When you talk about visiting Leh Ladakh in March, you already know that it will not be just another regular vacation. In fact, it can’t even be a regular trip to Ladakh. This is the peak time of the winter season and things are far from “regular”.
Life in Ladakh at this time of year is tough; so severe that even the locals move to warmer places for a few months and only return after the winter passes. This is the time of snow and snow is everywhere. Electricity can go out for several days, and sometimes the temperature drops below freezing. The water will freeze in the pipes, making running water a luxury you simply cannot have. If the weather is severe, it may force you to stay indoors for several days; stuck in one place until things become a little easier for you to move around.
So, with all of the above, the question is possible and should you plan a trip to Leh Ladakh in March? While the “should” part of this question is really a personal choice; the answer to the “Can” part is a definite yes. How you can plan this trip and what are some of the things you should keep in mind is what I will talk about in this article.
I will break this article into three parts. I’ll start by sharing some important tips that will be useful in planning your trip in general. Then, I will share an example of an itinerary that you can follow in Ladakh; followed by some advantages and disadvantages of being in Ladakh in March.
Visit Leh Ladakh in March
Why would anyone want to visit Ladakh in March? There may be only two reasons for this in my opinion. First, of course, find snow. If you want to be in a place buried under a thick layer of snow; then you will definitely not be disappointed with Ladakh. I agree that this can also be done at several other mountain stations; but their number is severely limited in the final winter months, such as March.
Take Shimla or Manali, for example. It snows here, but most of it disappears in March. There is absolutely no snow on the ground and the chances of a snowfall are also rare. However, with Ladakh, you can be sure that you will be witnessing a lot of snow; and, if you’re lucky, you can even get a live blizzard while you were there. Second reason if you are adventurous. Due to its difficult climate and challenging terrain, a trip to Ladakh always has an adventure angle; regardless of the month you get here. The adventure increases even more if you plan a winter trip to Ladakh.
Both reasons are, in my opinion, best applied when you have visited Ladakh once in the summer. A winter trip here is better as your second or third trip to Ladakh; making it the first is not really the best of ideas. If this is your first time in Leh Ladakh, my sincere advice is to postpone it for a few months. Visit Ladakh first between June and September; and then plan for winter next year. That way, you would already have become familiar with the terrain and climate, when it is not as rigorous as it would be in March.
Car trip to Leh Ladakh in March
Travel to Ladakh in March? The answer is, no, you can’t do it. In terms of getting to Ladakh, the only option you have is to take a flight there. There is absolutely no way for you to make this a trip. The two roads connecting Ladakh to the rest of the country remain completely blocked in March. For this trip, you will have to take a flight in and out of Leh. The only “road” you will find on this trip is the one you travel locally in Ladakh.
Srinagar to Leh by road in March
In the past, the Srinagar Leh highway was declared open in March. The most recent was in the year 2018, when there was not much snow anywhere in the Himalayas. As a result, BRO was able to clean the highway much earlier than expected and vehicles began to double in the very week of March. However, this is extremely rare. Even in 2018, authorities declared the road closed again shortly thereafter; and then it was only reopened in April.
Therefore, as a tourist, and for your own safety, you should not plan to travel from Srinagar to Leh by road in March. Even if the road was opened in the last week, it will be highly unstable, with chances of avalanches along the route. The chances of closing again will also be high, as BRO will continue the restoration work.
Manali Leh Highway in March
Manali to Leh in March, as I mentioned above, is not really a choice; even at the end of the month. Even the Rohtang pass remains buried deep in the snow at this time of year, so you won’t even be able to start from Manali. The earliest this road opens is only in the month of May; not before that.
Leh in Winter- Hotels
When you arrive in Leh, your next concern will be with accommodation in the city of Leh and in other areas of Ladakh. Most hotels here close their doors in winter and only a few remain operational. Life gets so hard that these hotel owners also move to other parts of the country for a few months; and only return when winter has passed. Some residents who stay in Ladakh, even during winter, are the ones who can accommodate you at your hotel or inn for a few days; but you must notify them in advance. They will have to prepare for your arrival, tidy up your room and make other necessary arrangements.
Therefore, for a winter trip, it is extremely important that you book a hotel in advance to avoid last minute hassles. However, this does not mean that you will not receive a hotel without making a reservation. Ladakh is not completely deserted in winter. Some grocery stores that sell everyday stuff, government offices, few hotels and restaurants remain open in March, so you can get accommodations without making reservations. The Hotel Tso Kar in Leh is where I stayed during my winter trip. They have central heating and Wi-Fi, and I recommend it.
