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Nubra Valley: the rustic paradise of Ladakh

Nubra Valley is the home to beautiful landscapes, postcard-villages, and a part of the ancient silk route. It sits on the bucket list of every traveler who has ever dreamed of visiting Ladakh. When you actually visit Nubra Valley, you realize that it’s a lot more than what you have heard about it.

My memories from Nubra Valley

The evening I spent at the sand dunes of Hunder village, with my group, is still one of the most memorable from my Ladakh trip. The greyish sand dunes nestled among the humongous mountains with brown hues, and the double-humped Bactrian camels sitting leisurely made a lovely scenario. What surprised me was the unbelievable combination of the greenery and the desert as I noticed some vegetation and the water stream flowing through the sand dunes. The rejuvenating surroundings lifted our moods leading to some playful indulgence in sand dunes. We clicked jump-shots, watched Bactrian camels and the light rain showers were icing on the cake. As the rain stopped, it was time for the sun to go home leaving a goldish light on the peaks of those humongous mountains with brown hues. That’s the beauty of Nubra Valley!

Nubra Valley
Our group in Nubra Valley

Things to do/ see in Nubra Valley

1. Diskit monastery

Diskit Monastery Nubra
Diskit Monastery in Nubra

Built in the 14th country, Diskit Monastery is the largest and the oldest surviving monastery in Nubra Valley. It’s beautifully tucked on a hilltop right above the floodplains of Shyok River. One can easily recognize it even from far because of the stunning 106 feet tall statue of Maitreya Buddha which is right opposite the monastery building. Diskit Monastery belongs to the yellow hat sect of Buddhism, known as the Gelugpa order. The extensive collection of murals and fresco paintings in the monastery are truly exquisite.  One of the beautiful things about Diskit Monastery is that it also runs a school for the Tibetan kids in the Nubra Valley and nearby villages.

2. Maitreya Buddha

Maitreya Buddha in Nubra Valley
Maitreya Buddha near Diskit Monastery

The stunning golden and red-colored 105 feet tall statue of Maitreya Buddha can be recognized as soon as we enter the campus of Diskit Monastery. It was built in 2006 but inaugurated in 2010 by His Holiness Dalai Lama. Maitreya Buddha is beautifully perched on a hilltop and faces the Shyok river which eventually flows into Pakistan. The statue of Maitreya Buddha was built to bring peace between India and Pakistan and to promote world peace. Buddhist believers tell that Maitreya Buddha also protects Diskit Village, and Nubra Valley as his tall statue dominates and blesses the entire Nubra Valley.

3. ATV (All-terrain vehicle) ride

ATV ride in Nubra Valley
ATV Ride during our Women-only trip to Ladakh

The best way to feel some adrenaline rush in the sand dunes of Nubra Valley is to go for an ATV Ride. To be honest, on my first two trips I was very afraid of opting up for an ATV ride. Although, on my third trip, I did it only to realize that I was an idiot before to be afraid of this experience. When you ride through the wilderness of rolling sand dunes, you experience a thrill rushing through your blood and nerves which is an adventure to be remembered. Two people can ride an ATV along with an instructor who can click photos and take videos. These rides last for almost 20 minutes.

4. Hunder sand dunes

Hunder Sand Dunes in Nubra
Hunder Sand Dunes in Nubra

The Hunder Sand Dunes of Nubra Valley are like an oasis in the cold mountain desert of Ladakh. The sand dunes are nestled in the lap of humongous brownish mountains which are bathed in reddish-golden colors of light when the sun goes down. There is a refreshing water stream flowing through the Hunder Sand Dunes making it an even more lovely sight to behold. Bactrian Camels are the icing on the cake to make this place picture-perfect.

Spread over an elevation of more than 13000 feet, the Hunder Sand Dunes are the most sought-after place for visitors coming to Nubra Valley. 

