Ladakh is situated in the state of Jammu & Kashmir of India and is surrounded by the majestic Himalayan range, Karakoram Range, and the beautiful Kunlun mountain range. The culture of Ladakh is very well merged with the Tibetan lifestyle. Ladakh is a favorite destination among motorcyclists and thrill-seekers looking for an adventurous Ladakh trip.
Usually, the best time to visit Ladakh is during the summer months from June until September. These are the months of the year when the most number of tourists visit Ladakh. But the winter in Ladakh is quite extreme and requires some good preparation in terms of packing clothing and planning your itinerary. You may also find Ladakh being at its best during the winters.
Travel Experiences in Ladakh During Winters
We have compiled a list of some tourist attractions that are great for an ideal Ladakh winter travel guide. These travel experiences include some of the adventure-based attractions along with some attractions for sightseeing in Leh-Ladakh in winter.
Best Attractions In Ladakh During The Winter Season
Ladakh in the winter season, India (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)
1. Nubra Valley
Nubra Valley in the winter season, India (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)
The snow-covered Nubra Valley in the winter is mesmerizing with its beautiful orchards and its monasteries. Nubra valley is located 150 kilometers from the city of Leh. It is one of the favorite trekking destinations among the tourists who visit every year.
To reach Nubra Valley, you have to cross the Khardung La. One of the most unique features of this valley is the rich soil for farming. Nubra valley is also called the ‘Orchard of Ladakh’.
Nearby attractions: Samstemling, Diskit, Hunder, and Ensa.
Suggested Read: Wonderful Places to visit in India
2. Hemis National Park
Landscape around Hemis National Park, Ladakh, India (image source: Wikimedia Commons)
The Hemis National Park is among the top destinations for traveling in Ladakh in the winter season. This national park is a wildlife sanctuary that helps in preserving the biodiversity and the wildlife in Ladakh. This national park was named after a monastery called ‘Hemis Gompa’.
Hemis National Park is a favorite destination among trekking enthusiasts and is most popular as a trekking destination. If you wish to visit this national park, please note that there are only makeshift camping options available here.
Make sure you make necessary arrangements in advance. r settlement in the region. So one has to plan a makeshift arrangement in the form of a tent or a hammock, for an overnight stay. Also, the snow leopard trek is a popular winter trek in Leh Ladakh that you can experience here.
The best feature of this national park is that it is home to some rare species of animals and birds in this area. Animals such as the Snow leopard, Ibex, and Tibetan argali are some of the species that are found here. Hemis National Park is the best destination for sightseeing in Leh-Ladakh in December.
Nearby attractions: Khurnak Valley, Markha Valley, Rumbak Nala, and Chilling Nala.
Suggested Read: Unusual Things to do in India
3. The Chadar Trek
Trekker on Chadar Trekking trail, Ladakh, India (image source: Flickr)
This trek is one of the most popular and adventurous trails that gives the most rewarding experience of trekking. For an adventurous Ladakh trip, the famous Chadar Trek will test your mental and physical endurance. One most important thing to remember is that this trek is known as one of the most difficult treks in the world. Since trekking in the winters without proper physical training and fitness can prove fatal.
Once you have experienced the majestic beauty of the frozen landscape, you will cherish this experience for years to come. Chadar is a special attraction in Leh-Ladakh in December. To put it briefly, Chadar Trek mostly involves walking around 100 kilometers on ice with dangerously low temperatures.
The highest altitude you will reach is around 3800 meters above sea level. The Chadar trek usually takes around 15-20 days to complete in optimum weather conditions. The best time to start on your Chadar Trek is in January till February.
Nearby Attractions: Mulbekh monastery, Phuktal monastery, and Zanskar River
Suggested Read: Secret Places to visit in Himachal
4. Experience the local festivals and culture
Spituk Gustor Festival, Ladakh, India (image source: Wikimedia Commons)
The summer months are considered as the peak season for working and for engaging with various activities related to tourism. One thing to note is that Ladakh’s economy is majorly dependent on tourists which contributes to most of the state’s revenue. So, the summer season is one of the best times to work.
Leh-Ladakh in December is the time when most of the locals stay indoors with their families and enjoy eating together and attending the local festivities and gatherings. Summer festivals are usually very well documented by the tourists as most social media posts and photography is shared during the peak tourist season.
However, the festivals in the winters are particularly special because of the involvement of the local population. Following are some of the major winter festivals in Ladakh that you can attend. Monasteries during winter are the best places to visit because of the festivals which are attended by many Lamas who are revered by the locals.
You can also choose to stay in one of the local homestays which are very basic. You will not find comfort like that of a hotel, but you will get to experience how the locals live.
Nearby attractions: Spituk Gustor, Stok Festival, Ladakhi Losar, Matho Monastery Festival, Thiksay Gustor, Dosmoche
Suggested Read: Chandra Tal Lake
5. Visit Kargil
Kargil in the winter season, India (image source: Wikimedia Commons)
Kargil is the second largest town in Ladakh and is located at the height of 2700 meters above sea level. This town is located near the ‘line of control’ close to the borders of Indian territory.
The popular Leh-Ladakh tour packages may not include Kargil in the itinerary. This may be because of the reason that Kargil has a lot of military presence which is needed for securing the Indian territory. However, Kargil is the perfect place in Ladakh in winter. The scenic views in Kargil are simply breathtaking.
