Let us look at some of the most common questions asked on my blog about making a trip to Spiti Valley. I am starting this series of Spiti Valley FAQs to answer all your qu2estions about planning a successful trip to Spiti Valley.
It will be easy for me to redirect you to the right question and its answer in these articles instead of repeating the same answers again and again in the comments section of various blog articles on this website.
I will also keep updating this Spiti Valley FAQ series with new questions in case I have missed answering any and also keep my answers fresh with updated information about preparing for a trip to Spiti Valley.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
This section should answer all your questions related to the planning aspects of a trip to Spiti Valley. Once, you go through these questions you will understand how you can easily plan for your upcoming Leh Ladakh trip.
Spiti Valley is located in Himachal in the Lahaul and Spiti District and essentially, there are two routes of reaching Spiti Valley by road.
One goes via Kinnaur, with the route being Shimla – Narkanda – Rampur – Powari – Spillow – Khab bridge – Nako – Chango – Sumdo – Tabo – Kaza. This route passes through the Hindustan Tibet Highway (NH22). After Sumdo, it is Spiti Valley.
The other route to reach Spiti is to take the route via Manali, that is, Manali – Rohtang pass – Gramphu – Chhatru – Chota Dhara – Batal – Kunzum La – Losar – Kaza.
The road to Spiti via Shimla remains open almost throughout the year (except those days when there are landslides that need to be cleared). The road to Spiti via Manali remains open only 5-6 months in a year, while the BRO clears the snow on Rohtang and Kunzum pass and throws it open for traffic.
Public transport is available on both the routes and buses run during the season, while taxis are the most preferred option. If you are driving on your own, do note that roads are bad to worse in many stretches on both routes. Manali – Kaza road is called one of the toughest and most adventurous roads in the world.
If you are looking to travel by flight or train, Delhi and Chandigarh are the most convenient/major airports or railway stations from where you can start the Spiti Valley road trip. There’s also an airport in Jubbarhatti near Shimla and a railway station in Shimla. On Manali side, there’s an airport as well in Kullu (Bhuntar).
Starting from Delhi, if you travel to Spiti Valley from Kinnaur side, it will take you three days to reach Spiti. And if you travel to Spiti Valley from Manali side, it will take you two days to reach Spiti or come back from it.
Hence, if you are planning a complete circuit, that is going from Shimla – Kinnaur side and coming back from Manali side, then you need just 5 days to reach Spiti and come back.
So, if you want to enjoy the beauty of the place, you will need a minimum of 8-9 days to give decent coverage of Spiti Valley and Kinnaur Valley. Anything less would be an injustice to Spiti Valley’s beauty. You can spend more time in Spiti Valley if you have extra days.
Since you may not return to Spiti many times, it makes sense to cover the circuit starting from the Shimla-Kinnaur side and the exit from Manali side. It will need at least 8-9 days from Delhi / Chandigarh.
Planning your Spiti Valley trip is simple, but first, you’ll have to determine the number of days you have in hand, the starting point of your trip, and the mode of transport.
Once you’ve sorted this out, chalk out the itinerary accordingly. Do also consider the season for travel and whether roads to Spiti will be open at that time or not. Please also consider AMS issues while you plan your Spiti Valley itinerary so that you don’t end up spoiling your whole trip.
For help on the Spiti trip itinerary, you can have a look at our well-balanced day by day 10 days itinerary to get a complete idea. Or, you can always post on our DoW blog or Instagram to get suggestions from experts.
Talk to your taxi driver (if going by taxi), discuss the itinerary with him, and finalize it. You can also have a look at our blog and community forums for recommended taxi drivers in Spiti Valley as well as good places to stay.
7-8 days will be a decent time to cover Spiti. Though you may not be able to cover the entire Kinnaur Valley (Sangla, Chitkul, Kalpa, Nako) and also the entire Spiti Valley (Tabo, Dhangkar, Kaza, Chandratal). But, you can cover the bulk of it in a balanced way.
If you want to travel from Shimla – Kinnaur side to Spiti, you can try itinerary like:
If approaching from Manali side, you can try an itinerary like:
The short answer to the question is “Yes, you can do it.” However, does it make any sense to do such a short trip to Spiti Valley?
If you want to be on the roads the entire day, then maybe you can attempt such a trip as it takes 5 days from Delhi just to complete the circuit of Shimla – Spiti Valley – Manali. As I mentioned, it’s not impossible but it is not worth it.
You will not be able to cover many places in Spiti Valley. It will just be touch and go and merely checking the box exercise. If you are planning a Spiti trip in 4-5 days only, then you should just do Spiti from Manali side or else stick to only Kinnaur Valley trip.
