This combined Nubra valley and Pangong lake tour will take you to some of the most amazing natural and cultural attractions of Ladakh.
You will first drive to the Nubra valley via Khardung La pass (5,602 metres) and visit Diskit monastery, Hunder sand dunes where you can enjoy a camel ride and Samstanling monastery in Sumur. With one or two extra days, you could add Turtuk village and Panamik hot spring & Yarab Tso lake in your itinerary.
Then, you will go to Pangong lake via a small and isolated road along the Shayok river. Finally, you will head back to Leh via Tangtse and Chang La pass (5,360 metres).
On the way back to Leh, you will visit the top attractions of the Indus valley: Chemrey monastery, Hemis monastery, Stakna monastery, Thiksey monastery, Shey palace and Stok palace.
You can decide whether you want to add Turtuk and Panamik in your itinerary. The duration of this tour depends on the number of places which you want to visit in the Indus valley:
This tour combines two of the most striking attractions of Ladakh: Nubra valley and Pangong lake.
Instead of doing two separate tours (one to Nubra and another one to Pangong) with one night in Leh in between, this combined tour allows you to go directly from Nubra to Pangong via the remote Shayok road. The map at the top of this page shows how the combined tour is done.
Khardung La pass, at 5,602 meters above sea level, is the highest motorable road in the world. As the highest point of the trip to Nubra, it has become an attraction for the tourists. With a tinge of chilly wind and the overview of the landscape, the place provides a beauty of its own. Medical support for high altitude sickness and small eatery shops make the journey comfortable and memorable alike. Khardung La is well known as the gateway to the Nubra valley.
Diskit is the administrative headquarter of Nubra valley. Diskit monastery is situated on a hill in the village that is both the oldest and the largest monastery in the whole valley. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect and was founded by Lama Jangsem Sherab Zangpo, one of the disciples Je Tsong Khapa. The monastery holds a splendid view of the valley with Shayok river leisurely snaking through. The massive statue of Maitreya Buddha is one of the major landmark of Nubra.
Hunder sand dunes were formed after a historical flood in 1927. Today, these formations mesmerize the visitors with its beautiful landscape. The sand dunes are also famed for their double-humped Bactrian camels. You can relish your evenings strolling through the beautiful nature or enjoying an evening of folk dance and music by the local artists. The village also holds a historical importance as it enshrines the ruins and remains of the royal palace.
Sumur village or Sum-yur, translates into ‘three streams’. Amidst the green fields and dense orchards of Sumur lies the beautiful monastery of Samstanling. The monastery was built in 1847 and is home to almost a hundred monk residents today. The village offers a quaint and blissful stopover while on your beautiful journey. A small sand dune can also be spotted and leisured in Sumur.
Turtuk village is known for its scenic beauty and its history. The village was once a part of Baltistan in Pakistan. However, in the Indo-Pak 1971 war, Turtuk was brought under India. The Balti culture can be witnessed distinctively through their food, clothes, and their language. While on your tour, you could also visit a Balti heritage museum, ruins of a Brokpa fort (the first settlers of Ladakh), a 16th-century old mosque and many such curious attractions.
Situated close to the Siachen glacier, Panamik is known for its hot water spring, considered to be therapeutic with medicinal benefits. The spring water contains high amount of sulphur, and the amchis (traditional doctors) recommend bathing in the hot springs to cure rheumatism and many other ailments.
Shayok valley is situated along the Shayok river. It is a "Yarkandi" (Central Asian) name probably christened by the Central Asian traders who ventured on this treacherous route for centuries. It is a part of the ancient trade route from Yarkand (Central Asia) to Ladakh. Today, a rough road stretches from Nubra to Shayok for tourist to explore.
With around 40 households, Tangtse, erstwhile known as Dagtse which means “on the top of a hill or a crag”, refers to a small mound over which the village sits. The settlement is believed to be around 400 years old and currently serves as headquarter of Durbuk block of Changthang region. This small quaint village is the gateway to the famous Pangong Tso.
Pangong lake is known for its mesmerizing beauty, breathtaking views and also for its strategic importance. One-fourth of the lake is in India and the rest in Tibet where it is known as Tso Nyak (the Black Lake). It is around 145 km from Leh and in recent years, many Bollywood movies have been shot around the lake. Also, due to its geopolitical relevance, the lake flashes in the media quite often. These factors have resulted Pangong Tso gain prominence in the tourism industry.
Spangmik is a small settlement on the bank of Pangong lake. In summer, tourists can halt or stayover at the camps or homestays in the village. The small settlement is situated between Pangong lake and Thang Chenmo mountains close to the Chinese border. Due to its strategic importance, the Indian army keeps the village accessible. Therefore, it can be visited round the year.
