How to make a budget trip to Spiti Valley by public transport

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One of the most frequently asked questions by readers/members of Devil on Wheels Travel community is, “Can I make a budget trip to Spiti Valley by public transport?”. I know budget is an integral part of any trip but it becomes critical when you make a trip to Spiti Valley because of higher number of days required in it. The cost of stay and food increases proportionally to the number of days you have planned your trip. The rates of taxis for Spiti Valley trip are generally Rs 3300-3500 per day and hence, a trip of 10-11 days could easily cost around Rs 35000 just for the taxi. So, a question like, if I can make a budget trip to Spiti Valley by public transport is not surprisingly the top most among the frequently asked questions for a Ladakh trip.

Planning a budget trip to Spiti Valley by public transport?

Planning a budget trip to Spiti Valley by public transport?

In the past, I have written a similar article Chandratal Lake | Cheapest Ways To Travel There and taking cue from the same article I will extend it for whole Spiti Valley circuit. In this article, I will share the tips and tricks with an example itinerary on how you can make a budget trip to Spiti Valley by public transport. I am sure this article will be helpful to all those who are planning a solo trip to Spiti Valley especially by the means of public transport.

Budget trip to Spiti Valley Trip by Public Transport – An example

If you are alone/couple, private taxis could be very costly for you on a trip to Spiti Valley. You will need to spend about 35K just for the private taxi. Unlike Ladakh, you do not find the tourist shared taxi that easily in Spiti Valley. There aren’t much cafes, dine-ins, restaurant or huge number of travel agents that offer means of availing shared taxis. Hence, you are mostly limited to local shared taxis or buses which do not stop for any sightseeing on the way.

I will try to outline an example trip which will be a mix and match approach of using the available public transport as well as shared local taxis/jeeps. Let’s consider our most common itinerary as an example which covers the entire circuit as Delhi – Narkanda – Kalpa/Reckong Peo – Nako – Tabo – Kaza – Kunzum Pass – Chandratal – Rohtang Pass – Manali. Now, let’s take a look at this plan day by day including the options of travel on these days, the cost of travel and cost of stay + food (twin sharing basis) at these places. I am assuming you are on a budget trip to Spit Valley and hence, you will be finding the places of stay on the spot and not pre-booking them 😉 😉

Shialkhar Village - Another village with no mobile connectivity on the way to Spiti Valley

Shialkhar Village – Another village with no mobile connectivity on the way to Spiti Valley

Day 1 | Delhi – Shimla – Narkanda
  • Options of travel: There are 3-4 daily HRTC buses available between Delhi – Shimla – Narkanda which costs around Rs 515 for ordinary bus and about Rs 830 for an AC deluxe bus. These buses depart from Delhi Kashmere Gate ISBT in evening from 6 PM to 10 PM
  • Cost of travel: Rs 515 by ordinary HRTC bus.
  • Cost of stay: You will find few budget guest houses or PWD rest house from Rs 600 to 800. So, you can consider Rs 300 – 400 for stay in Narkanda.
  • Total cost incurred: Rs 515 + Rs 300 – 400 = Rs 815 – 915
Day 2 | Narkanda – Rampur – Sangla / Chitkul (Kinnaur Valley)
  • Options of travel: There is a daily morning HRTC bus between Shimla – Sangla that leaves Shimla around 7.30 AM and should reach Narkanda about 10 AM. There are other buses too that runs on this route originating from Chandigarh/Delhi as well. The cost is around Rs 250 for the ticket in the ordinary bus.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 250 by ordinary HRTC bus.
  • Cost of stay: You will be able find budget guest houses and home stays in Sangla Valley ranging from Rs 600 to 700. So, you can consider Rs 300 – 350 for stay in Sangla Valley.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 815 – 915) + Rs 250 + Rs 300 – 350 = Rs 1365 – 1515
Day 3 | Sangla – Chitkul – Sangla – Reckong Peo/Kalpa
  • Options of travel: You can take a morning shared local taxi to Chitkul from Sangla which will take about Rs 40-50 per seat and take the after noon HRTC bus that runs from Chitkul to Reckong Peo which will cost around Rs 100
  • Cost of travel: Rs 200 for Sangla – Chitkul – Reckong Peo by shared jeep and HRTC bus
  • Cost of stay: You can easily find a guest house in Reckong Peo near bus stand for about Rs 500-600.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 1365 – 1515) + Rs 200 + Rs 250 – 300 = Rs 1815 – 2015
Day 4 | Reckong Peo/Kalpa – Nako – Nako Lake – Tabo
  • Options of travel: Everyday at 6.30 AM an HRTC bus leaves from Reckong to Kaza bus. It charges Rs 480 as bus fare from Reckong Peo to Kaza. The bus reaches Nako at around 11.30 AM and generally does lunch. You can walk to the Nako village to visit Nako lake but be sure to be back on time. The bus reaches around 4.00 PM at Tabo village where you can get down and next day take the same bus or shared cabs to reach Kaza.
  • Cost of travel: About Rs 400 for a drop to Tabo from Reckong Peo by HRTC bus.
  • Cost of stay: You can easily find a guest house or home stay in Tabo ranging from Rs 400 to 500. So, you can consider Rs 200 – 250 for stay Tabo.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 1815 – 2015) + Rs 400 + Rs 200 – 250 = Rs 2415 – 2665
Sonam Homestay - Maneyogma

