Leh Ladakh is one of the most remote places in the Indian Himalayas. Each motorcycle enthusiast dreams of going on a Leh Ladakh bike trip once in their lifetime. But before fulfilling your dream of riding on this mighty Himalayan landscape, please read through this blog and make yourself 100% ready before the trip.
Best time to visit Leh Ladakh on Motorbike
Time required to Explore Leh Ladakh on Motorcycle
Leh Ladakh trip budget
Best Motorcycle for Leh Ladakh Trip
Leh Ladakh Bike trip routes
Top Places to visit during Leh Ladakh Bike trip
Essential things to carry for Leh Ladakh Motorcycle Tour
Is Ladakh Motorcycle Tour Safe
Banks & Mobile connectivity
Altitude mountain sickness
Road condition during the Ladakh Bike trip
Riding difficulties on Mountain Passes
Hotel options during the Leh Ladakh Road Trip
How to prepare your motorcycle for the Leh Ladakh Bike trip
Book your Leh Ladakh Bike trip with MountainStory
About Leh Ladakh Bike trip
Among the most visited places in the Indian Himalayas on motorcycles, Ladakh offers one of the world's highest motorable roads, the most dangerous terrain, and never-ending snowcapped mountains.
Best time for Leh Ladakh road trip:
At about 3300 meters above sea level, Leh Ladakh receives heavy snow during winter, making June through September the best time to visit. The best time for Leh Ladakh bike trips is from June to September since it is the summer season in the Himalayas, and the sky will be clear most of the time.
How much time is required for the Leh Ladakh bike trip:
A person can explore Leh Ladakh from either the Srinagar side or the Manali side, and both will require at least 10-12 days to complete the circuit. In contrast, people with fewer days can take a flight to Leh and make a five-day bike trip covering significant attractions in Leh. In contrast, few travelers who enjoy leisure experiences spend more than 30 days exploring the entire region at their own pace.
Leh ladakh trip budget:
The cost of your Ladakh trip budget depends on several factors, including the starting and ending points, the type of vehicle you choose, the number of days you plan to spend on your bike trip, the type of accommodation you choose, and whether you are traveling alone or in a group. It will all add up to your expense, so if you want to make a budget-friendly Ladakh bike trip, it will cost anywhere between INR 45000/- and INR 60000/- per person for a 12 days tour starting in Delhi and ending in Srinagar. In addition to traveling in large groups, this includes standard accommodations or hotels. The cost of a 15-day Leh bike trip with a small group and luxury & boutique properties is around INR 1,00,000 to INR 1,50,000/- if you want a leisure and luxury experience.
Best motorcycle/four-wheel for Leh Ladakh road trip:
After choosing the number of days and the amount of money you can spend on your Leh Ladakh road trip, the next step is to choose the right vehicle. Those who want to travel by motorcycle in the Himalayas should use Royal Enfield. They are reliable and sturdy as well. Royal Enfield's Bullet 500cc and Himalayan 411cc motorcycles are the best. Choose a 4x4 or a car with higher ground clearance for the Leh Ladakh road trip if you want to choose any car.
Leh Ladakh bike trip route:
There are 2 major land routes to Ladakh, one will start from Manali and end in Srinagar, and another will start from Srinagar and ends in Manali.
Leh Ladakh route 1: Delhi – Manali – Keylong – Sarchu – Leh – Khardung La pass- Nubra Valley – Pangong lake – Kargil – Srinagar
Leh Ladakh route 2: Srinagar – Kargil – Leh – Nubra – Pangong Lake – Sarchu – Keylong – Manali – Delhi
Leh Ladakh route 3: Arrive at Leh by flight – Nubra valley – Pangong Lake – Local sightseeing – And departure from Leh by flight
Leh Ladakh route via Spiti valley bike trip: Delhi – Chandigarh – Shimla – Narkanda – Sarahan – Chitkul – Nako – Tabo – Kaza – Chandratal – Keylong – Sarchu – Leh – Nubra – Pangong lake – Kargil – Srinagar – Jammu – Chandigarh – Delhi (Longer route but it's a once in a lifetime trip)
Top places to visit on Leh Ladakh motorbike trip:
Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake
Located at 4350 meters in the Changthang region of Ladakh, Pangong Lake is 134 kilometers long, extending from India to Tibet (Mainland China). We will cover Changla Pass, the third-highest motorable pass in the world when riding to Pangong Lake. 60% of the lake, which is 80 kilometers, lies in Tibet, while the rest resides in India. There are very few permanent villages in the Pangong region. In Spangmik, you can visit Pangong on a day tour or overnight to enjoy the pristine blue saline lake. I recommend staying overnight to enjoy the pristine blue saline lake.
