How to Plan a trip to Shimla and Manali?

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Every year thousands of tourists plan a trip to Shimla and Manali with their families and loved ones. I too get loads of questions regarding planning the trip to Shimla and Manali on this blog. No wonder why as both Shimla being known as “Queen of Hills” and Manali popularly known for “Honeymoon Destination” are the most popular tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh. Personally speaking, Shimla now being converted to nothing but a concrete jungle still offer around few peaceful places. Manali on the other hand has much more natural offerings. Today, I am going to make lives of tourists looking forward to make a plan for a trip to Shimla and Manali easier. In this article today, I will be sharing the most common itinerary for for a trip to Shimla and Manali.

Beautiful roads in Manali

A Beautiful Road in Manali

I am going to suggest the plan in such a way that you spend more time in Manali than in/around Shimla. Manali has lot more to offer than Shimla so it is better to spend more time in Manali. The river element in Manali just adds more charm to the missing beauty of Shimla. While Shimla may appeal more to people close to architecture, Manali is more to people who are close to nature. In the past, I did write a detailed travel guide to Manali which can be referenced for more details, in case required.

Both Shimla and Manali are well connected to Delhi / Chandigarh by Volvo buses. I always prefer taking an HPTDC or HRTC Volvo which can be booked by their official websites. It is a fair warning that you should avoid private Volvos when both HRTC and HPTDC have a very good fleet on offer. Otherwise, for reaching Shimla, you can also enjoy the toy train ride from Kalka to Shimla.

Road Conditions in Shimla and Manali

Well, the road conditions to Shimla from Delhi are excellent in shape. Now, with operational Himalayan Expressway that by pass the messed up traffic of Kalka, the journey to Shimla is so much smoother and faster. On the other hand, though majority of road conditions between Delhi and Shimla is excellent but the section between Swarghat to Bilaspur/Sunder Nagar makes you feel frustrated. You just need to get past this section patiently and rest all is breeze on Delhi to Manali route 🙂

Planning a trip to Shimla and Manali?

A Beautiful View in Manali

8 Day Plan for a trip to Shimla and Manali

Given below is an 8 day plan for a trip to Shimla and Manali which you can follow and have good time with your family. The trip is balanced and comfortable for people of all ages including kids and adults. Hence, your family will enjoy the balance of both Shimla and Manali while you collect those memories to be cherished forever. Feel free to shoot any questions or doubts you may have in the comments section of the article below.

  • Day 1 | Reach Shimla from by overnight volvo from previous night or by toy train. Check-in and rest at hotel. In the second half explore local Shimla including Shimla Ridge, Mall Road, Lakkar Bazaar, Back to Hotel By Evening.
  • Day 2 | Around Shimla, a relaxing day. Jakhoo Temple, State Museum, Mall Road, Ridge etc. as you like or may be you can visit Kufri in the first half of the day and all this in the second half of the day.
  • Day 3 | Shimla – Narkanda – Hatu Peak – Narkanda – Shimla (a bit long day) or you can do Shimla – Kufri – Chail – Shimla (Little less hectic :))
  • Day 4 | Shimla – Manali. This day will be used by mostly traveling from Shimla to Manali
  • Day 5 | Manali Local sightseeing which includes Hadimba Temple, Manu Temple, Mall Road, Local Monastery, Vashisth Hot Water Springs (never found it interesting) etc.
  • Day 6 | Manali – Snow Point either at Solang Valley or Marhi/Gulaba on the way to Rohtang Pass. Enjoy in snow and come back to Manali. In summers, you can go up to Rohtang Pass as well.
  • Day 7 | Manali – Naggar Castle (stay at Naggar and enjoy the place. Very romantic with great views and food. Visit Roerich Musueum, Art Gallery and do not miss the hike to ancient Krishna Temple at the top)
  • Day 8 | Naggar Castle – Manali – Delhi. Checkout from Naggar Castle by noon. Since, the volvo to Delhi will be around 5.30 PM types, so either you can spend a sometime hanging around Naggar only and after lunch leave for Manali or you have the option to come back to Manali and hang around on Mall road and finally take the return bus. Or, you can also co-ordinate with bus HPTDC guys so that the bus pick you from the nearest pickup point for Naggar on the way to Delhi. Naggar Castle guys will arrange the taxi for the drop there.
  • ** if you have time then try, Manali Sanctuary can also be covered as it is just about 2-3 KMs from Manali town and there is trail which starts from Manali Log Huts or Dhungri temple that leads you into the woods. 
A beautiful morning in Shimla

