Pangong Tso Lake

The famous and sparkling Pangong Tso/Lake is located in the Himalayan Mountain Range on the Indo-China Border. It is about 4,350 m (13,900 ft) in altitude and 134 km (83.3 m) long. One of the most memorable features of Pangong Tso is its ability to freeze completely in winters even though its a salt water lake. The flora ,or lack of it, is very unique to Pangong Tso. According to credible reports, the lake is devoid of both micro-vegetation and acquatic life, such as fish and crustaceans. However, the lake is an important breeding ground for migratory birds, including the Bar-headed geese and Brahmini Ducks. The lake has been a tourist attraction since a very long time and has gained further popularity after being a ‘shooting destination’ for many film shoots.

Pangong lake is also home to numerous migrating birds in summers and one can witness numerous ducks and gulls surfing over the pongong waters. Due to the saline nature of water the lake does not support aquatic life other than some ocean bugs called crustaceans. the wetlands and marshes at the edges are formed by two streams from the Indian side, the nature and beauty of blue waters embezzle the tourist’s attention the most. The serenity and tranquility of this place is the tourist’s paradise.

How to reach Pangong Lake

Most people usually prefer taking the Leh to Pangong Tso route. This route will take you about 6 hours and this totally depends on how many breaks you decide to take on your way. This is the route that you will follow:

Leh to Karu- to Sakti- To Chang La- to Durbuk- to – Tagnste- to – Lukung-to- Spangmik-to- Pangong Lake.

Pangong map

Now while you do take this route, you can also explore the many attractions that are located on the way. Hemis and Shey monasteries are few of the attractions that you must explore. This route also has one of the best roads and hence it is also the fastest. It would be recommended to take a two day trip to Pangong Tso so that you can halt at Leh, before you head out to the lake. This will help you acclimatize your body to the high altitude.

Another route that most domestic tourists prefer is the Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso Lake. This route will take you through Nubra valley to Wari La and then to Pangong Tso Lake. Nubra Valley is always the best to halt at for a better acclimatization. The Wari La Pass is one of the most secluded passes in Ladakh and it takes about 11 hours approximately to reach your destination. This again depends on the number of breaks you want to take. So it also means that the route is longer as compared to the Leh route and it is also a rough route to cover. Set out early from Nubra valley if you want to witness the much talked about sunset at the Pangong Lake.


The average minimum and maximum temperature of Pangong lake is as given below. The best time to visit Pangong lake is also specified.

June  ✔
July  ✔
September  ✔

Keep in mind when you visit the Pangong Lake

Always pre book your accommodation since most of them are always full. It usually is very difficult to find accommodation near the lake as most of the tents are also occupied. So always pre book hotels and if not you could also opt for home stays in Spangmik and also Tangste villages. They may be a tad less comfortable than your other hotels but the location of the hotels will make you forget all your other woes. Some bathrooms may not be western and some rooms may not have an attached bathroom- these are some facts that you must keep in mind. You can also carry your own sleeping bags if you are hygiene conscious. If you are like any other backpacker who finds comfort in whatever given then do not bother carrying these.

During the peak season, since Pangong Tso has just one accommodation that is cemented, pre book here. If prefer cemented building accommodation with all the facilities and with the lake at a closer proximity, this is the only option you have. So be smart and get your rooms booked in advance.

Carry adequate winter clothes and a medical aid ready in case of any emergencies. Keep woolen clothes and also sweaters since the temperate of this region is quite fluctuating.

Altitude sickness is a very common problem on your visit to Leh or anywhere around. So the day you land Leh, make sure you take at least a day’s rest so that your body gets acclimatized

Be well aware if the fact that Leh Ladakh is an ecological place and hence be a responsible traveler and do your best to keep it safe and clean. Avoid using plastic bags here.

Things to do at Pangong lake

Pangong lake

1) Night stay in camps near Pangong Lake, do campfire and barbecue.Homestay option is also available here. But i would recommend camp stay , specially near Pangong lake, it has its own charm.

2) Even though temperature will gonna be very low at pangong lake specially in night and morning, maybe around 0 degree celsius and you don’t want to come out of your blanket in camp. You will be amazed by seeing the galaxy picturesque in clear sky.Sky looks near to you at night, you can see sparkling stars very clearly unlike in our polluted metro cities.You even don’t want to break your sleep at early morning time but Its worth to see sunrise here.

3) Don’t forget to stop some 10 km before pangong lake while coming from Leh. You will witness rare endemic species ‘Mormot‘. Lives in pot holes, but in daytime they usually come out of their potholes.You will find some sign boards en route stating ‘Stop here to see rare endemic species Mormot’.

4) Even if you are not a professional photographer or  don’t have a high quality camera, just take as many pictures,selfies as you can from your normal camera. This place is so beautiful that even random clicks will look beautiful.Ifyou will come from your own vehicle, park your vehicle near the lake.Definitely you want to  capture the pride moment to ride to the highest saltwater lake in the world.Whenever you see your Ladakh trip pictures in future, you will gonna miss Pangong lake most.

5) You might experience snowfall at chang la pass while going pangong lake from Leh. Me and my friend who visited chang la after one month of my visit, we both experienced snowfall there.Even if snowfall will not occur, this is the place where you can find maximum amout of snow and ice.Apart from road, you will find snow as far as your eye could see. Stop there for a while, have a tea or soup at Army cafeteria,click some pics with milestone showing that you are on World’s third highest motorable road.

6) You will feel cold out there and you will find nobody there taking a dip in lake.Tourist starts leaving pangong lake after morning sunrise as they have to reach leh before sunset.But before going back to Leh, do take a dip in pangong lake, trust me it will be fun.You will feel cold after a dip, but this coldness is temporary. If your body catches cold easily and your immunity system is weak, then do not try will gonna ruin your remaining journey.


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