Hair pin curve on the mountain pass Baralacha la in the middle of the golden brown mountain of the Greater Himalayas on the Leh Manali highway connecting Ladakh to Himachal in India.

Journey on the Manali Leh highway – an epic road trip in Ladakh

Status of the Manali Leh highway: The Manali Leh highway is now open for traffic for the summer of 2020.

Our journey on the Manali Leh highway was most certainly a turning point in our travel lives. It was a journey that made us fall in love with not just road trips, but with the road itself. It was a perfect culmination of a trip that made us realise that we wanted the road to be our home.

Which brings us to the main question, which is –

Why take this journey on the Manali Leh highway?

By any standard and from any perspective, the journey on the Manali Leh highway has epic written all over it. With roads that open up for only a few months a year, these 470 kilometres from Leh to Manali will test you, scare you, shock you and leave you spellbound. You will believe life is beautiful!


This is our experience of the journey on the Manali Leh highway, going from Leh to Manali by bus. If you don’t want to read through the entire story, you can have a look at this video, then head straight to the Manali Leh road trip FAQs.

Road trip from Leh, Ladakh to Manali

We took this road trip at the beginning of August to return to the lower Himalayas, reach Manali from Leh, Ladakh. It was towards the end of our 3-month travels in the Himalayas, the last three weeks of which were in the Greater Himalayas, at altitudes of over 3000 meters.

Early morning start from the Leh bus stand

It was still dark when we left Leh, crossing places we had visited before – Shey, Thiksey followed by Karu and Upshi. There’s a fork at Upshi. A couple of days back, we had taken the road going towards Tso Moriri. This time we took the turn towards the Manali Leh highway.

Tanglang La – the first and the highest pass of the journey

A couple of hours after Leh, as daylight broke, we realised that all civilisation just vanished. Suddenly, we were on Tanglang La, the mountain pass with its peak at over 5300 m. The first mountain pass of the Manali Leh highway while going from Leh to Manali. This is where we crossed the highest point – of not just this journey, but of our lives!

Tanglang la, is the first pass of the 470 km long Leh-Manali journey. We crossed the highest point of our entire trip, over 5300m atop the Tanglang la.  Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey
Tanglang la, is the first pass of the 470 km long Leh-Manali journey. We crossed the highest point of our entire trip, over 5300m atop the Tanglang la.  Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

The view at the top of Tanglang la was spectacular! The entire pass was laid out before us. We were at level with the snow-clad peaks surrounding us. Colourful prayer flags were strung around. A signboard proudly announced that we indeed were at the highest point of the Manali Leh highway. We felt on top of the world!

Itinerary planning tip:

There is an alternate route to join the Manali Leh highway while returning from Ladakh. Taking this alternate route is possible if you have rented a private taxi and Tso Moriri is your last destination to visit in Ladakh. From Tso Moriri, you can head towards another smaller lake called Tso Kar from where a road directly joins the Leh Manali highway.

Right from the start of Tanglang La, we saw striking landforms. At times, the mountains looked like needles rising in the sky, reminding us of the sandcastles we built on the beach as kids. Except that they were gigantic! And this wasn’t really the sand at the beach. These were the mighty Greater Himalayas, withered with age by their only constant companion – the ferocious winds.

Needle like landforms on the Leh Manali highway.
Journey from Leh to Manali, Ladakh, India
Journey from Leh to Manali, Ladakh, India

Brown, barren and lifeless – was how we would describe the view for most parts of this journey on the Manali Leh highway. Being in the presence of such raw nature – these mountains without as much as a trace of life – was overwhelming.

The human effort that goes into building this road

Only because there was a road here did we have the privilege of experiencing the magnanimity that the journey from Leh to Manali actually is. This thought was even more overwhelming than the landscape surrounding us. This road didn’t get here by magic. Brave men and women had braved the rough weather, toiled hard to create it.

Sunday is a relaxing day for the hard working construction workers on these mountain passes. Our bus stopped outside this worker's tent and he greeted us with a big smile. Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Like this man, we saw from our bus on the Tanglang La. These construction workers come from far off places (mainly, Jharkhand and Nepal) where they have no real employment opportunity. At the end of winter when the roads connecting Leh, Ladakh to Manali, Srinagar and other parts of India open for traffic, they come here for work. They stay on these high altitude mountain passes for 4-5 months a year. They are the ones who ensure that your road trip to Manali goes smoothly.

In these months, they earn around Rs.20K (roughly 300$) to take back home. The only highlight of their day is the 2-3 buses that cross this highway. Otherwise, they are completely disconnected from civilisation.

Hats off to their endurance!

Morey Plains

Just as we were getting used to the winding roads came a patch of flat grasslands. Good enough for our bus to start cruising along. These were the Morey Plains. This “flatness” was however short-lived and business was back to normal.

Lachung la or Lachulung La or Lāchālūng La or Lungalacha La. The second pass of the Leh-Manali route, it is a long meandering pass with its peak at 4891 m.  Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Breakfast halt at Pang

After the Morey Plains, before the next mountain pass is Pang. Our bus halted for breakfast here. This is where most vehicles take their first break while travelling from Leh to Manali.

Itinerary planning tip:

There are food stalls as well as a few camping tents to spend the night at Pang. Pang is a suitable option to break the journey if you are on a road trip from Manali to Leh by bike (which is a direction we do not recommend – reasons explained later).

Lachung (Lachulung) la, the second pass on the Manali Leh highway

Long and meandering, with its peak at 4891 m, the Lachung la (also called Lachulung la) was our second pass of the day 1 of our journey to Manali from Leh.

Lachung la or Lachulung La or Lāchālūng La or Lungalacha La. The second pass of the Leh-Manali route, it is a long meandering pass with its peak at 4891 m.  Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Mountains the shades of browns you didn’t know and land formations you didn’t think possible are the characteristic of this mountain pass! Like this natural tunnel, we saw on Lachung la. Opposite the motor-able road, this is probably part of the trekking route from Leh to Manali.

The 470km journey from Leh to Manali is studded with unbelievable rock formations like these.  Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Nakee la – the third mountain pass on the Manali Leh highway (and some Whisky)

By the time we reached Nakee la, our third mountain pass, we had come to terms with our “heart in mouth” condition.

By the time we reached Nakee la, our third pass, we had come to terms with our “heart in mouth” condition. Every glimpse of the Indus river flowing below brought with it a green oasis. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Every glimpse of the Indus river flowing below brought with it a green oasis. The bus now changed several mountains, crossing the bridges over the river. Despite the harsh conditions, the BRO (Border Roads Organisation, a wing of the Indian army which makes these high-risk mountain roads at the border) hasn’t lost a sense of humour. This bridge that we crossed was the famous Whisky Nala of the Manali Leh highway.

Itinerary planning tip:

If you are on a road trip from Manali to Leh, you would be nearing the end of your day 1 or just starting out fresh for day 2 of your journey – depending on where you halted for the night.

Whisky Nala is also a halt option for those travelling on the Manali Leh highway by cycle – especially from Manali to Leh. A couple of camping options can be found.

Driving through wilderness

By the time we reached Nakee la, our third pass, we had come to terms with our “heart in mouth” condition. Every glimpse of the Indus river flowing below brought with it a green oasis. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Our minds started to wander. To the people who crossed these mountains on foot. Years ago. Not by choice. Out of necessity.

To the people who have set up camps here, the BRO employees—the ones who maintain these roads. What makes them choose this job? How do they stay connected? How do they get their supplies?

By the time we reached Nakee la, our third pass, we had come to terms with our “heart in mouth” condition. Every glimpse of the Indus river flowing below brought with it a green oasis. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

How does this place look in the winter? Covered in the snow? Do the mountains ever get lonely? But they always have winds for company!

Minds wandering and wondering.

Avalanches and landslides

It was now time for the reds of the Leh-Manali highway. The wind-battered mountain faces with their powdered rocks seemed like gigantic sand dunes. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

It was now time for the reds . The wind-battered mountain faces with their powdered rocks seemed like gigantic sand dunes.

