Spending massive amounts of time in India is easy. The country itself is huge and each region is unique. But if you can only visit one region, I would insist on visiting Ladakh. Ladakh is in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in the north. It goes from the Kunlun mountain range to the Himalayas, and the people that live there are some of the most unique I’ve ever seen. They are more or less people of Indo-Aryan or Tibetan descent. They don’t look Indian and they refer to themselves as Ladakhi.
I’m sad to say I only had 4 nights in the region. It wasn’t nearly enough. I spent 2 nights in Leh (the city you will likely arrive to via bus or flight) and 2 nights in the Nubra Valley – one in Panamik and one in Diskit.
How To Get There
The best and easiest way to arrive is by plane. The ticket should run you about $40 USD and the views from the top are truly sensational. You coast through the Himalayas which – during September – look like snowcapped desert mountains peaking into the sky.
Upon arrival you’ll realize you are at an unfamiliar altitude and be urged by the tourist desk to take 1 full day to hydrate, rest, and acclimate. I wouldn’t challenge them.
From the airport you will need to take a taxi for about 300 rupee into Leh. If you have a place to stay prearranged, the driver will take you directly there. If not (like me!), ask them to take you to the main bazaar. There are a ton of guest houses in every direction and they usually have availability.
Once you get settled into your guesthouse, feel free to roam around the town. It’s quaint and everyone is extremely friendly. And Leh is potentially the best place to get your Cashmere or Pashmina scarves, as they are the closest region to Kashmir – where those items are made.
Once you feel how soft the yak wool, cashmere, and pashmina are, pop into a tourism shop and get information on what there is to do around Leh (aside from visiting OpenHand for a meal). There are a ton of multi-day hikes, sites, and nature to be done and seen. From Leh you can access the highest drivable pass in the world. Hire a car, rent a motorcycle, or take a bicycle and head that way. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
A Few Not-So-Dissapointing Photos
Aside from the few activities and sites I visited, you should try to get to Pangong Tso Lake. By try I simply mean add extra time into your itinerary. Something I failed to do. The lake is supposedly a pristine, gorgeous piece of water/land that extends from India to China.
I guess I’ll need to go back to see it myself!
If you do exclusively visit Leh Ladakh, you’ll be missing out on much of what makes India… well… India. So do yourself a favor and set aside a bit more time to really discover and enjoy the great country. Because each part of it is incredibly unique.