As soon as I sat down in the plane that would finally take me home, I closed my eyes and remembered my first journey in India. In the colorful pieces of Ladakh, I forever remember the small craggy roads and narrow, steep trails, the majestic snowy mountains, the stunning turquoise rivers bending between the narrow rocky banks, the strong winds blowing the Buddhist prayer flags (lungta), kind indigenous people I met… In that place, people quietly mingled with nature as if everything had been settled for eternity. So, how to plan Leh Ladakh trip from Delhi, how to travel in Leh Ladakh and how to spend 15 days in Ladakh? Let’s check out our Ladakh blog (Ladakh travel blog, Ladakh trip blog) to find out the best itinerary for Ladakh from Delhi (Ladakh itinerary from Delhi, Leh Ladakh itinerary, Ladakh trip itinerary) on how to spend 2 weeks in the fairyland of India as well as how much does a trip to Ladakh cost, useful Ladakh travel tips before you go and which month is best for Ladakh!

Zanskar valley surrounded by majestic snowy mountains. | ladakh blog
Blue river and steep rocky trail besides vertical cliffs. | ladakh blog
Lungta, colorful Buddhist prayer flags fluttering in the wind.

I have never been to a place where I was as well prepared as I was to go to Ladakh. Partly because Ladakh is remote land in the far north of India, located in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, where is considered the crown of India, and bordered by Tibet and Pakistan. Here, the media is limited, goods are not as much and available as the places I usually have been to. Ladakh already was deserted, very high altitude, the lowest place was 3000m above sea level but the highest pass even over 5000m. Knowing that my health was not very good, I did not know, if I could reach that altitude, how my health would be. Fortunately, after experiencing of 17 days there, there were no serious problems, except for the boundless appetite for “meat” and the absent-mindedness as a pregnant-like woman in the first few days when I returned home. Some of the little experiences I’ve recorded below for the next time and I hope it will help you on your upcoming trip to Ladakh :).

Quiet space in the monastery, only the wind plays with the clouds. | ladakh blog
The heaven on earth.
Ladakh map.

Which month is best for Ladakh?

The best time to come is from May to early October. The rest of the months, the weather is bad, the snow is thick, the temperature is down to -30 degrees Celsius, many roads will be banned, tourist areas, hotels, houses and shops will be closed.

Ladakh blog: Leh Ladakh itinerary

Here is my summary of my Ladakh itinerary from Delhi, I followed a tour and I think it would be the best itinerary for Ladakh in 15 days (approximately 2 weeks).

  • Day 0 : Toulouse – Delhi
  • Day 1: Delhi – Agra – Delhi (each way: 240 km, 5 hours)
  • Day 2: Fly from Delhi to Leh, resting to get used to the altitude
  • Day 3: Visit monasteries around Leh (Hemis, Thiksey, Leh Palace)
  • Day 4: Leh – Chang La – Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake (200 km, 6 hours)
  • Days 5 + 6 : Pangong – Tso Moriri (11 hours), Tso Moriri – Leh (8 hours)
  • Day 7: Ride a motorbike in Leh, visit Stok, Matho, Starna monasteries
  • Day 8: Leh – Pasgo Monastery – Alchi Monastery – Lamayuru – Mulberk- Kargil (222 km, 8 hours)
  • Day 9: Kargil – Suru valley – Rangdum – Lang Tso, Stat Tso Twin Lakes – Drang-Drung Glacier – Padum (240 km, 12 hours)
  • Day 10: Sani Village, Karsha Monastery, Dzongkul Gompa Fortress
  • Day 11: Trekking to Phuktal Monastery, through Cha village (12 km, 6 hours trek)
  • Day 12: Trekking from Phuktal to Anmu, through Purney village (Purne, Purni) (13.5 km, 7 hours trek)
  • Day 13 : Padum – Rangdum Monastery – Kargil (240 km, 12 hours)
  • Day 14: Kargil – Zoji La – Srinagar (200 km, 6 hours)
  • Day 15: Srinagar – Delhi
  • Day 16: Delhi – Toulouse
Routes map in Jammu & Kashmir. | ladakh blog
The first suspension bridge crosses the Tsarap River with Buddhist prayer flags lungta fluttering in the wind.
Lake Srinagar. | ladakh blog

Leh Ladakh itinerary: How to go?

