As tourism in Ladakh increases, the number of tourists in nearby areas like the Zanskar valley also increases. More and more people started planning a visit here; to areas that were unknown until a few years ago. The addition of the Zanskar valley to your existing trip to Ladakh is an addition of just another 2 days on the minimum side and is highly recommended. To get an idea of ​​how to do this, in the next two articles, I will suggest some examples of travel plans that explain the route and the journey in detail. I will start with an itinerary from Leh to Zanskar; this will help you understand how you can travel from Leh to the Zanskar valley, where to stay and what to see. Next, I will recommend an itinerary that will completely exclude Ladakh and allow you to travel only through Zanskar.

i know i said 2 days, but this is just the minimum time i mentioned here. There is a lot to see in the Zanskar valley and you can easily spend a week here exploring the place. For the purpose of this article, I will suggest a 6-day itinerary to and from the city of Leh. However, this is a very comprehensive itinerary that will help you see everything in Zanskar. Depending on the number of days you have on hand, you can add or remove places from this plan to best suit you. If you need my information or want to run your itinerary with me, feel free to do so in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Why visit Zanskar

A common thought around Zanskar is that people think of it as Ladakh. And since they have already visited Ladakh, they tend to avoid the Zanskar valley, assuming the views will always be the same, so why bother? This really cannot be further from the truth. Although the scenario may seem similar, the fact is that Zanskar has its own charm that you simply cannot miss. The beautiful contrast of green and brown between the Suru and Zanskar valleys; the magnificent white of the Drang Drung glacier; the change of culture from Muslim to Buddhist; these are just a few of the things that will make a trip here worthwhile.

The dispute for taxis and motorcycle rentals

One important thing that you need to remember is with regard to renting motorbikes and taxis. Any vehicle you have rented from the city of Leh will not be allowed in Zanskar and can only be used to reach Kargil. From Kargil, you will have to rent another bicycle or taxi that will take you to Padum, show you around and then take you back to Kargil. This is a major annoyance that I would like to tell you a way around, but it doesn’t really exist.

Itinerary from Leh to Zanskar

Below is an example of how you can plan a visit to the Zanskar valley from Leh. First, I suggest an itinerary that I recommend, followed by some alternative versions. The itinerary below assumes that you are coming from Zanskar to Leh and then return only to the city of Leh

  • Leh – Day 1
  • Leh to Kargil via Lamayuru – Day 2
  • Kargil to Padum – Day 3
  • Padum – Day 4
  • Padum – Day 5
  • Padum to Kargil – Day 6
  • Kargil to Leh – Day 7.

Why am I recommending traveling this way? Because this is a simple and straightforward journey that can be completed regardless of your time and mode of travel. It doesn’t matter if you took your own vehicle or public transport; At the beginning or at the end of the season. After this itinerary, you can conveniently travel from Leh to the Zanskar valley and return. A detailed explanation of the itinerary is as mentioned below.

Leh – Day 1

Now, that day can be in two possible ways that I can think of. The first is that you just flew to the city of Leh; in that case, you should spend Day 1 resting and allowing your body to acclimate. The second is that you were already in Ladakh and today you returned to Leh from anywhere else like the Pangong or Nubra valley.

I don’t have much to write about on the first day, because it really depends entirely on your itinerary so far. If you flew to Ladakh today, AMS will be your biggest concern. People who take a flight to Leh are more likely to suffer from altitude sickness due to the sudden gain in altitude. You shouldn’t try hard and get enough rest to allow your body to acclimate. If you feel better at night, you can visit some of the local attractions in the city of Leh, such as Leh Palace, Shanti Stoopa and the local market.

