How to make a budget trip to Zanskar Valley by public transport?

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As the demand for traveling to Zanskar Valley is increasing year after year, the question about “Can I make a budget trip to Zanskar Valley by public transport?” is getting more frequently asked on Devil on Wheels Travel community by fellow travelers or tourists. In the last article of the series, I talked about How to calculate cost or budget for Zanskar Valley trip?, which helps you estimate your budget for Zanskar Valley trip. However, it does not address if you can make a budget trip to Zanskar Valley or not.

The private taxi rates within Zanskar Valley are very high and the cost of food and stay depends upon the number of days you planned your trip. Hence, an 8-9 day trip to Zanskar Valley by private taxi can easily cost about Rs 22000-25000. So, a question like, if I can make a budget trip to Zanskar Valley by public transport is not surprisingly among the frequently asked questions for a Zanskar Valley trip.

Are you planning a Zanskar Valley by Public Transport?

Are you planning a Zanskar Valley by Public Transport?

In this article, I will share the tips and tricks with an example itinerary on how you can make a budget trip to Zanskar Valley by public transport. I am sure this article will be helpful to all those who are planning a solo trip to Zanskar Valley especially by the means of public transport.

Budget trip to Zanskar Valley by Public Transport – An example

If you are a solo traveler or a couple, the private taxis may end up making a deep hole in the pocket on a trip to Zanskar Valley. You may need to spend about Rs 46000 just for the private taxi alone, completely insane, right??. Unlike Leh – Ladakh, it is very difficult to find tourists looking for taxis or shared tourist taxis in Zanskar Valley. There aren’t many cafes, dine-ins, restaurant or a huge number of travel agents that offer means of availing thee tourist shared taxis either. Hence, you are mostly limited to local shared taxis or public transport buses which do not stop for any sightseeing on the way to different places in Zanskar Valley. You can, of course, try to find online travel partners using our Travel Calendar too.

Pro Tip: If this is your first trip to Zanskar Valley then you should read my comprehensive guide about how to plan a journey to Zanskar Valley

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 a trip similar to Zanskar Valley Most Common Itinerary as an example which covers the trip as Srinagar – Suru – Zanskar – Srinagar. 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 Zanskar Valley and hence, you will be finding the places of stay on the spot and not pre-booking them 😉 😉

Prayer Flags in Zanskar Valley

Day 1 | Delhi – Jammu
  • Options of travel: There are buses available between Delhi – Jammu costs around Rs 550 as well as Delhi – Srinagar (Sleeper costs around Rs 1600, non-sleeper costs around Rs 1400) but most preferred economic way to travel to Jammu is by train. You need to pay around Rs 350 for sleeper class in train and around Rs 900 for third AC.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 350 by sleeper class in train.
  • Cost of stay: You will find many budget guest houses and stays near bus stand at Jammu ranging from Rs 700 to 1500. So, you can consider Rs 350 – 400 for stay in Jammu.
  • Total cost incurred: Rs 350 + Rs 350 – 400 = Rs 700 – 750
Day 2 | Jammu – Patnitop – Srinagar
  • Options of travel: There are plenty of buses running between Jammu and Srinagar. The cost ranges from Rs 550 (tempo travellers, deluxe) to semi deluxe around Rs 500 to ordinary state transport 52 seater including Marcopolo at around Rs 400. Finding shared taxis from Jammu to Srinagar is easy from Gumat taxi stand. They charge around Rs 800 per person for shared taxi.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 400 by state transport bus.
  • Cost of stay: You will find many budget guest houses and stays near Nageen lake or Dal lake or at the back side of dal lake ranging from Rs 700 to 1000. So, you can consider Rs 350 – 400 for stay in Srinagar.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 700 – 750) + Rs 400 + Rs 350 – 400 = Rs 1450 – 1550
Day 3 | Srinagar – Sonamarg – Zozi La – Drass – Kargil
  • Options of travel: Plenty of shared taxis and daily buses of JKSRTC run between Srinagar and Kargil. Shared taxis to Kargil from Srinagar cost around Rs 700 and the bus ticket between Srinagar and Kargil will cost you about Rs 350.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 350 for Srinagar to Kargil by bus.
  • Cost of stay: You can easily find a guest house in Kargil ranging from Rs 600 to 900. So, you can consider Rs 300 – 350 for stay in Kargil.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 1450 – 1550) + Rs 350 + Rs 300 – 350 = Rs 2100 – 2250
Day 4 | Kargil – Sankoo – Panikhar – Parkachik – Rangdum – Penzi La – Padum
  • Options of travel: Local shared taxis run between Kargil and Padum and cost a seat for about Rs 1500
  • Cost of travel: Rs 1500 for Kargil to Padum by local shared taxi. The bus between Kargil to Padum is not that frequent and hence, don’t rely much on it.
  • Cost of stay: You can easily find a guest house in Padum ranging from Rs 400 to 600. So, you can consider Rs 200 – 300 for stay in Padum.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 2100 – 2250) + Rs 1500 + Rs 200 – 300 = Rs 3800 – 4050

Pro Tip: Did you know what is the best time to travel to Zanskar Valley?

