Leh is a dream destination for any avid biker or driver and with roads getting better with more connectivity, there is no excuse to put it off any longer. Take along our complete guide for getting from Mumbai to Leh and back to fulfill your road trip ambitions on the most talked about journey you can take on two or four wheels.
Why is a Road Trip from Mumbai to Leh popular?
Motorcycle and car culture in India has grown in leaps and bounds over the last couple of decades, with more and more people getting into the driving and riding scene it is little wonder road trips have become the preferred way for a lot of our youth to travel.
Taking your own bike or car is both economical as well as convenient and the network of highway roads too have expanded over the years, making the idea of a long road trip even more inviting.
Best time to visit
Winter months are not recommended to travel to Leh as many roads see closure due to weather conditions and the airport too stays shut for long periods. For heading out to Leh by motorcycle or car, it is recommended making the journey during the summer months in order to minimize unexpected events and delays.
- By Road: Get on the road between May and September to avoid the harsh weather that can cause delays.
- By Air: Flying in to Leh is the easy and time saving option during the summer months of April to October, but the airport remains shut mostly in the winter.
How to get there?
- Road: Hit the road and head down the National Highway network to get to Leh within 3 to 5 days depending on how much distance you are willing to cover and how many stops you make along his beautiful route.
- Bus: Though possible and perhaps the cheapest way to get to your destination is by bus; this travel method is not really recommended as it involves changing busses and can add a day or two to your trip.
- Flight: Flying into Leh and landing at The Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport is also an option as you can save a few days and rent a bike once you reach, however, a road trip is always more exciting if done completely by road.
Mumbai to Leh Road trip – Route
You have two route options to visit Leh, via Srinagar or Manali. Going to via Srinagar and returning along the Manali road will give you the best of both especially considering hardly any added miles or time.
Mumbai to Leh Road Trip Route via Srinagar
Mumbai -> Jodhpur -> Amritsar -> Srinagar
- Distance: 2190 kilometers
While getting out of Mumbai itself can be the most frustrating parts of your road trip so head out early; once past city limits you will find some great food all along the roadside. Dhabbas catering especially to travellers are the perfect way to check out local foods on the way. Staying nights at highway motels is your best bet for saving time as they have great road access and you don’t need to divert your route. However, don’t expect anything more than a practical and basic room, enough to get some rest before hitting the road again.
Srinagar -> Kargil
- Distance: 202 kilometers
The next couple of hundred kilometers on the NH1 will take you to Kargil from Srinagar. Approximately 6 hours by road, be certain to take a few minutes to stop at the amazing natural beauty of Sonamarg with glaciers in the distance. For any supplies make a pit stop at Feroz Stores just as you approach the Kargil check post.
Kargil -> Leh
- Distance: 217 kilometers
From Kargil you’re going to have to continue on the NH1 for another 200 odd kilometers and without any incident you should reach Leh in the next 4 to 5 hours. A short stop at Saspul will give you a chance to stretch your legs and as well as see some stupas and chortens.
What’s Leh Best Known For
- Food: You won’t find any high-end restaurants, just wholesome delicious food in the form of momos, qahwa, thukpa and tingmo.
- Wildlife: Leh is home to the magnificent snow leopard. If you are lucky you may spot it, as well as other wid animals.
- Camping: Camp out at Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake or any of the other camping places for some exciting outdoors fun.
- Trek: The Chadar Trek is a gruelling but stunning trek that sees its participants crossing over frozen rivers.
- Shopping: A great place to explore culture and pick up gifts, in the Tibetan market you will find a host of traditional items, clothes, and foods.
- Museums: The Stok Palace Museum and the Hall of Fame museum are two places where history buffs can visit to learn about Ladakh’s history and culture.
Best Road Trips from Leh
After spending some time around the city, ride or drive to a few of the best places nearby before heading on the road back home.
Leh -> Pangong
- Distance: 223 kilometers
A few hours ride south on the Keylong – Leh road and further East along the Leh-Manali highway, will take you to the Pangong Lake. Perfect natural beauty make for great photo opportunities as well as some bird watching. Head a little further to Spangmik village for a quick meal or spend the night at this beautiful and welcoming little town.
Leh-> Khardung La
- Distance: 40 kilometers
Merely 40 kilometers from Leh, the Khardung La mountain pass is what you have come here for; the picture that proves you have made it to one of the highest motorable passes in the world. At an altitude over 5000, the famous sign declaring you have reached the highest pass in the world may be a bit exaggerated but will give you a sense of accomplishment all the same. Equally close by is the mysterious magnetic hill; go there to see the magic for yourself.
Leh -> Nubra Valley
- Distance: 160 kilometers
The beautiful Nubra Valley, about 120 kilometers further ahead of Khardung La, is another picture perfect place in the region to visit. One of the most visited valleys, you are sure to find hundreds of visitors like you on two and four wheels.
Leh to Mumbai Road Trip via Manali
Leh -> Sarchu -> Manali
- Distance: 473 kilometers
Heading back to Mumbai, take the Leh-Manali highway for about 250 kilometers and get to Sarchu. Spend a night at one of the campsites, before continuing along the Leh-Manali highway the next day for around eight hours to get to Manali. With a number of good restaurants and activities; it’s a good idea to indulge in some local food, spend a night and hit the road early the following morning.
Manali -> Delhi -> Udaipur -> Mumbai
- Distance: 1950 kilometers
Get on to the NH 44 and head south towards Delhi. A day’s drive will lead you back to the city renowned for its superb food. Have a good meal and relax that evening.
Getting to Mumbai should not take too long as the National Highways 48, 448 and 58 are all good to drive on. You should be able to make good time at average speeds. A stop at Udaipur for a night is a great idea but spending a couple of days in the city will also be fun.
- Water and food
- Maps or Satnav
- First aid kit
- Change for tolls
- Chargers for all devices
- Some identification
- Car documents
- Get a professional service done and inform your mechanic of your road trip plans
- Don’t over work your vehicle
- Check spare tire
- Carry basic tools for changing tires etc.
- Obey the rules of the road; they are for your safety
Permits and Fees
Although a private vehicles, especially motorcycles, may not need a permit to travel across India, if you are going to hiring a vehicle, you may need to have the appropriate documents to travel interstate. As for tolls, you are in luck if you’re travelling by motorcycle, which go toll free across all highway roads. In a car, you can expect to spend up to Rs. 2000 on tolls.
Between Mumbai and Leh, you’re going to experience a lot. It could even be a life-changing experience. Do share pictures from the trip and the details in the comments below. All the best!