Ladakh is located in the state of Jammu & Kashmir in India. My first stop during my trip to India was to Ladakh. I had not made any research on the city other than places I’d like to see. As usual, I wing it!
Here are few things you should know before visiting Ladakh:
1. Phone & Internet Coverage – There isn’t any internet or phone coverage from the Indian telecom provider. If you need to make any calls, you’ll have to borrow a local’s phone.
2. Highest Plateau in Jammu & Kashmir – It is located 11,500 feet above sea level hence it is highly advised to take 1 day rest prior to exploring the city. You will find this sign as soon as you walk in the airport and an automated audio will be played on the safety precautions.
3. Inner Line Permit – Ladakh shares borders with Tibet and China, hence many of the locations are restricted and requires a permit. Some locations requires at least 2 tourists and certain nationalities such as Chinese, Pakistani and Bangladeshi are strictly not allowed and is not likely to get a permit. It’s always best to check in advance.
4. Accommodation – Ladakh has many family guest houses and it is the best type of accommodation.
5. Report to the Police – As soon as you walk in the airport, there is a police who will hand out a form for foreigners to fill in and report to the police of your visit and duration. I walked right past him and out of the airport but no one noticed me as a foreigner as I look Ladakhi to them. So make sure to go to the police stand in case they miss you.
6. Transportation – Because it is a mountainous area, there isn’t any public transportation system. It is best to hire a driver for an entire day and they have a set price at a counter by the airport. You can still bargain for less if you will hire him for an entire day.
Personal Experience: I had not know on any of the above, I learnt them as I went along. I had only 2 days in Ladakh hence I did not have time to rest. Instead of resting, I went to an even higher altitude which was Khardung La 😀
Not having researched on the permits, I had to miss on going to Pangong Lake because I was not able to acquire the permit in such short time. I was lucky that the driver pulled out some strings to get the permit for Khardung La and for a single person. The agency who issued the permit faked another person’s details 😛