Leh to Kargil – Day 2

Your destination for the second day will be the small town of Kargil. The total distance of the trip will be about 220 kilometers; doable in 6 hours easily. Road is all good to Kargil. There are many places you must visit along the way, such as Mulbekh Maitreya, Lamayuru Monastery, Moon Landscape, Gurudwara Pather Sahib, Magnetic Hill, Confluence Indus Zanskar etc. your way back.\

Kargil to Padum – Day 3

The distance between the two cities is not that great; just over 230 kilometers, but due to some bad stretches of the road, it can take a whole day to travel. There is also the fact that there will be many tourist attractions involved, so it is highly recommended that you start early with Kargil. The route of the trip will be Kargil, Sankoo, Panikhar, Parkachik, Rangdum, Penzi La and, finally, Padum. The area before Rangdum is the entire Suru valley and after Rangdum is the entire Zanskar. You will be surprised by the green around the Suru valley and how it slowly changes to a barren landscape as you enter Zanskar.

I covered the trip in this entire section in detail in the Kargil Travel Guide for Padum. Take a look at the post below to learn more about the route and the places you should visit here. Pensi La Pass, Drang Drung Glacier, Sta Tso, Lang Tso Lakes and Nun-Kun Massif are some of the must-see spots on the way.

Padum – Day 4 and 5

I saved 2 days to walk around Zanskar; covering places in Padum and nearby, but you can reduce it to 1 day if you have little time; or do 3 if you can. For a complete list of tourist attractions in and around Padum; please read Tourist Places in Padum and its surroundings. You won’t really cover a huge area and most of the nearby local villages are within a day’s drive. If you arrived in Padum by public transport, you can rent a private taxi for a day that can show you around the city.

Padum to Kargil to Leh – 6th and 7th

On the 6th, you will return to Kargil by the same route you followed to get here. After spending the night in Kargil, you will return to Leh on the 7th. Plan your trip on this route to cover all tourist attractions between Leh, Kargil and Padum. Some can be visited on their way to Padum and rest on their way back.

There are two roads from Kargil to Leh. One is through Lamayuru that you took to reach the Zanskar valley. There is a second road that is rarely traveled by anyone. It takes you through the Batalik sector, extremely close to the border between India and Pakistan. From Kargil, you will travel via Batalik and exit on Srinagar Leh road, just before Khalsi. Note, however, that this is the longest of the two roads and will easily take 8 to 9 hours to complete. So, if you want to change your itinerary a bit, you can reach Zanskar from Leh via Lamayuru and return via Batalik.

Of course, this is just one of the many ways you can plan this journey. Depending on your general Ladakh itinerary and some other factors, you can adjust it in the way that is most convenient for you. Let me also suggest some other alternative itineraries, if this doesn’t fit your plans well.

Leh to Srinagar via Zanskar

Two most popular ways to cover Zanskar are: visiting here while returning from Ladakh to Srinagar; or plan a trip when going to Ladakh from Srinagar. If you were also thinking along the same lines, let me also recommend how to do it.

  • Leh – Day 1
  • Leh to Kargil via Lamayuru – Day 2
  • Kargil to Padum – Day 3
  • Padum – Day 4
  • Padum to Kargil – Day 5
  • Kargil to Srinagar – Day 6

This itinerary is basically the same as I suggested above. The only difference is that, on the last day, instead of returning to Leh, you will reach Srinagar via Drass and Sonamarg. If, however, you wanted to try a different route for the return trip and were on a bit of off-road, you can also travel like that.

Itinerary # 2

  • Leh – Day 1
  • Leh to Kargil via Lamayuru – Day 2
  • Kargil to Padum – Day 3
  • Padum to Rangdum – Day 4
  • Rangdum to Drass via Umba La – Day 5
  • Drass to Srinagar – Day 6

Traveling the above way, you will spend the first half of Day 4 in Padum and return to Rangdum in the second half. You will spend the night in Rangdum and arrive in Sankoo the next day. In Sankoo, a recently paved road goes towards the top of Umba La and then goes down to Drass on the other side. It is more like a shortcut between Sankoo and Drass. Remember that, although paved, the road is very steep and with many sharp curves. The time on this pass can also change at any minute. Before taking this road, be sure to talk to the locals and only go on after you have an idea of ​​how the roads were and the weather.

Srinagar to Leh via Zanskar

Now, the above two itineraries were assuming that you were returning home via Srinagar and covered Zanskar on the way. If you were going to Ladakh via Srinagar and wanted to visit Zanskar on the way, then you can travel as below.

