Ladakh Winter Travel Guide | Reasons to Visit Ladakh in Winters
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Ladakh, a beautiful place in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), lies between Kunlun mountains and the mighty Himalayas; and is known for its mountain beauty and Tibetan culture. It is also one of the most sparsely populated areas of J&K. Ladakh has Tibet in the east, Lahaul & Spiti in the south, J&K valley and Baltiul in the west and Karakoram pass in the north. Now about going to Ladakh in winters - Well, winters are the best time to visit Ladakh as the valley and mountains get covered with snow. Temperature goes down drastically due to heavy snowfall and one needs at least a week to 10 days for acclimatization seeing the weather of Ladakh in winters.

Ladakh in winters gives you a sight of amazing landscapes, scintillating mountains and trees covered with snow, frozen lakes, frozen waterfalls, stalactites and stalagmites at the entrance of rocky caves. It all looks like dreamland and one feels thrilled and excited to see such unbelievable sights.  Located at a height of 14,000 meters above sea level, Ladakh becomes a perfect tourist destination in winters, especially for hikers, trekkers, mountaineers and bikers who love climbing and riding.  

Most of the people think that traveling to Ladakh in winters is not a good idea, but that actually is a wrong notion. Winters is the best time to visit Ladakh and one must not shrug away from this fact. This is because there isn’t much crowd and so, one can enjoy all the exquisite places that have existed over centuries in this wonderland. Just be careful at night as temperature might drop down to as low as -30℃. As far as your stay is concerned, there’s no need to worry. Ladakh has many guesthouses and local people also allow homestays at affordable prices during winters. The best ones are located near Fort Road and Changspa Road.

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01

How to reach Ladakh in winter

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How to reach Ladakh in winter
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Winters start from November and continues till March in Ladakh. If you are a regular traveller who loves road trips, then the best way to travel to Ladakh is by road. But the roads remain open only till November end and get closed after that due to heavy snowfall. If you want to travel in December-January then the best and only way is by air. Flights are available from Delhi to Leh every day. You can choose Air India, Jet Airways and Go Air as these are the only 3 companies that operate on this route. You can travel by bus or taxi after landing down at Leh airport. You can also take your own car if you go there before November ends.   

There are many winter packages that offer stay in Leh hotels and guesthouses, as well as homestays in Ladakh. These include photography tour, trips to Leh and Suru Valleys, etc. You must travel through tour operating companies and inform and the airlines of your choice, at least 1 week in advance. Companies provide value for money packages for Ladakh trip in winters. You also need a single person and/or group permits if you travel with your friends as Leh- Ladakh regions are strategic locations guarded by ITBP and Indian army.


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Places to visit in Ladakh in winters

02

Leh City

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Leh City
Leh has the Leh Palace, which is based on designs of Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet; and was built by King Sengge Namgyal in the 16th century. It gets lighted up at night and gives a fascinating view. One can see the whole Leh city from its roof. Leh city has the famous Namgyal Tsemo Monastery, known for its 3-storey high gold statue of Maitreya Buddha, along with ancient manuscripts.

Then there is Shanti Stupa with its white dome and has relics of Buddha at its base, set there by the 14th Dalai Lama. It provides a panoramic view of the surroundings for which it is famous among tourists. There are also other places like the War Museum, Victory Tower and Sankar Monastery and village. The last one is just half an hour walk away from Leh.
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03

Frozen Pangong

Frozen Pangong
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With heavy clouds in the blue sky above it, the Pagong or Pangong Tso Lake is one of the best places to visit in Ladakh in winters. In Tibetan, it means ‘high grassland lake’. The lake is 130 km long and extends from India to China. The Indian side has only 40% portion of the lake, still, it’s good enough. Its water freezes out in winters and there’s snow all over it. A great huge spot for adventure seekers who like skiing and ice-skating.

The Pangong Lake is the world’s highest saltwater lake (4250 meters) which gets frozen during winters, thus providing a splendid view with mountains behind it. There aren’t any fishes or any other aquatic life in the lake, except a few small crustaceans due to its saline water. If lucky, you might catch a glimpse of goose and ducks. It takes a 5-hour drive by road to reach Pangong Lake from Leh.
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04

Nubra Valley

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Nubra Valley
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Nubra Valley is another breathtaking spot that looks like a chocolate brown cake with white icing to top it. According to locals, its original name was ‘Ldumra’ which means the valley of flowers. This place appears between Kashmir and Tibet and is 150 km away from Leh towards the North. Its main town is Diskit, and its a landmark is a 32-meter tall statue of Maitreya Buddha, which is maintained at Diskit monastery. Along the valley are the villages of Sumur, Kyagar, Tirith, Panamik and others.

