m Pang 4600 m Moore Plains 4730 m
Debring 4835 m Taglang La 5328 m Rumste 4260 m
Upshi 3480 m Leh 3500 m - -

 

Facilities on Manali – Leh Highway

Facility

Places

Hotel / Guest Houses Khoksar, Sissu, Gondla, Patseo, Tandi, Keylong (Many options), Jispa, Upshi

Tents / Camps
(Dhaba / Swiss / Normal)

Hotel The Fern Residency or similar
Food / Beverages Marhi, Rohtang Pass, Khoksar, Sissu, Keylong, Jispa, Darcha, Deepak Tal, Zingzing Bar, Bharatpur, Sarchu, Pang, Rumste, Upshi
Diesel / Petrol Pumps Tandi (107 kms from Manali), Karu (36 kms from Leh)
Mobile Connectivity

Airtel signals only worked till Keylong, then faded quickly. The signals of Airtel mobiles restored after driving past Upshi.
BSNL connection is has better coverage and connectivity in this range in comparison to other operators. In Ladakh, Airtel works but the connectivity is poor.
However, SMS work fine for, BSNL as well as Airtel.
Vodafone had no connection after Marhi and none connection even in Leh -Ladakh.

Packet data works upto Keylong and in Leh packet data is available only with BSNL edge.
Fixed Phones Keylong, Jispa, Darcha, Upshi
Electricity Sissu, Gondla, Keylong, Jispa, Darcha, Upshi
Medical Facilities Sissu, Keylong
ATM Keylong
Police Checkpoints Darcha, Sarchu, Upshi, Khoksar (For foreigners only)
Mechanic / Puncture Shops Marhi, Khoksar, Tandi (not sure), Keylong, Darcha, Sarchu, Upshi

Liquor Shops  Marhi, Keylong, Darcha, Upshi

 

NOTE: All fares written above are suggestive.

Srinagar - Leh Highway

Also known as NH – 1D or National Highway – 1D, Srinagar-Leh Highway acts as a lifeline for being the road connection between Ladakh and other parts of the country, via Kashmir. While the other highway to Ladakh, Manali-Leh highway is known to be an adventurous one, it is more reliable. On one side, you can see the cascading Indus River. You drive past several passes while driving to Leh. Namki La (3815 m), Zozi La (3528 m), and Fotu La (4108 m) are the important ones.

Best time to travel on Srinagar Leh Highway

From November to May, the highway is closed for almost 6 months due to heavy snowfall. Srinagar Leh Highway opens in mid-May or in the first week of July. B The best time to travel on this highway is from June to October, however, it is best to avoid the rainy month of July, due to landslides and road blockings. Army convoys and trucks carrying necessary materials can be seen here all round the year.

Means of travelling on Srinagar Leh Highway

Private Cars and Bikes

There are many, for whom opting for a self-drive to Leh-Ladakh might be a dream because of the thrilling experiences it has to offer. The other option is to rent a car or a bike. If you are thinking of driving your own vehicle, you must be an expert driver and must know little maintenance of the vehicle, incase no help is available nearby. MUV/SUV generally prove to be a good option, but sometimes hatchbacks can also be good. This highway throws lesser challenges than Manali-Leh highway but one must always be careful.

There are some things that you must carry with yourself such as puncture repair kit, basic tool kit, small hammer, extra bottle of petrol, screw driver kit, cables, adhesive, M-seal, towing rope, funnel etc. Before starting the journey, get the complete check-up of your vehicle done.

Rent a Taxicab

As per the rules of the taxi union, taxis that have Ladakh number can travel in the area. Rent a taxi with private number, if you are renting a cab with non-Ladakh number. If you get caught, be sure that you will be able to convince the other person that it is your own car. You can also easily book a taxi in Srinagar and Kargil for sightseeing. If the journey to Leh involves an overnight stay, the local drivers charge somewhere between INR 1200 – INR 1500. Road journey from Srinagar – Leh with night halt costs, between INR10000 - INR 12000. 

Srinagar – Leh Bus Service

JK SRTC managed buses are available for the Srinagar – Leh Highway. The buses are available from Srinagar Bus Stand (near Lal Chowk) and near the Polo Ground in Leh. While basic buses charge between INR 500 – INR 600, the semi-deluxe buses charge between INR 600 – INR 700. Private buses are also available with charges between INR 800 – INR 900. The buses start their journey early morning, with halts in Kargil and Sonmarg for refreshments.

Shared Cabs

You can also opt for shared cabs to travel to Leh from Srinagar. There is no night halt as the cab leaves in the midnight, arriving in Leh, the next evening. One might need to shell around INR 1200 – INR 1500, per person. Along with the driver, the taxis can carry 6-7 people.

