How to Go to Leh Ladakh from Kashmir

Tristan Balme How to get from leh ladakh to kashmir

As an avid traveler, I have always been fascinated by the beauty of Leh Ladakh and its unique culture, so in 2022 I set out to discover it for myself.

In general, your best options to get to Leh from Kashmir (or vice versa) are to fly or to take a shared taxi. Flying only takes 45min, whereas a taxi ride will take 17 – 20 hours, all going smoothly. While this can be done in one hit, It’s recommended you break the journey up into 2 or 3 days. Though also cheaper, I’d recommend traveling by road to see the beautiful landscapes and famous sites along the way.

In this article, I will share my personal experience on how to go to Leh Ladakh from Kashmir

My Recommendation: Travelling From Srinagar To Leh Ladakh

When I made this trip back in 2022 I did plenty of research first and think I made the best decision.

I took the taxi from Srinagar first thing in the morning. The first taxi left at 8 am so I made sure to have breakfast first and be ready and waiting at the pickup point.

I couldn’t think of anything worse than spending a full 17 hours in a (cramped) taxi so decided to split the journey up.

I chose to stay at Lamayuru that night and would continue the journey the following day.

Side Note: Lamayuru is BEAUTIFUL and shrowded in impressive Buddhist history. Their monastery is the oldest outside of Tibet. I’d highly recommend spending some time there.

It was about an 11-hour trip, including our engine overheating going over the pass, a couple of checkpoint stops (remember your visa and passport), and a delicious lunch at a Punjabi diner in Kargil

TIP: You’re buying a seat the whole way to Leh. Even though I was stopping at Lamayuru, i had to pay the same price as someone going twice the distance.

Next time I’m keen to hire a bike and take a few days to stop and see all the sights along the way in more detail (and take more photos of the stunning landscape!!)

Tristan Balme ladakh car trip pano

Modes of Transportation

There are two primary modes of transportation to reach Leh Ladakh from Kashmir – roadways and airways. On the road, you can chose from local busses, or public taxis and private taxis.

The most popular way to reach Leh Ladakh from Kashmir is by road. The road trip takes you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes and picturesque views of the Himalayan mountains. You can take a taxi or hire a private car to drive to Leh Ladakh from Srinagar, which is the capital city of Kashmir. The journey takes approximately 2-3 days, depending on the weather conditions and the route you choose.

Mode of TransportationDurationCost
Private Taxis15-17 hoursINR 18,000-22,000
Local Buses24-26 hoursINR 400-600
Motorbikes3-4 daysINR 1,500 -4,000/day
Airways1 hourINR 5,000-10,000

Public Taxis

Public taxis are easily available and are the most economical way to travel from Kashmir to Leh Ladakh. The cost of a one-way trip ranges from INR 1,000 to 1,500, depending on the route you choose. The journey takes approximately 20-22 hours, depending on the road conditions and the number of stops. The taxis usually depart from Srinagar and reach Leh Ladakh via Kargil. Although the journey is not very comfortable, it is the most affordable option if you are traveling on a budget.

Tristan Balme my taxi ride from srinagar to leh

Private Taxis

Private taxis are a more comfortable mode of transportation and are ideal if you are traveling with your family or a group of friends. The cost of a one-way trip ranges from INR 18,000 to 22,000, depending on the type of vehicle you choose. The journey takes approximately 15-17 hours, depending on the route you choose. Private taxis usually depart from Srinagar and reach Leh Ladakh via Sonmarg and Zoji La Pass. I recommend hiring a private taxi if you are looking for a more comfortable and hassle-free journey.

Local Buses

Local buses are the cheapest mode of transportation, but they are not very comfortable. The cost of a one-way trip ranges from INR 400 to 600, depending on the route you choose. The journey takes approximately 24-26 hours, depending on the number of stops. The buses usually depart from Srinagar and reach Leh Ladakh via Kargil. I recommend taking a local bus only if you are traveling on a very tight budget.

Motorbikes

If you are an adventure enthusiast, traveling to Leh Ladakh from Kashmir on a motorbike is an excellent option. The cost of renting a motorbike for the journey ranges from INR 2,000 to 4,000 per day, depending on the type of bike you choose. The journey takes approximately 3-4 days, depending on the route you choose and your riding speed. The journey is not very comfortable, but it is an excellent option if you are looking for an adventurous and thrilling journey.

I personally recommend hiring a private taxi if you are traveling with family or a group of friends, and a motorbike if you are an adventure enthusiast.

Tristan Balme riding a motorbike across ladakh

Airways

Another option to travel to Leh Ladakh from Kashmir is by air. The nearest airport to Leh Ladakh is in Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, which is located in Leh. You can take a direct flight from Srinagar to Leh with a flight duration of approximately 1 hour.

The 17 Best Places to visit en route to Leh

1. Dal Lake

Located in Srinagar, Dal Lake is a popular tourist destination known for its scenic beauty and houseboats. Visitors can take a shikara ride or stay in a houseboat overnight. I recommend spending a day exploring the lake and nearby gardens.

