For the motorcycling community, Leh and Ladakh are the ultimate destinations for a great motorcycling experience. Ladakh is located in the Northern region of Jammu and Kashmir and it has gained great popularity among tourists.
You can always buy any one of the popular Leh Ladakh tour packages and see visit all the key destinations. But, the experience of riding a bike through the picturesque background of the mountains and vast landscapes is something that cannot be described in words.
The experience of bike riding in these areas is known to only a handful of people who chose to challenge themselves to take a bike ride to these distant places. You will come across several Buddhist monasteries and high-altitude mountain passes with various camping sites that offer a great experience of solitude in the raw nature.
Taking a Leh Ladakh bike trip through the rugged landscape of Ladakh is not an easy task. But the challenge is worth all the effort and time you put into it. The very journey to Leh and Ladakh on a bike has the potential to give you a totally new perspective on life and even give you an unforgettable experience of a lifetime.
Taking a bike trip to Leh Ladakh requires a significant amount of mental and physical preparation. This short guide will provide you with the necessary tips on how to make a great Leh Ladakh bike trip plan. Following are some of the major considerations that you will need to understand before your bike ride to Leh and Ladakh.
Tip for Leh Ladakh Bike Tour
The months from June to September are considered the best time to visit Leh and Ladakh. The motorcyclists can particularly pass through the various passes which are generally open during this time. Although some people have attempted a bike journey during the monsoon and winter season, this has made their journey harder than usual.
It is recommended that you travel during the summer months to avoid the harshness of the weather elements as well as bad road conditions during certain months. If you are planning for a Leh Ladakh bike trip from Delhi then the best route to take is from the Manali-Leh highway.
Do remember that the roads get blocked for many hours and even days due to bad weather conditions. The ride through certain routes also becomes quite dangerous during certain times. You can consider the time from the middle of May until the middle of October to be a good window to start your journey.
Also Read: Things to do in Ladakh
2. Choosing a Bike
One thing to understand is that taking a bike trip to Leh Ladakh means that you will be riding on some of the most dangerous roads in India. So, you need to choose the right bike for your journey.
It is not wise to pick an incompatible bike that will create problems for you on your journey and also make your ride dangerous. A bad bike can compromise your safety on your journey. The best bike for the Leh Ladakh trip that is mostly recommended is the Royal Enfield with a 350cc engine. Another choice is the Enfield Bullet bike which is also great.
The Leh Ladakh bullet trip on Enfield bullet bike can make your ride smooth and will help you conquer some of the most treacherous roads in India. The least popular but still ‘good enough’ is the Bajaj Pulsar (180cc and above) which can also help you finish your journey with the least hassle. If you do not own any of the compatible bikes, you can always rent them from the many dealers available in Manali.
According to the motorcycling community, some of the best bikes for the Leh Ladakh trip are as follows.
•Royal Enfield (350cc and above)
•Royal Enfield Himalayan
•CBR 250 (without the Contigo tires)
Also Read: Famous Lakes of Ladakh
3. Biking Gear & Equipment
There are some key bike components and parts that you need to carry in case of any breakdown. After some research on the online forums, we have found a few essential parts that are very crucial to help you fix your bike in case of any potential emergency. These parts include the following.
• Extra Bike Key
• Extra Chain Lock
• Spare Tyre
• Spare Bungee Cords
• Spare Clutch
• Accelerator Cable
• Chain Lubricant
• Extra Engine Oil
• Extra Headlight Bulb
• Extra Tire Tube
Carrying these things will ensure that you will be fully prepared. Apart from these, you will also need some protective gear for your safety. Your safety gear should include the following.
• Knee & Elbow Guards
• Waterproof gloves
• Good pair of Shoes
• Riding jacket
Along with carrying the above-mentioned gear and equipment, make sure your bike is serviced well before the journey. Once your Leh Ladakh road trip bike is ready, your journey will be smooth and full of adventure without any hassles.
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4. Acclimatize to avoid (AMS) Acute Mountain Sickness
Acclimatization is one of the most important things to consider before making your Leh Ladakh bike trip plan. Please remember Leh and Ladakh are situated at a very high altitude. Rushing your journey and traveling quickly to such a height will result in fatal issues for your health. Low atmospheric pressure and lack of oxygen will make you feel tired and create further health problems for you.
It is advised that you should rest for at least 2 days after you reach Leh. After resting, slowly start your journey as your body adjusts to the height and acclimatize. You should make sure that you drink enough water but don’t overdo it as it can also make your health suffer.
Some of the main symptoms that you may experience are headaches, nausea, and fatigue. If you feel the symptoms are getting worse, you must travel to a lower altitude and rest. If you are someone who is taking a Leh Ladakh bike trip from Delhi, then you might consider taking a lot of breaks on your way to Ladakh and slowly ride to your destination.
Make sure to carry medications such as ‘Diamox’ to combat mountain sickness. It is good that you avoid drinking alcohol and smoking as the low oxygen levels will make you breathe even harder than it already is. People who avail the Leh Ladakh trip package and travel by air or bus also take their time to acclimatize themselves before reaching the height altitude.
It is one of the most important considerations as it concerns your health and safety. If you have low immunity and have heart-related issues, then it is good that you check with your doctor if you should take this journey.
