Ladakh or Spiti? The Only Guide You Need To Choose Between The Two

Langza Buddha Statue, Spiti Valley

Ladakh, a few years ago was actually the most pristine and untamed travel destination with a promise of a robust journey from Delhi to Ladakh via Leh- Srinagar, and Leh- Manali Highway.

A trip to Ladakh back then was more of an eccentric feeling than a mere travel destination which one would come across after conquering the tormenting but fabled mountain roads.

After gaining a lot of popularity especially after Kareena Kapoor Khan rode a yellow scooter along the panoramic Pangong Tso Lake in 3 Idiots,  Leh Ladakh tour packages have seen an exponential rise in the number of travellers visiting the locations.

But more than just a Bollywood shoot location, Ladakh still is the mystical land of varied cultures, encompassing a totally mesmerizing landscape.

Shanti Stupa, LadakhImage Source :

However, as the wanderlust kept growing, many travelers sought to find more such exhilarating destinations to satiate the travel bug in them.

Hence new roads or you could say new paths were discovered that led to yet another equally pristine Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh.

Spiti Valley has always been more of an offbeat destination in India and is climbing up the ladder of inclination. Spiti Valley Tour Packages have become increasingly popular, due to which the valley witnesses several tourists every year.

Spiti Valley is far from becoming a mainstream tourist destination and still harbors the rustic community of Himachal Pradesh, keeping its distance from the social and infrastructural disturbance to its deeply enrooted culture. The valley still is a testament to the typical Himachali lifestyle, enormous apple orchards, and pristine landscapes.

Ladakh and Spiti, on a brief look, appear to be strikingly similar in terms of the landscapes that they offer, but the resemblance is superficial.

While the rocky Himalayan peaks surround Spiti Valley, Ladakh is home to numerous huge lakes and plateaus and notices infrastructural development which Spiti Valley lacks.

Once you are clear on your personal preferences and travel requirements, this comparison will make it relatively easy to choose between these two for your next travel destination. 

Ladakh or Spiti? Ease Of Access And Travel (Ex- Delhi)

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The distance from Delhi to Spiti Valley is around 700 km. You can reach Spiti Valley via Manali in 2 days, both by bike and other road transportation, and via Shimla in 3 days.

The only traveling option is via road. The road journey from Delhi to Ladakh would take almost the same time but for Ladakh, you can also opt for a flight from Delhi which would take only about an hour.

I would suggest against taking the aerial route as you would then miss the most breathtaking views and adventures that a trip to Ladakh offers. The condition of roads leading to Ladakh is quite better than those leading to Spiti. So, the travel to Ladakh is a bit more comfortable compared to that of Spiti.

Ladakh or Spiti? Altitude And Acclimatization

Picture of spiti valley himachal Pradesh
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Altitude and oxygen levels are almost similar in Ladakh and Spiti Valley. Therefore, sufficient time is required to acclimatize in both places.

Majority of villages in Spiti Valley are at a height of 3800m to 4500m, so emergency evacuations are a little difficult due to their remoteness.

In Ladakh, most of the tourist destinations are at a height of  3500m to 5800 m above sea level but due to the abundance of army camps, medical help and evacuation are very convenient in case of emergency.

Ladakh or Spiti? Major Attractions And Highlights

Chicham Bridge, Spiti ValleyImage Courtesy : Maverickteja
Picture of Hikkim Post Office in Spiti Valley Himachal Pradesh
Hikkim Post Office, Spiti Valley
Picture of Key Monastery in Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
Key Monaster, Spiti Valley

The biggest attraction of Spiti is the lack of crowd, which allows you to have a good, deep look inside the Himachali culture.

The population of certain villages in Spiti is as low as 30 people, so interaction with the local people becomes easier and more pleasant.

There are plenty of old monasteries that you can visit, Key and Dhankar being the most famous and largest.

Apart from monasteries, you can hike up to the shimmering blue lakes, Chandratal and Dhankar.

The apple orchards are a treat to the eyes and the food that the locals cook from these apples (which is almost everything you can imagine) are truly delicious.

For an added thrill, you can visit Chicham Bridge which is claimed to be the highest village in Asia! You can also find the highest post office in the world in Spiti and can send a souvenir to your loved ones from there!

Picture of Khardungla Pass in Ladakh one of the highest motorable road in the world
Khardungla Pass, Ladakh
Picture of Hall of fame in leh ladakh jammu and kashmir india
Hall of Fame, LadakhImage Source :
Picture of Thiksay Monastery in leh ladakh jammu & kashmir india
Thiksay Monastery, LadakhImage Source :

The most astounding thing about Ladakh is the unparalleled variety of landscapes that it offers. It is a cold desert, but you will see beautiful lakes in Ladakh, vast plateaus, and enormous mountains.

Similarly, there is a huge variety in the culture as well comprising of Brok Da people, Islamic Community, Buddhists, Changthang nomads, and more.

There are more monasteries and lakes in Ladakh as compared to Spiti Valley, Pangong Tso, and Tso Moriri being the largest lakes and you can also reach them by vehicle.

The landscapes and scenery in Ladakh are unmatched. With state-of-the-art connectivity, the Ladakh bike trip is a dream come true for all bikers!

Trekking in Ladakh is a favorite activity among adventure seekers looking forward to taking the adventure up a notch. 

It is here that you can actually witness your defense forces live in action, most of the time ensuring the safety of travelers.

