Best Zanskar Itinerary – How to Visit Zanskar Valley in 8 days

Featured, Ladakh, Zanskar

Last Updated on: Dec 26, 2022 

About this blog: Zanskar Valley is fast becoming one of the most sought-after destinations for adventure seekers. Nestled in one of the remote corners of the Himalayas, Zanskar valley is one of the most difficult places to reach. After our trip to Zanskar Valley, we have been asked to create a Zanskar Itinerary by our readers. So here I am, sharing the most common Zanskar Valley Itinerary with you.

Zanskar Valley was a fairly difficult place to reach even a few years back. There was only one way to reach the valley and that was from Kargil. So either you had to start from Leh or Srinagar, drive to Kargil and then carry forward to Padum, the main town of Zanskar. The total distance of the journey was almost 450 km and it would take at least two days to reach Padum from Kargil.

Furthermore, the roads were pretty bad and remained open only during the summer season, that is, practically only for 5-6 months. The difficulty of reaching Zanskar and the lack of knowledge about the area made Zanskar quite untouched by Indian tourists.

Padum, Zanskar Valley

The roads are still in bad condition. In 2020, a couple of new roads were constructed – one from Leh to Zanskar and the other from Manali to Zanskar. These newly constructed roads made reaching Zanskar a tad bit easier. However, these roads are not yet fully constructed and you are going to have quite an adrenaline rushing off-roading experience on these routes.

Most Common Zanskar Itinerary

As mentioned before, new roads to Zanskar Valley have been constructed and now you can reach Zanskar from both Leh and Manali. So here, I will share a few Zanskar itineraries, considering the starting point of your journey. You can choose one depending on the number of days you have in hand and what you want to experience. You can also always change the number of days you spend in Padum or any particular place as per your convenience.

Landscape of Zanskar Valley

Please note that these Zanskar Valley Itineraries are tentative and you can always tweak them as per your choice.

Zanskar Itinerary 1: Zanskar from Leh

Zanskar offroading trip-Leh to Zanskar Valley

In this Zanskar Valley Itinerary, you start from Leh and end at Kargil. From Kargil, you can head either towards Leh or Srinagar as per your convenience. This trip will take you at least 6 days from Leh to Kargil.

Leh to Zanskar Itinerary (Short)

  • Day 0 | Arriving at Leh
  • Day 1 | Leh – Lamayuru or Khaltse
  • Day 2 | Lamayuru – Padum via Lingshed
  • Day 3 | Padum Sightseeing
  • Day 4 | Padum – Purne/ Cha
  • Day 5 | Purne/Cha – Phugtal Monastery Trek – Purne/Cha – Padum
  • Day 6 | Padum – Rangdum
  • Day 7 | Rangdum – Kargil
  • Day 8 | Kargil – Leh/ Srinagar

Detailed Itinerary

Day 0 | Arriving at Leh

You will most probably be flying into Leh. Spend the day for acclimatization. There will be a lot of travelling the next few days so give yourself ample rest.

You might visit Leh Palace, Leh Market or Shanti Stupa after you are well rested. However, we suggest not to overexert yourself.

Night Stay: Leh

Day 1 | Leh – Lamayuru or Khaltse

114 km, 3 hrs

  • Start from Leh and drive to Lamayuru.
  • Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, Magnetic Hill and Sangam Point will fall on the way. You can stop there.
  • You can explore Lamayuru Monastery once you are at Lamayuru.

