All You Need To Know About The Iconic Manali To Leh Road Trip

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Photo of All You Need To Know About The Iconic Manali To Leh Road Trip 1/2 by Tripoto
Ladakh. Image Credit: Priyanka Telang

The road to Ladakh may be long and winding, but it certainly requires no introduction. Undoubtedly India's favorite destination, the rugged and virginal beauty of Ladakh, the 'land of high passes', is almost nonpareil and the excitement only magnifies when you take a road trip to the region via Manali.

This Buddhist kingdom with its unending cold deserts, monasteries, stupas and mud-brick houses exudes a trance-like air and the daunting mountains guard this fabled land with integrity. The prayer wheels and flags spin and flutter in all their glory, as if they were beckoning weary travelers with all the warmth in the world.

The society is traditional, mirroring the one in Tibet, and the locals are all amiable and homely, perhaps even ready to offer you a complimentary bowl of maggi and steaming momos. Right from the camels of Nubra to the magically azure waters of Pangong Tso, Ladakh will make sure you are in a state of trance throughout. Add to all of these the charm of Manali with its pinewood forests, snow-capped peaks, peaceful temples, quaint villages and the graceful Beas River and you have the perfect journey.

With a plethora of trekking opportunities, fantastic scenery, great accommodation options and an elaborate spiritual facet, Manali is a great place for travelers to explore before embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. Both of these Himalayan gems will always welcome you with open arms and to that end, here is a 10 day / 9 night itinerary to help you make the best out of your Leh Ladakh Bike Trip.

Getting Around In Manali And Ladakh

Both Ladakh and Manali are tourist magnets and transport therefore is not a problem. The best way to get around Manali is by hiring a taxi for around Rs. 2000 a day and if in case you are a biker, you can hire a motorbike (for your onward Ladakh Bike Trip) for around Rs. 1500 a day. Public buses, although cheap, are unfortunately not very reliable.

Ladakh has the same problem with buses and taxis therefore are reliable options, especially in Leh. However, in order to explore the entire region, you should ideally rent a car (a steady 4WD) for around Rs. 3500 a day or a bike for about Rs. 1500 a day. A car or a bike is imperative for your road trip from Manali to Leh.

Day 1

While it has gradually morphed into a concrete jungle, Manali still has this magical air about it. Right from adventure sports enthusiasts to hippies and honeymooners, this lovely retreat has a little something for everyone. It therefore comes as no surprise that Manali boasts of the fanciest hotels and cafes in the north and is always brimming with tourists. Interestingly, it also serves as the perfect gateway to the Rohtang pass and Ladakh. A journey along the Manali-Leh highway is in fact termed one of the best in the world.

Manali is around 600 kilometers from Delhi and reservations for buses can be made from the city at the ISBT or the Himachal Tourism Office near Mandi House. Moreover, you can book tickets online for this 14 hour journey. If you're travelling from Chandigarh by taking a train to the city from Delhi, a private taxi can be hired, or you could get on a state transport bus and the journey is roughly 9 hours long. Moreover, there are flights (albeit irregular and expensive) from Delhi and Chandigarh to Kullu airport which is some 50 kilometers from Manali.

Amazing Things To Do In Manali

Exhilarating activities such as skiing and mountain biking are synonymous with the Rohtang Pass. A trip to this celestial passage is therefore imperative before you proceed with your Ladakh Bike Trip.

Credit: Sandeepa Chetan

Photo of Rohtang Pass, Burwa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Tripoto
Day 2

Paragliding in Solang Valley is an experience you absolutely cannot miss as you will literally be on cloud nine.

Credit: Raman Virdi

Photo of Solang Valley, Burwa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Tripoto

Visit the thoroughly rejuvenating hot springs of Manikaran. It is a pleasant two hour drive from Manali.

Credit: Sandeepa Chetan

Photo of Manikaran, Himachal Pradesh, India by Tripoto

Best Rated Places To Stay In Manali

Photo of The Piccadily, Mall Road, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Tripoto
Photo of Shobla Pine Royale, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Tripoto

Best Rated Places To Eat In Manali

If in case you fancy a wholesome fish dish, Johnson's Cafe is exactly where you should be. The beautiful outdoor seating is a major plus.

This restaurant undoubtedly serves the best thin crust pizzas in Manali. It however is entirely vegetarian but totally worth your time and money.

