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Traveling to Leh Ladakh? Here Are the Dos and Don’ts

Leh-Ladakh is one Indian destination that is on every traveler’s bucket list. It does not matter if you are a mountain, desert, or beach lover; going to Ladakh at least once in a lifetime is everyone’s travel dream.

But like it’s said—hard roads lead to beautiful destinations. The scenic beauty of Leh Ladakh is to die for, but the roads and climate change can be alarming. 

Traveling to Ladakh can be a thrilling experience, but it can also be dangerous if you are not cautious about certain things. While there are many things that you must do in Ladakh, there are also things that you must avoid when traveling to the place.

Because of the treacherous roads, low oxygen levels, high altitude, and zero internet connectivity, you have to be extra alert when traveling to this place. You have to follow certain norms to truly enjoy the beauty of this popular and exciting holiday destination in India. 

In this article, we will tell you the Dos and Don’ts of traveling in Ladakh so you can enjoy this mesmerizing place and prevent any kind of trouble.

Dos for Your Ladakh Trip

Do take all your medication with you and carry it everywhere.

Did you know that Leh sits at a high altitude of 11,562 feet? It is a cold-arid desert that must be the most exciting destination in the world but traveling to this land of high passes can cause AMS (acute mountain sickness).

buddhist temple in india
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So the first thing that you should do when traveling to Leh Ladakh is pack your medicines. Given that it is a high-altitude desert, the air pressure is shallow, leading to altitude sickness and breathing issues.

While some people may experience mild AMS, others can also suffer from severe AMS that can lead to High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High-Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).

Hence, it’s essential that you carefully pack all the necessary medications and carry them with you when you are traveling in Leh Ladakh. 

Here’s a list of medicines that you must carry on your trip to Leh Ladakh:

  • Acetazolamide for Acute Mountain Sickness 
  • OTC drugs like Avomin and Antacids
  • Ibuprofen for any kind of inflammation
  • Sunscreens to prevent sunburn
  • Paracetamol for body pain or fever
  • Over-the-Counter Medicines for Diarrhea 
  • Emset for nausea or vomiting
  • ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) or Coconut water
  • Tampons and Sanitary napkins

Do take 2 Days of acclimatization

Before going to a higher altitude, take a minimum of 2 days of acclimatization after reaching Leh to prevent acute high altitude sickness.

lamayuru monastery in ladakh india
Photo by ArtHouse Studio on Pexels.com

It does not matter if you have traveled by air or road; all tourists entering Leh must acclimate and rest properly to avoid suffering from nausea, AMS, headache, or even dizziness.

I am speaking from my experience that the scarcity of oxygen and the high altitude can cause severe health issues that can completely spoil your trip. So it’s best to take precautions, follow the rules, and undergo proper acclimatization. 

Do take a lot of pictures

When traveling amidst the rugged valleys and scenic landscapes of Ladakh, it’s always a good idea to click lots of pictures.

Be it the picturesque lakes, pristine rivers, snow-capped peaks, or scenic views of the barren mountains, every other place in Ladakh is worth clicking photos at.

Ladakh is so picturesque that you would want to take a picture in every location, as each site offers a breathtaking view. So, make as many random stops as possible and click memorable photographs. 

Do plan your trip well in advance

Impromptu trips are undoubtedly fascinating but not when it comes to Leh Ladakh. When traveling to this high-altitude desert with sharp curves, barren mountains, and zero internet connectivity, always ensure you have planned it all.

Be it the weather and climate conditions, accommodation, the places you will visit, or mode of transport, you should have everything prepared beforehand and strictly follow the itinerary. Believe me when I tell you that Ladakh is no place for sudden adventures. 

Don’ts for Your Ladakh Trip

Don’t drink and drive

ladakh mountain range india
Photo by ArtHouse Studio on Pexels.com

Be it Leh Ladakh or any other place, one should desist from drinking and driving. No matter what happens, do not drive your car or ride your bike if you are under the influence of alcohol.

Under any circumstances, refrain from drinking alcohol and driving because it can lead to fatal accidents. Alcohol consumption in a high-altitude area like Ladakh can also worsen the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness and spoil both your health as well as your trip. 

Don’t rely on Google Maps

Google maps may have helped you reach difficult locations across India, but it’s not your friend in Ladakh. When traveling to Leh-Ladakh, you need to be an old-school traveler because Google maps will hardly work here.

Even if they do, you should refrain from trusting the routes they show, as you may end up in a completely different place. When traveling to Leh-Ladakh, it’s always a good idea to carry a physical map with you to sail through the routes.

You can also hire a tour guide or ask locals for directions. Another problem with using Google maps is the time confusion. For example, Google maps may show that the time distance from Ladakh to Tso Moriri is 4 hours, but in reality, it will take more than 8-10 hours. 

Don’t get too close to the dogs

landscape of leh city near mountains
Photo by ArtHouse Studio on Pexels.com

When traveling in Ladakh, please keep in mind that the dogs here are very different from those found in other Indian destinations.

Places like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Goa have extremely friendly dog breeds, but in Ladakh, dog friendliness can turn into a nightmare within a minute.

This is because dogs in Ladakh are incredibly ferocious. There have been reports of dog attacks in Ladakh. It is believed that many people in Ladakh have lost their lives in dog attacks. 

Don’t expect 4G connectivity in Ladakh

Sorry about this one, but don’t raise your expectations regarding mobile connectivity or good internet in Ladakh. You may not be able to upload your Instagram reels and pictures as mobile connectivity is fragile, and there is no such thing as 4G or mobile data.

Once you cross Kargil, the only networks that will work are BSNL and Airtel, especially in Leh. However, after reaching Ladakh, you will have to stay away from your phone as there is very rare or no network connectivity in most regions.

Only postpaid Indian sim cards work in Ladakh, and you have to depend on the hotel wifi if you want to access the Internet.  

Don’t get overconfident while driving

drone shot of namgyal tsemo monastery
Photo by ArtHouse Studio on Pexels.com

When traveling to Ladakh, never make the mistake of underestimating the terrain or the roads. You may be a very experienced and skilled driver, but when it comes to driving in Ladakh, you must be highly cautious.

There are sharp cuts and narrow roads that will make driving quite a challenging task. So ride slowly, don’t ever be in a rush, and most importantly, don’t get overconfident. 

Don’t litter

What makes Ladakh so beautiful is its lakes, rivers, mountains, valleys, and cleanliness. The reason why people visit Ladakh from all over the world is that it leaves people stunned.

So when you travel to Ladakh, do not litter and help the locals and government keep the place clean and beautiful. Also, avoid using plastic bags at all costs as plastic is banned in Ladakh. 

Travel tips for Leh Ladakh:

  • Carry an extra pair of clothing everywhere with you because of the changing weather conditions.
  • Always take the inner line permit before going sightseeing.
  • Don’t camp in unknown locations.
  • Don’t take shortcuts and drive very slowly.
  • Don’t take a dip in the lakes (it can lead to fever/cold).
  • Make sure your walking shoes are comfortable and strong.
  • Carry the first-id box with you.
  • Always carry extra batteries for your smartphones and cameras as there are no charging points and electricity at several places.
  • Try visiting Ladakh in a group for a better experience.
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