How to make a budget trip to Zanskar Valley by public transport in 2020?

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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 by fellow travelers or tourists.

Are you planning a trip to Zanskar Valley by Public Transport?
Are you planning a trip to Zanskar Valley by Public Transport?

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.

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 using public transport.

Trip to Zanskar Valley by Public Transport – An example

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 24000-26000.

So, a question like, if you can make a budget trip to Zanskar Valley by public transport is not surprisingly among the frequently asked questions for a Zanskar Valley trip.

Let me help you plan your upcoming Himalayan sojourn on a budget.

Can I travel solo on a budget Zanskar Valley trip?

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 traveling to Leh – Ladakh by road, it is tough 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 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 Travel Calendar too.

Zanskar Valley Trip by Bus – 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 in Zanskar as well as shared local taxis/jeeps.

Let’s consider a trip similar to Zanskar Valley Most Common Itinerary as an example that covers the road 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 the cost of stay + food (twin sharing basis) at these places. I am assuming you are on a budget trip to Zanskar Valley. Hence, you will be finding the places to stay on the spot and not pre-booking them in advance.

Prayer Flags on my Zanskar Valley Valley budget trip
Prayer Flags on my Zanskar Valley Valley budget trip

Day 1 | Delhi – Jammu

  • Options of travel: There are buses available between Delhi – Jammu costs around Rs 600 as well as Delhi – Srinagar (Sleeper costs around Rs 1700, non-sleeper costs around Rs 1500) but the most preferred economic way to travel to Jammu is by train. You need to pay around Rs 400 for sleeper class in train and around Rs 1000 for the third AC.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 400 by sleeper class in the train.
  • Cost of stay: You will find many budget guesthouses and stays near the bus stand at Jammu ranging from Rs 900 to 1500. So, you can consider Rs 450 – 500 to stay in Jammu.

Hence, at the end of Day 1, the total cost spent on transport & accommodation on your budget trip to Zanskar by public transport is Rs 850 – 900 (Rs 400 + Rs 450 – 500).

Day 2 | Jammu – Patnitop – Srinagar

  • Options of travel: There are plenty of buses running between Jammu and Srinagar. The cost ranges from Rs 650 (tempo travelers, deluxe) to semi-deluxe around Rs 600 to ordinary state transport 52 seater including Marcopolo at around Rs 450. Finding shared taxis from Jammu to Srinagar is also easy from the Gumat taxi stand. They shared taxis running between Jammu – Srinagar charge around Rs 900 per person.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 450 by state transport bus.
  • Cost of stay: You will find many budget guesthouses and stays near Nageen lake or Dal lake or at the backside of dal lake ranging from Rs 800 to 1200. So, you can consider a cost of Rs 400 – 500 to stay in Srinagar.

Hence, at the end of Day 2, the total cost spent on transport & accommodation on your budget Zanskar trip by public transport is Rs 1700 – 1850 ((Rs 850 – 900) + Rs 450 + Rs 400 – 500).

Pro Travel 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.

Day 3 | Srinagar – Sonamarg – Zozi La – Drass – Kargil

  • Options of travel: Plenty of shared taxis and daily buses of JKSRTC run between Srinagar – Zojila – Kargil. Shared taxis to Kargil from Srinagar cost around Rs 800 and the bus ticket between Srinagar and Kargil will cost you about Rs 400.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 400 for Srinagar to Kargil by bus.
  • Cost of stay: You can easily find a guest house in Kargil ranging from Rs 700 to 1000. So, you can consider a cost of Rs 350 – 450 to stay in Kargil.

Hence, at the end of Day 3, the total travel & accommodation cost spent on your budget trip to Zanskar using public transport is Rs 2450 – 2700 ((Rs 1700 – 1850) + Rs 400 + Rs 350 – 450).

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

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 1600.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 1600 for Kargil to Padum by local shared taxi. The bus between Kargil to Padum is not that frequent. Hence, doesn’t rely much on it.
  • Cost of stay: You can easily find a guest house in Padum ranging from Rs 600 to 800. So, you can consider a cost of Rs 300 – 400 to stay in Padum.

Thus by the time Day 4 end, your total travel & accommodation cost on your budget Zansakr Valley trip is Rs 4350 – 4700 ((Rs 2450 – 2700) + Rs 1600 + Rs 300 – 400).

