Everything you need to know for Leh Ladakh road Trip on a Motorcycle

As soon as we reach the 3rd month of the year, a lot of travelers starts bombarding me with questions regarding Leh road Trip. Since I have been asked few questions for Leh road trips many times, I decided to write this blog.

I found people have similar doubts always(which even I used to have once),  this blog will give you all information which I have regarding Leh Trip. And if you have any question apart from the one I mentioned below, please put them in the comment so I could update the blog with your questions as well or I will reply to your questions in this thread only.

What is the good time for Leh Road Trip?

For common tourists, Leh routes used to get opened in April and closed in 1st week of October. But due to unpredictable weather from last 3-4 years, It can’t be confirmed in advance. One should always check with local tour and travel agents in Manali or Leh to get information about Leh-Ladakh routes or you can check the route information on this government website Leh route Information for road trip (on left side of the web page, one can see the information)

  • If you are visiting the place when the route has just opened, you will see lots of snow around and maybe you will find some portion of roads covered with snow.
  • If you are visiting in mid-July till the August end, you will get to see rain on some portion of your route. But It will be raining only from Manali till Keylong(150km nearly) and some places in Leh as most part of the Leh route is a Mountain desert.
  • And apart from above two, rest of the time during the tourist season, you will see snow only on high passes and roads will be cleared throughout the day.

I guess depending on “what do you want to see?” during your journey, you can pick up a time for your travel. But an advice for the first timer, it will not be easy to ride in rain or snow. (Choose or modify your tiers accordingly)

What are all routes that I can take for Leh road trip?

You can get Leh’d through these 4 routes.

  1. Manali – Leh Route (475 km around). Advisable if you are going on High mountain road trip for the first time in your life. Also, personally I feel, this portion is most beautiful out of them all.
  2. Shimla -Leh Route (750 Km around ). This route is a good choice if you want some off-roading activities in your journey. This route actually connects itself with Manali- Leh route( after around 500 Km from Shimla and 130km from Manali) at Gramphu, Himachal Pradesh. This route also passes through some very beautiful places in Himachal Pradesh including Spiti Valley.
  3. Pathankot-Leh (650+ Km but not sure exactly). This is for daredevils. The route passes through “Sach pass” which is one of the difficult passes in mountains to be crossed on a motor vehicle. It will connect you to Keylong via Killar and Udaipur. I have never been on this route so won’t be able to guide as well.
  4. Srinagar-Leh (430km around). This route is easiest out of all. But a portion of around 15-20km(Zozila pass) on this route is very tough. And it will be tougher to cross Zozila pass during monsoon season.

So in my opinion, the best route would be to go via one of the above and come back through one of the remaining routes.

Can I go solo for Leh road trip?

If you are new to riding, never been on a long journey before and this Leh trip idea came from exciting travel post on a social media platform saying “Things you need to do in your life before you die”(I did Leh trip because of this reason in 2013). I would suggest you not to go solo and better have a friend with you who knows riding as well.

In case you don’t find a partner, It will be better you choose some Leh-Ladakh Trip organizer. Depending on your luxury and safety you can pick one in your budget.

But if you have done few trips in your near around areas and you know how to repair your bike, you can just pack your bags. You are ready to go on a solo trip to Leh without thinking twice.

It’s just Leh and I don’t know why people have made it sound like you will be the 1st person to step on MOON.

Are these routes very difficult for someone who knows how to ride a motorcycle but never been to mountain or road trips?

If it’s your first time you will definitely going to get some pain :D. But there is nothing like you can’t do it. It’s very easy these days. Earlier it used to be very tough when there were no roads but now BRO(Border Road Organization) has made very good roads on most of this stretch. Ride slowly and you will get through it. Don’t follow the riders who say they did it in 1.5 days.

Which Bike/Motorcycle I should Take for Leh Trip?

If it’s not for just a photograph on Facebook or Instagram, you can go on any motor vehicle you want. I have been to Leh twice and both time on Royal Enfield(Because I had always been told that only Enfield could go). But now I know people who have been to Leh on Hero Honda splendor with a pillion rider and Mr. Narendera Kumar Gautam who had been to Leh on Bajaj Scooter as well.