Night Stay: Lamayuru

Day 2 | Lamayuru – Padum via Lingshed

201 km, 9 – 10 hrs

  • This is going to be a long day of driving, so you have to start quite early from Lamayuru or Khaltse. It is better if you start by 6 AM. Then you will reach Padum on time and will also be able to stop at the various points on the route for photography breaks.
  • The road from Lamayuru to Wanla is pretty good. But a few kilometers beyond Wanla, the real journey starts. Be ready for rough driving and horrible road conditions.
  • It will take about 2 hours to reach Sir Sir La, the second highest pass on this route.
  • From Sir Sir La, drive to Photoksar and then to Singe La, the highest Pass on this route.
  • After Singe La, comes Lingshed. If you want to visit the Lingshed Monastery, you have to take a diversion uphill. Visit the monastery only if you have adequate time in hand, Because, the journey from Lingshed to Padum will take another 4 hours, minimum.
  • After Lingshed, comes a number of loops. These bends are pretty steep, but thankfully, you have to drive downhill. If you are taking the opposite route, that is, from Padum to Leh, then driving in these bends is quite difficult. Your 4-wheeler is going to suffer.
  • So, a pro-tip: if you are taking this route via Lingshed, travel from Leh to Zanskar and not the other way round.
  • After the loops, you will come across the Lingshed stream, which you have to cross over.
  • After another 3 -4 hours of drive, depending on the number of breaks you take, you will reach Padum.
  • You can also visit Zangla Palace if you have time.
  • Stay the night at Padum. You can also stay at a homestay at any of the villages near Padum.

Night Stay: Padum

Day 3 | Padum Sightseeing

  • Padum is basically a small town and is the current administrative headquarters of Zanskar Valley. Most of the attractions in Zanskar Valley are located in and around Padum, mostly within a distance of 40-45 km. Being a Buddhist region, Zanskar Valley has its fair share of Monasteries.
  • Visit Sani Gompa, Dzongkhul Gompa and Karsha Gompa. Karsha Monastery is the largest monastery in the Zanskar region.
  • Visit Padum local market in the afternoon.

Night Stay: Padum

Day 4 | Padum – Purne/ Cha

56 km, 2.5 – 3 hrs

  • Start early and explore some monasteries near Padum.
  • You can visit Stongdey Gompa, Stakrimo and Pibiting Monastery.
  • After that drive towards Purne or Cha village. The drive from Padum to both Purne and Cha village takes about 2.5 hours. The roads are pretty rough. So definitely start by noon. 

Night Stay: Purne/ Cha

Day 5 | Purne/Cha – Phugtal Monastery Trek – Purne/Cha – Padum

Trek – 5 km approx, 2-3 hrs, Drive – 56 km, 2.5 – 3 hrs

  • Purne and Cha are two villages located on either side of the Tsarap River. There is a trek route to Phugtal Gompa from both the villages. The route from Cha village is a bit easier.
  • Trek to Phugtal Monastery. The trek will take about 2-3 hours depending on your fitness and the number of breaks you take.
  • Explore Phugtal Monastery. It is one of the remotest monasteries in Zanskar Valley. Also known as the cave monastery, visiting Phugtal monastery is an experience in itself.
  • Trek back to Purne/Cha and then drive back to Padum.

Night Stay: Padum

Day 6 | Padum – Rangdum

105 km, 5 hrs

  • It is time to bid farewell to Zanskar Valley. Start from Padum in the morning and drive towards Rangdum.
  • On the way, stop to admire the beauty of Drang Drung Glacier, Pensi La Pass and the twin Lakes. The landscape is stunning and you will feel like taking many photography breaks.
  • Also visit Rangdum Monastery, just a few kilometers ahead of the village.
  • Stay the night at Rangdum. There is one guest house and a couple of homestays in the village.

Night Stay: Rangdum

Day 7 | Rangdum – Kargil

  • Start in the morning and drive through the beautiful Suru Valley.
  • On the way, you will come across Parkachik Glacier. You have to take a detour if you want to visit Parkachik village.
  • Panikhar is another beautiful village on the way.
  • You will also get the views of the massive Nun and Kun peaks.
  • Finally driving through Sankoo, reach Kargil for a night stay.

Night Stay: Kargil

On the way towards Rangdum _ Zanskar Itinerary

That is the end of your Zanskar Valley trip. You can head towards either Leh or Srinagar from Kargil for further travel.

Things to Consider:

  • If you have a day extra, then you can stay another day in Padum and explore Shela village and Shela waterfall.
  • For an extra day, you can also stay the night at Lingshed village.
  • You can also decrease a day in Padum and use it elsewhere. And if you have less time, then simply stay at Padum for 2 nights.
  • On day 6, you can stay at Parkachik or Panikhar instead of Rangdum.
  • You can skip Phuktal Monastery trek, if you are not up for trekking. But I highly recommend you do it.
  • You can do the trip in reverse as well, that is, start from Kargil and end in Leh. But I would not recommend this route.

