Covering Ladakh on buses is a backpacker’s dream but it is not easy as the bus network here is not very extensive. A lot of places may not be covered by the bus service while in some routes, buses are extremely rare, running once a week or even once in ten days in some cases. I never really understood the reason for this considering good roads and high demand. In comparison, Himachal runs buses on far worse roads and to far more nondescript locations. Anyway, you can still explore most of Ladakh with buses if you understand how it works and when and what they cover. That is why I am making this comprehensive guide and I intend to keep adding to it and improving it as I discover more info. On the other hand, you can also explore this new shared taxi booking platform in Ladakh where you can find co-passengers and share the cost. Sharing cars also reduce environmental impact and they are now also encouraging tourists to use a refill bottle in place of single-use plastic bottles for water, which is a great idea. Nevertheless, if you are en extreme budget traveller like me, you will still need the buses at places. So, here you go!
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Bus operators in Ladakh
One of the reasons for the confusion is because there are multiple operators in this region. Ladakh Corporation LBOC runs buses for all the locations in Ladakh, however JKSRTC runs buses running to Srinagar. On top of that, there are underprivileged cousins of Kargil Union who don’t even get space in the main bus stand and run from a corner near the polo ground. Also, the HRTC runs the Delhi-Manali-Leh route obviously but they are the ones to shut down at the first sight of winter. In 2018 they stopped as early as 15th September. Before getting to the buses, take some time to study the Map of Ladakh.
Leh Local Monastery Bus Timings
As you know, there are several major monasteries and villages around Leh. Some of them have buses from Leh. Most of these short distance buses are not mentioned in the time table at the bus stand but I have gathered them from different sources. So, ask around the bus stand on the previous evening to be sure.
Apart from these mentioned below, several city buses keep plying throughout the day between the Leh City and Skalzangling Airport and Choglamshar (A nearby township 10 KMs on the Leh-Manali Highway).
Leh to Stok Bus
Two daily buses at 8 AM and 5 PM, costing INR 25 per head.
This bus takes you to Stok Village, which houses the Stok Palace and Museum as well as the monastery and giant Buddha sttue atop the hill with great views. The famed Stok Kangri Trek also begins here.
However, any Manali bound vehicle will pass through it.
Leh to Stakna Bus
Stakna is small but one of the most scenic monasteries. Here is my Stakna Post.
Daily bus at 4.30pm (returns 8.45am next morning) for INR 41 per head.
However, any Manali bound vehicle will drop you 1 KM from it.
Leh to Hemis Bus
I have never seen a direct Hemis Bus so can’t be sure. Your best bet is to reach Karu on the Leh-Manali Highway, around 35 KMs from Leh. The aforementioned Sakti-ChemreyBus should pass through it if available. From Karu, Hemis is around 6-7 KMs. You can look for local cars, ask for lift, or simply walk/hike.
Shey is very near to the city. All the aforementioned buses to Thicksey, Stakna, and for that matter anything on Leh-Manali Road will pass through it.
Leh to Dah Beema (Brokpa Area/Aryan Valley) Buse Timings & Fare
These buses take you to Dah Beama, the area of the enigmatic Brokpa people. Even before reaching those villages, you come accross delightfully unexplored places like Domkhar and Achinathang. Interestingly, though lesser-known, these villages have more frequent and reliable, daily buses.
Leh to Dha Vilage (via Beema) 8.30 AM in Summer & 9 AM in Winter Daily INR 245 per head
Leh to Skurbuchan 9.30 AM in summer 10 AM in winter Daily 187 per head
Leh to Domkhar Gongma 9 AM in Summer 9.30 AM in Winter Mon/Thurs 199 per head
Leh to Hanu Gongma 8.30 AM in Summer 9 am in Winter Every Friday 257 per head
Leh to Hemis Shukpachan 2 PM in Summer 1 PM in Winter Mon/Wed/Sat 138 per head
Leh to Chiktan via Lamayuru 7.30 AM in SUmmer 8 AM in Winter Tue/Thur 278 per head
Leh to Nubra & Turtuk Bus Timings & Fare
These buses take you to the famed Nubra & Shyok Valleys, which includes crossing the iconic Khardung La, and visiting the Bactrian Camels of Hunder, Balti Hospitality at Turtuk, and much more. Do note that there is a less explored branch of the road that goes towards Sumur & Panamik (Hotwater spring) after Khardung La.
Diskit & Hunder Bus Timings
Diskit is the main town in Nubra & Shyok Valley. Hunder is a few KMs ahead of Diskit and you can find other options from here to other important places of the valley. Here, I have a slightly conflicting information at hand…
As per most sources, Leh to Diskit bus leaves every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 6 AM costing around INR 200 per head. It comes back from Diskit next morning at around 7 AM.
