Pangong Tso, 154km southeast of Leh, is one of the largest saltwater lakes in Asia, a long narrow strip of water stretching from Ladakh east into Tibet. Only a quarter of the 134-kilometre-long lake is in India, and the army, who experienced bitter losses along its shores in the war against China in 1962, jealously guard their side of the frontier. Until the mid-1990s, it was off-limits to visitors, and tourists still need a permit to come here. The lake, at an altitude of 4267m, with the dramatic glacier-clad Pangong Range to its south and the Changchenmo Range reflected in its deep blue-green waters to the north, measures 8km across at its widest point and provides a tantalizing view of Tibet in the distance, although the bitter winds blowing over the brackish water make it one of the coldest places in Ladakh. The only public bus from Leh drops off visitors at the village of Spangmik before continuing to the restricted border area; it returns around 7am on Monday. There is basic accommodation and food at Spangmik. To add further interest to the trip, take in the monasteries of Chemrey and Thak Thok en route.

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