A few bus & accommodation tips from my July 2013 trip to Ladakh

louzdelaluna

New Member
Dear travellers community,

After extensively using this forum (and some others) to prepare my trip, I thought the least I could do was give back a little. So here are some practical info from my trip:

ACCOMODATION

Shimla

The 3 of us stayed at YMCA. They gave us two rooms, both actually double, charging 700 for double occupancy and 500 for single occupancy. Rooms are basic but clean, and the shared bathroom is amazingly spotless, with 3 showers and 5 toilets per floor and real hot water during evenings and early mornings. Breakfast was included, though their chai is disgusting but you can purchase some delicious herbal tea. Staff was very helpful and the kitsch decoration makes it a very a lovely place to stay, out of time, at the top of the town. Ask for a room with a view but not on the third floor (pigeons are walking on the roof all night long). Only drawback was the night noise from the disco a 100m down.
Contact: 01772652327 – 01772650021

Sarahan

We stayed at the Bimakali Temple Guest House, in one room with a double bed + one extra bed (basically a very thin mattress on the ground) and attached bathroom with hot water in the evening. They charged us 400 for the room + 70 for the extra bed, no meal included. The main asset of this GH is its location inside the temple, making it a very atmospheric place to stay. Ask for room #4, it has a great view on the surrounding forest. There is no staff as such but everybody around was very friendly. Two major drawbacks though: morning super loud prayer song at 4am (but hey, this is a temple after all) and we got bug bites after using blankets stored in the cupboard.
Contact: 01782 274248 – 09418762612

Manali

Our 4th friend joined us and we stayed in a family room at Drifters’ Inn, with 2 double beds. They charged us 1400 for it. The room was clean and extremely cosy, with a clean bathroom with hot water in the evening and morning. Service is very pro and there is a laid-back café downstairs to chill out. Food is way too expensive and westernized though. For computer addicts, there is a very good complimentary Wi-Fi connection. Location is also nice, on upper Temple Road, very close to what remains (for now) of the Old Manali village.
Contact: 01902251077 – 09805033127

Leh

The first place we stayed at was awful. We hadn’t booked anything and reached around 8pm with the bus from Keylong. So we ended up taking whatever was not booked yet, and it happened to be shitty Hotel Bimla. He gave us a family room (two double beds, attached bathroom) in the basement and charged us 1000 for it, while honestly it wasn’t worth more than 400. It was dirty and extremely humid, with mushroom stains all over the walls, and a huge whole in the roof from which water literally started pouring every time people upstairs would use their shower. There were no blankets nor pillows and sheets were not exactly spotless. There was hot water in the filthy bathroom though. The worse part is that the Nepali family managing the place was actually very nice with an utterly cute baby, but the father just shamelessly ripped us off, taking advantage of our desperate situation. There was supposedly complimentary Wi-Fi but it never actually worked. Not to recommend at any cost! ☹ ☹ ☹

Next day we switched to a wonderful place where I also spent my last two days in Leh with my boyfriend. It’s called Gyalson Guest House, and it is located just off Changspa road, right after Wonderland restaurant. The main reason I fell in love with the place is because they have only 4 rooms in a little house surrounded by a garden with vegetables and flowers. 2 rooms are “deluxe” with TV, a spotless attached bathroom and a very comfy double bed with good mattresses & blankets; and 2 rooms are more simple, with hard mattresses and sharing a common equally spotless bathroom. They charge 1000 for the deluxe (we negotiated 800) and 600 for the simple. The whole place is very cosy and the family managing it is very friendly. You can eat traditional ladakhi food cooked in generous portions by auntie (and believe me that is rare on humus-invaded Changspa). Recommended ☺ ☺ ☺
Contact: 09906988041

Next time we were in Leh, we wanted a place near Polo Ground to catch our taxi the next morning. A few days in advance we had come to Namgyal GH to book 2 rooms. They have rooms inside the main building with a shared bathroom (for which they said they would charge 300), and rooms in a new building outside with attached bathroom, but were there is no running water yet (for which they said they would charge 250). To cut a long story short, when we came back they had given our rooms away and the 4 of us had to sleep in one of the outside building tiny bedroom, 2 on the bed and 2 on ****ing camping mattresses. They charged us 400 for the room and honestly it was way too much for what we got. Not recommended. ☹

