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How to calculate cost or budget for Zanskar Valley trip?

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Zanskar Valley will soon be popular among the new breed of adventure lovers who want a peaceful and somewhat unknown place to travel. Whenever a remote place like Zanskar Valley becomes popular, soon the questions like “what is the budget for Zanskar Valley trip?” starts being asked by travelers/tourists. I have always considered this little beautiful place of the trans-Himalayas as a wonderland because it offers some of the most heavenly views you will ever witness. When you witness Zanskar Valley, you experience the lush green meadows, aqua color rivers meandering through the daunting mountains and tons of high altitude treks including the famous trek of Phuktal Monastery.

Prayer Flags in Zanskar Valley

Prayer Flags in Zanskar Valley

Ladakh and Spiti Valley have become quite popular in recent years and every summer thousands of people travel in seek of adventure to these places. In social media, you will very often come across statements (I call bragging ;)) like, well, “Ladakh is being done by everyone & I need something new” or “Spiti Valley, Aah?? I have done it, buddy, five times. Give me a break as I seek something new & interesting”. Hmmm, well, I can relate to the feeling but guys I am a bit old school introvert kind of desi guy. I still love to go to Ladakh or Spiti Valley as much as I traveled up there almost 8-9 years back on my first trips to these wonderful places in the Himalayas. Now, people are seeking more and more unknown places. Some of them are real travelers looking for secluded places to spend time away from hustle bustle while others want to brag them all over the Facebook walls. However, I am happy anyway because locals of these remote villages get business and promotion when anyone asks about traveling to such places in the Himalayas.

In this article today, I am going to talk about how you can calculate a rough cost or budget for Zanskar Valley trip. In my opinion, the budget of any trip including Zanskar Valley depends on a lot from person to person. The cost can be estimated only based upon some widely accepted assumptions because taste & definition is a matter of personal preference only. Hence, I request you not to hold me in these assumptions does not match your expectations 😛 … However, I am pretty sure that this article will definitely help you estimate a fair budget for Zanskar Valley trip.

You must understand that in Zanskar Valley you can opt between a wide variety of options depending on your choice of comfort, luxury, taste, road conditions and season of travel. You can get a stay for a low cost at some dhabha shack for Rs 125 per night or Rs 250-400 at a homestay. Then there are moderate budget hotels or guest houses in Zanskar Valley ranging in from Rs 700 – 1200. There are only couple of high standards hotels which can cost you about Rs 3000 – 4000 per night. When it comes to food, there is no difference because of course, a dal-rice-roti will cost much less than a pizza or pasta. Well, with food, it also depends upon more importantly where you want to eat and drink as well 🙂 …

As you now understand that there are many variables of personal perspective and choices in play when you estimate a budget for a trip. Hence, it is not that simple to accurately call out the cost or budget for any trip including Zanskar Valley. However, still, I will try to sketch a basic average budget analysis for a trip to Zanskar Valley based on the choice of accommodation and food with which majority of people will be kind of OK.

Are you interested to plan a trip to Zanskar Valley? Well, you must read my article on How to plan a journey to Zanskar Valley?

Cost or Budget for Zanskar Valley Trip

In order to estimate the budget for Zanskar Valley trip, we will consider the most common itinerary for Zanskar Valley as a baseline plan. This basic itinerary covers all major tourist destinations of Zanskar Valley and is followed widely by many travelers including me but you can always alter it suit yourself (in case of itinerary questions, leave them here)… You should note that any trip to Zanskar Valley with less than 8-9 days in hand is not that worth the time else you want to be just on bumpy roads.

Colours of Padum

Colours of Padum

In this exercise, I will be estimating the budget or cost for the following Zanskar Valley trip. You can roughly estimate yourself that for a similar trip or based on your point of interest, what will be the approximate cost or budget for your own Zanskar Valley trip. In case, you are following the same or similar plan, then this article is all that you need 🙂 🙂 …

  • Day 1 | Delhi – Srinagar (By Fight) – Kargil
  • Day 2 | Kargil – Rangdum – Padum
  • Day 3 | Rest day at Padum and Zongkhul Monastery
  • Day 4 | Padum – Stongde – Zang La Fort – Karsha – Padum
  • Day 5 | Padum – Penzi La Pass – Rangdum
  • Day 6 | Rangdum – Parkachik – Sankoo – Kargil / Drass
  • Day 7 | Kargil / Drass – Zojila Pass – Sonamarg – Srinagar
  • Day 8 | Srinagar – Delhi (By Flight)

