How to plan a journey on Manali Leh Highway

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Manali Leh Highway is one of the roads that leads to the heaven on earth called Leh – Ladakh (Srinagar – Leh Highway being the other one). It is one of those Highways which offers almost everything to an adventure lover that is available with nature. Serious travelers in India and even abroad does have a dream of traversing this most beautiful Highway at least once in their lifetime and I am honored to have experienced this journey of my lifetime. Having said that, the journey on Manali Leh Highway could be a bit tricky to plan if you haven’t researched well enough. Almost more than 350 KMs out of 474 KMs long Manali Leh Highway, does not have any civilization and hence you would be the only soul wandering on most part of your journey here. Even one cannot find fuel (petrol / diesel) for 365 KMs on Manali – Leh Highway. Therefore, adequate planning is very well required to travel on Manali – Leh Highway so as to make it a memorable experience. I hope the below information would be helpful for someone planning a journey on Manali – Leh Highway –

Before anything, if you really want to enjoy Manali – Leh Highway then do it from Leh side. That is Leh to Manali NOT Manali to Leh. This will help you enjoy the Manali – Leh highway without bothering to rush through the place or worry about AMS or driving with nausea etc. Manali to Leh will hold you back from the enjoyment, believe me mostly due to AMs as majority of time you are above 4K Mtrs of altitude which body cannot adapt easily. But, while coming from Leh towards Manali your body will be acclimatized for the altitudes much more than when you travel in the opposite direction.
Secondly, it will also help you halt you journey at Sarchu which is at an even distance between Manali and Leh and offers varied amount of accommodation option. Otherwise you will end up doing Manali – Keylong on one day and real push from Keylong to Leh on the second because sleeping at Sarchu is not recommended if you are coming from Manali unless your body has completely acclimatized to Sarchu altitude by staying in Spiti and Lahaul Valley for about 4-5 days.
Hence, always try to plan a journey to Ladakh in such a manner that you enter Leh via Srinagar side and then after exploring Leh – Ladakh for few days come back via Manali – Leh Highway. You should also read: 5 Reasons to choose Srinagar – Leh Road to enter Leh over Manali – Leh Road

Season to travel on Manali – Leh Highway

Usually, the opening of Rohtang Pass and Baralacha La majorly governs the travel time on Manali – Leh Highway. The average time for opening of Rohtang Pass every year is around May and Baralacha La usually opens up close to May end. Hence, June to September is the time window when the Manali – Leh Highway is open and is considered as the only time for travelling on Manali – Leh Highway. In the early stages i.e. June, one can find huge stocks of snow en-route but the road conditions may be a challenge to drive. While in the later stages i.e. August to September, the conditions of the roads are almost perfect in shape with all the slush dried out, maintenance work almost completed on these roads by BRO but your eyes will be devoid from the snow mostly.

The weather in June is always unpredictable and chances of rain are also bright. This leads to the closure of certain sections on Manali – Leh Highway due to landslides triggered by rains. However, you may be lucky in June as well to cruise this Highway in bright sunshine. June is not exactly the ideal time when one wants to be in Manali due to mad tourist influx. As the July – August comes, the Monsoon comes as well in the Northern parts of India. However, the regions on the Northern side of Rohtang Pass that is Keylong and beyond mostly remains untouched by these monsoon rains (except year 2010 which was an exception). So in July-August, though you may need to cross the Southern side of Rohtang Pass in Monsoon rains that is Manali and lower hills but after that, especially Keylong, you are almost good to go without much trouble with these rains.

June – July is also the time window when the snow melts on high passes creating almost tiny rivers or water crossings (nallas) on roads in the early stages. This is quite a challenge to dodge, especially with the vehicles having low ground clearance. Post afternoon, when the sun is burning at its best, some of these water crossings or nallas becomes so violent that they are almost impossible to cross. This may force you to halt the journey of the day in the middle of nowhere or return back to some civilized place for a night halt. The best way to overcome these water crossings or nallas, is to know the specific nallas on Manali – Leh Highway and plan to cross them as early in the morning as possible. In year 2010, one of the major hurdle was water crossing or nalla just after Zingzing Bar and before Baralacha La. Another major one was between Rohtang Pass and Sissu. In early stages (June), even crossing Baralacha La is a big challenge due to melting snow which creates some deep water streams on the road itself. Slush is also bound to be present on Baralcha La in the early stages of the season and is also quite a challenge to negotiate without proper skills even on SUV/MUV. This slush is generally created by the constant moving traffic which beats the snow present on the road or aside. Hence, try to cover these sections of Manali – Leh Highway in the early part of the day, when snow melts very slowly and traffic is less.