The Manali - Leh Highway

Credit: Prabhu B Doss

Photo of Casa Bella Vista, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Tripoto

Open from the months of May (end) to September, the Manali-Leh Highway is as delightful as it is intimidating and is the core of a Leh Ladakh Bike Trip. A journey along this route is pretty much akin to your path to enlightenment. It is approximately 480 kilometers long and the journey to Leh takes around 2 days to complete with an overnight stay at either Keylong, Jispa or Sarchu.

An exceptionally tiny village in Himachal Pradesh, Jispa is as humble as a place could possibly get and is a popular stop for travellers journeying along the Manali-Leh highway. With excellent views of the mountains and the Bhaga River, this village has the potential of being a destination in itself and not merely a stop along the way. Additionally, Jispa is also home to a tiny museum and some decent hotels.

The snow-capped mountains, deep valleys and humble villages on your road to Ladakh add to the charm of the trip and the memories will forever be indelible. You could either rent a 4WD or a bike from Manali for this mammoth of an odyssey and keep in mind that petrol pumps are only at Tandi and Upshi. Additionally, you could take the HPTDC bus service for Rs. 2000 which includes overnight accommodation at Keylong and food.

The route for the Ladakh bike trip is as follows:

Manali – Rohtang Pass - Gramphu - Kokhsar - Keylong - Jispa - Darcha – Zingzingbar - Baralacha La - Bharatpur - Sarchu - Gata Loops - Nakee La - Lachulung La - Pang - Tanglang La - Gya - Upshi - Karu - Leh.

Day 3

Credit: Motographer

Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Tripoto

140 kilometres from Manali, Jispa has some of the best overnight accommodation options for your Manali-Leh journey. Alternatively, you could also halt at Sarchu which is at an even distance from Manali and Leh (around 220 kilometers). However, altitude sickness is a major challenge and it is essential to give yourself time to acclimatize before you proceed with the rest of your Leh Ladakh bike trip.

Best Rated Places To Stay In Jispa

1. Padma Lodge Jispa - Rs. 3150

Photo of Padma Lodge, Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Tripoto

2. Hotel Ibex Jispa - Rs. 3200

Photo of Hotel Ibex Jispa, Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Tripoto
Day 4

The mother of all destinations in India, Leh has no parallels and is perhaps an idyll for travelers all over the world. With forts, stupas and humble homes that are deeply embedded in the Tibetan culture, this desert city is enchanting and keeps one coming back for more. The multitude of hotels, stylish cafes and restaurants is yet another plus. The high altitude, however, is a bit of a deterrent and acclimatization is therefore imperative. This moonscape is a good 475 kilometers from Manali and the iconic colorful prayer flags serve as the perfect welcome.

480 kilometers from Manali, arriving into Leh is a massive relief, although acclimatization is a challenge. The heartbeat of a Leh Ladakh road trip, this flawless mountain district is a gift of the gods. Of all the sights on your road to Ladakh, Leh, undoubtedly is the most important.

Amazing Things To Do In Leh

Watch your vehicle attain a life of its own at the Magnetic Hill. For most travelers, this scientific wonder is one of the most popular things to do during a Leh Ladakh Road Trip.

Credit: Fulvio Spada

Photo of Magnetic Hill by Tripoto

Visit the colossal white spiral Shanti Stupa and take some time out to meditate and enjoy arresting views of Leh. It rightly serves as a symbol of sorts for Ladakh.

Credit: Lovell D'Souza

Photo of Shanti Stupa, Shanti Stupa Road, Leh by Tripoto

The largest and the most beautiful monastery in central Ladakh, Thiksey Monastery is a major drawcard for developing a better understanding of Buddhist art and culture. This experience will be the most enriching during your Leh Ladakh Road Trip.

Credit: Prabhu B Doss

Photo of Thikse Monastery, Thiksey by Tripoto
Day 5

Go right up to the Khardung La, the world's highest motorable road. Relishing a bowl of Maggi at Khardung La is somehow an experience in itself and is an essential feature of your road to Ladakh.

Credit: Saurabh Kumar

Photo of Khardung La by Tripoto

Best Rated Places To Stay In Leh

1. New Royal Guest House - Rs. 3000

Photo of New Royal Guest House, Leh by Tripoto

2. Sangto Villa - Rs. 3741

Photo of Hotel Sangto Villa,, Tukcha Main Road, Leh by Tripoto

3. Hotel Lasermo - Rs. 3500

Photo of Hotel Lasermo, Leh by Tripoto
Day 6

Best Rated Places To Eat In Leh

One of the most popular pan-Asian restaurants in Leh, Chopsticks serves excellent food and is a great place to connect with fellow travelers.