  • Srinagar – Day 1
  • Srinagar to Kargil – Day 2
  • Kargil to Padum – Day 3
  • Padum – Day 4
  • Padum to Kargil – Day 5
  • Kargil to Leh via Lamayuru or Batalik – Day 6

Or like below

  • Srinagar – Day 1
  • Srinagar to Drass – Day 2
  • Drass to Rangdum via Umba La – Day 3
  • Rangdum to Padum – Day 4
  • Padum to Kargil – Day 5
  • Kargil to Leh via Lamayuru or Batalik – Day 6

Leh to Zanskar Valley

That’s right. These are some of the itineraries you can follow for your trip to Zanskar. The following are some of the other details of the journey that I believe can help.

Distance Leh to Zanskar

Rangdum is really the place where you cross the Suru valley to Zanskar. Leh to Rangdum is a total of about 350 kilometers, but if you traveled to Padum, the distance increases to about 450 kilometers.

Bus from Leh to Zanskar

There are no direct buses from Leh to the Zanskar valley. You will first have to board a bus from Leh to Kargil and then another to Kargil to Padum.

Leh Zanskar trek

Chadar’s famous hike takes place only in winter, if that’s what you were wondering. In addition to hiking in Chadar, there are numerous other trails, but for that, you must hire an experienced guide from Leh, along with some porters.

Leh to Padum

Leh to Padum is a minimum journey of 2 days. There is really no way to do it in a single day. Although the distance of about 450 kilometers seems feasible in one day, you should keep in mind that you will be driving through a mountainous region and some bad road that will severely limit your average speed.

Leh Faz Rangdum

Leh to Rangdum can be attempted in one day, but it will easily take 12 to 14 hours, depending on the speed of a break. You must leave Leh in the first light of the day, and even then, you will probably reach Rangdum only at the end of the night.

Leh Glacier to Drang Drung

A trip to Leh’s Drang Drung Glacier is at least three days. The glacier is visible from the top of the Pensi La Pass and, even if you drive non-stop, you probably won’t get there in the dark. If you were only interested in Drang Draung and not in all of Zanskar, you can first travel from Leh to Kargil on day 1. On day 2, you can do some local tours in the Suru valley, including the glacier and the city of Rangdum. You will return to Leh on the 3rd via Lamayuru or Batalik.

Distance Leh Glacier to Drang Drung

The total distance between the Leh glacier and Drang Drung is about 370 kilometers.

Kargil Makes Drang Drung Glacier

The Kargil Glacier to Drang Drung is a total of approximately 155 kilometers

Distance Kargil to Rangdum

Kargil to Rangdum is a total of 130 kilometers approximately.

Kargil Makes Padum Road

The entire stretch of road between Kargil and Padum is mainly a dirt track. In the first 40 kilometers, until Sankoo, the road remains in excellent condition, but deteriorates shortly afterwards and remains until Padum. Good news, however, is that it never gets so bad when it can become very inconvenient. In fact, there are some bad sections, but for the rest, it is a “not so bad” dirt track.

Bus from Leh to Padum

The bus service from Leh to Padum is weekly. This bus departs from Leh, stops at Kargil and continues to Padum the next day. The availability of seats on this bus is also an uncertainty.

Bus from Kargil to Padum

It is the same bus that comes from Leh and continues to Padum. There are no buses leaving from Kargil to Padum. Kargil buses go to Sankoo, Panikhar and Parkachik.

Taxi fare from Kargil to Padum

For taxi fares, read

Distance Leh to Padum

Leh to Padum is a total of approximately 450 kilometers.

Kargil Faz Rangdum

Kargil to Rangdum is a total of about 130 kilometers traveling through the cities of Sankoo, Parkachik and Panikar.

Distance Kargil to Padum

Kargil to Padum is a total of about 230 kilometers.

Leh to Padum Road

The route from Leh to Padum is as mentioned below.

Leh – Lamayuru – Mulbekh – Kargil – Sankoo – Panikhar – Prakachik – Rangdum – Pensi La – Abran – Padum