Weather Leh Ladakh in march
Now that you have arrived in Leh and checked into a hotel; let me talk a little bit about what you should be waiting for. First, let’s discuss the climate that can be summed up in three words; cold, hard and unforgiving. When I say cold, I’m not talking about the kind that people like you and I witness on the plains. No, I mean the kind of extreme weather that can make you never want to come here. The temperature during the night can drop below zero degrees and the sun can disappear for several days. This is the odd time when you can suffer from ulceration if you’re not careful; and may even get sunburned. Yes, even if it is winter, but the sun can still give you a serious tan when you are there in the bright sky.
Ladakh Temperature in march
In March, average temperatures in Ladakh vary between 6 ° C during the day and -5 ° C at night.
No running water
So, with this kind of cold weather and freezing temperatures, it is quite normal for water to freeze everywhere; even in the pipes. What this necessarily means is that you will receive hot water in buckets; and in limited quantities, you will have to use a little conservatively. It also means that you may have to go without a shower for a few days. So, if you are someone who cannot bear this type of cold; or you can’t bathe for a day, a winter trip to Ladakh isn’t really your thing.
If you were planning to stay in places like the Nubra valley, Karzok, Chumathang, Hanle, etc., there may not be running water in the bathrooms either. In that case, you will have to do your morning business crouched over a dry well. Another thing to consider before planning to be in Ladakh in the winter.
Places to visit in Leh Ladakh in March
Almost all areas of Ladakh remain open in March. You can easily plan a trip to places like Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Kargil, Tso Moriri etc. after landing in the city of Leh.
Nubra Valley in march
The only reason you can’t get to the Nubra valley in winter is if it snowed a lot in Khardung La. If the pass was open, you can plan a day trip here or even spend the night. I stayed at the Habib Guest House in Hunder and recommend it.
Pangong lake in march
Like the Nubra Valley, Pangong will also remain open, unless Chang La has temporarily snowed. However, if you were thinking about a completely frozen Pangong, you should plan it in the first week of March. The lake starts to melt in March and is almost all blue by the end of the month. In terms of accommodation, there will be no campsites available and you will have to remain a paying guest at Spangmik. Or you can stay in Tangste, about 30 kilometers before the lake. There is a guest house here called Changla Yakmik Guest House which is also open in winter.
If you were planning to go further towards the Changthang valley, Padma Guest House in Hanle is the only accommodation available.
Tso Moriri in march
Tso Moriri also remains open in March, as are Nubra and Pangong. There is a guest house here named Goose Homestay where I stayed and would recommend it. Another place that remains open in the winter is the Lake view Guest House. The last known number I had for them is 01982 – 264867, in case you want to call and book in advance. In addition, the Hot Spring Resort in Chumathang, which is on the way, is also a great option to stay. It is built just above the hot springs, which function as a natural heater; and keeps the place warm during the winter.
Rent a private taxi
My recommendation is that you rent a private taxi for the trip. With this cold weather and icy winds, it is more practical to travel sitting in a car. Other modes of travel will be very difficult to find. You can take shared taxis and even a bus, but their frequency will be very rare. With all the recent boost in tourism, even some motorcycle rentals have started to remain open in the winter. This is also an option, but only if you know how to maneuver a motorcycle with snow and ice under the wheels and cold winds on your face.
Keep your expectations low
Fresh vegetables at this time of year are scary and locals tend to stock up for a few weeks. Therefore, the menu of what you can eat will be limited almost everywhere in Ladakh. There are a few restaurants and Dhabas in the city of Leh, where you can eat, but the food will be very basic, nothing fancy. Neha Sweets, in Leh’s main market, remains open in the winter months, where I mainly ate.
Snow in Ladakh in March
There may actually be two questions here. First, will you see a live snowfall? Chances are, but try to plan in early March. The second question is: will you see Ladakh completely white with snow everywhere? The answer is no. Ground snow in March will be limited to high altitude passes and en route there. It won’t be a total blackout, unless a heavy snowfall covers everything with snow for a few days.
My first advice here would be to not make this trip if there is some kind of medical history involved that can become serious. You are going to a high altitude location and this is also when it is freezing up there. Doing this with a serious type of illness is not really the best idea.