River Shyok flows through the Nubra valley. Another important tourist spot is Samstanling monastery that lies between Kyagar and Sumur villages. This valley too is one of the best places to visit during your Leh Ladakh bike trip; as it is known for its scenic beauty, Bactrian camels and silent monasteries that have great architecture. You will have to cross the famous Khardung la pass to reach it.
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05

Lamayuru Monastery

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Lamayuru Monastery
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Another must visit tourist destination during winters is the Lamayuru or Yuru monastery. In Tibetan, it means the ‘Eternal’ monastery and is located in Leh region. The monastery is located on Srinagar-Leh Highway at an altitude of 3,510 meters. It is an intriguing place and is considered as one of the largest and oldest monasteries of Ladakh.

There are many stories and legends related to it. The best-known story cum legend is that a monk travelled to this place and decided to build a monastery here after experiencing the presence of some divine power, about a 1000 years ago.

Local people who stayed in the last village before this place joined him to build it. Moved by his efforts, the king of this region decided to finance the monastery. Originally, there were 5 buildings but only 1 survives now. The monastery is located on a barren rocky mountain with white snow-covered Himalayas on its left.
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06

Khardung La Pass

Khardung La Pass
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Khardung La is a mountain pass that lies in Ladakh region of J&K, India. It lies towards the north of Leh, and is considered as a gateway to Shyok and Nubra valleys. It was built in 1976 and was opened for public and for motor vehicles in 1988. Since then it has been visited by many adventure lovers through car and bike expeditions that usually happen in groups especially Manali Leh bike trip.

The pass is maintained by Border Roads Organization (BRO), as it is of strategic importance for India. One must carry sufficient amount of packed food and water as there aren’t any hotels or guesthouses near Khardung La pass. It becomes more important due to the traffic jam on the road.

Khardung La Pass is at a height of 5,359 meters. If you have time then you can go further north of the pass and find some Bactrian camels at a place called Hunder, if you are lucky.


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07

Tso Moriri Lake

Tso Moriri Lake

Tso Moriri or the mountain lake in Tibetan language is located Changthang plateau of Ladakh in J&K, India. The lake and its surrounding areas are protected as they are part of the Tsomoriri Wetland Conservation reserve. The lake is set at an altitude of 4,522 meters and is one of the highest lakes in Ladakh as well as in India. 

It is about 26 km in length and between 3 and 5 km in breadth. Its water is alkaline by nature, and thus inedible. The lake is fed by springs and snow-fed mountains located nearby. One stream enters the lake from the north while the other enters from the south-west.

One can visit the lake during summers if you want to see the 34 bird species that live on and around it; of which 14 are water birds. You can also catch glimpses of Tibetan geese, Lynx, Himalayan blue sheep, Tibetan ass, Tibetan sand fox and Tibetan wolf during your Manali Leh Srinagar bike expedition.


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08

Thiksey Monastery

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Thiksey Monastery
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The Thiksey Monastery or Thiksey Gompa is another one of the best places to visit in Leh. It is affiliated to and run by the ‘Gelug sect’ of Tibetan Buddhism. It is located on top of one of the hills in Thiksey village, and is about 19 km east of Leh. It comes under Ladakh region in India.

This monastery too is similar to the Potala style of building of Tibet. It has a separate set of buildings for women monks and as well as tourists. It is a fort style of Tibetan monastery which was built in the 15th century or in 1433 by Sherab Zangpo, 1 of the 6 disciples of the Gelug School or the ‘Yellow Hats’. 

The monastery is built on a sacred hill located about 7 km north from Stagmo village. It is famous for its ‘mask dance’ or ‘Cham dance’ that happens from October to November every year.
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Things to do in Ladakh in winter

09

The Chadar Trek

The Chadar Trek
Chadar trek is a winter trail by foot, which appears in Zanskar region of Ladakh in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state. During this trail, you will get to see mountain cliffs of up to a height of 600 meters. You will also see Zanskar river, which is a tributary of Indus river which is only 5 meters wide in certain places.