The last place we tried in Leh was another nice GH, Zeepata Guest House, on upper Changspa. We took 2 double bedrooms, which they charged us 500 each. Although this comes with shared bathroom, I’d say it’s worth it because the rooms were spacious, very clean and comfy (ask for room 507/508). The bathroom was also spotless, with a huge geyser making sure you can get hot water in quantity, thanks to solar heating system (that means 24h hot water). However the electricity comes and goes so you depend on it for light in the bathroom. Also, there are 2 little windows in the bathroom on the 2nd floor that actually give view to the corridor, so people can see you if you don’t hide behind the shower curtain… Not very well designed. There is complimentary Wi-Fi, but again it depends on the electricity. They let us wash our clothes ourselves (quite rare in Leh where most GH offers expensive laundry services) and there are many ropes on the sunny roof to dry them. There’s a very cosy common dining room where you can order directly from the kitchen. We didn’t try much except breakfast though. They also have more basic rooms on the ground floor for 350 and deluxe rooms with attached bathroom on the 3rd floor for 800.
Contact: 01982257747 – 9622956517 – 9419179982 – 9622971878

Pangong Tso

We decided to stay overnight to fully enjoy the beauty of the lake, and chose to stay in the scenic little village of Panamik. More than a village, it’s a few farmhouses converted into homestays and, closer to the shore, an armada of tents. Move away from the very expensive tents and climb up as much as you can to prefer a homestay. My boyfriend and I stayed at Gongma Homestay, the uppermost homestay managed by adorable Padma. She charged us 300 for a very basic and tiny double room but we didn’t mind paying for her kindness (she didn’t not charge us for tea and made us taste chang for free). She also has 3 group rooms. You can have a very simple dinner (dal, rice, aloo) in her lovely kitchen. There is one common “bathroom”, basically a room made of concrete with a sink, a western toilet and a tap delivering cold water. The view on the lake is very nice, since you are on the upper part of the slope. In my view, the best place to stay on Pangong if you can compromise on comfort for one night.
Contact: 08991922108 – 09469534270

Hunder

Here also we made the right choice. We decided to stay at Habib Guest House and we loved every bits of it. The family is adorable and Habib is a truly kind person, more of a friendly host than a business man. We stayed in a family room at the back of the guest house, very quiet, clean and airy, with 2 double beds and one clean attached bathroom. Electricity only comes from 7pm to 11pm but the geyser is big enough to store hot water for the next morning. They charged us 1000 for the room and 250 per head for dinner and breakfast. The food was absolutely delicious! Finally I got real homemade bread for breakfast, and dinner included rice, chapatti, 2 subjees, dal, and salad. They have their own garden to cook vegetables such as palak or gobi. We also washed our clothes and dried them outside without any remark. The surroundings around the GH are mainly fields and a view on the sand dunes. They also have their own Bactrian camels but they cut them loose during summer so we couldn’t meet them. The first night it was fully booked and a bit crowded but the 2nd night it was only us and we enjoyed a magical bonfire (for which you basically give whatever you want, despite the announced price of 400 – the strategy works as we gave 400 finally). Strongly recommended ☺ ☺ ☺
Contact: 01980221039 – 09469736543

Turtuk

Again, we got lucky on this one. There are not so many GH in Turtuk yet, it’s mostly homestays, but it seems like tourism there will probably increase soon (sadly, because really, I felt like an intruder in that beautiful little village). We stayed at Karim Bakhdour’s newly built homestay (on the left from the suspended bridge when you’re facing it, ask around). There are 3 double rooms and a shared bathroom where running water still has to come (they gave us buckets of cold water), as well as a common dining room. It was decently clean, just a lot of bugs come at night if you keep the windows open. They charged us 350 per head with dinner and breakfast included. Breakfast was aloo paratha with delicious palak subjee and dinner rice, dal, subjee. The main asset of this place is its perfect location amidst fields, apricot trees, water streams and big rocks, making it the perfect countryside picture. The family was also very friendly.
Contact: 01980248147 – 09419033360

