Ladakh experiences considerable fluctuations in the day and night temperatures, even during the summer. While the days are pretty warm, sometimes even hot due to the effect of the rugged topography, the evenings can become chilly, requiring additional clothing. It is, therefore, advisable to keep a pullover and / or an anorak or jacket handy.
Sturdy walking shoes with strong rubber / synthetic soles for grip, cotton socks (woolen for late autumn tours besides and trekking trips are some of the other items required for the trip.
Following is a list of some recommendations for your Ladakh visit.
Dress / Equipment
Comfortable trousers, preferably of warm material (cotton or wool mix) and / or Jeans.
Thermal undergarments & sweat shirts / warm shirts for trips during April - May & from Mid September onwards).
A full-sleeved pullover as well as a half sleeved sweeter (for use during warm days).
Wind proof outer wear / jacket / parka, sun hat and a pair of good quality sunglasses with sufficient filter-factor to check the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
A cap or balaclava (for use when the weather turns bad especially for trips to the higher places such as Pangong Lake, Tsomo-riri, Khadongla and the Manali-Leh road journeys.
Comfortable walking shoes/sneakers with thick cotton socks (avoid fancy shoes/sandals).
For ladies: Trousers or Shalwar suite (worn over thermal inner or tights during April through May & from September onwards only), woolen sweaters / cardigans, a windproof jacket or a shawl, walking shoes with comfortable soles / sneakers. (Avoid Saris & Sandals).
It is also suggested to carry a flashlight on the tour, especially for those spending nights outside Leh town such as Pangong Lake, Tsomoriri Lake, Nubra Valley and on trekking trips.
All essential medicines, including those prescribed by personal physician (if any)Sun screen, lip- salve, moisturizers, antiseptic creams, etc.
Medicines for altitude sickness, if required.
If you are traveling to Leh by air, you must take complete rest for a day for adjustment to the high altitude and low oxygen level of Ladakh.
High altitude sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a risky condition faced by tourists who do not allow sufficient time for acclimatization upon reaching Leh.
The most common symptoms of altitude sickness are breathlessness, coughing, disturbed sleep, headache, inability to concentrate; lassitude, loss of appetite, nausea etc. Following precautions are recommended to avoid being affected by high altitude problems:
Take complete rest at least for a day after arrival;
Move about slowly and breathe deeply till your body becomes used to the high altitude and low level of oxygen.
Take plenty of fluid.
Health & Altitude Sickness :- Tips for Ladakh Tour covers the most important aspect of health which is too precious for travelers to enjoy their cherished holiday. The most common ailment is altitude sickness as Ladakh is a high altitude destination with low atmospheric oxygen supply.
Symptoms of Altitude Sickness : - The acute mountain sickness symptom includes headache, disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, nausea, coughing, irregular breathing, breathlessness, lassitude and lack of concentration.
First Health Care : - The symptoms of acute mountain sickness appears within the first 36 hours of travel to Leh – Ladakh so it’s important to take complete rest for 36 hours after arrival at Leh Ladakh tour.
Importance of Rest: - The rest of body is important for first 24 to 36 hours as the body needs to get acclimatized to the low atmospheric oxygen supply else High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPO) and High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACO) can be the result for victims which are also considered serious form of mountain sickness symptoms.
Center for Health Care : - The main center for health care is SNM Hospital which is well equipped with modern medical tools and has specialists for all health ailments. In the other areas they have sub-district hospitals, medical dispensaries, and private clinics operated under the supervision of qualified doctors.
Safety Measure : - If you have any symptoms of mountain sickness consult the doctor. While trekking extreme caution should be taken to avoid any real problems also there is no private aerial rescue available in case of emergency rescue Indian Air Force assist to evacuate.
Important – It’s generally suggested that one Diamox tablet per day should be taken for 2- 3 days prior to your departure for Leh by air, and continue it within Ladakh for a day or two, if required, to overcome the effect of high altitude. However, you MUST consult your doctor and confirm if you can take diuretic medicines like Diamox.
Remember: You might feel ‘normal’ upon landing at Leh, but that’s an illusion which needs to be ignored because the effect of the altitude and low oxygen level hits you slowly. It is important that you do not exert yourself on the first couple of days after reaching Leh, as your body needs time to acclimatize.
Visa and Permit: Foreign Tourists can visit Ladakh on a normal Indian tourist visa and no special visa or permit is required to visit Ladakh. However, all tourists to Ladakh, whether domestic or foreigner, are required to obtain Protected Area Permit / Inner-line Permit from the Deputy Commissioner Leh’s office for visiting the restricted areas like Tsomoriri, Tsokar, Pangong Lakes, Dah-Hanou and the Nubra Valley. The services of a registered travel agency should be taken to get these permits.