5. Meeting Bactrian camels

Bactrain Camel in Hunder Sand Dunes
Double Humped Camel in Hunder Sand Dunes

Bactrian camels are double-humped camels that are now found only in Nubra Valley in India, and a few regions of Southwest Kazakhstan, Northeastern China, and Southern Mongolia. Bactrian Camels can adapt well with the wide variations in temperature ranging from freezing cold to blistering heat, and a remarkable ability to go without water for months. Due to their tolerance towards extreme weather conditions, altitudes, and lack of food conditions, they played a key role in enabling the travel of caravans on the Silk Road. As a matter of fact, Bactrian Camels are one of the last remnants of the Silk Road trade in India. During our visit to Hunder Sand Dunes in Nubra, we also get an option to do Bactrian Camel Riding.

6. Ladakhi Cultural show

Ladakhi Cultural Show
Ladakhi Cultural Show

Ladakhi cultural show in Nubra is performed by a group of women hailing from Hunder village as an effort to preserve their cultural heritage. Dressed in their traditional Ladakhi outfits, they perform a few traditional dance forms along with a modern dance form that exhibits their adaptation to the changing times.  It is an excellent way to spend an evening full of music & colors while appreciating the rich cultural heritage of Ladakh.  They arrange this Ladakhi cultural show in big makeshift tents, near Sand Dunes, in Hunder village. The dance moves, melodious songs, the sound of trumpets accompanied with beautiful scenery make it even more special.

7. Turtuk village

Turtuk village in Nubra Valley
Cute kids in Turtuk Village

Turtuk village in Nubra Valley is located only at a distance of 10 km from the line of control between Indian and Pakistan. Until 1971, Turtuk used to be part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) but came under Indian administration during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Being a border sensitive area, it wasn’t opened to tourism until 2010. It’s a beautiful village where you would taste the sweetest apricots ever and witness the lifestyle of beautiful Balti people and their culture by visiting the village and interacting with the people. You must visit Turtuk on your trip to Nubra Valley in Ladakh, and you can plan the same with the help of this Turtuk guide

8. Stargazing

Night Sky in Nubra Valley
Night Sky in Nubra Valley

There are only a handful of places in India where one can do stargazing, and Nubra Valley is one of them. Ladakh being a desert area mostly stays cloud-free. In addition to that, the absence of light and dust pollution in the sky of Nubra Valley and its high altitude makes it a remarkable destination for Stargazing. Hence, whenever you an evening walk outside your homestay or camping site after your dinner, you would find the beautiful starry sky waiting for you.

9. Panamik hot springs

Isn’t it comforting to know that one can visit hot springs at an altitude of 10442 feet in a cold mountain desert? The water of Panamik Hot Springs is enriched with a high amount of sulphur because of which it has a lot of medicinal properties against skin diseases, and many more ailments. The water from hot springs has been directed to the bathrooms where one can take a shower by paying a minimal ticket price of 30 INR. Panamik Hot springs are located in the village of Panamik in Nubra Valley. However, not many people opt to visit Panamik during their Ladakh trip as they feel that driving all the way to Panamik from Hunder for more than 2 hours, doesn’t make sense just to take a bath in the hot water springs in the bathroom. Hence, decide wisely.

10. Sumur/ Samstanling Monastery:

Sumur village is one of the most peaceful, blissful, and lesser-known places in Nubra Valley having merely close to 40 houses. The Sumur village is predominantly visited by travelers who wish to see Stamstanling Gompa as it is located close to the village. Samstanling monastery is an almost 140 years old monastery as it was founded in 1841, home to almost 100 monks, and one of the most significant monasteries in Nubra. The remoteness of the location adds a mysterious beauty and aura to the monastery. 

Sumur village is so small that you can walk the entire village on foot, and you need to hike for almost 45 minutes to reach the monastery.

Some more facts about Nubra Valley

1. Home to Sea Buckthorn

Sea buckthorn plant Nubra Valley
Seabuckthorn plant

Sea Buckthorn is a rare medicinal plant that only grows at high altitudes ranging from 8500 feet to 13500 feet. It can cure diseases such as arthritis, gastrointestinal ulcers, gout, skin rashes, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disorders, asthma, etc.

