Pangong Tso Lake : The Ultimate 2021 Travel Guide For Tourists

Pangong Tso Lake

The famous Pangong Tso Lake has been mesmerizing tourists for decades. This spectacular saline body of water might even make you forget about the beaches altogether. The color transition from azure to mild blue and green to grey can showcase some of Pangong Lake’s most fascinating qualities. The enchanting lake earns the most visual bonus points when reflecting the magnificent blue Lights. Visiting this place would be an unforgettable travel experience.

Pangong Tso Lake is surrounded by beautiful mountains, and you can see the mountains reflected perfectly on the lake’s surface on clear days. It is considered one of the country’s natural wonders sitting at an elevation of around 4350 meters and covers around 160km (1/3rd in India).

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1 Pangong Tso Lake

Few of the many reasons why Pangong Lake is famous and why everyone should visit this enchanting Lake at least once.

  • Pangong Lake gained its popularity after a well-liked Bollywood film “Three Idiots” was released in which Pangong Tso Lake was shown when the movie reaches its most exciting part, that’s the climax.
  • The great scenery of the Pangong Tso Lake surrounding made this place favorite among visitors.
  • This highest navigable saline lake (14k feet above sea level) is a place of magnificent color-changing water from azure to mild blue and green to grey, depending on the season and time of day.
  • The road to Pangong Tso Lake has a stunning view of snow-capped mountains.
  • This lake by no means dries and stream to another river or ocean. So, the lake is isolated to that area solely in between mountain ranges.
  • Camping at night and witnessing the captivating night view of the galaxy’s picturesque in the clear sky.

Best time to visit Pangong Tso Lake:

The tourist visiting season for Pangong Lake starts from April until October.

The temperature at Pangong varies from -25°C in winter to 10°C in summer. So, the best months of the year to visit Pangong are June, July, and August. Also, the months of May and September is a good time to visit this strikingly beautiful Lake. The rest of the months are super chilly at freezing temperatures below 0 degrees Celcius.

During summer, you possibly can witness a variety of migratory birds, but the view of magnificent blue waters is guaranteed to impress you. And during winter, a popular festival known as the ice-skating festival is organized on the frozen Pangong Tso lake.

Interesting things to do during Pangong lake Visit

1. Photography
  • If you like photography then these winding roads against the stunning backgrounds are going to impress you a lot.
  • The perfect view of the sparkling blue water with the beautiful snow-capped mountains in the background make this place an Instagram hotspot of Ladakh.
  • The lovely Migratory birds around the lake make this place look like a paradise of birdies. Click pictures to capture the moment of this spectacular view of migratory flying bliss.
2. You can enjoy a scenic walk at the narrow stretch of land along the lakeside.
3. Play with marmots

Marmots are furry creatures that belong to the squirrel family. On your way to Pangong Tso lake, you can enjoy watching, playing, and taking pictures with them as they are harmless. These mammals are usually swift to retreat into their burrows at the slightest hint of human approach. But surprisingly this is the only known spot in Ladakh where the marmots act friendly. Just pick up anything and drop it beside and they will come closer sniffing it. Visitors are requested not to feed the marmots, as they get used to it and starve later during no tourist season.

4. Night time sky watching
Night sky

You will be amazed by watching the galaxy picturesque in the clear sky. The sky appears to be near to you at night time, you’ll be able to see sparkling stars very clearly.

5. Changthang Valley.

On your return to Leh, you can enjoy the view of Tso Moriri Lake and explore the flora and fauna of Changthang wildlife sanctuary.

Tso Moriri is one of the most famous lakes in Ladakh. The lake is located at an altitude of 4,595 meters and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains that rise to more than 6,000 meters. The sanctuary covers an area of ​​3960 meters. You would notice a great deal of wildlife in this space along with the Tibetan gaze, black-necked cranes, foxes, and kiangs. It provides a wonderful environment and wonderful kinds of nature to take advantage of along with the tranquil environment.

It is also home to a number of vulnerable bird species such as black-necked cranes, keel-headed geese, brown-headed and odd-crowned gulls, and more. In addition, different species of Himalayan mammals are found at this place. There is a small settlement on the banks of the lake known as Khorezouk. This small town is inhabited by pashmina goat herders.

The Changthang Valley lies to the west and north of Tibet and part of it is near southeastern Ladakh. The harsh, overcrowded local weather has caused wildlife to adapt to the harsh weather conditions in this country. Bitter vegetation makes human habitat invisible in this area, although the famous migrants Changpa and Drukpa live in these mountainous areas. During the winter season, these animals move to the higher ground looking for shelter and food. Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary has a rare species of wildlife and is well-preserved for conservation. Brown bears, marmots, Tibetan sheep, argali, Ladakhi Yaks, Nyan sheep, Tibetan gazelle, etc. are a few of the frequent animals discovered in this area.