However, at the bus stand time table, another bus is mentioned which goes to Nubra Skuru via Diskit & Hunder at 7.30 AM. The time table mentions it as a daily bus but most other people I asked opined that i runs twice a week, on Tuesday & Thursday.
Turtuk Bus Timings
There is a weekly bus to Turtuk. So, most people end up looking for other options like shared cars from the polo ground, like I did.
Leh to Turtuk bus leaves at 6AM every Saturday and costs INR 316 per head.
Panamic Bus Timings
Leh to Sumur busevery Thursday & Saturday 6 AM costing around INR 200 Per Head.
Leh to Panamik (Charasa) bus 6.30 AM Every Saturday costing around INR 280 per head.
Diskit to Turtuk & Panamic Bus Timings
If you are spending multiple days in Nubra Valley, you can use the local bus service between Diskit and Turtuk and also Diskit and Panamic. They generally leave in teh afternoon, at around 2-3 PM, and come back next morning.
Leh to Pangong, Tso Moriri, Hanle Bus Timings & Fare
These buses take you to the eastern parts of the Ladakh, those iconic plains inhabited by nomads and dotted by lakes. The Pamgong Tso and Tso Moriri are there in everyone’s list and additionally there are places like Hanle & Chushul that you may want to explore.
Leh to Pangong Tso Bus Timings
As per the time table at the bus stand, there are three buses in a week to Pangong. However, according to most people I asked, there are only two, running every Saturday and Sunday! It is sparse, as well as confusing. No wonder most people end up opting for other options!
Leh to Pangong (Maan Marak) bus 6.30AM 270 Saturday and Sunday INR 270 per head.
Leh to Tso Moriri Bus Timings
Yes, there are only 3 buses in a month to Tso Moriri! So, you are probably better off finding other options. Alternately, you can go to places like Chumathang or Nyoma and look to hitchike from there!
Leh to Tso Moriri 10th, 20th, and 30th of every month 6.30AM INR 370 per head
Leh to Chumathang Bus 12 noon every Sunday INR 214 per head
Leh to Nyoma Bus 9 AM Monday and Thursday INR 275 per head
Leh to Hanle & Koyul Bus
These are some of the remotest villages here. Hanle has become famous of late, due to the astronomical observatory here.
Leh to Hanle Bus 7AM Every Saturday INR 492 per head
Leh to Koyul Bus 7AM Every Tuesday INR 473 per head
Leh to Chushul Bus Timings
Leh to Chushul bus leaves every Wednesday at 7AM and costs INR 394 per head
Leh to Chushul (via Marak) bus leaves every Sunday at 7AM and costs INR 406 per head
Leh- Srinagar Route Bus Timings & Fare
Kargil is the mid point between Leh and Srinagar and it is culturally different from both Kashmir and Ladakh. It is also the gateway to elusive Suru Valley and Zanskar Valleys. Interestingly, the Kargil Union buses generally leave from a point near the polo ground (ask around locals if you can’t find it). Much before that, you will reach Lamayuru, one of the most iconic monasteries in Ladakh. From here, some trekking routes even go to Zanskar.
Leh to Lamayuru Buse Timings
Leh to Lamayuru Bus 3pm Daily INR 195 per head
Leh to Foker via Lamayuru 7.30 am Saturday INR 364 per head
Leh to Photoksar via Wan La Fanzi La 8 AM every Sunday INR 260 per head
Leh to Srinagar Bus Timing
This bus will make night halt at Kargil.
Leh to Srinagar 2 PM Daily INR 1203 per head
Leh to Kargil Bus Timing
Leh to Kargil Bus 2 PM Daily INR 600 per head
Leh to Zanskar Buses & Fare
Although I have never taken it, there seems to be a bus from Leh to Padum (Zanskar) or at least there is a proposal to do so. It halts at Kargil at night and leaves for Zanskar via Suru Valley the next morning. Do note taht a lot depends on road condition and availability of passengers. So, don’t take the following detail for granted and enquire at the bus stand a day before you leave.
Leh to Kargil Monday/Kargil to Padum Tuesday
Padum to Kargil Friday/Kargil to Leh Saturday
Leh to Padum Fare INR 900
Kargil to Padum fare INR 460
Buses to and from Manali, Keylong & Delhi
Please check that post. This post was mostly about internal transport in Ladakh. I have a seperate post on buses to Leh frm Delhi, Manali and Keylong. Read the post about HRTC buses to and from Leh.