How much does a Ladakh trip cost?
Anyone heading up to this Himalayan kingdom will probably be wondering how much does a Ladakh trip cost? Well, here you will find out everything you need to know about this topic. For all but a few of us, money is a big issue after all.
Ladakh is an adventure playground in what must be one of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet. The high mountain deserts are striking, and the timeless culture is intoxicating. The barley fields will offer a beautiful ribbon of green against the stark, almost moonlike landscape if you come here in the fleeting summertime. Magnificent Buddhist monasteries punctuate the landscapes sporadically and are sure to leave you wide-eyed. There is a good reason why this part of the world is on so many of our bucket lists.
However, travel here is not without some sizable challenges. Much of the state is only accessible by foot as there are only a few roads that are motorable. The whole area is at least three kilometers above sea level, and the climate can fluctuate heavily without warning. For that reason, many of us are reluctant to simply lace up our boots and go for a wander in the hills, so it would be obvious that the answer to the question of how much does a Ladakh trip cost is loads!
The good news is that I have spent over half a year traveling around Ladakh, so I have learned a few ways you can safely save a pretty penny. God bless the Internet. We can now learn from other traveler’s experiences and, crucially, other traveler’s mistakes. It is always better to learn from someone else’s mistakes if it is possible right? So without further ado, let me walk you through what it is I have learned.
Trekking in Ladakh.
Many of us will be considering trekking in Ladakh because, as I have mentioned, there is only a limited number of roads. I can confirm unequivocally that a large portion of the charms of this state are only accessible by foot. Signing up for an all-inclusive trek can cost an arm and a leg so let’s see how I save money on this.
The first step is whatever you do don’t book anything before you leave your home! You will be paying for a middle man who needs a middle man who will pay your guide. Well, that was a mouthful, wasn’t it? Even if you are on a time schedule, there is no point to this as if you fly to the capital Leh there will be intense competition for your money, especially for the shorter, more popular treks, and at least you can shop around. If you come in the peak season, people with whom you can split the costs and trekking tours will be leaving daily, so booking anything in advance is futile.
The next thing I do is to check to see if you even need a guide at all. If you were to decide on the Markha or Yapola valley trek, there is little need for pack horses or a guide as they are homestay treks. That means there will be villages at the end of every day where you can seek shelter and food. These are known as homestay treks, and you pay a fee directly to a family for all of your trekking needs. These walks are no less beautiful than anywhere else in the area and come with the advantage of getting a glimpse into Ladaki culture.
These treks are ideal if you have never tried high mountain trekking before because it is no small undertaking. These treks will push your capabilities with the promise of a warm bed at the end of the day. It is wise to at least try one of these before signing up for a fortnight-long trek in the wilderness that will be nonrefundable. I recommend purchasing a copy of the lonely planets guide to trekking in the Himalayas for suggestions of routes and what it will take to complete them.
Transport in Ladakh.
Any traveler will have to negotiate transport in Ladakh, and here is another area travelers hemorrhage money. Many of the best places in a Ladakh are a very long way from the capital, so you will have to negotiate to get around it, and there are a few options available to you. Let’s take a look at how you can save money on transport.
Some tourists get around the state in the back of a massive white car, and if you are only here for a couple of weeks, then this will do nicely. If you are on an extended journey, this will prove to be incredibly impractical as it will cost you thousands of rupees a day, and unless you are rolling in cash, this will wear your budget down quickly, so what can you do?
One way to get around is to get the public bus. It is a reliable form of transport and cheap! The roads are deadly in places, and the drivers on public transport have to deal with them every day. Gun to my head, I would say you are much safer on a public bus as many drivers who drive private cars come from the lowlands and come here to make a quick buck. The problem is that the roads up here are notoriously some of the most dangerous on the planet, so who would you trust?
However, they are not frequent and do not reach much of the state. The biggest issue with them for me is that they are vanishingly unlikely to stop for you to take any pictures. That can make you want to claw your own eyes out when you are driving right past some of the most beautiful landscapes you will ever see. There are certainly some quite sizable pros, and cons to consider aren’t there?
The next way to get around is a shared jeep. These will stop for photos, especially if you are in one with lots of other tourists. They frequently run to all of the major tourist areas in the good season such as the Nubra Valley or Pangong Tso. You pay by the seat, so they are very affordable compared to a private jeep or taxi.
Sometimes you will need to hire taxis as there will be no other option and then you should just grin and bear it. The good news is they are still a piece cheaper than those gleaming white land rovers you see everywhere. They are your options, in a nutshell, so now only you can decide what’s right for you.
In summary of my post on how much does a Ladakh trip cost?
Now, this post is coming to a close you have hopefully gained a good insight into the two biggest areas where travelers lose money. That is while trekking or getting around what is a largely empty state. For your day-to-day expenses, it is quite reasonable up here. I spend no more than thirty pounds a day although you can get away with a little less. I am getting old now, so I like a little more comfort in my life, but everyone is different.
So when answering how much does a Ladakh trip cost, you simply have to consider these two factors. I want to give you an accurate assessment of that question. I don’t just want to say, ok, it will cost you this much because that is nonsense. It depends on where you want to go and what level of comfort you are looking for.
These two factors will dictate the outcome, and that is your honest answer. The aim of the game is to research and build a plan. Check to see what is offered, and then ask yourself will you be happy with the predicted outcome. Dont listen to any wannabe travel gurus who put a single price on it, as that is just silly. Without intimately knowing a great deal about your proposed trip, there is no way I can say with any accuracy, and neither can anyone else for that matter.
However, I have given you the framework to get a good approximation based on your own desires. This will be a lot more useful to you in the long run than speculation and false impressions.
I hope you can see the point of not just making up some number and saying here is how much it costs, and I hope you find my work to be of value. You can count on me to always give you a no-nonsense assessment of whatever question it is I am answering on here. I think this one has been answered properly, and for more of my best tips on travel to Ladakh, check out my in-depth post. With that said, I will see you in the next post.
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