Chang La pass, at an elevation of 5,360m, is one of the high mountain passes in Ladakh. The climb is steep with chilly wind. We advise not to stay for long on the top of the pass as it might cause high altitude sickness. However, the treacherous valley opens up into green pastures and vastness of plains as descending towards Changthang.
In the way to Chang La, you can visit the Chemrey monastery perched majestically on a crag. It has an assembly hall, protector’s chamber, Dolma lakhang and a statue of Guru Rinpoche. In the 17th century, Lama Stagtsang Raspa founded the monastery under the aegis of King Sengge Namgyal. The monastery also has a small museum displaying old artefacts and antiques. The annual festival of the monastery is observed in of the ninth month of Lunar Calendar.
Hemis gompa is the biggest and the richest monastery of Ladakh. It was founded by Lama Stagsang Raspa and is associated with Drukpa Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Hemis is known for its frescos, sculptures and statues. The monastery enshrines a beautiful thangka of Padmasambhava, displayed for public once every twelve years during the Hemis festival. Hemis Tsechu, the monastic festival, is celebrated in the fifth month of Tibetan Calendar.
Stakna monastery sits on a small hillock that appears like a tiger’s nose (Stak-na). Chosje Modzin, a Bhutanese scholar, founded it in the 16th century. The monastery belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and is headed by Stakna Rinpoche. It has no tradition of the sacred mask dance but celebrates the hurling of votive offerings.
The spectacular Thiksey monastery is located 20 km from Leh. The famed monastery resembles the Potala palace of Lhasa in Tibet. It has four main edifices: the assembly hall, deity shrine, Tara Goddess and Maitreya Buddha temple. Rest of the monastery consists of quarters for the monks. This grand monastery also has a library housing scriptures and Buddhist texts. The monastery was founded by Jangsem Sherab Sangpo in 15th century.
Shey palace was built in the memory of King Sengge Namgyal by his son Deldan Namgyal in 1655. It served as the capital of Ladakh and the ruins of the first palace could be still found in its vicinity. The Palace is famous for the huge statue of Buddha Shakyamuni. The palace-cum-temple comprises of an assembly hall, the main temple and a shrine. Since the monastery is affiliated to Hemis gompa, it is associated with the Drukpa Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Namgyal dynasty traces its origin to its founder, Lhachen Pal-gi-gyon who reigned on Ladakh in the 10th century. Stok palace was built by them in 1820, and continues as residence to the Namgyal descendants. The four-storied palace overlooks the Stok village. Every floor has a courtyard for the king and his family to enjoy the picturesque sight below.
This tour is possible all year round. However, the most pleasant period is from May to October, when the temperatures in Ladakh are warmer, the fields are green and the days are longer.
In summer, the Shayok road is sometimes flooded due to melting snow. It can happen for few days in a year, usually in July. If the Shayok road is closed, the Plan B option is to go from Nubra to Pangong via Leh.
The Nubra valley and Pangong lake remain accessible even during the winter months. The army keep the mountain passes, Khardung La and Chang La, clear of snow. However, in case of heavy snowfall, the passes could be closed for a few days so you should keep one or two buffer days if you plan this trip in winter.
You should have 2 days of acclimatization in Leh, in the Indus valley or in Sham before starting this tour to Nubra valley and Pangong lake. This will prevent the risk of Acute Mountain Sickness due to the high altitude.
This tour takes you to the highest roads in the world and it crosses two mountain passes above 5,000m alttitude: Khardung La pass and Chang La pass. However, since you will not spend a very long time at this very high altitude, the risk of mountain sickness is low. It is still recommended to rent an oxygen cylinder that can be used to alleviate symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness.
The sleeping altitude is an important parameter. The Nubra valley itself is at an average altitude of 3,150m whereas Pangong lake lies at 4,250m. Therefore, it is important to visit the Nubra valley first (so that the first night(s) will be at lower altitude) and visit Pangong at the end of the tour.
The Nubra valley and Pangong lake are located near the Line of Control (border with Pakistan) and the Line of Actual Control (border with China). Therefore, a permit is required when travelling to these locations.
The Inner Line Permit (ILP) can easily be obtained in one working day when you are in Leh and it is not expensive. The same permit is valid for both Nubra and Pangong.
In the Nubra valley, 2G Airtel and 3G/4G Jio networks work at a few spots. BSNL is also available in the valley, including in Turtuk, but it is slow. BSNL phone service is the only functional network at Pangong lake and in the nearby villages. However, do not expect good connectivity. Instead of a call, you might have to be satisfied with texting. For more information about mobile network coverage, check out this page.
