How to Plan for Manali Leh Road Trip

Fasten your seat belts and be ready for a ride of your life time ?

Sarchu Plains

Sarchu Plains @ 15000 ft are a sight to behold

So you have decided to approach Ladakh via the Manali route. I’ll list out some of the route options and some key consideration while planning from this side.

Reaching Manali

The journey to Manali is long one from Delhi and is roughly 580 kms and is done in approximately 13 hrs in a Car, if you are riding a bike, then you will take more time.

Of this, the ride from Delhi to Chandigarh or till about Kiratpur is smooth 4 lane highway and after that the hill road begins which slows down progress due to variety of reasons

There are multiple ways to reach Manali

  1. Take an overnight AC Volvo from Delhi, generally all Volvo start by evening ( say about 4 PM and reach by 8 AM in Manali)
  2. If you are planning to drive and reaching by afternoon in Delhi, then we recommend that you drive till Chandigarh and then plan to start next day early from Chandigarh to reach Manali in time
  3. If you intend to do the entire journey in one day, then you must begin by 4 AM or 5 AM from Delhi. Arrive a day before, sleep early and begin early morning

Journey from Manali to Leh

There are 2 ways you can approach the journey

You can take 2 Days to reach Leh

  • Day 1 : Manali to Jispa, as it is the last village with proper stay facilities at an altitude which will not cause AMS
  • Day 2 : Jispa to Leh : This is a long journey and is suitable for SUV / Car only and not on bike

This is not ideal and you miss the fun of Manali – Leh but at the same time it is good for people who are short of time and would like a comfortable trip especially for night stay

Do Manali Leh in 2 Days if you are short of time or you want comfortable night sleep

Alternatively, you can go slow on this journey and take 4 days to reach Leh from Manali

The plan in this case will be

Day 1 : Solang to Sissu 

Day 2 : Sissu to Kunzum La / Chandratal and then drive to Jispa. If Kunzum La is not open ( It opens only in July) then drive as far as the road is open and then head back, you can even take a detour towards Udaipur in Pangi Valley just after Tandi ) 

Day 3 : Jispa to Sarchu Or Jispa to Tso Kar

Day 4 : Sarchu to Leh Or Tso Kar to Leh

An Alternate to night halt in Sarchu is the night halt in Tso Kar ( Jispa to Tso Kar will be roughly 8 to 9 hrs drive.

This is Ideal for bikes as well as it breaks down the long journey from Jispa to Leh

This plan is ideal for nature lovers, wilderness lovers and photography enthusiasts. As we slow down the journey, you have no idea how beautiful this journey will become.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO NEXT? – Plan The Trip On Your Own, Check Our Resources Below ..

Shikara at Dal Lake

Srinagar Leh Road Trip Guide

Wari La

Laadkh Road Trip FAQ

SUV Driving Tips For Ladakh Terrain

Indus & Zanskar Confluence at Nimoo

Weather In Ladakh

 Road Trip Packages For Ladakh Via Manali

Self Drive One Way – Delhi to Leh Via Manali

Manali To Leh Wilderness – With Driver

Manali Leh – Roof Of The World – Comfort

Wandering in Ladakh – Manali to Srinagar Or Vice Versa

Now, the next question that you may have is what about AMS in Sarchu/Pang/Tso Kar ?

To avoid AMS on this, just follow this and you are 90 to 95% sure that you wont have any trouble

  • Plan a night in Solang or even in Kothi instead of Manali. By staying in Solang / Kothi, your body begins the process of adjusting to the high altitude. This process is not triggered when you stay in Manali 
  • We are giving sufficient time to the body to adjust to the altitude of Sarchu/Pang. The trip towards Kunzum is precisely for this reason. And we also are giving additional nights to the body to adjust
  • Apart from the plan, we also recommend that you take diamox, when you arrive in Sissu after your journey from Solang and take one tablet each evening till Sarchu / Tso Kar

Plan a night halt in Solang/Kothi and give your body 2 additional nights ( Sissu / Keylong / Jispa ) and you will avoid AMS on Manali Leh Section

This doesn’t mean that you can head to Tso Moriri from Sarchu. Never do that. This again is due to chances of AMS are high when you stay back to back at 15,000 ft. If you are active and play sports / do regular jog and running then you can certainly go for Tso Moriri from Sarchu