Money or Currency Exchange :- Ladakh is an integral part of India hence the primary currency used for trading is Indian Rupee (INR). For easy travel without any hassle necessary amount of cash with traveler’s cheque is the best idea ensuring greater financial flexibility.
Easiest Currencies to Exchange : - US Dollars (US$) and Pound Sterling (£) are the easiest currencies to exchange at Ladakh.
Best Currency Exchange Agents : - American Express & Thomas Cook are the best currency exchange centers giving the highest value for the given currency.
Most Accepted Travelers Cheque : - The most accepted travelers cheque is undoubtedly the Visa.
Details about Foreign Exchange : - To ensure foreign exchange facilities with safety and devoid of fraudulent practices visit the State Bank of India and J&K Bank with branches across Ladakh. The main branches are located at Leh and Kargil and foreign exchange facility are not available apart from these two towns in Ladakh. Hotels sometimes do provide foreign exchange facilities but they are subjected to only in-house guests.
Credit Cards Details : - The credit cards may be a great source of carrying money in its simplest form but in Ladakh they are not accepted by most of the hotels and travel agents. However few antique shops do accept credit cards in return of purchases.
ATM: State Bank of India & J&K Bank has ATM points in Leh & Kargil town. Punjab National Bank operates an ATM point in Leh. These remain mostly crowded with long queues. Sometimes they even run out of cash.
Mobile Phone Service: Mobile phones with post-paid connection of BSNL are operational in most parts of Ladakh. In Leh Town area postpaid connections of Airtel & Vodafone Networks also work fairly well.Leh trip will not give headache from communications point of view as the towns of Leh and Kargil is decked with worldwide direct dial telephone service as well as most of the Leh - Ladakh hotels provide internet facilities. The towns are also powered with number of PCOs (Public Call Offices) whereas the Ladakh Tourism Department also provides its radiophone network for better mode of connectivity.
Electricity:- Plug adapter kit is also necessary for foreign travelers to carry as there may be difference in electric current supply in India in comparison to other country. The electrical current supply is 230 – 240 volts with AC 50 Hz throughout India. Hence there are numerous plugs and sockets so to utilize various electrical appliances plug adapter kits are highly essential.
ID Card / ID Proof: Remember to carry a valid photo ID Card with you. This will be useful for a variety of purposes – identification at checkpoint, getting Restricted/ Protected Area Permits, Check-in at airports / hotels etc.
For Trekking / Adventure tours
If you are planning to go on a trek or any related activity, the following items may be required to be carried:
Ruck Sack: If you intend to go on a trekking or adventure trip, you need to get two rucksacks: a smaller one for carrying your camera, water bottle, lunch box and space for change of clothes / jackets during the day. A bigger or standard sized rucksack is needed for packing your clothes and other accessories. This one should have extra layer of waterproof material for protection from rain etc
Sleeping Bags: For travelling between June and mid September, light summer sleeping bag is enough. Warm winterized sleeping bag is required if you are travelling between mid September through May. You can also rent good sleeping bags from trekking equipment outlets in Leh.
Shoes: For trekking, you need to bring good quality waterproof shoes with strong sole for walking in the mountains and dirt paths. An extra pair of light shoes or sandals is will be required for crossing rivers.
Useful Tips: In Ladakh, you will find a culture in rapid transition, yet one in which the traditional values are still largely intact. In order to make your visit to Ladakh more pleasant, both for yourself and for the host community, following steps / precautions may be helpful.
Dress Code: Please avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts, blouses, tops, undershirts etc. in public and especially in monasteries, mosques, temples, gurudhwaras, and churches. The same holds true on the trekking routes. While short clothing is acceptable in camp-sites away from human habitation, they should be changed for trousers, slacks and blouses in villages where you might stop. Under no event should swimwear (and for women bikini tops) be worn in public as these may be taken as sexually provocative and be a cause of possible harassment.
Behaviour Code: Please keep your affection for your partner as a private matter and confined to your own rooms or tents, but not for public display, on the street, in religious buildings, in restaurants or at public events.
Photography: Please do not take photographs of local people without seeking permission, nor of, or within, any religious building and of any religious ceremony, without permission of the official in-charge of the concerned religious place. Remember that the intense light of flash photography is damaging to ancient wall paintings and tapestries placed in the monasteries.