Situated away from the hustle and bustle of the commercial parts of the hill station, Old Manali is a haven for backpackers, trekkers and budget travellers. Located 2 km from Mall Road, Old Manali should be a part of your things to do in Manali itinerary if you are looking for a rejuvenating experience. Lined with cafes, decades-old shops and bakeries, the aroma of strong coffee mixed with pine forests dominate the senses as you make your way through the market.
Old Manali must include in your things to do in Manali itinerary if you are looking forward to exploring a different part of the hill station. It is home to several hostels, guesthouses and boutique properties, which is ideal for all budgets. It’s also a popular attraction for shopping enthusiasts and offers handmade woollen sweaters, hemp products and trekking equipment. In recent years, Old Manali has become a regular highlight in most things to do in Manali itineraries owing to live music shows in the evening, karaoke nights and delicious food served in picturesque cafes.
Manu Temple, dedicated to Lord Manu, is also situated here and makes for a beautiful walk through the busy streets. If you aren’t staying in Old Manali, we recommend keeping aside a few hours in your things to do in Manali itinerary to explore this old market. Among the most popular restaurants here which should be a part of your things to do in Manali itinerary, we suggest heading to Cafe 1947, Drifter’s Cafe, Dylan's Toasted and Roasted Coffee House and Born Free.
Cost: A visit to Old Manali in your things to do in Manali itinerary will cost you between Rs.400 and Rs.1500.
For shopping enthusiasts, exploring local markets is the highlight of a vacation. If you are looking to buy traditional handicrafts, fruit wine, silver jewellery, wooden items and embroidered shawls then a visit to Mall Road should feature in your things to do in Manali itinerary. Typically, shopping trips are left for the end of the vacation, but in Manali, you can space out your shopping sprees since Mall Road is situated in the midst of all local attractions.
There are several emporiums, handloom workshops and small shopping centres on Mall Road which offer travellers a variety of things. If you are looking to take back jams, fruit wines and squashes, we recommend purchasing these from authorised Himachal Tourism shops for fair prices. You can also purchase handmade woollens, wooden items including kitchen utensils and home decor from small women-run shops. Most products are completely handmade and also offer you a glimpse into the traditional arts and crafts of the state.
While bargaining is not encouraged, there are a few places where you can try your luck. We recommend keeping extra cash with you in case the ATMs don’t work.
Cost: Souvenir shopping in your things to do in Manali itinerary can cost you between Rs.500 and Rs.3000 depending on what you purchase.
Your things to do in Manali itinerary is incomplete without including a visit to Rohtang Pass. Undoubtedly the oldest tourist attraction in town, Rohtang Pass is one of the most popular things to see in Manali and hosts travellers from around the world.
Owing to an increase in commercial and private vehicles, the government has restricted access to this breathtaking pass. If you are planning a trip to Rohtang Pass in your things to do in Manali itinerary, we suggest booking in advance and getting the appropriate permits. Rohtang Pass connects Manali to Lahaul and Spiti and is also the getaway to Ladakh for those travelling from Manali. Rohtang is accessible only for three to five months in the year and it is a favourite with adventure enthusiasts and bikers.
Bikers have to brave harsh conditions and tackle slippery roads full of mud and ice to cross this pass. If you are not well-versed with mountain biking or driving, we strongly recommend exploring the area with professionals. There are several taxi operators in Manali who offer tours to Rohtang Pass during peak season.
At the same time, you can also avoid the rush and include lesser-known spots in your things to do in Manali itinerary. Our favourite places around Rohtang Pass are Solang Valley, Rahala Waterfalls and Khoksar Village.
Cost: Including a trip to Rohtang Pass in your things to do in Manali itinerary will cost you between Rs.1000 and Rs.3000.
Some travellers claim that cycling is the best way to discover lesser-known places and we completely second that. Cycling also gives one an opportunity to learn more about the culture and local way of life. So if you are an adventure enthusiast or enjoy cycling, then a cycling tour is a must in your things to do in Manali itinerary.
There are numerous cycling tours in Manali which offer a tour of scintillating viewing points, idyllic villages and vibrant orchards. You must include this in your things to do in Manali itinerary if you enjoy cycling.
If you want to explore the hill station on your own, you can hire a bicycle from Old Manali or the Mall Road. Depending on the season, cycles can cost between Rs.100 and Rs.300 per hour. The best cycling routes to include in your things to do in Manali itinerary are Old Manali to Vashisht Village, Old Manali to Hadimba Devi Temple and Manali to Solang. If you are looking for longer routes, we recommend Manali to Naggar, Manali to Manikaran, Manali to Rohtang and Rohtang Pass downhill cycling tour.