Are you planning your trip on Manali – Leh Highway in late September and October? If yes, then you must read the link: 5 Reasons to Avoid Manali – Leh Highway in Late September or October

Modes of travel on Manali – Leh Highway

IMPORTANT NOTE: Himachal Pradesh Govt. has banned the movement of non-HP registered vehicles on Manali – Rohtang Pass road with effect from 27th June 2011 onwards. If you are going towards Leh – Ladakh or Keylong in non-HP registered vehicles then you need to get permits from SDM Office in Manali. Bikes do not need any permit and are free to move on Manali – Rohtang Pass road, be it HP registered or not. So, basically the ban is for LMVs having number plate outside Himachal Pradesh. If interested, read more at the following link: Non – HP Vehicles Need Permit on Manali – Rohtang Pass Road

Private Vehicles i.e. Cars and Bikes | Self Drive or Ride to Ladakh

Most people prefer to self drive or self ride to Ladakh by their own car or own bike and some also prefer to self drive or self ride to Ladakh by hiring a bike or car. In any case, hired car/bike or personal car/bike, idea is to live the passion of driving or riding through one of the toughest and adventurous terrains accessible in India. You can take your own or rented, car or bike to Ladakh but one must be careful while driving or riding through slushy roads, snow and water crossing or nallas. Also, it is always handy to learn little maintenance tasks of your vehicle prior to the start of this arduous journey in which you will be desolated majority of the time.

For cars, although an SUV/MUV is good to have and a 4WD SUV will definitely help but I have seen hatchbacks (including Altos and Nano) and sedans doing good enough job on Manali – Leh Highway. However, with sedans / hatchbacks one must drive with extra care and caution. Also, be ready for few scratches or sacrifice some parts on your sedans / hatchbacks under-belly due to the lack of enough ground clearance which may be required in some water crossings or landslides on Manali – Leh Highway. If you are trying to attempt in a hatchback or sedan, I will suggest to plan the journey late in the season (August – September) when the roads are in good shape than early season.

Whenever in doubt, always step out of your car, walk down the path, inspect with your foot and plan the path of exit before crossing a dangerous landslide or water crossing on your vehicle. You can also park aside and see how others are crossing the risky section to plan your route of escape. In deep water crossings try to maintain the momentum without any half clutch measures and complete the entire stretch in one go only. Similarly, in slush stretches do not force the issue rather keep the smooth momentum with required speed to pass you through, without half clutch measures. Do keep an eye on the direction of the vehicle too. If you get stuck in slush then try to back and forth your vehicles to get out of the stuck position. It is always handy to ask your fellow co-travelers to get out of the car and push the vehicle from behind incase the car is struggling to pass through the slush or water crossing stretch.

Basic toolkit, screw driver set, small hammer, puncture repair kit, iron rod, two or three “2 ltr” empty bottles of pepsi / coke / limca etc to carry extra petrol or diesel (jerry cans will leak, cold drink bottles do not leak), funnel, towing rope, spare tube (must for bikes), elfy or fevi quick (2-3 sachets), jump start cables/wires, M-seal to prevent leakage etc. were among the few things which I carried along on my trip to Ladakh. Also, do not forget to get your vehicle (car/bike) serviced about 2-3 weeks before the start of the Ladakh journey. This will ensure that you have proper time in advance to test your serviced vehicle and get fixed any hitches that may have been introduced in that service.

Are you planning to hire or rent a bike from Manali. If yes, the you must go through the article here:How to Hire or Rent a Bike or Motorcycle in Manali

Hiring a Private Taxi | Taxi Number or Private Number

All taxis (except Ladakh registration number) having taxi number or tourist permits number plates are only allowed for a drop in Leh – Ladakh. They are not allowed to be driven in Leh – Ladakh and as per the taxi union rules only taxis with Ladakh number are allowed to roam in the Ladakh region for sightseeing. If you want to travel within Leh – Ladakh in your private taxi hired from a place other than Ladakh then in that case you need to hire a taxi with private number plate only. However, in the latter case be ready for some queries by the local taxi drivers in Ladakh or police constables on your route. You need to ensure everyone interrogating with you that the vehicles is not hired.

Whenever, you need to hire a taxi always try to hire it from Manali, as the drivers of Manali will always be more skilled and more accustomed to the route or current conditions of Manali – Leh Highway. Secondly, the locals always have a majority with an advantage of local support in any hurdle you might face on the way towards Leh.

To hire a taxi, go directly to Manali taxi stand and bargain hard with the local drivers only, for a drop to Leh. Do not involve any tour operator or hotel staff at any stage. The local taxi drivers will charge about Rs 1000 extra for a planned night halt on the way to Leh. The charges are close to Rs 12000 to Rs 17000 for a drop to Leh from Manali, depending on your bargaining power, tourist rush and time when you are visiting the place. June being the highest paid and September – August being the least paid.

On Manali bus stand, the taxis that drop people coming from Ladakh are also available sometimes. Since, the same local sightseeing rules are applied to Ladakh taxis as well in Manali, they are bound to return without any tourists from Manali side, officially. If you can catch any of those Ladakhi drivers, you might save yourself Rs 3000 to Rs 4000 for a drop to Leh from Manali. Same rule is applicable from Leh to Manali side as well and hence, if you can get hold of some Himachali driver at Leh taxi stand, you will again save about Rs 3000 to Rs 4000 on your return drop to Manali. However, you need to be a bit careful from local drivers while fixing a deal with non-local drivers. So, it is always nice if you have some references on either place upfront and call them directly to fix the deal. Secondly, it might be hard that these taxis will agree for any night halt on the way but it depends on how you gel up in the negotiations and bargaining.