We bought a tour from a local tour agency for 15 days, from the time when we got off the plane in Leh to the time when we got to the airport in Srinagar. In the preparation, my friend made a detailed itinerary, then contacted the tour operators in Ladakh to ask for a quote, then bargain and choose. The 15-day tour included accommodations (or tent in Pangong), a private car with driver, daily breakfast and 2 dinners at 2 lakes. The hostel is very good, the room for 2 people, clean, with hot water (except stay in tents at 2 lakes), so the bathing is very comfortable and pleasant.

Link to the tour company that my friend booked at: http://www.triptohimalayatours.com/

You also can directly contact with the driver Kunga for my group. He is enthusiastic and drives very careful and is about to start his own company. Facebook: Skal Kunga Kndguys Aback, Whatsapp: +919469229149.

Tour prices vary greatly from company to company. There was a group of 4 people traveling on the same day with us and the per capita price was 3 times more expensive for a slightly shorter itinerary.

| ladakh blog

Ladakh travel tips: Prepare before you go

  • Applying for a visa or e-visa. E-visa is cheaper, only 50 USD (price in 2019, has now increased to 80 USD), e-visa is valid for 2 months from the time of first entry, can go in and out twice. Applying an e-visa is very quick, only after 2 days to receive it. When you receive an email with an e-visa, you need to go back to the ETA page to print the visa sheet (the sheet with the photo, the confirmation email is not valid on arrival). With an E-visa you can only enter India by air. Arriving at Delhi airport, the queue maybe is short, but the wait will be a bit long. Link to apply for e-visa: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html. Visitors in Hanoi or Saigon can apply for a paper visa, which costs $103 and is valid for 1 year, multi-entry.
  • Buy a good type of travel insurance because this trip is going to the very very far, one of the most isolated places in the world along with risks and dangers.
Skim through the piles of books before my journey. After reading them, I forgot all about them, LOL. | ladakh blog

Ladakh travel blog: How much does Ladakh trip cost?

You can refer the trip costs for a Leh Ladakh itinerary for 15 days as follows:

  • E-Visa: $50 (price in 2019, now increased to $80).
  • Travel insurance: $100.
  • International airfare and 2 domestic flights: $550 + $150
  • Day tour from Delhi to Agra including car with driver pick up and drop off at hotel: 8000 INR ($125) for 5 people.
  • Tour for 2 weeks in Ladakh including accommodations (except a night in Phuktal), car with driver, daily breakfast, 2 dinners at Lake Pangong and Tso Moriri: $375 / 1 person, group of 10 people, sleeping in a double room.
  • Porter cum guide to Phuktal Monastery from Anmu village (will go with group from Padum): 2400 INR ($38) / 1 porter.
  • Overnight at a guesthouse at the foot of Phuktal Monastery: 1000 INR ($15) / 1 person. The guesthouse has only 4 rooms, there is no way to book in advance, anyone who comes early will have a room, otherwise can ask to sleep at the monastery or go back to Purney.
  • Overnight at a hotel near Delhi airport: $30 to $50 / 1 good double room. With $50 you could stay at 4-star hotel.
  • Eating, cooking, admissions: $150.

Total cost, excluding gifts: 1300 – 1400 USD / 1 person.

In front is a river, four sides are mountains.
Donkeys are best transporters.

Ladakh travel blog: What to prepare for a Ladakh trip?

My belongings that I brought on daily trips.

Clothes

Bring enough for 15-20 days in autumn, late September, early October, if you stay in a place for a few days, for example in Leh, you can use a laundry service, so you can bring less clothes).

  • 1 3-in-1 jacket with duck feather inner layer, windproof and waterproof outer layer, 2 layers can be separated.
  • 3 merino sweaters (this is thin, light, cool when you need it, warm when you need it) or heattech.
  • 3 breathable, quick-drying sport short-sleeve t-shirts.
  • 4 pairs of socks.
  • A hat or corset.
  • 1 pair of thin gloves. I use tennis gloves, which are thin but have grip and hold the camera well.
  • 3 light trek pants or skinny jeans, no need to wear thick pants because it’s not too cold.
  • 1 wide cloth scarf, no need to be too thick to wear and block the sun.
  • 1 pair of low-cut trekking shoes, the trekking route into Phuktal is not too thorny, so you can wear low-cut trekking shoes, not necessarily to wear high-cut shoes.
  • 1 pair of flip-flops or bathroom slippers.
Surreal landscape in the fairyland.

