It’s the ultimate rite of passage for anyone who owns a motorcycle or at least knows how to ride one. We’re sure you’ve been bombarded with questions like “Bro, Ladakh trip when?” by your friends. If not, it’s quite likely you’ve been the one doing the bombarding!
The months of persuasion have finally borne fruit. Now, your biker brotherhood is all set to take on bad roads (sometimes no roads), the near-10,000 feet altitude, possible bike breakdowns, and extreme weather – all to have the best motorcycle trip in India. All said and done, there still remains the question of expenses, with proper planning, you can definitely cut down on expenses for your Leh-Ladakh bike trip. In case you’re stuck trying to figure out how to go on a budget motorcycle trip to Leh-Ladakh, this guide will tell you all you need to know.
Your bike is the one thing that’s going to impact your budget the most. There are two options here: rent one or BYOB (we mean Bring Your Own Bike! The booze can be had after all the riding is done!)
Setting off into the hauntingly beautiful landscape of Ladakh on your own motorcycle comes with a lot of perks: no rental prices to be factored into your budget, you get to choose your own schedule and ride to your heart’s content. Most importantly, it’s your bike – nobody knows it better than you do!
But yes, you have to account for the fuel cost from where you’re coming from, and also the sheer exhaustion that comes with long hours on the saddle. In case the prospect of a long trip before your Leh-Ladakh journey even begins doesn’t excite you, that’s okay too. Depending on where you want to start your trip, you can transport your bike via train to New Delhi, Chandigarh Junction, or Jammu Tawi and set off from there!
Speaking of prices, the bike parcel price may vary according to your motorcycle's weight and distance. For example, if you’re transporting your Royal Enfield Bullet 500 (weighing about 196 kg) from Mumbai to Delhi (about 1,363 km), you have to pay just under INR 3,000. Pretty affordable, right? That being said, you still have to put up with the hassle of a lot of paperwork and the off-chance that your bike may have some dents here and there due to transit!
On the other hand, you can consider renting a bike for your Leh-Ladakh trip. While you can definitely ride a 100-CC bike to Ladakh, it’s still better to have a higher-CC bike – ideally a cruiser or adventure tourer with manual transmission to brave the harsh terrain. In case you don’t have such a bike or would rather avoid all the hassle of packing and transporting your bike, consider renting one. Places like Delhi, Manali, Srinagar, and Leh have bike rentals. The Leh-Ladakh bike rental rates start from around INR 600 for a scooter, around INR 1,200 for a Royal Enfield Bullet, to as high as INR 3,500 for a BMW 310 GS per day.
Assuming you’re starting from Delhi and considering a quick Leh-Ladakh trip from here takes about 9 days and you’ve rented a Royal Enfield Bullet 350, expect your bike rent to be around INR 8,800.
Tip: Renting a higher-CC or high-end motorcycle will be more expensive. To add to that, they guzzle fuel like your old Uncle Joshua is with vodka at a wedding. A 220-CC to 350-CC machine can be sufficient for this ride!
You really have to account for the fuel costs when going on your Leh-Ladakh budget motorcycle trip. To be honest, unless you’ve got a viable alternative to petrol, there’s no way you can skimp on this cost. Sure, you can risk sleeping in the cold with just the pristine skies above because your motorcycle sputtered out after running on fumes. It may sound beautiful, yes, but we don’t think that’s the right way to chill in Ladakh.
Assuming you’re doing a Delhi to Ladakh round trip, it’ll be approximately 2,500 kilometers. So, you’ll need to set aside at least INR 14,000 for your fuel expenses. You’re probably thinking, “Hey, my Bullet gives me a mileage of about 32-35 km, easy. Isn’t this a bit overkill?” A bit perhaps, yes. But you need to account for the fact that you’re riding in Ladakh. Here, the definition of a ‘road’ is stretched to the limit and you’re not the only one affected by the thin air here. Your bike’s mileage can even go down to 50% of the usual.
While we’re on the topic, also remember that depending on where you’re riding to Ladakh from, the availability of petrol pumps may also vary. For instance, the Srinagar-Leh Highway has quite a few pumps, so you don’t need to worry about running dry while on the road. On the other hand, the Manali-Leh Highway has a stretch of over 300 km without a single petrol pump. If you’re taking this route, we recommend carrying a couple of jerry cans.