The total distance of this trek is about 105 km. If you are an average trekker then you won’t be able to cover more than 15 km/per day. The best time to go on the trail of Chadar trek is from January to February, when the temperature drops to -30? at night.

You must also go for the Chadar trek as it is widely popular among both- national and international adventure tourists. The trail will provide you magnificent views of mountains and surrounding areas, along with glimpses of local birds and wild animals.
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10

Snow Leopard Trek

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Snow Leopard Trek
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Snow Leopard Trek is one of the famous winter treks in Ladakh region. It has most inhospitable weather and so only regular trekkers and mountaineers can go for it. The trek goes through Hemis National Park, which stretches out at a height of 4100 meters and covers the whole Rumbak valley.

The park is home to many wild birds and animals that appear in the Himalayan region. During the trail, you will witness rugged mountains, snow-covered peaks, trees and frozen water bodies. During the trek, you will see many animals such as snow leopard, blue sheep, horned sheep, Eurasian brown bear.

You will also find several bird species such as golden eagle, vultures, migratory birds and water birds as well. You will also get first-hand experience of cold desert, dry lands, rocky plateaus and local folklore of Rumbak valley. Fresh air and freezing winds will welcome you on the trek.
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11

Play Ice Hockey

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Play Ice Hockey
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Ice hockey is a game first introduced to the world in Northern Europe around 1990 and was developed from field hockey. In the beginning, it was adopted only by countries that have a very cold climate, but with its rapidly growing popularity, it spread out to other countries too. In India, ice hockey was introduced about a 100 years back in Shimla.

Ladakh too adopted the sport somewhere around the 1990s, at a time when it was spreading to other parts of the world. Many clubs were opened that taught and played ice hockey in Ladakh but Ladakh Ice Hockey Club is the first and only registered club that was established in 1995. 

Ladakh has the advantage of snowfall and ice availability to form the ice-rink naturally. Since its equipments are very costly, not many can play it. Currently, the game is played in Karzoo, Leh. It attracts many tourists during winters.

Don't forget to check out the Delhi to Leh guide before you start planning your next trip.


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12

Ladakhi Losar Festival

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Ladakhi Losar Festival

Losar is one of the most important festivals of Tibetan Buddhists in Ladakh, as it marks the beginning of the New Year. It is celebrated with great zeal and grandeur. Its history dates back to pre-Buddhist Bon era of Tibet. In ancient times, a spiritual ceremony was held every year in winters. Later, keeping its significance in mind, it was developed into a full-fledged festival. 

Homes, streets and surroundings are decorated with lights, artefacts and decoration items to bring prosperity and good luck. The houses and offices are cleaned from inside and outside, along with roads and surroundings; and all old and unused items are kept out of the vicinity. This is done to ward of any kind of evil.

The Ladakhi Losar Festival begins with the monks of Namgyal monastery by giving religious offerings to goddess Palden Lhamo to bring peace and prosperity to all Buddhists and their kin. Adventurers during their Manali Leh expedition often come and be a part of this festival.


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13

Spituk Gustor Festival

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Spituk Gustor Festival
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Spituk Gustor Festival is a two day annual festival that is celebrated in Spituk monastery every year, in the 11th month of Tibetan calendar. It is celebrated as the symbol of victory over evil. Monks and local people start offering prayers 7 days before the two day event. The mask dance is the highlight of this festival. These masks represent certain fiery, kind and pleasant spirits. 

These masks are painted using natural colours and are polished with gold and silver to give a finishing touch. The dresses of masked dancers are made of silk and brocade; who dance to the tunes of long horns, conch shells, bells and other instruments.

According to Indian calendar, it takes place on 7th and 8th January every year and is attended by a considerable number of tourists as it falls in winters. The festival ends with the burning of an effigy of evil. Some dances are also performed in pairs while others are performed in groups.
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14

Experience Wildlife

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Experience Wildlife
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No doubt, Ladakh is considered as one of the unique wildlife destinations across the world. It is home to many exotic breeds of animals and birds, who keep roaming freely in their natural habitats. They are not disturbed by humans and efforts are made to keep them safe from poachers. 

One can experience and see a variety of flora and fauna in Ladakh on rocky mountains, on dry cold deserts, plateaus, swampy grasslands, with snow-covered mountains in the background. You can find yaks, ibex, Tibetan hare, blue sheep, wild ass, bharal, Tibetan antelope, red fox, Tibetan wolf, mountain weasel and many others. 

