Tso You Want To Visit Pangong – A Guide To The Beautiful Lake

Pangong Lake in December
Frozen Pangong Lake

Pangong Tso catapulted into fame overnight when Kareena Kapoor blazed across it on a scooter to meet her long lost love, Aamir Khan in 3 idiots. People were awestruck by the sheer beauty of the setting of this scene. Everyone wanted to know what this place was. Was it real?

The beauty of Pangong Tso is in fact unreal. The contrast of the vivid blue water against the rugged mountains makes for a spectacle that is etched on the brain forever. Words cannot do justice to the experience of visiting this lake – the vast stretch of nature and just nature. No interruptions, no shops, scarce tourists, no hustle bustle of our daily lives. And all this amidst the most breathtaking sight possible. At an altitude of 15000 ft, this is the highest brackish lake in the world.

Pangong in September
Deep Blue Pangong Lake

Pangong Tso In the Evening

While most visit the lake for a short day trip, we highly recommend that you spend at least a night here watching the myriad colors of the lake at different times of the day and the blanket of stars at night. The sunset & the sunrise are the best time to witness the splendor of this place. The migratory birds add a special feel to the whole experience. 

Read our post on where to stay at Pangong.

As is the case with most sites in Ladakh, the journey is as memorable as the destination.  The routes to reach Pangong are :-

  • Drive from Leh to Pangong via Chang La (155 kms ~ 5 hrs)
  • Drive from Nubra via Aghyam & Shyok to Pangong (165 kms ~ 6 hrs)
  • Drive from Nubra via Wari La / Chang La to Pangong (220 kms ~ 8-9 hrs)


Due to its height and climatic conditions, it is important to consider the following before going to Pangong –

  • If you have been leading a sedentary life, please give yourself enough time and preparation before spending a night at Pangong.
  • Despite adequate preparation, if you still feel uncomfortable and your situation worsens, take no chances and head down to Tangste. Tangste is a small village/town 50 kms before Pangong Tso and is at a lower altitude and also has accommodations so that you are comfortable at night.
  • For a day visit, generally no caution is necessary.
  • It is not advisable to visit Pangong Tso just upon arriving into Ladakh. A good idea would be to visit the Nubra Valley first. Allow your body to acclimatise to the conditions.
  • Always stay hydrated and carry some light snacks.

Drive down to Tangste if you encounter AMS @ Pangong Tso 

Night sky at Pangong Tso
Pangong @ Night

Possible Plans For Pangong

  • Drive from Leh to Pangong via Chang La ( 155 kms ~ about 5 hrs of drive )
  • Drive from Nubra via Aghyam & Shyok to Pangong ( 165 kms ~ about 6 hrs of drive )
  • Drive from Nubra via Wari La / Chang La to Pangong ( 220 kms ~ about 8-9 hrs of drive )

( Each of these blogs coming up shortly )

Beyond Pangong

Once you manage to pull yourself away from the wonder of Pangong Tso, you could also head to some nearby places worth seeing. 

From Pangong one can either return to Leh or continue driving along the lake shore till Chushul and head to Tso Moriri / Hanle. Permits are required for Indian Nationals  in order to visit Chushul (Bordering China). 

Foreign nationals are not issued permits to cross Chushul, so they need to head back to Leh from Pangong 

Tso Moriri / Hanle / Sarchu are all around 15,000 ft and hence staying back to back at these altitude may trigger AMS for people leading sedentary life. If you are an active person go and enjoy the wilderness

Night Sky at Hanle
Night Sky at Hanle


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