What are some things to do in Leh?

#1 Jun 21st, 2008, 07:12
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  • bri6068 is offline
#1
I'm planning on going to India and one sight that caught my eye is the little Himalayna town of Leh. The pictures of the town look beautiful. However, at the same time, it looks like a very remote, little town. Are there activities to do (hiking, biking, motorcycle rentals etc.) in the town or might I find myself bored after a few days? Thanks!!!
#2 Jun 21st, 2008, 07:40
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#2
No, no one has ever gone to Leh before you.

Suggest you read around some of the appropriate sub-forums here. The Ladakh one would be a start. (If it's a "little Himalayan town" these days I would call into question, but see what you make of it. I've never been there, but I know some who have.)

It's the center for treks and whatever kind of adventure activities you might want to the region really. I'm wondering what Victorian guidebook you're reading.

I notice you have one other trains query running with a lot of replies that you never acknowledged. So what are your plans exactly? Saying "thanks" never hurt no one you know. It might get you through the region or the world at large more easily as well.
#3 Jun 21st, 2008, 07:43
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Originally Posted by machadinha View Post No, no one has ever gone to Leh before you.
you are mean. that's why we like you. good advice mach!!
#4 Jun 21st, 2008, 07:52
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LOL Chad. Hadn't seen you for a bit; Hey, being a b*tch is an art form in itself

You hanging in there I trust? Keep it up.

Going back any time soon?
#5 Jun 21st, 2008, 08:06
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Machadinha, thanks for the input (I think). I sensed a bit of hostility in your response, but I appreciate you pitching in your two cents nonetheless. You do make a good point by saying that I should acknowledge the people who answer my question. To be honest, I really didn't think people kept track with so many questions asked and so many members in Indiamike. You're right though: if people take the time to answer, I should take time to acknowledge.

You asked what my plans are. Well, they've been shifting around quite a bit. Our current "game plan" is to fly in to Delhi, then fly into Leh for about 3 days or so. Then fly back, take a train to Udaipur, then Jaipur, then Agra, then back to Delhi. The time in each place would be roughly equally divided totaling 15 days. Thanks again.
#6 Jun 21st, 2008, 08:20
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Hm yes well, I left the links to some appropriate sub-forums you should read above. Ladakh (which Leh is the [former] capital of) will probably be covered in the Mountaineering and such pertinent forums as well.

I already said I've never been there, but I take it acclimatizing there may take up to three days in itself. This is highly personal, it may take much shorter or even longer for some persons.

So anyway I'm not sure what a three-day visit there will do for you, let alone wanting to engage in strenuous activities there. You may just find yourself sitting around with a nasty headache and a general and very unpleasant feeling of unwellness really, I kid you not. I've had it at much lower altitudes, it's not fun (think something like a permanent and severe hangover that you can do nothing about, and the results can be quite a bit more dire than that). That's not to put you off really; but if visiting a place like Ladakh at all, I'd make sure to allow for enough acclimitization time to really enjoy it. Else, what's the point really.
#7 Jun 21st, 2008, 08:37
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Thanks again for the help. I just checked out the Ladakh section you posted and I see that there is a lot of good stuff out there. I'll have to check it out. I've never been to India before, but part of it's mystique is the Himalayan north and it's an area I really want to see. Leh (from the pictures I've seen) seems to fit the bill...I don't need to do a lot of strenuous activity and that's good advice about taking it easy as the body needs time to adapt to the altitude and thinness of the air. I think I just need enough time to capture some of it's scenic beauty and culture and 3-4 days should (hopefully) do. Take care.
#8 Jun 21st, 2008, 08:44
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OK. Sorry for having been overly sharp. We get a lot of questions you'll realize.

Please do read around those sections yes. You will find threads (some of them "sticky" threads, those are threads "stuck" on top of any forum to always remain on top) on AMS (acute mountain sickness, and it goes under other names and acronyms).

I didn't mean to scare you off, in fact I'd rather invite you to post your further queries here. There are knowledgeable people to answer you.

But so anyway: There should be quite some information for you here already. So happy browsing, and feel free to ask what's unclear

ps Those people I know who visited Ladakh absolutely raved about it yes, and had the pictures to back it up, as you'll see on this site too. That isn't the issue; I'd just suggest to allot enough time for it, and you may have to sacrifice something else for it, if your time is limited. Ah, choices, choices...