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 and you can help save the Himalayas too !! 🙂 🙂

So, you can see for our sample Zanskar Valley itinerary we have taken 8 days (without any buffer days). If you are not traveling by public transport, then the cost of traveling alone will always be high. Hence, you need to maintain a balanced group to divide the cost evenly. In my experience, if you travel in a group of 4-5 people, the overall cost is evenly balanced with the comfort of traveling in private taxis or self – drive cars. So, in this article as well, I will assume that you guys are five in number so that budget can be calculated on twin/triple sharing basis. The article is divided in two parts to keep it simple.

Remains of a glacier in Zanskar Valley

Remains of a glacier in Zanskar Valley

1. Food + Accommodation + Miscellaneous

If I consider that you will be OK with a decent comfort and moderate budget accommodation then the average cost per day for food, accommodation and other misc. things like toll, permit fees, entry fees to monasteries etc. comes about Rs 1000 – 1300 per day on twin sharing basis. This trip will need 8 days, so roughly you will be spending some Rs 8000 – 10400 per person for food, accommodation and other misc. expenditures. Please note that Rs 1000 – 1300 range could be a low budget for someone and a little high for the others depending upon the choice of stay and food or other activities you plan to do in Zanskar Valley.

Example could be, if you dine at a dhabha shack then the cost of meal will come out to be around Rs 50 only per person and the same meal if you take at your hotel then you might pay Rs 150 – Rs 200 per person or maybe more 🙂 … Vegetarian or Non-Vegetarian also matters with respect to food pricing, so take that too into account. The same logic applies to the miscellaneous activities and here I have considered only which are unavoidable such as toll, permit charges, entry fees, snacks etc. If you are going to camping, rafting, mountain biking, shopping, etc.. then that will surely be something additional for you.

The twin lakes of Penzi La Pass

The twin lakes of Penzi La Pass

2. Mode of Transportation

Transportation is the biggest portion of the budget in any long trip. Using public transport for your Zanskar Valley trip is also a viable and very economical option especially the hitchhikes. However, I will cover the topic of making a trip to Zanskar Valley on public transport in my next article :)… In this article, we can consider few options like hiring a private taxi, renting a self-drive car or bike or driving / riding your own vehicle to Zanskar Valley. Let’s look each one of them below to get an idea of the total budget for Zanskar Valley trip.

As you will be flying in and out of Srinagar, we can assume the average cost of a return flight from Srinagar to Delhi is around Rs 3500 – 4000. Sometimes, you get a good deal around Rs 3000 too. So, this cost will be added to all the options of transport.

Pro Tip: If you are doing a self drive to Zanskar Valley, then make sure to read my article on 40 Must Have Things to Carry on a Self Drive Trip to the Himalayas

Self-Drive Own Private Vehicle – Bike or Car

You will be traveling about 1100-1200 KMs for this sample Zanskar Valley trip from Srinagar to Srinagar. So, if your bike gives a mileage of about 25 KMPL on an average in hills + plains then you are looking for about Rs 3400 – 3700 for fuel roughly. Similarly, you can calculate if you are driving the car. Just keep in mind that in hills your car will give much lesser mileage than in plains. So, calculate accordingly and divide them among the people traveling in the car to calculate per person cost. Most people prefer to ride to Zanskar Valley without a pillion on a bike, so cost is calculated singularly.

Finally, taking food + accommodation into account, traveling to Ladakh by self-drive mode of transport, you are looking at about ((Rs 8000 – 10400) + (Rs 3400 – 3700) + (Rs 3500 – 4000)) = (Rs 14900 – 18100)) as the total budget for Zanskar Valley trip by your own bike. In case you are traveling by your own car with four people in the car, well you are looking at Rs 2200 approximately per person for the fuel. So, you are looking at about ((Rs 8000 – 10400) + (Rs 2200) + (Rs 3500 – 4000)) = (Rs 13700 – 16600)) as the total budget for Zanskar Valley trip by your own car.

Again, it is just an example and with self ride, it is possible to transport your bike to Srinagar but the car will be troublesome to transport. Hence, add the cost of travel to Srinagar by your own vehicle as well. If you consider Delhi as starting point, then you are looking at about 2000 KMs of travel over four days. Hence, a cost of about Rs 9000 should be added in such a case to overall budget and remove the cost of Delhi – Srinagar – Delhi flight.

