Pangong Tso is unquestionably one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. The mountains bordering the lake form multicolored reflections on the sparkling crystal clear waters of the lake. It indeed is a sight to behold.
Pangong Tso is the highest salt water lake in the world. The lake is 150 kms long with just one-fourth of it in India. Almost three-fourths of the lake lies across the border in China. The beauty of the lake has also drawn filmmakers from across the world and many well known scenes have been picturised here. The Changchenmo mountain range border the North of the lake and reflect off the shimmering waters. One can spend hours soaking in the beauty of the place and clicking pictures. The night sky lights up with millions of bright dazzling stars and one can easily spot many shooting stars. Early risers can see the brackish waters of the lake transform through the ever changing hues and shades of blue, brown, grey and turquoise. The braver souls can take a rejuvenating dip in the icy cold waters.
Leh – Pangong Tso is an incredible drive. The Leh-Pangong road goes through the Chang La pass said to be the 3rd highest motorable road in the world.It can be visited as a day trip, starting from Leh early morning and returning in the evening but it gets extremely tiring and leaves you with very little time to do justice to the magnificent lake. A one night halt is recommended. A trip to Ladakh is incomplete without a visit to Pangong Lake.
Leh – Karu (45 kms, 1 hr): Leh – (Leh-Manali Highway) – Shey (13 kms, 20 mins) – Karu (32 kms, 40 minutes; Turn left onto Pangong Lake Road). The road from Leh to Karu is good and you can cover the 45 kms distance in an hour’s time.
Karu – Chang La (42 kms, 1 hr): Karu – Chemrey – Sakti – Chang La (35 kms, 1 hour) : Drive along straight roads till Sakti and thereafter slowly the ascend begins towards Chang La, a pass at 17800 feet. The road conditions deteriorate and the road keeps getting steeper as you near the pass. The drive to Chang La, the second highest pass in Ladakh is also one of the steepest. Cold chilly winds blow at the pass so ensure you are wear warm clothing before getting out of your vehicle. There is an army cabin and a small temple at the pass. Photo’s at this memorable point is a must take away.
Chang La – Tangtse (39 kms, 50 mins): Chang La – Tangtse (Turn Left). The road a few kilometers down from Chang La is excellent all the way to Pangong and coupled with the panoramic landscapes, it makes for an enthralling drive. Tangtse has a few shops, restaurants, internet cafe etc. Accomodation options are also available here if you plan a night halt.
Tangtse- Spangmik (Pangong Tso, 45 kms, 1 hr 10 mins) or Tangtse – Lukung (Pangong Tso, 39 kms, 1 hr) : The journey from Tangtse till the lake is smooth. Beautiful snow covered desert mountain landscapes take your breath away. There are a few small lakes and water bodies as you approach the lake. As the blue waters Pangong come into view, every visitor is left wide eyed and open mouthed at the sheer beauty of the lake. Vehicles can be driven upto the lake.Being the Indo-China border, the military has a check post here. The road further to Spangmik is a rubble road. Visitors are not allowed to go beyond this point.
There are limited stay options for Pangong visitors. Accomodation facilities are available in Tangtse, Lukung and Spangmik.
Tangtse: Best stay options for people visiting Pangong. There are multiple hotels and guesthouses that offer decent accomodation facilities.
Spangmik (14200 feet): This is the hub with many camps set up in and around the village. Guesthouse accomodation is also provided by the villagers.
- Camp Whispering Waves: Located 7 kms along the Southern part of the lake,
- Camp Redstart: Located just above Pangong lake providing a view of the lake and Spangmik village. Provides 10-15 luxury tents with attached toilets. About a 100 metres, 5 minutes walk from the lake. Nice lakeview sit-outs. Owner – Mr. Stanzin Gurmet.
- Camp Shambhala: Tents with attached toilets at a 5 mins walk from the lake.
- Serbhum Tso Resort
- Pangong Resort: A short walking distance from the lake, provides basic tents with attached toilets, cabins and food. Located about 15 mins. ahead of the other tents.
- Wonderland Camp: Basic tents with attached toilets. Not right on the lakeside but around 200 m away.
- Petrol: Fill up Petrol from Leh as there are no petrol stations enroute.
- Weather: It is pleasant in the daytime on a sunny day but the temperatures can rapidly plummet after sundown.
- Thermals: Do carry multiple layers of thermals and warm clothes to beat the sub-zero temperatures, specially if you plan a night halt.
- Locks: If you are staying in a tent, make sure you zip it down and lock it before venturing out to safeguard your belongings.
- Bottled Water: Carry sufficient crates of bottled water from Leh as it might not be available near the lake.
- Tent or room?: Opt for a room instead of a tent if the weather is bad or it could get unbearably cold.
- Right expectations: Considering the challenges at such high altitudes and the remoteness of the place, one must not expect much more than the basic amenities. The beauty of the lake makes up for it manifold.
Leh Taxi Union: For booking a cab to Pangong Tso call 01982-252723, 253039.
Protected Area Permit (PAP) for Foreign and Indian Nationals: Permits are required for travel to protected areas like Pangong lake, Tso Moriri etc. Read further details of Application form and process.