A beautiful morning in Shimla

Accomodation in Shimla and Manali?

There are a lots of hotel options available in Shimla and Manali with a wide range of budget. Hence, all type of accommodation options exists in both Shimla and Manali ranging from high end five figure per night luxurious rooms to economic to cheap budget rooms as well in Old Manali. Hence, it will be no trouble for you to find a hotel in Shimla and Manali which is suitable to your budget even after reaching the place. You may also browse our hotels section in DoW Community: Hotels, Guest Houses & Home Stays in Himalayas

Where to eat in Manali?

  • Johnson’s,located near Circuit House is very famous for it’s cuisines. A meal here is a must for us whenever we go to Manali.
  • Chopsticks, located at Mall road, has a great variety of Chinese dishes topped with great taste.
  • Grozy, located just at the start of Mall road shops is also quite good in food quality. In fact on of the trip we just had our meal on this restaurant only.
  • IL Forno is by far the best place for Pizzas in Manali. If you love Pizzas then do not forget to check this awesome place.
  • Sher-e-Punjab or Shan – e -Punjab (original one) is also a good food joint.

Winter trip to Shimla and Manali?

  • Do take heavy woolens with you especially a heavy woolen jacket.
  • Do take 2-3 pairs of inner thermals cots
  • Do take woolen long socks. Airtight shoes would be perfect to help you avoid freezing feet.
  • Do not exert yourself too much and try to keep your body hydrated on the day when visiting snow points.
  • Take at least one complete day rest in Manali before venturing further heights. i.e. snow points in Solang or Gulaba. DO NOT go to snow points on the very first day you reach Manali region.
  • In Winters (except xmas – new year week) HPTDC runs about 30% off season discounts [also valid for Naggar Castle], if you like to stay in their hotels. All other private hotels can offer as much as 40-50%. Keep in mind that X-mas and New Year week is the costliest week of the year in Manali and Shimla.
A beautiful view from Shimla's Mall Road

A beautiful view from Shimla’s Mall Road

Conclusion

I am sure that the above article will help you plan a memorable trip to Shimla and Manali or at least act as a starting point for it. Please feel free to share any thoughts or questions or doubts you may have in the comment section of this article or in DoW Community | Itinerary Advice forum for Himachal Pradesh. We can discuss or help planning your upcoming trip to Shimla and Manali to be a memorable one 🙂

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2 Comments

  1. Hi !
    Wonderful tips Dheeraj ! Thank you !
    We are a family of 4 planning a holiday with another family of 4 to Manali in Mid April from Delhi. Dates 9-14( 5 nights,6 days ) . Planning to hire an Innova and drive first to Shimla . Stay there just that evening and night and proceed to spend most of the time in Manali. Return could be via Chandigarh.
    Want to do a little hatke type of a holiday. Heritage hotels , non crowded destinations … The kids are aged 6-8-11-12. Would love your inputs.
    Thanking you in advance !
    Sita

    • Hello Sita,

      I will personally advice to skip Shimla if you plan to spend only one night there because there will be nothing to explore and will add unnecessary travel. I will recommend you spend all nights in Manali and Naggar Castle. Naggar is a heritage hotel and property of HPDTC and is not visited by much tourists. You can read about it: Naggar Castle, Naggar | Hotel Review

      Rest couple of nights you can plan to spend in Manali, going over to snow points and solang valley.

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