The coldest desert is Nubra valley, situated next to Shyok and Nubra rivers. Diskit, Hunder, Panamik, and Turtuk are among the most important villages in Nubra Valley. Besides being close to Siachen Base Camp, Nubra valley is known for its double hump Bactrian camels and Diskit monastery.
Leh Ladakh local sightseeing:
Among the attractions are Thicksey Monastery, Shey Palace, Hemis Monastery, War Museum, Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, Likir Monastery, Alchi Monastery, and Indus-Zanskar Sangam.
Essential things to carry for the Leh Ladakh bike trip:
As a result of extensive research and many hands-on experiences, we have listed down the essentials to carry on your Leh Ladakh road trip:
The best clothing to carry is a riding jacket, riding pants (if not a good quality knee guard), winter riding gloves, balaclavas or face masks, thermals, socks, reliable high ankle boots or gumboots, hoodies, jeans and T-shirts for winter, and waterproof or rain gear jackets.
Sunscreen lotion with an SPF of at least 50, sunglasses, a skull cap, warm gloves, and woolen socks during the night are valuable accessories during the summer.
Packs for daily use include Face cream, lip balm (always keep in your pocket), petroleum jelly, cold cream (Himala or Nivia), Toothbrush, Toothpaste, liquid soap, toilet paper, shampoo, towel, deodorant, and waste bin covers.
Snacks like dried fruits, chocolates, energy bars, and water bottles are essential to carry on a trip.
Personalized first aid kits, Diamox, misprints, and essential medicines for fever, stomach upset, vomiting, etc.
Chargers, power banks, spare camera batteries, memory cards, multi-purpose plugs, etc.
The following documents: Driving license, RC book of the vehicles, valid insurance, Passport, Voter id, and VISA copy.
Tips for Leh Ladakh bike trip:
Each rider must be above 21 years old with a valid Driving license.
One should have minimum riding experience on any motorcycle.
Must be fit and healthy to take such an adventurous trip
Always try to ride in a group instead of riding solo; it does not only give you a sort of confidence. Also, it will help you during uncertainties (However, if you are an experienced solo traveler, then it's not a problem. For first-timers group ride is the best and safest)
Know the terrain and weather info before you start the journey.
Choose the right motorcycle for the trip which suits your riding style and should be good enough to ride on such harsh terrains.
Keep yourself well hydrated.
Read about Acute Mountain Sickness
Understand the culture of Ladakh and its people
And one last thing, respect nature, and nature will respect you back.
Is the Ladakh motorcycle tour safe to do?
Yes, riding in the Himalayas is always once in a lifetime experience, and one cannot deny that, but however, you should be very cautious while riding on these terrains. It will be very tough in some stretches if you are not well prepared or are part of a group ride. Don't jump to conclusions quickly; do your homework well, study enough blogs, and get practical exposure to riding motorcycles and maintaining them. Besides that, Ladakh is one of the safest places in India to travel; people are humble and helpful. They are the one who comes first when you strike due to landslides or any health issue. Remember one thing Never hurt their cultural feelings, and don't insult their terrain. They are compassionate about Ladakh and its culture.
Money, Banks, ATM, and Currency conversion:
Leh being the headquarters of the Ladakh region, you will get a few sound banks and ATMs which work round the year, but however, sometimes it may interrupt due to bad weather conditions and heavy snowfall. There are at least 5-6 ATMs available in Leh town.
There are plenty of currency exchange centers in Leh, but get in touch with your travel guide or hotel reception for better currency conversion, and they can get a good deal.
Mobile connectivity and Internet:
Only postpaid sim cards will work outside of J&K and Ladakh regions. You can get prepaid sim cards in Leh on arrival. But there is always a restriction on buying a local sim card since it is closely located in border areas. Only BSNL, Airtel, and Idea work in Leh. Apart from Leh, no other regions like Nubra or Pangong will get a proper network. It depends on the weather condition.
Internet connectivity is also fluctuating. Always have seen that sometimes there is no internet or phone connectivity for weeks. So better be prepared for a complete disconnect from other parts of the world!!!
Altitude Mountain Sickness or AMS:
Because of Ladakh's altitude, Altitude sickness is one of the most common problems during travel. The cause of AMS is the lack of oxygen, and our body won't be able to adjust to that altitude so easily.
Headaches, nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, and giddiness are common symptoms of AMS. Severe symptoms include shortness of breath and vomiting, even when sitting or not doing anything.