If you travel to Spiti from Manali side, you can reach up to Kaza on Day 2, stay a day in Kaza for sightseeing. Then while returning, you can visit the magnificent Chandratal lake and return to Manali in 4-5 days.
Do note that these plans will be very taxing on your body, and you are more likely to fall prey to AMS. Hence, do take adequate precautions and follow the tips of acclimatization.
No, I will not recommend planning a Spiti Valley trip in 2-3 days or a weekend at all !! Well, with all the time to travel to Spiti and the acclimatization that you need, you’ll ruin your trip. You will also risk your life by doing so.
Spiti is a high-altitude region where the average altitude is 3000+ meters. You will not acclimatize properly with such a rushed journey. In just 2-3 days, you’ll not have time to cover any tourist place in Spiti properly, and therefore, it is not at all advised.
Just to reach Kaza in Spiti Valley from Manali side, you need 2 days and then again 2 days to come back. So, you can see that just for touching and coming back, you need at least 4 days.
So, you need at least 5 days to make at least one rest day in Kaza, Spiti Valley. PLEASE DO NOT plan such a short trip to Spiti Valley.
I do not even recommend visiting Chandratal lake in 3 days or on weekends because of the high altitude of Chandratal lake (14000 feet) and the long taxing journey on Manali – Chandratal road.
Of course, it sounds like you can travel from Delhi to Manali on Day 1, then Manali to Chandratal on Day 2. Then on Day 3, you can start the journey back from Chandratal to Manali early in the morning to take the later afternoon HPTDC Volvo back to Delhi.
But, you cannot acclimatize to such a high altitude by spending only one night in Manali. And keep in mind that the journey over Manali – Kaza road is quite treacherous. So, with a non-acclimatized and fatigued body, you cannot ask for more to get into trouble with AMS.
Hence, plan a Chandratal trip with at least 5 days in hand for a relaxing and less AMS-prone trip.
You’ll need to consider various factors before you decide on which route you want to take. In terms of beauty, both the routes have their charm and it would be an injustice to Himachal to say that one road is better than the other.
If you take into consideration the acclimatization perspective, it is always better to travel the Kinnaur road to Kaza, since you will gain altitude gradually thereby reducing the chances of AMS. In the Manali Kaza road, you gain altitude rapidly, since the very next night after Manali (2000m) you’ll spend at Chandratal (4250m) or Kaza (3800m) which could prove fatal.
The next thing to take into consideration is the season in which you are traveling – the road from Manali is open only for 4-5 months between June to Oct. However, the road from Kinnaur is open for almost most of the year (save those days where it is closed due to landslides).
You should also consider that if you are traveling from Manali side, you will need permits to cross Rohtang, which may prove painful sometimes. If you are coming from the Kinnaur side (or exiting from Manali), no such permits are required.
The route you choose also depends on the number of days in hand. If you are tight on the days you have and badly want to reach Spiti, then better to choose the Manali side. From the Manali side, you can reach Kaza in a day, whereas, from the Kinnaur side, it will take you at least 2 days.
Mid-June to early October is considered as the ‘season’ to visit Spiti. This time window is because the high mountain passes including, Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass, are cleared of snow and thrown open for traffic at that time.
The weather is also pleasant, and Spiti, being in the rain shadow region, is not affected much by monsoon rains. The temperature throughout the day is bearable and light woolens are sufficient for traveling to Spiti from the middle of June to September.
But a lot also depends on what you want to see in Spiti – if snow is what you are looking for, December to March or April may be the best time to witness a fully white Spiti. Be prepared though, to brave the bone-chilling cold, pack heavy woolens, thermals, socks, gloves, caps, (and a room heater if you can!!) and what not !! It will be very tough and not that easy.
If you want a mix of Snow filled conditions and still bearable cold, then May – June months are the best time to visit Spiti Valley. However, Manali – Kaza road will not be open during this time.
If you want to enjoy the adventure of both Manali – Kaza road and Shimla – Kaza road to complete the Spiti circuit, then it is always best to travel in June and July before monsoon pours in Northern India. You may also choose September – early October to enjoy a pleasant road trip to Spiti Valley.
If you are looking for those fresh juicy Spiti Apples (which are mostly exported and hardly we get to eat), then again September – October will be the best time to visit Spiti Valley.
If the fall or autumn colors are what you want to witness, then October is the best time to visit Spiti for such beautiful colors. I like autumn colors, so this is my best preference. Being at the end of the season, the number of tourists is less, few hotels are still open, room rents and the lower end.
Depending on when you chose to visit Spiti, you may have to select the route. You can read this detailed article on what is the best time to travel to Spiti Valley with a month-by-month guide.