Hence, there is a tremendous demand for Sea Buckthorn worldwide. In Nubra Valley, Sea Buckthorn can be found in high quantities, but still, it is said that its demand exceeds the supply over there. Nubra Valley has a vast potential for growing Sea Buckthorn in abundance as expansive land is available for farming there. The local farmers of Nubra Valley could really encash the production in the global market. Ladakhis also use Sea Buckthorn is their food and herbal teas.

 2. Part of ancient silk route 

Did you know that Nubra Valley used to be a part of the ancient silk trade route? 

For centuries, huge caravans of silk, wool, opium, spices, gold, etc found their way through the Nubra Valley. This Silk Route trade-in Nubra Valley came to an end when China sealed its borders in the 1950s. 

3. Siachen glacier

Our entire group was thrilled when we were heading towards Hunder village, and our guide mentioned that Siachen Glacier lies in Nubra Valley itself. The highest and the coldest war zone of the world, the Siachen Glacier lies to the North of Nubra Valley. A part of Siachen Glacier was announced to be open for the tourists, however, as of now, tourism isn’t operational there. 

4. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag shooting locations

Have you seen the famous Bollywood movie Bhaag Milkha Bhaag? The movie is based on the life of Milkha Singh, an Indian athlete who was a national champion runner and an Olympian. Do you remember a few scenes showing the actor Farhaan Akhtar, playing Milkha Singh, undertaking rigorous physical training in some sand dunes? Exactly, that place is very close to the Hunder village in Nubra Valley.

5. Valley of flowers

The original Tibetan name of Nubra Valley is Ldumbra, which means “Valley of Flowers”. Who would believe that in a cold desert-like Ladakh, there is a valley of flowers? But it is true! In summers, Nubra Valley is completely transformed into colorful heaven full of mustard fields, pea plantations, wheat & barley fields, fruit gardens including trees of delicious apricots and almonds.

6. Khardung la route

When we travel from Leh to Nubra Valley, the most preferred route is via Khardung La or Khardung pass. Khardung La is famous among travelers to hold the title of the “world’s highest motorable road” which is false, but it is still one of the world’s highest motorable roads. Hence, setting your foot on Khardung La definitely gives a sense of thrill to travelers. Hence, Khardung La makes an interesting fact about Nubra Valley because it can’t be avoided while going to Nubra.

7. Opened to tourism late

Until 2010, very few parts of Nubra Valley were opened to tourism as it is a sensitive border area. However, Turtuk village and a few other villages were opened for tourism, making Nubra Valley even more accessible for tourists.

Best time to visit Nubra Valley

Just like the rest of Ladakh, the summer months from June to September are the best time to visit Nubra Valley. All the roads, mountain passes, guesthouses, and dhabas are operational this time in Nubra Valley. Moreover, it blooms with beautiful flowers in the summer season. 

One can also visit the Nubra in the winter season but that’s quite challenging. The route from Leh to Nubra Valley goes through Khardung La which is one of the highest passes and might get closed for a few days depending on the amount of snowfall. This pass is crucial for Indian defense as they carry army supplies through it. Hence, the Indian Army tries its best to keep open even in winter, but sometimes heavy snow might block it for a few days. Moreover, only a few homestays are operational in winter, forget any roadside Dhaba, hotel, or guesthouse. Hence, visiting Nubra Valley is extremely challenging for a tourist in winter and hence not recommended.

Nubra Valley Weather

The weather in Nubra Valley during the summer months i.e. June to September is good for tourists. 

The late morning to early afternoon hours are mostly warm and a half-sleeve to a single layer of sweater could suffice. After sunset and before sunrise hours are still very chilly, and if one is outside their tents/ rooms, then layers of woolens, socks, caps, and gloves are required. However, one should always carry extra layers while traveling to Ladakh because mountain weather is always unpredictable.

During the winter months, Nubra Valley weather is cold and cloudy throughout the day. You also experience snowfall at some places in Nubra Valley during winter.

Altitude & Acclimatization in Nubra

Nubra Valley’s height is almost 10,000 feet.