So anyway to get back to your 3-4 days: Yes, they may cut it for you. Or they may well not. Don't say no one warned you. I wouldn't personally go out there for as short, but that's just me.
#9 Jun 21st, 2008, 09:32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bri6068 View Post I'm planning on going to India and one sight that caught my eye is the little Himalayna town of Leh. The pictures of the town look beautiful. However, at the same time, it looks like a very remote, little town. Are there activities to do (hiking, biking, motorcycle rentals etc.) in the town or might I find myself bored after a few days? Thanks!!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by machadinha View Post No, no one has ever gone to Leh before you.
... (If it's a "little Himalayan town" these days I would call into question, but see what you make of it. I've never been there, but I know some who have.
Well, to be fair to the OP, Leh still is a small town (but certainly not just a village!), although in the summer months it's chock-a-block with tourists, both Indian and foreign. I think I saw more Westerners in Leh than in any other place I've visited in India.

Leh and its immediately surrounding neighborhood are filled with guest houses, restaurants and shops catering to the summer tourist influx, many capitalizing on the Tibetan culture of the area, and many run by seasonal merchants from Kashmir. In addition to the trekking that machadinha mentions - for which you will not have time if you plan to spend only three days there (more on this point below) - there is also whitewater rafting. But the main activities other than trekking seem to be taking day trips or overnight trips to soak up the stupefying scenery and visit gompas like Lamayuru, Alchi, Thiksey, Hemis, etc. -- all well worth it, IMHO, but I like that kind of thing and we don't know your tastes, so ... ? You can also just hang around soaking up the atmosphere, which I can pretty much guarantee will not be like any place else you've been unless you've spent time in in Bhutan or Sikkim or a small town in Tibet (and Ladakh comes without the Chinese presence!) Check out the descriptions here: http://www.outtheresomewhere.net/?page_id=76

As for planning to spend only three days there, keep in mind that you will be going up to the Tibetan Plateau. Leh, which is in the Indus Valley, is at 11,500 feet, so for the first day you're there, you simply won't be able to do anything but hang out at your guest house because you'll need at least 24 hours to acclimatize -- and more if planned to do anything more strenuous than just casual walking around. (Also, keep in mind that some people really don't/can't acclimatize at all, or take much longer than others to do so.) I don't care if you think you feel OK on the first day of your arrival, trust me, you will not be (unless you're David Brashears, which I doubt). Also, if you take day trips your route will surely take you to some higher altitudes.

A cautionary tale: When I first arrived, I felt fine (in contrast to my two friends who were really feeling the altitude), so smart-ass that I am I decided to ignore the standard advice to flake-out for a day and instead took a stroll from my guest house about a half a mile into the center of town. "What's the big deal?", I thought. All went reasonably well for a while but after browsing around for a bit, I started feeling hot and stuffy and thought I'd better head back and rest. I went about 30 feet and started blacking out. Not just huffing and puffing or feeling tired. Blacking. Out. I thought, "Damn, I'm going to pass out and fall down in the road and get run over by an army truck" (ubiquitous presence of the Indian army there - strategic area). I had to stop and rest for about five minutes about six or seven times going back to my guest house because I kept starting to black out. The return trip was very, very, very slightly uphill - so slight that the incline was not visually detectable at all - but I felt like I was climbing Everest. I got to the guest house, flopped down, and fell asleep, but sleeping at high altitude before you're acclimatized is harder than being awake at the same altitude, so my sleep was very disturbed. I started dreaming that I was in a shop in the center of town and I dreamed I was blacking out! I realized later that when I was dreaming about blacking out, I had been experiencing Cheyne-Stokes respiration - where you stop breathing or take a few shallow breaths followed by some gasping/gulping breaths. Not pleasant. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheyne-Stokes_respiration

So if you go to Leh, day one will just be hanging around, which has a lot to recommend it if you stay in a pleasant guest house with a garden or a roof terrace or something like that. Going to Hemis and Thiksey and Shey Palace is a full day-trip (by tourist taxi with a guide), and so is going out to Alchi, and you couldn't even fit Lamayuru into such a tight schedule. So even without Lamayuru or other places farther out on the Kargil-Srinagar road, you'll still feel time-pinched with just three days in the area, so I would recommend adding at least one more day - cut time off Agra and add it to Leh. You won't be sorry. Just keep in mind that travel in the area is very s-l-o-w, and don't expect to be doing any trekking or bicycling or anything else strenuous. Just hire a car and driver and a guide (your guest house can make recommendations) and watch the amazing scenery roll by on your way to some Buddhist monastery or other. I highly recommend it.
Last edited by dzibead; Jun 21st, 2008 at 12:20..
#10 Jun 22nd, 2008, 07:08
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#10
Thank you both for your input.

Dzibead, it was nice of you to add plenty of details in your response, from a personal experience. I now have a full idea of what to expect when I go to Leh. Your cautionary tale really made me think that I do need to take it extremely slow the first day or two. Better safe than sorry.

