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

Or
 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


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    5 star review  We are sure if it was not with Unwind Outdoor, our trip might not have happened. Living overseas we have been planning this journey for some time but never got the right contact until we came across Sunil. I was able to relive the memories of my first encounter with this landscape 19 years ago. The whole journey from Jammu to Leh and beyond is a weird concoction of feelings. There is chaos, isolation, excitement, calm, mood swings(due to AMS).....nevertheless this is one place which every Indian must have on their bucket list. Having said that I would also emphasize on preparing yourself for this trip. It is not just any other hill station but this can give you an experience of a different world altogether (If you were stuck like we did at 18000 feet high K-top for almost 5 hours due to an avalanche. Mind you.. recommended stay is not more than 20-25 minutes). So prepare well and be safe. Sunil will be there to look after you. Good on you Sunil. You will hear from us again...soon.

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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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