Manali – Leh Bus Service, HPTDC | Good for a solo traveler or a couple

Perhaps if you are traveling alone or with one or two friends, you can buy or book tickets of Manali – Leh bus service of HPTDC. This semi-deluxe bus covers the 474 Km long Manali – Leh stretch with a night halt at HPTDC Hotel Chandrabhaga, Keylong on coming from either side. The ticket costs Rs 2000 per person (as per year 2010 price) which includes a stay at HPTDC Hotel Chandrabhaga, Keylong and two meals i.e. dinner and breakfast at the same hotel. There was also an option to buy the ticket only without hotel stay and meals for Rs 1500 (not sure if it is still there). The prices mentioned here may change anytime though. The overall comfort level of the bus is much better than other buses that ply on Manali – Leh Highway.

The bus starts every odd day of the month i.e. 1,3,5 etc from Manali side and every even day of the month i.e. 2,4,6 etc from Leh side. (Schedule: At the time of writing this article) Hence, you need to plan your travel dates accordingly, if you go by this option. The tickets can be bought or booked at HPTDC office on mall road, Manali or you may like to contact at HPTDC Office in your local town (HPTDC Contact Details). Do not book the seats at the back and confirm before booking regarding the location of the seats. At the back seats, you may have trouble when the road gets bad especially on the second day i.e. Keylong to Leh. The bus departs at 11 AM from Manali on the first day and 5 AM from Keylong on the second day to reach Leh about 7 PM.

You can also book the tickets for HPTDC Bus Service Online using the following link and get the schedule of the bus services from the following link: HPTDC Online Bus Booking and Check HPTDC Bus Availability and Schedule Online

Keylong – Leh Bus Service, HRTC | Cheapest mode of travel

HRTC also run a regular bus service to Leh although not from Manali but from Keylong. However, you can book tickets for connecting buses (Manali – Keylong and Keylong – Leh) from Manali bus depot itself or even ISBT, Delhi. You can also reach Keylong by getting a seat in numerous shared taxis that ply between Manali – Keylong every day. The HRTC buses may not be as comfortable though but comfort comes with the price.

The ticket between Manali – Keylong costs about Rs 100 – 125 and then Keylong – Leh it costs about Rs 450 – 550, in HRTC buses. I do not know the exact price though. The bus departs at 5 AM from Keylong and reaches Leh about 7 PM.

Shared Taxi | A Cannon ball run

You can also buy yourself a seat in a shared taxi which runs every mid-night from Manali and reaches Leh on next evening without any night halt. In the same way, shared taxis are run from Leh to Manali as well.

You need to pay about Rs 1200 to Rs 1800 per person for a drop to Leh from Manali or a drop to Manali from Leh. Of course, since it is shared with 9-10 other people plus the driver and completes the back braking cannon ball run of Manali – Leh in 16-18 hours, you can imagine the level of comfort yourself. This one is the second cheapest mode of travel on Manali – Leh Highway but mind you, it could be the toughest on the body too 🙂

Other travel modes

You can also get in touch with some travel agent or taxi union in Manali who also runs their private buses or Tempo Travelers on Manali – Leh Highway. They are also run according to dates and hence you may not find the immediate bookings for them.

Planning Night Stay or Accommodation on Manali – Leh Highway

Based on my experience, you can opt to plan a journey on Manali – Leh Highway in one of the following ways –

Two Day Journey on Manali – Leh Highway

The options of stay or accommodation are very limited on Manali – Leh Highway due to the limited civilization. Hence, a two day journey on Manali – Leh Highway is the most common among all travelers. Private Taxis and buses run by HPTDC or HRTC also cover the Manali – Leh Highway in two days. Mostly, people break up the journey on Manali – Leh Highway in the following two ways over a span of two days –

Manali – Keylong / Jispa (Day 1) and Keylong / Jispa – Leh (Day 2)

This option is mostly preferred by people who do not want to run the risk of acute mountain sickness (AMS) by staying at higher altitudes than Keylong or Jispa. However, on the second day, you need to leave early in the morning like by 5 AM from Keylong or Jispa to reach Leh in time. Public buses including HPTDC / HRTC halts for night at Keylong and leave at 5 AM in the next morning, too.

Personally, out of Keylong or Jispa I will always prefer to stay at Jispa, if traveling by your own or privately hired vehicle. Jispa is situated right on the banks of river Bhaga and is further 20 KMs away from Keylong town. Spending the evening at this place is extremely refreshing and is far better experience than the boring Keylong town. While Keylong town offers varied accommodation options, Jispa has only few options available for a stay and hence, it is important that you pre-book them. Secondly, if you are traveling by public transport i.e. HRTC or HPTDC buses then you need to stay at Keylong only else you need to manage the travel to Jispa yourself and then fix the pickup too with the driver or conductor. Mobile phones may or may not work in Jispa.