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5. Choose the best route
There are 2 main routes that you can take to Leh. The most popular one is through Manali by taking the Manali-Leh highway. This route is filled with difficult road conditions that can make your trip to Ladakh quite challenging. If the weather turns against you, then the journey can be very difficult.
Another route which is through Srinagar to Sarchi and Upshi is less difficult and is preferred by many riders as well. Following are these two main routes in detail especially for the riders taking the Leh Ladakh bike trip from Delhi.
Route 1 with a total distance of around 2300 kilometers.
• Delhi – Jalandhar – Jammu – Srinagar – Kargil – Leh – Sarchu – Manali – back to Delhi
Route 2 with a total distance of around 2000 kilometers.
• Delhi → Manali → Sarchu → Leh → Khardung La → Nubra Valley → Kargil → Srinagar → Delhi
Also Read: Top Attraction in Leh Ladakh
6. Permits & Documents
Your Leh Ladakh bike tour requires you to be prepared in terms of acquiring all the important permits and documents that you have to show at various checkpoints on your way. The District administration and the Green Tribunal are the 2 authorities that authorize all the required permits you need for your journey.
Many people think that the Rohtang Pass Permit is the only permit you need. But this permit is only for visiting Rohtang pass and it does not allow you to go beyond Rohtang La. if you are planning a Leh Ladakh bike trip, then you need to acquire Inner Line Permit (ILP). This travel document issued by the Government of India allows you to travel to the following areas.
• Nubra valley
• Khardung La
• Pangong Tso
• Tso Moriri
• Dah and Hanu Villages
• Loma Bend
• Digger La
• Tangyar (for trekking purposes only)
For non-residents of Jammu and Kashmir, this document is mandatory for traveling. The validity of this document is for 3 weeks for Indians and 1-week validity for the foreign nationals. You can submit your application for this permit online.
Do remember to check for the latest updates on permit-related news and information as it seems to change according to the political climate near Jammu and Kashmir.
7. Carry Cash
Your Leh Ladakh bike tour will mostly be on your bike riding through the barren vast rugged landscapes of Jammu and Kashmir. So, it is important to carry enough cash with you before starting your journey. You will not be able to find many ATMs on your way.
The small food shops and restaurants might not be able to accept your ATM cards or digital payments due to low connectivity. Paying them in cash is mostly the case. To avoid and inconvenience, make sure you have some cash ready to make the necessary payment for your fuel and food.
There are certain points where you can find an ATM or two. So, do your research and make sure you know where the locations are. This will help you keep your journey hassle-free.
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A trip to Ladakh on a bike is totally different from taking a vacation offered by the popular Leh-Ladakh tour packages. The tour package includes your food and accommodation in its itinerary and you do not face much of a challenge in finding the right place to eat.
When taking a trip on a bike to Leh-Ladakh, you might face many situations where the street vendors will not have food available for you. It is recommended that you do not expect to find food whenever you are hungry. It is good if are well-prepared in advance and carry some snacks and easy-to-make foods to avoid staying hungry. You must stay well hydrated and well-fed on your bike ride to Leh & Ladakh. Try packing some cookies, easy-to-cook noodles, chips as emergency food items. You can also pack protein bars and energy foods to keep you going.
Also Read: Best Time to Visit in Leh Ladakh
9. Carry Fuel
You might have the best bike for your Leh-Ladakh trip, but it is useless if it runs out of fuel in the middle of nowhere. So, according to the seasoned adventurers who regularly ride to Leh & Ladakh, advise carrying around 20 liters of extra fuel for your bike.
These experienced riders learned from their mistakes and there are many online forums where they share their experiences of being stranded alone for long hours. To avoid such a scenario, you must be well-prepared for a long ride to your cherished destination.
You will find many petrol stations on your way but they are quite far from each other. Your Leh Ladakh bullet trip will be a long ride, so make sure that you carry an extra can where you can carry fuel for your favorite bike to keep it hydrated.
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It is very important to inform your loved ones about your location and the status of your journey. Since your bike ride will be quite challenging and full of difficulties, your phone connection needs to work well.
However, only a few service providers work in Ladakh and that too some cellphone plans that charge you monthly. Most ‘Pre-Paid’ plans might not work or have low connectivity. So, be prepared and know when your network is working and update your loved ones on your current location.
Also Read: Best Places to Visit in Himachal Pradesh
11. Cost of your Trip
The overall cost of your bike trip depends on a lot of factors such as your choice of a bike, food, accommodation, and duration of your stay. You need to plan carefully about the budget you need to finish your journey successfully. Make sure to include the cost of any unforeseen difficulties that may arise.
The average budget for 2 weeks long ride from Delhi on a bike might cost you around 35,000 – 40,000 India Rupees. This is just an average approximation of the amount you will spend on food, accommodation, and other basic requirements of a bike ride.
Once you have selected your Leh Ladakh road trip bike, make sure to check the weather conditions, your health condition, equipment and gear, and all the other above-mentioned requirements while planning your journey.
Do remember, that traveling to Leh & Ladakh by road is not an easy feat. It requires a strong spirit of adventure and some mental stamina to withstand any challenges that come your way. Despite all these challenges, the bike ride to Ladakh is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have in your life. Many experienced riders swear by the authenticity of the feeling that you experience on your journey. It opens your spirit to an experience that is beyond words.