This also makes the Manali Leh highway vulnerable to massive landslides. The landscape is all very stunning; but with such strong forces of nature at play, there is never really a guaranteed safe passage!

It was now time for the reds of the Leh-Manali highway. The wind-battered mountain faces with their powdered rocks seemed like gigantic sand dunes. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Gata loops, a series of switchbacks

Gata Loops are a series of hairpin bends looping down. Going down the Gata loops was a roller coaster ride of this journey from Leh to Manali, something we will never forget.

As if the thrill of just scraping by the bend wasn’t enough, the driver decided to add some fun. A shortcut was what he needed. He got off the tarmac road. Onto the ground, in between the loops. The bus rattled. As did our teeth. We were just hoping this shortcut doesn’t cut short dear life!

The Gata Loops a series of hairpin bends. It was a roller coaster ride we will never forget. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Sarchu, a midway point of the Manali Leh highway

After the Gata Loops, came Sarchu. We were now also one state lower, crossed over from the state of Jammu and Kashmir into Himachal Pradesh. This was the Lahaul region of the district of Lahaul and Spiti. Ladakh was still a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir when we did this road trip from Leh to Manali. It is now a Union Territory.

The Gata Loops a series of hairpin bends. It was a roller coaster ride we will never forget. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Sarchu has the highest number of camping options on the Manali Leh highway. But it’s geographical location is such, that it’s surrounded by the high mountains. Which is why, even though it’s at a slightly lower altitude than Pang, many face difficulty in breathing at Sarchu. Even we felt a slight uneasiness just sitting in the state transport bus from Leh to Manali. In fact, we also felt a bit drowsy and this was the only stretch of the road trip where we fell asleep.

After Sarchu came yet another bridge – this one called the Brandy Nala!

Itinerary tip:

Sarchu has the most camping options on the Manali Leh highway.

For those wanting to break their road trip from Leh, Ladakh to Manali (by bike or car) into two nights, usually, spend the first night at Sarchu.

This is, however, a more popular night halt option for those travelling in the opposite direction, from Manali to Leh.

Baralacha la – the fourth mountain pass on the Manali Leh highway

The Baralacha la was our last pass of the day. We were now one state lower, in Himachal Pradesh. Deep valleys, hairpin bends and steep curves were now “just another day in office”. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Baralacha la was our last mountain pass of the day, and it was a massive one! Deep valleys, hairpin bends and steep curves were now “just another day in office”.

The sun was high above our head and the glaciers were melting in full flow. Our bus crossed through what felt like rivers.

The opening of this epic Leh Manali highway, the road connecting Manali to the high altitude Ladakh, depends a lot on the condition of Baralacha La. This mountain pass gets some of the highest snowfalls of the entire highway. It is extremely prone to avalanches. Avalanche experts study this stretch before giving a go-ahead to the BRO to start clearing it.

Towards the end of Baralacha La, we crossed a lake Suraj Taal.

Ever since we had left Leh and taken that turn at Upshi towards the Manali Leh highway, most of this road trip had been through the wilderness. There were no villages to cross. It’s like we had left civilisation behind us. (Here, is where you say “bye-bye civilisation”, coming from Manali to Leh).

The Baralacha la was our last pass of the day. We were now one state lower, in Himachal Pradesh. Deep valleys, hairpin bends and steep curves were now “just another day in office”. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

After crossing Baralacha la, we realised we were coming close to civilisation. Soon we would see people! And shockingly, the thought of seeing more people gave us joy! Coming from Mumbai, a city of over 20 million, we never ever thought that was possible!

Reaching Keylong – end of Day 1 of the road trip from Leh to Manali

Soon after, we reached Keylong where the day’s epic journey ended. Keylong is the biggest town/village in Lahaul. This is the most “civilised” part of the entire journey on the Manali Leh highway.

As soon as we got off our bus, we got into the queue to book tickets for the next day, on the bus from Keylong to Manali. The tickets issued at the Leh bus stand were only for our journey from Leh, Ladakh to Keylong. For the remaining journey, from Keylong to Manali, we had to buy new tickets at the Keylong bus stand.

There were a few options, but we bought tickets for the first bus out of Keylong. It was late evening by the time we got out of the Keylong bus stand. Just outside was a hotel that seemed decent enough to spend the night. We got a room in this hotel.

Day 2: Early morning start from Keylong

Early the next morning, while it was still dark, we resumed the journey on the Manali Leh highway. This journey from Keylong to Manali was going to be much shorter. We were expected to be in Manali before noon. Our minds were already in the lush greens of Manali, by the Beas river.

But before that — there was the Rohtang Pass. A passing of rite ritual for anyone who travels to the Himalayas. A mountain pass no driver dares to cross in the night.

After a couple of hours, in broad daylight, we were at the start of the Rohtang Pass. The crowned prince of the Leh Manali highway. Or a dreaded monster!

Rohtang Pass – the fifth and final mountain pass on the Manali Leh highway

Rohtang pass - Leh to Manali Journey, India. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Imagine the bus (rickety, with smooth tyres!), negotiating a hairpin bend on bumpy gravel at a gradient of what feels over 60 degrees. Suddenly, there’s a truck in front of you. And the bus has to reverse. On the valley side.

But we couldn’t see any of it, because, well, the valley was covered in fog. Or mist. Or were they clouds? We couldn’t tell and honestly, we didn’t care! We were just glad we weren’t able to see it all! It was now too much to handle!

Rohtang Pass. The crowned prince of the Leh-Manali route. Or a dreaded monster! “If the bus falls off now, at least I have seen the most majestic place on earth.” Yes, this did cross our minds. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

“If the bus falls off now, at least I have seen the most majestic place on earth.” Yes, this did cross our minds.

The other side of the Rohtang Pass was a drastic change of landscape. Ever since we had crossed the Zoji La on the Srinagar Leh highway to reach Drass, we had bid goodbye to the green mountains.

All through the Greater Himalayas, the mountains had been barren and brown, and we had been in awe. But the return of greenery had a huge effect on our minds as well. The mountains, laden with a thick cover of conifers were beginning to look friendly again.

We hadn’t used the word “lovely”, for the landscape, in a long while. But now, towards the end of the journey, as we crossed Gulaba and Marhi, we were beginning to think it all looked lovely.

Rohtang pass - Leh to Manali Journey, India. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

End of the journey at Manali

We reached the bus stand in Manali, as scheduled, around noon. The sound of the Beas river dominated the orchestra of birdsongs.

Rohtang pass - Leh to Manali Journey, India. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

The most important people all along 470 km of this highway on our bus journey from Leh to Manali had been the drivers of our buses. They had to be top alert at all times, all of our lives literally depended on how sharp our driver was. The stress of a corporate job paled in comparison to the responsibility these drivers on the Leh Manali highway were carrying on their shoulders.

We firmly believed our driver was a magician. And our bus, The Chariot of the Gods!

Manali to Leh, Ladakh or Leh, Ladakh to Manali?

Which is the best direction for a road trip on the Manali Leh highway?

Any road trip on the Manali Leh highway, either by bus, car or by bike, should preferably be in the direction from Leh, Ladakh to Manali. This highway should be used at the end of your trip to leave Ladakh and return to the lower altitude in Manali.

Why do we recommend the direction from Leh to Manali for a road trip on the Manali Leh highway?

  • The main reason, which no traveller should overlook in Ladakh, is altitude acclimatisation. Have a look at the infographic below, to get an idea about the altitudes you will cross on the Manali Leh highway.
manali to leh road journey
  • You cross altitudes of over 4500 meters on the Manali Leh highway. If your journey starts in Manali, you are not acclimatised to this high altitude. Your body is not prepared to handle the reduced oxygen levels at these high altitudes.
  • As the photos along this road trip from Leh to Manali show, most of the journey is through a stark wilderness. Except for the few campsites, which are a few and far between, most of this highway is devoid of civilisation. Basic medical facilities are found only at Keylong and thanks to the Indian Army, some at Sarchu.
  • What all of this means is that if altitude sickness sets in, help will be extremely difficult, if not impossible to find on the Manali Leh highway.
  • On the contrary, coming from north to south, when you start the journey from Leh, Ladakh to Manali, you would have already spent time at these high altitudes. Your body would be well acclimatised to safely tackle the altitudes of the Manali Leh highway.

