about leh ladakh bike tour
‘the Land of high Passes’ Ladakh is one of the most unique and enchanting regions of India. This sparsely populated, vast landscape is a dream destination for adventure lovers worldwide. The Leh Ladakh Bike Trip is an unprecedented chance to experience the charm of the region. As the expedition is two-week long, we will have ample time to explore this vast cold desert at a slow and relaxing pace. We will start our Leh Ladakh Bike Tour Package from Delhi, and those coming from outside the city, are required to reach here 24 hours prior to the departure time. We have an array of fixed departure dates for you to pick as an individual. If you are a group of 8 persons or more, we can also arrange for a customized bike tour package. This itinerary has been well-researched and carefully formulated after looking back at several of our trips in the past.
Leh Ladakh Bike Trip Guide
A Leh Ladakh bike trip is probably at the top of the wish list for every biker in India. The city of Leh, flanked on all sides by the Himalayas, is one of the most highly rated travel destinations across the world. But what makes it even better, is doing it by road.
The route is filled with barren mountain slopes of the Great Himalayan and Karakoram ranges, snow-clad peaks, monasteries, challenging roads, and other mesmerizing views which will compel you to stop for a picture on every turn..
The Manali-Leh highway is the more popular of the two, owing to the number of mountains passes, and rivers along the way. The distance from Manali to Leh is 490 kilometers. The highway is built and maintained by the Border Roads Organization, a part of the Indian Army. The iconic Rohtang pass lies on this route on the Pir Panjal range, connecting Kullu, Lahaul and Spiti. Sarchu is the mid-point between Manali and Leh, however, Keylong is the preferred halting point on this highway while travelling from Manali to Leh, as Sarchu is at a considerably higher altitude.
Although the routes are open for tourists from May, a road trip to Leh can be hampered by road blockages due to heavy snowfall at Rohtang and Baralacha passes till early June. Also, there is a probability of roadblocks due to landslides during the monsoon in June which can cause unplanned delays on the ride.
The Srinagar-Leh highway, also called National Highway – 1D is 434 kilometers long. It is connected to Leh-Ladakh via the Kashmir Valley. This is the more reliable of the two highways, as there are plenty of options for accommodation and re-fueling as compared to the Manali-Leh highway. Sonmarg, Zojila pass, Kargil, and a few monasteries, are the major attractions on this highway.
There are quite a few things that you’ll need to consider while planning for a Leh Ladakh bike trip. First and foremost is, the time of the year. The road to Leh is open for tourists from May to October. Although, roads may be blocked due to landslides and snowfall in May. Although vehicles not registered under the Himachal Pradesh government are banned on the Manali-Rohtang pass, there is no restriction on bikes.
It is imperative to carry all documents of personal identification and bike registration. Additionally, both the highways have a few check posts along the way, and you have to register yourself and your bike at these check posts and display your permits wherever required for security reasons.
A Leh Ladakh bike ride takes skill as the terrain is difficult, and oxygen levels are thinner than usual. You need to be an experienced rider before undertaking this journey. You ought to learn fixes for common problems, and about the maintenance of the bike, as the mechanical shops would be hard to find. Make sure that your bike is serviced, and prepared before you begin the ride. Do not forget to carry a basic repair kit for fixing minor glitches on the road by yourself.
Things to carry on Ladakh bike trip:
The Ladakh bike trip is challenging, and hence, a lot of preparation is required before you start your journey. The weather, the terrain and the overall situation is quite different from how it is across the rest of India. Hence, there are a few precautions that must be taken to ensure a safe and comfortable ride.
Wear proper riding gear including rain and windproof riding jacket, waterproof riding shoes, a full-face helmet and winter gloves
Ensure that the rucksack, or bag used for packing your stuff is waterproof to protect it from rain and snow
Extra pair of trekking shoes, woolen socks, warm clothes like jackets, sweaters, gloves, thermal wear etc. and rain wear for protection against showers It is advisable to carry a hat and scarves to protect yourself from the harsh sunlight, and sunglasses with UV protection.
It is advisable to carry a hat and scarves to protect yourself from the harsh sunlight, and sunglasses with UV protection.
A basic tool kit for minor repairs on the bike, extra cans for petrol, puncture repair kit, extra bungee cables, spare tubes, spare clutch cable
In terms of medicines, you will need sunscreen lotions (SP40+), pain relieving sprays, headache tablets as prescribed by a doctor. As the weather is cold and dry, moisturizers and lip balms would be handy.
Only a mobile charger will probably not suffice, and you will need a power bank too.
Carry your camera, tripods, and all the related accessories if you do not wish to miss out on some breath-taking landscape photographs. Spare camera batteries would be useful too.
As the ATMs are few, and might be out of cash due to the crowd of tourists, it would help to carry adequate amount of cash
Finally, remember that as a tourist, it might be a vacation for you, but the place is home for many. Do not litter and avoid the use of plastic.