Zanskar Valley Itinerary 2: Manali to Zanskar Valley

Zanskar off-roading trip-Manali to Padum

In this Zanskar Valley itinerary, you will start from Manali and will end at Kargil. From there, you can either head towards Leh or Srinagar, as per your convenience.

Manali to Zanskar Itinerary (Short)

  • Day 0 | Arrive at Manali
  • Day 1 | Manali – Darcha
  • Day 2 | Darcha – Shinku La – Gombo Ranjan – Kurgiakh – Purne
  • Day 3 | Purne – Phugtal Monastery Trek – Purne – Padum
  • Day 4 | Padum Sightseeing
  • Day 5 | Padum sightseeing
  • Day 6 | Padum – Rangdum
  • Day 7 | Rangdum – Kargil
  • Day 8 | Kargil – Leh/ Srinagar

Day 0 | Arrive at Manali

  • You will probably arrive at Manali on this day. Spend the day exploring Manali, but do not overexert yourself.

Day 1 | Manali – Darcha

102 km, 4 hrs

  • Start from Manali and drive through the Atal Tunnel to enter the Lahaul Valley.
  • You will cross Sissu and Tandi on the way. Please note that  Tandi is the last place where you will get a petrol pump before reaching Padum.

Night Stay: Darcha

Day 2 | Darcha – Shinku La – Gombo Ranjan – Kurgiakh – Purne

112 km, 6 – 7 hrs

Gombo Ranjan - sacred mountain of Zanskar Valley

Detailed Itinerary

  • Start early in the morning as it is a long day of driving.
  • Main attractions of the Day are Shinku La Pass (16580 feet), Gombo Rangan range and Kurgiakh village.
  • There are a few river crossings on the way.
  • Reach Purne by late afternoon and stay for the night.

Night Stay: Purne

Day 3 | Purne – Phugtal Monastery Trek – Purne – Padum

Trek – 5 km approx, 2-3 hrs, Drive – 56 km, 2.5 – 3 hrs

Phugtal Monastery Zanskar Valley
  • Another long day, so start early.
  • Trek to Phugtal Monastery. It will take around 2.5 to 3 hours depending upon your fitness and breaks. Explore Phugtal Gompa and trek back to Purne.
  • Start from Purne and drive to Padum. It will take about 3 hours to reach Padum. The roads are not good.

Night Stay: Padum

Day 4 | Padum Sightseeing

  • Go for sightseeing in Padum.
  • Visit Zangla Palace, Stongdey Gompa, Stakrimo Gompa and Pibiting Gompa.
  • Visit Padum local market in the afternoon.

Night Stay: Padum

Day 5 | Padum sightseeing

  • Another day of monastery hopping.
  • Visit Sani Gompa, Dzongkhul Gompa and Karsha Gompa. Karsha is the largest monastery in the Zanskar region.

Night Stay: Padum

Day 6 | Padum – Rangdum 

105 km, 5 hrs

  • It is time to bid farewell to Zanskar Valley. Start from Padum in the morning and drive towards Rangdum.
  • The main attractions of this route are the Drang Drung Glacier, Pensi La Pass and the twin Lakes. You will also get ample opportunities to take photography breaks.
  • Also visit Rangdum Monastery, just a few kilometers ahead of the village.
  • Stay the night at Rangdum. There is one guest house and a couple of homestays in the village.

Night Stay: Rangdum

Drang Drung Glacier - Leh to Padum via Kargil - how to reach Zanskar Valley

Day 7 | Rangdum – Kargil

130 km, 5 hrs

  • Start in the morning and drive through the beautiful Suru Valley.
  • The main attractions are Parkachik Glacier, Parkachik village, Panikhar, views of Nun-Kun peaks and Sankoo.
  • Reach Kargil for a night stay.

Night Stay: Kargil

That is the end of your Zanskar Valley trip. You can head towards either Leh or Srinagar from Kargil for further travel.