Altitude acclimatisation is the main reason we recommend to do the road trip on the Manali Leh highway from Leh, Ladakh to Manali.

What is the alternative to the Manali Leh highway to reach Ladakh?

The NH1-D, the Srinagar Leh highway is the second route to reach Ladakh by road. This is the recommended highway for a road trip to Leh, Ladakh.

Srinagar-Leh-Manali is an exciting circuit to get a real feel of Ladakh and the Himalayas.

FAQs about the journey on the Manali Leh highway

Is the Manali Leh highway safe? How is the road from Manali to Leh?

  • Road condition and the weather are the two factors that will largely decide whether the Manali Leh highway is safe. 
  • July to September are the safest times, weatherwise, to do this journey. The highway has five high altitude mountain passes, sharp hairpin bends and narrow roads. You will face at least a couple of water crossings. The road conditions on this highway vary from being smooth and in blacktop to almost gravel road (or off-roading) in some cases.
  • If you are planning a self-drive road trip by car on the Manali Leh highway, you need to be an experienced driver. Same applies for a biking trip. This is not a highway for novice drivers or bikers.
  • Landslides are not uncommon the Manali Leh highway. Mountain weather is notorious for being unpredictable. You have to be careful and prepared for delays because of landslides or bad weather.

How dangerous is the Manali Leh highway?

  • If you are lucky to get good weather then you are most likely to have the smoothest possible journey on the Manali Leh highway. In addition to what I have said above, I will add that your driver goes a long way in making the road trip on the Manali Leh highway the least dangerous for you.
  • The HRTC bus drivers are some of the best drivers we have experienced on our travels. Which is why we highly recommend a road trip from Leh to Manali by bus.
  • Don’t cut corners. Trust the local driver. And if the locals predict bad weather and the buses stop running, do not venture out on this highway (even if the private taxis agree to take you).

Is the Leh to Manali road trip comfortable by bus?

Even though not as comfortable as travelling in an SUV, the buses, even the regular HRTC buses are surprisingly not bad. Understand that, the journey from Leh to Manali, a distance of 470 km, is inherently a long one. You travel at high altitudes through long winding roads all through this journey. Naturally, travelling on the Manali Leh highway is tiring.

Read how can I go to Manali from Leh by bus.

Is photography possible while travelling in a bus on the Manali Leh highway?

Travelling by bus from Leh to Manali obviously means not having the luxury to stop wherever you please. Having said that, all of our images on this journey were taken from a moving bus.

What is the best time to travel on the Leh Manali highway?

  • The best time to travel on the Manali Leh highway is from mid-June to September.
  • The Manali Leh highway is usually open for traffic from June to October. The exact opening and closing dates of this highway depend on the weather condition and the amount of snow on the mountain passes.
  • If Ladakh has a good winter with snowfall then the opening of the Manali Leh highway in the following summer will be delayed. Do not expect the highway to open before the first week of June. The closing date of the highway also depends on the weather towards the end of October.
  • Having said that, by late Septemeber/ early October, many of the dhabas and campsites along the Leh Manali highway start shutting down. People who set these up, start going back to their villages.
  • By October, it starts to get pretty cold on the high mountain passes of this highway. You might also experience some snowfall on the Manali Leh highway in October.

Is Manali Leh highway open in May?

Generally, no. Unless Ladakh has experienced very bad winters without any snowfall. The Manali Leh highway usually opens in the first week of June. For the first few days, the highway is unstable. There is slush on the roads because of the melting snow. This makes driving on the Manali Leh highway risky.

Where should I stay between Manali and Leh?

  • Besides Keylong in the Lahaul region which has a number of hotels and guest houses, the most camping options are available at Sarchu.
  • Pang also has camps for stay, though fewer than Sarchu.
  • Jispa, a few kilometres away from Keylong is also a stay option for those who want to stay away from the bigger Keylong.

How much does the Manali to Leh road trip cost?

The taxi fare for a road trip on the Manali Leh highway is roughly INR 22000. The official taxi fares for all the routes in Ladakh are mentioned here.

Manali Leh road trip itinerary

The Manali Leh road trip, in whichever direction you choose to do, should at least have 2 days. Depending on the direction, your mode of travel and our appetite for adventure, there are a few options that you have.

Two points to remember for any kind of itinerary of the Manali Leh highway are –

  • Start as early as possible on all days.
  • Avoid driving in the dark.

2-day itinerary for the Manali Leh road trip in from Leh to Manali

  • Day 1 – Leh to Keylong (358 km, 4 mountain passes)
    Start early from Leh. 5 AM start would be the best. Stop for tea at the stalls in Karu or Upshi before taking the turn for the Manali Leh highway. You will reach Pang in time for breakfast. Lunch at Sarchu or Bharatpur (before Baralacha La) or Zingzing bar after Baralacha La. Night halt at Jispa or Keylong in the Lahaul region.
  • Day 2 – Keylong to Manali (115 km, 1 mountain pass)
    Start early in the morning, again at around 5 AM to avoid getting into the traffic jams on the Rohtang Pass or Manali. You can have breakfast at Gulaba after the Rohtang Pass. Reach Manali by noon.
  • There are more than enough options to stay in Manali. We suggest staying on the Naggar road for a peaceful experience. If you want to leave the same day for Delhi or Chandigarh, you can take the night bus from Manali. Leave your luggage in the cloakroom at the Manali bus stand, explore Manali in the day, or just relax in one of the cafes in old Manali.

2-day itinerary for the Manali Leh road trip in from Manali to Leh

  • Choose this direction for your Manali Leh road trip only if you are more than 100% sure that it is not possible to travel in the opposite direction.
  • Day 1 – Manali to Jispa (137 km, 1 mountain pass)
    Start early from Manali. Even though it’s a short drive today, it is better to start early so you cross the Rohtang Pass before the day tourist traffic starts. Starting early also gives you a chance to explore some places in Lahaul. End your journey in Keylong or Jispa (preferable). You will have time to drive/ride further up to Sarchu. But it is better to halt at Jispa, for altitude acclimatisation. Rest well.
  • Day 2 – Jispa to Leh (335 km, 4 mountain passes)
    It’s a long day today. You can take your halts at Sarchu and Pang before making the headway to Leh. It might be late by the time you are back in civilisation at Upshi. Upshi to Leh is a short drive of 47 km. The roads are flat and in excellent condition. This is one stretch of the journey on the Manali Leh highway where it is okay to drive in the dark.

3-day itinerary for the Manali Leh road trip

  • Leh to Manali
    Day 1 – Leh to Pang/Sarchu
    Day 2 – Pang/Sarchu to Keylong
    Day 3 – Keylong to Manali
  • Manali to Leh
    Day 1 – Manali to Jispa
    Day 2 – Jispa to Sarchu/Pang
    Day 3 – Sarchu/Pang to Leh
  • If you have the time then we recommend keeping 3 days for the journey on the Manali Leh highway. You will get a better feel of the place. How often will you be able to be so close to raw nature?

How can I go to Manali from Leh by bus

  • You can travel from Manali to Leh by state transport buses. The Himachal State Transport operates daily buses from Leh to Manali once the highway is opened for traffic.
  • The HRTC bus leaves from the Leh depot early in the morning at 5 AM.
  • Which means you must make arrangements the previous night for someone to drop you early the next morning to the Leh bus depot.
  • Book the bus tickets a day prior to your journey on the Manali Leh highway. The bus, which has arrived from Manali, will already be parked in the Leh bus depot. The conductor will give you the ticket in the bus itself. This ticket is for your journey from Leh to Keylong. You can also book tickets online.
  • Tip: For the best views on your journey from Leh to Manali, take a seat in the front of the bus on the driver’s side. The views of the entire Leh Manali highway are better from this side of the bus. Try reaching the bus stand before noon the previous day to book tickets for your journey so that you get the best seat in the house.
  • HPTDC also runs buses on the Leh Manali highway from July to September. These buses are more comfortable than your regular state-run bus. The ticket includes your journey from Leh all the way to Manali, stay at Keylong and dinner as well as breakfast. 
  • The HPTDC bus usually starts plying on the Manali Leh highway from July 1.