All you need it to know is a little about your machine if you are planning for adventures like going on a scooter. You will be able to repair it by yourself in the case of any emergency breakdown. If you are going on Enfiled you should not worry at all. Every 2nd motorcycle on this route is Enfield and all riders come on this route with so much knowledge that they will open your bike’s engine and fix it on road( That’s how I did Leh trip twice without much knowledge of Enfield. I trusted the knowledge of others. And to be true I didn’t know anything at all when I did for the first time in 2013 with a pillion rider on rented bike)

Do I need to be worried about AMS(acute mountain sickness) during Leh road trip?

It depends on person to person. Some people have faced the situation where getting up from the bed is not possible after few days journey and some people have not felt anything at all. And I am not sure if one can predict it before going on those high mountain passes but one can always take few precautions to minimize the possibility these situations.

  • Don’t go too fast(I didn’t mean speed, I meant long distance covered every day ). Let the altitude increase slowly for first few days. It would be better if one could spend a day in Manali and then for first 3-4 days just cover 100-150 km every day. Some people try to finish the entire route in less time (48 hours ) possible which I feel is wrong especially for the first timer
  • Carry “Diamox” medicine with you. Take 1/2 tablet in morning and 1/2 in evening. In case you have any medical history, do consult your doctor first before taking this medicine.
  • Drink lots of water during your journey.

But even after all these precautions, having a headache is unavoidable so be ready to have that during this trip.

What gears I should be carrying for this trip?

It will be better to have as many gears as possible. I would suggest everyone have proper riding gear, helmet, riding jackets, shoes, and gloves. But from my personal experience, I have been to Leh twice with just one helmet that too an open helmet(Yes, I am an irresponsible rider).

How Much money do we need for Leh Ladakh Road Trip on a Motorcycle?

Neither I can give an upper limit nor I can give an exact number. But if you willing to do it in as minimum amount as possible, the following number would be helpful for you.
  • Stay in a tent placed by locals on this route (150-250INR per person/night)  or you can camp on your own which is free.
  • I used to eat Rajma Rice mostly(70rs for one-time food) and whatever cheap option I had like Maggie. For a day you need around 250-300INR minimum on food
  • Carry a water bottle and fill it on your camp location or place where you are eating food. Else you will be spending around 100 INR daily on water
  • If are you traveling 100-150 kilometers per day, you need around 300-400 INR on fuel considering your bike runs 25kilometer/liter
So minimum you need 1000 INR per day per person on food, fuel, stay.(This is only if you have your own bike, In case you have rented bike the cost of per day bike rent will be added extra to this number )

Apart from riding gear what else I should carry for Leh road Trip?

I feel traveling light is good for an adventurous and long journey. So, some suggestion which I think are must for any riders who are going for Leh Ladakh road trip

  • Sun’s cream. Don’t just carry but use it every day before going out in sun. The sun rays are really harsh(you will surely get tanning) and these rays can even give you temporary skin allergy as well.
  • Don’t forget to use Sunglasses. I remember my first experience when I was riding with an open helmet and without sunglasses. After two days, I reached pang and I was not able to look anywhere in evening and night time. My eyes were burning like hell and I could not open them for long. For a moment I thought I won’t be able to see next day but luckily I survived. So must wear good sunglasses
  • Vaseline. You can carry as many things as possible but most useful would be vaseline. A single accessory which can be used for multiple purposes. I used to use it on lips(you can use it anywhere on the skin as well) else it became impossible to eat spicy food in Leh.
  • A pair of extra socks. Unless you are an off-road rider or very experienced rider, you shoes are going to be filled with cold freezing water(you will be passing through routes where snow melted water is flowing on road ). With the temperature dropping to less than 0 degrees, you can not wear wet socks for long(Chances of getting blood clotting). I used to carry polyethylene bags which I used to put over my socks before putting my feet inside shoes (this will not let your socks get wet but your shoes will be. It’s temporary and cheap solution so if possible do buy waterproof shoes)

How to get a permit for Manali-Leh route and what documents you need?

As far as you are traveling in India, you don’t need many documents.

I feel driving licenses and one more ID card with address proof would be sufficient. And regarding permit on this route, I really don’t have any Idea.

I had traveled on Leh routes in the year 2013 and 2015 during which permits were not required for the personal vehicle but I don’t think getting a permit would be difficult because a lot of riders will be going on this route including international riders.

