Top 15 Things to do in Leh Ladakh
Ladakh – the place brings to your mind landscapes that are from another planet: snow capped mountains, warm residents, brown hills and snow deserts, pristine lakes, and a picturesque backdrop not to mention the opportunity to visit the ample Buddhists monasteries along the way. While sightseeing or planning a trip to this heavenly place make sure read these top things to do in Leh Ladakh.
1. River Rafting in Zanskar River
Although Zanskar River Rafting is called Moderate adventure or risk it is rated world’s next toughest zone. In winters this river is completely frozen into ice but in summer it is one of the most famous river rafting activity.
It is an adventure rafting zone during summer and frozen winter trek during winters. There are close to a dozen Rapids and even some whirlpools. The short task has just 3 – 4 rapids and the long trail has nearly 12.
While the simple / short one is 8 – 12 kilometers the lengthy one goes up to 24 kilometers. Standing over 16000 ft. the Zanskar river rafting is the highest in the world and has great adventure and thrill.
Explore more about River Rafting in Ladakh
2. Visit the Ancient Leh Palace
Overlooking the Namgyal hill amidst hilly landscape and mountain ranges, the tourist attraction is also a prominent place for Buddhism culture. There is a monastery where you can find the statue of Buddha and exquisite paintings in large halls including Thangka with fine designs that date back to 400+ years.
The palaces also houses ceremonial attire, exquisite jewelery, and a wealthy crown collection. Known for the mystique charm especially on a full moon night, the Leh palace offers splendid views of the Mountains Stok Kangri and Ladakh mountain ranges in addition to the complete town surrounding the hill.
The Lhachen Palkhar created in medieval Tibetan architecture was linked to comedy flick 3 Idiots.
3. Hemis Monastery, Ladakh
This famous Buddhist monastery is the biggest monastery in Ladakh renowned for the annual Hemis Festival that is celebrated around mid-year honoring Guru Padamasambhava for his birth.
During this time the monastery becomes vibrant, colorful and is full of traditional musical sounds with Tibetan monks participating in ‘Cham’ in the gala. There are lots of interesting things to see in Hemis Monastery when you plan your trip to Ladakh.
This includes Thangkas, weaponry, a copper gilded statue of Buddha, and various stupas some of which are made in gold and silver. It is situated near to top attractions like Hemis Natinal Park where you spot wild snow leopard in their natural habitat, and also a sacred hermitage.
Read more – Hemis Festival in Ladakh
4. Explore the beauty of Pangong Lake
A trip to Ladakh is incomplete without seeing the tranquil lake Pangong. It is just like a heaven for everybody including photographers who would love to capture the golden yellow sunrise over the waters of Pangong Tso reflecting in it. Exploring P:angong Lake is one of the best things to do in Leh Ladakh.
If you want to see it completely iced up then visit in winter or visit in summer to absorb the beauty of clear waters that go across the country to China. It is the world’s largest brackish water lake and is amazingly frozen though contains salty water. If you visit you must first obtain an Inner Line Permit as it is nearing to another country.
Read more – Travel Guide to Discover Pangong Lake in Ladakh
5. Take a Bactrian Camel Safari
This is one of the best activities to do in Ladakh when you holiday here. the Bactrian camel safari happens at a height of 12000 feet above sea level. The ‘shaggy double – humped creatures’ ride will leave an impact on you and are found between Diskit and Hunder.
They were once used as a mode of transportation especially for carrying goods through silk route and here locally by residents. The ride in the up and down hilly area of Nubra Valley northern end of Leh provides views of mountain ranges, white deserts, dry sand dunes and even orchards on the way. It is an exhilarating experience in Leh.
Explore more about Camel Safari in Ladakh
6. Marvel the architecture of Shanti Stupa
The resplendent Shanti Stupa set in the backdrop of snow – capped mountain ranges is a splendid Tibetan structure dedicated to Buddhism built by the Ladakhi and Japanese Buddhists mainly to spread Peace.
This beautiful place is built in unique architecture that varies from the typical Ladakhi type of architecture. There are 500 steps with Buddhist Stone pyramids on either side. The milk white two tiered structure and a dome in the top center symbolic to the mound to cover remains of Buddha.
There is a pillar with a Chhatra symbolic to pivot of universe. There are vibrant colors painted on the walls with scenes of different phases of life of Gautham Buddha. Inside there is a huge prayer hall to say prayers.
7. Khardung La Motorable Road Pass
This picturesque white snow galore is situated at a altitude of 5359 m. Khardungla is one of the top 15 highest motorable pass in the world. There is also a small place where you can shop for some things to remember your trip to Ladakh.
There are many travelers including bikers and cars who have made it up to the point and captured it against the signboard up there. This is a must – do for those who visit Ladakh and there is also a small eat out where you can get some hot tomato soup or even sip on black tea to keep warm.
8. Must Watch Wildlife in Ladakh
Ladakh is one of the greatest destinations where you can spot rare snow animals and even snow wildlife in their natural habitat. Many of these endangered species are getting less in number but this place houses over 225 bird species especially in the higher altitude places such as Tsomoriri including Robins , Finches, and Redstarts in these wetlands.
It is a wildlife photographers’ best destination for perfect backdrop. There are around roughly 200 snow leopards, too. The Hemis National Park is a great way to see Blue Sheep, Tibetan Antelope, Shapo, etc.