6. Ice skating on the frozen saline Pangong Tso Lake

If you visit Ladakh during winter, don’t miss to ice skate on the frozen salt water body. Also, ice skating festival is celebrated on the frozen Pangong Lake.

Pangong lake frozen

Things to do before starting the trip to Pangong Tso Lake:

  • Rent an oxygen cylinder to carry it on your trip.
  • On your way to Pangong Tso Lake, you would be driving on a few rough and rocky terrain, so a higher ground clearance car is recommended.
  • Inner-line-permit is required for this trip. Apply for it a day before your visit. Contact us if you need any help with the permit.
  • The chilly air around Pangong Tso Lake makes the environment cold even during summer. So, carry enough warm clothes for the journey.
  • Don’t forget to carry some spare fuel before you begin your journey.
  • High altitude sickness is common at the Pangong Tso area, so carry a first aid kit with you.

Accommodation near Pangong lake:

1. Camping near Pangong Tso Lake:

It would be the best camping experience of your life. Contact us to book a luxury or budget camp for the night stay. You can also carry a rented tent available in Leh Market.

2. Hotel, guest house and home stays around Pangong Tso:

The nearest guest house to Pangong is around 3km away. Tourists usually prefer camping in the Pangong area. But, sometimes camps are not allowed around Pangong Tso lake, so, tourists stay in hotels close to Pangong Lake.

Food around Pangong Tso Lake:

Food and snacks are available near Pangong Lake but the options are limited to a few items like Momos, Thukpa, Maggi, etc. You can also carry your own food before traveling to Pangong Tso from Leh.

How to Reach Pangong Tso Lake?

Arrive Leh, stay a night in Leh to acclimatize and then choose a route from the given two routes below for the Pangong trip.

Route 1: Leh – Hemis – Chang La Pass – Pangong
RouteTravel TimeDistance (in km)
1Leh to Hemis30 to 50 mins35
2Hemis to Changla pass1 hour43
3Changla Pass to Pangong Tso2 to 3 hours90

This route is better than the next route, as the journey would be more comfortable and faster. The famous monasteries of Shey, Thiksey, and Hemis come through this route. And you would enjoy the great scenery at the Changla Pass road. It is perfect for those looking for a relaxing tour rather than an adventurous one.

There are no petrol pumps around the Pangong Tso Lake area. So, fuel-up your car in Leh.

Route 2: Leh – KhardunLa – Khalsar (Nubra) – Pangong lake
RouteTravel TimeDistance
1Leh to Khardung-La60 to 90 mins40km
2Khardung-La to Khalsar (bumpy)1.5 to 2 hours60 km
3Khalsar to Pangong3.5 to 4 hours140 km

The road of this route is rough and bumpy, but the visit to Khardung La pass and Nubra is worth taking the challenge. This route is usually preferred by adventure seeker visitors.

What is the best route to Pangong Tso Lake for a bike trip?

You can opt from below the two main highways to Ladakh:

Route1 – Manali – Jispa- Leh – Pangong

RouteTravel TimeDistance
1Manali to Jispa2 hr90 km
2Jispa to Leh9 hr336 km

Route 2 – Jammu – Srinagar – Leh – Pangong

RouteTravel TimeDistance
1Jammu to Srinagar6 to 8 hours260
2Srinagar to Leh8 to 12 hours430

We recommend renting a bike in Leh a day after your arrival. Because renting a bike from Delhi, Jammu or Manali is an expensive proposition in itself. The round trip from Delhi to Leh takes a lot of time and it’s very hectic and tiring. Also, renting a 150 cc to 200 cc bike will cost you a lot.

Is any Permit required for Pangong Lake?

Yes, Permit is required to visit Pangong Tso Lake. The area of Pangong Tso comes under the Actual Line of Control, so Indian tourists as well as foreign tourists need to obtain a permit to visit the Lake. A resident of J&K and Ladakh doesn’t need these permits. Also, children below 12yr won’t require a permit.

How can I get the Permit to visit Pangong Tso Lake?

Inner-Line-Permit for Indian citizen.

Online: You can get a copy of Inner-Line-Permit online by visiting the site, but you need to verify it in Leh Ladakh. Visit the tourism section of the Deputy Commissioner’s office, TIC Leh, with valid photo IDs for the verification process. You might need to wait in a queue for a long time during peak tourist season. If you have already booked a tour with us, then don’t worry we’ll complete the verification process for you free of cost.

Offline: Visit Tourist Information Center Office in Leh. The opening time is 10:00 am to 07:00 pm and the working days are Monday to Saturday. The office is closed on Sunday and other national holidays.

Protected-Area-Permit for foreign nationals.

Foreigners are required to obtain a PAP with a group of three or more accompanied by an accredited guide.