I advise people to carry personal identification proof and all papers of bike (original RC, Insurance, PUC and a letter of authorization from the owner’s name in case bike is not registered on your name)

Where to sleep/camp during Leh road trip? Do we need to have an advance booking?

Every 50km you will get an option to stay in a tent which is placed by locals from the nearby village. The stay in a tent is normally very cheap (250-200rs per night). There will be a mattress on the ground and you can pick blankets as per your need and just sleep wherever you want.

Around every 100km you will even get the option for luxurious hotels and tent. But luxury is not cheap so you may need to pay 2000-3000rs per night to enjoy that luxury in the remote places.

And you can camp anywhere you want but be sure that you have sufficient camping gear and proper sleeping bag(Good for less than 0 degrees) otherwise your grave will be next tourist attraction for riders in coming years.

Do I need to carry extra petrol for Leh-Ladakh road trip?

Depends on the fuel tank size and a number of kilometers you can ride on your bike with 1 liter of fuel. If your bike can ride for 30km in the plain area, assume it to be less than 20 on mountains and remaining part is just simple mathematics.

Yes, It’s true that for a very long stretch of road you won’t get any petrol pump but most of the tent house on your way(almost every 50km) keep storage of petrol and they sell it for 20-30rs extra per liter.

So normally people carry 10 Liters extra fuel (Royal Enfield riders)

What minimum knowledge do I need to have on my bike for Leh road trip?

There are few things which one should know

  • How to repair punchers. Check on youtube or go to your near puncher shop to take guidance

Apart from puncher, one should visit his nearby mechanic to know what problems their bike could give. In case of Royal Enfield, I would suggest these following things should be taken care

  1. Clutch wire breakdown. If you are changing gears, the clutch wire will break down definitely someday. If you don’t want this, then ride an Activa. Initially, I didn’t know how to change it and I remember the first time it broke down, I found a mechanic who placed a Splendor clutch wire in our bike. We used to take our bike to Royal Enfield showroom where I used to sit with mechanic during repair. There I learned how to change the clutch wire and from that time we started carrying a clutch wire.
  2. Accelerator wire. It rarely brakes down and I don’t know how to repair yet. But the first time my clutch wire broke down, the mechanic suggested me to carry an accelerator wire as well. I always carry but don’t know how to repair
  3. Break shoe. No way to figure out about your brake shoe at any time. You need to replace them when your bike starts making some sound on applying breaks. Even then I used to ride for around 1000km with that sound as I didn’t want to spend money on the replacement. But once should replace them on time
  4. Spark plug. If your bike starts missings or giving a jerk. Something was wrong with fuel which you had used and possibly your spark plug is covered with carbon. Take it out and clean it, that’s all you need to do. If you don’t do that there are chances your bike won’t start.
  5. Air Filter: Air filter is designed to intake dust free air. So if you face issue while riding on high mountains you can remove the air filter for some time and try to run your bike.
  6.  Battery. If horn, indicators are not working but the neutral sign on the meter is green. That means bike battery is very low and your bike will not start easily or chances it won’t start at all(Normally happens when outside temperature is very low and the battery is weak). If even the neutral isn’t lit, check out the main fuse and fuse in your headlight areas. If fuses are fine then and still your bike showing no indication of light, something is wrong with wiring for which you need a mechanic. The later kind of problem generally doesn’t occur so often, it only happens if you are unlucky.
  7. Spokes . If you find broken spokes of the wheel. Don’t wait for it to reach a higher number. Even if you find a single spoke broken, try to replace it as soon as possible. Spokes are balancing the stress and if one is broken, the stress will be unequally distributed over the remaining causing an instant break of many spokes at the same time. And once that happens you won’t be able to balance your bike at high speed. So I suggest to check them before starting the trip. Leh route is just 500km maximum which bike with few broken spokes can easily cover
  8. Chain: Keep your chain lubricated or at least do check once in a week if it’s sufficiently tight. If not, it will break the sprocket of your bike and you need to change the complete set.
  9. Mainframe bolt: If your bike starts acting like a spring. If, while accelerating or braking, you feel like the front and back wheels are giving your bike jerks, your bike’s frame bolt is loose. Just tighten it up before your bike break into two pieces.
  10. Silencer: If your silencer starts making a huge noise. You would have a broken the air seal of Silencer with the engine. In some cases, Silencer just comes out of the engine head. You can still ride your bike with a big noise like a tractor but don’t ride this in rains. Water should not enter into engine area
  11. Tik-tik sound from front: If your bike’s front area is making tik tik sound when during bumpy rides. The racer bearing of your handle is requesting you to replace it. You can still run your bike but since it’s not expensive. Better replace it on time
  12. Shockers: If you find oil leakage from front shockers, do replace and put a new air seal before going for a bumpy ride. You can ride if the oil leakage is small and for Leh trip, it is nothing to worry about.
  13. Which engine oil I had used:  If you have the option use Castrol else you need to go via the Royal Enfield liquid Gun.
  14. How many kilometers to replace engine oil: I used to change engine oil after 3k-4k kilometers. But later I found, you can run liquid gun same engine oil till 7-8k kilometers and with Motul 10k+ kilometers 
  15. NOTE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL: Do check out the engine oil level in every 2-3 days. Else even God won’t be able to save your Bike. A very low engine oil level can damage your engine piston and crack which will cost you nearly 30-40k on repair. 