You will also find a variety of birds such as Lamagier, wall creeper, Himalayan snow cock, black necked crane, rock bunting, fork tailed swift, Brown Accenture, Robin Accenture, Tibetan snow finch, etc. You can capture all this natural beauty with a camera and keep them to share with the world and as memories of your Manali Leh jeep safari expedition.


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"the experience was awesome. The whole thing organized by Thrillophilia was great. Our tour operator Jigmet sir and the whole crew were 1 no. SHAMAAASS. Julley.
11 July 2019
Excellent
We went for Manali to srinagar Bike tour. It was the best bike trip of my entire life It all started with the person named Shubham from thrillophilia who helped me in selecting the best trip and processed with my booking, all thanks to him! Without him I wouldn’t have been able to experience the best trip of my life. On arrival there, we met our tour guide Tani and our Mechanic Shashi about whom I have read a lot at thrillophilia reviews. These 2 guys were so supportive during the entire tour that no matter what happened they were always there to look after us. They always made sure we are safe and we are following them and there is no overtaking taking place. Tani, the tour guide, one chilled out person he is! Make sure you get him as your tour guide and Shashi as the mechanic as these guys will always make sure that they are there for you no matter what. And in the end, it’s all the Main man behind everything, Jimmy Sir. Thanks a lot Sir for making me experience the best trip of my life! Without you and your team this wouldn’t have been possible. Thanks for helping us out in every way possible. The roads here are difficult terrain to ride on. You gotta be careful. You gotta carry your gum boots during water logging which is the most difficult to cross. But these guys made sure that we were all safe and had sound health till we reached home. Not even a single person was hurt. Our group was a mixture of all age groups, I’m fact we even got to meet 2 people From the Indian navy as well. One mad kickass experience! Unbelievable. Reaching the worlds highest Pass, Khardungla Top, was the highest achievement of my life till date which happened on this trip! And if at all you wish to go, don’t forget to ask Tani and Shashi as your tour guide and mechanic, and go only through Jimmy Sir as he has the best team! Thanks a lot to everyone out there for which I thought the best way would be to write at thrillophilia reviews.
We had a wonderful experience with Thrillophilia Out tour was Leh-Ladakh 6N7D, which includes Leh Sightseen, Nubra Valley Overnight Stay, Pangong Overnight Night. 1. First of all you should know that Thrillophilia doesn't have its own Travel Team. Thrillophilia actually linked up with several local Travel Agency. Once your Tour is booked Thrillophilia tagged one local Travel Agency for your Tour and that particular travel agency will take care of your entire tour. Our travel manager is Lobzang Tseldon. She is very helpful and you will not face any problem in your entire tour. 1. Hotel provided in Leh: Ladakh Heights. The hotel was very good,neat and clean.It is a new hotel so you don't found any pics in the internet. But lobzang will send you the pics of the Hotel. There is a canteen within the hotel where you will be having complimentary breakfast and dinner. Non Vegetarian please let Lobzang know that you want non-veg items as well.they generally prepare veg items only.but on request they will provide you omlette in breakfast and chicken/mutton in dinner. So if anyone wants to book Thrillophilia please ask Thrillophilia to tag you to the travel agency that offers non veg items too. The Hotel Ladakh Heights is a bit far from the main city but don't worry Lobzang will provide you car for visit to Leh market whenever required and she will not charge you for that. You will get a beautiful view from this hotel but if you want to stay near the main city you will not get any view from the hotel. 2. The stay at Nubra Valley was awesome. They have Royal Camp in Nubhra and it's is a nature-friendly camp. You will love it, I can guarantee you. 3. They stay at Pangong was okay. You can understand that at that altitude you will not get luxury.so the camp provided at Pangong was good for 1 night stay. Overall my experience with Thrillophilia was very good. We enjoyed a lot. Thanks a lot to Lobzang Tseldon for the wonderful arrangements of our tour.
"Trip was really awesome. I feel everyone should consider this trip at least once in their lifetime. My eyes were never tired of looking around at such beautiful and scenic views. I would like to extend my special thanks to Tour leader Mr. Jigmet Tandar. He is highly trained professional. The way he lead the tour made us have more fun. Thanks to the whole crew Jigmet, Stanzin, Wangyal, Kaushal, Tundoop. Made a lot of new friends. One suggestion to Thrillophilia team: Since this is not just any casual trip that anyone can go through please consider keeping a screening process for people who opt for it. This is one of the most extreme adventures where your body and mind will go through a lot of challenges, one can successfully complete this trip only if they are determined and well prepared."