Alternate Route to Leh from Kargil

There is an alternate route to Leh, from Kargil. One route: Kargil – Mulbekh –Lamayuru – Leh, second route: Kargil – Batalik – Dah – Skurbuchan – Leh. In case of route through Batalik, an Inner Line Permit needs to be taken from the office of DEC of Kargil or Leh.

Sightseeing on Srinagar – Leh Highway

There are a number of sightseeing options on the Srinagar-Leh Highway. While some destinations are on the way, others are with slight diversions. If you go for sightseeing, your journey on this highway is for three days.

Some of the attractions on Srinagar-Leh highway are Spituk Monastery, Redzong Monastery, Likir Monastery, Confluence at Nimmu Lamayuru Monastery, Maitrey at Mulbek, Lunar Landscape, Alchi Monastery, Basgo Palace, Pathar Sahib Gurudwara, Phyang Monastery, and Magnetic Hill.

Accommodation Options on Srinagar – Leh Highway

After driving past aboutevery 125 km, there are a number of accommodation options on this highway. While, home stays and guest houses can be found in Sonmarg, Mulbekh and Drass, Kargil and Lamayuru have better options, and Likir and Alchi offer home stays and hotels.

Accommodation on the Highway with distances -

Srinagar – Sonamarg (80 km): Comfortable accommodations at Sonamarg

Sonamarg – Drass (65 km): Comfortable accommodations at Drass

Drass – Kargil (55 km): Accommodation in good number in Kargil

Kargil – Mulbekh (40 km):  Home stays in Mulbekh

Mulbekh – Lamayuru (70 km): Comfortable accommodations in Lamayuru

Lamayuru – Alchi / Likir (55 – 65 km / 65 – 75 km): Home stays in Alchi / Likir

Lamayuru – Leh (125 km): Accommodation in good number in Leh

Alchi / Likir – Leh (65 km / 55 km): Accommodation in good number in Leh

Petrol Pumps on Srinagar – Leh Highway

Starting from Leh, fuel pumps are available here:

 ATMs on Srinagar – Leh Highway

 Srinagar, Ganderbal, Drass, Kargil, Sasapol and Leh have ATM, however, do carry enough cash.

Destinations on Srinagar – Leh Highway

Destinations

Altitude Destinations Altitude Destinations

Altitude

Srinagar Sonamarg (80 km) Sonamarg Drass (65 km) Drass Kargil (55 km)
Kargil Mulbekh (40 km) Mulbekh Lamayuru (70 km) Lamayuru Leh (125 km)

Facilities or Amenities on Srinagar – Leh Highway

Facility

Places

Accommodations / Other Stay Options Sonamarg, Drass, Kargil (Many options), Mulbekh, Lamayuru, Alchi

Food / Beverages

Sonamarg, Drass, Kargil (Many options), Mulbekh, Lamayuru, Alchi
Diesel / Petrol Pumps Mangan, Sonamarg, Kargil, Mulbekh, Wakha, Khaltsi
Mobile Connectivity

Both BSNL and Airtrl post-paid numbers were working till Sonamarg but in Drass only BSNL worked. On arriving in Kargil, Airtel signals resume, but in Mulbekh and Lamayuru only BSNL works. In Nimmu again both were working and on reaching Leh, both Airtel and BSNL worked.
BSNL offers more coverage and better connectivity in the area, when compared to other operators. Airtel works in Ladakh but with poor connectivity. And, Vodafone doesn't works after you cross Srinagar and not even in Ladakh.
SMS works fine for both BSNL and Airtel connections.
Packet data works only with BSNL and that too with EDGE only.

Prepaid connections from outside Jammu and Kashmir do not work in Ladakh.
Fixed Phones

Ganderbal, Sonamarg, Drass, Kargil, Mulbekh, Lamayuru, Alchi, Nimmu and in between these places as well.

Electricity Almost all the towns on the way have electricity.
Medical Facilities Sonamarg, Drass (limited), Kargil, Lamayuru (limited)
ATMs Ganderbal, Drass, Kargil, Sasapol
Mechanic / Puncture Shops Ganderbal, Sonamarg, Kargil, Lamayuru (Puncture), Mulbekh (Puncture), Nimmu (Puncture)
Liquor Shops Sonamarg, Drass, Kargil

 

NOTE: All fares written above are suggestive.

Ask for Booking

Recommened Packages


Load More

Yes, Plan my Trip


Offer
Step out and travel with an ideal holiday planning done by our experts based on personalized experiences over guidebooks
Trip to India