Dah

Just like Turtuk, Dah is a stunningly beautiful remote little village near the Pakistan border. Unlike Turtuk though, here there’s only one accommodation option, and a monopoly always comes with drawbacks for the customer. The guest house is called Skybapa GH and is managed by a despicable guy. He basically charges 400 per room, 100 per dinner and 70 per breakfast and he won’t negotiate, perfectly aware you have no other option. He also hides behind the fact he supposedly isn’t the owner of the place (why does the GH then have his family name?) and is all alone to do everything (what are those kids and that woman doing in the kitchen then?). The rooms are tiny and I bet he never ever changes the sheets because we ended up with a massive amount of bug bites, like every other guest. There is one shared “bathroom”, a dark dirty concrete room with no electricity (there is no electricity in the whole village though) and a tap delivering cold water. Dinner consists of rice, dal and subjee and since it’s a common dish for all the guests you’d better ask him to cook enough food (and insist on it) if you’re hoping to calm down your hunger. Vegetables come directly from their garden, but whoever cooks must hate cooking because the subjee was really tasteless, like a paste of over-boiled veggies. Breakfast is egg and white industrial bread, plus rotis if you’re lucky enough. The only good thing about this place is the amazingly delicious apricot jam they make, the best one I tasted in Ladakh. I want to not recommend this place at any cost, but I’m afraid you won’t have any other option. ☹ ☹ ☹

Lamayuru

We stayed at Niranjana Hotel, on top of the hill, right next to the monastery. We negotiated 600 for a double room (double bed) with an extra bed (a mattress on the ground). Our room was clean, airy and had a very nice view on the monastery. There are 2 shared bathrooms per floor, and on the 1st floor that makes a lot of people to share them, hence heavy queuing in the morning. I’d recommend to take your shower in the evening (when electricity comes) or very early morning. However only one bathroom’s geyser is actually working, the right door one on the first floor. I’d say it’s a total rip off when they apply the official prices. The restaurant is also way too overpriced and we went to eat for 70 per head in a lovely little GH in the village downstairs, Tharpaling Guest House. I’d actually probably recommend staying there, as there are also several cheap dhabas around for lunch, and it’s closer to the moonland. The main asset of Niranjana is to be right next to the monastery.
Contact: 01982224516 (Tharpaling)

Likir

Again I fell in love! We stayed at a lovely place called Norboo Spon (not the other one) Guest House. It’s managed by an adorable family, with the cutest baby girl I have ever seen, and with the best palak paneer I have tried in India over the past year. They charged us 500 per head for room, breakfast, lunch, dinner. The 3 of us shared a double room (double bed) with an extra bed (a real bed), quite clean, airy and luminous (one window is on the east, the other on the west, perfect!). There are 2 shared bathrooms, clean and both with hot water, but the shower head of the left one is better. Electricity mostly comes from 5pm till 8pm or so, but you sometimes get it in the morning before 10 am also. Breakfast is delicious homemade bread with a wide range of jams, butter, honey, yak cheese + eggs. Lunch is usually delicious sku in generous portions. And dinner is dal, rice and subjee plus a soup, but one night where there were many guests they also made momos and 2 subjees instead of one. They serve very little plates for dinner though, so don’t hesitate to ask for a second serving (social pressure prevent many people from doing so, but just go for it, they’ll bring as long as you ask, simply they eat the same food as the guests and at some point they disappear in their kitchen to make sure they have their share). There is a lovely little terrace to read a book in absolute peace. I was considering staying there and trying to get hired. Strongly recommended ☺ ☺ ☺

BUS

We did almost all of our traveling by (shitty local) bus, except when we really had no other option. We did the following journeys:

Delhi > Shimla

A Volvo comfy HRTC bus leaves Delhi at 9:25AM and reaches Shimla at around 07:00PM (800Rs/head).
It dropped us at the new bus stand and we took a local bus for 15mn or so to the old bus stand in the town.

Shimla > Sarahan

At 9:45AM we took an HRTC bus from the Revoli bus stand in Shimla to reach Jeori around 4:30PM (171Rs/head) and then changed for a private bus to Sarahan (40Rs/head, 1 hour roughly).

Sarahan > Manali

We took the same private bus at 6:30AM from Sarahan and reached Rampur around 9:00AM (45Rs/head).
We took an HRTC bus at 9:45AM in Rampur and reached Kullu around 6:30PM (177Rs/head).
Finally we took a private bus from Kullu at 6:30PM and reached Manali around 8:00PM (45Rs/head).
Then a ***** auto charged us 80Rs to drop us 3km further from the bus stand, in Old Manali.