9. Exquisite Shopping in Leh Ladakh
If you think that Leh Ladakh is all about pristine lakes, picture perfect mountain ranges and a deserted look for travelers to click pictures, then you’re wrong. There are warm and happy people with vibrant culture and these souvenirs will surely not disappoint the shopping spirit when you return from the trip.
It is the memoirs of the warm people of the place of Ladakh. There are rich exquisite handicrafts or Thangka paintings, various sizes and positions of Buddha, wearable Buddha, masks, spiritual bead chains, prayer wheels, silver jewelery, semi precious stones and metallic / junk jewelery, apricots, dry fruits, and definitely the warm clothing and rugs which are famous in that region.
Read more – 5 Must see Places to Visit in and around Leh & Ladakh
10. Camping in the Lap of Nature
It is a wonderful thrill experience with a lot of memories to take back after self – camping / selecting a camping site in Ladakh. It provides time for meditation and gives inner peace to sleep and gaze under the natural sky and stars.
Camping at an altitude of 11500 ft above sea level it gives a truly unique feeling away from the bustling city life. If you camp on your own or with your group there are still risks of wild animals and strong winds or bad climate and other issues such as carrying the load up and fixing up the tent.
So, it is good to select a camping site from your favorite destinations.
11. Visit the Monasteries of Ladakh
When you trip to Ladakh there are several Gompas or monasteries that you will find here. A trip to any of these spiritual centers will give inner peace in addition to the panoramic view as many of the monasteries are situated on a high hill top.
They are unique to each other but generally they all are vibrantly colored with depictions, pictures, Thangkas, and mesmerizes you as it preserves the Buddhist heritage and culture. You will be surprised to know that there are over 15 such Monasteries that offer a soul stirring feeling to the visitors.
Famous Monasteries in Ladakh are –
- Hemis Monastery
- Thiksey Monastery
- Diskit Monastery
- Likir Monastery
- Spituk Monastery
- Stakna Monastery
- Alchi Monastery
- Phyang Monastery
- Takthok Monastery
- Sumda Chun Monastery
- Lamayuru Monastery
- Phugtal Monastery
- Shey Monastery
- Rizong Monastery
- Matho Monastery
12. Strolling At The Donkey Sanctuary
Founded by Joanne Lefson when she felt sad at the sight of suffering donkeys in the harshest winter conditions at Leh, she and her friends opened this sanctuary that takes injured, or pregnant donkeys.
It can store 30 at once where they get food, shelter and rooms for the colder nights. It is such a lush green place and visitors can see donkeys of all ages and stroll along for a pleasant experience in nature. The Donkey Sanctuary, Leh is unique as it is the only one in Asia.
13. Take Unique Frozen Chadar Trek
The River Zanskar in Ladakh gets frozen during winters so the water running through it gets frozen iced up. So, during the first 2 months of the calendar year or even early March if climate is favourable, there is a Chadar Trek at this high altitude. It is also known as the Frozen River Trek or Expedition.
The thick ice that forms looks like a white blanket translating to Chadar in local language. It is tough and challenging and many safety measures and instructions must be strictly followed in addition to getting acclimatized to the freezing conditions.
Read more – What to expect in leh ladakh during each season?
14. Eat langar at Pathar Sahib Gurudwara
Before traveling to this destination it is better to consult a doctor as the climate conditions are very harsh and can get Acute Mountain Sickness due to high altitude but there is postpaid mobile connectivity.
It is better to get back to Leh by evening and they have meals at Nimmu village with many local shops. Offer prayers and have the prasad offered food. Have a refreshing cup of ‘Chai’ and Gurudwara Pathar Sahib langaar if you would like to. It consists of Rajma and there are a lot of people lined up to have a taste or eat the langar at Pathar Sahib Gurudwara.
15. Nubra Valley: Mesmerizing Desert on Snowy Hills
This is a mesmerizing region with so many marvels to credit such as Yarab Tso Lake, Panamik & Tturtuk Village, Samstanlingk Gompa, Diskit Monastery, and Hunder Sand Dunes. The white landscape beauty is situated around 160 km from Leh. Visit the beautiful Diskit monastery and detour to view the white Hunder sand dunes.
Moreover, you can see the mighty statue of Maitreya Buddha. overlooking the entire Nubra valley. It is such a sight to find the brown hills amidst the green river flowing and green parts of land.
It is at an altitude of 3048 meters above sea level. Foreign nationals / NRIs require PAP or Protected Area Permit whereas Indian nationals from other states require INP Inner Line Permit due to the Valley’s proximity to sensitive surrounding areas.
Read more – An Exhilarating Trip to Ladakh and Kashmir
16. Try out Tasty Ladakhi Cuisine
For many people from other states the first thing that comes to mind when you think ‘Ladakhi cuisine’ is definitely chop suey, noodles, or momos. But, there is actually much more to that.
As it is slightly on the non-spicy bland side, advices are that you carry along some sauce, spicy chutneys / salans, and your personal choice of spices. Most dairy products are made from Yak milk, including salty pink tea with Yak butter. Yak cheese is sold as sweet, salty or plain and so is the butter.
Try the local delicacies at some residences instead of at the Restaurants as the residents will serve the authentic style of cooking. Keep in mind that the Ladakhi cuisine has a great variety although there is limited vegetation due to extreme cold. Residents prepare home-grown veggies and their cuisine is derived a bit from the regions around such as Kashmir and Tibet.
Read more – Complete Travel Guide To Plan Your Ladakh Trip