Avoiding AMS is pretty simple if you follow the instructions of your Travel guide on the Leh Ladakh bike trip. The primary thing is to avoid climbing the mountains quickly, take time and gradually increase your altitude, and Drink at least 3-5 liters of water daily. This will keep you hydrated. Avoid smoking and consumption of alcohol for at least for first few days till your body gets acclimatized. Avoid having heavy dinners and non-veg during the night because heavy food will trouble your metabolism, and most of the oxygen in your body gets used to digest the food inside the body. If primary symptoms occur, start taking Diamox tablets one per day after breakfast and take another after dinner.
Leh Ladakh bike trip road condition:
Some important recent updates on the road conditions of two significant highways connect Leh Ladakh to the rest of the world. The winter season starts in November and lasts till May or early June.
Manali – Leh Highway Status 2020:
Manali to Keylong: Good roads almost until Keylong. Since the Atal Tunnel opened, the road connectivity to Keylong has improved. The average riding time is 4-6 hours, depending on the number of breaks you take.
The roads from Keylong to Baralachala pass are average, but from Baralachala to Sarchu, the roads are horrible, with a lot of slush and mud.
It takes an average of 3-4 hours to ride from Sarchu to Pang on bad roads with dirt tracks and bumpy roads.
For the first 15 odd km, there is a straight road that takes about an hour to ride - Pang to Tanglangla - Good with straight roads
TanglangLa pass to Leh - Perfect road until Leh. 2 to 3 hours from TanglangLa pass to Leh.
It takes 6-8 hours on average to ride from Leh to Pangong, with 60% of the roads being good and 40% being bad
The road from Leh to Nubra valley is 70% good and 30% bad - the average riding time is 6-7 hours
- Pangong to Nubra valley via Shyok River - 80% off-road and 20% good stretch. The average riding time is 6-8 hours.
There are 70% good roads, and the last 40-50 km are bad roads with lots of dirt tracks and bumpy roads. The average riding time is 8-10 hours.
Good roads from Leh to Kargil. It takes 6-8 hours to ride.
It takes 6-8 hours on perfect roads to ride from Kargil to Srinagar.
Riding difficulties on Mountain Passes:
During a Leh Ladakh bike trip from Manali that ends in Srinagar via Leh, you'll pass 10-11 mountain passes, including Pangong and Nubra. As each mountain pass has a different altitude, one needs to be extra cautious when riding through it.
· In the Manali to Leh bike trip, Rohtang Pass is the first mountain pass you encounter. The roads are decent to good until Rohthang, but after Rohthang, as you descend towards Koksar, the roads are terrible. Watch out for slush and slippery curves.
Ascending the Baralacha La pass from Zing Zing bar has average roads, but while descending, there are narrow roads and numerous water streams.
While riding Nakee La, you will encounter Gata loops while ascending and descending
LachungLa pass - Decent roads with small stones and dust, be careful when negotiating the curves
In the Leh Manali highway, Tanglangla Pass is one of the best roads to ride while ascending from Moore Plains.
During the Leh Ladakh bike trip, Changla Pass is the trickiest pass as it's narrow and difficult because of its altitude. It's better to take a short break in Zingral or Tsoltak for a few minutes while riding.
Khardungla pass - It used to be challenging to ride, but now the roads are pretty decent and can be done without much trouble.
The roads are excellent on the Fotu la pass, which is the most accessible mountain pass to conquer
The Namik La pass is the same as the Fotu La pass.
It used to be one of the most challenging mountain passes in the world, but thanks to Border Road Organization, the road is pretty much decent, but still very narrow, slushy, and slippery.
Stay option during Leh Ladakh Motorcycle Tour:
In addition to deciding all other essential factors on the Leh Ladakh bike trip, it is also important to understand the lodging options available in each place along the way.
Manali offers a wide range of hotel, homestay, guesthouse, and cottage options ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 50000
There is a roadside Dhaba in Koksar that provides basic accommodations and a common toilet.
Keylong - There are decent hotels with good facilities available
Jispa - Decent hotels with good facilities are available. Tented accommodations are also available down the valley.
In Zing Zing Bars, basic sleeping facilities are available at roadside dhabas
Sarchu is one of the major pit stops with tented accommodation options that range from Rs 1000 to 10000.
The food in Pang is very good, and there are a variety of options available
There are basic hotels available in Upshi
There are multiple options available from Rs 500 to Rs 50000 at Leh, the headquarter of the Ladakh region.
Lukung (Pangong Lake) - Once you enter the Pangong Lake region, a few tented accommodations are available.
Spangmik (Pangong Lake) - One of the best destinations for tented accommodations in the Pangong Lake region; rates range from Rs1000 to Rs15000.
There are many tented accommodations available in Hunder (Nubra Valley), as well as guesthouses and homestays.