Those views as you approach Rangdum

Those views as you approach Rangdum

Self-Drive or Self Ride But Rented Bike or Car

Here, cost of fuel would be same as for a self-drive private vehicle calculated above but you will be adding the cost of bike/car rent as well. Usually, you get a decent bike in good condition at around Rs 1100 – 1300 per day depending on the make and model of the bike you rent. So, the cost of rent only comes out to be around Rs 8800 – 10400. Adding the fuel and accommodation cost as calculated in our previous option, the total cost here becomes approximately about Rs 23700 – 28500. Please note that this cost can go down if you are sharing expenses with a pillion on the bike. You will not find self-drive car rentals in Srinagar. Hence, the itinerary changes in case you rent the car from Delhi and Chandigarh. You can apply the maths as per example shared in this article.

If you are planning to get a rental bike then please check the tips mentioned in the article How to Hire or Rent a Bike or Motorcycle. The topic covers Manali Bike Rentals but most of the tips mentioned in the article are equally applicable for renting bikes anywhere.

Privately Hired Taxi for Zanskar Valley trip

We will consider the cost of the taxi from Srinagar to Padum to Srinagar. Srinagar to Kargil and back to Srinagar will cost about Rs 14000. Then, Kargil to Padum and drop back to Kargil will cost about Rs 26000. Local sightseeing for two days in Padum will cost about Rs 6000. So, total cost will be Rs 46000 which divided among five people is Rs 9200 per person.

Again, taking food + accommodation into account, traveling by privately hired taxi for Zanskar Valley and reaching Leh in public/shared transport, you are looking at about ((Rs 8000 – 10400) + (Rs 9200) + (Rs 3500 – 4000)) = (Rs 20700 – 23600)) as the total budget for Zanskar Valley trip.

You can get about 12-15% of discount by directly getting in touch with drivers and of course, talking in person rather on phone always help in bargaining more. You can call the local drivers directly to connect with them and check the more comprehensive List of Taxi Drivers for Ladakh – Srinagar – Leh – Manali with recommendations/reviews for DoW community members.

Shared Taxis or Public Transport or Travel Partners (in group)

I will cover this topic in detail in my next article of the Zanskar Valley series.

A creek in Zanskar Valley

A creek in Zanskar Valley

Conclusion

I hope the above article helps you calculate your budget for Zanskar Valley trip. I understand that the above estimation is based upon a sample common itinerary for Zanskar Valley but I am sure it will prove helpful with your own itinerary too. Feel free to post any questions in the Ask A Question section of the website or using the ASK YOUR TRAVEL QUESTION BELOW form available below.

I will look forward to hearing about your own perspective/tips budget for Zanskar Valley trip as well. Kindly, share your valuable thoughts/feedback/inputs etc. in the comments section below which may help many other fellow travelers reading this article. 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 🙂 .

Are you looking for the CUSTOMIZED TOURS?? Get in touch with our our handpicked & trusted Destination Specialists from the Himalayas who offer SPECIAL DISCOUNTED RATES to all the readers/followers of the Devil On Wheels website.


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You can call me an avid traveler, a day-night dreamer and a passionate lover of the Himalayas who has a high zest for driving whilst exploring new places in the 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 ...

5 Comments

  1. Sabyasachi Patra on

    Interesting info Dheeraj!

    Two of us will be planning to do a leisurely trip this year to explore the places better. Your info is helpful.

  2. Hello Dheeraj , there is no logic in calculating expenses of transportation inTotality !y ,I tell you,.When I went to Padum I have planned to visit 4-5 monastery which is in approximate perimeter of 15-kms off from Padum .One is Karsa which can be done without any transportation and can be reach in walking.But finding sharing taxis or any mode of other transportation is very difficult and also very hazardous as the tourist are accompanied with guide, who is well accustomed to inner route leading to en-route us to most magnificent monasteries.For which either cycling or walking with tourist guide expenses are not mentioned in your description.Second- I think you would be person if you take some sources of information from Padum travel guide/locals about this (ISOLATED )monasteries road and with on rent hired cycles or bikes cost which I liked in your next briefing you initiate this vital topics and mention us.

    • Pharhad, these are some very interesting add-on and yes I wanted to cover them when I would be writing the next article on How to travel to Zanskar Valley by public transport. But, I will also add the mentions of walking and cycling too in this one to get some perspective.

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