Things to Consider:

  • If you have a day extra, then you can stay another day in Padum and explore Shela village and Shela waterfall.
  • For an extra day, you can also stay the night at Kurgiakh village.
  • You can also decrease a day in Padum and use it elsewhere. And if you have less time, then simply stay at Padum for 2 nights instead of 3.
  • On day 6, you can stay at Parkachik or Panikhar instead of Rangdum.
  • You can skip Phuktal Monastery trek, if you are not up for trekking. But I highly recommend you do it.
  • You can do the trip in reverse as well, that is, start from Kargil and end in Manali.

Zanskar Valley Itinerary 3

Zanskar offroading Trip-Leh to Manali via Zanskar Valley

This is another itinerary where you start from Leh and end up in Manali. This itinerary will give you a lot of thrill and off-roading experience. However, you are going to miss the lush beauty of Suru Valley.

Leh to Manali Itinerary via Zanskar Valley (Short)

  • Day 0 | Arrive at Leh
  • Day 1 | Leh – Lamayuru or Khaltse
  • Day 2 | Lamayuru – Padum via Lingshed
  • Day 3 | Padum Sightseeing
  • Day 4 | Padum sightseeing
  • Day 5 | Padum – Purne – Phugtal Monastery Trek – Purne
  • Day 6 | Purne – Kurgiakh – Gombo Ranjan – Shinku La – Darcha
  • Day 7 | Darcha – Manali

Detailed Itinerary

Day 0 | Arrive at Leh

  • You will most probably be flying into Leh. Spend the day for acclimatization. There will be a lot of travelling the next few days so give yourself ample rest.

Night Stay: Leh

Day 1 | Leh – Lamayuru or Khaltse

114 km, 3 hrs

  • Start from Leh and drive to Lamayuru.
  • Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, Magnetic Hill and Sangam Point will fall on the way. You can stop there.
  • Explore Lamayuru Monastery once you are at Lamayuru.

Night Stay: Lamayuru

Day 2 | Lamayuru – Padum via Lingshed

201 km, 9 – 10 hrs

  • This is going to be a long day of driving, so you have to start quite early from Lamayuru or Khaltse. It is better if you start by 6 AM. Then you will reach Padum on time and will also be able to stop at the various points on the route for photography breaks.
  • Main attractions on this route are SirSir La, Photoksar, Singe La and Lingshed. You might stop at Zangla Palace if you can reach on time.

Night Stay: Padum

Dramatic landscape near Singe La Pass - Leh to Padum via Lingshed

Day 3 | Padum Sightseeing

  • Visit Stongdey Gompa, Stakrimo Gompa and Pibiting Gompa.
  • Visit Padum local market in the afternoon.

Night Stay: Padum

Day 4 | Padum sightseeing

  • Another day of monastery hopping.
  • Visit Sani Gompa, Dzongkhul Gompa and Karsha Gompa. 

Night Stay: Padum

Day 5 | Padum – Purne – Phugtal Monastery Trek – Purne

Trek – 5 km approx, 2-3 hrs, Drive – 56 km, 2.5 – 3 hrs

  • Start early from Padum.
  • The drive from Padum to Purne takes about 2.5 hours. The roads are pretty rough.
  • After reaching Purne, trek to Phugtal Monastery. The trek will take about 2-3 hours depending on your fitness and the number of breaks you take.
  • Explore Phugtal Monastery. It is one of the remotest monasteries in Zanskar Valley. Also known as the cave monastery, visiting Phugtal monastery is an experience in itself.
  • Trek back to Purne and stay there for the night.

Night Stay: Purne

Day 6 | Purne – Kurgiakh – Gombo Ranjan – Shinku La – Darcha 

112 km, 6 – 7 hrs

  • This is also going to be a long day. So start early.
  • Main points of attraction on this route are Kurgiakh, Gombo Ranjan and Shinku La Pass.

