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.
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
- Take an overnight AC Volvo from Delhi, generally all Volvo start by evening ( say about 4 PM and reach by 8 AM in Manali)
- 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
- 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 ..
Road Trip Packages For Ladakh Via Manali
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
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