Leh Ladakh  Travel Trips

1. Travel in April / May OR August / September
Traveling in less touristy season has its very own advantages . Traveling in a bit low season like April/May just when the season starts OR mid-August/September just when the season is about to end, has the biggest advantage that most of the hotels/guest houses are empty and are more than welcoming for tourists/travelers. This gives you three basic edges to cut down costs:

a. You can make on the spot bookings easily which automatically reduces the cost when compared to over phone or pre-booked costs of same hotels.
b. Since, most of the hotels are empty so they are ready to offer good discounts too either in terms of room cost or letting an extra bed for free. In our case, most of the guest houses did not even care if we were 3 or 4 in the rooms.
c. Finally, you have less tourists, so less fuss and rush even on the tourist places. Hence, you better enjoy those places rather constantly waiting for someone to clear the spot before taking the picture

2 Commute & Stay in Group of 3 to 5

I feel it is always optimum to commute as well as stay in the group of 3 to 5 people. Having 3 people means that if you follow Tip 1, then you can have three people to share cost of the room where in most cases you will need to pay only room rent and extra bed will be free. In the recent trip (2013), we usually had a share of Rs 100-250 for the room per day and we stayed 3-4 guys in one room in case with 1-2 extra beds, mostly.

In terms of commute as well, I suggest that the taxi cost is shared in balanced way if you are in the group of 4-5. More than 5 means you will need 2 taxis, so avoid that and make groups in the multiples of 4-5 only. According to me, based on the number of people we shall use following options of transport/commute:

a. 1-2 people, then choose Bike Rental OR Shared Taxis. Hitch Hike / Public Transport where ever possible and routes of least interest like Delhi – Jammu – Srinagar Highway, Manali – Delhi Highway.
b. 3-5 people, then choose Taxi as SUV type.
c. 6-10 people, then choose Taxi as Winger/Tempo Traveller which will save you directly 65% over hiring 2 taxis.
Having said that, Self Drive/Ride on your own car/bike is always the cheapest & most flexible way to commute anywhere. And if mixed with this tip, it can really bring down the cost of travel because commute is the major portion of the cost of Ladakh tour.

3. On the Spot Deals for Accommodation & Taxis

Keep in mind that Ladakh & Spiti Valley are places with full of uncertainties like road blocks, landslides, AMS / health Issues, etc.. and pre-booking some hotel means that you are running between the money as well as flexibility of your plan with some tensions to reach the place for sure. If we talk in terms of cost, then two things to consider here primarily,

4 Wisely Choose your Accommodation & its location

The above mentioned list of stay options will surely help you choose wisely BUT always try to forget the name HOTEL 😀 … Most of the A-Grade or B-Grade guest houses in Ladakh & Spiti and even some homestays are well versed with cleanliness, comfortable beds & western toilets (though sometimes shared). Keep in mind that you need hotel only to stay or spend night at such lovely beautiful place because beauty is outside the room not inside 😉 …

Hence, in order to spend night comfortably, you can stay at the guest houses and do not need a full fledged hotel with amenities you might not be even needing while sleeping. The only drawback in some of these guest houses is that the food might not be available in some of them. Even then, don’t worry much as you will surely find nearby dhabha or restaurant to eat, just stay nearby Changspa or Main Market :) … In order to find decent yet economic places to stay in Manali, you can stay at Old Manali, Manali – Naggar Road, Vashisth. Similarly, Leh has full of such small budget very clean guest houses at Upper Tukcha road, Fort Road, some clusters near Main Market, Zangsti road etc.

5. Wisely choose the Places to Eat

If you eat at some of the basic restaurants / local dhabhas, then along with saving some good money, you also give yourself a chance to eat local as well as fresh food in general :) … Try and give yourself a chance to eat local tibetan home like cooked food at such local eating joints. It does not mean that you don’t eat at good restaurants, but all I am saying is make a mix of both to balance out the budget.

6. Pay for Individual Meals

Well, though in a group of friends sometimes it looks odd in a country sepcially ours, but it is quite common to pay on table individually and I feel nothing wrong at all in it. Things get a bit messy if you are not used to and people in the group are not pro-active but if done properly, it does help in saving money. If you take this up, you can additionally save about 10-12% in your overall trip or help someone in the group save it 😆

7. Air Travel? Plan in Advance

Air tickets in season time for Leh – Ladakh are CRAZILY high but if you plan your Travel to Ladakh well in advance, it is always better to book your tickets well in advance as applicable for other places. However, for Leh sometimes it works too much well because in season time the one sided tickets can go even like 10K and if booked in advance same can cost you about 5K types. Same is true for Srinagar flights as well with cost saving of almost 33% of tickets cost nearing to Travel dates.

8. Are you a Single Traveler or Couple of Travelers?

You are alone and private taxis are very costly in Leh but you will be able to find the shared taxi without much fuss at all. There are lots of flyers which people put at cafes, dine-ins, restaurants, travel agent desks/shops/whiteboards wanting to share the taxis for different trips within Ladakh. Even travel agent organize such shared taxis trip as well but charge a little higher about Rs 200-300 more than it would ideally cost you on your own. So, in worst case you can always go back to them and book a seat for yourself.

Gelling up with people in Ladakh is more or less easy because many people travel solo and look forward to meet new people and share cultural thoughts and values over the trip. No where else in the world you will find more smiling and helpful people as Ladakhis are :) … Or you can search for Travel Partners online too (read below).

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