Guests houses are very common in Diskit (Nubra Valley)
Turtuk (Nubra Valley) - There are only a few decent places to stay, and rest are basic homestays. One should book well in advance.
Lamayuru (Srinagar – Leh Highway) – Homestays are very common in this region, and plenty of options are available
Kargil – Second most important place in the Ladakh region after Leh, so there is no need to worry about the stay, plenty of options available
Drass – Few very basic hotels with basic facilities are available.
Sonamarg – Good hotel options available
Srinagar – Plenty of good hotels, guest houses, boutique properties, and house boats available
How to prepare your Motorcycle for the Leh Ladakh Bike Trip:
Your bike's condition is crucial during your Leh Ladakh bike trip if you have decided to get your own bike for such trips. Basic things include keeping your bike in running condition and not keeping it in a parking lot for long periods of time.
Which bike is suitable for the Leh Bike trip?
Whenever a biker decides to make a Ladakh bike trip, the first question they ask is what bike is suitable. Well, nobody can answer that question because it depends entirely on individual perceptions. There are people who do on BMW 1200GS or Triumph Tiger 800 or any other adventure motorcycle, but few people do on Honda Activa or 110cc motorcycles. Nevertheless, the only difference between each motorcycle is the way it is maintained and how it is operated. For any bike you ride, just make sure it is well-serviced and not an old model, where spare parts may not be available in such terrain, affecting your trip.
Understand your Bike:
Passionate riders will always know their machines well than their life partners, so the first thing you should do before you start your journey to Ladakh is to understand your bike and its condition very well, try to remember how it used to respond during long rides, during monsoon season, and which are the pain points of the bike and what troubles it the most. As soon as you understand this pointer, you will know exactly what you need to do for your bike and how to explain it to your mechanic. In the monsoon season, if your bike is having more problems, it is possible that there is a problem with the carb and the electrical system because water gets blocked in a few parts of the machine. On long rides, it may overheat, which is a serious problem with the engine that needs immediate attention.
Get your bike service done:
After analyzing the bike, choose a mechanic wisely who has extensive knowledge about particular models. Some mechanics are good with 150cc to 250cc bikes; others are good with Royal Enfields only, and others on Super Bikes. Your mechanic should be aware of the history of your bike, such as its model, periodic service schedule, and issues that occur during different seasons and when you ride it. Also, inform your mechanic that you intend to ride your bike to Leh Ladakh.
Gain knowledge about repairs:
If you are taking your bike for service, sit down with your mechanic and learn a few basic repairs, such as how to change the clutch cable, how to replace the throttle cable, how to check and maintain spark plugs, how to do basic electrical work, how to fix punctures and how to maintain chains. As a result, you will become more confident and have the skills to handle basic breakdowns along the way.
Spares to carry for the Leh Ladakh bike trip:
After your bike is fully serviced, ride it for at least 4-5 days before you ship it or begin your ride so that you can understand how your bike is acting after the service. Take these spares with you on your bike trip to Leh Ladakh;
A puncture repair kit with an extra tube for both the front and rear tires is included.
Cables for clutches and throttles
Install new tires with good off-road and on-road traction
Plugs for sparking
Links in a chain
Fuse boxes and fuses
Engine and brake oil spares
The clutch plates should be replaced if they are too old.
If your battery runs out, you can jump-start your bike from another battery.
Bolts and nuts for major components
Tools for wheel removal and other basic tasks with screwdrivers and spanners
Pipes and spare fuel cans for petrol
Ropes for tying luggage and Ladakh carriers
Repairs, Fuel Stations, and puncture shops on the Leh Ladakh bike trip:
The following places have repair facilities, fuel stations, etc.
There are plenty of fuel stations and repair shops in Manali
Tandi - Last fuel station on Leh Manali highway; after this, there will be no fuel stations available until Karu, which is 345 km away
There is a mechanic and puncture shop in Keylong. Just ask the locals for the address
· Sarchu - Fuel is available on black, but you will have to pay twice as much as the actual price
Pang - There used to be a puncture shop in 2019, but I'm not sure if it still exists
Karu - Fuel station and mechanics on site
Fuel stations, mechanics, and puncture shops are available in Leh
The last fuel station on the Leh to Pangong route is Karu. There are no mechanics or puncture shops after that
From Pangong to Nubra valley via Shyok River, there is no puncture shop or mechanic available
A fuel station is available in Diskit, but it is dependent on weather conditions and the supply
There is a puncture shop available at Hunder
There are fuel stations, mechanics, and puncture shops in Kargil
In Srinagar, there is a fuel station, a mechanic's shop, and a puncture shop