Tips for Manali to Leh road trip by bike

  • Bikers usually have a 2-day itinerary to cover the 470 km Manali Leh highway.
  • It is advisable to travel in a group. It’s always good to have the support of local intelligence with you on your Leh Ladakh bike trip. This way there is someone to help you out if things go wrong.
  • The Leh Manali highway is a long, arduous and a back-breaking journey. Before embarking on the road trip from Leh to Manali by bike, a biker should have done some long-distance rides before, preferably in the mountains.

Cycling on the Manali Leh highway

The stunning landscapes and tough terrain of the Greater Himalayas are inviting for cyclists across the world. We saw many cyclists taking on the challenge of the Leh Manali highway. Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Cycling the Manali Leh highway is the most exhilarating way to experience this highway. Cyclists usually cover this distance of 470 km from Manali to Leh (while cycling, either direction should be okay because you are travelling at a slow pace, giving your body enough time to acclimatise to the altitude) in eight to ten days.

Cycling on the Leh Manali highway requires a high level of fitness and cyclists usually prepare months in advance unless you are a regular long-distance cyclist.

Some useful resources to know about cycling on the Manali Leh highway are:

Tips for a safe and healthy journey on the Manali Leh highway

  • Stay hydrated. Yes, there are very few toilets on the Manali Leh highway. At many places, you will have to “go in the open”. But don’t skimp on drinking water for the fear of wanting to go to the loo.
  • Stay warm. Hands and feet can go numb, which is a bad idea at these altitudes. You can use these hand warmers and body warmers to stay warm. Keep a light sweater, a windcheater and a woollen cap to cover the ears handy.
  • You will find shared SUVs travelling from Leh to Manali. These boast of “doing” the Manali Leh highway in a day. This means a continuous drive of 16-18 hours for the driver. This also means crossing the Rohtang Pass (or some mountain pass) in the night. It means a cramped SUV and all of this means high risk and a miserable time. Attempting to do this, especially when you are a tourist to Ladakh is one of the most foolish things to do.

Detailed map of the Leh Manali highway

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287 thoughts on “Journey on the Manali Leh highway – an epic road trip in Ladakh”

  1. Manali is too Good place for spending our holiday with Family, Friend’s

    and Couples etc. Don’t Forget to be Awesome place #Manali

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  4. I am so glad to have found this article right when i was deliberating on taking the bus journey from Leh to Manali . And thanks to you am now booking the bus! 🙂 I am traveling to Leh in August this year for about a week. I am hoping to spend a few days in Leh seeing around & a short trek to Sham valley.And take the Bus journey back to Manali . Do you think this is a fair itinerary for a first timer to Ladakh? . Really appreciate your suggestions.Thankyou.

    1. Hey Neeta, the plan sounds good. Just make sure you acclimatise well in Leh before you start your trek. The bus journey from Leh to Manali is quite comfortable. Happy travels!

  5. A response to altitude.

    I posted a while back. I’m scanning film images taken 30 years ago. Looking at your map, the route by foot was quite different to the road, going straight south from Lamayaru to Lingshed, Padum, over the Shingo La and then we hit a road about 30 miles down the other side and got a bus to Manali. Took about 4 weeks on foot.

    I also did the western part of the trans-China highway from Nepal to Lhasa (and back) in a truck, now a motorway, in those days a 1,000km dirt track and we did not see another tourist the whole trip for 16 days. The pictures are mixed up and I am scanning those as well.
    This was up in Tibet.
    You can’t mess with altitude, it killed one member of our group in Tibet. Travelling fast by car/bike is not what god intended, walking you acclimatise a lot better.

    Off to Namibia in a month or so and Bhutan and Nepal booked for the Spring. Glamping. My wife likes it that way.

  6. Hi Sandeepa chetan…I will give our plan.Pls go through it and give us some suggestion if needed. 4 members in taxi from Aug 1st to 14th

    Aug 1st – Srinagar to Leh
    Aug 2nd – Kargil to leh
    Au 3rd – Leh
    Aug 4th – Leh to Turtuk
    Aug 5th – Turtuk,takshi village
    Aug 6th – Hunder,diskit, leh
    Aug 7th – Pangong Lake
    Aug 8th – Psomoriri,tsokar lake
    Aug 9th – Tsokar to Jispa
    Aug 10th – Jispa to Kaza(Chandratal)
    Aug 11th – Kaza(Hikkim,komic etc)
    Aug 12th – Dhankar, Tabo, Nako
    Aug 13th – Nako to Shimla
    Aug 14th – Shimla to Delhi

    Is this fine???

    1. That’s a lot of travelling – in the mountain roads at a high altitude. Since you have 15 days, we would recommend taking it slow and exploring more of Ladakh itself. Maybe stay at Lamayuru, explore the Sham valley. Hang around for a day or two more in Leh (that way you are also better acclimatised before heading to Khardung la). Visit Hanle. If you really want to see more, maybe stay for a day longer in Kargil and see some of Suru valley (roads at the beginning of the Suru valley aren’t that tiring). Ladakh and Spiti is a span of 15 days, is too tiring in our opinion. Fatigue will set in and you will not be able to appreciate the magnificent beauty of that place.

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  9. Hi Sandeepa Chetan,
    Came across your site today & I must say its beautiful. You have captured all the essence of this region & very nice photos. I am travelling to Leh this week & taking below route by private cab. Sringar -> Lamayuru -> Leh -> Nurbra -> Hunder -> Turtuk (if possible) -> Shylok -> Pangong Tso -> Leh

    I have identified some of the places along with *must* see popular places. can you please let me know if any other offbeat places can be covered on this road (15~20 km offroad also can do) ?

    1. From Lamayuru to Leh –> Uletokpo Village, Alchi & Likir Monastery, Basgo fort, Ice stupas near Phyang Monastery
    2. In Leh -> Donkey Sanctuary, Rock and Mineral museum, Leh Palace, Zorawar Singh Fort, Chowkhang Gompa, Hall of Fame, Heritage Walk in Old Leh City, Central Asian Museum
    3. Pangong to Leh -> Hemis -> Thiksey -> Shey Monastery, Sindhu Ghat, 3 Idiot School

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  13. Hi friends am planning for a leg ladkah trip very soon .. so please let me know the routes .. and am from Banglore so which route is better for me please suggest me

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  15. Thank you for this article! I found it as I am trying to identify locations I photographed 30 years ago. We started at Leh, took a ride to Lamayaru and then walked over the mountains to Manali. You had to trek and camp in those days. We had guides, animals and enough food for a month. I have identified about half the photos so far.

      1. Hundreds of negatives. A lot are scanned, I’m sure there are more that aren’t and I’m trying to identify the villages and monasteries.
        Also went from Kathmandu to Lhasa in 1990, there was only a gravel road and was quite tricky.

        1. The Kathmandu to Lhasa is probably not even a possibility now 🙁 Would love to look at your images. Do share a link if you have uploaded them online somewhere! It’ll be great if our images help you in identifying the locations. Delighted that you connected with us!

          1. I am reorganising my image library, which takes time as there are lots of film scans with no metadata. I think I will do my own website soon. Your images have been helpful.

  16. Want to Travel to leh from manali in June First week by a personal SUV. Does I need some Passes enroute?

  17. Enjoyed Reading it. Have gone halfway but had to return due to bad weather conditions. Loved the pics. Well done both!

  18. Hello Sandeepa & Chetan,

    I was born in India but now live in USA. I always think how beautiful India is and nothing comparison to India here for which I can say that I do not want to take my eyes off.
    Just wanting for kids to settle down and after that I can enjoy my rest of the life in a beautiful village, watching those mountains and rivers and all the beauty.
    Not everyone gets this opportunity like you got to live your dreams.I know even if I fail at my dream or get derailed, I shouldn’t let it get it down.
    Very beautiful pictures and writing too.