Food

Our group suffers from the food in Ladakh because the people here are mainly vegetarian. If lucky can find an eatery with meat, it is also very salty and spicy, with a lot of curry, difficult to eat. However, if you just go around Leh, you don’t need to bring much food because here you can go to the market to buy chicken or goat to cook for yourself, the food sold at restaurants in Leh and around is also okay. Going towards Zanskar, the good food is harder to find and you can’t buy meat at markets, only eggs and eggs.

  • Spices, soup powder, soy sauce in packs, small bottles.
  • Noodles, vermicelli, snacks, instant porridge… (should bring many kinds of foods because you will have to eat continuously).
  • Pork, shrimp (can make soups).
  • Jerky beef, chicken, pork.
  • Cured meat.
  • Canned meat, pate, fish (I can’t find fish anywhere in Ladakh, so this dish is very rare).
  • Herbal tea, ginger tea.
  • Dried seaweed to make soup.
  • Dried soup.
  • Rice and glutinous rice to make sticky rice (if you like, because the rice in Ladakh is very hard and foul).
Vegetables on sale at the market, Ladakh, India | © Kat Kallou / Alamy Stock Photo.

Medicine

  • Headache, runny nose, cough drugs.
  • Diarrhea drug.
  • Multi-vitamin tablets.
  • Wound bandage (ego).
  • Those who often get sick should bring medicine to prevent that disease.
  • Sunscreen, the sun at high altitudes is very bright and harmful to the skin.
  • Moisturizing cream for lips, face, hands, body.
  • Nasal medicine to avoid nosebleeds at high altitudes and cold and dry weather: 5g tube of Bepanthen.
  • Water purification tablets (if going on a trek, so that I don’t have to carry a lot of water for days, go anywhere, get spring water there), I use Micropur of Katadyn brand, bought in France for €11 / 100 tablets, can purify 100 liters of water (with a box of 50 tablets).
  • Vitamins to increase brain blood circulations, start taking it 2, 3 weeks before going.
  • Drugs for high altitude sickness. Below is the prescription the doctor wrote for me. However, if you want to use it, you should see a doctor for a prescription that is suitable for your health, not everyone can take anti-altitude medicine. These drugs, only use if you feel symptoms, don’t need to take them first: Prednisolone 20 mg (2.5 tablets / day, suck in mouth in morning after breakfast, should not be taken in evening because the drug contains cortisoide causing difficulty sleeping), this dosage is for people weighing 50 kg. Or Diamox (Acetazolamide) 250 mg: If the above drug still does not help, then take this drug, maximum 2 tablets in the morning and afternoon.
The roads are precarious at an altitude of 4000m. | ladakh travel blog

Other things

  • Compact sleeping bag, no need to be too warm because in guesthouses have all blankets. I use Quechua’s FORCLAZ 15° LIGHT, which can be combined into a double bag, very compact, weighing just over 600 gr.
  • 1 quick-drying microfiber bath towel.
  • Thermal water bottle.
  • Normal water bottle, at night you can pour hot water into it to hug to keep warm.
  • Trekking water bag (if any).
  • Sunglasses.
  • Shampoo, conditioner packs.
  • Wet tissue wipes body and other parts.
  • Dry hand sanitizer.
  • 1 roll of toilet paper in case something goes wrong.
| ladakh travel blog

For girls

  • Wet makeup remover wipes.
  • Sanitary napkins (in high mountains prone to early).
  • Mini hair dryer for travel (if needed).

Ladakh blog: Where to exchange money?

The exchange rate at the end of March 2022

  • In Delhi airport : $1 = 76 INR
  • Near hotels next to Delhi airport and in Agra next to Taj Mahal: $1 = 80 INR, €1 = 83 INR
  • In Leh airport : $1 = 79 INR
The old women sat in the sun on the porch.

Below I summarize my Leh Ladakh itinerary for 15 days (2 weeks) which divided into 4 parts as follows.

Part 1: Agra

Day 1: Delhi – Agra – Delhi (Each way: 240 Km, 5 hours)

I flew with Turkish Airlines from Toulouse and landed at Delhi airport (transiting in Istanbul) at 6am. My friends from Saigon arrived at 4am. After queuing for entry (I have already e-visa), I went straight to the door to get in the car to Agra in the pouring rain.