Manali – Sarchu / Pang (Day 1) and Sarchu / Pang – Leh (Day 2)

After Keylong and Jispa, you will find accommodation majorly at Sarchu and Pang only. This option is also taken by many travelers. However, Sarchu and Pang being at much higher altitudes, many people suffer with headaches, vomiting or sleepless nights. Hence, if you have plans to stay either at Sarchu or Pang then it is extremely important that you stay at Solang Valley not in Manali to acclimatize your body a little bit. Solang Valley also may not help altogether though but Manali will certainly not help the cause.

Both Pang and Sarchu are close to mid way between Manali and Leh. So, a stay at any of these places evenly distributes the time and fatigue over a span of two days. This way it helps you better enjoy the journey on each of the two days. Again in between Sarchu and Pang, I will suggest a stay at Sarchu due to its lower altitude than Pang. Pang has lesser and cheaper options available but Sarchu has varied options including the Swiss tents with attached toilets. In the end, if you are coming from Leh, then you can stay at either Pang or Sarchu without any trouble because by then your body will be acclimatized to handle such altitudes.

One Day Journey on Manali – Leh Highway
Manali – Leh (Day 1)

This option of completing the journey of Manali – Leh in single day is mostly common among local people or people who are in high rush and is least recommended if you want to enjoy your travel. Shared taxis are the preferred way to avail this option. Although, it could be the cheapest or time saving for you but this back braking, cannon ball run of 16-18 Hrs with least stoppages does put a heavy toll on the body as well as the mind of an average traveler. This long journey is extremely tiring and by traversing through the varied amount of altitudes ranging from 1900 Mtrs to over 5000 Mtrs in a single day, you are definitely running a risk of acute mountain sickness (AMS) or some severe headaches or disorientation en-route. This will certainly kill the joy of the journey.

Keep in mind that you are most likely to hit with mountain sickness in this option. If you get away with it consider yourself extremely lucky otherwise keep in mind that any breakdown of the vehicle like puncture, engine heat down etc at some high altitude (Tanglang La, Nakee La, Lachulung La etc) with you suffering from mountain sickness may lead to very very ugly outcomes. Hence, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT take the acclimatization factor lightly.

Three Day Journey on Manali – Leh Highway
Manali – Keylong / Jispa (Day 1) and Keylong / Jispa – Sarchu / Pang (Day 2) and Sarchu / Pang – Leh (Day 3)

Well, this option is nothing but the combination of other two to cover Manali – Leh Highway in three days. Definitely, this option will require more time as well as more money but the results will be worth every penny. This options is the best way to thoroughly enjoy the beauty of nature that is offered by Manali – Leh Highway with worries of mountain sickness but minimum and in relaxed manner. There are plenty of places / vistas and picture taking points on Manali – Leh Highway that are worth spending this extra time and money.

I suggest this option of travel or in particular overnight stay at Sarch/Pang only when you are coming from Leh towards Manali NOT while going towards Leh from Manali side unless you are coming from Manali side after spending some nights in Spiti and Lahaul Valley. Sarch and Pang are both above 4K altitude which require your body to have few nights at 3K and 2K Mtrs of altitudes to acclimatize your body. If you went to Leh via Srinagar side and coming from Leh after spending few days, your body will be acclimatized better to minimize the chances of AMS at Sarchu or Pang.

Very few people follow this option due to lack of time and to save money for the ultimate heaven. If these two things have no place for consideration at your grounds then I will say just go with it and you will make your journey on Manali – Leh Highway much more than a memorable experience :). I guess the comparison of night halts are already done in first option, so opt as per your taste. Again if possible, do stay at Solang Valley not in Manali to minimize the chances or effects of mountain sickness.

This option will mostly be available, if you are traveling by your own vehicle. You will even have tough time bargaining with drivers at Manali taxi stand for 2 night halts unless you are ready to pay them handsomely.

List of Accommodation or Stay Options on Manali – Leh Highway

Its always better to know or have the list of all accommodation places on Manali – Leh Highway before you travel on it because in such unpredictable terrain you can never predict what can come to your rescue. So, having as much details as possible about the place is always favorable. I have complied the list of accommodation or stay options on Manali – Leh Highway at the below link which includes the information about their contacts, location, price range, experiences etc. Refer the link below for details – List of Accommodation Options on Manali – Leh Highway

Acclimatization and its importance on Manali – Leh Highway

The journey on Manali – Leh Highway goes through series of high altitudes passes which are good enough to cause headaches, vomiting, disorientation and mountain sickness to the best in the business. After crossing Patseo or Deepak Tal you are bound to run this high road to Ladakh above 4000 Mtrs until you descend from Taglang La towards Rumste / Upshi. However, with little prevention and care you can combat or minimize the effects of altitude sickness. Here are some tips which will help fighting the AMS on Manali – Leh Highway –