Spiti lies in the rain shadow region and therefore, receives very little to no rainfall. However, in recent times, the region has witnessed some strong rainfall as well. Also, you should not forget that you will have to travel in the lower hills of Himachal to travel to Spiti Valley.
Having said that, definitely one can travel to Spiti in August or during monsoons. But the only problem is that one may have to brave the rainfall and hassles caused by it until one reaches Spiti. That is, in the Kinnaur region and up to Manali, you may have to face rainfall and associated landslides, and consequent road closures for sure.
If you are attempting from Manali side, there could be heavy rains in Manali and also to Batal and maybe even beyond. But still, the monsoon in Spiti can offer its unique beauty if you want to brave the travel.
If you are traveling by motorcycle, I’d advise you to avoid Spiti during monsoon, or else take necessary precautions by packing your luggage (and yourself) in layers!!
Do NOT forget to check these tips on traveling to Spiti Valley in August or monsoon time.
Winter is that part of the year where all the high altitude mountain passes in the Himalayas get closed due to snowfall, therefore you should take into account this factor. Essentially this means that the route through Manali – Rohtang pass – Kunzum La will be closed. You can reach Spiti Valley only from Shimla / Kinnaur side in winters.
But this time is also the season where there’s snow all around in Kinnaur and Spiti Valley. If you’re driving on your own, take necessary precautions and maybe a snow chain could be helpful. If you’re in a taxi, make sure the taxi driver is accustomed to driving in snow and knows the area well. It would be a delight to see frozen nallas on the road, icicles, and to just take in the white beauty all around you in Spiti Valley.
It is going to be bone-chilling literally (temperatures dropping to even -20 degrees centigrade). So make sure you pack enough warm clothes and wear them in multiple layers.
Do take sufficient cash with you, as the ATM in Kaza may run out of cash at any moment. Let people at home know that they shouldn’t be worried if they don’t hear from you for 2-3 days as the BSNL signal could be sporadic.
Do not forget to read a comprehensive guide on how to make a trip to Spiti Valley in winter.
As you know, a trip to Spiti valley is not just a trip there – it’s the whole route to get into Spiti and out of it that makes the trip worthwhile. So the entire route to Spiti and return is covered with multiple places to see.
Below is a list of places you can see on your way from Shimla side to Kaza and onward towards Manali. (I have left out the places you can see in the touristy places of Shimla and around & Manali and around, which you can get from any travel portal like TripAdvisor etc.,).
If you’re visiting Spiti from the Manali side, just reverse the list 😉
The route via Shimla is filled with multiple places to see and visit. Leaving out the popular ones like Kufri, Fagu, Mashorba, Chail, etc., the following are the places:
Though many people avoid the Manali Kaza highway due to acclimatization and other reasons, many prefer it since you can reach Kaza in just a day. Apart from Solang valley, Rani nallah, etc., the places one can see on this route (in the order in which they come) are:
Q15. What are the good hotels to stay in Spiti Valley?
Q16. What are the good places to eat in Spiti Valley?
Spiti Valley is situated in the trans-Himalayan region and the average altitude is 3500 meters plus. Therefore, there’s limited oxygen at such high altitudes and one will find shortness of breath or breathlessness if engaging in physical activities like running or even just a fast walk.
But this is a phenomenon that is associated with any person and not just a person with Asthma. However, a person suffering from Asthma may be more prone to this compared to a normal person.
This does not mean that a person suffering from Asthma cannot visit Spiti. Do not smoke or drink and acclimatize well. One, of course, has to take care of AMS and its syndromes (more here – link) and take necessary precautions. This advice is general only and please consult your doctor before the trip.
Spiti Valley is situated in the trans-Himalayan region and the average altitude is 3500 meters plus. Therefore, there’s limited oxygen at such high altitudes and one will find shortness of breath or breathlessness if engaging in physical activities like running or even just a fast walk. But this is a phenomenon that is associated with any person and not necessarily those with hypertension.
It is advisable to consult your doctor before embarking on the trip. Acclimatize well and avoid smoking and drinking on the trip. Please also take care of AMS and its syndromes (more here – link) and take necessary precautions.
Well, this one is tough to answer. If you normally take your pet on road trips, then you should consider going ahead. No one else will know your pet other than you, so please keep looking for any symptoms of uneasiness (or crankiness), continued barking, vomiting, etc., which should immediately tell you that your pet is uneasy.
Animals are as much prone to AMS as are humans, so keep a close watch. Having said that, I know a couple who travel everywhere with their dog – including Ladakh and Spiti in their car. So the short answer to the question is, Yes, go ahead.
