Leh Warnings and Dangers
Leh is located in the Indus River Valley and was once an important trading intersection between Kashgar, Tibet, and Kashmir. One of the famous attractions is the Palace of the King of Ladakh. Many original clay mud buildings remain in the old part of town. Since the 1970s, Leh has become a fairly popular tourist destination, and has grown in traffic and attractions. Here are some things to watch out for when traveling to Leh.
Leh, though it is located in the Indus River Valley, is very high in elevation and a visitor not used to high altitudes might feel sick, unusually tired, or faintness until they get acclimatized. Do not exert yourself physically for the first two to four days, and even then, take it easy until you know how your body reacts. Even a simple, non-strenuous hike can make you very sick in high altitudes. To put the area in perspective, if you visit the main Bazaar, its elevation is 3505 meters (nearly 12,000 feet) and many places you travel to around Leh will be higher still. If this will be your first high altitude experience and have any health concerns, you might want to consult with a doctor before you go.
Winter in Leh is gorgeous, but the cold is severe. The locals have adjusted to their winters and do not use much heating indoors. Below freezing temperatures inside is a huge problem and escaping the cold is difficult, even in most restaurants and hotels. If you do find heating indoors, it is usually a small gas heater, which, aside from the fumes leaving things feeling a little grimy, heats an area tolerably. So, if you go to Leh in winter, remember to pack warmer than you normally would for the temperatures.
There is a large army presence in Leh because of the proximity to the border with China. This isn’t a problem in town but you do need to use a bit of common sense. Don’t wander around military or police areas, and absolutely do not take pictures of policemen, army personnel, or any military buildings. You will find airport security to be tight with many checkpoints and unusual rules, like not allowing batteries past security. The security experience might be improving, but it would pay to do what research you can and to simply be patient and respectful of the measures they have in place. Also be aware that certain areas require permits to visit (Nubra Valley) and will require getting your passport checked to enter. While in Leh, find a way to safely carry your passport with you at all times.
Tour Agencies and Taxis
As much as possible, be selective about the tourist agencies and taxis you trust, and do not pay too far in advance. Use common sense and make the best decision you can, or you may find yourself in an uncomfortable situation or have to pay bribes.
Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about warnings or dangers in Leh.