Sonam Homestay – Maneyogma

Day 5 | Tabo – Dhankar – Dhankar Lake – Pin Valley (Mud Village)
  • Options of travel: Now you are left on your own for hitch hikes or shared local jeeps to these villages. They will not cost you more than Rs 100 for both Schichiling/Dhangkar and then further to Pin Valley. You may get a ride for free in tourist vehicles in tourist season.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 100 in a shared local jeep/taxi or hitch hikes.
  • Cost of stay: You can easily find a guest house or home stay in Mud Village ranging from Rs 300 to 400. So, you can consider Rs 150 – 200 for stay in Leh.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 2415 – 2665) + Rs 100 + Rs 150 – 200 = Rs 2665 – 2965
Day 6 | Pin Valley – Kaza – Ki – Kibber – Kaza
  • Options of travel: You can take a local shared jeep for Kaza from Pin Valley and pay about Rs 50-60 per seat. Now to visit Ki – Kibber, you have to either get a private taxi (Rs 1200) or rely on hitch hikes or shared jeeps to these places. Again, it will not cost you more than Rs 150 and hitch hikes agains comes for free.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 150 to travel in local shared jeeps from Pin Valley to Kaza and then to Key – Kibber and back to Kaza.
  • Cost of stay: You can easily find a guest house or home stay in Kaza ranging from Rs 500 to 600. So, you can consider Rs 250 – 300 for stay in Kaza.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 2665 – 2965) + Rs 150 + Rs 250 – 300 = Rs 3065 – 3415
Day 7 | Kaza – Hikkim – Komik – Langza – Kaza / Losar
  • Options of travel: A private taxi for a trip to Langza – Hikkim – Komic will cost you about Rs 1500 in Kaza. Again hitch hikes and shared jeeps, you will be able to cover these places within Rs 100-150
  • Cost of travel: Rs 100-150 considering hitch hikes and local shared jeeps for Langza – Hikkim – Komic.
  • Cost of stay: You can easily find a guest house or home stay in Kaza ranging from Rs 500 to 600. So, you can consider Rs 250 – 300 for stay in Kaza.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 3065 – 3415) + Rs 100 – 150 + Rs 250 – 300 = Rs 3415 – 3865
Day 8 | Kaza – Kunzum Pass – Chandratal – Battal
  • Options of travel: A daily bus runs from Kaza to Manali at 7 AM and charges about Rs 250. You can buy two tickets for this bus one up to Batal or Chandratal diversion point and another for the next day up to Manali from Batal. Before getting down at Battal, do make sure that you tie up with Conductor of the bus to pick you next morning from the same place or Batal. May be pay a little tip for the same. Seating in this case could be an issue for sure. You can also tie up with some PWD/GREF workers who might be going towards Chandratal Lake from Batal and get a hike from them in their jeep or dozer. You can find them at Battal Dhabha, most likely. Otherwise, you will either have to trek or hitch hike up to Chandratal lake. In tourist season, hitch hike should not be an issue.
  • Cost of travel: It will cost you about Rs 280 – 300 first to get down from HRTC bus at Batal/Chandratal diversion point on Day 1 from Kaza and then next day continue journey to Manali from Batal in HRTC bus. For hitch hike or lift/drop by GREF guys, consider Rs 100-150 for a return journey to Batal.
  • Cost of stay: Camps at Chandratal might cost you about Rs 1000-1200 for one person. So, on budget best is to come back and stay at Chandra dhabha or PWD guest house at Batal. It will cost you about Rs 150-200 per person for a stay at Batal.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 3415 – 3865) + Rs 380 – 450 + Rs 150 – 200 = Rs 3945 – 4515
Fabulous views of Spiti Valley

