When someone first asked me about a 2-day trip to Ladakh, I thought she was kidding. But then I realized that he wasn’t kidding; and I was thinking of visiting Ladakh over the weekend. What I couldn’t understand, however, was why a person would want to do this. I mean, Ladakh is a place that you consider for 2 weeks and not 2 days. It’s not your usual weekend getaway, where you can just pack your bags and leave. A trip to Ladakh needs time and careful planning; and after the recent boost in tourism, it got crowded and expensive too, so you’ll also need budget planning.

Leh Ladakh 2 nights 3 days

But after some contributions and help from my side, that person actually visited Ladakh in 2 days. He flew there on a Saturday morning, was in Ladakh for the weekend, took a morning flight to Delhi and returned to work at ten in the morning. Crazy? I couldn’t agree more.

What I stated above was an incident last July. Surprisingly, in the past few months, I have heard this question so many times that I really thought about posting this information here. So, if you were also thinking of a 2-day trip to Leh Ladakh over a weekend; so, in this article, I’ll explain first why you should give up on the idea. But if you still decide to do so, I will also tell you how you can plan this journey; and what are some of the important things to keep in mind.

2 days in Ladakh

To be honest, it is difficult even for me to believe that I am writing this article; i’m telling someone how they can visit Ladakh in 2 days. This is due to several factors that I will discuss later in this article. As the time available is strictly limited, you will miss most of Ladakh’s tourist attractions and spend most of your time on the road

Acute mountain disease in Ladakh

This will be the first and biggest concern with your trip. You are not visiting a nearby mountain station. You are going to Ladakh; a cold desert consisting of high altitude passages, unforgiving weather and challenging terrain. There is really no escape from acute mountain sickness (AMS). Slow altitude gain is the best prevention against AMS, which doesn’t really happen here. In a few hours, your altitude gain will be tremendous and will certainly trigger AMS symptoms. Know what these symptoms are; and how you can be affected; please read How to deal with acute mountain sickness in Ladakh.

I wish I could tell you a way around this, but I really can’t. You will definitely suffer from AMS on your first day of travel; and it may or may not get better on the second day. The only thing to add here is that, if your condition got worse anywhere during the trip; you must rush back to the city of Leh and seek medical attention immediately.

It is necessary to book a flight

I think it’s almost needless to say. For a 2-day trip to Ladakh, you will need to book flights in our city of Leh. There is no way you can make this a trip by car.

You must book a taxi

A private taxi can be your only way of getting around and this must also be booked in advance; so that the driver can pick you up directly at the airport. You just don’t have time to travel any other way. You cannot rely on public transport, of course; but you can’t rent motorbikes either. First, because finding and renting a motorcycle will consume your half day, at least, what you can’t afford. The second is that, with the AMS pounding, there is no way you can ride a bike all day.

So yes, for a weekend trip to Ladakh, you will need to book a private taxi and ask the driver to pick you up at the airport.

Ladakh Internal Line License

The internal line permit is a permit that you will need to travel beyond the city of Leh; towards the Nubra valley or Pangong Tso. This permission can be requested online; or obtained in person at the DM office in Leh. For more details and related charges, read How to obtain internal line permission in Ladakh.

However, none of this is a choice for you. Like renting a bike, purchasing ILP will also consume at least half of your day. Therefore, the only option left is to book a taxi driver who can also arrange licenses for you. So when he picks you up at the airport that morning, he’ll bring the licenses and you can go on your way.

It will be expensive

Yes, this journey will only take 2 days, but it will be an expensive affair for a weekend trip. First of all, you will be traveling by plane, which will cost several thousand. Your biggest expense, however, will be for a private taxi. For 2 days, you will end up paying about Rs. 15,000 just for the taxi. So, including airline tickets, taxi rentals, accommodation and meals, your trip will cost about Rs. 30,000 for 2 days; depending on how much you paid for your flight. The only way to reduce this cost is if you are traveling in a group of 4 to 5 people who can share the cost of the taxi.

It will be tiring

Without a doubt, this will be a difficult journey and you will end up traveling all the time. You will board a flight, land in Leh and then take a taxi from there. All day long you will be on the road while suffering from AMS and then you will arrive at a hotel at night. The next day, you will be back on the road and then return to Leh. Third day early in the morning, you have another flight to catch.

Book your stay

Continuing from the above point, after staying on the road all day, the last thing you would like is to go hunting for hotels at night. Therefore, in the two days of your trip, you must book your stay in advance. The location where you need to book is mentioned in the travel plan, later in this article.