03 June 2019
Excellent
An exhilarating life-changing experience. If you are able bodied, a biking lover, a landscape / scenery admirer and a crazy adventure seeker, this is a must try for life. Our group of bikers were fun-loving yet very responsible riders. We became friends on the very first day and all of us enjoyed every moment, giving mutual respect at every instance, having each other's backs at every dangerous turn. Even elderly couples in the group made amazing memories with all the young folks! The Ladakhi food, the heritage site visits, the campfire dancing, the photos, the market shopping, the music, the hikes, the snow, even the adorable mountain dogs, furry yaks and double-hump camels, every-bit was amazing. The road team was extraordinary, specially Tani (captain) and Shashi (bike repairman). They were very friendly, accommodating, knowledgeable and also helpful at every step. We had a truck carrying our luggage all along, running behind us all through the roads, making sure no one is left behind. Jigmet has a lot of local connections, so you will be well taken care of at camps and hotels (even Jain food, on request).
24 October 2020
Excellent
I had a wonderful trip with Thrillophilia. Hotel provided in Leh was clean and good. All sightseeing places covered as per itinerary. The camping stay at Nubra Valley and near Pangong lake was awesome. We enjoyed a lot and overall experience was great.
The Sham Valley Trek was one of the most enjoyable treks I have undertaken in the last few years, and all the credit goes to Thrillophilia. The booking experience was extremely smooth and I would highly recommend this company for all your travels in the valley.
17 November 2019
Superb
It was an awesome experience. Completed the tour in July 2019. We had booked for 8 persons on Thrillophilia. The facilities were good, Tani-the tour guide, was superb. Amazing tour, to say the least. I have penned down my entire experience of Ladakh bike tour on my blog. Sharing the link here.
17 November 2019
Excellent
When we made the booking for 6-days trip to Ladakh via Thrillophilia, we had a lot of questions in our mind on how it's going to turn out, especially on whether it's a suitable honeymoon destination even for those who love a bit of adventure. That is primarily because the reviews of Ladakh were a bit scary. Almost all of the people who wrote reviews had a lot of things to warn you about- the extreme climate, sudden decrease in Oxygen levels, deserted/uninhabited places where it's difficult to get some help from anyone in case of any issues and so on. And there were some people who wrote bad reviews about Thrillophilia for some negative experiences they had to endure from the operators. But it was reassuring to see how Thrillophilia answered all the reviews, even the negative ones. They clarified how they assign tour operators based on customer reviews and in case of any negative experiences from the operators, there is not much Thrillophilia can help with apart from not assigning those operators anymore. As we were getting immediate response from Amit on all our queries on a timely basis, we decided to book the package. Cutting to the chase, we were contacted by the operator(Thupstan) the day before our arrival and he ensured that there was a taxi to pick us up on time. The tour guides and the driver of the backup vehicle he assigned for our group were so experienced that all we had to do was to keep riding until they ask us to stop. The halts were all well planned that we didn't have to worry about anything. And they were so approachable in case of any issues. And whenever we rode for a long time, they would come and inspect each bike and fixed any issues immediately. They were always willing to go the extra mile to make us comfortable. Let me quote an instance here - The driver of the backup vehicle had an issue with Blood Oxygen level when we reached Pangong. We had enough stock of Oxygen cylinders in the backup vehicle. But he didn't consider using it and hence took one of the bikes and rode to where he could find a pharmacy to get an Oxygen cylinder for himself. When one of us asked him on why he didn't use one of the cylinders that we had carried, he told us that the cylinders are just for our use and himself or any of the guides won't use that. Such was the concern they had for everyone in the group. In case anyone reading this still has a question regarding whether it's a suitable place for couples, the answer is YES. The accommodation they provide is suitable for couples as well. Even the tents are nice and safe. I could go on like this and I never thought this review is going to be this long when I started writing it. As others have mentioned in the reviews, it's such a beautiful destination and the experience is awesome. If you are thinking of taking a trip to Ladakh, go ahead and embark on this beautiful journey with Thrillophilia. I'm sure that you won't regret it.
"it was a very well organized trip,the hotel was very good,the tent in nubra was lovely and the food was good too..overall a good experience "

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