The trip from Manali to Leh can be one of the most breathtaking, adventurous and scenic trips that you can ever undertake. The unimaginable beauty of both regions, and the stunning views throughout the journey, make it an excellent trip. We have compiled a comprehensive guide on how to reach Leh from Manali, which covers every transportation option available. Let’s have a look
Best Time for a Manali to Leh Trip
June to September is the best time to travel to Leh Ladakh as the snow will have just melted and you will be able to witness Ladakh in all its glory.
If travelling by road, the duration of the trip should be around 2 days accounting for the stops you will make along the way to rest as well as because the road conditions can be precarious and do not allow for a normal drive at high speeds.
There are several options you can undertake to reach Ladakh from Manali. We have listed them below.
How to Reach Leh from Manali: By Air
There aren’t any direct connecting flights from Manali to Leh. Your best bet is to take the state transport bus from Manali to Jammu and then take a connecting flight from Jammu to Leh. Flight tickets at an average cost from Rs. 11,000 to Rs. 20,000.
How to Reach Leh from Manali: By Train
Just like there is no direct route from Manali to Leh by air, there is no direct connecting line by trains either. You can take a bus from Manali to Pathankot after which you can board the BTI Jat express from Pathankot to Jammu.
After reaching Jammu you can take a JKSRTC bus or a privately-operated bus to reach Leh. Another option would be to hire a shared taxi, jeep or hire a private taxi to reach Leh from Jammu.
Average Train tickets are in the range of Rs. 6,500 to Rs. 9,000.
How to Reach Leh from Manali: By Road
Manali is connected to Leh by the Manali-Leh highway that was built in 1955. The majority of the road lies in the state of Jammu and Kashmir while the rest of the road lies in Himachal Pradesh. You will be crossing a total of 5 high-altitude passes if you decide to take the road. There are two modes of transport available when travelling by road from Manali to Leh:
Going by Bus
Manali → Rohtang Pass → Gramphu →Tandi → Keylong → Jispa → Darcha → Patseo → Zingzing Bar → Baralacha La → Sarchu → Nakee La → Lachulung La → Pang → Tanglang La → Upshi → Karu → Leh
There are two types of bus services operating on the Manali-Leh route. The Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) is an ordinary bus service that is cheaper than most bus services. The Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) is a luxury bus service with relatively higher fares.
By the HRTC Bus
The HRTC starts their service usually 2-3 weeks after the BRO declares the Manali-Leh Highway route open. This usually happens in the month of June and lasts until early October. There are no direct bus routes from Manali so be prepared to hop a few busses along the way. If you decide to start the journey early you can catch a bus from Manali to Keylong from the Manali bus stand as early as 4 am. The last bus out is 1 pm. The frequency of buses is usually every half hour.
You can get off at Keylong and look for accommodation as the only bus to Leh leaves at 5 am. Buses on this route barely stop for any sightseeing or loo breaks, however, they do stop at some dhabas where you can grab a meal or relieve yourselves.
You will pay Rs. 200 for your ticket from Manali to Keylong and from Keylong to Leh, you end up spending about Rs. 700.
By the HPTDC Bus
Travelling by the HPTDC is the preferred option as it is more comfortable. The service usually begins in the first week of July and goes up to the end of September This bus service also begins at the Manali bus stand and halts at Keylong., where your accommodation is taken care of.
The bus stops at sightseeing spots en route and has more break options. The HPTDC provides a unique accommodation option where you halt at Hotel Chandrabhaga but you pass the night away in the lawns of the hotel. They provide tents to make your night comfortable. You can stay in the rooms in the hotel but that will cost you extra. The next day you board your bus for Leh from the Keylog bus stand.
The bus fare will cost you Rs. 2900 and includes the accommodation at Keylong and meals.
Going By Private Car
A private car will be the most convenient option when travelling on the Manali Leh Highway. However, you will have to care due to the rough terrain, and a 4-wheel drive SUV will be your best option. The drive is beautiful but while on this road you will encounter several water crossings, slush and some dirt tracks that will add to the intensity and excitement of the drive.
The fuel cost should lie in the range of Rs. 6000 to Rs. 8000, depending on your car’s mileage.
Going By Private Taxi
You can hire a private cab or get a self-drive cab from Manali. You can book a taxi from the Manali taxi stand. On average, and depending on how good you are at negotiating, you will end up shelling out about Rs. 20,000 for a private taxi.
This is a slightly inconvenient mode of travel. You can get a taxi at the Manali taxi stand at around 12 am or 1 am. The taxis drive non-stop for around 16-18 hours on an average and will reach Leh by 5 pm the next day. Since they drive continuously and you are gaining altitude within a few hours, your body doesn’t get to acclimatize gradually and you may be left feeling queasy. It costs around Rs. 2000 to Rs. 3000 per person to travel in a shared taxi.
Things to keep in mind while travelling from Manali to Leh
The route from Manali to Leh does not have a lot of ATMs; carry enough cash.
Cell phone reception can be tricky. BSNL, Airtel, and Aircel are the best network providers in the region, so have a backup SIM of these networks just in case.
Keylong and Sarchu are good places to spend the night.
If you are driving down from Manali to Leh, service your car to avoid any breakdowns.
The route to Leh from Manali has 6 petrol pump stations so be sure to keep an eye on your fuel tank at all times.
The trip is one of the most aesthetically pleasing trips that leaves you with an overwhelming sense of serenity and tranquility. We hope that our guide on travelling from Manali to Leh answers all your questions about the journey.