Although, the best time to visit Kargil is during the summer months as promoted by the travel agents. But if you wish to experience the best winter in Ladakh, with all its rugged beauty then Kargil is the place. Temperatures in Kargil can fall below -20 degrees celsius so proper clothing is necessary to survive the cold nights.
Nearby attractions: Rangdum, Stonday, Sani, Mulbekh monastery
Suggested Read: Best Places to visit in Himachal Pradesh
6. Experience the frozen lake of Pangong Tso
Frozen Pangong Lake, Ladakh, India (image source: Wikimedia Commons)
For an ideal Ladakh winter travel guide inclusion of the famous Pangong Tso lake is a necessity. During the summers, tourists from all over India flock to click photographs of the majestic Pangong Lake. This beautiful lake gives a different shade of blue depending on the weather.
However, during the winter season, the Pangong Tso lake is a perfect place in Ladakh in winter. During the winter, the lake is frozen and the temperatures around the area can fall to -30 degrees. You can see people frolicking over the frozen lake. People can ride their snowmobiles or even play cricket. If you are traveling through a travel agent, then make sure to include the Frozen Pangong Lake journey in your Leh-Ladakh sightseeing package.
Due to the extremely low temperatures, the fuel in the vehicles can freeze. Also, mobile phones might not work due to low connectivity. You must travel early in the morning to cross the Changla Pass, this will save a lot of hassle as it is difficult to get help if anything goes wrong. The frozen lake of Pangong is one of the special attractions in Leh-Ladakh in December.
Nearby attractions: Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, Suru Valley
Suggested Read: Must Visit Destinations During Lifetime
7. BongBong La Valley
Lamayuru Monastery, Ladakh, India (image source: Wikimedia Commons)
Leh-Ladakh in December is full of wonder and frozen mystery which is almost in contrast with the scenes you get in the summer. The famous Bongbong La Valley is full of wonderful scenic beauty. During the winters, everything will be frozen and you will see one of the most mysterious landscapes in Ladakh.
The temperatures during the winters can drop to -35 degrees celsius. You need to prepare for the chilling winds by adding extra layers of clothing. If you are up for the challenge then you will come across some of the best scenes that may seem straight out of a storybook.
The route from Khaltse to Lamayaru is particularly beautiful and is also one of the most popular winter treks in Leh Ladakh. The beauty of the frozen landscape of Ladakh is best to be seen here. Make sure to go along with a local guide to help you around the journey.
Nearby attractions: Lamayaru Town, Lamayaru Gompa
Suggested Read: Places to visit in Kullu Manali
These were some of the best destinations to include in your Leh-Ladakh tour packages for winter. If you are a photography enthusiast or if you wish to share your journey on Social media through pictures, then you will not be disappointed with the variety of wonderful scenes to capture.
Sightseeing in Leh-Ladakh in winter is quite different compared to sightseeing in the summer months. The mountains and valleys give a snow-covered look along with all the popular tourist destinations. During the winters, you will find most of the popular lakes in Leh Ladakh and waterfalls to be frozen. Trekking and mountain climbing are some of the most popular activities during the winter season.
Following are some of the things to expect before traveling to Ladakh in Winter
●Low Temperatures: It can get really cold with temperatures dropping as low as -30 degrees celsius.
●Affordable Guesthouses: During the winter season, you will find many great guesthouses and hotels are good affordable prices.
●Travel by Air: From October till March, all the major road passes are closed and hence the only way to travel is by taking a flight.
●Acclimatization: It might take at least 10 days to acclimatize to the altitude if you are traveling by flight.
●Great for Photography: If you are someone who loves to click photographs then you will not be disappointed with the scenic beauty of the Ladakhi landscape.
●Carry Cash: You will not find many ATMs in Ladakh. So, you should carry enough cash with you to avoid any inconvenience.
●Clothing: You need a lot of woolens or warm clothing to make your winter in Ladakh more comfortable. Make sure to pack enough and pack right.
●Carry Essentials: You will need sunscreen to avoid the harmful UV rays along with moisturizer and essential medication.
●Stay Hydrated: Make sure to drink plenty of water to avoid any health problems resulting from acclimatization to the altitude.
Suggested Read: Things to do in Rishikesh
Ladakh in winter is not for everyone. However, if you are one of the people who are looking for an adventurous Ladakh trip, then several travel destinations will satisfy your need for an adventure.
Although sightseeing in Leh-Ladakh in December or in any other winter month is not for everyone, if you can challenge yourself a little and make the right preparations, then you will find your journey to be a truly enriching experience.
The Ladakhi monasteries during winter are particularly amazing to photograph and to visit because they have a different aura during the extreme winters.
Some of the best monasteries to visit in Ladakh are:
You will not find many travel agents offering any Leh-Ladakh packages for couples. However, many travelers find it romantic to visit Ladakh during the extreme winter season. Although not a popular winter destination for couples, it is still a great choice to consider for your winter travel plan.
Ladakh is a great tourist destination that needs to be explored further. There are many wonderful experiences that you can enjoy in your Leh-Ladakh sightseeing package. Also if you are a solo traveler, you can find many opportunities to explore the local culture and the people who are very polite and gentle. Make sure to make necessary preparations if you are traveling in winter.