  • Do not stay overnight at Manali rather stay at Solang Valley which helps in the acclimatization whereas Manali does not. You always have an option to roam around in Manali and come back for a night sleep at some hotel in Solang Valley. This will help your body acclimatize to certain extent on the start of your journey.
  • On Manali – Leh Highway, do stay at either Keylong or Jispa which are lower in altitude than Sarchu and Pang to minimize the effects of mountain sickness.
  • Keep your body properly hydrated.
  • Avoid sleeping at high altitudes.
  • Avoid over exertion.
  • Avoid tobacco and smoking and alcohol and other depressant drugs.
  • Keep your body warm and eat lots of carbohydrates.
  • Avoid sleep during the day.
  • Sleep in upright position, if possible.
  • Carry preventive medicines for AMS.
  • Immediately descend, if symptoms increase

For more information on Acute Mountain Sickness and all above acclimatization tips, please refer the following link at least once: Acute Mountain Sickness and Importance of Acclimatization

Fuel or Petrol Pump on Manali – Leh Highway

After Manali town, there is only one Petrol Pump at Tandi on entire Manali – Leh Highway before Upshi / Karu. DO NOT forget to get the tank full fuel at this petrol pump, even if you had it completely filled at Manali. The more you have, the better it will be for you.

ATM on Manali – Leh Highway

Do carry enough cash money with you as the ATM is available only in Keylong and Manali town. If you have no plans to stay at Keylong then do not forget to withdraw cash from Manali town. After Keylong, you will get hold of an ATM only at Leh town.

Places on Manali – Leh Highway with their Distances and Altitudes

For a detailed description on the major places on Manali – Leh Highway including the distance between them and their respective altitudes, please refer the article on following link: Places on Manali – Leh Highway | A Detailed Description

Summarized View of Facilities or Amenities on Manali – Leh Highway

Facility

Places

Hotel / Guest Houses Khoksar, Sissu, Gondla, Patseo, Tandi, Keylong (Many options), Jispa, Upshi
Tents / Camps(Dhaba / Swiss / Normal) Marhi, Jispa, Darcha, Zingzing Bar, Bharatpur, Sarchu (Many options), Pang
Food / Beverages Marhi, Rohtang Pass, Khoksar, Sissu, Keylong, Jispa, Darcha, Deepak Tal, Zingzing Bar, Bharatpur, Sarchu, Pang, Rumste, Upshi
Diesel / Petrol Pumps Tandi (107 KMs from Manali), Karu (36 KMs from Leh)
Mobile Connectivity
  • In our case, mobile signal of Airtel worked till Keylong only and then faded rapidly. The signals were restored after crossing Upshi for Airtel.
  • Of course BSNL has more coverage and better connectivity within this range than any other operator. Airtelworks in Ladakh but with poor connectivity.
  • SMS does work fine for both BSNL and Airtel.
  • Vodafone did not work for us at all after crossing Marhi and not even in Leh -Ladakh.
  • Packet data also works upt Keylong and in Leh packet data is available only with BSNL edge.
  • Prepaid connections do not work in Leh – Ladakh.
Fixed Phones Keylong, Jispa, Darcha, Upshi
Electricity Sissu, Gondla, Keylong, Jispa, Darcha, Upshi
Medical Facilities Sissu, Keylong
ATMs Keylong
Police Checkpoints Darcha, Sarchu, Upshi, Khoksar (For foreigners only)
Mechanic / Puncture Shops Marhi, Khoksar, Tandi (not sure), Keylong, Darcha, Sarchu, Upshi
Liquor Shops Marhi, Keylong, Darcha, Upshi
Natural Highlights Rohtang Pass, Tandi Confluence, Sissu Waterfall, Deepak Tal, Suraj Tal, Baralacha La, Strange Soil formations, Moore Plains (Wildlife too), Taglang La or Tanglang La, Gata Loops

Conclusion

In the end, if you have been to Manali – Leh Highway then please share your valuable thoughts or suggestions which can make the above information more concrete and useful for someone planning to cover Manali – Leh Highway. Your comments and inputs are most welcome.

Article Last Updated on 31st October 2014

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739 Comments

  1. Guru Dutt Sharma on

    Hi Dhiraj,

    Your Blog is wonderful.

    We are planning a family trip to by our own SUV to Delhi-Manali-Leh and back by the same route between 20 April to 03 May 17.

    We are parents to 16 and 20 years old kids. Also, our 2 years old PUG would be accompanying us.

    Duration is 14 days(02 weeks)

    Kindly suggest us the itinerary.

    with warm regards

    Guru

  2. Srijan Mukherjee on

    Hi !!,

    we are planning a 15 day trip from delhi-rampur bushahr-kaza-zingzing-leh-kargil-srinagar-patnitop-ludhiana-delhi in august this year. Mode of transport in bikes.

    few questions:
    1. possibility of doing kaza to zing zing in 10-12 hours ?
    2. can we find places to stay at zing zing ??
    3. possibility of doing zing zing to leh in 10-12 hours ?

    let me know your email address, can share the detailed itinerary as well.

    Regards
    Srijan

    • Hi Srijan,

      1. In 12 Hrs, you should be able to hit Zing Zing Bar from Kaza but I will suggest to stop at Jispa
      2. There are only dhabha dorm tents available at Zing zing bar, no other accommodation
      3. Jispa to Leh can be done in 12 hrs.