    1. Hello Poonam, there indeed is some breathtaking beauty in India. As well as the rest of the world. What’s most important is for all of us to realise the privilege of being a part of this beautiful world and treat it with respect. We hope you realise your dream life soon.

  19. Oh my God! I had a “heart in mouth” condition just by looking at the photos. Can such beauty exist and yet we feel miserable about our lives? Thank you for sharing this jaw dropping post.

  20. Very nice and informative . Planning to travel from srinagar to manali by own car next year.

  21. HI Sandeepa it was good to read your travel story and those beautiful pictures, how did you take such lovely pics, what camera etc.? Anyway now it is August 22 today, what do you comment about me trying to do this trip (Leh-Manali) say in first week Sept.2017? what is the best duration in which this route is open and safe? I have a Swift hatchback 8 month old, you think this can be done? And where all we could stay/camp in this route i think at least 3 nights camping on the way would be advised rather than trying to simply drive through. How does the Bus manage the tour, do they also stop over at designated camps?

  22. Hi Sandeepa and Chetan. Good to read the useful information and learn from your experience. It is my first trip to Leh in August 2017 starting on 17th going on till 30th. I want to do a complete road trip in self driven SUV Scorpio. My questions for you:
    1 Will it be good to start in Manali
    2 Suggestions on places to stay
    3 Clothes and temperature at night
    4 Is driving back from Kargil a good option
    5 What all permissions and passes are required
    6 When and where to obtain the paases
    Will be highly grateful for your advise

  23. Hi! We’re Montse and Ruben from Barcelona and we’re planning to do the Manali-Leh road this 10-12th august. We’ve booked a flight Leh-Delhi to finish our indian trip, so we need to get Leh for sure. Do u think is too much dangerous right now? We’re a little bit worried and why not, a little bit frightened, but this is life. Thank you guys and congrats for your blog, it’s so much interesting and useful!

  24. Just returned after a 19 day road trip in our SUV. Goa-Manali( we had overnite halts en route )- Jispa- Leh- Turtuk-Diskit- Pangong- Leh – Kargil- Drass- Srinagar – Goa . A memorable experience . Tips from various blogs including one written by Sandeepa came in handy.

      1. Yes we did . However if you can avoid please do . As the quality is not good . It’s a run down petrol pump and cannot guarantee availability also some days. There was no sign around to show it was an IOC run petrol pump.

      2. Also since during our visit the Agham Shyok route was shut due to landslide and we did Diskit-Pangong via Leh. Just filled enough to reach Leh. Just FYI

    1. Hi Nikheel, I’m planning a self drive trip from Delhi to leh via manali.
      Do I need a permit to cross Rohtang Pass to reach leh? If I do, where can I get it and how long will it take and is it possible to get it for the same day?

  25. kings holiday tours provide romantic request and the spiritualist atmosphere of Kullu and Manali works enchantment in upgrading the power of profound devotion and common trust amongst you and your life partner.
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  26. Hi Sandeepa Chetan,
    We are a group of 3 people from Chennai and planning to go to Leh in the last week of September for one week tour. Will buses be operational from Leh to Manali at this time.?Also, please let us know if It is required to book a tour package from Chennai or can we reach leh directly and then book a local tour from there.? We are first time travellers to this place.

    Thanks and regards,

  27. Hi Sandy….

    Great Blog… While reading it was like being there… I will be visiting leh during first week of august… going by air for 8 days… hope me going at right time…will there by any rains during first week of august….

    Neeraj Chawla…

    1. Once can’t predict the weather in the higher Himalayas. But August beginning is the best time to e there, it will not be very cold (relatively speaking). All the mountain passes will be fully functional. Do take the time to acclimatise since you are flying in directly.

  28. Hi Sandeep & Chetan,
    wow 🙂 what an adventure!
    I’ll be there beginning of September & wish to take the bus back to Manali.
    I’ve read that there are bus/minibus that stop over night at a camp in Keytong. Did you take that one or the one which goes straight without stop?
    I never did such a long bus ride so I have no idea … do they stop from time to time to make little breaks to eat/toilet/recover from sitting … just to get an idea of that trip (german women’s thoughts ;-))

    1. Hey Christin, these thoughts are natural, and we are glad you are considering this journey. The Leh Manali road trip by bus arduous no doubt, but it’s not something you will easily forget 🙂 There is a regular bus that starts from Leh early morning and then ends at Keylong. You buy a separate ticket to Manali at the Keylong bus station and make your stay arrangements at Keylong. This all might sound too much to do, but don’t worry. Even we had no idea about this when we got on the bus at Leh. But the driver and the conductor on the bus are co operative, they will guide you well. They are used to having a few foreign tourists on board, so they know how to communicate in basic English/sign language well 🙂
      There is another semi-deluxe bus. In this, the entire ticket to Manali as well as stay in Keylong is covered. Either bus stops at places in between for breakfast, lunch, and toilet breaks. Though bear in mind, the only “toilets” you will see are at the dhabas after Sarchu.
      You can not (and should not) cover the entire journey from Leh to Manali without a night break. A stop at Keylong (most common) or at Jispa is a must.

      1. Gaurav Dadhich

        Hi Sandeepa. Me and my wife were planning for the same road trip from Leh to Manali and we came across this beautiful blog.:) Kindly suggest hotels/homestay/tents where you stayed in keylong during your journey. How would completing the entire route in a single day by a shared taxi ? what would you suggest ?

        1. Even in a taxi, completing the entire journey in a day is not recommended. The nallas on the Rohtang Pass will be flowing in full flow by afternoon. This makes the road risky. Rohtang Pass is a strict no in the fading light. We had stayed in a hotel right next to the bus stand in Keylong. We don’t remember which one, there isn’t much of a choice in Keylong in any case.

  29. hi both! very impressive pics and im sure it must be a very impressive (and scary!) journey. you say that you only recommend doing it from leh to manali… may i ask you why is that? i thought of travelling from manali to leh to get used to the altitude and then travel back by flight to delhi… many thanks!! im really looking forward to going to leh but at the same time im a little scared 🙂

    1. Ladakh is just too amazing. You will have a great time there! We recommend traveling from Leh to Manali because the altitudes at some of the places (atop the Tanglang la, for example) are higher than Leh. If you start to feel uneasy along this route, there’s not much you can do. It’s best to get acclimatised in Leh (where you also have access to medical facilities, if need be) and then venture out further in Leh.

  30. Hello,

    I made quite a blunder by booking a flight to Leh from Bangalore, rather than reaching Leh via Manali. 9th August am reaching Leh, speanding 9 days at Leh, would be going around, & wish to ride to Manali. I have few questions.

    1. August 18th or 19th, I wish to leave Leh & reach Manali by road. Can I get a bike from Leh to Manali, use it there for a few days & drop it off at Manali? If so, can I get a contact? Any bike rental company that i call say they have bikes only from Manali to Leh, & not Leh to Manali.
    2. How is the road from Leh to Manali. Not from Manali to Leh, but Leh to Manali. We are 4 of us, wish to hire 2 bikes. Are the roads safe to ride late in the evenings?
    3. Are there interesting places (not to miss) on this route?

    Kindly help,


  31. Great blog, and lovely pictures!

    My friend and I are going to cycle the highway in August. About the accommodation that is available… I have read articles that talk about “camp sites”, “self-camping sites”, “dhabas”, “chadar tents” but I don’t know what the differences are, what facilities are included at each kind of place. Can you explain ?

  32. I loved reading your blog. Pictures in the blog are so alluring. I have planned for a bike ride from manali to ladhak. There I will do Zanskar Valley trek with Red Chilli Adventure and then back to manali, I am very excited for the trip your blog boosted my excitement 🙂

  33. Abhinandan jain

    Hi i am travelling to Leh this 17th via Manali.. And planning to cover ladakh-srinagar-kargil n then to delhi via Dalhousie Rishikesh… Any suggestesions to this plan?how safe and feadible it will be. I have 2 weeks with me and will be travelling on bike.

