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 in 2021?”. I know the budget is an integral part of any trip. However, it becomes critical when you make a trip to Spiti Valley because of the 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 the Spiti Valley trip (Shimla to Spiti Valley taxi fare) are Rs 3300-3500 per day. Hence, a trip of 10-11 days to Spiti via Kinnaur can 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 topmost among the frequently asked questions for a Ladakh trip.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Traveling to Spiti by Public Transport is the Answer for Budget Trip
When it comes to bringing down the cost of any Himalayan trip, traveling via Public Transport is the answer. Hence, a backpacking trip to Spiti Valley will be the key to bring down the cost. It will let you travel this remote region of the Himachal Pradesh within a budget of about Rs 10000 as you will find in this article.
In the past, I have written a similar article on planning a budget trip to Chandratal Lake. Taking a cue from the same article, I will extend it to the 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 backpacking solo trip to Spiti Valley especially by the means of public transport.
Budget trip to Spiti Valley Trip by Public Transport – An example itinerary
If you plan a solo trip to Spiti or travel in a group of two people then private taxis will prove very costly for you on this road trip to Kinnaur & Spiti Valley. You will need to spend about Rs 30000 to 35000 just for the private taxi.
Unlike Leh Ladakh, you do not find the tourist shared taxi that easily in Spiti Valley or on the way to Spiti Valley from Manali and Shimla or Kinnaur. You will be able to find local shared taxis. However, these taxis run from Point A to Point B and do not stop for any sightseeing.
Why it is hard to find tourist shared taxis to Spiti?
Well, it is hard to find tourist-based shared taxis for Spiti Valley because there aren’t many cafes, dine-ins, restaurants or a huge number of travel agents that offer means of availing shared tourist taxis as you easily find in Leh Ladakh. Hence, you are mostly limited to local shared taxis or buses which do not stop for any sightseeing on the way.
In Leh Ladakh, there are lots of flyers that people put at cafes, dine-ins, restaurants, travel agent desks/shops/whiteboards wanting to share the taxis for different trips within Ladakh. Even travel agents organize such a shared taxis trip as well but charge a little higher about Rs 200-300 more than it would ideally cost. So, in the worst case, you can always go back to them and book a seat for yourself. Gelling up with people in Ladakh is more or less easy because many people travel solo. They look forward to meeting new people and share cultural thoughts and values over the trip.
However, when you are making a backpacking trip to Spiti or a solo trip to Spiti, things are different. It is due to a lack of shared traveling options, especially when you travel from Shimla – Kinnaur side. You may still get lucky when traveling from Manali side as there is a high probability of finding like-minded people in Manali for a Spiti trip.
Trip Spiti Valley by Bus & Shared Taxis – A Sample Day by Day Plan
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 or jeeps in Kinnaur and Spiti.
Let’s consider our most common Spiti itinerary as an example that 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 😉 😉
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 the evening from 6 PM to 10 PM
- Cost of travel: Rs 515 by ordinary HRTC bus.
- Cost of stay: You will find a few budget guesthouses or PWD rest houses from Rs 600 to 800. So, you can consider Rs 300 – 400 for a 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 run 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 to find budget guesthouses and homestays in Sangla Valley ranging from Rs 600 to 700. So, you can consider Rs 300 – 350 for a 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 afternoon 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 the 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: Every day 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 the next day takes 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 homestay Tabo ranging from Rs 400 to 500. So, you can consider Rs 200 – 250 for a stay in Tabo.
- Total cost incurred: (Rs 1815 – 2015) + Rs 400 + Rs 200 – 250 = Rs 2415 – 2665
Day 5 | Tabo – Dhankar – Dhankar Lake – Pin Valley (Mud Village)
- Options of travel: Now you are left on your own for hitchhikes or shared local jeeps to these villages. They will not cost you more than Rs 100 for both Schichiling/Dhangkar and then further to the 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 hitchhikes.
- Cost of stay: You can easily find a guest house or homestay in Mud Village ranging from Rs 300 to 400. So, you can consider Rs 150 – 200 to 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 locally 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 hitchhikes or shared jeeps to these places. Again, it will not cost you more than Rs 150 and hitchhikes again comes for free.