Fabulous views of Spiti Valley

Day 9 | Battal / Chandratal – Rohtang Pass – Manali
  • Options of travel: Covered in Day 8
  • Cost of travel: Rs 0 as already covered on Day 8 for a drop till Manali.
  • Cost of stay: You can easily find a guest house in Old Manali or on the left bank of Manali – Naggar road in the range from Rs 600 to 800. So, you can consider Rs 300 – 400 for stay in Manali.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 3945 – 4515) + Rs 0 + Rs 300 – 400 = Rs 4245 – 4915
Day 10 | Manali – Delhi
  • Options of travel: There are plenty of HRTC/HPTDC buses as ordinary, deluxe, Volvo buses available between Delhi – Manali which you can take as per comfort, convenience and budget. In this example, we will consider ordinary HRTC bus to Delhi from Manali which costs Rs 685.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 685 for Manali to Delhi by an ordinary HRTC bus.
  • Cost of stay: Rs 0 as you reach sweet home.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 4245 – 4915) + Rs 685 + Rs 0 = Rs 4930 – 5600

In this article, you can see that if you wish to make a budget trip to Spiti Valley by public transport and plan it properly as described in it, you can easily make your Spiti Valley trip covering Chandratal within a budget of Rs 6930 – 8100.

Cost of food for a 10 day Spiti Valley trip

The food all over Spiti Valley and Kinnaur Valley is quite economic unless you wish to lavishly spend in restaurants and hotels in main towns like Shimla/Manali. If you eat at regular decent dhabas/eating joints where the buses or shared taxis stop for meals, you will not be spending more than Rs 200 – 250 per day on food in Spiti valley or Kinnaur Valley. Taking this into account, the above 10 day trip to Spiti Valley may not cost you more than Rs 2000 – 2500 for the food. Hence, the total cost incurred on your Spiti valley trip comes out to be (Rs 4930 – 5600) + (Rs 2000 – 2500) = Rs 6930 – 8100.

Hence, you can see that if you wish to make a budget trip to Spiti Valley by public transport and plan it properly as described in the article, you can easily make your Spiti Valley trip covering Chandratal within a budget of Rs 6930 – 8100. If you travel by private taxis within Spiti Valley to cover Ki – Kibber, Langza – Hikkim – Komic you are looking about Rs 2500 more for comfort. It means even with comfort of private taxi within Spiti Valley, this 10 day budget trip to Spiti Valley will cost you less than Rs 9500 (Rs 9430 – 10600 to be specific) 😯 😯 …

Beautiful Colors of Nako Lake in Fall

Beautiful Colors of Nako Lake in Fall

Conclusion

I hope the above article helps you evaluate the cost of travel for your upcoming trip to Spiti valley. This example will also help you fit your own plan to evaluate the budget of the trip and skip the places you are not visiting in Spiti. I hope now you will feel more confident in making a budget trip to Spit Valley by public transport. Feel free to share any tips or updates you may have in the comments section. It will make this article more helpful for the other fellow travellers. Also, do not forget to share this article with your friends or family who are planning a budget trip to Spiti Valley by public transport 🙂 🙂 …

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You can call me an Avid Traveler, a Day - Night Dreamer and a Passionate Lover of Himalayas who has a high zest for driving whilst exploring new places in Himalayas & sharing back those Himalayan Travel experiences with the other fellow Travelers... I am in love with Spreading Smiles in Himalayas through DoW Causes & currently enjoying life as Happy Traveling Soul at DoW Community. You can read more about me in detail at the link here ...

16 Comments

  1. Aneesh chandran on

    Thanks dheeraj for the awesome reply. It’s very helpful for us. Can you please suggest me some travels or jeep for 6 of us to travel from Simla to spiti

    • You can get connected directly to some drivers in Spiti Valley or Kinnaur Valley at the link: List of Taxi Drivers for Spiti Valley & Kinnaur Valley. These drivers can come and pick you up from Manali / Shimla / Delhi / Chandigarh too, of course with a price of pickup as well.

      The rates of the taxis are about Rs 3000-3500 per day depending upon the number of days you plan to travel, more the days, less the price.

      Otherwise, taxis in general are also available on the spot from Shimla or Manali from respective taxi stands

  2. Aneesh Chandran on

    Hello Dheeraj,
    I am from Trivandrum,Kerala. My team of 6 members are planning to visit Spiti Valley on this March. We are planning to reach Shimla on March 4. What will be the climate? and Is on that time is road through Reckong-peo is open? Please reply

  3. Hi Dheeraj,

    Serioulsy awesome and helpfull stuff man,I have been just binging your posts and its very rare to find someone who is so helpfull to the commenters !

    After getting really excited from your posts ,I am travelling to himachal from 25 March to 2 April from chandigarh and wanted to have your expert opinion about that.

    1.Going on public transport should I travel only to spiti and back and as

    chandigarh -> reckon peo -> tabo -> kaza and back in the same route

    or

    2.”Chill” at kasol and around it (tosh,kheerganga,malana[about 3 days]) and visit kinnaur valley or tirthan valley and come back to chandigarh on 2nd

    I definitely want to do a bike ride in future to spiti and leh but only when rohtang pass is open and the area is more mercifull.

    Also if I am taking the 2nd option should I rent a bike in this weather or will public transport be enough ?

    Thanks for your time,

    Rahul

    • Thank you Rahul !! Appreciate it.

      1. Since, you have not many days, I will recommend to keep the trip focuses just for Spiti valley. It will be a bit hectic though.
      2. This is also a good option and less hectic in terms of travel I will say. Also, it will be less forgiving as March end April means still winters and struggle in Spiti Valley.

      For the second option, if you rent a bike from base place like Chandigarh, it makes sense but going to Kinnaur from there on Manali rented bike does not make sense. So, either do Manali – Kasol and around Parvati Valley on Manali rented bike and go over to Kinnaur on public transport OR else do all by public transport.

  4. Your blog always helps, one question, I will take the 6:30 PM bus from Shimla to Reckong, what time will I reach Reckong and whether I will be able to take the early morning bus from Reckong to Kaza without missing it? Also, what time will I reach Kaza? I do not want to stay in Reckong.

    • It will take about9 Hrs to reach Reckong peo. Are you sure there is a bus that runs in the evening though I may be mistaken, I know there is one bus that runs in the morning. Also, even the Chandigarh bas starts at 8.30 PM I think from Chandigarh.

      In case you are planning to hop to Kaza bus after Reckong peoo without even staying at Reckong Peo, it may cause serious AMS issues depending upon various factors. It is highly not recommended to travel to Kaza without stopover somewhere in the middle in Kinnaur without acclimatization.

  5. Hello Dheeraj,

    First of all thank you for your valuable inputs to guide us in Spiti valley and other Himalayan tours.
    I’ve just gone through your feedbacks at (http://devilonwheels.com/budget-trip-to-spiti-valley-public-transport/), actually I’m planning to visit there along with my wife, so this will definitely help us a lot.
    Can you please help us by sharing few budget guest houses or PWD rest house contact details in Narkanda, Sangla/Chitkul, Reckong Peo/Kalpa, Tabo , Kaza, Chandratal etc?
    How can I get the local shared Jeep and book HRTC bus? will it be online or on the spot booking?
    As well as the home stay cost is included with food?