The altitude of Nubra Valley is lower than that of Leh which actually helps with the acclimatization. However, when we travel from Leh to Nubra Valley, we cross Khardung La top, which is almost 17500 feet. While crossing Khardung La, one must be properly acclimatized by staying in Leh i.e. the altitude of 11500 feet for at least 2 days. Hence, the risk of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is pretty low in Nubra, after proper acclimatization in Leh. Also keep in mind not to spend too much time on the top of Khardung La as feeling dizzy and nauseated are the common symptoms on Khardung La top. Ideally, I would recommend spending a maximum of 30 minutes over there. 

Nubra Valley Permit – Inner Line Permit

Nubra is a part of the inner line i.e. areas that are close to the Indian border, and that’s why an Inner Line Permit is required for both Indian Nationals and Foreigners. You can obtain the permit to visit Nubra Valley from Leh by visiting the DM office or online. One can also outsource the permit arrangement work to their travel agency.

Mobile Network in Nubra

Only BSNL postpaid and Jio has a reception in Nubra Valley, so far. Please note that the network may not be uniform throughout the valley. I have also experienced it to be very patchy. 

Nubra Valley location

Nubra Valley is located in Ladakh in India, at a distance of 160 km from Leh city. It takes 6-7 hours to reach Leh to Nubra Valley, depending on the breaks you take and the amount of traffic you encounter. You also cross the famous Khardung La while going from Leh to Nubra Valley.

How to reach Nubra

The most common, suitable, and easy way to reach Nubra is to travel from Leh to Nubra Valley. During a Ladakh trip, you would first come to Leh and after spending at least 2 nights in Leh, you would proceed for Nubra Valley.

For Leh to Nubra Valley as well, there are 3 routes. The first one is via Khardung La, the second one via Wari La and the third one is via Agham Shyok Road. The latter two are pretty long as compared to the first one, and hence we would only stick to the discussion of the first route from Leh to Nubra Valley i.e. via Khardung La. Since Nubra Valley is a huge area, we would assume the destination to be Hunder village as the majority of tourists keep Hunder as a base to explore the rest of the Nubra Valley

Here is a brief route map so that your mind can register the major milestones:

Leh -> South Pullu -> Khardung La top -> North Pullu -> Khalsar -> Diskit -> Hunder

Hunder village is located at a distance of 125 km from Leh city. However, it would take you 7-8 hours from Leh to Hunder keeping traffic, breaks, sightseeing activities in mind.

Many parts of the road are very narrow. You also encounter traffic because of Indian Army convoys carrying supplies to Siachen. Hence, I would always recommend starting early in the morning from Leh so that you can cut the traffic and reach Hunder village on time.

It practically takes almost 2-2.5 hours to drive from Leh to Khardung La top including the photo breaks that you would take before reaching here. After spending time at Khardung La, you can straightaway drive to Diskit. Visit Maitreya Buddha Statue, Diskit Monastery and you can also have lunch in a restaurant near Monastery. Post that, on your way to Hunder, you can stop for ATV Ride if time permits. Else. you can do ATV Ride while coming back. You can directly go to Hunder Sand Dunes and enjoy your evening there and meet Bactrian Camels. Post that, you can check in to your stay.

The most viable option is to go in a private vehicle if you are in a group. If you are a budget-conscious solo traveler, then you can look for shared taxis from the Leh bus stand. Although, drivers stuff the shared taxis badly with more number of people and hence you may feel uncomfortable and claustrophobic during the journey.

Itinerary for Nubra Valley

Day 1: Leh to Nubra Valley

  • Leave from Leh city early morning (around 8 AM, after breakfast)
  • Photo stop
  • Halt at Khardung La top
  • Maitreya Buddha
  • Lunch in Diskit Restaurant
  • Diskit Monastery
  • ATV Ride (if time permits, else save it for later)
  • Hunder Sand Dunes and Bactrian Camel Ride

Day 2: Day trip to Turtuk

  • Leave from Hunder village by 8 am after breakfast
  • Turtuk village walk
  • Balti Museum in Turtuk
  • Natural Cold Storage
  • Turtuk Gompa
  • Late Lunch
  • Blacksmith shop
  • Back to Hunder by early evening
  • Enjoy Ladakhi cultural show before dinner

Day 3: Day trip to Sumur and Panamik

  • Leave from Hunder village post breakfast
  • Samstanling Monastery Sumur
  • Panamik Hot Springs
  • Lunch
  • Back to Hunder
    You can also witness the Ladakhi cultural show today if you missed it earlier.