Online: You can apply for Protected-Area-Permit online by visiting the site, but you need to complete the verification process in Leh Ladakh.

Offline: Visit Tourist Information Center Office in Leh with your passport and other required documents. The opening time is 10:00 am to 07:00 pm and the working days are Monday to Saturday.

We recommend you not to apply for these permits yourself for a hassle-free tour. Let us do it for you or engage a local travel agent.

Petrol pump

Refuel your car to a full tank in Leh, especially when you are going to remote areas. You will also find a refueling pump in Karu which is around 135km away from Pangong Tso. Also, a few of the local stores in Pangong keep patrol/diesel to sell for some additional amount. However, it is definitely not recommended to buy petrol or diesel from these local stores, as they are usually adulterated.

ATM

ATM is rarely available near Pangong Lake. So, carry cash with you before starting the trip or you can find ATMs in Leh on the way to Pangong Tso.

SIM, Mobile Signal and Internet Connectivity

As of now, postpaid SIMs of BSNL, Airtel, and Jio are functional in Ladakh for roaming service. The signal for BSNL is better than Airtel and Jio.

Internet speed is good in the main Leh area, but in Pangong the signals would be very weak or no signal at all. We highly recommend subscribing to a BSNL post-paid SIM before visiting Ladakh.

FAQ

Where is Pangong Lake situated?

Pangong is located in the eastern part of Ladakh, about 224km away from the main town Leh. You can travel there from Leh by road in around  5 to 6 hours.

How to get to Pangong Lake from Leh?

From Leh, you can easily reach this beautiful lake within 7 hours. There are frequent buses, cabs, and tempos for tourists. You can explore different routes, and it’s always a good idea to enquire about the road conditions before starting your journey.

How to get a Taxi or bus to Pangong Tso Lake?

Taxi: Get a Taxi at Taxi stand Leh, you need to book a taxi a day earlier than your scheduled trip.

Bus: Every Saturday and Sunday at 6:30 in the morning, take the bus from Leh bus station to Spangmik. Spangmik is the closest bus stop to Pangong Lake. The next day depart from Spangmik village to Leh.

  • Book a taxi if you are in a group. (Contact us for free advice).
  • If you are alone or with a partner, it’s best to join one of our groups to save some bucks.
Can we rent a bike to Pangong Tso Lake?

Yes, rent a bike in Leh for the Pangong trip. Contact us for discount or to join a group.

Are we allowed to swim in Pangong Lake?

Swimming in the lake is not yet prohibited. But the water is freezing cold and it would be very difficult to swim or stay in the water for long. Also, the lake is beautiful due to the lack of pollution and garbage. Therefore, no matter how much you want, it is best not to use it for bathing, swimming, littering, etc.

How big is the Pangon Tso Lake in total?

This great lake covers an area of around 604 sq.km. The length of the lake is 134km the width is 5 km at the broadest side.

Further, it is sub-divided into smaller lakes: called Pangong Tso Lake, Tso Nyak, Rum Tso (twin lakes) and Nyak Tso.

  • Pangong Tso
  • Rum Tso
  • Nyak Tso
  • Tsonyak

Half of the entire length of the lake is located in Tibet. The part of the Lake that lies in Ladakh accounts for only 40%, and the rest is disputed but controlled by China.

Why is Pangong lake Salty?

Pangong lake is saline from the dissolved salts of the rocks. The lake is isolated in one area, so the salt cannot drain out from the lake.
The western part of the lake is salty, with a total dissolved solids content of 11 grams per liter, and the eastern part of the lake has a salinity ratio of 0.68 gm per liter.

Are there fish in the Pangong Lake?

Except for some small crustaceans, no fish or any other aquatic life sighted at the Indian part of the lake as per the information given by the local inhabitants and guides.

Can we visit Pangong Tso Lake now?

Yes, Pangong Lake has been reopened for tourist from 10th January 2021

What is the temperature at Pangong Lake?

The temperature around Pangong lake keeps varying from 1 to 20 degrees in summer and -25 to -1 degree celsius in winter. Here is the month by month temperaure at Pangong lake area.

MonthMin. Temp.Max. Temp.
January-25°-1°
February-25°
March-22°
April-15°10°
May-8°11°
June-3°13°
July13°
August20°
September-2°18°
October-9°15°
November-14°
December-17
Temperature are in degree celcius

The table shows the average temperatures of the last few years. The actual temperature for a particular month may vary. Plan your visit to Pangong Lake as per the weather informed by your travel agent. Pack woolen and other warm clothes for the night which would be very chilly as compared to the temperature of the day.

About the author

Sam K. Pandepa is a certified travel agent of Ladakh. He completed his MBA in 2012 and has worked as a tourist guide up to 2015. After that, he is working as a travel agent.