Where to get the bike on Rent for Leh-Ladakh road trip?

One can get a bike on rent from Delhi, Manali, Leh or Srinagar, but the per day rent cost will vary from place to place. In most of the cases, you need to drop your bike at the same place from where you bought it else you need to pay extra money. Rent for Royal Enfield 350CC is normally around 1400rs in Manali and Srinagar area but you could get it in 1000 if you renting it from Delhi.

Everyone start doing the calculation in the back of their head trying to figure out the cheapest option. But to be true, it will cost you almost same no matter from where you are renting it. The overall cost of the trip will be almost same so I feel one should not be worried about cost much.

Search on google or check on Facebook. In case you are worried about making payment online, you can visit their respective shops and book your bike.

What should I do if my bike Breakdown in the middle of Leh Ladakh road trip?

Give it a try to fix it for at least once or twice. And if you are not able to fix, just wait for few minutes or maximum of an hour. The Leh routes have good traffic during these days. You will find lots of riders traveling across the same stretch. Just wave your hand and they will be happy to help you.

In case you are girl, chances are that riders will offer you their own bike and they themselves will travel on foot till Leh

If you are so unlucky that no one comes to help you, try asking for help from army tracks which are crossing you.

But all these will be applicable in Daylight time only. Most of the people don’t prefer to travel at night. So in case you, try to do a daredevil attempt to cross high passes at night and unluckily you get stuck. Just pray to god for some help because more than being adventurous you need to be a bit responsible to yourself as well.

Last but not least are few things you should not Do during your Leh-Ladhak road trip?

  • Although, a lot of people will be riding after smoking W**D and H**H, I will suggest everyone not to do the same. It’s not cool at all. I don’t know where this trend has come up. I will advise you to do whatever you want to smoke but do it once you have reached your destination in evening. Don’t do in between your ride
  • Do not make this route your dustbin. So please please don’t through anything randomly.
  • Do not randomly jump into river or lake. Do check with local before doing anything. If they say no, respect their advice. They are saying it for some reason.
  • Do not cross High mountain passes at night time and that too alone. The weather is unpredictable in those areas. If it starts snowing during the night on high passes, your chances of crossing the pass will be very less and no one is going to help you during that time.

                                    आपकी यात्रा मंगलमय हो

7 thoughts on “Everything you need to know for Leh Ladakh road Trip on a Motorcycle

  1. Pathankot to leh is not just 150 km its more than that. If u take pathankot route it will connect you to keylong via killar and udaipir in total 400+km distance.


    1. Ok Thank for Informing that Yaddy. I didn’have information of that route. I was in pathankot when someone told me that Leh is just 150km. I will confirm this and update this blog


  2. Bhai i said from pathankot to keylong via tandi kishtwar rout distance is 400+km and not in total from pathankot to leh. Pathankot to leh via tand kishtwar road is 850km. So plz make it correct.
    Pathankot to keylong via tandi kishtwar road is 450KM and from keylong to leh is 400km. So in total its 850km.


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