      • Thanks for the quick input Dheeraj. Ok, another quick question. How about rampur bushahr to kaza, looks good on paper in 10-12 hours with stops but what does your experience say??

        Regards
        Srijan

        • Srijan, for sure Kaza to Rampur is a long and tiring ride/drive owing to the bad roads and you will just be rushing. With stops it will be 12+ hrs of drive only. If you say possible, I will say yes but for sure tiring.

  3. Jyoti Rameja on

    Hey Dheeraj, thank you for oyur valuable insights on the manali-leh road trip. Me and my husband have booked the tickets from mumbai to leh from 27th may – 2nd june. Although we have booked our flight tickets from mumbai to leh. But we are of the opinion of travelling from Leh to Manali by road. By halting at Sarchu. Could you please help me with deatils of how to take this trip from Leh to Manali to Delhi By Road. It would be of great help if you could provide me the some contact details for taxis or buses(mode of public transport).
    Awaiting Eagerly for your expert advice! 🙂

    • Hi Jyoti,

      Unfortunately, you do not have enough time to make Ladakh trip as well as do Manali – Leh journey. With just 6 days in hand, two days will be just for acclimatization and rest in Leh when you land by flight. Then you should be doing sightseeing as well in Ladakh. Leh to Chandigarh via MAnali – Leh Highway will take about 3 days of road journey, so you will not have enough days for sightseeing in Ladakh in such a case. Also, Manali – Leh Highway opens by last week of May and first week of June, so it is touch and go with respect to your dates as well.

      Regards
      Dheeraj

  4. Thanks for the very useful post.

    We have come up with the itinerary based on your inputs.
    We are 9 ppl with 2 kids (aged 3yrs and 2.5yrs) travelling from Srinagar to Leh to Manali to Chandigarh in the month of May. We will reach Srinagar airport around 3pm. Please do let us know if this is feasible.

    Hire a TT to drop us at Leh
    Day 1: Srinagar (Start at 4pm) to Kargil
    Day 2: Next day – Kargil – Leh
    Day 3 and Day 4: Hire a local TT to roam around Leh for 2 days
    Day 5 : Leh to Manali
    Day 6 and Day 7 : Manali sight seeing
    Day 8: to Chandigarh airport

    Thanks in advance.

    • Ashok, I will highly not recommend taking Manali – Leh Highway that time of the year with kids and family. More or less it will be closed but even if it is open, DO NOT take this trip.

      Also, considering kids and family and large group, your plan is too hectic nad it will be very taxing on them. The journey is not a leisure journey, so please consider before making such a trip.

      Also read: Traveling to Ladakh with Kids or Babies

      Even if you make the trip, you must fly out of Leh to save some days for rest in Ladakh

  5. Nice blog Dheeraj, well explained and covered almost everyting

    Could you shed some light on how likely is it that my bike’s tyres would get punctured or fuel run out cuz these are the scariest scenarios for me and I want to clear my head around these issues before planing for rest of the things.

    PS – I would def plan to keep extra fuel but want to know if i tank up at manali would my fuel run out before tandi.

    Thanks
    Vaibhav

    • Vaibhav, puncture is the main issue and you must plan for it. You must carry foam based solutions with you which can buy you time and help in not being stuck in the middle of no where.

      Petrol, you can still work out after carrying some extra. Black fuel is available almost at each small dhabha settlements, so in worst case you end up buy that to save yourself reach Leh or Tandi. In most case it is not required unless you do Leh to Tso moriri to Manali direclty. This should help you: Fuel Availability In Leh – Ladakh | Ladakh Self Drive Tips

      • Hello Dheeraj
        This blog is really informative for us. I am from Dhaka, Bangladesh. We are planning a tour from manali to leh to Srinagar in September 2017. But I m worried about the situation of kashmir. Is there foreigners are allowed at this time? Please ensure me about it.

        • Things have settled quite a lot in Kashmir as compared to the season season this year. You should be OK else you can follow the Manali – Leh route only

  6. Hey dheeraj thanks a lot for giving such a detail description ur post will be my commandment for planning my journey
    First of all I would like u to know about us we are group of six guys aged between 29 to 36 and married(do we need to say something more)go for a road trip once every year in our scorpio this year july 2016 we went to manali and rohtang from delhi we started at 12.00 am in the night and reached manali in 13 hours we are 3 good drivers in the group and next day we went to rohtang pass and we reached there in 2.5 hours after wasting around half an hour at permit and one of the nullah were we took some photos
    Now coming to point we are planning to go to leh from delhi next year june end 2017 what we are planning that we start one hour early like 11.00 in the night and reach manali by 11.00 in the morning since we need waste any time in photos and selfies as it has already been done this year and than we continue till keylong before 5 evening on day 1 , I know it will be hectic but we can save 1 day from our 7 day trip than on day 2 keylong to leh starting early in morning 5.00 am reach leh by evening adjust there and local sighseeing on day 3 than day 4 and day 5 your recommendations like some famous lake I dont remember the name than back on day 6 reach keylong night stay and than day 7 keylong to manali to delhi .. now u guide me how much is this feasable and if take 3 days while going than we get only 2 days in leh so please guide us and we have 3 driver all who have travelled and driven a lot..

