Frequently Asked Questions
Travel in Ladakh
Do I need a visa to visit Ladakh?
Yes, all visitors to Ladakh must apply for a visa with the Indian Government. Many nationalities can obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) online. These are valid for 60 days from arrival in India. Upload a photo, a passport scan and pay the necessary fee online. Following this, the Indian government promises to deliver an ETA by e-mail in 72 hours (although we recommend applying a few weeks in advance). More details can be found here: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html. Alternatively you can visit your nearest Indian Embassy/Consulate and apply for a visa through them. Please be aware that these visas are valid from the date of issue, so it is best to wait until a few weeks before your departure to apply for it.
If you are visiting certain areas in Ladakh, such as the Nubra Valley, you will also need a Special Area Permit, which can be applied for in Leh. These permits are easily obtainable, and your guide or driver will take care of this for you.
What do I do if I want to extend my visa?
Indian tourist visas are not extendable, so it’s important to get a visa that lasts the duration of your trip before leaving. The Indian authorities take overstaying a visa very seriously, and you could be prevented from leaving the country if that happens.
What will the weather be like?
This depends on the time of year you’ll be travelling, but all of our tours take place through the warmer months in the middle of the year. Summers (June-September) in Ladakh are generally warm and sunny, with temperatures in the low to mid-20s and cooler nights. Outside of these months, Ladakh is very cold, will snow possible as early as October and as late as May. There is rarely any rain any any time of year, as Ladakh is a high-altitude desert.
What kind of bags should I bring?
We suggest bringing a soft travel bag, backpack (50-60 litres) or a suitcase. We also recommend bringing a small day pack for your everyday essentials.
Do I need a water filter?
Water filters are great and if you have one, bring it. Boiled and filtered water is available at your hotel and most restaurants. We don’t recommend buying water every day, due to the environmental impact.
What standard of accommodation can I expect?
All of our accommodation in Ladakh has been chosen especially for our guests’ comfort and enjoyment. Most of our choices are boutique or heritage hotels, which feature traditional Ladakhi design with modern comforts, but even so they are not luxurious by western standards. Your accommodation will be basic but comfortable, and always warmed by the exceptional hospitality of the Ladakhi people. In homestays, you can expect a more traditional experience, but it will still be clean and welcoming.
Will there be somewhere safe to store my valuables?
We use very good hotels and most of them have safes and safe storage. Make sure that you ask each hotel to protect your valuables.
Will I be able to recharge my phone/batteries?
Yes make sure that you have an adaptor. Ladakh has a standard 230 V. They use 2 pin and 3 pin round sockets.
Can I do laundry on the trip?
Laundry services are available in hotels, for varying and sometimes high charges. You can handwash small items (underwear and socks) if you bring a small bar of laundry soap or buy powder there. Please note that as the air is cool in Ladakh, it can take some time for your laundry to dry, so it’s recommended to bring plenty of changes of underwear and socks in particular so this isn’t an issue.
What standard of toilets can I expect?
The standard of hygiene in hotels and restaurants is generally good. Do be aware that toilets between towns may be squat type and more basic. We recommend carrying some toilet paper and hand sanitizer in your bag.
Do you cater for vegetarian and other special diets?
Yes, we recommend following a vegetarian diet whilst in Ladakh. Please advise us of your dietary requirements so that we can arrange this in advance.
What vaccinations do you recommend?
Beyond The Clouds recommend consulting a travel doctor (worth shopping around and check the prices) for vaccinations. Usually they will recommend shots for hepatitis, typhoid, diphtheria/tetanus, polio booster and meningitis. You may also be offered a series of rabies injections as there is rabies present in the Himalayan region. Please discuss this with your travel doctor. We strongly recommend staying away from all animals during the trip. Please note: It is your personal decision as to which vaccinations to take, and we cannot take responsibility for this.
What do I do if I need medical care?
Ladakh has medical facilities in Leh, and at Indian Army bases throughout the region (for emergencies). Please inform your guide if you need any assistance.
Do I need to worry about altitude sickness?
Ladakh is a high-altitude region, so it’s common for travellers to feel some light symptoms of altitude sickness especially during their first day or two. Beyond The Clouds take altitude sickness seriously, so we’ve designed our itineraries to take you to lower regions of Ladakh when you first arrive, to help your body to acclimatise and get used to the lower oxygen levels. As you ascend again through other parts of Ladakh, we advise you to pay attention to your body, and to the people around you, and if at any time you or other members of your group feel unwell please report it to your guide or driver.
Is there anything I should avoid doing in Ladakh?
Do not wear revealing clothing in villages or in monasteries, and avoid touching animals.
Can I take photographs anywhere?
Most Ladakhi people are very friendly and open to having their picture taken, but do show your respect by asking their permission first. When photographing children, ask their parents. Some monasteries either charge a fee for taking photos inside the chapels, or they ban it outright to protect the ancient murals. Please be respectful of such notices.
Can I bring gifts for the local children?
As a rule, Beyond The Clouds discourages hand outs. Handing out things such as sweets, pens and money only creates a culture of begging and bad teeth. As an alternative, you may wish to donate to our charity First Steps Himalaya so that we can purchase suitable items for children at our projects in rural Nepal.
What is the local currency?
The Indian Rupee, which you can get on arrival in Delhi as well as from ATMs.
How much spending money should I bring?
As all your accommodation and most of your food is included on these tours you only need to bring spending money for meals in Leh, souvenirs, alcoholic drinks and any extras such as massage. We would recommend bringing a minimum of US$500.
Can I use my credit cards? Are there any ATMs?
Yes – credit cards are accepted at most hotels and tourist shops in larger centres. There are ATMs in Leh but we would advise bringing some US$ or GBP cash, as the ATMs can frequently encounter problems and you may be unable to withdraw money for several days.
How much is recommended for tipping?
Tips are appreciated in Ladakh, especially for excellent service. You can carry some small change to tip restaurant staff, and porters or other hotel employees.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions.