Chandratal Lake | Cheapest Ways To Travel There

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Chandratal Lake, also called “Moon Lake” in Spiti Valley is one of the most enchanting lakes in Himalayas and yeah, one of my top 5 favourites lakes in Himalayas too. A lot of adventure lovers tread a long, treacherous and yet adventurous path over Rohtang Pass every year to see this wonderful offering from nature. As soon as the season begins by opening up of Rohtang Pass and road to Spiti Valley from Manali in June, the pathway to Chandratal Lake gets great attention by Himalayan lovers from all parts of the world. In fact, majority of the people visit Spiti Valley first to see Chandratal Lake and then they ever get lost in the beauty offered by Spiti Valley itself 🙂 … Chandratal Lake is also quite famous for its majestic reflections of surrounding Himalayan peaks in its deep blue waters, which once you witness, will never forget in you entire life. Well, it is only this adventure of Chandratal Lake that changed my life and made me fall in deep love with Himalayas in 2009.

Chandratal Lake …
Chandratal Lake

Having said all that, the biggest question is how do you reach Chandratal Lake? You can find most of the answers on making a successful trip to Chandratal Lake in my Travel Guide to Chandratal Lake but still you have any, feel free to leave a comment or mail me.

However, I recently came up with a comment from one of the reader (linked here) who was quoted a pounding “INR 23000” for the drop to Spiti and I was like 😯 😯 … Even when I went almost 4 years back, I think we paid about 9-10K for 2 days trip just upto Battal. This is a big setback for the travellers on budget travel to Chandratal Lake. Hence, I will try to enlist some tips which you can follow to make a trip to Chandratal Lake in cheapest manner as possible.

Two Cheapest Way To Travel to Chandratal Lake

There are two HRTC buses which runs between Manali and Kaza every morning, as soon as road to Spiti Valley via Manali get open in the season, mostly in June. These buses run from Kullu to Kaza via Manali and it reaches Manali around 4.45 AM and leaves at 5.00 AM. Ticket to Kaza will cost you only about INR 250 approximately per person. Now, you have two options. First option, a bit tricky and inconvenient one, is to:

  • Get down at Battal on the way to Kaza which is just before the ascend to Kunzum Pass. Before getting down, do make sure that you tie up with Conductor of the bus to pick you next morning from the same place. May be pay a little tip for the same 🙂
  • Tie up with some PWD/GREF workers who might be going towards Chandratal Lake and get a hike from them in their jeep or dozer. You can find them at Battal Dhabha, most likely.
  • You can pay or offer them a mere INR 100-150 as a tip for the lift.
  • Of course, you can trek as well to Chandratal Lake from Battal and be back by evening. However, it depends upon if you are properly acclimatized to undertake this high altitude trek.
  • Visit Chandratal Lake and come back to Battal Dhabha for overnight stay that will cost you about 100 – 150 per person. Meals would also be very cheap there.
  • There is also a PWD Rest House now at Battal which will prove just too good if you can negotiate with the PWD caretaker or manage booking for it. Read the article: How to Book HP PWD Rest Houses or FRHs. Meals you can have at the Battal Chandra Dhabha.
  • Next Morning, same bus which reached last night to Kaza will be going back to Manali. Since, you have prior arrangements with the conductor, so he might keep the seat or space vacant for you. It takes about 3.5 Hrs to reach Battal from Kaza. So, if bus starts from Kaza at 5 AM then it will reach Battal at about 8 AM. Get back to Manali on the same bus.
  • Total Approximate Cost: 500 (Bus) + 300 (Food + Accommodation) + Rs 200 (Tip for Lift) = INR 1000 per person
  • Do note down, using this option you are at a mercy of a lift or hitchhike to Chandratal Lake from PWD/GREF workers or at worst a trek to Chandratal Lake from Battal and back on your own. So, play with this option if you are really game for it

Your second option, is to:

  • Get down at Losar after crossing Kunzum Pass on the way to Kaza which is about 57 KMs before Kaza. Before getting down, do make sure that you tie up with Conductor of the bus to pick you next morning from the same place. May be pay a little tip for the same 🙂
  • Tie up with some local there in Losar village who MAY rent (don’t rely though) their own bikes for a trip to Chandratal Lake at a mere cost of about INR 600 – 700 (fuel extra). It can be possible but unrliable pretty much as sometime people are afraid to give their own bikes.
  • Make a day trip to Chandratal Lake on bike over Kunzum Pass and come back to Losar. Return bike and stay overnight at Losar.
  • You can stay with Nomads Cottage (Costs about Rs 2000-2500 with meals) or Samson Guest House (Costs about Rs 1000 – 1200 with meals), they might help you get a bike on rent as well OR PWD Rest House (check How to Book HP PWD Rest Houses or FRHs) (costs about Rs 500-600 with meals) OR some homestay at Losar village (costs about Rs 400-500 with meals).
  • Next Morning, same bus which reached last night to Kaza will be going back to Manali. Since, you have prior arrangements with the conductor, so he may keep the seat or space vacant for you. It takes about 2 Hrs to reach Losar from Kaza. So, if bus starts from Kaza at 5 AM then it will reach Losar at about 7 AM. Get back to Manali on the same bus.
  • Total Approximate Cost: 500 (Bus) + 800 (Food + Accommodation) + Rs 900 (Bike Rent + Fuel) = INR 2200-2500 per person
Other Tips on Excursion to Chandratal Lake
  • If you want to really make it convenient then you can also get a taxi from Losar village for full day excursion to Chandratal Lake for Rs 2000 – 2500 as well or can cal taxi from Kaza as at Losar there are only couple of taxis available which might not be available on the day you arrive.
  • There is a (rarely taken) virgin trek to Chandratal Lake that starts from the yak grazing grounds of Takcha near Kunzum Pass. So, in case you are in for some trek, you can take some local from the Losar village and experience this virgin trek to this beautiful lake.
Conclusion

Hence, you can see that even if you go with the convenient option you will be saving a lot of money with respect to a dedicated taxi from Manali to Chandratal Lake for two days trip. You can save this money to have a comfortable stay either at Manali or save it for yourself or execute some DoW Causes 🙂 … I hope I am able to suggest or present some of the ideas/ways which can help you make a trip to this heavenly, Chandratal Lake, in most cheapest possible way. If you have ever visited this lake or have any suggestions which might help others fellow travelers too then please feel free to leave a comment below and share them with us too.

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233 Comments

  1. Hi, Dheeraj
    I m planning for smiti valley n chandra tal lake from 22nd my to 27th may 2017. With my husband and 2 kids (4 and 8 years ). Please suggest me some what cost effective travelling route for the same

    • Purnima, Chandratal lake is not accessible in the month of May and it is an adventure destination not a family trip. In case you have not been to such rough places, I will not recommend going over there with a 4 yr old kid.

  2. Hi, thanks for posting so much details about this route and trek. Can you comment if camping permits are needed for camping near Chandrataal if one has own camping gear?

    • Divs, camping near Chandratal lake is banned as it comes under Ramsar wetland resever site. Hence, you will have to camp only at the allotted camping ground away from the lake.

  3. Kuntal Mukhopadhyay on

    Dear Dheeraj,
    Good Morning!
    Planning to visit Spiti Valley next year 2nd half of June (24th onwards).
    Question: Is late June a good time to visit Spiti Valley, including Chandratal Lake?
    Thanks in advance,
    Best Regards,
    Kuntal

  4. I have 5 days time. Next friday, i.e.., on 9th of September, I’ll be starting from Delhi. I have 10,11,12,13 and 14. 14th evening i have to be in Manali to board the bus. What are the places that i can cover in those four days. I am planning to visit Chandratal, Pin valley and Kaza. Is that time sufficient?
    We are two people. Which is the best means to travel? Bike or any other means of transportation.
    If i travel by bike, how much will be the budget from manali?

    • You can choose any of the three plans:

      Day 1 | Delhi – Manali and stay overnight at Solang Valley
      Day 2 | Solang – Khoksar/Sissu/Chatru/Batal
      Day 3 | Khoksar/Sissu/Chatru/Batal – Chandratal
      Day 4 | Chandratal – Manali
      Day 5 | Manali – Delhi

      Day 1 : Reach Manali and stay overnight at Solang Valley as preferred for acclimatization
      Day 2 : Manali / Solang – Kaza
      Day 3 : Kaza – Dhangkar – Tabo – Kaza OR Kaza – Langza – Komik – Hikkim – Kaza
      Day 4 : Kaza – Ki – Kibber – Ki – Rangrik – Kunzum Pass – Chandratal/Batal
      Day 5 : Chandratal/Batal – Manali
      Day 6 : Manali – Delhi

      Day 1 : Reach Manali by overnight and stay overnight at Solang Valley as preferred for acclimatization
      Day 2 : Manali / Solang – Kaza
      Day 3 : Kaza – Dhangkar – Tabo – Kaza
      Day 4 : Kaza – Ki – Kibber – Langza – Komik – Hikkim – Kaza
      Day 5 : Kaza – Chandratal – Manali
      Day 6 : Reach Delhi by overnight Volvo from Manali (do adventure sports in day time at Solang Valley)

  5. Hi dheeraj,

    Can we do chandertal on 8-11 oct this year.
    Day 1 Delhi – Manali for acclimatization
    Day 2 manali – chandertal stay.
    Day 3 chandertal- kunzum- batal stay.
    Day 4 batal – chandigarh.
    What would be the estimate temprature range?
    Do we need to carry any oxygen?
    Is it possible, we get snow after chota dara or batal to chandertal trail?
    Is possibility of rains there?
    We will be approx 8 people travelling by a scorpio and Tata safari. Will it be ok considering the conditions with respect to availibility of food and stay arrangements?
    Do you advise own tents and food arrangements?

    Thanks
    Dheeraj

  6. Hi Dheeraj,
    Need some info. on bus timings. the bus which passes through Manali at 5:00am towards Kaza on every morning, how much time it will take to reach Batal..?? considering time with out the traffic jam on Rohtang climb.
    As it mentioned there’re two buses daily departures to Kaza from Manali. What is the timings of the second bus?

    Thanks 🙂
    Rajesh

  7. Koushiki Halder on

    Hey Dheeraj, I wanted to enquire if the second half of October will be a very bad time to visit chandrataal. Cold is not the kind of problem I’m talking about. I just wanted to make sure the roads and public transport will be open. We were hoping to leave around 20th October. Also, approximately how much would a cab take for manali-kaza-chandratal-manali?

    • Beyond mid of October, I see traveling on Manali – Kaza road as a very risky affair. Though you might come back fine without any trouble but then there is always this “might” factor that late in the season. Personally, if you will ask me to travel in that region, especially Chandratal, that late in the season then I will say NO without second thoughts.

  8. Hey Dheeraj
    we are planning to visit spiti valley and chandratal lake from manali
    we are travelling from chandigarh on 21 july..
    would you please tell me that can we go there by i20 elite(diesel) because we only have 2 options vento and i20 and we dont want to hire any taxi..
    We were planning to leh but as we have not any suv thats why m asking can we go to spiti valley in i20 or vento

  9. Hi Dheeraj,
    I’m planning a backpacking trip to Spiti in late September with a friend, ex Delhi. We have 10 days for the trip and want to visit Shimla, Chitkul, Chandrataal, and Manali apart from the usual suspects (Kaza, Tabo, Nako, Kalpa). Could you please suggest a suitable iternerary? I have gone there before but it was on motorcycle 3 years ago, so I’m not very familiar with how the local transport works. Any pointers will be appreciated for transport and stay. Our budget is approximately 15k per person. TIA.

      • Hi, can you help us by giving us some information about the batal-chandrataal road.
        We are planning to take a self innova from Mumbai and planning to hire a Myles innova from delhi. will innova be able to do that route. if no, we are planning to take a scorpion from myles.

        Shreeram
        09730080059

        • Yes Innova shall be able to do the route and mostly run on the route. However, Scorpio will perform much better. Please note that the route from Battal to Chandratal road diversion is very narrow and a dirt track. Kindly, drive with caution and care as this year already three accidents have occurred with cars slipping down the gorge.

  10. Mehak Miglani on

    Hi . Thanks a lot for the information . Me and My friends were planning a trip starting from Delhi in which we want to cover Spiti valley , chandratal camping ( 1 night ) and karol . we have around 5-6 days . Can you suggest the possible route and the public transport available ? Thanks 🙂

    • Mehak, at best you can do following:

      Day 1 : Reach Manali and stay overnight at Solang Valley as preferred for acclimatization
      Day 2 : Manali / Solang – Kaza
      Day 3 : Kaza – Dhangkar – Tabo – Kaza OR Kaza – Langza – Komik – Hikkim – Kaza
      Day 4 : Kaza – Ki – Kibber – Gette – Kaza / Losar
      Day 5 : Kaza / Losar – Chandratal – Manali (will not recommend stay at Chandratal)
      Day 6 : Manali – Delhi

    • Hey Mehak, did you do your trip ?? I am planning a solo in August and if you can give me some information related to the public transport if you followed the below mentioned travel itinerary.

      Dheeraj- are there any backpackers Inn at solang and also if could tell that how easy it is to find Public transport on this route.

      • Sure, have already mentioned the details of bus running between Kaza and Manali which you can take to travel to Kaza and how to get to Chandratal using the same bus. Regarding backpackers t Solang, there aren’t much cheap stays in Solang but you will get options in Vashishth and Kothi.

  11. Ananya Chakraborty on

    NEED HELP! Hi Dhiraj , I am planning for a chandratal trip 9 th jun will reach manali, just spoke with a person (the petrol pump number you provider in your blog post) he says that he sets camp in chandratal … And it will cost 2000 per person including food . is it justified to pay this amount of money for one night camping? I am thinking of starting it from batal side, I have 3 days. Please suggest me a cost effective proper plan.

    • Ananya, I will suggest that you land up there and then look for options. Pre-booking at Chandratal will always cost you higher. Hence, I will suggest that you find it on the spot. You will get it around 1000-1200 per person.

  12. hello dheeraj… :):)
    i am following your most common itinerary for spitivalley. 0n 10th of june i will start from delhi… hopefully kunzum pass will open as i will cross it on 18th of june… i wann spend one night at chandratal lake camp site.. give me some more detail regarding camps at chandrataal lake.. ?

    one more thing on 10th of june i wann start my journy at 7:00 PM in evening… wann to reach sarahan by 8:00-9:00 am in the morning…. so is it safe to drive shimla to sarahan in the night .. we are total 7 in XUV .. out of 3 can drive properly….
    thank you

  13. Simantika Roy on

    hi team,

    I am planning to visit chandratalake in june. I have asthama.

    Ii would like to know if that is a showstopper to visit this place.

    Please advice.

    • Well, it depends how you are planning to visit it. If your doctor says that with acclimatized body it is not much of a concern then of course you should travel from Shimla – Kinnaur side to visit it. In any case you should avoid going from Manali side as your body is never acclimatized to such an altitude.

  14. Hi Dheeraj,
    I really appreciate the web page for helping the visitors.
    I have few queries regarding the trip from Manali to Chandratal.
    1. I want to know that how much it will cost to hire a cab (sumo or innova) from manali to visit chandratala. I want to know the estimate so that I can get an idea for budget.
    2. If we want to stay there for night then how much it will cost for the accommodation.

  15. Niraj Sharma on

    Hello Dheeraj Sir
    Sir we are planning for a trekking in the month of July last week or Aug 1st week from betal to tokpo yongma.
    Sir I want to know how we reach there from Delhi . Nd how much is the money we have to cost for this trip..
    Sir please suggest the cheapest way to reach there from delhi nd all the information

    Thanking you

      • Niraj Sharma on

        Sir I have my friends wid me we can’t figure how much money we have to arrange for this trek.that’s why I contact u for some details for the trekking nd also for the knowledge of bus services at that place

  16. Debasis Ray on

    Hello Dheeraj,

    In the month of September this year I want to visit Chandratal with some senior citizen by hires Tata
    sumo from Kaza, Now my question, is it possible to reach Chandratal by car and my second question , is there any fair accommodation at Batal or nearby places

    Goodwishes

    • Yes and No. Yes, because you can reach almost up to Chandratal parking lot by car from where you need to trek the last 800 Mtrs to reach Chandratal. Not sure what you mean by fair but yes there is a PWD rest house at Batal where you can stay. There will be no electricity and food will be available at Dorje uncle dhabha outside it.

  17. Jignasu Shah on

    hello sir
    Just last year after taking tips from you i had a wonderful adventurous trip of 19 days with my wife and two daughters from Ambala doing the Lahaul-Spiti valley Narkanda-KAlpa -nako lake-dhankar-ki-kibber-tabo-kaza-jispa-sarchu-tso moriri to Leh -pangong-nubra velley alchi-lamayuru and retuning from Jammu to surat.the only thing left out was Chandra taal which we are planning to do this year.Planning to go to Manali from there we go to Batal by state transport bus and from there we would like to trek to the lake. Here we would like to spend a night.so how is this possible we would like to know -tents -food -climate- human resources and anything not in my knowledge.also if it is safe to stay there and to return the day after
    regards
    jignasu shah

    • This is what I will suggest bhai

      Day 1 | Delhi – Manali and stay overnight at Solang Valley
      Day 2 | Solang – Khoksar/Sissu/Chatru/Batal
      Day 3 | Khoksar/Sissu/Chatru/Batal – Chandratal
      Day 4 | Chandratal – Manali
      Day 5 | Manali – Delhi

  18. Hello dheeraj.Thankyou for helping people out with some place which is so discrete.
    I have some major doubts.Planning to go spiti valley for 5 days this may ,
    1) How much will a taxi ideally cost from kaza and how long will it take for me to reach (chandratal lake)
    2) If that is not an option, the method you suggested, how difficult would be the trek and how long will it tak for me to reach the same venue?
    3) I personally dont have a tent, so will be able to hire a tent near the chandratala lake area away from the reserved sector ofcourse.
    4) Could you also list down some places to visi at any cost at spiti valley, including some beautiful monastries?
    It would help me alot if you answered my query.
    Thanks a ton!

  19. Hi, we r going to manali on 15th April so wana knw if the route to chandrataal wl b open at this time. & if not, when do the route (bus services) opens up? Or can we take a bike from Manali & if we do is there any safe parking facility?
    & also is there any camp or something to rent in chandratal itslf & wat wl n the aprx cost?
    Thanks in advance, too mch questions! 🙂

  20. Hi Dheeraj,

    I am visiting Spiti Valley in June this year. My dates are from 11th June to 25th June. I am taking the Shimla Kinnaur route and going all the way up to Kaza. My question is, will I get a chance to visit Chandratal lake from the entry point at Kaza? Or do I have to necessarily take the route from Manali only?

    Thanks in advance

    Aditya.

    • Hi Aditya,
      Once you reach Kaza, you can continue your sightseeing and come back from Manali completing the whole circuit. While going to Manali from Kunzum Pass, once you descend from Kunzum Pass, you will reach a point 3 KMs Batal where the diversion to Chandratal starts. It is about 13 KMs of motorable road/dirt track and rest you need to follow on your foot.

  21. Superb idea….
    Even cheaper than hiring bike…
    One can also explore up to Kaza on same bus 🙂
    Is it possible to pitch my own tent across bank of lake ???

  22. Hi Dheeraj,

    Thanks as always . Please advise must see sights in Manali. Also we have a 1 day stay in Dharamshala after Manali
    . Do you recommend that or Do we continue our stay at Manali before we move on to Dalhousie.

    Thanks
    SM

    • Hmm, well with just one day in Dharamshala you might not get anything out of it rather just a diversion that needs to be taken and resting in hotel after a long journey. Better spend time in Manali. For sightseeing in MAnali, Manali Local sightseeing which includes Hadimba Temple, Manu Temple, Mall Road, Local Monastery, Vashisth Hot Water Springs (never found it interesting), Hike the woods around Old Manali, Jogni Falls, Bijli Mahadev near Kullu etc. Naggar Castle is also a very nice place to spend sometime and have lunch overlooking the beautiful valley below from the terrace restaurant.

  23. Hi Dheeraj,

    Thats a lot of helpful information there. But i have few questions.
    I will be traveling with 4 other guys to chandratal from manli on 1st June. Hopefully the rothang pass route is open.

    1) Can we hire bullet from manali for 2 days and go on bike ride to chandratal and stay at tent. How much does the bullet cost for 2 days ride.
    2) If we go by bus any idea what time the bus would reach battal ? we are planning to walk to chandratal lake and stay a for night and trek back the next day to battal. can this be done.

    Regards,
    Ravikumar N

    • Hello Ravi,

      1. Rohtang Pass will be open but I doubt on the road to Chandratal. You will have to trek much more during those days.
      2. Yes you can hire bike from Manali for 2 days. They generally are in range of 1200-1500 depending on condition, model and make of the bike.
      3. Staying at Chandratal that early will not be a viable option and hence I am curious if you will be able to make it or not. Camping sites may not be up and running by that time. I will advice either to wait for the updates to be posted here in DoW Community about happening on road clearance OR shift the plan by mid of June or Late june to make it like that.

      • Hi Dheeraj,

        OK i will wait for more updates. As mentioned by you in other columns the snow fall is less this year so was wondering if chandratal lake route will also be open early and camp sites may come up. Any idea whom to contact to get to know or book for tents at camp site in chandratal lake.

        Thanks a lot for all the info .. your DoW community is gold for travelers. Appreciated sir !!!!

  24. Hi Dheeraj,
    This summer I am travelling with elderly people as well as kids to Himachal. I am reaching Manali on 30th May and will stay there for 3 days,. I was wondering if I can vist Chandra taal druing this process and if so how shud I plan my trip. IS it possible to do it with elderly people and kids.

    Thanks
    SM

    • Not really SM, Chandratal usually opens up in mid of June types now a days, it may open early June this year BUT you will have a very tight schedule and with kids I will not recommend that early in the season. Better enjoy Manali and around.

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