Since I need to be careful about doing strenuous exercising, I was wondering: can you rent motorbikes or horses to get around? Something like that? I would love to go out with my friend around the Leh viscinity and really soak up the Himalayan scenery.

One more question. I'm currently set to go to Leh in August. What kind of weather should I expect?

Thanks again both of you. Your input has really helped me out!
#11 Jun 22nd, 2008, 12:16
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Originally Posted by bri6068 View Post Thank you both for your input.
Since I need to be careful about doing strenuous exercising, I was wondering: can you rent motorbikes or horses to get around? Something like that? I would love to go out with my friend around the Leh viscinity and really soak up the Himalayan scenery.
I've never looked into renting either a horse or a motorbike in Leh so I don't know if it's possible but I don't think either would be the best choice for "getting around" even if they are available. I suspect there may be motorbikes for rent but you need an Indian two-wheeler license to operate one, or an international license with a motorcycle endorsement. I doubt that there are horses available for short-term rental although I've seen longer, multi-day horseback treks advertised. But you wouldn't get very far by horseback so you wouldn't see much anyway. Neither of these ideas is worth pursuing in my opinion. Just hire a car and driver the for day. You'll cover more territory and will therefore be able to see a lot more -- and you won't have to worry about over-exerting yourself. Even if you could rent a bike or a horse, would you want to be out gallivanting around on your own within a day of arriving, without knowing how you're going react to the altitude, especially since you'll have to be going to even higher altitudes than Leh to take your day trips? Not a smart idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bri6068 View Post One more question. I'm currently set to go to Leh in August. What kind of weather should I expect?
Warm, even hot, during the day and cooling down at night but not cold at all at that time of year - a light fleece is more than adequate in the evening. The air is very dry and the sun is very strong at that altitude, so UV filtering sunglasses are a good idea.
#12 Aug 2nd, 2009, 00:42
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#12
We are also plannng to visit ladakh in the month of August.
Following is the planned itenary.

Aug 15 - Mumbai to Srinagar.
Aug 16 - Srinagar to Kargil
Aug 17 - Kargil to Leh
Aug 18,19,20 - In Leh
Aug 21 - Leh to Manali
Aug 22 - Manali to Delhi
Aug 23 - Delhi to Mumbai

We are planning to go by JKSRTC from Sirnagar to Leh.We were told by J&K Tourism in Mumbai that tickets could not be booked in advance.

And we are yet to decide on 'Things to do at Leh".

What about hiriing a cab from srinagar to leh.What would be the cost and any 'catches'?

Any input would be of great help.

REGARDS.
#13 Aug 2nd, 2009, 03:04
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#13
Welcome to IndiaMike, Anoop. Why don't you take a break on the journey from Leh to Manali? Doing it in a single day would be too strenuous.
#14 Aug 2nd, 2009, 04:30
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#14

Just returned from Leh - one week's stay

Hi bric,

Leh has a very large number of foreigners, most of them living in guest houses in Changspa area.

Yes, you can get motorbikes for rent there but the quality of those motorbikes is questionable as they tend to be very old. I have seen lots of foreigners with rented motorbikes. Even bicycles can be rented. Regarding horses, organized trekking tours seem to provide for horses but whether individuals can rent them is not known to me.

Regarding getting used to high altitude at Leh, it might be a problem for short-term visitors, especially if they are physically not very fit. I met experienced trekkers from foreign countries who decided to spend a week or so at Leh to get used to high altitude before attempting something more strenuous. In my case, I had spent 3 days in Manali and travelled by bus to Leh in two days and am physically fit and didn't face any problems at Leh but it varies from person to person.

There are many things to do near/at Leh. I used the local bus services to go to popular destinations like the Pangong lake, the Nubra valley (need permits for these two) and a small village Phyang where an annual festival was being held. It is advisable to book bus tickets to popular destinations in advance. Most foreigners seem to use the (shared) taxi option though.
#15 Aug 2nd, 2009, 05:24
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#15
just to chip in with my two paise here - if anyone's headed up to leh around this time (which is pretty much peak season) it is definitely worth trying to time your visit so as to include the 'confluence' - a festival that's going to run there 28th-31st august. it seems to be shaping up into a devastatingly amazing event, and while i'm not sure putting up the website link for it on this forum would be appropriate, it isn't too hard to track down online.

and yes, a homestay would be a good, affordable option. the bus routes are beautiful but a harrowing experience if you're rushed for time, and flying in and out quickly rather defeats the purpose of that sort of setting, besides not being in keeping with the respect that should be accorded to the fact that it is places like leh that are threatened today as a consequence of people using too many avoidable flights.

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