As flying from Leh is ridiculously expensive in high season, I decided to take a share taxi down to Srinagar and go from there. For Rs 1,800, I got the front seat in a Xylo, which is a pretty comfortable vehicle. I always book the front seat if I go by share taxi as I really hate being too crowded. I also don’t like being in back with people who are carsick. There’s always someone, it seems. When you book, which you do a bit in advance, you usually get a choice. Booking in advance means that there is some choice in the matter. In my case, I booked the night before. Sometimes they charge a bit extra for the front seat, but in my opinion it’s absolutely worth it.

The share taxis takes 13 or 14 hours and they always go overnight. We left at 5pm and reached Srinagar a little after 6am. It wouldn’t have been so bad, really, because the car was pretty comfortable; but in order to stay awake the driver kept the music on loud all night and the windows open. Alas, my earplugs couldn’t drown out the music and my blanket was insufficient to keep me warm, so I didn’t sleep at all.

There were six other passengers—this sweet Israeli couple (Adi and Asaf), who were on their honeymoon, and four Indian men.

Ladakh is  high-altitude desert, so the landscape is mostly pretty barren. Part of the trip follows the Indus River, but I think the part of the trip that is taken during the night might be the most interesting, because that’s when you go over the passes. On the other hand, missing Kargil and Drass is surely a blessing.

In the middle of the night we stopped for dinner. Well, the driver and the Indians had dinner. The rest of us settled for tea and a pit stop. The driver headed for a rather grungy dhaba, but the Israelis and I found a nicer restaurant with an acceptable toilet down the road.

The flight I got from Srinagar to Delhi was under Rs 5,000, which is less than half of what it would have cost from Leh, so I saved a few thousand rupees going this way. I stayed with friends who have houseboats, so I didn’t end up spending the difference for staying a few days in Srinagar.

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8 Responses


  1. Amrita on 26 May 2015

    Hey,

    Is it possible to book a taxi at the last moment? like we will b reachin srinagr in the morning and wish to leave for Leh next day early via shared cab….we r 2 of us. Do u have the no for the driver there?

    Also should v pre book stay or can we just go there and find sme suitable place?

    And for bikes, will we get in Leh for travel in and around Leh?

    Thanks,
    Amrita

    • JD Viharini on 26 May 2015

      Hi Amrita,
      Yes, you can easily book a taxi a day ahead. I don’t have any driver to recommend from Srinagar. You can book a taxi from the share taxi stand. It’s best to verify what vehicle you will get in advance—go for the most comfortable ones! When you book, they assign you specific seats, so if you have a preference, you may be able to choose where you want to sit.
      All the taxis leave at a certain time—I think it’s probably early morning going up from Srinagar, but I’m not sure. From Leh, it’s around 5pm that they leave. This is because the pass is a one way road.
      Do book a room, at least for the first night as you will probably be too tired to look around when you get there. And if you are planning to stay on a houseboat in Srinagar, don’t get one from a tout. Either go in person to check them out or book in advance based on recommendations and reviews. Some are real ripoffs, charging you extra for every little thing.
      Happy journey!

      • Achint on 10 Jun 2015

        Thanks for this information JD. I plan on leaving Leh July 18th evening- do you think it would be safe (time-wise) to book an afternoon flight out of Srinagar to Delhi?

        • JD Viharini on 10 Jun 2015

          It all depends on the weather, which is notoriously hard to predict in the mountains. Morning flights do tend to be a bit safer from that point of view. I think Srinagar might be a little less iffy than Leh, though.

  2. Oliver on 09 Jul 2014

    Hi. Great blog post. Me and my friend are going to Leh soon and when we leave Leh again we also want to drive to Srinagar and take a fight from there.

    What taxi company did you take from Leh? I’m curious if we should book the taxi in advance. Also, how much did the taxi ride cost in total?

    Thanks a lot in advance!
    Oliver

    • JD Viharini on 09 Jul 2014

      As I was alone, I just got a seat in a share taxi. The total for one seat at that time was Rs 1,800, if I remember correctly, but I’m sure it’s a bit more now. The taxi union has a rate card, so prices are pretty much fixed. You can specify what kind of vehicle you want and they will try to find one for you. Best is to ask around once you are in Leh for recommendations. You don’t have to book more than two or three days ahead unless you need something special.

      • anup gottipati on 19 Jul 2014

        Hi,

        Would you say the road down to Srinager is safe for travel, much like yourself I looked on flight prices which seem very high, so keen to book ride down in a safe vehicle.

        • JD Viharini on 02 Aug 2014

          Hi Anup,
          The road is pretty safe by HImalayan standards. Flight prices fluctuate a lot and can be hugely different from day to day. I like to check skyscanner.in using the feature where you can search by the month. You still have to go to other websites to verify if the prices are up to date, but it’s a good way to snag a good deal on a flight.


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