Manali > Leh

We took the HRTC “Deluxe” bus. We started around 9:00AM from Manali and reached Keylong around 06:00PM, but got stuck for a little while before Rohtang pass.
The ticket costs 2200Rs/head and includes accommodation and food in Keylong. However they expect you to sleep in super basic tents with no heating and hardly any blanket when it’s quite cold outside, and to share 2 showers for like 25 people… Quite a rip off in my view. I wish it was possible to just purchase a ticket for transport since we ended up booking a cheap room in a nearby GH anyway.
Next morning we started around 5:00AM from Keylong and reached Manali around 8:00PM.
This is along journey indeed but totally worth it, as the landscape keeps on changing and is absolutely gorgeous. Plus you’re more comfy than in a jeep in my opinion and everybody gets the same view.

Leh > Pangong Tso & back

We took a J&KRTC bus and left Leh at 6:30AM to reach Pangong around 5:30PM. We lost one hour at the first of the 3 checkpoints though because some people hadn’t made copies of their permits.

Leh > Diskit & back

J&KRTC buses have stopped running (not enough clients they told us), so we took one of the shared taxis locals use which depart near Polo Ground in Leh (ask people around) and from the bus stand in Diskit. Drivers charge 400 per head, and take up to 8 people (2 in the front seat, 3 on the middle and 3 on the back).
We left Leh at 7:30AM and reached Diskit around noon, and on the way back we left Diskit around 10:00AM and reached Leh around 1:30PM.

Diskit > Turtuk & back

We took a local bus (kind of a minibus) that leaves Diskit everyday around 2:30PM to reach Turtuk around 6:30PM and returns the next morning, leaving Turtuk around 6:30AM to reach Leh around 10:30AM. In Diskit it leaves from the bus stand and in Turtuk from the road down the big suspended bridge. They charge around 100 per head if I recall correctly.
There are also regular shared taxis (20Rs/head) between Diskit and Hunder (7km), just stand by the side of the road and wave.

Leh > Dah

We took a J&KRTC bus that leaves Leh around 9:00AM and reaches Dah around 5:00PM (216Rs/head). It drops you on the main road and from there you have to climb your way up to Dah (30mn or so). There are stairs and a “door” where the path starts.

Dah > Lamayuru

We took a bus to Khalsi, which left Dha around 9:00AM and reached Khalsi around 11:30AM (80Rs/head).
Then we got lucky enough for the owner of Niranjana Hotel to have come to town for shopping, so he dropped us at his hotel for 50rs/head (roughly 1 hour).
There was a bus, but it was so heavily packed we didn’t take a chance.

Lamayuru > Likir

We took a private bus coming from Kargil, which crosses Lamayuru between 8:00-9:00AM (just sit a one of the dhabas to wait with a chai) and reaches Likir 2,5 hours later (100Rs/head).
However it dropped us on the main road and we had to walk to Likir village (20mn with heavy bags).
Likir gompa is even upper, about 1-1,5 hour walking. Most people just make a day trip by jeep from Leh so there are not many local transport options available. We trekked our way up along the river (not always easy but beautiful, there are some shortcuts a monk showed us), and hitchhiked on the way down.

Likir > Leh

Again we got lucky because one guest at our GH had a company-paid taxi back to Leh and invited us to join for free (we still gave him some money out of guilt though).
But we were told if one just stands on the main road, there are many buses, taxis and private cars passing by. As a matter of fact, after trekking to Ridzong one day, we easily found a ride back to Likir so hitchhiking seems pretty common in that area.

AND FINALLY

There are many tips I could still give you but I am sure I have now forgotten half of the things I thought of when I was there, so I’ll just say this: get some lipbalm, eye & noose drops and moisturizer because between the sun, the wind, and the dryness, my skin was cracking all over and my eyes & noose were so dry they hurt; ask the travel agent the original of your permit, as well and demand the environmental card (otherwise they basically smuggle 300Rs); don’t eat in any restaurant on Changspa road but in guest houses.

If you have specific questions or would like to see photos, please feel free to contact me personally.

Enjoy your trip!
 

rkbalaji

Active Member
A well compiled information which will be very much useful for first timers.Well done!!!

I assume that the village you stayed in Pangong Tso is Spangmik and not Panamik as quoted.
 
Last edited:

ANURAG NEGI

Active Member
Re: A few bus & accommodation tips from my July 2013 trip to Ladakh

Lovely work
Would be really helpful this year for my trip
Specially in leh,pangong,hunder
Could you please tell about the parking space for the above mentioned places
Specially leh GH.
We have 5-6 bullets (RE)

- - - Updated - - -

Turtuk and layamaru too
 
Top