The word ‘Old age’ is subjective and definitely, there can be no restriction on them visiting Spiti. If they are physically fit, then you should go ahead and not be too worried. Sometimes, youngsters like us fall sick and the old people are just fine. So it is not about age – anyone can anytime fall prey to AMS.
You need to make sure that your aged parents are not physically weak. Anything can happen in the mountains at any time and you should be prepared for road closures or being stuck in a place for 2-3 days. It would also be a good idea to acclimatize well (perhaps, have extra days for acclimatization) and to keep hydrated.
We recommend that you go through our detailed articles “List of things to carry when you go on a trip” here and also “Tips for Carrying Clothes for Spiti Valley Trip” here for a comprehensive list of things to carry. A small indicative list of things that you need on a trip to Spiti (apart from your tickets to get in and get out) is listed below :
Toiletry: Soap, shampoo, toothpaste and brush, sanitizer, Deodrants, facewash, comb, toilet tissue, moisturizer, sunscreen, lip guard, shaving cream and razor, feminine hygiene
Medical/medicines: thermometer, pulse oximeter, band-aid, medicines for common symptoms such as cold, fever, headache, vomiting, stomach upset, pain killers; Diamox (for AMS related), Avomine (for motion sickness)
Eatables: dry fruits and nuts, snacks, chocolates, chikki / granola bars, etc
General: sunglasses, swiss knife, multiplug, plastic bags (for wet/dirty clothes), old newspapers.
Spiti valley lies in the trans-Himalayan region, and the terrain is challenging, to say the least. Therefore, if you are there on a self-drive trip, it’s all the more important to be well equipped with the things you need – check our article on ‘40 Must-Have Things to Carry on Ladakh Self Drive Trip’ here.
Below is a summarised list of things you need when on a self-drive trip to Spiti:
For your vehicle:
The Clothes that you carry on your Spiti valley trip mostly depend on the season/month in which you are traveling. While you can read our article “Tips for Carrying Clothes for Spiti Valley Trip” here, a few pointers are below
Spiti valley is in the trans-Himalayan region, where the altitude can reach as much as 4500metres. At such altitudes, the availability of oxygen is low, and therefore, there’s a need to acclimatize properly before staying at such altitude. Do read our article on AMS here and do not ignore any symptoms.
While carrying an oxygen can or cylinder is not mandatory, carrying one will help. Please note that oxygen from the cylinder is not a remedy or cure – it can only help you sustain for some time, and if situations persist, immediately descend, or it could prove to be fatal. You should also carry a pulse oximeter for whatever it is worth so that you can monitor the oxygen content in your body.
The oxygen ‘cans’ are one-time use and throw and cost around 600-900 rupees. It makes sense to carry them from your city. The larger ones are cylinders that can be ‘rented’ and returned, and due to their weight, you should get them at Chandigarh or Shimla.
Here are a few reasons in favor of carrying oxygen along:
The whole of the Spiti region lies in the Trans Himalayas and establishing ATMs is a difficult task. Even if there are ATMs, getting cash and refilling cash in the ATMs is something that’s a problem, especially in winter months when roads are closed from Manali side. Having said that, note that Kaza, the district headquarters of the Spiti region has an ATM of the State Bank of India.
As we mentioned earlier, there is an ATM, but its functioning is not guaranteed. Apart from cash not being available in the ATM, the ATM will not function when there’s a power outage or when there’s a network connectivity problem. There is also an SBI ATM in Tabo, but hardly works!
If you are coming from the Shimla side, better to have your ATM transactions done at either Shimla itself or Rampur or Reckong Peo. Peo has 6-7 ATMs. There an SBI ATM in Sangla and a PNB ATM in Kalpa. Beyond Kalpa is the most non-functional ATM at Tabo, and then the SBI one a Kaza. Beyond Kaza, the next one is at Manali.
As we mentioned in response to Q26, it is better to have sufficient cash with you when on a Spiti trip and not rely on ATMs because many times, the ATMs do not have connectivity or do not have cash. It is better to budget the cash requirement and carry enough cash from your hometown or at Shimla or Manali before getting into Spiti.
You will need cash mainly for taxi/ driver, food, and accommodation. There’s not too much to shop in Spiti anyway, so you’re covered 😉 … For food and accommodation, you can safely budget around 1000 per head per day (it should be around 750 to 800, but 1000 to be on the safer side).
For the driver, you will anyway know the figure beforehand, so you can carry that cash or maybe, if your driver is ok, you can do an online transfer to him. Keep a buffer of 5000/- should you need it for any emergencies.