This stylish multicuisine restaurant offers delicious food and often plays host to live musical performances. It might just remind you of a mountain village in Europe and features in almost every Leh Ladakh itinerary.

Day 7

What was once a part of the fabled Silk Route, Nubra Valley is home to some of the most incredible mountain landscape in the Himalayas. With unending sand dunes and oasis hamlets, this region is made of dreams and possesses an inexplicable seductive charm. The ruined palaces and monasteries only help in magnifying the mystery. The valley is a five hour drive from Khardung La, the world's highest motorable pass and is an essential feature in every Leh Ladakh itinerary.

A six hour journey from Leh by virtue of the mighty Khardung La, the world's highest motorable road, brings you to the stupendous Nubra Valley with its never-ending expanse of sand dunes and oases. A proud feature of a Leh Ladakh bike trip, you can halt either at Diskit or the Hunder village in the valley. Since there are no restaurants in this cold desert, your camp/hotel should arrange food for you.

Amazing Things To Do In Nubra Valley

Sail through the white sand dunes of the Nubra Valley atop a Bactrian Camel. Double-hump camels are exclusive to the region and are therefore shining gems on the road to Ladakh.

Credit: Pranav Bhasin

Photo of Hunder Sand Dunes by Tripoto
Day 8

The Diskit Gompa, Nubra Valley's oldest and largest monastery should be an integral part of your Leh Ladakh Road Trip. It is also home to a gigantic statue of Maitreya Buddha which is absolutely stunning.

Credit: Pranav Bhasin

Photo of Diskit Gompa, Diskit by Tripoto

Best Rated Places To Stay In Nubra Valley

1. Double Humped Camp - Rs. 2584

Photo of Double Humped Camp - Hunder, Hunder by Tripoto
Day 9

2. Ldumra Oasis - Rs. 2600

Photo of Pangong Tso by Tripoto

Pangong Tso will instil your belief in magic; it is an emotion in an array of colours- a little bit of blue here, a stroke of indigo there and a whole lot of golden everywhere. This alluring lake stretches to some 150 kilometres, right up to China and has rightly served as an emblem for Ladakh tourism. Day trippers usually do nothing but stare at its magnificence for several hours altogether and still cannot have enough of it. Tented accommodation, however, is available for those who would like to stay back and perhaps even explore the '3 Idiots' sand spit.

Undoubtedly a trademark of the region, Pangong Tso is perhaps the most exciting element of a Ladakh bike trip. Around 170 kilometers from Leh and 240 kilometers from Nubra Valley, the mystical blue lake is a popular day trip option if you leave early in the morning. There, however, are camps around the lake where you can stay overnight and basic food is available. Pangong certainly is a slice of heaven.

Amazing Things To Do In Pangong Tso

Let the beauty of the Pangong Lake transport you into a state of trance. There is a reason why Ladakh Tourism and Pangong Tso are almost synonymous.

Credit: Alex Hanoko

Photo of Pangong Tso by Tripoto

Best Rated Places To Stay In Pangong Tso

1. Royal Camp, Pangong - Rs. 4258

Photo of Pangong Tso by Tripoto

2. Pangong Delight Camp - Rs. 6050

Photo of Pangong Tso by Tripoto

So what's stopping you from taking that Leh Ladakh bike trip?

All hotel prices are approximate and are on a per day basis. They were last updated on the 9th of February, 2016.

Have you done this road-trip? Share your experience by writing an article on Tripoto!

9 Comment(s)
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Contact for homestay and cottage booking in Manali +917906928695
Fri 09 07 18, 20:46 · Reply · Report
is ith Leh ladak road closing time
Wed 10 11 17, 11:14 · Reply · Report
amazing article. but too much money isnt it? i did my "Delhi - Leh Under 2250INR" check it in my profile.
Fri 08 18 17, 01:57 · Reply · Report
hi, can you list out the good eateries in leh ? cafes/restos/bakeries?
Fri 06 30 17, 04:35 · Reply (1) · Report
Gesmo Fort Road Leh
Wed 07 19 17, 06:24 · Report
I just want to know how to reGister for any trek
Mon 04 10 17, 11:32 · Reply (2) · Report
for Western Ghats and Sikkim you can choose http://naturewalkers.in and in Himachal and Kashmir check indiahikes.com
Sat 03 24 18, 07:13 · Report
There are so many organization who organize treks, www.wheelwanderers.com is one of them. Visit our website to know more
Fri 06 09 17, 15:57 · Report
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