Tso Morrii visit should be avoided from Manali Side. If you like to visit Tso Moriri, plan from Srinagar side Or Go to Leh first and then combine it with trip to Pangong

How experience changes with Season

To give you an insight into how the landscape may change with season, compare the pictures below … Suraj Tal near Baralacha La. Notice the difference in Snow

Suraj Tal in early Season ( June )

Suraj Tal with Ice in early Season ( June )

Suraj Tal

These are Serene blue waters of Suraj Tal, just 3-5 kms before Baralacha La

So when you travel early in the season in June, you will encounter more snow at the high altitude passes for example, Rohtang and Baralacha La … Other passes on this highway for example Lachung La and Tangung La normally don’t receive that much snow fall so expect less snow on these passes anyway …

Also, with the melting of snow underway, the streams are also quite lively during this time. Expect more slush during this time ..

From July onwards, most of the snow melts and you experience barren landscape with snow limited to the peaks of the mountains.


Travel Options from Manali to Leh

Shared Taxi / Sumo/ Innova or even Tempo Travelers is a Big No

I certainly don’t recommend taking a shared Sumo / Taxi Ride from Manali as they do this entire journey in one day. Its awful

Hire a private Taxi Or take a self Drive SUV / Car and plan as per your own needs. This is a great option and you will get maximum fun

Himachal Roadways runs buses regularly to Leh from Manali during the season time. These are mini buses and basic Non AC buses and takes 2 days to reach Leh with a night halt in Keylong. If you are traveling solo then this is the most recommended option.

If you are traveling solo, then plan to stay in Old Manali and look around for co travelers to Leh. Just visit various food joints and cafe and you may find other travelers going to Leh. This way you can book your own taxi and head to Leh and share the cost as well

  • Thanks Sunil for arranging a wonderful trip. Everything went well and we were in good hands with friendly and competent drivers. Accommodation was good and tents were comfortable beyond our expectations. We didn't have problem with food choices. It was a totally rejuvenating vacation and experience for us. Thanks from us in Singapore!

    thumb Lilian Chan

    We had an amazing 9-day from Manali to Leh. Serene, breathless and picturesque. High altitude sickness was a big issue for us but we were in good hands. Unwind Outdoor was superb in arranging and coordinating the trip. Taking care of all arrangements and checking-in on us. Kudos to Sunil and his team.

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    5 star review  Just done with 18 days bike trip with unwind outdoor ... wat i can say about the arrangement made by mr.sunil ... its just truely amazing and wonderful ... the guides and the Accommodation provided was really great .... mr sunil really showed his professionalism when he all the way keep in touch with alot of ideas and tips for us along our rides .... Unwind Outdoor is surely a name u would not regret choosing for any of our trip plan ....

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  • 5 star review  Few things command more respect than dedication, integrity and ability to follow through. These were few things among many that we experienced in our journey to Leh-Ladakh. It's not easy to travel for a fortnight without exhaustion taking a toll on your body but surprisingly the arrangements made by Unwind outdoor made us feel that it ended too soon. Every hotel and tent booked were excellent and refreshed us for the next day. When my group started this journey, we knew this was a one time deal and had certain expectations but i am pleased to say that our experience was way above what we thought possible. We did encounter some difficulties as every trip does at some point or another but needless to say Sunil and his team took care of it. Selecting a travel agency is tiresome but i cannot recommend this agency enough and i will be doing the same no matter how many times i visit.

    thumb Vishant Shah

    4 star review  Dear Mr. Sunil Kapur, Thank you very much to you and your team for arranging this fantastic tour. One of the best pick from this tour was your meticulous planning and promptness of service. All arrangements were fantastic, be it a delivery of vehicle at Chandigarh airport, hotels particularly at Chandigarh, Leh, Nubra, Pangong. However the best was at Jispa, Kargil and Srinagar for different reasons. Jispa was simple but authentic with very tasty food. Location of property at Kargil was outstanding with very clean and well furnished rooms. And Hospitality of Mr. Shamim at Srinagar won our hearts in addition to quality of their property. Travel from Jispa to Leh was breathtaking with Himalaya showing us variety of rocks in different colours and sheds. It was strong and rustic. Later on seemed wear a lush green gown of all bright coloured ornaments. Transforming the Himalaya into a Romantic heroism. In contrast experience to war memorial at Kargil was heart wrenching. Making you humble to feel “मुझे तोड लेना, वनमाली, उस पथ में देना तुम फेंक, मातृभूमि पर शीश चढाने, जिस पथ जाएॅ वीर अनेक!” Assurance given by Naresh, your person who gave vehicle at Chandigarh, on behalf of Unwind Outdoors for getting any type of help at any place during the tour boosted our confidence. The best part was the way each of your associates respect you, speaks volume about your genuineness and professionalism. We wish to thank you once again for the services provided and also wish all the best to you and your team!