PS: We don’t condone it, but you can buy petrol in ‘black’ from the many dhabas and shops along the route. Keep in mind that they charge a premium, so be prepared to spend an extra INR 10 to INR 15 per liter.
Also read: The Himalayan Odyssey - Abhinaya Natarajan
As mentioned earlier, we’d rather you don’t camp in the middle of nowhere when you’re exploring Ladakh (unless you’re used to living in the great outdoors, but this land may still pose a great challenge). After hours of riding through the stunning landscape and crossing multiple rivers, we’re sure you’d be craving a piping hot meal and warm blankets to snuggle into.
Along with your back, you may think food and accommodation will break your bank when in Ladakh, but that’s not necessarily true. Plan your route and place of stay well in advance instead of trying to wing it. Why, you ask. If you have to break for the night (you must, as night riding in Ladakh isn’t recommended) and ask for accommodation, there are chances the locals may overcharge you. You may get a room, but no room for negotiating prices as you’ll have no choice but to stay the night!
A great way of keeping your food and stay budget in check is by booking in advance. You can get better deals and discounts, bringing down the costs considerably. Also, you can be one step ahead of other adventurers if you’re traveling in the peak season. Look for budget homestays and hostels instead of swanky hotels and luxury camps. The low-cost accommodation options cost just around INR 400 to INR 1,500 per night. If these prices include food as well, just know that you’ve struck gold!
A solo bike trip can let you be at one with nature, self-reflect, and offer you a sense of freedom that you may have never experienced before. This is not to say that riding with a group of friends has its own charm. If you prioritize your budget over the sense of accomplishment that comes with single-handedly toughing it out on one of India’s most challenging roads, then we recommend that you ride with a group.
Riding solo to Leh-Ladakh will naturally be more expensive as you won’t be able to share the expenses we’ve listed above. If you have a pillion rider, for instance, you can split the cost of petrol. And if you’re in a group of 3 riders, you can even negotiate with the hoteliers to accommodate all three of you in one room, greatly reducing your cost of the stay.
PS: Make the pillion rider earn their keep by taking videos and fly-bys along the Nubra Valley, Khardung La, and Pangong Lake!
No matter where you’re riding to Leh-Ladakh from, expect to spend around INR 30,000 for your budget motorcycle trip if you’re renting a bike. Remember the golden rule when it comes to riding – All The Gear All The Time. Along with it, brush up on your basic motorcycle repair skills and carry spares like spark plugs, clutch and accelerator cables, headlight bulbs, and the like to be prepared for potential breakdowns. Hope the above tips help you prepare for this adventure. It’s time to gear up and set out for the ride of your lifetime!
How Much Budget For A Ladakh Bike Trip?
A 9-day budget motorcycle trip to Ladakh will cost you under INR 30,000. This is including expenses including bike rental, petrol, food and accommodation, and miscellaneous expenses.
What Is the Minimum Budget For Leh Ladakh?
Expect to spend a minimum of INR 20,000 to INR 25,000 for a Leh-Ladakh trip, covering basic expenses such as accommodation, food, and local travel. You may incur additional expenses based on your mode of transportation, activities, and the duration of the trip.
Which Month Is Best To Visit Ladakh By Bike?
The best month to visit Ladakh by bike is from May to October when the weather is pleasant, and the roads are accessible, allowing for a safe and enjoyable journey.
How Costly Is Food In Leh Ladakh?
The cost of food in Leh-Ladakh varies, ranging from as low as INR 100 in the dhabas and going higher in the bigger restaurants or in the more commercialized spots.
Is It Mandatory To Stay In Leh For 2 Days?
Yes, it’s mandatory to stay in Leh for at least 48 hours to get acclimatized before you set out for the high altitude locations like Khardung La and Pangong Lake. However, you can still explore Leh and its adjoining areas.
Can A 250 cc Bike Go To Ladakh?
Yes, you can definitely go on a trip to Ladakh on a 250 cc bike. Some good options will be Bajaj Dominar 250, KTM Adventure 250, and Bajaj Pulsar F250.
Is The Ladakh Bike Trip Safe For Couples?
Yes, you and your partner can go on a bike ride together without any worries. It has low crime rates and the locals are warm and helpful.