Tristan Balme Dal lake in srinagar kashmir
Tristan Balme Nishat gardens in srignagar leh ladakh

2. Zojila Pass

Zojila Pass is a high mountain pass located between Srinagar and Leh. It offers breathtaking views of the Himalayas and is a popular stop for photographers. Visitors should plan to spend a few hours here. There is no cost to visit.

3. Namik La

Located on the Leh-Srinagar highway, Namik La is a high mountain pass known for its scenic beauty and winding roads. If you’re travelling by private car or morobike you should definitly stop here and take a look around

4. Photu La

Photu La is another high mountain pass located between Srinagar and Leh. It is known for its stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Visitors should plan to spend a few hours here. There is no cost to visit.

5. Thajiwas Glacier

Located near Sonamarg, Thajiwas Glacier is a popular tourist destination known for its scenic beauty and trekking trails. Visitors can take a pony ride or trek to the glacier and spend a few hours exploring the area. There is a small fee to enter the glacier area.

6. Gangabal Lake

Located in the foothills of Mount Harmukh, Gangabal Lake is a high-altitude lake known for its scenic beauty and trekking trails. Visitors can trek to the lake and spend a day exploring the area. There is no cost to visit.

7. Baltal Valley

Baltal Valley is a scenic valley located on the Srinagar-Leh highway. It is known for its stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Visitors should plan to spend a few hours here. There is no cost to visit.

8. Drass

Located on the Srinagar-Leh highway, Drass is a small town known for its scenic beauty and trekking trails. Visitors can spend a day exploring the town and nearby areas. There is no cost to visit.

9. Kargil War Memorial

Located in Drass, the Kargil War Memorial is a tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives in the Kargil War. Visitors can pay their respects and learn about the history of the war. I recommend spending a few hours here. There is no cost to visit.

10. Lamayuru Monastery

Located on the Leh-Srinagar highway, Lamayuru Monastery is one of the oldest and largest monasteries in Ladakh. Visitors can learn about the history and culture of the monastery and spend a few hours exploring the area. There is a small fee to enter the monastery.

Tristan Balme lamayuru in ladakh

11. Alchi Monastery

Located on the Leh-Srinagar highway, Alchi Monastery is a historic monastery known for its ancient architecture and Buddhist art. Visitors can learn about the history and culture of the monastery and spend a few hours exploring the area. There is a small fee to enter the monastery.

12. Likir Monastery

Located on the Leh-Srinagar highway, Likir Monastery is a historic monastery known for its ancient architecture and Buddhist art. Visitors can learn about the history and culture of the monastery and spend a few hours exploring the area. There is a small fee to enter the monastery.

13. Gurudwara Pathar Sahib

Located on the Leh-Kargil highway, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib is a Sikh temple known for its scenic beauty and religious significance. Visitors can learn about the history and culture of the temple and spend a few hours exploring the area. There is no cost to visit.

15. Mulbekh Monastery

Located on the Leh-Kargil highway, Mulbekh Monastery is a historic monastery known for its ancient architecture and Buddhist art. Visitors can learn about the history and culture of the monastery and spend a few hours exploring the area. There is no cost to visit.

16. Sangam

Located on the Leh-Srinagar highway, Sangam is the confluence of the Indus River and the Zanskar River. Visitors can enjoy the scenic beauty and take a walk along the river. There is no cost to visit.

17. Magnetic Hill

Located on the Leh-Kargil highway, Magnetic Hill is a popular tourist destination known for its unique gravitational pull that can pull vehicles uphill. Visitors can experience this phenomenon and spend a few hours exploring the area. There is no cost to visit.

My 6 Essential Tips For Your Trip

Before you embark on your journey to Leh Ladakh, here are some essential tips that you should keep in mind:

  • Make sure to carry warm clothes and a raincoat. It gets cold as you head over the high mountain passes so even if it’s t-shirt weather in Srinagar it will be puffer jacket weather on the pass.
  • Pack plenty of food and water. This one’s obvious, but if you’re stuck in a taxi for 17 hours you’ll want something to snack on. When I did the trip we stopped only once for lunch in Kargil. We also stopped at a few checkpoints where you need to fill out your visa and passport details. I was offered to go pee behind a building so you’ll want to be tactical about your toilet stops too.
  • Acclimatize yourself to the high altitude before you start your journey.
  • Carry enough cash as there are limited ATMs in the region. You’ll have not trouble getting money from ATMs in Srinagar or Leh, but if you chose to stop along the way like i did, many of these small towns don’t have ATMs. For example, i wasn’t able to get money out for the one night i was in Lamayuru.
  • Book your accommodations and transportation in advance, especially during peak season. public taxis leave all the time, but if you want a private taxi or driver you may need to book in advance.
  • Check the weather conditions before you start your journey as the region experiences heavy snowfall in winters. In fact, some of these roads can close for weeks or months in winter! It pays to check ahead that you can even make the journey on the date’s youre planning.
Tristan Balme sunset view over leh ladakh

My Final Thoughts

Traveling to Leh Ladakh from Kashmir is an experience of a lifetime. Whether you choose to travel by road or air, the journey is sure to leave you spellbound with its beauty. So pack your bags, plan your itinerary, and get ready to embark on a memorable journey.

For more information on travel to Leh Ladakh, please visit the official website of the Government of Ladakh at ladakh.gov.in.

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