    thumb Gauri Natu

    5 star review  We are back to our busy life but thank you so much for arranging this wonderful flawless trip for us. We were not sure what to expect from this trip but everything was just perfect , hotels /tents/ vehicles/Permits everything, we were not bothered about anything, Unwind took care of everything.All the information provided by unwind was very useful, appreciate their prompt response whenever contacted. Waiting for our next trip, hope it comes soon and needless to say will contact unwind either for another Ladakh or Spiti trip. Wish you all the best !! hope you provide packages for other exotic places as well!

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  • 5 star review  Sunil had planned our trip to Lahaul and spiti very meticulously. Every day was different and our stays very memorable. A trip that is unforgettable.

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    4 star review  We are back to our busy life and we want to say thank you for such an amazing trip. All the arrangements including tents, meals and tour guides were awesome. We had a very good time there. And we’d like to share some beautiful moments with you.... Once again, thank you for organizing everything professionally. Best regards, Team Natasha Enterprises. See more

    thumb Anshu Sethi

    5 star review  Sunil had planned a self driven trip for us from Delhi to Leh in June 2017. It was very well planned and was perfect!! Sunil had multiple discussions with us to understand what our interests are and changed the itinerary accordingly. We had a great time and made some nice memories. Definitely looking forward for my next trip with Unwind outdoor.

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  • 5 star review  Sunil we enjoyed a lot . thankyou for nice memories ...

    thumb Chaitanya Turakhia

    5 star review  Sunil is the best in business.. Planning is spot on and execution is even better. Nothing can beat his recommendations, be it for tourist spots or food outlets. Right from the moment we got our car in Srinagar to the drop at Delhi airport, everything was just perfect. Everything was so seamless that helped us to enjoy the beauty of Leh/Ladakh even more. Due to road blockage, we had to adjust our itinerary and at a single phone call Sunil made it look so easy to change the accommodations. Thanks for helping us create beautiful memories for a lifetime.. Looking forward to the next trip with them.

    thumb Ashish Garg

    5 star review  We had a self drive from Delhi to Spiti Valley in August 2017...and it was an amazing experience. Special thanks to Unwind and Sunil for making this happened. All the arrangements including Car and Hotels were superb. Also the instruction call by Sunil just before the tour was very much helpful. Looking forward for the next trip with Unwind....

    thumb Hiren Thakkar
  • 5 star review  We had the most wonderful time on our trip and we have you to thank for that. You really made this leh ladakh self drive road trip, it’s sights and history, come alive and be very meaningful for each of us. We really enjoyed every moment, even when there were tensions in J&K. 🙂 We appreciate your knowledge, expertise, kindness and sense of humor. The arrangements made from your end were extremely perfect and in timely manner. This trip has become a life time memory for us. We all friends are thankful to you.

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    5 star review  Thank you Sunil for the lovely trip you arranged for us and our family....everything was well organised and according to the plan....we loved the cars and the hotels given to us..There were no delays and Every thing went smoothly.

    thumb Abhishek Mitra

    5 star review  Had one of the most memorable and wonderful Leh to Srinagar trip organized by Sunil and team. All intricate details were well taken care of to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Right from the choice of hotels to the vehicle quality and the warmthness of the drivers, everything was top-notch. Strongly recommended. Looking forward for the next one. Cheers! 😀

    thumb Karanraj Churiwala
  • 5 star review  We did a road trip in June 2017 covering Delhi- Srinagar-Kargil-Leh- Nubra- Pangong- tso moriri-Sarchu-Manali-Narkanda-Sangla-Delhi, completely planned and organized by Sunil. With Amazing stays and a great vehicle we completed the trip with mesmerising memories and Awe by the Nature. We shall definitely return to Unwind outdoor for more trips in future.

