Planning an itinerary for Ladakh when you are taking a flight can be tricky. Furthermore, if you have less time to take this trip, like 7 to 8 days, it requires proper planning. Leh by air is tough as your body had to cope up with the pressure of sudden altitude jump. This is my third article on Ladakh guide. Check out my earlier articles about how to reach Leh & about days needed for Ladakh travel. Let me shed more light on Leh by flight and it’s Pros & Con’s.
While I was on my trip to Ladakh, one of my close friends called me up. He wanted to visit Leh but he had no time. I advised him to take a flight from Delhi to Leh. Since he had limited time, coming to Ladakh by air was the only option. However, he was sceptical about timing, AMS and the places he can cover in 7 to 8 days. So decided to put together this custom itinerary for travellers coming to Leh by flight.
Ladakh Itinerary by flight – Day wise
Before I share the itinerary, let me stress the fact that Delhi is a mere 227 meters above sea level. On the other hand, Leh is at 3524 meters above sea level. You need to take proper rest, keep yourself warm and drink warm fluids to combat mountain sickness. I would also advise carrying Diamox. This medicine is helpful in combating mountain sickness. Let start….!
Day – 1 Rest and arrange permits.
There are a number of Delhi to Leh flights. You can find cheap deals on booking.com below.
Ok, so in one hour and 30 minutes, you will climb to an altitude of 3524 from Delhi. An altitude bump of 3297 meters. The first day relax. Take rest, stay in your hotel for a day, drink plenty of warm water. I would recommend not to sleep in the day time. If you want you can go for a stroll at the local market. Check out Tibetian Kitchen which is in the main market. They serve some pretty good sizzlers.
Avoid smoking and alcohol at every cost, especially if you are going there for the first time. Now since you are taking rest for half of the day, I would advise getting the inner line permits. This permit allows you to get to Khardungla, Nubra Valley and Pangong TSO. This is easy and can be done online. I gave my hotel guy the money and he got it for me. Eat light in the night and go to sleep as you need to wake up early.
Day – 2 Shanti Stupa, Hall of fame & Tsemo Gompa
Spend the second day around Leh. Go visit Shanti Stupa which is one of the magnificent Tibetan structures that has ever been built. The architecture and the beauty of this place are unexplainable. Shanti Stupa is a white-dome structure dedicated to Buddhism. The second place that you should visit is the hall of fame. Hall of Fame is a museum constructed by the Indian Army in memory of the brave Indian soldiers who laid down their lives defending the motherland in the Indo-Pak wars. The third and final place for today is Tsemo castle or Tsemo Gompa. This gompa was founded by King Tashi Namgyal in 1430 AD who was a big follower of Buddhism. As a mark of his respect to Buddhism, the king built the monastery above his palace. Situated at the cliff of Namgyal hill, its architecture is impressive.
All the above places are in 45 km range. So a day is enough to visit all these tourist attractions.
Day – 3 Khardungla Pass, Diskit Gompa & tea at Khalsar
Now on the third day when you have your inner line permit, you can explore more beyond Leh’s boundary. I would advise to wake up early in the month and head to Khadungla pass. The road is good to Khardungla so it should not take you more than 1 hour and 45 minutes. There are a few bad patches in the middle where BRO is constructing roads. But they are few and small patches. have breakfast at Khungla, there is an amazing cafe up top.
After breakfast head to Diskit Gompa which is around 75 KM from Khadungla pass. The main and unique attraction of Diskit monastery is a gigantic statue of Lord Buddha on the top of it. This popular monastery is located in the Nubra valley of Ladakh. While coming back to Leh, you can stop at Khalsar village for a cup of tea. This is the least populated village in Nubra valley.
Day – 4 Pangong lake & Hemis Monastery
Pangong lake is beautiful and so is the Hemis monastery. If you like extreme off-roading you can take a road to Pangong lake via Nubra Valley. However, if you want no bumpy roads then take the road from Karu to Pangong. Enjoy tea and lunch at Chang La pass, amazing cafe over there. Pangong lake is around 170 km from Leh. Take a night stop there. There are many camps around the lake.
Day – 5 Adios Pangong lake welcome Thiksey & Shey
Spend the morning at the lake. Have your breakfast in the camps and then start heading towards Leh. On your way back I would recommend to stop and visit Thiksey Monastery and Shey Palace. Thiksay Gompa, Thiksey Monastery or Thiksay Monastery is a gompa of Tibetan Buddhism religion. It is located on the top of the hill. Shey Palace Leh is a royal residence of the Ladakh monarchs and it is the main attractions of Shey. Reach Leh by evening, have your dinner and relive all the memories. I am sure by this time you will have enough pictures and videos. Take a night rest in Leh.
Day – 6 Sham Valley Tour
Reserve this day for Sham Valley tour. Also known as the “Apricot valley”, this valley has villages which are beautiful. The sham valley is a little ahead of the village of Likir, towards Khaltse. If you had ample time it would take around 3 days just to cover Sham valley. However, since we are short on time I would advise visiting major attractions of Sham valley. This includes Magnetic hill which is 26 km from Leh. Likir gompa which is around 50 km from Leh. Now it depends on how time you are spending at each place. You should have enough time to cover Indus and Zanskar Rivers Confluence. Further ahead from Magnetic hill and a little before Nimmu village is the confluence of Indus and Zanskar rivers. Indus river flows in from Tibet, originating in the vicinity of Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar, while Zanskar river originates in Zanskar valley before both of them merge together here.
Day – 7 Hot water springs
The tour is incomplete if you do not visit Chhumathang. Chhumathang hot spring located about 40 km north of Puga, Ladakh. to provide heat directly. This is called the direct use of geothermal energy. From Leh, it is 138 km approx. You can experience the hot water bath for a nominal price of 50 INR. They have separate rooms for women and men folks. This is one of those places where you would not have too much of a crowd. You will reach Leh by late evening. Now you have two options, either you can take a flight in the night or else take night rest at Leh. Party a little hard, but make sure not too much of intoxication else you will miss your morning flight to Delhi.
Videos from my Ladakh road trip.
Few tips before I sign off and write another article for you.
- Consumption of alcohol is not advised, try to avoid it.
- Stay warm and hydrated at all times.
- Be very cautious while driving, stay away from Indian Oil Tankers, please.
- Start early morning and sleep latest by 9 PM, unless you want to party
- I could find fuel pumps from Manali to Leh only at Tandi, Leh, Karu, Diskit and Nubra Valley
- BRO warning signboards are funny yet packed with important messages. Obey them!
- Keep mountains clean for god sake. No Littering!!
- Do not buy water bottles, instead keep refilling the same bottle which you have.
- Carry a trash bag and try to bring your trash back with you.
Leh by flight
If you have any questions please leave in the comments below. I would love to answer them.Mountains are calling!