Agra city | leh ladakh itinerary

In Delhi, vehicles don’t seem to follow any rules. Each lane of motorbikes, cars, passenger cars, trucks, is crisscrossing each other. The rain was getting heavier and heavier, streaming on the glass, soaking the dusty road, forming a slippery brown mud. Many accidents, big and small, normal and serious were scattered over the distance of more than 200km until we reached Agra at past noon.

Agra is famous for having the Taj Mahal, which Karl Pilkington in “An Idiot Abroad” movie once described as “like a diamond in a turd”. That funny and sarcastic say prompted me to come here. There are three entrance gates to the Taj Mahal, of which the east gate is the most deserted. The entrance fee for foreigners is 1000 INR ($15.5). Buying tickets to the Taj Mahal first, you will get you free admission to the Baby Taj (Tomb of Itimah-ud-Daulah), one of Agra’s other interesting attractions.

Ladakh blog: Part 2: Leh, Lake Pangong Tso, Lake Moriri Tso

Julley Ladakh. In Ladakh, “Julley” is a catchphrase, meaning hello, goodbye, and thank you. | leh ladakh itinerary

Leh Ladakh itinerary — Day 2: Leh

Returning to Delhi from the night before, this morning we boarded a plane to Leh, the heart of Ladakh. Delhi morning is still white clouds. Yet Leh welcomed me with the blue sky and golden autumn sun on my shoulders.

Leh is a lovely town that made me fall in love at first sight. Located at an altitude of 3500m, the air here has thinned a lot, made me struggle to breath after each step. All day today we have only one thing to do: Resting, take a gentle walk to get used to the thin air, avoid high altitude shock (with symptoms of shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, insomnia, worse will be vomiting, fainting).

Vegetables and fruits in Leh are many, freely to buying apples and apricots were in season. We came right during on the occasion of 9 days of local vegetarianism, so it was difficult to buy meat and the restaurants also only sell vegetarian food or a little bit of chicken. Wanting to cook for ourselves, we went to the only frozen chicken shop open these days located in the basement of Golden Bakery in the Main market area.

First view of Leh. Panoramic view of Leh, one side is Shanti Stupa, one side is Leh Palace and Tsemo fortress. The day I came, Leh was still covered by a green color. | ladakh blog
It was early in the morning in Leh, a bit cold. | leh ladakh itinerary

Best itinerary for Ladakh — Day 3: Monasteries around Leh (Hemis, Thiksey, Leh Palace)

Around Leh, there are many large and small monasteries, of which I like Thiksey the most with a beautiful view from the top of the monastery down to the valley that is turning golden in early autumn, surrounded by majestic snow-capped mountains.

The sun was setting behind the mountains in western Leh as I climbed to the roof of the 16th-century fortress of Tsemo (Victory), above Leh Palace with simple, makeshift wooden ladders. The wind blew the lungta strings (Buddhist prayer flags), a little cloud drifted, and darkness fell over Leh.

Hermis is one of the largest monasteries located around Leh. Rumor has it that “The Lost Years of Jesus” says that Jesus used to study at Hermis. | ladakh travel blog
Monasteries in Ladakh are often built on high places, overlooking the valley as poetic as a dream, like a fairyland. Standing from the top of Thiksey Monastery looking at the Indus valley, I just want to sit there and dream forever. | leh ladakh itinerary
Sunset gradually fell over Leh. | ladakh travel blog

Day 4: Leh – Chang La – Pangong Lake (200 km, 6 hours)

After the first night of having trouble sleeping because of the cold and the side effects of anti-altitude drugs in Leh, I slept a little better tonight. We left Leh for Pangong early in the morning. The road is more than 200km long but it takes more than 6 hours of continuous driving, going through 2 TCP (Traffic Check Point) to check permits and passports. The presence of Indian troops closer to Pangong Lake becomes more apparent as the area has remained a hotbed of hostilities with China until now.

The car passing the breathtaking curves of the road, taking us higher and higher. The leaves became more and more yellow, until the ground was covered with only a little moss, and then there were only gravel and stones. The air outside was getting colder and colder. The clock shows altitude of 4000m, 4200m then 4500m. I felt a little chest tightness when the car crossed the 4800m line. And then when the road seemed to be endless, the driver informed us that we were at Chang La (Southern Pass), at an altitude of 5360 m.