    1. Hello Abhinandan, will recommend focussing the 2 weeks on Ladakh itself since there’s so much to see and bike around in Ladakh – trips to Tso Moriri, Pangong, Nubra or in the Batalik region. You can also take a detour from Kargil and visit the Zanskar valley crossing the Penzi la. If you do not feel like going all the way to Zanskar, you can just visit the Suru valley and have a close look at the Nun-Kun peaks.
      Not sure you’ll have enough days/energy left for a detour to Dalhousie/Rishikesh after Ladakh. Keep a close watch on the biking forums for the situation in Kashmir. If everything is fine, we always recommend going to Leh via Srinagar and returning via Manali. We’ve explained the reasons in this story.

  34. Hi Sandeep,

    Amazing article and amazing scenery. Need few information-

    We are planning to take self driven car from Chandigarh and will go via Shrinagar and in return will come by Manali route. Can you please guide will we find any major difficulty in driving (chandigarh to Leh and Leh to Manali) due to road conditions. For Nubra Valley and Pangong we will take local taxi from Leh with driver.

    Hope we can take self driven vehicles from Shrinagar to Leh and then Leh to Manali.

    1. Hi Rajat,

      We are also planning exactly what you have planned. We are 2 people in self driven SUV. Let me know if you get any revert from Sandeepa Chetan.



    2. Hope your self-drive vehicle is your own private car. Make sure you carry all the documents that prove that it is indeed your car. There have been incidents in Ladakh over people stopping rented self-drive cars/ friends’ cars etc. The Srinagar-Leh and Leh-Manali highways are now open for traffic. There are initial problems due to unsettled roads. However, by July, the roads should be perfectly fine (by fine we mean only as fine as these roads can get!). Enjoy your trip to Ladakh.

  35. oh my my…amazing pics. I am fully motivated. I need a help. I am also planning to travel in july to leh. As i am a solo traveller, wanted to join some group. Could you please help me if you know any group/organizers from pune or mumbai. Lovely blog :).

  36. Dennis Devasia

    Hello Sandeepa, Nice blog and the pictures are amazing. Loved it. I just need a little help, I am also planning a solo trip this year. Could you please tell if there is enough staying options during 10-12 days cycling trip as I am not planning to take camping stuff. And can I take my road bike instead of MTB? May be little ambitious, any way waiting for your reply. Cheers!

    1. Hi Dennis, there aren’t enough stay options along the way. You have camps at Sarchu and then at Zingzing bar before you reach Karu. But in between – from Keylong till you get near to Leh is typically no man’s land. Other than the few army camps, there isn’t much civilisation. Not sure how a road bike will fare on the Leh Manali highway. We aren’t cycling experts but will try to find some answers from the community.

  37. Such a phenomenal article! Sandeepa & Chetan, would you mind if I asked a couple of questions? Myself and 2 friends (all from the UK) are visiting Himachal Pradesh this Summer (July) – what are your thoughts on flying to Leh and taking a bus down to manali along this road? Naturally we are a little scared about the road (and our lives)… Should we do it? It looks so very beautiful! We have two weeks to cover Leh-Manali-Dharamsala. Kindest regards, Lahra

    1. Hey Lahra, Ladakh is just too tempting, isn’t it? For how many days are you traveling in Himachal Pradesh? July is the perfect time to spend in the higher Himalayas like in Ladakh. All the roads and the high altitude passes would be open for vehicular traffic. So sure, you can fly into Leh easily from cities like Delhi. But Ladakh has a bountiful of places to go and fall in love with the mountains. If you’re going to Ladakh, we would recommend giving at least some of these places a go.

  38. sagar chamoli

    Hi Sandeepachetan..!!
    Beautiful couples you both are…!!
    Really loved your article over this topic, Keep writing & shining..!!

  39. if you want to enjoy nature and life then go for road trip and my suggestion road is life what you gain in your iife and what you loss all answer in this road

  40. Nice article friend.
    We going to led in 1st weeknof aug 17….shud we gondirectly leh by flight or we should go by manali leg highway… Totally. Confused…. Pls help
    New traveller : Manish

  41. Siddhartha Sircar

    Beautiful article. Waiting to pass through Rohtang Pass on 12th June 2017. Any chance of visiting Tso Mariri lake while going from Manali to Leh with a stopover at Sarchu ?


  42. Very Nice .. Pics says everything… Can I know when you have taken that Rothangpass pic with Greenery? I am going to Bike trip On June 24th to July 5th. Is it good time to experience nice views? Our root map is below.

    Manali – Jispa – Baralacha Pass – Sarchu – Leh – Khardong La – Nubra – Pangong Lake via Shyok valley – Thiksey Monastery – Lamayuru – KargiL – Srinagar.

    1. Gaurav Sharma

      Hello Sandeepa & Chetan,

      We are going to visit Ladakh from June 6 to June 9, does this time will be enough for us to visit the ‘MUST SEE’ places or do we need to extend the plan ..

      Our itinerary will be :
      June 5- Srinagar –> Kargil (June 5- night halt) –> reaching Leh (June 6) –> Nubra valley (June 6 – return to leh same evening) –> Leh to Pangong lake (June 7 – return to Leh same evening) –> Leh to Tso Moriri ( June 8 – return to Leh same evening) –> leh to Manali ( June 9 morning – expected to reach manali by June 10 noon with a halt at keylong or jispa ).

      Also, can we hire bike from Leh to Manali ??

      Is this fine, or do we require to change or anything.

      Please do suggest. Thanks in advance.

  43. How’s the Manali leh to and fro routes for bike riders. Planning to rent bike from Manali.
    Also what can one do to avoid mountain sickness ?

  44. very useful. i am planning to do this during the 1st week of sept this year. Can you give me some lead for places to stay during night.

  45. Hello Sandeepa, Three of us are coming to Bicycle Manali to Ley in October. We are going to do the ride selfd supported. We are a bit worried about AMS as we are from Australia and have no experience with high mountains. We are thinking of hiring a support vehicle and driver to check in on us at regular intervals. Is this something that would be possible to organise in Manali, and approx. how much would this cost us.



    1. We know of some friends who did exactly this – hired a support vehicle to be with them on the Leh-Manali route so they could ride with less stuff. Don’t know how much it costs, we will try and find the cost and get back to you.

  46. Hi Sandeepa and Chetan, thank you for sharing your experiences! I’m sure it has benefited a lot of people like me! Leh/Ladakh has been on my bucket list for the longest time and I hope to be able to visit this amazing place this September!

    I’d just like to ask if you’d recommend self-driving along Srinagar-Leh and back via Leh-Manali in the last 2 weeks of Sept? If so, where do you recommend renting our self-drive vehicle from as we will most probably be flying into Delhi. I can’t seem to find car rental companies on the internet as most of them appear to be taxi/car with drive rentals. We are concerned that the roads will be too challenging for self-drive but your pictures and stories appear too amazing to give it a miss!

    Also, I understand that only licensed taxis are allowed in Ladakh. Should I prebook them online before arrival or do you recommend me booking a taxi in Ladakh itself?

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hey Fifi, the roads along both the Srinagar-Leh highway and the Leh Manali highway sure are challenging. It requires a driver with a lot of practice on these high mountains to navigate those passes. You can rent out taxis which havehave local expereinced drivers to take you along these routes. That way you have the flexibility to go at your own pace and enjoy the landscape and the road without having to bother about the driving challenges. It is better not to prebook. You will find plenty of cabs for hire. Face to face you can decide which driver you are most comfortable with as well as negotiate for better deals.

  47. i love your artciles, i would like to know which camera you used for ladakh trip ?
    thanks in advance 🙂

  48. Hi Sandeepa Chetan,

    I am planning with my friends to Leh via Manali in the 3rd week of May, just want to know during our travel all routes will be opend or not.
    we wiil be travelling with Innova yellow plate from Delhi-Manali-Leh-Manali-Delhi, is there any problem with outside vehicle on our overall journey.
    Or suggest an alternate route, as our travelling dates are fixed.

    your comments/advice will be most helpfulll for us.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hello Sumeet, 3rd week of May is definitely too early for the Leh-Manali road to be functional. You can try to get to Leh by the Srinagar-Leh highway via Zoji la or fly directly into Leh. There has been heavy snowfall this year, so the highway openings will be delayed as compared to the last.The local taxi unions do not allow rented cars from outside of Ladakh to be driven in Ladakh. More information here.