Day 4: Return to Leh or continue the journey to Pangong Lake

Please note that if you are staying in Hunder village only for one night, then it is also fine. Many people do only one night stay in Hunder village. If you are staying for 2 nights, then I would strongly recommend visiting Turtuk village (Day 2) over Sumur and Panamik (Day 3). As a matter of fact, you can easily skip visiting Sumur and Panamik as you end up seeing a lot of monasteries in Ladakh already and it is also not worth traveling so far to see Panamik Hot Springs. It’s also been the feedback of many travelers. Hence, a 1-2 nights stay in Hunder makes a good choice.

Nubra Valley Hotels

The majority of the people prefer staying in Hunder village during their visit to Nubra Valley. Hunder has good homestays, guesthouses, basic hotels, and even camp stays available. Diskit, being one of the major tourist attractions in Nubra and only a few kilometers away from Hunder, also offers similar stay options. However, please note that the variety and number of stay options in Nubra Valley are drastically lesser as compared to Leh.

Turtuk is mostly preferred as a day-trip option from Hunder village, but very few people also prefer staying overnight in Turtuk. One can find basic homestays and guest-houses in Turtuk but the number of stay options in Turtuk is very less as compared to Hunder and Diskit. The same is the case with Sumur.

Medical Facility in Nubra

In Nubra, there is a hospital in Diskit and Bogdang. In other villages such as Hunder or Turtuk, one can find small medical centers which can offer first-aid and basic medication.

ATMs in Nubra Valley

Nubra Valley doesn’t have any ATMs. Hence, please carry sufficient cash while going from Leh to Nubra Valley. You can always withdraw cash from Leh market as there are lot of ATMs there.

Packing List

  • Thermals, other Warm clothes, socks, shoes, cap, gloves
  • Insulated Water Bottle
  • Basic first-aid kit and AMS tablets
  • Oxygen cans/ cylinder
  • Neck Pillow for the road journey
  • Power bank
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Cash

How to be an ambassador of Responsible Tourism in Nubra Valley?

  • Please maintain silence or keep your volume down while visiting monasteries.
  • Do not offer any food to the Bactrian Camels as only their masters know what’s best for them. Don’t chase the camels as it creates havoc.
  • Please note that the majority of stays have only basic amenities in Nubra Valley. Due to the remoteness of the terrain, it becomes very tough even to offer uninterrupted basic services there. Please understand the same and cooperate with the property staff/ owner.
  • Nubra Valley always experiences a mandatory power cut during nighttime. Mostly, it’s from 11 pm to 6 pm. Please note that it is an everyday thing at all the properties to save electricity. You can charge your phones beforehand and keep your torches handy for your call of nature during these dark hours.
  • Please don’t click any local person without their permission.
  • Don’t pluck any fruits/ flowers without the permission of the rightful owner.
  • If you happen to see the Ladakhi Cultural Show, then please be respectful to the artists. Applaud loud to encourage them and sharing with them when they invite you. It really boosts up their confidence and shows our love and respect for their culture.

You can also read our Responsible Tourism blog post that gives more tips on the same.


Nubra Valley is indeed one of the most significant places in Ladakh and hence you must visit it during your Ladakh trip. It’s the cultural heart of Ladakh offering a unique and rustic landscape and beautiful history. If you are going on your own, you must plan your itinerary diligently and be well-versed with the routes and other information shared in this guide. Once you visit Nubra Valley, the romance of this place shall always be alive in your heart.

P.S. You can also join our group tour to Ladakh. We organize a women-only trip to Ladakh and also a mixed-gender group tour to Ladakh, every year. If you are a group of people, we can organize a customized package for you as per your requirements.

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