    Thanks a lot again for the guidelines you have shared.
    Regards,
    Pralay

  6. Sonal Bansod on

    Hi Dheeraj,
    Long back in 2012 , I had taken your help to plan my leh trip and it was a memorable one cuz of you and only you !! 🙂

    I can see your website is so developed now and quite famous too. Really appreciate your efforts as u working for a noble cause of course with no profit.

    This May (2017), I am again planning a trip to some places in HP like spiti, kinnaur or else Sikkim Darjeeling. I’ve got a 2 year old kid with me. And have got around 10 days leaves.

    Please suggest which destination would b better?
    Please also provide a rough itinerary which would be suitable to travel with a kid.

    Thanks a ton !!

    • Hello Sonal,

      Thank you for the appreciation and glad DoW was helpful in your Ladakh trip 🙂 🙂 . There is more pleasure in spreading smiles in Himalayas than anything else I can do with my skills. So trying my best to get as much of it as possible 🙂 🙂 …

      Coming back to your question, well, with 2 year old it will be a bit tricky to the places like Spiti Valley as it will be more taxing on the body too. Considering if you are not so keen on visiting high altitude places, Sikkim will be favourable bet than Spiti or otherwise even limiting the trip to Kinnaur Valley shall also be OK as it does not involve so high altitude places except Chitkul which can always be done as a day trip. On which one you are more inclined?

      • Sonal Bansod on

        Wow … It’s not even 20 minutes and you already replied 🙂 . awesome !!

        Well then I would like to go with Sikkim Darjeeling. The places that m interested in are Darjeeling, Gangtok, pelling, lachung and lachen if possible. Please suggest an itinerary. I want this one to be completely close to nature, little relaxing too cuz with kid, and little budget friendly :)) .. Sorry if m asking for too much !! Thanks

        Waiting for your reply !!

  7. R P Singh on

    Dear Dheeraj Ji
    I am regular visitor to your website. Appreciate your writing about travelling to Leh area.
    I intend to visit Leh between June, 2017 to July, 2017 by a bike from Jalandhar (Punjab) and Back
    for a period of upto 13-14 days. I will prefer relaxed schedule and company of some experinced Rider.
    I Had already visited Srinagar & Gulmarg by Bus & Taxi. I want to know a few things.
    May please help with followings :

    (1) Best time to visit Leh on bike from Jalandhar to Leh & Back during Jun-Jul Last,2017 ?
    (2) Best Touring circuit from Jalandhar to Leh and Back on a bike.
    (2) Which are preferred location for Economical stay at night during this whole Journey ?
    (3) May please advise best scenic places of Tourist’s interest from Jalandhar to Leh & back.
    (6) Pre-cautions to be taken ( like Quantity of Petrol for emergency conditions and path to be avoided etc.) for bike journey.
    (7) Brief of essential( eatables and Medicines) / life saving items for this tour.
    (8) Are Special riding clothes necessary for biking ?
    (9) Any other advice you may deem fit for this tour.

    Thanks.
    R P Singh
    Jalandhar ( Punjab)

    • Hello R P Singh ji,

      Thank you 🙂 .. My inputs are below:

      1. Make the trip towards end of June or early July
      2. You can check a very balanced and most common itinerary for Leh – Ladakh followed by many travellers including me at the link here for 13-14 days: Most Common Itinerary for Leh – Ladakh.
      3. You can check the nice, preferred list of accommodation options in entire Leh – Ladakh (Leh, Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri) including moderate (cheap budget hotels as well) in the series of articles starting on the link here
      4. Check the list of things to carry for Leh – Ladakh or other trip including basic medical kit, clothing, must haves etc. at the link here: List of Things to Carry for Leh – Ladakh trip.

      I will suggest that you go through the articles mentioned under the DoW Community thread for bike trip to Ladakh or any other part of Himalayas at the link: All About Bike Ride to Ladakh & Himalayas. This will help you cover almost all your queries related to bike trip to Ladakh or Himalayas.

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