Before you decide whether to take your laptop to Spiti Valley, ask yourself the question of whether it is necessary to do so – after all, you are on a holiday trying to escape the mad routine.
If you think you can catch up on some pending office work, do note that the internet is sporadic and you may not be able to do it. If you are carrying it just to transfer pictures, it would make more sense to carry extra memory cards rather than risk carrying a laptop and it getting crushed or lost.
If you decide that you need your laptop for whatever reason, please adhere to the following to ensure its safety:
Spiti valley shares an international border with Tibet (China-TAR) and falls in the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime. However, unlike Ladakh or Sikkim, you don’t have any special permits as such.
When you enter Spiti, you will have to make an entry (at Sumdo if coming from Shimla side OR at Losar, if coming from Manali side), and if demanded, produce your government ID like passport, Voters ID, etc, to show you are an Indian citizen. If you are a foreign national, then you will need a Protected Area Permit (PAP) to enter Spiti.
You can get your PAP from Shimla if you are coming from that side. Else, you can get it from Kaza if you come via the Manali side. Apart from this, you do not need any permit to visit Spiti. For more details on Spiti PAP, please read here.
Please note, though, if you are planning to enter Spiti via Manali, your vehicle needs a permit to cross Rohtang Pass. You can obtain the permit online also. Read more on this here
Spiti is one of the most remote regions in Himachal and therefore public transport is the lifeline for locals. With taxi fare being in the range of 3500 per day, public transport is also a preferred option for budget travelers and makes sense if you are only 1-2 people.
The important thing while traveling to Spiti by public transport is that you should chalk out your itinerary around the bus timings and have 2 spare days at least, in case any bus gets canceled or if you miss a bus. You can go through our detailed article on traveling to various places in Spiti using the bus or shared cab here, however, the same is summarized below:
If you are starting from the Shimla side, get from Delhi to Shimla. From Shimla, there is a direct bus to Kaza at 6 AM only during the season. Take this and get down wherever you want. If traveling in the off-season, then get to Reckong Peo (direct bus available from Delhi (ordinary) and Shimla also, else, Delhi to Rampur AC bus and from there another bus).
If planning to visit Sarahan, get down at Jeori. From Shimla and Rampur, you also have buses to Sangla. From Sangla, you can visit Chitkul with a shared taxi and also one evening bus. From Chhitkul, get to Kalpa/Reckong Peo with the afternoon bus service.
From Recong Peo, there’s a daily bus to Kaza at 630AM. This bus runs for most of the year, including winters. If you miss that, take the one to Tabo at 7 am or the 1 pm bus to Nako. You can visit Dhangkar by getting down at Schilling and hiking up; For visiting Pin Valley, there’s a bus from Kaza to Mudh. For local Kaza sightseeing, hire a bike or a full taxi.
For Chandertal, take the Kaza Manali bus that leaves at 5 AM from Kaza and get down at the junction near Batal and hikes up to Chandertal (14km), returning the same way the next morning to catch the same bus back to Manali. Shared taxis are also available from Kaza to Manali.
This is possible only during the season when the bus runs. Else, you have to take the same bus back from Kaza to Peo / Manali. There is one bus at 7 AM and also one in the evening, supposedly at 7 PM.
If coming from the Manali side, the 3 AM bus from Kullu (which reaches Manali by 4 or 430 is your only bet to get to Kaza!! This bus runs only during the season.
As informed in the earlier Q30, there is one bus between Kullu and Kaza, that passes via Manali. This bus runs only during the season when the Rohtang Pass and Kunzum La have been cleared of snow and the route has been stabilized.
The HRTC ordinary bus leaves Kullu at 3:30 AM and reaches Manali by 4:45 AM. There’s also supposedly another bus that leaves Manali by 5:30 AM but wouldn’t rely on it. Do check with the HRTC Kullu Depot on 01902-222728 before you plan this trip.
There is no direct bus from Kullu to Kaza. Either one has to take a bus to Kullu or Manali from Delhi and take the Kaza bus from there. Or the other option is to take a bus from Delhi to Reckong Peo and then the Kaza bus from there.
In the next article of the series, I will answer the frequently asked questions about stays and accommodation in Spiti Valley, where to eat in Spiti, and the permits needed for Spiti Valley. I hope this article answers your questions concerning planning a Spiti trip, sightseeing in Spiti, and road conditions/routes for the Spiti trip.
If you loved this article, DO NOT forget to hit the share button to share it with your friends and family planning a trip to Spiti Valley.”
So, what are you waiting for? Just plan your vacation to Spiti Valley in the coming season and I am sure you will never forget about the heavenly experience.
This post was last modified on Jun 27, 2022 18:55
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