Stepping out of the car, I felt as if I was getting drunk and had to run a cross country. The wind seemed stronger, the sun seemed brighter, making me stagger and dizzy. At this altitude, a coffee shop was erected right next to 3 toilets built in a very “Ladakh” style. The concrete floor is carved a hole with the size as big as a brick in the middle, below is a deep mountainside that sucks in the wind, sitting here was extremely cool.

Through Chang La Pass, the car gradually decreased in altitude until the blue color of Pangong Lake – “Lake of the high green steppes” appeared. Pangong Tso is the largest saltwater lake in the state of Jammu & Kasmir at an altitude of 4300m above sea level. Close to the lake, a few restaurants were set up to serve tourists. Walking a little further from this area, only a few hundred meters, the lakeside was much quieter, almost empty. The lake is very long, wide and very blue, reflecting the mountains and the sky. I put my backpack and sat down in the middle of a strip of land by the lake. The cold wind and fresh air made me suddenly feel at peace.

The sunlight was not yet golden when the sun went down behind the mountain. The air was warm but suddenly someone’s hand was turned off.

Night falls, bringing with it the twinkling stars. Here the sky is high and clear, looking up I can clearly see the galaxy and sometimes a shooting star pass by, bringing a wish.

On the way to Pangong. Love is all around. | ladakh blog
Magical blue Pangong Lake. | ladakh blog

Ladakh blog: Day 5, 6: Pangong – Moriri Tso (11 hours), Tso Moriri – Leh (8 hours)

Early this morning I set off from Pangong to Tso Moriri. There is a straight road connecting the two lakes, but this road is close to the Chinese border, only Chinese and Indians can go. So, the car had to go around to check point Karu, right near Leh, making the journey will be 11 hours long.

This morning, after a tiring and cold night in Pangong, everyone in the car was asleep. I have more time to enjoy the view. The morning sun also makes the sky bluer. The mix of light and dark makes the scenery of mountains, lakes and streams more depth. Suddenly I found myself relaxing to the music, swinging along every curve of the pass. Before the vast and majestic natural landscape, with the height about to reach the top of 5300m, I dream with a bit adventure.

In this area, Indian troops are present everywhere. The road from Chang La to Leh is often congested because many army trucks go up and down, entangled with tourist cars, avoiding each other on the narrow stone road.

If the road to Pangong is mostly spectacular bends with a wide view of the valley on both sides of Chang La pass, the road to Tso Moriri is completely different, I personally find it a bit more romantic.

There are two ways to Tso Moriri.

Departure route: Karu – Chumathang – Tso Kiagar – Tso Moriri

Initially, the car followed the banks of the Indus River (Singee Tsangpo River), the leaves dyed yellow on both sides, making the scene both wild and charming. After riding for about three hours, the road gradually moved away from the river bank and got lost in the middle of the towering gorges. Then the car went uphill, back to the stunning bends but not as long and high as going to Pangong. At an altitude of about 4,600m, in front of me is a vast steppe, in the middle is Tso Kiagar lake. This season, the grass and moss have both turned light brown, highlighting the deep emerald water color. I love that emerald color, love the late afternoon sunlight, love the horses grazing freely, love the winding road along the lake that throws dust every time a car passes by.

Then Tso Moriri also appeared in front of me when the sun had completely set behind the mountains, leaving only one last halo.

Aura of Tso Moriri. | ladakh blog

Return way: Tso Moriri – Tso Kar (salt lake) – Tanglang la (5328 m) – Karu – Leh

The scenery on this way is more wild than the road along the Indus River yesterday. The car go through the desert. Tso Kar salt lake has a strange beauty, both thorny and lonely. The bends bring the car up to Tanglang La pass at an altitude of 5,328 m (there is also a sign that says it is the second highest pass in the world just like Chang La pass). On the other side of the pass, the brown mountain ranges stretch, connect, immense and attract the eye.

At the end of the road, the car took us back to the Indus river valley. I was going back to Leh. After a long and hard journey, returning to Leh was as warm as coming home!

Tso Kar salt lake, riding a motorbike here must be so much fun. He went alone.
The way back to Leh from Tso Moriri. Military barracks in the middle of a desolate, thorny and lonely desert. Suddenly, my car stopped and these two friends ran out to sell illegal gasoline. | ladakh blog
Returning to Leh is as warm as coming home. | ladakh blog
“Home” in Leh with a ripe apple orchard.