If you are an adventure enthusiast, you can also combine your cycling tour with other adventure activities such as camping and hiking. The best time to book cycling tours in Manali for your things to do in Manali itinerary is between May and June. For those travelling during winter, September to February is a good time to sign up for a cycling tour if you want to admire snow-covered peaks.
Cost: Hiring a bicycle for one hour will cost you between Rs.100 and Rs.400. If you want to include cycling in your things to do in Manali itinerary, it will cost you between Rs.1000 and Rs.4000 depending on the duration of your trip.
Among the top things to do in Manali for travellers, paragliding is the most popular. In fact, paragliding is synonymous with a trip to Manali for most adventure seekers. Taking you a few hundred feet up in the air, paragliding is usually performed with an expert if you are a beginner. There are separate sessions for solo flying which require permission from the local tourism department.
While Solang Valley is the most popular spot for paragliding to include in your things to do in Manali itinerary, there are other lesser-known take-off points for a more peaceful experience. However, if you are short on time and are travelling with children, we recommend heading to Solang Valley. The tourist spot offers numerous take-off sites and depending on your interests and budget, you can choose the one which works best for you.
Other popular locations to include in your things to do in Manali itinerary are Marhi, which is situated 35 km from Manali and another spot 10 km short of Solang Valley. Since the latter is a small take-off site in the midst of a village, you will need to speak to local tour operators to book your spot. Flying time can vary from 10 minutes to 20 minutes depending on the speed of the wind.
Cost: A paragliding tour in your things to do in Manali packages can cost you between Rs.1200 and Rs.3000 depending on the take-off site of your flight.
Manali is an ideal trekking destination in India. A perennial favourite with adventure enthusiasts, most trekkers claim that the best way to explore Manali is on a trek. If you are keen to reconnect with nature and challenge your physical strength, we definitely recommend including a trek in your things to do in Manali itinerary. Suitable for beginners as well as professionals, you can choose among numerous trekking expeditions for your things to do in Manali itinerary.
If you are a beginner, you can start with a day trek in your things to do in Manali itinerary, which will take you across verdant valleys and vibrant meadows while experienced trekkers can opt for longer treks that can go on for weeks. Among the most popular treks in Manali, we recommend Beas Kund Trek, Hampta Pass Trek, Chandratal-Baralacha Trek, Bhrigu Lake Trek and Pin Parvati Trek. All treks require different expertise levels and we urge you to book through authorised tour operators. Since safety is of utmost importance during trekking, a guide will make a huge difference to your experience.
If trekking is part of your things to do in Manali itinerary, we suggest keeping aside at least a couple of days for it. Since it’s a physically exhausting activity, you may need a day to recover before resuming your sightseeing tours.
Cost: Including a trekking tour in your things to do in Manali itinerary will cost you between Rs.1000 and Rs.3500 depending on the duration of your trek and the inclusions in your trekking package.
Situated 70 km from Manali, Pin Valley National Park is counted among the most beautiful national parks in North India. Situated in Lahaul and Spiti district amidst pristine beauty, the park is part of the Cold Desert Biosphere Reserve. If you are a wildlife enthusiast and enjoy exploring lesser-known reserves, this should definitely be a part of your things to do in Manali itinerary.
The park is home to rare wildlife including the shy Himalayan snow leopard and ibex. If you are planning a trip to Pin Valley from Manali, we recommend keeping aside at least three to four days in your things to do in Manali itinerary. The park is covered in snow for the better part of the year so plan your trip carefully. The park is open only to Indian nationals.
Among the animals and birds that you can hope to spot here, we suggest keeping a lookout for Siberian ibex, bharal and red fox; pika, snow cock, Himalayan chough and raven if you’re into bird watching. At the same time, the park boasts 22 rare species of medicinal plants and Himalayan cedar groves and deodars.
If you enjoy trekking, you must consider including a trek to Pin Valley National Park in your things to do in Manali itinerary. The route is open throughout the year besides monsoons and promises an experience of a lifetime. Offering mesmerising views, the trek is ideal for experienced trekkers. If you have never trekked before and are keen to try this route, we recommend travelling with a group and a local guide. There are two trekking routes for the national park – one is suitable for winter while the other is preferred during summer.
Cost: A trip to Pin Valley National Park in your things to do in Manali itinerary will cost you between Rs.3000 and Rs.7000. This amount will vary depending on the duration of your trip and the inclusions in your package.