How to reach Zanskar Valley?

Zanskar valley is situated in the Kargil district of the Indian Union territory of Ladakh. The nearest airport is Kushok Bakula Airport in Leh, which is around 460 km away from Zanskar valley. It takes around 12 to 14 hours to reach Zanskar Valley from the main Leh town.

Zanskar valley

The most convenient way to reach Zanskar Valley is to fly to Leh and then hire a cab or share a taxi from Leh to Kargil. From Kargil town, hire a taxi to Padum. Most tourists reach Leh and then stay in Leh for few days and then visit Zanskar Valley on their way back to Srinagar.

If you are planning to visit Zanskar valley, read this article to know all modes of transportation and other required information. If you have more questions, feel free to contact us.

We arrange trips to Zanskar Valley at a very reasonable price. View all tour packages.

A detailed guide on how to reach Zanskar Valley

By Air

  • Kushok Bakula Airport in Leh is the nearest domestic airport.
  • Sheikh-ul-Alam airport in Srinagar is the nearest international airport which is 470 km away from Zanskar valley. And it would take around 12-15 hours to reach Zanskar from Srinagar.
  • If you fly to Leh, rest for at least a night to acclimatize properly and start your road trip to Zanskar Valley.
  • If you arrive at Srinagar airport, you can travel to Kargil town on the same day of arrival and rest a night in Kargil. From Kargil, taxis and buses are easily available to Zanskar Valley.

By train

  • Zanskar or any other parts of Ladakh is not connected with railway lines, so; there is no direct train to Zanskar Valley. However, you can travel by train up to Jammu Tawi.
  • Jammu Tawi railway station is around 720 km far from Zanskar valley.
  • On reaching Jammu on a train, you can hire or share a taxi up to Kargil town.
  • From Kargil town Taxi stand, hire another Taxi to Zanskar Valley.

By road

Use one of the two given routes to reach Zanskar valley by road:
  • Manali – Jispa – Leh – Kargil – Zanskar
  • Jammu – Srinagar – Kargil – Zanskar
Route1 – Manali – Jispa- Leh – Zanskar
FromToDistanceTime
ManaliKeylong70 km2 hrs
KeylongJispa22 km30 min
JispaPang160 km5 hrs
PangLeh174 km4 hrs
LehLamayuru115 km3 hrs
LamayuruKargil103 km2.5 hrs
KargilSankoo40 km1 hr
SankooPanikhar24 km36 min
PanikharRangdum62 km1.5 hrs
RangdumZanskar104 km2.5 hrs
Google Map
Zanskar Valley Map

This route to Zanskar valley via Leh is becoming more popular since the opening of the Atal tunnel in October 2020. You will get to see the world’s highest highway tunnel, the Atal tunnel in Rohtang, through this route. A road trip to Zanskar valley on this road will also give you an opportunity to go around some major tourist attractions on the way that includes Keylong, Jispa, Pang, Leh, Magnetic Hill, Sangam-the confluence of Zanskar and Indus rivers, Lamayuru, Kargil town, Sankoo, Panikhar, Rangdum, Padum, and so much more.

To make your journey easier, we have divided the Manali to Zanskar route in three parts as given below:
  • Manali to Leh
  • Leh to Kargil
  • Kargil to Zanskar Valley

Manali to Leh

  • If you want to travel in a Taxi, hire a Taxi from Manali Taxi stand, up to Leh.
  • You can also travel from Manali to Leh on a bus. HRTC bus travels from Manali to Leh. The bus departs early in the morning after 4:00 am. It would take around 16 to 18 hours to arrive.
  • As you travel through this route, you will come across Keylong which is the Capital of Lahaul. You can stay in Keylong for some time and visit places like Shasur monastery and Gemur monastery.
  • After driving for half an hour from Keylong you will arrive at Jispa which is famous for the Chandra river.
  • After Jispa, keep driving for 15 minutes and you will come across Darcha which is known for its camping grounds.
  • The next great place would be Baralacha La, which is around 40 km away from Darcha. This place is known for famous trekking such as the Suraj Tal trek.
  • On the way, you will get to Pang which is around 110 km far from Baracha La. This place is known for the highest army transit camp.
  • Keep driving for two more hours from Pang and you will reach Tanglang la; the second highest motorable pass. You can also see the Tso Kar lake while passing through this place.
  • After driving for more than 12 hours from Manali, you will finally arrive at Leh.
  • Rest for the night in Leh before starting your trip to Zanskar Valley

Leh to Kargil

  • From Leh, you can hire/share a taxi or travel by bus up to Kargil.
  • You can find a taxi/tempo or bus at the new bus stand Leh or Skalzangling.
  • On the way, you get to Magnetic hill, famous for its optical illusion effect. It is about 30 km from Leh, which takes around half an hour to reach there.
  • Keep driving for 10 more minutes, and you will reach Sangam: the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar river.
  • The next great place to visit is Uleytokpo village, which is around 40 mins drive from Sangam.
  • The next stop would be Khaltse; you can have tea or a meal in Khaltse.
  • From Khaltse, keep driving for 40 mins to reach Lamayuru, famous for its monastery.
  • From Lamayuru, it would take around 2 to 3 hours to reach Kargil.
  • Rest for the night in Kargil.