- Cost of travel: Rs 150 to travel in locally 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 homestay in Kaza ranging from Rs 500 to 600. So, you can consider Rs 250 – 300 to 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 hitchhikes and shared jeeps, you will be able to cover these places within Rs 100-150
- Cost of travel: Rs 100-150 considering hitchhikes and locally shared jeeps for Langza – Hikkim – Komic.
- Cost of stay: You can easily find a guest house or homestay in Kaza ranging from Rs 500 to 600. So, you can consider Rs 250 – 300 for a 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 the Conductor of the bus to pick you next morning from the same place or Batal. Maybe 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 hitchhike up to Chandratal lake. In tourist season, hitchhike should not be an issue.
- Cost of travel: It will cost you about Rs 280 – 300 first to get down from the HRTC bus at Batal/Chandratal diversion point on Day 1 from Kaza and then the next day continue the journey to Manali from Batal in HRTC bus. For hitchhike 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
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 a 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 an 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
Cost of food for a 10 day Spiti Valley trip
The food all over Spiti Valley and Kinnaur Valley are 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. If you 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 the comfort of private taxi within Spiti Valley, this 10-day hr budget trip to Spiti Valley will cost you less than Rs 9500 (Rs 9430 – 10600 to be specific) 😯 😯 …
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.
Spiti Valley Backpacking – Latest Bus Timings in Spiti Valley
I would like to add some inputs shared by Hariharan in the comments section below which will be useful within Spiti & Kinnaur Valley and timings of buses/shared taxis.
- Shimla to Sangla only one bus mostly it will get full by Shimla itself
Time 6.50 am Shimla then 10.00 am Narkanda and 5.00 pm Sangla last stop.
- From Sangla Valley 5.10 pm Bus from Rakcham to Chitkul at 6.00 pm last stop.
- From Chitkul 3 buses to Sangla (6.30 am, 1.30 pm and 4.00 pm). The 1.30 pm bus will go to Reckong Peo.
- Reckong Peo to Kalpa, every one-hour approx you will get buses.
- From Reckong Peo to Kaza only one bus 7.00 am (Peo — Nako – Tabo Sumdo – Schilling – Kaza)
- Reckong Peo – Tabo 9.00 am a bus (Peo – Nako – Tabo last stop)
- Reckong Peo – Sumdo 12.00 pm bus (Peo – Nako – Sumdo last stop)- Next day it will come approx 11.30 am to Tabo then Schilling – Kaza.
- Schilling to Tabo – Dhankar 700 per taxi
- Dhankar to Kaza morning 8.00 am – 9.00 am, you may get a shared taxi to Kaza or come down to schilling to catch a bus.
- From Kaza, you can rent a bike for all the places is the best option
Important Bus Timetable Spiti Valley
Other timing for HRTC buses within Spiti and Kinnaur Valley can be found below. Let’s look at some of the most important bus routes in Spiti and Kinnaur Valley.
- Bus from Reckong Peo to Chitkul – 9.30 AM
- Bus from Reckong Peo – Chtikul – 12.00 PM
- Bus from Reckong Peo – Sangla Valley – Rakcham – 4.00 PM
- Bus from Reckong Peo – Rampur – 10.30 AM
- Bus from Reckong Peo – Chandigarh – 6.00 AM (Deluxe)
- Bus from Reckong Peo – Chandigarh – 7.15 PM
- Bus from Reckong Peo – Chandigarh – 1.30 PM
- Bus from Reckong Peo – Delhi – 11.30 AM
- Bus from Lippa – Solan – 8.15 AM
- Bus from Kalpa – Shimla – 7.40 AM
- Bus from Kalpa – Reckong Peo – Chandigarh – 3.30 PM
- Bus from Puh – Shimla – 9.30 AM
- Bus from Solan – Peo – 5.15 PM
- Bus from Shimla – Puh – 4.00 PM
- Bus from Kaza to Manali – Kullu – 5.00 AM
- Bus from Chango to Kaza – 6.00 AM
- Bus from Kaza to Shimla – 7.30 AM, this bus stops overnight at Reckong Peo
- Bus from Kaza to Kinnaur, Reckong Peo – 7.30 AM
- Bus from Pin Valley, Mudh Village to Kaza – 6.00 AM
- Bus from Losar to Kaza – 7.00 AM
- Bus from Komic / Komik to Kaza – 7.30 AM
- Bus from Demul to Kaza – 7.30 AM
- Bus from Lhalung to Kaza – 7.30 AM
- Bus from Chicham to Kaza – 7.30 AM
- Bus from Kaza to Chango – 2.30 PM
- Bus from Kaza to Mudh, Pin Valley – 4.00 PM
- Bus from Kaza to Losar – 4.30 PM
- Bus from Kaza to Demul – 5.00 PM
- Bus from Kaza to Komic / Komik – 5.00 PM
- Bus from Kaza to Chicham – 5.00 PM
- Bus from Kaza to Lhalung – 5.15 PM
Frequently Asked Questions – Spiti Valley from Delhi by Bus
There is a daily bus from Delhi to Reckong Peo which you will need to use to reach Kinnaur from Delhi by bus. Then, Reckong Peo to Kaza is also connected by a daily bus. Similarly, daily buses run between Manali and Delhi. In summers, Manali to Kaza buses also run to connecting Spiti Valley with Delhi by buses.