Day 5 and 6 | Local Sightseeing in Padum for couple of days
  • Options of travel: The cost of local sightseeing in Padum is quite high and generally the charges are Rs 4500 – 5000 for a full day that includes sightseeing to Karsha, Stongde monastery, and Sheela Village Waterfall. If you are interested in Zongkhul Monastery, you need to pay about Rs 3500 for it. Considering you travel by private taxi within Padum as you don’t want to rely on public transport within Padum, with two people you are looking about Rs 4000 with twin sharing.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 4000 for local sightseeing in Padum on twin sharing.
  • Cost of stay: Rs 200 – 300 for stay in Padum.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 3800 – 4050) + Rs 4000 + Rs 400 – 600 = Rs 8200 – 8650
Day 7 | Padum to Rangdum to Kargil
  • Options of travel: Local shared taxis run between Kargil and Padum and cost a seat for about Rs 1500
  • Cost of travel: Rs 1500 for Kargil to Padum by local shared taxi. The bus between Kargil to Padum is not that frequent and hence, don’t rely much on it.
  • Cost of stay: You can easily find a guest house in Kargil ranging from Rs 600 to 900. So, you can consider Rs 300 – 350 for stay in Kargil.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 8200 – 8650) + Rs 1500 + Rs 300 – 350 = Rs 10000 – 10500

Pro Tip: When traveling in the Himalayas, you must check or refer the most important List of things to carry when you go on trip before leaving for it.

Day 8 | Kargil – Drass – Sonamarg – Srinagar
  • Options of travel: Plenty of shared taxis and daily buses of JKSRTC run between Srinagar and Kargil. Shared taxis to Kargil from Srinagar cost around Rs 700 and the bus ticket between Srinagar and Kargil will cost you about Rs 350.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 350 for Kargil to Srinagar by bus.
  • Cost of stay: You will find many budget guest houses and stays near Nageen lake or Dal lake or at the back side of dal lake ranging from Rs 700 to 1000. So, you can consider Rs 350 – 400 for stay in Srinagar.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 10000 – 10500) + Rs 350 + Rs 350 – 400 = Rs 10700 – 11250
Day 9 | Fly to Delhi from Srinagar
  • Options of travel: Instead of taking the road, you can fly out Srinagar to Delhi this time. If booked in advance, usually you get Delhi to Srinagar tickets for about Rs 2500 – 3000.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 2500 – 3000 for Srinagar to Delhi by flight.
  • Cost of stay: Sweet home.
  • Total cost incurred: (Rs 10700 – 11250) + Rs 2500 – 3000 + Rs 0 = Rs 13200 – 14250
Zanskar River - Those Aqua  Colors

Zanskar River – Those Aqua Colors

Cost of food for a 9 day Zanskar Valley trip

The food all over Zanskar Valley is quite economic unless you wish to lavishly spend in some restaurants and hotels of Srinagar or luxury houseboats. 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 Zanskar valley trip. Taking this into account, the above 9 day trip to Zanskar Valley may not cost you more than Rs 1800 – 2250 for the food. Hence, the total cost incurred on your Zanskar valley trip comes out to be (Rs 13200 – 14250) + (Rs 1800 – 2250) = Rs 15000 – 16500.. By the way, you should always carry your own water bottle and refill it as many times as you need water. It will not only keep you hydrated always, but you will also help in saving the Himalayas from plastic garbage. Remember, every tiny step counts, so please do your own bit !! 🙂 🙂

Now, you can see that if you wish to make a budget trip to Zanskar Valley by public transport and plan it properly, you can easily complete your trip within a budget of Rs 15000 – 16500. If you travel by private taxis within Padum local sightseeing to cover Karsha, Zangla Fort, Zongkhul Monastery and Stongde Monastery then you are looking at Rs 8000 more for that comfort and if shared with more than 2 people, the cost can come down there as well furthermore. It is equally true if you do not opt for local sightseeing by taxi rather take shared jeeps, take the lift from tourists and pay them or find other means, you can really decrease this major portion of your budget. If you wish to trek to Phugtal Monastery in Zanskar valley then you can plan the budget accordingly.

In this article, you can see that if you wish to make a budget trip to Zanskar Valley by public transport and plan it properly, you can do it within a budget of Rs 15000 – 16500 🙂 🙂

Penzi La Pass on Kargil to Padum Road

Penzi La Pass on Kargil to Padum Road

Conclusion

I hope this article helps you in making a budget trip to Zanskar Valley by public transport. You can always tweak this article based on your own plan and evaluate the budget for your trip to Zanskar Valley. It will help you feel more confident when traveling to Zanskar Valley by public transport. And by the way for any questions you may still have about your trip, feel free to post any questions in the Ask A Question section of the website or using the ASK YOUR TRAVEL QUESTION form available below in the article or post them even in our community forums.

In case you have made a trip to Zanskar Valley and want to share any tips or suggestions with other fellow travelers, please share them in the comments section. If you wish to write a post, I can also set up your account to share a guest post on your trip to Zanskar Valley. In the end, if you know a friend or family person who is making a trip to Zanskar Valley, please feel free to share this article with them as well 🙂

By the way, if you are interested in making a a trip to Ladakh then you can check out How to make a budget Ladakh trip 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 ...

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