Zanskar Valley will soon be popular among the new breed of adventure lovers who want a peaceful and somewhat unknown place to travel in the remote Himalayas. Whenever a remote place like Zanskar Valley becomes popular, soon people start asking questions like “what is the cost or budget for Zanskar Valley trip?.”
I have always considered this beautiful little 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.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
But, why to visit 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 Leh Ladakh or Spiti Valley as much as I traveled up there almost a decade back on my first trip to these wonderful places in the Himalayas.
Now, people are seeking more and more unknown places in Himachal or Uttarakhand. 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 Instagram or Facebook walls. However, I am happy anyway because locals of these remote villages get business and promotions when anyone asks about traveling to such places in the Himalayas.
Hence, if you are tired of hearing Ladakh or Spiti Valley, get your backpack ready and travel to Suru – Zanskar Valley.
Assumptions for the budget of Zanskar Trip
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 for any trip, including Zanskar Valley, depends a lot from person to person. The cost can be estimated only based upon some widely accepted assumptions because taste & the definition is a matter of personal preference only.
Hence, I request you not to hold me in these assumptions that do not match your expectations. However, I am pretty sure that this article will help you estimate a fair budget for Zanskar Valley trip.
The general cost of stay & food in Zanskar
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 150-200 per night or Rs 400-500 at a homestay. Then there are moderate budget hotels or guest houses in Zanskar Valley ranging from Rs 900 – 1500.
There are only a couple of high standards hotels which can cost you about Rs 4000 – 5000 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 🙂 …
Travel Tip: You may be interested to give a read to my detailed article on How to plan a journey to Zanskar Valley?
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 based on the choice of accommodation and food with which the majority of people will be kind of OK.
What is the budget of Zanskar Valley Trip?
To estimate the cost of the Zanskar Valley trip, we will consider the most popular itinerary for Zanskar Valley as a baseline plan. This basic itinerary covers all major tourist destinations of Zanskar Valley. It is followed widely by many travelers, including me, but you can always alter it to 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.
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 !! 🙂 🙂
Zanskar Itinerary to consider for the cost of the trip
In this exercise, I will be estimating the budget or cost for the following Zanskar road 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)
So, you can see for our sample Zanskar Valley itinerary we have taken eight days (without any buffer days). If you are not traveling to Zanskar 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 the budget can be calculated on a twin/triple sharing basis. The article is divided into two parts to keep it simple.
1. Food + Accommodation + Miscellaneous Budget of Ladakh Trip
If I consider that you will be OK with decent comfort and reasonable budget accommodation, then the average cost per day for food, accommodation and other miscellaneous things like toll, permit fees, entry fees to monasteries, etc. comes about Rs 1200 – 1400 per day on twin sharing basis.
This trip will need eight days, so roughly you will be spending some Rs 9600 – 11200 per person for food, accommodation, and other miscellaneous expenditures. Please note that the Rs 1200 – 1400 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 Padum or Zanskar Valley.
An example could be, if you dine at a dhabha shack, then the cost of the meal will come out to be around Rs 50 only per person. But for the same meal if you eat at your hotel, then you might pay Rs 150 – Rs 200 per person or maybe more. Vegetarian or Non-Vegetarian choices also matter for food pricing, so take that too into account.
The same logic applies to the different activities, and here I have considered, which are unavoidable, such as toll, permit charges, entry fees, snacks, etc. If you are going camping, rafting, mountain biking, shopping, etc.. then that will surely be something additional for you.
Travel Tip: Always inform your family and friends about your travel plans in the Himalayas. Do not forget to check my article on the tips for mobile connectivity in Zanskar Valley.
2. Mode of Transportation Cost of Zanskar Trip
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 have already covered the topic of making a trip to Zanskar Valley on public transport in my next article.
In this article, we can consider a few options like hiring a private taxi, renting a self-drive car or bike, or driving / riding your vehicle to Zanskar Valley. Let’s look at 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 for transport.
Pro Travel 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 km for this sample Zanskar Valley trip from Srinagar to Srinagar. So, if your bike gives a mileage of about 25 KMPL on average in hills and 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 the 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 9600 – 11200) + (Rs 3400 – 3700) + (Rs 3500 – 4000)) = (Rs 16500 – 18900)) as the total budget for Zanskar Valley trip by your own bike. In case you are traveling in 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 9600 – 11200) + (Rs 3400 – 3700) + (Rs 3500 – 4000)) = (Rs 16500 – 18900)) as the total budget for Zanskar Valley trip by your own car.
Again, it is just an example, and with the 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 vehicle as well.
If you consider Delhi as a 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 the overall budget and remove the cost of Delhi – Srinagar – Delhi flight.
Self-Drive or Self Ride But Rented Bike or Car
Here, the cost of fuel would be the 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 25300 – 29300.
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 the 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, the total cost will be Rs 46000 which is 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 9600 – 11200) + (Rs 9200) + (Rs 3500 – 4000)) = (Rs 22300 – 24400)) 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 than on the 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 the group)
Assuming you plan to travel to Zanskar Valley by shared taxis run by tour operators or join with other travel partners to share the cost or public transport then you are looking at about Rs 14000 – 16000 approximately.
If you further plan to travel within Zanskar Valley by public transport then this figure as well will go down further considerably. However, at the same time, you may be required to stay for a longer period adjusting to the schedule of these public buses which means an increase in lodging + food costs.
Finally, taking food + accommodation into account, traveling shared taxis (or public transport or along with travel partners) in Zanskar and reaching Padum in public/shared transport, you are looking at about ((Rs 14000 – 16000) + (Rs 2500 – 3000) = Rs 16500 – 19000) as the total cost for the entire Zanskar trip in 9 days.
In the end, do not forget to check some of the most important tips for planning a budget trip to Zanskar Valley.
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 itinerary too.
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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.
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