How to plan a 2-day trip to Ladakh

So, after considering all of the above options, the final part is the preparation of your itinerary. Your travel plan will be 2 days and very simple.

  • Land in Leh. Travel to Diskit and return to Leh at night – 1st day
  • Go to Pangong Lake and return to Leh at night – day 2
  • Take a morning flight from Leh – day 3

2-day trip to Ladakh

Or an alternative version of the travel plan may be as follows.

  • Land in Leh and Arrival at Diskit – Day 1
  • Go to Pangong from Diskit and return to Leh – day 2
  • Take a morning flight from Leh – day 3

This is the only way that this trip can be made. You cannot reduce the time any more. I am mentioning this because someone asked me that question; if they can get home on day 2. The answer is no, you can’t. If you want to return on day 2, you must stay in the city of Leh and not go anywhere. The only place you will see in Ladakh will be the city of Leh.

Arrive in Leh and travel to the Nubra Valley – day 1

There are two ways in which this journey can be made; and both have their pros and cons. The first thing to do here would be to book a flight that will take you to Leh as soon as possible. Contact your taxi driver the day before; make sure he has obtained the licenses and ask him to pick you up directly at the airport.

After arriving in Leh, take a short break for breakfast if you want. Then you would start your way to the Nubra valley while crossing Khardung La on the way.

Once you reach the Nubra valley, you have two options. You can stay here all night or go back to Leh. This will be completely your personal choice. Returning to Leh will be beneficial in terms of health care. As you suffered from AMS anyway, you can get medical assistance in the city of Leh if your condition worsens overnight. This assistance may not be available in the Nubra valley.

Staying in the Nubra valley can be beneficial, as you would have the whole day to explore the valley; otherwise, you will arrive here and immediately start your way back to the city of Leh.

As I said, it is completely your choice. My recommendation would be to decide based on how you were feeling that day. If you were not at all well because of AMS, it would be wise to return to Leh for the night. If your condition was not so bad, then you can stay in the Nubra valley. Diskit has the most hotels here and is the preferred option of stay.

If you decided to stay in the valley, spend the day touring the Diskit monastery, the Hunder dunes and the double hump camel, etc.

Visit Pangong Tso – Day 2

The plan for this day is to visit Pangong Tso. The route details for this day will depend on where you spend the night on day 1.

If you returned to the city of Leh through the Nubra valley, you will reach Pangong Tso via Chang La and return in the same way. Make sure you start early to have some time to spend at the lake; and take enough breaks on the way. From Leh, you drive to Karu and then go up to Chang La. Spend some time on the pass, click on some photos and then drive to Pangong Lake. Have lunch at any of the dhabas on the lake; and return to Leh until 2pm.

However, if you stayed at Diskit, that day could be a little more interesting. Start as early as possible, possibly at 6 am on Diskit. His first destination for that day would be Panamik, a small detour. See the hot springs here, have breakfast and continue traveling to Lake Pangong on the Shyok Road. The travel time between Nubra and Pangong via Shyok is about 5-6 hours, so plan accordingly.

You will arrive at the lake, spend some time walking, have lunch here and be on your way to Leh at 2pm at the latest. This will be a long journey; and it will probably be dark when you return to the city of Leh; but you will explore many places.

Fly out of Leh City – Day 3

Book a morning flight out of Leh; and don’t forget to inform the taxi driver to pick you up at the hotel. There is no transportation available anytime here so you will have to make arrangements. Also inform the hotel owner, as they lock the hotel at night. You don’t want to be standing at a locked gate in the morning with no one available to open it.

Ladakh in 2 days

A couple of other alternate versions of the journey can be as below.

  • Day 1 – Arrival in Leh and take a day trip to Lamayuru. You will return to Leh city by evening and stay for the night. On the way, you will see Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, Magnetic Hill and Indus Zanskar Confluence etc
  • Day 2 – Take a drive to Nubra Valley and return to Leh.
  • Fly out on Day 3

Leh Ladakh in 2 days

Another version can be like below where you will give up Nubra valley in favor of Pangong.

  • Day 1 – Arrival in Leh and take a day trip to Lamayuru. You will return to Leh city by evening and stay for the night. On the way, you will see Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, Magnetic Hill and Indus Zanskar Confluence etc
  • Day 2 – Take a drive to Pangong Tso and return to Leh by evening.
  • Fly out on Day 3.