Eligibility for Leh Ladakh bike trip:
A Ladakh trip is challenging, and without necessary precautions, can lead to a few health issues. To add to it, a bike trip would hold even more challenges. Hence, it is necessary to include a few important points in your plan to ensure a fun-filled and safe trip.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a common occurrence in the mountains, and it is necessary that you take at least a day to acclimatize to the higher altitudes.
Do not underestimate the distances while planning. Due to the higher altitudes and bad roads, it would be difficult to cover a higher distance in a single day. Even if you can do 1000 kilometers in a day on highways, do not plan to cover 300-400 kilometers in the mountains in one go.
Avoid alcohol consumption, and smoking. It adversely affects the breathing ability which may cause you to suffer from AMS.
It is not advisable for first timers to do a Leh Ladakh bike ride. Everything about the terrain is hostile if you are an inexperienced rider, the road conditions, the cold weather, and difficulty in breathing. These conditions are challenging even for the most seasoned riders.
Plan the entire trip before-hand, with your breaks, overnight halts, kilometers to ride each day, and reserve days. Don’t rush on the road trip, and do not go unplanned.
Best bike for Leh Ladakh bike trip:
Till a few years ago, when you thought about a Leh Ladakh bike trip, you would think of a Royal Enfield. But with the introduction of new bikes in the touring segment, the biking fraternity is spoilt for choices. The choice of bike depends on various factors, the number of days and distance you intend to ride, the weight of your luggage, and also, if you have a pillion with you. Another important factor that you need to consider is the fuel capacity, and the distance covered on a full tank. Since the mileage reduces at higher altitudes, it is necessary to have fuel cans with you to avoid being stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Any bike would need to be serviced thoroughly, and the rider must be used to riding long distances on it. There are instances where people have ridden something as simple as a Hero Honda Splendor and come back with great stories.
Let’s look at a few bikes that can make your ride comfortable:
1. Royal Enfield: Both the 350 cc and the 500 cc variants of Royal Enfield, including the Classic and Thunderbird, have been extensively used by riders for a Leh Ladakh trip. The latest addition to the adventure tourer section, the Himalayan, is marketed as the bike for a Leh Ladakh bike trip. These bikes offer a good amount of pillion comfort as well, although maneuvering such heavy bikes across the uneven terrain can be tricky if you are not used to it.
2. KTM Duke: The Duke is another fan favorite for this ride, and for a good reason. On the steep slopes, a powerful bike goes a long way in making the entire riding experience better. The Duke does just that. Apart from the 200, 250 and 390 cc variants, the latest addition to the Indian KTM family is the Adventure 390. Although the KTM RC variants are equally powerful, the sports bike posture could make riding long distances a little uncomfortable.
3. Bajaj bikes: Another popular touring bike on the Indian roads is the Bajaj Dominar. It offers a good riding posture, fair amount of power, and decent pillion comfort too. Another popular Bajaj bike, the Pulsar with its 220cc variants, is also a great option for the Ladakh road trip.
Although these bikes are a popular choice, there are many other bikes that can be used for your Ladakh trip. It all depends on how comfortable the rider is with the bike.
Popular Ladakh bike trip routes
Ladakh Bike trip from Manali
As we saw earlier, Ladakh road trip can be done via two routes viz. the Srinagar-Leh highway and the Manali-Leh highway.
1. Manali-Leh Highway: Manali-Leh highway is the higher used route for the Ladakh road trip, due to the beautiful sights that are on offer here. The distance between Manali and Leh via this route is 490 kilometers, and the route is as follows:
Manali – Rohtang – Keylong – Jispa – Darcha – Zingzing Bar – Mountain range as Baralacha La – Sarchu – Tanglang La – Upshi – Leh
Best time to travel:
The Manali-Leh highway is open from May to September for tourists, with July to September being the preferred time to make this road trip. The roads are in better condition, and the hotels on the way are completely operational. The month of July sees a lot of tourist rush till Rohtang pass, and this continues till August. While people travelling in the month of May or early June usually fly into Leh, and plan from there on.
The month of September is the better time for a Ladakh road trip. The road conditions are much improved, and the tourist season is coming to an end. Hence, the number of vehicles, and crowd on the roads, is considerably lesser.
Places to stay on Manali-Leh highway:
Finding a place to stay is a little difficult on the Manali-Leh highway for tourists. Although there are plenty of hotels on this highway, this number reduces drastically when you cross Jispa and move towards Leh.
Another option to stay on this highway are the campsites. They are located all along the highway. The food, and other facilities are very basic, but comfortable enough to stay overnight and start afresh the next day.
Fuel availability: The availability of petrol pumps is a major concern on the Manali-Leh highway, and it is advisable to carry cans for extra fuel while doing this road trip. Tandi is the last petrol pump at 110 kilometers from Manali towards Leh, and hence most riders refuel here.
2. Srinagar-Leh Highway
The Srinagar-Leh highway is the lesser used route to get to Leh. The distance between Srinagar and Leh is 434 kilometers, and this is the route:
Srinagar Drass – Kargil Leh
Best time to travel:
The Srinagar-Leh highway is open from May to October, with late June to early July being one of the best times to take this road.