There are many hotels and guesthouses in the Nubra valley. Homestays can also be found in every village of the valley. From high-end hotels (such as Stone Hedge Hotel and Lchang Nang Retreat) to cosy family-run guesthouses (such as Olgok Guest House), Nubra offers a wide selection of lodging options for every budget.
Accommodation options at Pangong lake are more limited. During the colder months, the only option is to stay in a homestay at Pangong lake where you can discover the way of life of Ladakhi families. In summer (May to September), many tourists stay in tent camps such as Pangong Retreat Camp.
The village of Tangtse, located 35 km from Pangong lake also has good guesthouses. Hotel Pangong Residency is located in Tangtse too. Near Chemrey, Fana Resort is a good option for those who want to spend the last night of the tour close to the Indus valley monasteries.
From Leh, drive to the Nubra valley via Khardung La pass. Visit Diskit monastery and Hunder sand dunes. Night in Hunder or Diskit.
After breakfast, drive to Sumur village and visit Samstanling monastery. Then, follow the Shayok road and head to Pangong lake via Tangtse. You could have lunch in a restaurant in Tangtse. Afternoon at the lake. Night at Pangong lake.
Enjoy the unforgettable sunrise over Pangong lake. Drive back towards Leh via Chang La pass. Visit the monasteries at Chemrey, Hemis and Thiksey. Stop at Shey palace before reaching Leh.
Drive from Leh to the Nubra valley via Khardung La pass. Visit Diskit monastery and Hunder sand dunes. Night in Hunder or Diskit.
In the morning, visit Sumur village and the Samstanling monastery. Then, head to Pangong lake via the Shayok road and Tangtse. Night at Pangong lake.
Spend the full day at Pangong lake. Enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of the landscape and meet the villagers who rear pashmina goats at Spangmik. You can also do a short hike along the shore of the lake. Night at Pangong lake.
After breakfast, drive over the Chang La pass and visit the monasteries and palaces of the Indus valley: Chemrey, Hemis, Stakna, Thiksey, Shey and Stok. Drive back to Leh.
From Leh, drive across the Khardung La pass to reach the Nubra valley. Visit Diskit monastery and Hunder sand dunes. Night in Diskit or Hunder.
Start early and drive to Sumur and Panamik on the other side of the Nubra valley. In Sumur, you can visit Samstanling monastery and you can see the hot spring in Panamik. Then, drive to Pangong lake via the Shayok road. Night at Pangong lake.
Take a stroll along the shore of Pangong lake and watch the sunrise over the glistening blue waters. After crossing Chang La pass, stop at Chemrey monastery, Hemis monastery, Thiksey monastery and Shey palace. Drive back to Leh.
Note: In 3 days, you will be able to spend only a small amount of time at each location. If you want more time for the visits, we recommend that you to do this tour in 4 days.
From Leh, head north to the Nubra valley via the Khardung La pass. Visit Diskit monastery and Hunder sand dunes. Night in Diskit or Hunder.
After breakfast, head to Sumur and Panamik hot spring. Then, follow the Shayok road leading to Tangtse and to Pangong lake. Night at Pangong lake.
Take a full day to explore the magnificent Pangong lake area. Night at Pangong lake.
Drive across Chang La pass to reach Chemrey monastery and the Indus valley. Visit the monasteries and palaces at Hemis, Stakna, Thiksey, Shey and Stok. Drive back to Leh.
From Leh, drive across the Khardung La pass to reach the Nubra valley. Visit Diskit monastery and Hunder sand dunes. Night in Diskit, Hunder or Turtuk.
Take a stroll in Turtuk, India’s northernmost village located just 12 km from the Line of Control with Pakistan. Drive to Panamik hotspring. Night in Panamik or in Sumur.
Head to the beautiful Pangong lake via the remote Shayok road and Tangtse. Night at Pangong lake.
Walk along the bank of Pangong lake and admire the beauty of its shimmering blue water in the morning light. Drive back toward Leh via Chang La pass. On the way, Chemrey monastery, Hemis monastery, Thiksey monastery and Shey palace.
From Leh, head to the Nubra valley via the Khardung La pass. Visit Diskit monastery and Hunder sand dunes. Night in Diskit, Hunder or Turtuk.
Explore Turtuk village and discover its rich Balti culture. Drive to Panamik hotspring and visit Samstanling monastery in Sumur. Night in Panamik or in Sumur.
After breakfast, follow the Shayok road and drive to Pangong lake via Tangtse. Night at Pangong lake.
Full day at Pangong lake to explore this wonderful natural site. Hike along the shore of the lake and meet the villagers who rear pashmina goats at Spangmik. Night at Pangong lake.
Head towards Leh via the Chang La pass. Visit the monasteries and palaces of the Indus valley: Chemrey, Hemis, Stakna, Thiksey, Shey and Stok. Drive back to Leh in the evening.