Ladakh itinerary — Day 7: Motorbike ride in Leh, Stok Monastery, Matho, Starna

Today we spent a day traveling around visiting monasteries near Leh (Stok, Matho, Starna) by motorbike. Unlike Hemis, these places are quiet and peaceful, bringing the true purity of a religious site. I could stand all day at the top of Matho Monastery without getting bored, watching the Indus River valley turn golden in autumn, letting the wind from the snow-capped peaks blow my hair.

Starna Monastery, which people often call Tiger Temple, is located on a small ridge close to the banks of the green Indus river that bends as soft as a silk. Looking back from afar, Starna seems to have stepped out of a fairy tale, where the scenery is harmonious and emotions are at ease.

Warm and peaceful. | ladakh blog
Matho Monastery seen from Starna Monastery with the gentle green Indus River.
Starna’s classic photo view, it seems that anyone who comes to Ladakh also passes here and also takes pictures in this right place. | ladakh blog

Ladakh blog — Part 3: Zanskar

Day 8: Leh – Pasgo Monastery – Alchi Monastery – Lamayuru – Mulberk- Kargil (222 km, 8 hours)

This morning we left Leh, turning our faces one last time, Leh has become so dear since.

The road from Leh to Kargil with many small monasteries, somewhat older than the area around Leh, especially Alchi, built in the 11th century, inside there are many ancient statues and a quiet small garden, making anyone who come here to visit has a peaceful feeling, all fatigue and sorrow are all gone.

Thanks to its special geological structure, the area around Lamayuru is called Moonland. It is said that this place a few hundred years ago was located at the bottom of the lake, now it has dried up.

After a long day of traveling, we reached Kargil when the last rays of the day had disappeared. Kargil is a strange piece, a dark puzzle piece in the colorful picture of Ladakh. I came across a desolate city. It was only 6 or 7 pm on Saturday, most of the shops were closed, only a few restaurants remained, in the dim lights. Our driver, Kunga, explained that tomorrow is a major Muslim holiday (Muslims account of 90% of the city’s population), everything closes early, and tomorrow morning the whole city will be isolated completely.

In the only restaurant still open and selling meat, a popular eatery, a few Kargil people leaned down to eat, silent, austere glances bent over the table.

Watching the novice monks play in the courtyard of Lamayuru Monastery. Indeed, children are equally adorable everywhere. | ladakh blog

Ladakh trip itinerary — Day 9: Kargil – Suru Valley – Rangdum – Twin Lakes of Lang Tso and Stat Tso – Drang-Drung Glacier – Padum (240 km, 12 hours)

The car took us around Ladakh and my driver Kunga. | ladakh blog

We left Kargil very early, before the city woke up, both to avoid being stuck here when the roads were blocked, and to reach Padum before dark. That day was a very long day, even though it was just over 240 km, it took us 12, 13 hours of traveling because the road was bad, there were many narrow sections like trails.

The bends took us to the high valley of Suru (Valley of Flowers) located between the rugged mountains, including the two highest peaks in region: the Nun and Kun, more than 7,000m above sea level. Surrounded by sharp mountains, covered with snow all year round, Rangdum is located in the middle of a vast basin, in what seems to be a lonely, solitary place, with nothing but strong winds and blazing sun.

The twin lakes of Lang Tso – Stat Tso and the Drang-Drung glacier are located on both sides of the Pensi pass (Pensi La), the gateway to the Zanskar valley. On the other side of the pass, towards Padum, the arid, rocky desert gives way to a more lively, cozy scene. Small villages nestled at the foot of the mountains, several long-haired black yaks roaming here and there. On the hillside, along the stream, the yellow leaves were caressing, warming a sunny autumn afternoon.

In Ating village, about 30 minutes by car from Padum, people were shooting the last arrow of the archery semi-final round as we passed. We all jumped out of the car, drank wine and sang together as if we had known each other for a long time. The Zanskar people welcomed us with warm arms. So, who wouldn’t love?

| ladakh blog

Leh Ladakh itinerary — Day 10: Sani Village, Karsha Monastery, Dzongkul Monastery

Padum lies in the heart of a vast valley, under the shadow of high sharp, serrated mountains covered with snow. Around here, there is no shortage of beautiful monasteries hanging on the mountainsides, peacefully standing for many generations.

I love Karsha Monastery the most, located across the valley from Padum. Squinting at the high mountains rising from Karsha, I felt so small in front of the vast but fierce nature. In the campus, the late afternoon sunlight left leaves shadows on the white walls with brown doorways. This place was so quiet, so lonely. Stopped for a minute, I just noticed the wind was blowing and the sun was lazily, sad and warm.