  49. Hi sandeep chetan,
    I loved this blog. Its wonderfully sorted and the pictures are nicely placed. However for people who are not avid traveller, there should be more information on accomodation and local businesses. Now they would definitely find the info on travel sales sites, but people would like to hear your take on it.


  50. Hey!
    I’m in the plan for a solo bike expedition to Leh. Keeping the atrocity by taxi mafia in mind, what are the necessary steps, if any, to be beared in mind for the journey?
    I’m planning to hire an RE from Chandigarh then to Srinagar down to Manali via Leh.
    Are the taxi mafias around there, so rude that we must hire their vehicles????

  51. Hi Sandeepa and chetan,

    your blog is giving travel goals to the readers. thanks for that. 🙂
    I am planning to travel solo from delhi to Leh via srinagar and back through manali highway. Im planning to complete this circuit in the month of JUNE, 2017 by local/state buses.

    I badly need your inputs on mode of transportation available to get to leh n then back.

    1. Viwaan rathore

      Hy divya we 3 freinds are also planed the same but leh via sri nagar is typical now a days because routes of buses are not good even bus service is not regular it is alternative

  52. Hi Sandeep,

    We are planning to visit Leh-Ladakh in last week of June or 1st Week of July. We will be leaving from Mumbai. Following options I have thought of. Need guidance/assistance in these options and which option to go for. Also please suggest suitable time to visit Leh Ladakh. We will be having 9days in our hand. 5 weekdays and 2 weekends
    We would also like to visit Kargil if possible

    Option 1:
    1) Mumbai to Leh by Flight
    2) Leh Sightseeing
    3) Leh to Nubra
    4) Leh to Pangong
    5) Leh to Tsomoriri

    Option 2:
    1) Mumbai to Srinigar Flight
    2) Srinigar to Kargil road
    3) Kargil to Leh road
    4) Leh local sightseeing
    5) Leh, Nubra, Pangong, Sham Valley
    6) Leh to Mumbai Flight

    One of my friend has visited Leh via Srinigar. His route was Jammu -> Srinigar -> Kargil -> Leh then local sightseeing in Leh and return back to Jammu. Mumbai to Jammu and viceversa via train.

    Please suggest me the route. I was also planning to go via Manali i.e. Delhi to Manali by State bus and then Manali to Leh via taxi service. But since we have limited number of days I am thinking it will cause more excersion. Which option would be better.


  53. Hello Sandeepa, thank you for oyur valuable insights on the manali-leh road trip. Me and my husband have booked the tickets from mumbai to leh from 27th may – 2nd june. Although we have booked our flight tickets from mumbai to leh. But we are of the opinion of travelling from Leh to Manali by road. By halting at Sarchu. Could you please help me with deatils of how to take this trip from Leh to Manali to Delhi By Road. It would be of great help if you could provide me the some contact details for taxis or buses(mode of public transport).
    Awaiting Eagerly for your expert advice! ?

  54. Hello,

    Some lovely pictures you have there! Me and 2 of my friends are thinking of heading to Leh in June this year. We are thinking of renting a car for self-drive in Srinagar, and then driving from there to Leh and back. I’ve read quite a bit about the journey between Srinagar and Leh, but what seems really unclear to me is whether there are any car rental companies in Srinagar that offer car rentals for self-drive! Would you be able to advise us on this?


    1. We haven’t heard of a car rental company in Srinagar. Besides, they have many rules about which taxis are allowed where. For eg, taxis registered in Srinagar are not allowed in Leh. If you could find a way to rent a private car (white number plate, not the yellow one which indicates commercial vehicle), you could self-drive all along the way. Also, make sure what route you would want to take, you might want to return via the Leh-Manali highway instead of heading back to Srinagar.

  55. HI Sandeepa Chetan, I had a query, can u please help me. Ill be doing Manali to Leh this July. I dont want to fly to leh and then work backwards. Is it sensible to do Manali-Jispa-Tsomoriri-Tsokar-Pangong-Leh-Nubra-Leh or Doing Manali-Jispa-Leh-Nubra-Leh-Pangong-Tsomoriri-Tsokar-Leh is a better route to do spread over 10 days?
    Please guide me. Thanks

  56. Mitali R. Makhija


    In continuation to the below post, Just went through your Zanskar trip now. And understood that cant be be covered in our cramped schedule. Nevertheless please mention all the interesting points. Also I would like to know where we would get a proper view of snow capped mountains.


  57. Mitali R. Makhija

    Hi Sandeepa & Chetan,

    Hope you guys are doing well..

    Your experience from Leh to Manali looks so overwhelming in the blog that I could feel goosebumps, courtesy the photography and your writing 🙂

    Well, I am planning to take the Leh-Manali route this June (second week probably) and would definitely love your advice on certain queries I have.

    1. Firstly how many days would it take from Leh to Manali? Like if we start on Day 1 at around 8 in the morning, will we reach Manali by atleast 8PM on Day 2? A night’s stopover is enough or do we need another night in between?

    2. Where should the stopovers be? How much distance can we cover in one day?

    3. What are the places that should be / can be visited in Leh/Ladakh in case we are there for three full days? We plan to fly in to Leh at around 7 in the morning. So that’s Day 1 for us. And we would head to Manali in a Taxi on Day 4.

    Please mention the places that are NOT TO BE MISSED. I know for sure Tso Pangong Lake, Tso Moriri, Nubra, Zanskar Valley are the highlights. Can we do all this in just three days or do we have to replan the trip?

    Looking forward to your response. Thank you sooo much!!



    1. Hello Mitali, we can sense your excitement in your questions, and that’s what Ladakh incites. Having said that, we have to warn you first. The recommended time for altitude acclimatisation in 3 days. Besides, there is lots to see in Ladakh, even more to experience. Our first recommendation would be to try and increase the number of days. Second, if you can’t then don’t rush after “seeing it all”. Make the most of what you are going. If you are going to the lakes, enjoy the sunrise and sunset there, that’s the best time of the day! Trust us when we say, you will never go to Ladakh just once.
      In 4 days, we would recommend the locations around Ladakh and one of the outside locations – Pangong, Tso Moriri or the Nubra valley. Around Leh, in one direction you can visit Thiksey, Shey and Hemis monasteries. In the other direction you can go all the way to Lamayuru, visiting Alchi monastery on the way.
      We know of tourists who go to Pangong and return in a day, it’s not something we suggest. We would recommend spending the 2 remaining days at either Pangong (crossing Chang la) or Nubra (crossing Khardung la) or visiting Tso Moriri.
      There is another highly adventurous itinerary, but this is not very common, you will not get any help here in case things go wrong. You can head to Pangong via Chang la. There is a route to head directly to Tso Moriri from Pangong. From Tso Moriri, you can head directly to the Leh Manali highway via Tso Kar. This avoids having to come back to Leh. This route is nothing short of an expedition, not to be undertaken unless you have a big group and an experienced and expert driver.
      Do have a look at Google Maps to get an idea of these places and the distances. Do not take AMS lightly, any signs of discomfort, come back to the lower altitude and rest.
      About travelling on the Leh Manali route, you can reach Manali by lunch on day 2, if you start early morning. WE had halted at Keylong, some prefer Jispa, just nearby.

      1. Mitali R Makhija

        Thanks Sandeepa. Your inputs have really helped me. I could not respond earlier due to certain reasons. Thank you very much again. Will get back if I need further advice. All the best. Keep traveling!!

