Chandratal Lake also called “The Moon Lake” in Spiti Valley is one of the most enchanting lakes in the Himalayas. And yeah, one of my top 5 favorites lakes in the Himalayas too. A lot of adventure lovers tread a long, treacherous and yet adventurous path over Rohtang Pass – Gramphu – Batal road every year to see this wonderful offering from nature. Many of them search for the answers about making a budget trip to Chandratal lake.
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, the 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 🙂 …
Let's quickly dive into the details:
What is special about Chandratal trip?
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 your entire life. Well, it is only this adventure of Chandratal Lake that changed my life and made me fall in deep love with the Himalayas in 2009. It was the story that gave birth to this wonderful travel blog what we call “Devil On Wheels” now.
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.
Can I plan a budget trip to Chandratal?
A few years back, I came up with a comment from one of the readers of my blog who was quoted a pounding “INR 23000” for the drop to Spiti and I was like in a shock. Even when I went almost 10 years back, I think we paid about 9000-10000 for 2 days trip to Chandratal lake by taxi.
This was a big setback for the travelers 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 the cheapest manner as possible. This article will save a decent amount of money for you.
So, the short answer to the question is, “Yes, you can plan a budget trip to Chandratal lake by following the tips mentioned in this article”.
If interested you can also check, how to make a budget trip to Spiti Valley.
Two Cheapest Way To Travel to Chandratal Lake on Budget
When traveling to Chandratal or Spiti Valley on a budget, you have to keep aside the luxury of taxis or hotels. Instead, public transport is your friend for making any budget travel trip to the Himalayas.
So, how can you travel to Chandratal lake by public transport? Well, continue reading to know more.
Manali to Chandratal / Kaza Bus
There are two HRTC buses which run between Manali and Kaza every morning as soon as the 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. The ticket to Kaza will cost you only about INR 250 approximately per person. Now, you have two options to travel to Chandratal from Manali by bus or public transport.
Option One | HRTC Bus – Hitchhiking
The first option is a bit tricky and an inconvenient one as well. But, when you want to plan a budget trip to Chandratal lake, you need to improvise and adapt. It will surely be an adventure of one of its kind.
This option requires you to travel by daily HRTC bus running between Manali – Kaza and hitchhiking or taking lifts from other fellow travelers. Let us look at a step by step process on making a cheap budget trip to Chandratal lake.
- When the Manali to Kaza bus reaches Batal, you need to get down at Batal on the way to Kaza which is just before the ascend to Kunzum Pass.
- Before getting down, you need to make sure that you tie up with Conductor of the bus so that he picks you up next morning from the same place. Maybe pay a little tip to conductor will help you ensure he does not forget you 🙂
- At times, the PWD/GREF workers are working on Chandratal diversion road or doing clean-up or repair work on the road from Batal to Chandratal. You need to 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 Batal Dhabhas, most likely.
- You can pay or offer them about INR 150-200 as a tip for the lift as well. This might help to get the same ride back the next day.
- Of course, you can do the Chandratal Lake trek from Batal and be back by evening or the next day/evening. However, it depends upon if you are properly acclimatized to undertake this high altitude trek that early. I will personally not recommend you to take such a trek to Chandratal without proper acclimatization.
- Once you have reached, visit the Chandratal Lake and come back to Batal Dhabha for an overnight stay that will cost you about 150 – 200 per person at Chandra Dhabha at Batal. You should be able to get food and meals will also be very cheap at the dhabha.
- There is also a PWD Rest House now at Batal which will prove just too good if you can negotiate with the PWD caretaker or manage the booking for it. Read the article: How to Book HP PWD Rest Houses or FRHs. Again food or meals you can have at the Batal Chandra Dhabha. Please note that there is no electricity at Batal and PWD Rest House as well. So, carry your power bank or battery charger with you.
- Next Morning, the same HRTC bus which reached last evening to Kaza will be going back from Kaza to Manali journey. Since you may have made the prior arrangements with the conductor, so he might keep the seat or space vacant for you on the bus.