Quietly but fiercely at Dzongkul Monastery. | ladakh blog
Karsha is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Zanskar, perched on the mountainside. And the view from here is just breathtaking. | leh ladakh itinerary
Color of leaves, color of sky, color of water, what could be more beautiful? | leh ladakh itinerary
| leh ladakh itinerary

Ladakh blog Day 11 — Trekking to Phuktal Monastery, through Cha Village (12 km, 6 hours trek)

Standing in front of Phuktal in the dark purple afternoon, my friend said, “In a such place like this, if you don’t practice meditation, what can you do?”. The say made me laugh, forgetting even tired after a long trek of about 12 km, precarious at an altitude of 4,000m.

Phuktal is the oldest monastery in Zanskar, isolated from the outside world, and in my opinion, the most beautiful. Maybe I find Phuktal beautiful ten thousand times more because of the effort it takes to reach this place once. Leaving Padum at 6:30am, the car took me over a road of more than 30 km, poetic but unbelievably dangerous, arriving in Anmu at 9:10am. From here, the trek began gently, not too up, not too down, reaching Cha village after 2 and a half hours.

| leh ladakh itinerary

Leaving Cha village, a steep slope waited for us just as the sun was setting overhead. After that, the road gently sloped down, there were a few sections of rock falling close to the edge of the road, a bit difficult to go but no one had any serious problem.

From above, I dreamily watched the Tsarap River twist between two narrow gorges. The river was so clear, yet so green. The mountains was so high, yet so majestic. The afternoon sun touched the top of the mountain, melting into rays, making the water glitter, making the rock face pink. Why was it so beautiful, mesmerising!?

7 km from Cha village, it took us more than 3 hours to reach the guesthouse located at the foot of the monastery. Phuktal is located completely isolated, no phone signal, no internet. Here, just me and nature, we can forget all our troubles.

I still vividly remember the feeling of choking joy when standing in front of that scene. OMG, it’s so beautiful, so stunning. The river is both clear and fierce below, the orange mountains are layered differently. And the sky is dyed in blue. At that time, I couldn’t stop repeating: “Oh, so beautiful, so magical, so wonderful”, “I love it, I love it”. | leh ladakh itinerary
The majestic Zanskar between the river and the spectacular mountains. From here, it was a little more ride to reach Phuktal. The suspension bridge over the river looked as small as a thread. | leh ladakh itinerary
| leh ladakh itinerary
Phuktal quietly in the afternoon. | leh ladakh itinerary

Day 12: Trekking from Phuktal back to Anmu, through Purney Village (Purne, Purni) (13.5 km, 7 hours trek)

| leh ladakh itinerary

The road from Phuktal to Anmu through Putney village is a bit longer (1.5 km) than the road through Cha village (on the other side of the river). This road is not as smooth as yesterday, up and down non-stop, across three small passes and two wooden suspension bridges over the Tsarap River. Leaving Phuktal at 6:50am, after 3 hours, I arrived in Purney.

Purney is located at the confluence of rivers. Just below, the turbid green Kargiakh River flows from the Shingjula Pass (Shingo La) into the clear flow of the Tsarap River. Purney is so beautiful this season, the endless yellow leaves on the mountainside, the small white houses are quietly nestled in the early morning sun.

Another 2 hours from Purney, I reached the second suspension bridge at 12am. The climb up from the river bank is very steep and full of crushed rock, it is not recommended to go down this road. If you want to trek Phuktal by two different routes, going through Cha village and back through Purney is the most reasonable.

When two rivers of two colors meet in Purney. So beautiful that I took 1 step and stopped 1 step to watch. Uncle Chalsan, the group’s nanny, also noticed that I liked this place, so when we were about to leave, he asked if me wanted to take a last look. | leh ladakh itinerary
The second bridge crosses the Tsarap River. Indigenous people walk briskly on the slope, and those who are not familiar can comfortably crawl on all fours. | leh ladakh itinerary

Day 13: Padum – Rangdum Monastery – Kargil (240 Km, 12 Hours)

Kargil is an almost mandatory break on the 18-hour journey from Padum to Srinagar. The scenery of Zanskar in my eyes has gradually become familiar although everything is still beautiful on every bend. A strong wind swept over the mountainside today, swirling dust around the valley.