Day 5 and 6 | Local Sightseeing in Padum for a couple of days

  • Options of travel: The cost of local sightseeing in Padum is quite high. Generally, the taxi drivers of the Zanskar taxi union charges are Rs 5000 – 6000 for a full day sightseeing. The day tour includes Zanskar Valley sightseeing to Karsha, Stongde monastery, and Sheela Village Waterfall. If you are interested in Zongkhul Monastery, you need to pay about Rs 4000 extra 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 at about Rs 4500 – 5000 with twin sharing.
  • Cost of travel: Consider Rs 4500-5000 for local sightseeing in Padum on twin sharing.
  • Cost of stay: As mentioned on the day you will reach Padum, the cost of accommodation in Padum will cost around Rs 300 – 400 to stay in Padum.

Hence, at the end of Day 6, the total cost spent on transport & accommodation on your budget trip to Zanskar Valley by public transport is Rs 9450 – 10500 ((Rs 4350 – 4700) + Rs 4500 – 5000 + Rs 600 – 800).

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 1600.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 1600 for Kargil to Padum by local shared taxi. The bus between Kargil to Padum is not that frequent and hence, doesn’t rely much on it.
  • Cost of stay: You can easily find a guest house in Kargil ranging from Rs 700 to 1000. So, you can consider a cost of Rs 350 – 450 to stay overnight in Kargil.

Hence, at the end of Day 7, the total travel & accommodation cost spent on your budget trip to Zanskar using public transport is Rs 11400 – 12550 ((Rs 9450 – 10500) + Rs 1600 + Rs 350 – 450).

Travel 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 800 and the bus ticket between Srinagar and Kargil will cost you about Rs 400.
  • Cost of travel: Rs 400 for Kargil to Srinagar by bus.
  • Cost of stay: You will find many budget guesthouses and stays near Nageen lake or Dal lake or at the backside of dal lake ranging from Rs 700 to 1000. So, you can consider Rs 350 – 400 to stay in Srinagar.

Hence, at the end of Day 8, the total cost spent on transport & accommodation on your budget Zanskar trip using public transport is Rs 12150 – 13350 ((Rs 11400 – 12550) + Rs 400 + Rs 350 – 400).

Travel Tip: Do not forget to check my article on mobile phone connectivity in Zanskar Valley to stay in touch with your family & friends.

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.

Finally, at the end this itinerary, the total cost of transport & accommodation on your trip to Zanskar Valley using public transport is Rs 14650 – 16350 ((Rs 12150 – 13350) + Rs 2500 – 3000).

Zanskar River - Those Aqua  Colors
Zanskar River – Those Aqua Colors

Cost of food for a 9-day budget trip to Zanskar

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 300 – 400 per day on food in Zanskar valley.

Taking this factor into account, the above nine-day road trip to Zanskar Valley may not cost you more than Rs 2700 – 3600 for the food.

Hence, the total cost incurred on your Zanskar valley trip using public transport comes out to be (Rs 14650 – 16350) + (Rs 2700 – 3600) = Rs 17350 – 19950.

By the way, you should always carry your 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 bit !! 🙂 🙂

More Budget Travel Tips

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 under a budget of Rs 20000. If you travel alone by private taxis for Padum local sightseeing to cover Karsha, Zangla Fort, Zongkhul Monastery and Stongde Monastery, then you are looking at Rs 8000 more for that comfort.

Similarly, if you share the taxi with more than two people, the cost can come down there as well furthermore.

It is equally true if you do not opt for local Zanskar sightseeing by taxi rather take shared jeeps or take the lift from tourists and pay them or find other means, you can really decrease this major portion of your budget.

Finally, 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 17350 – 19950 🙂 🙂

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?

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 trip to Zanskar Valley by public transport. You can always tweak this article based on your plan and evaluate the budget for your Zanskar Valley adventure. I am sure, after reading this article, you will feel more confident when traveling to Zanskar Valley using public transport.

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.

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.

In the end, if you know a friend or the 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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Helping travelers, backpackers & tourists in planning memorable trips to the Himalayas - Smartly, Safely, Responsibly and Economically. I am in love with Spreading Smiles in the Himalayas through DoW Causes. You can read more about me in detail by checking out About Me section from the main menu.

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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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