    thumb Arvind M Gowda

    5 star review  My family and I vacationed in Ladakh with Unwind Outdoor in May 2017. It was a magical experience. Sunil's arrangements were excellent and the memories will last for a lifetime. We flew to Leh and visited Nubra , TsoMoriri and Pangong. Firstly, the driver for our trip, Namgyal was super. Very safe and totally professional. The accommodation organized in Leh, Pangong , Nubra and TsoMoriri was very good - with exceptional service and often very good food. Also, Sunil prepared us well for potential altitude sickness. Of course, Ladakh itself is pristine and not overly commercialized yet. We have traveled on vacations across the globe and this trip was undoubtedly one of the best . Thanks to Unwind Outdoors for facilitating this

    thumb Gopal Rangachary

    5 star review  Unwind Outdoor has helped us to realize our dream !! Like anybody we were little skeptical in the beginning with the whole Leh ladakh plan but Sunil ensured it to be as perfect as it could be. It was a 12 Day road trip from Delh to Delhi( via Manali-Jispa-Leh-Nubra Valley-Pangong tso- leh-tsomoriri-sarchu- manali- chandigarh) on Scorpio 4X4 S4+. The itinerary which he provided had all the required information including the journey time, places to eat and visit . Also the vehicle was in very good condition. Sunil was constantly in touch with us and made sure that we have comfortable & memorable trip. Looking forward to have another road-trip next year with Unwind Outdoor. 🙂

    thumb Aditya Kiran
  • 5 star review  Sunil is a spectacular trip planner. Given the uncertainty that generally prevails during a Leh trip, Unwind takes care of all last minute modifications with panache. There is no better way for you to enjoy Leh than with Unwind. And after all the excellent service, their pricing is still very competitive. Thank you unwind for that spectacular trip.

    thumb Mohan Karthik

    5 star review  Sunil, after I ran 21k Marathon I bragged about it for years. The same is being repeated again, with my ambition to drive across the Himalayas, which was almost faded with Srinagar under curfew. You and Chetan were the spark to our fire that we could do this drive and without a single trouble. Driving is a passion but driving thru places where there are no roads is trouble, but your breakup of program and awesome car condition helped us actually sail thru. Three cheers and five stars.

    thumb Jignesh Shah

    5 star review  Hi Sunil; The trip for 11days was life time memorable. Thanks a ton for adjusting the last moment changes. You are the best. Do keep up the good work.

    thumb Pius Noronha
  • 5 star review  hi Sunil you made our trip memorable after chaos of srinagar and specially for me you are really a perfect for Travel Industry where people see Dreams and you Really convert them in to Reality Sunil i am also from travel industry but i learnt a lot from you during our entire booking your patience and your solutions outstanding you have selected all the hotel camps were fantastic and gave us a real adventurous fill specially in sarchu camp with 1 degree cold and really thank ful to you and all my friends for me it was ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA EXPERIENCE Diving from raft in 3 degree chilling water amazing Thanks once again .......... any query to me for adventure you are only in my list. cheers Sunil..

    thumb Chetan Soni

    5 star review  We leveraged on unwind outdoors for our Leh self drive trip. Extremely good experience. Due to Srinagar situation, we changed our plans just 1 day before travel date and Sunil accommodate perfectly. All the location stays were par excellence with breathtaking view. Best choice of hotels and camps. Simply wonderful.

    thumb Suyog T Saraiya

    5 star review  Sunil Kapoor is one of the best person i met in travel industry. We had booked our tour of self drive cars from Srinagar to Leh - Manali - Chandigarh of 11 days, just one day before we came to know about unrest in Srinagar, and we thought it would cancel our trip, but to our surprise Sunil Kapoor changed our whole itenery with all hotel bookings, and gave the cars from Delhi. We had paid the full amount to Sunil then also he changed the route and the hotel bookings, no other travel agent would do and that also in Delhi it truly surprising. Sunil has full knowledge of the route and the hotels he selected was also the best in that place. I highly recommend Sunil Kapoor & Unwind Outdoor tours to all my Friends, Regards, Shalin Gandhi

    thumb Shalin Gandhi


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  1. please guide me trip MANALI-LEH this season. Budget documents required how many days needed. Lodges in my budget clthing drugs

    • Sunil says:

      Hello Pradeep,

      There are packages listed and you can see if any fits into your budget. If you have any specific budget in mind, then drop us an email with budget and we can help you plan the holiday

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