The Top 13 Highest Motorable Roads in the World: Dangers & Route Details

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Explore the top 13 highest motorable roads in the world and learn about the dangers and route details associated with these thrilling and challenging routes.


When it comes to adventure and breathtaking landscapes, there’s nothing quite like embarking on a journey through the highest motorable roads in the world. These extraordinary roads are not for the faint of heart, as they pose various challenges and dangers that demand utmost caution and skill from drivers. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a virtual tour of the top 13 highest motorable roads, exploring their unparalleled beauty, highlighting the risks they present, and providing essential route details for intrepid travelers.

The Top 13 Highest Motorable Roads in the World

Let’s delve into the thrilling world of these highest motorable roads and discover what makes them both awe-inspiring and perilous.

1. Khardung La Pass, India

Located in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, Khardung La Pass stands tall at an astonishing altitude of 5,359 meters (17,582 feet). It’s known for being one of the most accessible high-altitude passes and attracts adventurers from across the globe. The route offers mesmerizing views of the surrounding mountains but demands attention due to the risk of altitude sickness.

2. Umling La, India

Surpassing Khardung La, Umling La in Ladakh, India, claims the title of the highest motorable pass in the world, towering at an impressive 5,883 meters (19,300 feet). The thin air and extreme weather conditions here pose significant challenges to even the most experienced drivers.

3. Marsimik La, India

Marsimik La, also situated in Ladakh, is renowned for its rugged terrain and sits at a breathtaking height of 5,582 meters (18,314 feet). This remote and difficult-to-access pass remains open for only a few months each year due to heavy snowfall.

4. Chang La, India

At a formidable altitude of 5,360 meters (17,590 feet), Chang La is another awe-inspiring pass in the Ladakh region. The road’s unpredictable weather and treacherous twists and turns demand unwavering focus from drivers.

5. Tanglang La, India

Tanglang La, standing tall at 5,328 meters (17,480 feet), is one of the highest mountain passes in the world, connecting Leh and Manali. The route offers breathtaking panoramas but requires cautious driving, especially during snowfalls.

6. North Semo La, India

Located in the Changthang region of Ladakh, North Semo La reaches an elevation of 5,565 meters (18,258 feet). This remote and challenging pass is a dream for adventurers seeking an adrenaline-packed journey.

7. Paso Sico, Argentina

Venturing beyond the Indian borders, Paso Sico in Argentina reaches an elevation of 5,060 meters (16,601 feet). The road’s ruggedness and high altitude necessitate thorough vehicle preparation and skilled driving.

8. Lahaul Valley, India

Known for its stunning landscapes, the Lahaul Valley route in India reaches heights of up to 4,950 meters (16,240 feet). The journey involves navigating through narrow stretches and rough terrains, demanding steady nerves.

9. Ladakh Zanskar, India

The Ladakh Zanskar road is a picturesque route that reaches heights of around 4,500 meters (14,764 feet). The rugged and remote nature of this road requires adequate preparation and cautious driving.

10. Semo La, India

Semo La, situated at an elevation of 5,565 meters (18,258 feet) in Ladakh, India, offers a challenging yet rewarding journey for thrill-seekers. The route remains snow-covered for most of the year, making it an ultimate test of driving skills.

11. Lungser Kangri, India

Lungser Kangri, also located in Ladakh, India, is a non-motorable pass standing at a towering height of 6,666 meters (21,872 feet). While it’s not accessible by conventional vehicles, it’s a popular trekking destination for adventure enthusiasts.

12. Marsimik La, India

Not to be confused with the motorable Marsimik La, this non-motorable pass sits at an incredible altitude of 5,582 meters (18,314 feet) in the Ladakh region. Trekkers brave the challenging terrain and low temperatures to conquer this peak.

13. Mana Pass, India

Mana Pass, situated in the Himalayas at 5,610 meters (18,406 feet), marks the ancient trading route between India and Tibet. It’s a non-motorable pass and remains open only during the summer months, offering an arduous but rewarding trekking experience.

The Dangers of High-Altitude Driving

Driving through the highest motorable roads in the world is a thrilling experience, but it comes with inherent dangers that must not be underestimated. Some of the key risks include:

  1. Altitude Sickness: As you ascend to extreme heights, the air becomes thinner, leading to altitude sickness. Symptoms may include dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.
  2. Unpredictable Weather: Weather conditions at high altitudes can change rapidly. Snowstorms and heavy rain can severely impact visibility and road conditions.
  3. Narrow Roads and Hairpin Bends: Many of these roads are narrow and have hairpin bends, making driving challenging, especially with large vehicles.
  4. Lack of Oxygen: The air at high altitudes has lower oxygen levels, which can lead to breathing difficulties and impaired judgment.
  5. Risk of Landslides: Some of the roads pass through avalanche-prone areas, increasing the risk of landslides.
  6. Limited Facilities: At such heights, you may encounter a lack of basic facilities like fuel stations and medical assistance.

Route Details and Precautions

To ensure a safe and memorable journey on these high-altitude roads, consider the following route details and precautions:

  1. Vehicle Check: Thoroughly inspect your vehicle, including brakes, tires, and engine, before embarking on the journey.
  2. Acclimatization: Spend a day or two at a lower altitude to acclimatize your body before ascending to higher elevations.
  3. Drive Slowly: Maintain a steady and slow pace, especially on hairpin bends, to reduce the risk of accidents.
  4. Carry Essentials: Pack warm clothing, food, water, a first-aid kit, and emergency supplies in case you encounter unexpected delays.
  5. Check Weather Forecasts: Stay updated on weather forecasts and plan your journey accordingly.
  6. Avoid Solo Trips: Whenever possible, travel in groups or convoys for safety.


Q: Is it safe to drive on the highest motorable roads? A: Driving on these roads can be safe with proper preparation, cautious driving, and awareness of the risks involved.

Q: When is the best time to visit these high-altitude roads? A: The best time to visit is during the summer months when the roads are more accessible and weather conditions are relatively stable.

Q: Can I drive a regular car on these roads? A: While it’s possible, it’s advisable to use a sturdy, high-clearance vehicle for better maneuverability.

Q: Are there any medical facilities available along the routes? A: Medical facilities are limited in these remote areas, so it’s essential to carry a first-aid kit and consult a doctor before the journey.

Q: Are there any restrictions for foreign travelers on these routes? A: Some routes may require special permits for foreign travelers, so it’s important to check with local authorities beforehand.

Q: Are there any trekking opportunities near these high-altitude roads? A: Yes, several non-motorable passes offer trekking opportunities for adventure enthusiasts.


Embarking on a journey through the top 13 highest motorable roads in the world is an experience like no other. The breathtaking landscapes and thrilling challenges they offer make for an unforgettable adventure. However, it’s crucial to approach these roads with caution, respecting the dangers they present. With proper preparation, a sense of adventure, and a deep appreciation for nature’s wonders, you can make your way through these awe-inspiring routes and create memories to last a lifetime.

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