- It takes about 3.5-4 Hrs of Kaza to Manali bus to reach Batal from Kaza. So, if the bus starts from Kaza at 5 AM, then it will reach Batal at about 8-9 AM. You can hop onto this bus and get back to Manali from Chandratal / Batal.
Total Approximate Cost for Chandratal trip from Manali: 500 (Bus) + 400 (Food + Accommodation) + Rs 300 (Tip for Lift) = INR 1200 per person
Please do note down, using this option you are at a mercy of a lift or hitchhike from PWD/GREF workers or other travelers to reach Chandratal Lake from Batal. Otherwise, at worst a trek to Chandratal Lake from Batal and back on your own may be next evening and catch the Kaza to Manali bus a day after. So, play with this option if you are really game for it.
Option Two | HRTC Bus – Bike Rental Kaza / Losar
This option involves traveling to Losar or Kaza from Manali and then renting a bike from a local villager by paying him a tip. Given below are detailed steps to travel from Manali to Chandratal on budget.
This option also requires you to travel by public transport from Manali to Kaza. Hence, you will have to use the same HRTC bus for traveling between Kaza – Manali.
- You should get down at Losar village after crossing Kunzum Pass on the way to Kaza which is about 57 KMs before Kaza. You can plan to travel all the way to Kaza and rent bikes in Kaza.
- Similar to option 1, before getting down, you need to make sure that you tie up with Conductor of the bus so that he picks you up the next morning from the same place. Maybe pay a little tip to conductor will help you ensure he does not forget you 🙂
- Then look out or tie up with some local up 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 unreliable pretty much as sometimes people are afraid to give their own bikes.
- Make a day trip to Chandratal Lake on the bike over Kunzum Pass and come back to Losar. After coming back to Losar from Chandratal, you may return the bike and stay overnight at Losar.
- You can stay with 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 (costs about Rs 500-600 with meals) OR some homestay at Losar village (costs about Rs 400-500 with meals).
- Next Morning, the same HRTC bus which reached last night to Kaza will be going back to Manali from Kaza. Since you have prior arrangements with the conductor, so he may keep the seat or space vacant for you.
- The Kaza to Manali bus will take about 2-2.5 Hrs to reach Losar from Kaza. So, if the bus starts from Kaza at 5 AM, then it will reach Losar at about 7 AM.
- You will travel back from Losar to Manali on the same bus.
Total Approximate Cost: 500 (Bus) + 1500 (Food + Accommodation) + Rs 900 (Bike Rent + Fuel) = INR 2900-3200 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 a complete day excursion to Chandratal Lake for Rs 2000 – 2500 as well. Or you can call a taxi from Kaza to make such a trip. At Losar, there are the only couple of taxis available which might not be available on the day you arrive. So, try your luck before calling other taxi drivers from Kaza.
- 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. This will certainly help us lower down the cost of a trip to Chandratal.
If you are looking for an itinerary for Chandratal lake trek, in general I plan for such a trip to Chandratal lake from Manali.
Download your FREE high-resolution version pdf copy of this most common itinerary for Chandratal trip day by day plan infographic guide. If you like it and find it helpful, please feel free to share it with your family and friends to help them too.
Hence, you can see that even if you go with the convenient option you will be saving a lot of money and plan a trip to Chandratal at a low cost appropriately. Of course, a dedicated private taxi from Manali to Chandratal Lake for two days trip will put a deep hole in your pocket.
You can save this money to have a comfortable stay either at Manali or save it for yourself or execute some DoW Causes or the next trip 🙂 … I hope I am able to suggest or present some of the ideas/ways which can help you make a budget trip to this heavenly, Chandratal Lake, in the cheapest possible way.
Have a travel question?? You can follow me on Instagram and ask your travel questions in a direct message on Instagram too. I also conduct a weekly Q&A session every Saturday evening on Instagram, so see you there.
If you have ever visited this lake or have any suggestions which might help other fellow travelers too then please feel free to leave a comment below and share them with us too.
If you know your friends or family are planning a Chandratal lake budget trip, do share this article with them to help them make a memorable Spiti trip.
who gets great travel deals, tips & updates from Devil On Wheels™ for FREE