With that said, there are hospitals in the city of Leh that also remain open in the winter. In addition to hospitals, you can also approach the Indian Army and obtain medical assistance. However, hospitals are limited to Leh and Kargil only. Medical assistance is not available in Nubra, Pangong or Tso Moriri.
Shopping in Ladakh
There will not be many purchases during the winter visit. Most stores are currently closed and the only ones open are those that sell groceries. However, you can buy winter clothes and equipment, such as shawls, mufflers, caps, etc.
Camp in Ladakh in March
I think the answer to this question is an obvious no, but I will mention it nonetheless. Camping in the winter season is not recommended at all; and you must choose to stay indoors in a cemented hotel. But if you want to camp, bring the best quality sleeping bag to keep you warm to temperatures below 0 degrees. You can also rent camping equipment and sleeping bags in the city of Leh.
Keep buffer days
You should keep a few days as a buffer in addition to your decided plan. There is a high chance that you will be stuck in either location due to the extreme weather for a few days. Sometimes, even flights can be canceled due to bad weather. Plan so that you can stay in Ladakh for a few more days due to unforeseen circumstances, if necessary.
Leh Ladakh bike ride in March
The roads to Ladakh will be closed and you will not be able to take your own motorcycle. Therefore, the only chance for you to take a bicycle trip is to fly to Ladakh and rent a bicycle in the city of Leh for local sightseeing.
Keep your itinerary simple
What I mean by that is to include only areas that are the main tourist destinations. Do not plan to wander towards places like Marsimik La, or another closer to border areas, or some internal routes, such as the Shyok road. My advice would be, in fact, not to even plan a night elsewhere than Leh City. An itinerary that I will recommend is as follows.
- Arrival in Leh. Rest and organize licenses – Day 1
- Leh to Kargil – Day 2
- Kargil to Leh – Day 3
- Leh to Nubra Valley to Leh – Day 4
- Day trip to Pangong Tso and back to Leh – Day 5
- Leh to Tso Moriri to Leh – Day 6
- Leh – Buffer Day – Day 7
- Fly Out – Day 8
This is just an example of an itinerary that you can adjust to your own requirements; and time you have on hand. If you need my information for your own travel plan, you can ask in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
What clothes to take
As I’m sure you should have guessed by now, you need to bring all your wool. A pair of good quality thermals will be very useful. When I say good quality, I mean the type that can keep you warm and you can also wear it comfortably at night. You will need to bring a heavy, warm and windproof jacket that also has a hood to protect your head, neck and ears. Good quality gloves, wool socks, cold cream, lip balm, moisturizer are some of the other things you should put in your bags.
Honeymoon in Leh Ladakh in March
Visiting Ladakh for honeymoon in March is a great idea, but plan for the end of the month. There won’t be many people around and the weather will be pleasantly cold. Hire a private taxi throughout the tour and do not depend on public transport. Hiring a motorcycle is also not the best thing to do. All areas as I mentioned above will remain open for you to do all the sightseeing, but without the usual crowd that Ladakh has started to receive today.
Traveling to Ladakh in March – why?
In the end, let me talk about why you would like to visit Leh Ladakh in such a cold climate. With all the recent boost in tourism, Ladakh has practically become second to Manali, with a huge crowd of tourists everywhere. This will not be the case in March and you will see Ladakh the way you heard about it; a distant land, stopped in time, with only a handful of people around. The second reason is snow, which you will definitely find on high altitude passages, if not in the lower areas.
Feeling of adventure, but it is the biggest reason of all. Either way, Ladakh is challenging terrain, but it becomes even more so in winter, making it the perfect place to plan an adventure with your friends.
Ladakh in March – why not?
Let me also talk about the situation where you shouldn’t be taking this trip. The medical history, as I mentioned above, will be at the top of the list. If you have any kind of illness, don’t take any chances. Or don’t, unless you’ve talked to a doctor first. If you are someone who does not like the cold, you should also give up the idea of this trip.
Everything on this trip will be very basic, without any sophisticated treatment or five star hotels. It is not your regular vacation, but an adventure trip. If that doesn’t sound like you, don’t go. No running water, no shower for a few days, using a dry well in the morning, severe weather, cold wind in the face are some of the things that you will have to face and must prepare yourself for. If you can’t take anything, don’t go.