I went to Kargil tonight, I thought I was in another city, not as lonely as 4 days ago, the streets were bustling and busy again. Only the internet was cut off for all day without any reason.

Somewhere near Kargil. Someone said Kashmir is heaven on earth, it’s not wrong. | leh ladakh itinerary

Day 14: Kargil – Zoji La – Srinagar (200 Km, 6 Hours)

Today was our last day in the car. After over ten days of wandering, swaying on short distances but long in time, I was able to get used to the feeling of sitting on potholes, no longer sure I will miss it.

The road from Kargil to Sirinagar can be called smooth. The road has been paved to a large part, with only a few sections left unfinished or under repair. This road passes many military barracks, trucks and passenger cars follow each other. Referring to trucks, vehicles in Ladakh are very special. Most of them are decorated with elaborate colorful patterns, the words “Blow horn” are capitalized on the back, which my sister roughly translates to “Blow horn”.

Arriving in Srinagar, I found myself revived. How much fatigue after a long trip seemed to disappear when the beautiful small boat took me surfing on the calm and cool lake. Srinagar’s Dal Lake is very beautiful, although not as deep and blue as Pangong or Tso Moriri, but much more rustic and warm.

In a corner of the lake, wooden floating houses are anchored as accommodations for tourists. Small boats, hand-rowing, taking guests from floating houses to shore and go around. The afternoon sun spread down the golden lake surface. So serenity, tranquil, so peaceful.

The Dal Lake ferryman. | leh ladakh itinerary

Day 15: Srinagar – Delhi

Morning boat ride on Dal lake is also very interesting and lively. If you want to go to the local floating fruit and vegetable market, you will have to get up early because the market only opens from 5 am to 7 am.

The morning sun is cold and calm. | leh ladakh itinerary

This afternoon I went to the airport to return to Delhi, preparing for the long journey back home. Srinagar Airport is about 30 minutes by car from the city. I don’t know if it’s because Srinagar is still in the combat zone but I’ve never seen the baggage check so many times.

Near the airport, all passengers have to show their air tickets and get off the bus, check our belongings and do a first body check. Men can stay on spot, women have to go into a curtained box like a dressing room, private check.

Upon entering the airport, passengers have to present their tickets, check their belongings and check body a second time.

After queuing for checked baggage, passengers have to check their hand luggage and undergo a third body check. Then go to identify the checked baggage inside. Only suitcases that are identified and marked will be allowed bring on board.

At the boarding gate, after checking the boarding pass, the passenger is entitled to a fourth personal check-up, and any bag can be opened and checked again.

On the way to the plane, don’t put your boarding pass away because the flight attendants will check the boarding pass and passport twice more.

My plane transited in Jammu, close to the Pakistani border. Jammu airport is surrounded by a camouflage fence, along the runway there are armored vehicles waiting. When stopping at Jammu, after a part of the passengers disembarked, the airport staff went to open each carry-on luggage compartment, asking each of the remaining passengers who the remaining luggage belonged to. Seeing that they checked too closely, I was also a bit embarrassed. But hey, already sitting here, if we don’t know the reason, we don’t have to worry!

| leh ladakh itinerary

Ladakh travel blog — Part 4: Going home

When I staggered with each heavy step on the slope covered with dust and wind blowing, I wondered: “I have a cozy home, a warm bed and a soft mattress, why not enjoy it but bring myself here to do something for the extreme?”. Then at that moment, I remembered the people I met on the roads, the gentle smiles of the old women standing in front of their white houses with the brown door frames, the gentle eyes of the mothers holding their children, the innocent faces of children born in the wilderness, growing up like weeds. I also recall the moments when the blue lake appeared behind a bend, or when the sun rose and lit up the whole space bring vitality to everything, when two rivers of different colors merged into one. And from there, I know why I’m here. Every trip makes me happy twice. Once when I walked on a long road, when beautiful images filled my eyes and beautiful emotions filled my heart. And the other time is when I return, push the door to the house, where the people I love still waiting.

Father and daughter. A lifetime journey, I will remember forever! | leh ladakh itinerary

Read more Ladakh trip blog: Ladakh trip blog — The journey to the fairyland of India and India guide here.

Living Nomads celebrates and is inspired by explorers and their passion for travel, curiosity about the world and unique points of view. Travel is eye-opening. Curious. Daring. Fun. We are here to help you travel better, cheaper & longer! Discover the art of traveling anywhere you want.