      • It is not at all recommended that you continue driving over Rohtang Pass and sleep at Keylong at your first night. It will make you all vulnerable to AMS which can cause serious issues over Manali – Leh Highway. Hence, keep two days to reach KEylong with overnight halt at Solang. Then next day leave for Leh at 5 AM from either Keylong or Jispa. Then, one day complete rest in Leh. This makes it 4 days for you without seeing anything in Ladakh. Now on 5th day, go over as day trip to Khardung La pass, Day 6, go over as day trip to Pangong Tso lake and while comping back go towards Manali and sleep at Upshi. Day 7 start the journey back to Manali from Upshi and you can reach Sissu or Khoksar if you start at 5 AM from Upshi by 7 PM. Day 8 from Sissu/Khoksar go over Rohtang Pass and reach Delhi without stopping at Manali

    • It is not at all recommended that you continue driving over Rohtang Pass and sleep at Keylong at your first night. It will make you all vulnerable to AMS which can cause serious issues over Manali – Leh Highway. Hence, keep two days to reach KEylong with overnight halt at Solang. Then next day leave for Leh at 5 AM from either Keylong or Jispa. Then, one day complete rest in Leh. This makes it 4 days for you without seeing anything in Ladakh. Now on 5th day, go over as day trip to Khardung La pass, Day 6, go over as day trip to Pangong Tso lake and while comping back go towards Manali and sleep at Upshi. Day 7 start the journey back to Manali from Upshi and you can reach Sissu or Khoksar if you start at 5 AM from Upshi by 7 PM. Day 8 from Sissu/Khoksar go over Rohtang Pass and reach Delhi without stopping at Manali

  7. hello, i am about be the weirdest person on the planet please bear me.
    i wanna go for a manali-leh walk trip nor bike nor bus or anything but i am not able to plan properly sometimes it’s the issue of food and sometimes it’s about the altitude sickness if not i occurred to the biggest problem for this trip is WATER I’ll be walking for around 500km (with breaks in the middle wherever i get accommodation and pitching tents by myself) if anyone can give me some suggestions, please do help me if you’ve got a idea!

    • Aprameya, dont worry people have asked this to me many times. Now let’s work out few things. How many days do you have in hand, if doing it from Leh to Manali side, is it OK for you? Which month are you planning it?

      • I have plenty of time, so it doesn’t matter, and yes it doesn’t matter Manali to leh or vice versa it’s going to be the same! Any month but ASAP…!

        • Then spend few weeks in Leh and sightseeing in Leh living in high altitude villages for few nights and start your journey from Tso Moriri to Tso Kar to Debring to Pang to Sarchu to Bharatpur to Zingzingbar to Darcha to Keylong – Manali. The moment you reach Darcha, you are out of trouble. You cannot sleep at any high altitude pass and hence you have to go down to base of the pass. Somewhere in the altitude of 4000-4500 shall be fine after you have spent few nights at Tso Moriri lake for acclimatization at that altitude.

          Have you ever done any high altitude trek before? If not, start by some short high altitude treks gradually and see how your body reacts. Then make a call of this months of travel.

  8. Just an update on road condition from Manali towards leh
    Manali – rothang ( good road till uphill of rothang )
    Rothang – kelyong ( absolutely no road, kind of nightmare )
    Kelyong – pang ( except 20-30 km the roads will punish your vehicle )
    Pang – leh ( beautiful road, you can hit easily 60+ )
    * Most of the tents would be closing
    * No water streams to cross through
    * Please carry sufficient warm clothes/thermals.
    * Good stays at jispa

  9. Awesome Blog , got so much of information about leh manali journey. Thats what i am looking for.
    Its not easy to plan a trip like this but after seeing the post i got aware of the things to keep in mind while travelling via manali leh route.
    Thanks for the post..cheers

  10. Hello Dheeraj,

    First of all, thank you for all the valuable information shared here.
    Secondly, as most people here, I am also planning a trip to Ladakh in september, so my plan is like this:
    16 September: Delhi – Leh (by plane, 05:45 – 07:15); rest of the day in Leh for acclimatization and some sightseeing
    17 September: one day trip to Numbra Valley (I know it’s quite short time, but possible in one day if we start at 6am)
    18 September: one day trip to Pangong Lake
    19 September: monasteries around Leh: Shey, Thiksey, Hemis, etc.
    20 September: Leh – Keylong
    21 September: Keylong – Manali
    22 September: Manali (Kulu) – Delhi by plane

    My questions are:
    1. Would you change anything to this schedule?
    2. Do you recommend any particular driver for these days (except 16th of September), or we can arrange locally at the hotel?
    3. If we find a driver, can he arrange the permits on the first day? (16th of September), so we can start traveling the next day, or we have to arrange them ourselves?

    Thank you again…

    • Hi Dan, I think I replied to your other comment but I will suggest again:

      1. You should take complete two days rest and little sightseeing on first two days. Then go for two day trip to Nubra Valley, then a day trip to Pangong Tso and then take the bus to Keylong from Leh and next day reach Manali from Keylong
      2. If you have a group you can get in touch with any driver but in case you planning alone or couple then it is better to rely on shared taxis to thse places on the spot.