September is also an excellent time to travel on this route as there will hardly be any streams on the way, and the chances of encountering a landslide are also minimal. And the landscape would be beautiful at this time of the year.
Places to stay on Srinagar-Leh highway:
There are plenty of places to stay on the Srinagar-Leh highway. From the most budget-friendly accommodations to the more luxurious and comfortable ones, you’ll get them all. Also, you can experience a stay at a houseboat in Srinagar.
Although there are more petrol pumps on this route, there is a chance of them being non-functional at times. It is best advised to re-fuel at the closest petrol pump.
Manali to Leh and back:
The Manali to Ladakh road trip is an experience in itself. And a few people prefer to return via the same route. This is how the route pans out:
Hanle is a village in the Changthang region of Ladakh. It is one of the most enchanting and calm villages in Ladakh. The Hanle monastery is a major tourist attraction here, while Indian Astronomical Observatory should not be missed too. It is one of the highest observatories in the world.
Hanle is located between Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri. There are a few guest houses, and homestays, which can arrange for your accommodation in Hanle.
You will need an Inner Line Permit to visit Hanle as well as Tso Moriri.
Why do a Leh Ladakh bike ride?
Although reaching Leh by a flight is a very convenient option, there are several reasons why this makes a great road trip.
The Leh Ladakh road trip is one of the most coveted road trips in the country owing to the varied landscape consisting of rivers, snow-clad mountains, and a number of lakes. The road is challenging, and a true test for the adventure junkie in you.
There are so many places to visit in Ladakh and so much to explore, that having a bike to ride on makes it a little less daunting. The feeling of being all by yourself in the mountains, realizing how tiny a being you are while staring at the snow-clad peaks is one of the most liberating feelings ever.
This place is called ‘Heaven on Earth’ for a reason. The landscape changes all along the road. To add to it, the flora and fauna you get to witness is something that you cannot see in other parts of India.
Also, when on the road, you can interact with a lot of local people. You get to know how things are different in the mountains, how the people survive, and even enjoy the local food with them.
The magnificent mountains, and the low density of population offers a great respite from the crowd in the cities. It has a calming effect that cannot be replicated by any other means.
Best offers for a Leh Ladakh Bike Trip
Here are a few offers from Go2Ladakh for bike rides in Leh:
1. Manali – Ladakh – Srinagar bike trip : This Ladakh tour package takes you on a 10-day journey from Manali to Srinagar. It costs 32,500/- per head. The itinerary is for 9 days and 10 nights. The route followed is: Manali – Jispa – Sarchu – Leh – Nubra Valley – Pangong Lake (via Shyok River route) – Leh (via Chang la) – Kargil (via Alchi, Lamayuru, Hall of fame, Zanskar river) – Srinagar (via Kargil, Zojila, Kargil war memorial, Srinagar) – Return
2. Srinagar – Ladakh – Manali bike trip : This Leh-Ladakh tour package includes 9 days and 10 nights of riding from Srinagar to Leh. The cost per head is 33,500/-. The route followed is: Srinagar – Kargil – Leh (Via Lamayuru, Alchi, Likir, Hall of fame) – Nubra valley (via Khardungla) – Pangong (via Shyok river) – Leh (via Changla) – Local tour – Sarchu (via Tanglang la) – Manali – Return
3. Manali – Ladakh – Manali bike trip : This is an 11 days/10 nights bike ride from Manali to Leh and back. The cost for this Ladakh tour package is 32,800/- per head. The route followed is: Manali – Jispa – Sarchu – Leh – Local tour – Nubra valley (via Khardungla) – Pangong lake – Leh – Sarchu – Manali – Return
All the above mentioned Leh Ladakh bike tour packages include meals, accommodation, sightseeing, transport, bikes and fuel, and a tour guide.
Why should you not ride solo if you don’t do regular bike rides:
There are a number of reasons why it is not recommended to do a Ladakh bike trip on your own, especially if you don’t do regular bike rides. However, if you have experienced riders with you, they will be able to guide you better.
Let’s look at the challenges that you can face as a solo rider making this trip:
The weather in this part of the country is as harsh as it can get. Also, since the altitude is higher, breathing becomes very difficult, and the reduced oxygen levels may lead to Acute Mountain Sickness.
The roads are very uneven, and you may encounter water-crossings in a few places, which would be difficult to get past if not for a helping hand. Even the most experienced bikers face difficulties in such conditions.
If you cannot perform basic maintenance and repairs on the bike, there is a chance that you could be stranded in the middle of nowhere pushing 100+ kilos of scrap metal.Also, as an inexperienced rider, it is difficult to keep your concentration going for long rides, when the road condition deteriorates.
Hence, there are always groups organizing these rides, who have you covered on all bases in terms of medical facilities, fuel, mechanic, guides etc. There are various attractive Ladakh tour packages as well which can help you accomplish this journey.