Kargil to Zanskar Valley

  • From Kargil Taxi stand you can hire a taxi or pay for a seat in a shared taxi. You can also travel on a bus, go to the Kargil bus stand and book your seat. But you should know that Kargil to Padum bus is not very frequent during non-peak season. So, book your ride to Zanskar a day earlier.
  • Have your breakfast in Kargil before leaving for Zanskar.
  • The road from Kargil to Padum is very rough and bumpy. So, be prepared for a bouncy ride.
  • On the way, you will come across Panikhar which is famous for trekking and rafting.
  • After some time, you will reach Rangdum. You can have your lunch and snacks here.
  • Your last stop would be Padum which is the main town of Zanskar valley.

The most tourist preferred four-wheelers available to hire are:

  • SUVs such as Innova and Xylo
  • Eeco/van
  • Tempo traveler
Route 2 – Jammu – Srinagar – Kargil – Zanskar

If you want to visit Kashmir while traveling to Zanskar valley, this is the best route. Zanskar is around 730 km far from Jammu. A road trip from Jammu to Zanskar via Srinagar will allow you to visit some famous tourist attractions that include Srinagar, Sonamarg, Zojila, Drass, Kargil, Panikhar, Rangdum, and much more.

FromToDistanceTime
JammuSrinagar262 km7 hrs
SrinagarKangan38 km1.5 hrs
KanganSonamarg44 km1 hr
SonamargZojila24 km1 hr
ZojilaDras42 km1 hr
DrasKargil64 km1.5 hrs
KargilSankoo40 km1 hr
SankooPanikhar24 km36 min
PanikharRangdum62 km1.5 hrs
RangdumZanskar104 km2.5 hrs
To make your journey more convenient and comfortable, we have divided the Jammu to Zanskar route in three parts as given below:
  • Jammu to Srinagar
  • Srinagar to Kargil
  • Kargil to Zanskar Valley

Jammu to Srinagar

  • To reserve your seat in a taxi from Jammu to Kargil, go to Kargil Sarai which is close to Jammu Tawi railway station.
  • Go to the Jammu bus stand, If you want to travel up to Srinagar.
  • It would take around 7 to 8 hours to reach Srinagar through this route.
  • You can also spend a night in Srinagar and enjoy some sightseeing, before traveling to Zanskar.

Srinagar to Kargil

  • If your ride is up to Srinagar, then go to TRC (tourist reception center). From TRC Srinagar, share a taxi or take a bus up to Kargil.
  • As you travel through this route, you will get to Kangan, where you can have your meal or a cup of tea.
  • After Kangan, you have to drive for about an hour to reach Sonamarg, known as a base camp for Ladakh.
  • After driving for an hour from Sonamarg, you will arrive at Zojila – the gateway to Ladakh if the road condition is well.
  • After Zojila, keep driving for an hour, and you will come across Dras, known for its extremely cold temperature (dropped to -60°C in 1995).
  • Keep driving for two more hours, and you will reach Kargil. Rest for the night in Kargil before starting your trip to Zanskar Valley.

Kargil to Zanskar Valley

Please scroll above to read the information on Kargil to Zanskar valley.

Insider travel tips

There are a few key tips you can follow to make your expedition more pleasant. And these may also help you avoid problems along the way.

  • The most convenient way to reach Zanskar Valley from Leh is to bring your own car or bike and travel up to Zanskar using the Map and tables given in the blog post above.
  • The road from Kargil to Zanskar valley has not a well-developed infrastructure and is the worst road during the whole journey. So, check the ground clearance of your car and make sure your car is in a good condition.
  • If you want to travel in a taxi, hire/share a taxi up to Kargil Town. Rest for a night in Kargil. From Kargil, hire another taxi up to Padum.
  • Please note that Taxis from Leh or Srinagar would not be allowed to travel up to Zanskar valley. So, you have to change the taxi in Kargil and hire another taxi which comes under the Kargil Taxi union, up to Zanskar.
  • The road to Zanskar passes through many remote regions where cell phone signals are weak. BSNL SIMs receive better signals than other SIMs, so subscribe for a postpaid BSNL SIM before visiting Zanskar.
  • Carry some spare fuel from Kargil.
  • Download google offline map, if you are traveling in your own car or bike.

Conclusion

To reach Zanskar valley, you need to travel via Leh or Srinagar, making a night halt in Kargil. Follow the steps mentioned in this article and keep the travel tips in mind, and you’ll be on your way to having a memorable vacation.

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.

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