Ask any motorbike enthusiast or traveller what their dream road trip destination is and they won’t hesitate in telling you that it is Leh Ladakh. A ride to Leh Ladakh is something that every rider and traveller must experience at least once in his or her life.
If you are thinking about starting from Delhi and have not put together an itinerary, don’t worry. We have done the hard work for you and have come out with a travel plan that will ensure you have the best Delhi To Ladakh road trip.
Why is it popular to go from Delhi to Ladakh by bike?
One of the major reasons is the picturesque scenery you will get to see as you pass through routes to get there. Those who love a good challenge will be thrilled to ride down adventurous paths and make exciting stopovers. You will also be enthralled by the scenic backdrop of the mountains in Leh.
Best Time to Visit Leh from Delhi
During winter, the roads in Leh Ladakh are covered in ice, so it is impossible to drive down. For the best experience, we suggest that you visit Leh by road between the months of June and August when summer is in full swing. The weather is pleasant and you can stop oper at many places to soak in the charming ambiance of the hills.
Bike Rental Options & Tours
If you do not own a bike or have one that is apt for this trip, you can rent one out. Rentals begins at Rs. 1500 per day and you are required to submit a small deposit fee that is refundable.
Looking for company on the trip? You can join a biking tour. From Delhi, there are many bikers who embark on long rides, especially to Leh Ladakh. A few tour operators also organise bike rides to the mountains.
Delhi → Patnitop → Srinagar → Kargil → Leh → Tanglang La → Sarchu → Jispa → Manali → Mandi → Karnal → Delhi
In the route below we map out the journey from Delhi to Leh, via Srinagar, returning from Leh via Manali for change of scene. You can, however, follow the same route back or choose to swap the going and returning routes if you prefer.
Delhi → Patnitop → Srinagar
Most of your journey on this route is via the NH 44. The initial parts of the route are pretty comfortable, but as you drive closer to Patnitop, the road get narrower and you may get a bit of traffic. Do not forget to make a visit to the Nag temple in Patnitop. The ride from Patnitop to Srinagar is a short but decent one. The road up to the Titanic Point (no relation to the ship) is a bit bumpy, but after you pass through it, the road to Srinagar is majestic.
Srinagar → Kargil
This stretch is one of the most breathtaking ones to drive on. From Srinagar up to Sonmarg, the road is smooth. You will find a bit of traffic near the Gumri Post as the roads are very narrow. Just before you reach Kargil, you will have to pass Drass (the coldest place in India). Two important places to see in Kargil are the Gumri War Memorial and the Kargil War Memorial.
Kargil → Leh
This is the last stretch of your road trip to Leh and it will be a memorable one. As you pass through the road there are some great sites to see such as the Mulbekh Monastery, the Namik La Top and the Lamayuru Monastery. The highlight of a drive through the road from Kargil to Leh are the gorgeous mountains that have variations in colour.
Leh → Tanglang La
The first stop you can make on your way back to Delhi from Leh is at Tanglang La. It is located at a height of around 17000 feet above sea level and is one of the highest passes in India. The drive on this portion is scenic on both sides. Riding through this route is challenging but it is a lot of fun.
Tanglang La → Sarchu
Drive down the Leh- Manali Highway till you reach the Lungta Restaurant. There is a homestay here, in case you want to spend a night in Sarchu. If you are an adventure sports enthusiast, try the difficult trek in Zanskar.
Sarchu → Jispa
Leave early morning to get to Jispa. You will have to pass through the Rohtang Pass, which is always crowded with tourists, so to avoid traffic, leave from Sarchu early. Once you get to Jispa, visit the Triloknath Temple, it is a serene and spiritual place.
Jispa → Manali
- Distance: 137 kilometres
The last leg of the trip on the Leh Manali Highway, the drive from Jispa to Manali is splendid. You will pass through the Leh Ladakh bridge and will also have to drive through the National highway 3. On the way you can stop at Kothi where there a few restaurants.
Manali → Mandi → Karnal → Delhi
The route from Manali to Mandi and beyond can be a little difficult to drive on because of certain bad patches. Along the way, stopover at the Gurubaksh Dhaba in Roopnagar for delicious food and refreshments. As you pass Karnal, the drive is fun and the roads are excellent.
Things to do in Leh
- Trekking: Leh is well known for its picturesque hills, some of which are excellent for trekking. The most famous being the Chadar Trek.
- Camping: There are camping sites all over Leh (from standard to luxury) for those who want to enjoy the great outdoors.
- Food: In Leh you will find plenty of local food stalls selling momos, qahwa and thukpa. Do not expect fancy restaurants here; most food places are simple eateries run by the locals.
- Monasteries: Monasteries in Leh are more than just spiritual places, they are also great tourist attractions. The Thiksey Monastery is one of the most popular monasteries in Leh.
Best Bike Trips from Leh
Leh → Thiksey Gompa
- Distance: 19 kilometres
The Thiksey Gompa is a historic Buddhist monastery in Leh. Located on a hill, this monastery is built in typical Tibetan architectural style. There is a big statue of Buddha inside the temple. There’s also a library where you can read books about Tibet and Buddhism.
Leh → Magnetic Hill & Khardung La
- Distance: 26 & 39 kilometres, respectively
Considered a mysterious place, it is believed that on this hill gravity makes vehicles move. There have been many instances of parked vehicles moving without any human interference. Stop here for a bit to enjoy this phenomenon and then head north to the Khardung La, the highest motorable pass in the world.
Leh → Nubra Valley
- Distance: 160 kilometres
Ride down to the Nubra Valley to check out stunning, postcard like views of the hills. A refreshing break, chill out here for a while and then visit the monastery that lies in the valley. You could also enjoy a safari on the sand dunes at the Nubra Valley.
Trip Essentials for a Delhi to Leh Road Trip
- DSLR and a lot of spare batteries
- Battery pack
- Copies of all your documents, you will have to pass through army checkpoints so you will need to show them.
- Tools for your bike
- Cash – Shops and locals restaurants in Leh accept only cash.
- Inner Line Permit for your travel from Leh to Kargil
- Make sure your bike is in perfect working condition.
- Have a fair understanding in vehicle repair.
- Make sure your battery is fully charged and functional.
- Make sure there is oil in your engine.
- Make notes about petrol pumps, so that you are not made to run around looking for one on your way.
This is what we think is the best way to enjoy a road trip from Delhi to Ladakh by bike. We have given you the best possible routes, and even included Srinagar in the route, as it is a great stopover for a holiday. If you are looking for additional things to do or a different route, shoot us a question in the comments section below and we will be glad to help you plan.