Night Stay: Darcha

Shinkula Pass

Day 7 | Darcha – Manali

102 km, 3 hrs

  • Start from Darcha and drive to Manali after crossing Tandi, Sissu and Atal Tunnel.
  • Things to Consider:
  • If you have a day extra, then you can stay another day in Padum and explore Shela village and Shela waterfall.
  • For an extra day, you can also stay the night at Lingshed or Kurgiakh village.
  • You can also decrease a day in Padum and use it elsewhere. And if you have less time, then simply stay at Padum for 2 nights.
  • You can skip Phuktal Monastery trek, if you are not up for trekking. But I highly recommend you do it.
  • You can do the trip in reverse as well, that is, start from Manali and end in Leh.

Help in Planning Zanskar Trip

This article only covers a basic Zanskar itinerary. If you need to know more about Zanskar Valley, places to visit in Zanskar and other important informantion, then these articles on Zanskar might help you. I am sure you will get most of your answers through these blogs. If not, we are just an email away!

Final Words

You can follow either of these Zanskar itineraries for your Zanskar trip. Whichever itinerary you follow, I am sure the trip will be an experience of a lifetime.

The routes from Manali to Zanskar Valley and Leh to Padum via Lingshed will give you an ultimate off-roading experience. It will give you quite an adrenaline high.

The route from Suru Valley will give you a different experience altogether. Suru Valley is quite the opposite to the start barrenness of Zanskar Valley. You will get to see the gradual change in landscape from barren and brown to lush green. It is an experience in itself.

Also, choose the number of days you spend in Padum as per your convenience. There are a number of monasteries around Padum town. You might not want to visit all of them. However, I would recommend you not to miss Zangla Palace and Karsha Monastery. The rest are up to you.

So, when are you planning to visit Zanskar Valley?

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Agni Amrita Travel Blogger

Hey! we’re Agni & Amrita.

We have been travelling together since the last 15 years and writing independent and personal travel content since 2014. Travel is one of the best teachers and through this blog, we aim to share our experiences and travel tips. We encourage you to travel more and see the world through your eyes and not through filtered templates.

Find more about us.

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7 Comments

  1. akdrop taxi

    I recently used Travel Blogs to plan my trip to the beautiful Zanskar Valley in India. Their 8-day itinerary was well-thought out and covered all the must-see places. I had an amazing time, thanks to their detailed information on how to get around and what activities are best for each day. Highly recommend if you’re looking for an efficient way of planning your next adventure!

    Reply
  2. rohit

    Travelling is a wonderful way to experience new cultures, meet new people, and create lasting memories. Whether it’s exploring historic landmarks, hiking through scenic landscapes, or trying new foods, there is always something exciting and fulfilling about travel.

    Reply
    • Agni Amrita

      Quite aptly said. Thank you for the comment.

      Reply
  3. Tanvi

    Hi,
    Thanks for the detailed info.

    In the 1st itinerary, you said, You can do the trip in reverse as well, that is, start from Kargil and end in Leh. But I would not recommend this route.

    Why wouldn’t you recommend this route? In fact, I was planning to take this route with my parents and sister coz I thought going from Srinagar will lead to a gradual ascend in height.

    Looking forward to an early response as I have to book my tickets.

    Reply
    • Agni Amrita

      You can do it if you want. I usually do not recommend this route because there is steep ascent from the Padum to Leh route via Lingshed. Driving uphill on these steep bends sometimes proves difficult for the cars. You can do it if you want. No issues.

      Reply
  4. S Kumar

    I am planning for Zanskar valley in coming May June with my 11 yrs daughter and wife. I am not sure from where should I start and where to end.I want to avoid excessive challenging path. I am from West Bengal. I want a budget trip. I need rented car. How the tour can be comparatively cheap. Where to rent car. And what kind of car is recommended. I have just completed Srinager Leh Nubra Pangong Tsomoriri Manali circuit in June 2023. 🙏

    Reply
    • Agni Amrita

      Hello, Since you have already traveled in Ladakh, you must be aware that transportation is a bit costly there. As for Zanskar, it is an extremely remote area. New roads are being built by BRO and the road conditions are not at all good. If you have read my blogs, you would know. The route will be challenging no matter which one you take. Leh to Padum via Kargil is comparatively better than the other two. Majority of the expenses will be taken up by transportation. You will need a 4-WD for travelling to Zanskar. While the roads in and around Padum are good, but reaching there is tough. Hope this helps.

      Reply

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