Lonely Planet Writer

Lost in Leh: travel bloggers share top tips for visiting the unique Indian destination

A pair of travel bloggers have offered a selection of useful tips and suggestions for anyone thinking of visiting the unique destination of Leh in the Jammu and Kashmir region of India, as well as sharing some seriously wanderlust-inducing images.

Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake, located in The Himalayas.
Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake, located in The Himalayas. Image by Adventure In Our Teacups

Standing at an altitude of between 2,300 to 5,000 metres above sea level and framed by the breath-taking jagged figures of a few different mountain ranges (the Himalayas, the Zanskar, the Ladakh and the Karakoram), the district offers incredible views and the chance for true cultural immersion. However, the high altitude can pose some unique challenges for visitors.

The beautiful Shey Palace in Leh.
The beautiful Shey Palace in Leh. Image by Adventure In Our Teacups.

Lee and Bhanu from Adventure In Our Teacups said one of the most important aspects of travelling to Leh is preparing for the high altitude. “The heady feeling of being at 11,000 feet affects everyone to varying degrees. While some people hardly feel the impact, others are hit quite hard. To combat Mild Altitude Sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness, everyone is recommended to rest when arriving in Leh and to take Diamox the day before and then as required throughout the week. It only takes a couple of days to adjust and hotels and tour guides are well equipped with oxygen tanks if needed,” they told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Monks from the Diskit Monastery in the Nubra Valley.
Monks from the Diskit Monastery in the Nubra Valley. Image by Adventure In Our Teacups

With the steep mountain roads and high inclines, much of the drive out of Leh, particularly to Nubra Valley and Lake Pangong can be hard to navigate, but Lee and Bhanu said sticking it out is worth it. “There are few toilets or road stops, the windy heights are not for the faint-hearted and it can take hours to travel just 50 km. But the spectacular mountain peaks and cascading valleys will be their own reward. Watch out also for the helpful and cheeky road signs that guide you around the bends, they are the work of the Indian Army and their very clever road safety team.”

The Hemis Monastery, located approximately 45 kilometres from Leh.
The Hemis Monastery, located approximately 45 kilometres from Leh. Image by Adventure In Our Teacups

The travel bloggers also offered tips on the best time to visit, saying that India’s summer (May to August) is enjoyable, as the snow still rests on the mountain slopes but the sunshine warms the days to temperatures reaching 30 degrees and upwards. “As the fresh crisp air fills your lungs, it’s a welcome relief from the heat of peak summer and the constant upward climb to palace and temple courtyards. However, the altitude can take a toll on your body and energy levels, and this is, in part, the fine line between Leh being a holiday and an adventure,” they said.

The Indus River that flows from Tibet into Pakistan.
The Indus River that flows from Tibet into Pakistan. Image by Adventure In Our Teacups

The pair also suggested that travellers allow enough time for their trip, with adjusting to altitude, traveling the expansive distances and navigating the challenging roads taking significant time.

The Thikse Tibetan Monastery east of Leh.
The Thikse Tibetan Monastery east of Leh. Image by Adventure In Our Teacup

“Leh is bursting with Tibetan culture bought to life with its ties to Buddhism that stem from the 12th century. Wherever you travel, crisp white stupas dot the landscape and monasteries, edged into the mountain slopes, climb upwards into the clear thin sky. Shanti Stupa, set on a hilltop in Changspa was built to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism and to promote world peace,” Lee and Bhanu told Lonely Planet Travel News.