Ladakh is a truly incredible place in Jammu & Kashmir that evokes a sense of dreamlike rapture. Its rugged high mountains, pristine lakes, exotic culture and traditions make it an essential bucket list destination.
Ladakh’s top attractions include its Tibetan Buddhist festivals, undefiled natural wonders, colourful monasteries, picture perfect mountain treks, challenging mountain passes and more.
Most of all, it is a destination for all kinds of travellers. Plan a solo trip, bike trip, honeymoon, family vacation, culture trip or a nature trip, Ladakh has sights that will cater to all your travel cravings.
Best Time To Visit Leh-Ladakh
Summers in Ladakh are buzzing with tourists and activities. An ideal time to visit. However, autumn and early winter too have a special charm for adventure travellers. April to May and September to October are usually good months to visit Ladakh. Monsoons are a great period too, although a little risky.
A lot of travellers visit during summers to enjoy Ladakh’s famous Hemis festival. November to February is not an ideal time to visit as the climate is inhospitable and acclimatization is challenging, except for hardcore trekkers. The popular Chadar Trek takes place during these months.
Getting to Leh from Manali
There are no direct flights from Manali to Leh. There are flights to Leh from Delhi and Srinagar.
You can opt to travel by HRTC bus (Himachal Road Transport Corporation). This is not a direct bus service. It will take you from Manali to Keylong and from Keylong to Leh. You can also travel by HPTDC bus which is a luxury bus that goes directly to Leh.
By Car or Bike
This is unquestionably the best way to reach Leh from Manali. The sights are spectacular and the experience unparalleled. Manali to Leh is voted as one of the best road trips in India, no kidding.
The Manali to Leh road opens usually in May and remains open till November. The periods mentioned here are tentative, you must check the latest road route availability online before planning your trip. The road conditions are not great after it has just been opened. So wait it out a little.
Taking a road trip in self-owned car or self-drive rental will be the best way to go. The shortest distance is around 473 kilometres and would need at least two to three days. The Manali to Leh road passes through Rohtang pass.
You will need a permit to cross this pass, which is available at Manali SDM or online. Make sure you obtain this. You will also have to get yourself registered at Kokhsar checkpost. The last gas station you will find before reaching Leh will be at Tandi.
Rohtang is a good place to take a refreshment break. Keylong is a good place to make an overnight stay.
This is a transformative trip for bikers. There will be some really smooth and some really rough patches throughout the trip with downhill and uphill narrow paths. Wear bright clothes so you are visible to truckers even from a distance.
Make sure you are hydrated and your bike gear and conditions are up to mark. You will suffer from mountain sickness due to higher altitude you will travel so keep medicines for dizziness, headache and vomiting handy.
A 2-day trip is the ideal goal, with an overnight stay in Keylong.
Cost of Trip from Manali to Ladakh
- HTPC tickets start from Rs 700 per fare while HPTDC tickets start from Rs. 3000 per fare.
- Private taxi with a driver from Manali to Leh can cost as much as Rs. 20,000, depending on your negotiation skills. Shared taxis will cost you around Rs. 3000.
- If you are travelling in your own car, the fuel will cost around Rs. 25,000.
- If you are travelling in your own bike, the fuel will cost around Rs. 15,000.
- Consider additional charges if it’s a self-drive car or rented bike.
- As far as food, permits and accommodation are in question, the minimum cost will be around Rs. 2000 per day up to how much ever you’d like to spend.
Please note these are minimum charges mentioned; based on the number of days you spend in Ladakh and the places you travel to, the cost will exceed.
It is almost essential to spend at least 7 to 10 days in Leh, Ladakh. The region has unlimited experiences to offer. If your trip is shorter, you must at least visit Nubra and Zanskar valleys.Upon reaching, Leh will be your base camp. Take a few hours or maybe even a day to recover from your travels.
- Check out the Thiksey Monastery, Shanti Stupa, Shey Palace and Leh Tibetan Market.
- Visit Tsemo Castle, Hemis Monastery, Alchi Choskor Monastery, Stok Monastery, and Spituk Monastery.
- In Nubra Valley, check out Khardung La, Hunder Sand Dunes, Bactrian Camels, Maitreya Buddha, Shyok River and Siachen river as well as road to Siachen.
- In Zanskar valley, visit Stongdey Gompa, Bardan Gompa, Zangla Palace, Rangdum Village, Phuktal Gompa, Pibiting, Doksa Camp, Zanskar River, Suru Valley, Ta Tso and Lang Tso Lakes.
- Also visit the famous Indus Zanskar river confluence.
- Check out the fairytale lakes of Ladakh, such as Pangong So, Tso Moriri, Startspuk Tso, and more.
- Famous passes of Ladakh include Chang La, Marsimik La, Wari La, Namashang La, Lachulung La, Tanglang La, Zoji La, and more.
- Top treks in Ladakh are Spituk to Stok, Parang La, Markha Valley, and the most famous Chadar Trek.
We have only listed some of the popular places you can visit on your trip. You can create your own itinerary based on your preferences and research.
How to plan a trip from Manali to Ladakh
- Decide on the mode of transport, i.e. own car, hired taxi, bike or bus.
- Check online for road conditions.
- Apply for necessary permits online.
- Create a working itinerary of places you will most definitely visit, and keep options under consideration. Keep a few buffer days for unexpected delays or incidents.
- Compare hotel tariffs online, or opt for cozy homestays after checking traveller reviews online.
- Book hotel rooms at least a couple of months in advance.
- Make sure your vehicles are properly serviced before the trip.
- Keep your AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) medication ready, pack enough woollens.
- Carry at least two sturdy pairs of hiking or running shoes.
- Carry physical route maps aside from the ones on your phone.
- Carry a first-aid kit and start mild exercises at least 15 days prior to your trip.
That was our mini-guide on planning a trip from Manali to Leh-Ladakh. Be sure to capture gorgeous pictures, find many hidden gems and form many memorable experiences on a trip to Ladakh. If you have any questions, please use the comment box – we’d love to answer your queries.