      • Hello Dheeraj,

        Thank you for your advice. You didn’t reply to any other comment, because this is the only one I wrote 🙂 It might be another Dan or a similar itinerary 🙂
        Anyway, yes, I will take two days rest. Afterwards I have to vsit Nubra Valey and Pangong Tso in one day (each), because I have no more time. Hope it’s manageable
        Afterwards I will take two more days to get to Kullu, as I have a plane to catch…
        Hope to be able to do it…

        • Hmm, it will be difficult like 12+ Hrs a day each and then arduous journey over Manali – Leh Highway. So, it is very tight schedule I will say.

  11. Hi Dheeraj, Its me again.
    Due to unrest in srinagar, we had to make major changes in our plan, now we have decided to go via manali. So had to bug you again mate. 😐

    Here are the details, which might help you to give us better planning.
    We will reach Delhi on 10th Sept @ 3AM and need to be back to Delhi by 21st 11AM to catch a flight back to blore and we are planning to take flight from leh-Delh on 21st morning,if time is not feasible.

    Few question,

    1.We are thinking of taking a cab/taxi to manali from Delhi airport @ 4AM, do we get a cab from Delhi airport to manali without any fuss and how much would it cost and also what would be the journey time?

    2.Major concern is taking a cab from Manali to Leh along with the Rothang pass permit, we have no idea whom to contact regarding the permit and afraid we might get ripped off.
    We have to take care of cab/taxi booking and permit in the manali on the 10th evening/night only, so that we can leave for Jispa in the early morning. So your inputs are very much needed here.

    3. is it possible to visit Tso Morori while on the way to Leh?

    To include in Itinerary,
    -We are thinking of covering Kargil,Magnetic hills and other near by places to kargil, which we would have visited if we had come from srinagar side. We will be going by rented Bikes . So we need you to include this in the itinerary.

    -We are thinking staying overnight at Pangong lake and Numbar valley(if time allows) and we wouldn’t want to miss out anything which is near by Leh or can be visited from Leh

    So can you please consider all this and give us a Itinerary.

  12. Hi Dheeraj,
    Planning for a Leh trip in mid august. The situation in srinagar doesn’t seem good. So good chances are to take the Manali – Leh -Manali bike ride. Will reach manali 13th morning. Please suggest an itenary for 13th morning to 18th (on which i should be back to manali) for the bike ride. Thanks in advance 🙂

    • With just 5 days not sure it makes sense to make a Ladakh trip.

      Day 1 | Manali/Solang Valley – Keylong/Jispa
      — It is always better to stay either at Keylong/Jispa so that you do not feel sick or hit by AMS.
      — Avoid sleeping at Sarchu at any cost while going to Leh from Manali because your body will not be acclimatized by the time you reach there.
      — I prefer staying at Jispa more because Keylong gives the feeling of a town while Jispa is more closer to nature having Bhaga river running just aside the Manali – Leh Highway at Jispa.
      — Overnight at Keylong/Jispa

      Day 2 | Keylong/Jispa – Leh
      — Leave Keylong/Jispa early next morning, say by 4/5 AM types, so that you reach Leh in the evening.
      — Overnight at Leh

      Day 3 | Leh Local Sightseeing + Acclimatization
      — To know the about the places to visit check the link: Travel Guide for Local Sightseeing of Leh Town in Ladakh
      — Overnight at Leh

      Day 4 | Leh – Taglang La – Pang – Sarchu
      — Try to start early in the day so that you reach Sarchu where the accommodation options are better than Pang
      — Overnight at Sarchu or Pang

      Day 5 | Sarchu – Baralacha La – Keylong – Rohtang Pass – Manali
      — On the way cover Suraj Tal, Deepak Tal which are on the road sides only
      — Overnight at Manali

    • ss…me and my frnd are travelling from 13th august from manali to srinagar via leh.10 days..

    • hey there…
      we will be reaching leh by 11th aug.
      our trip is for 10 days and you may contact me on this no. 9166285328/ 9982241199.

      thanks
      Arun

  13. Superb blog. Got so many details from a single post. Thanks for sharing the experience and contact details 🙂

    Regards,
    Suvesh

  14. Apoorv Gaur on

    Hey Dheeraj!

    Awesome blog man. I am planning to travel to Ladakh from Manali on 17 July. Many articles & blogs say that travelling on the manali – leh road gets quite tricky during July. Would you recommend traveling on the manali leh road around 17-19 July ? Would it be very risky because of the monsoon ?

    Also are you aware whether if its possible to rent a self drive car from Manali, which can be left at Ladakh , as we want to come back to delhi via plane. Most of the sites I found online, offer taxis from manali to leh, but not self drive cars.

    Thanks so much!
    Apoorv

    • Piyush Nagpal on

      Hi Apoorv,

      I am also leaving on 16th from manali to Leh.

      Please call me on 9953646006 so that we can coordinate.

      Regards,
      Piyush

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