Yes, there is a daily bus that travels from Kaza to Manali in summers when the roads over Kunzum Pass are open. The daily bus from Kaza to Manali and further to Kullu starts at 5.00 AM in the morning.
There is no direct bus from Shimla to Kaza. However, you can take the daily bus from Shimla to Reckong Peo or Chandigarh to Reckong Peo and then travel to Kaza the next day by the daily 7.00 am a bus running between Reckong Peo to Kaza. The bus daily from Shimla to Reckong Peo leaves around 7.00 AM as well.
There is a direct daily Reckong Peo to Kaza bus service that starts every day at 7.00 AM from Reckong Peo and similarly comes back from Kaza to Reckong Peo every day at 7.00 AM.
Well, there is no direct bus from Nako to Kaza but you can travel from Nako to Chango in a shared jeep or hitchhike it. After reaching Chango, there is a daily bus that runs from Chango to Kaza at 6.00 AM and then for return, there is a bus that starts from Kaza to Chango at 2.30 PM. You can take shared jeeps or hitchhike to reach Nako from Chango. There is a PWD Resthouse at Chango too.
As far as I know, there is only on Shimla to Sangla bus which starts at 6.50 am from Shimla, reaches around 10.00 am at Narkanda and finally 5.00 pm Sangla last stop. The bus usually runs full of people and hence, you should ensure that you take the seat at Shimla itself.
There is no direct bus from Shimla to Chitkul but you can reach Sangla Valley from Shimla and then from Sangla Valley, there is a bus that starts at 5.10 pm from Rakcham and reaches to Chitkul at 6.00 pm at the last stop.
There is an afternoon bus from Sangla to Reckong Peo that runs daily and comes from Chitkul to Sangla first and then goes all the way to Reckong Peo. The Sangla – Chitkul bus fare is about Rs 110.
Daily there are two Reckong Peo to Chiktul buses that run at 9.30 AM and 12.00 PM respectively.
Yes, there is a daily bus running between Kaza and Mudh Village in the Pin Valley. The bus starts every day at 4.00 PM at Kaza and travels through Pin Valley villages of Guling – Sagnam and reaches Mudh. Every morning at 6.00 AM the same bus travels from Mudh Village, Pin Valley to Kaza.
Yes, there is a daily bus running between Kaza and Losar. The bus starts every day at 4.30 PM from Kaza to Losar. Then, the next morning at 7.00 AM the same bus travels from Losar to Kaza.
Yes, there is a daily bus running between Kaza and Komik / Komic. The bus starts every day at 5.00 PM from Kaza to Komik. Then, the next morning at 7.30 AM the same bus travels from Komik to Kaza.
Yes, there is a daily bus running between Kaza and Demul. The bus starts every day at 5.00 PM from Kaza to Demul. Then, the next morning at 7.30 AM the same bus travels from Demul to Kaza.
Yes, there is a daily bus running between Kaza and Lhalung. The bus starts every day at 5.15 PM from Kaza to Lhalung. Then, the next morning at 7.30 AM the same bus travels from Lhalung to Kaza.
Yes, there is a daily bus running between Kaza and Chicham. The bus starts every day at 5.15 PM from Kaza to Chicham. Then, the next morning at 7.30 AM the same bus travels from Chicham to Kaza.
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 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 travelers. Also, do not forget to share this article with your friends or families who are planning a budget trip to Spiti Valley by public transport 🙂 🙂 …