Trust us the kind of patriotic vibes you feel in Ladakh, is incomparable to anywhere else in the entire country!

Ladakh or Spiti? Infrastructure

Image of Kaza in spiti valley himachal Pradesh india
Aerial view of Kaza, Spiti Valley
Image of Leh Market in Leh, Ladakh Jammu and Kashmir India
Glimpse of Leh Market, LadakhImage Source :

The infrastructural development in Spiti is minimal-there are only a few guesthouses, homestays, and campsites.

Spiti is all about being rustic and laid back so don’t expect any fancy hotels here. There is only one ATM in the valley once you leave Manali and just like pollution, traffic, and hustle of metro cities, internet availability is also scarce.

In Ladakh, you will find a lot of guesthouses and hotels and once you reach Leh, you can find multi-cuisine restaurants and a lot of first-tier hotels.

Ladakh or Spiti? Tourist Season

Ladakh during winters as well as summers
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Spiti Valley remains cut off from the rest of the country for the most part of winters!

A snowclad Spiti can be seen only if a Spiti Winter excursion is planned from March to May. During these months, Spiti looks nothing short of the shoot location of Narnia!

Summer booms from June to October in Spiti which is also the best time to visit Spiti Valley.

The road trip to Ladakh is plausible only from June to September but thanks to flight connectivity, you can visit Ladakh any time of the year.

So the best time to visit Ladakh totally depends on your preferred landscape.

Ladakh or Spiti? Network and Connectivity

Both Ladakh and Spiti have good connectivity. 

In Ladakh, there are two major service providers which are Airtel and Jio and both of them have 4G connectivity, besides the private service providers, BSNL- a government service provider too has good connectivity in the region. 

Whereas in Spiti BSNL is the sole service provider.

Ladakh or Spiti? Acute Mountain Sickness

Ladakh and Spiti, both located at an average altitude of over 10,000 feet are labeled as high terrains and it is no doubt that in high terrains oxygen levels drop drastically which can cause severe health issues, some of which can turn out to be fatal too, the most common one being Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS.

Ladakh, located at an altitude of 3,500 meters or 11,500 feet is the place where oxygen levels usually drop to new lows, therefore travelers when in Ladakh usually face trouble breathing which at times even leads to death.

Travelers on a Ladakh tour are usually advised to acclimatize to the novel surroundings before they head out to explore them. 

Whereas in Spiti Valley, oxygen deficiency does take place, but it is not as deadly as the one in Ladakh, and an acclimatization period is not usually required when entering Spiti Valley. 

Therefore when it comes to the debate of Acute Mountain Sickness in these two destinations, you’re more likely to get diagnosed with Acute Mountain Sickness in Ladakh than in Spiti. 

Ladakh or Spiti? Permits and Authorization

There’s a significant presence of the Indian Army and other security forces in Ladakh, therefore to enter the areas protected by the Army an Inner Line Permit is required.

Contrary to the situation in Ladakh, one can roam freely without the need for permits in the Spiti Valley. 

Also Read: Tips For Travelling Responsibly in Ladakh

Ladakh or Spiti? Photography

There’s a significant presence of the Indian Army and other security forces in Ladakh, therefore to enter the areas protected by the Army an Inner Line Permit is required.

Contrary to the situation in Ladakh, one can roam freely without the need for permits in the Spiti Valley. 

For the Offbeat adventurer inside you

Ladakh is vast and a large portion of it still remains unexplored, making it a perfect offbeat destination in India.

There is much more to Ladakh than just Leh, Pangong, and Khardung La, which can be explored. You can use the routes used by military bastions to reach remote regions like Chumur, Demchok, Hanle, and Chusul.

Due to the lack of metal roads, the difficulty to explore the unexplored increase but then so does the thrill.

Also, Spiti Valley itself is offbeat, just like Ladakh was about 10-15 years ago, so all your offbeat cravings will be satisfied.

The Core Essence

Both Ladakh and Spiti are located in the highlands and in the lap of the Himalayas, moreover, both destinations are renowned for their Tibetan influence, Spiti is also known for being the place where the inception of Buddhism in India took place. 

Both Spiti and Ladakh are known for being adventure destinations however when it comes to the essence of it, Ladakh overtakes Spiti  Valley for being an adventure spot. Ladakh has a myriad of adventure options to choose from for an adrenaline rush, activities like biking, river rafting, jeep safari, double-humped camel safari and more can be done in Ladakh. 

Spiti too has suitable conditions to experience unparalleled adventure, however, Spiti being the birthplace of Buddhism in India is a favorite among those who are looking out to break free from the daily hustle and bustle to attain peace. Spiti has a plethora of monasteries to visit to have a peaceful and divine experience. The monasteries too aren’t ordinary ones, Spiti is abode to some of the highest monasteries not just in India but the entire world. 

To conclude, it is safe to say that Ladakh is suitable to entice the adventurous soul in you whereas Spiti Valley is perfect to have a peaceful, calm, and composed experience. 

Ladakh and Spiti Valley are similar in a way but at the same time completely different in their own ways and both have their own adventures. 

While Ladakh is more for those looking to satisfy their adventure soul, while Spiti Valley is for those looking for a divine experience, both of them are special in their own ways.

At the end of the day, it all depends on the kind of vacation you are looking for. We would suggest visiting both, but if you need to make a choice, we hope this comparison was helpful,  so hurry and start your new adventure in the Himalayan Highlands. 

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