  58. Wow, I love travelling and this kind of articles are very helpful for me, I am always looking for different places and tips for travelling or hiring transportation, I appreciate you for sharing & keep up the good work 🙂

    1. Anybody travelling through the Leh Manali highway should have spent some days at the high altitude in Ladakh getting acclimatised. Which is why we recommend travelling from Leh to Manali and not the other way round. Getting acclimatised and keeping yourself hydrated are the main precautions to be taken while travelling through these high altitude routes.


    hello Sandeepa, My name Didi and i have a question. I intend to cycling in manali leh highway in December 2017 is suitable for biking there at that time? Thanks you..

  60. Hello! I want to go to Ladakh from my home town Rohtak in June 2017. So can you recommend the suitable bicycles available for that trip in price range of 30-50K or i have to spend more. I want a bike that i would also like to use for my other tours in the plains.


  61. debasish banerjee

    Hi Guys..have a and my wife are planning to go to leh ladakh next year july. now should we start our trip from manali to leh or take the epic manali-leh trip on our way back?my only concern is altitude shouldn’t spoil the trip..

    1. Hey Debasish, we would never recommend going up the road from Manali to Leh. Ideal case scenario would be to get to Leh via Srinagar and get off via Manali. However, no one can predict what the situation in Kashmir would be like in July. We would recommend flying into Leh and return via the Leh Manali road in the present circumstances.

        1. debasish banerjee

          One more question.are good local tour operators available in Leh for pangong lake and Nubra valley trip?can i comfortably book after i reach leh?or i should go with one of the big operators from Mumbai?they will charge a bomb though..

  62. Thanks about this simple and good explanation about trip.
    I am planning to go there. Can you suggest by which way to go. By road or by Sky.
    Don’t you think the view from plane would also be worth?

    1. Deepanshu, ofcourse it’s a lovely sight flying over the Himalayas. We will also get this experience someday for sure, especially in the winters. But we love slow travel and road provides a wonderful way of connecting with the people.

  63. Siddarth Chaturvedi

    Hi Guys!

    I have couple of queries.
    (1) Which is the best month for this trip?
    (2) You said you travelled via public transport then how could you able to click such beautiful shots. Did buses stops at famous points?

    1. Himalayan summer – July to September is the best time to visit the high altitude Himalayas. Those are the months when the Leh Manali route has the least disruptions (though in the mountains, one has to be prepared for everything). Most of these pictures have been taken in the moving state transport bus, on-the-go. These are all the high altitude passes, so the bus isn’t exactly zooming past. Also, practice makes perfect! Have a look at our travel to Zanskar for photos from a moving truck!

      1. Hi Sandeepa, I want to plan for a Ladakh trip in the month of June/Juky 2017. So need some tour itinerary from you if you dont mind.

  64. I love taking bike road trips and i want to do a bike road trip to Leh from Delhi. Can you tell me the short itinerary for this trip? Telling some places to stay would be a great help. After doing, i will be looking for Manali Leh cycling trip.

  65. Hi. Can you tell me how to reach Leh from Manali in October? I will reach Manali on 1st Oct and I am a girl, traveling solo. I have already booked my flight tickets from Pune to Delhi. And the return flight is on 11th Oct morning. I heard about how it is not possible to take the Manali-Leh in october. But I want to go. There must be a way? I don’t want to fly to Leh as it’s costly plus I don’t want to miss the road. Please help.

    1. It would be better to fly to Leh from Delhi. However, this year, road works are still going on the Manali-Leh highway, to keep it open this year for a longer period to ensure uninterrupted access to Leh (apart from Srinagar Leh Highway). Check up if buses are plying else taxi’s should be available.

  66. This is a very nice blog and It was very amazing or helpful for Ladhak traveling It is such a great post thanks for sharing I really really like it

  67. Awesome pics and very well written…. congrats..
    i m planning to travel From Manali to leh by bycycle next month. Can you tell me how is route in september.
    are the dhabas open on the way in september?

    1. September is still very much the season for Ladakh, so the dhabas should be open. For the latest update on road conditions, you could have a look at the Himalayan Club group in Facebook or the community pages of devilonwheels.
      Respect to you on taking up this cycling expedition! Wish you all the best, hope you have a successful trip. We look forward to reading about your journey.

  68. This is very nice and Informative article and It was very great information I really Like it Thanks for sharing

  69. Narendra prajapati

    Hey sandeep, i am planing to explore zanskar. I all want to know is that is it possible to go phugtal monastery from manali via rohtang la, keylong, darcha, and purne in January 17by trek and hiking. Is it possible trek rohtang pass in winter. Is road from Darcha to purne snow cover? Is it cycle able road? And I want to go there solo. Any permission required to pass rohtang la in winter? How much days it take? Any suggestions to make trek route shorter? What you suggest for make way to phugtal monastery. Waiting for your reply.

  70. Hi Sandeep…I am really mesmerized by reading your blog…you are a true storyteller and a photographer too. Your blog is really inspiring. To add the background, me and one of my friend is also going to manali to leh expedition in this coming September and It’s a self supported ride. I need an advice from you, I want to carry DSLR on this trip, but unable to figure out how to carry it. Can you please suggest a way to carry it safely and hasselfree.

    1. Thank you so much Abhishek, and wish you both a wonderful trip to Ladakh! This bag by Lowepro has been our trusted companion to carry our camera gear on all our travels. Carrying a DSLR and the accompanying lenses during travel is never going to be as light as a smartphone camera (which we are starting to use more and more), but the right bags can make a world of difference.

  71. hello sandeep
    can u suggest me itinerary for the leh ladakh trip of around 15 days
    i would love to visit tso moriri , hanle , leh , pangong , nubra valley , turtuk , kargil
    thanks a lot

    1. Hi was nice reading your article. We are a group of 16 would like to come back from Leh -Manali by road in the month of May (22-05-2017) .can we take that journey by road. We are trying to reach Leh from chennai Delhi Leh flight. What do you suggest

      1. The Leh-Manali highway usually opens up in June. This year the snow levels have been higher than normal which might further delay the opening of this highway. May 22nd would probably be too early to travel by the Leh-Manali highway.

  72. Hi Guys, Must complement on the really beautiful pictures…
    Also had a query. We are planning to leave for Leh on 6th August from Delhi. Can anyone help me with the inputs on the latest road conditions on Manali-Leh highway?

    1. A short climb up a flight of stairs would make us breathless. But we traveled real slow during our time in the higher Himalayas. So no real breathing issues. But yes, after we got down to Manali, the ease in breathing even while climbing up, was noticeable. Are you visiting the Himalayas this year?

  73. Hi SandeepaChetan,

    We have cancelled all the Srinagar-sonmarg-Kargil plans.and taking direct Mumbai-Leh flight due to current crisis in Srinagar. Can you please guide us on what to visit thereafter in 10 days (12-22 August)? So far we have Leh, Tso Moriri and Nubra on the list. Please advise as I don’t know if I ever get a chance to visit Leh again (keeping 2 kids at home this time with in laws) and don’t want to miss anything in this trip though 10 days could not be that enough. 🙂


    1. Hello Anvita, sorry couldn’t get back to you earlier. Hope you had a wonderful trip to Ladakh. Our favourite saying about Ladakh is, you can not go to Ladakh once. Trust us when we say, someday you will be back. So even if you missed out on places, there will always be another time.

  74. hi im deepak from bangalore. we are planning ride from manali to leh during mid of august. is it the good time to travel by bike. also wat are things that we need to carry for safety.

  75. Hi Sandeepa & Chetan. I just stumbled on to this site when I was searching for traveller’s blogs. I am in total awe even after 45 minutes of leaving my seat…such beautiful places. I and my husband are planning a Delhi-Kullu-Manali trip by September mid week. We are from Kerala and we have to travel by train from here to Delhi and then by bus from there on. Is September a good time to visit there?

    God bless you guys…. you’re living a lot of people’s dream….may God make your life more happening and easier….

    1. September is a good time to visit Himachal. It is the low season for the lower Himalayas, so even the popular tourist destinations like Manali will be a little less crowded. You will also get off season prices at hotels. Happy a good trip. The Himalayas are totally worth traveling all the way up from Kerala! Happy travels!

  76. Pendown (@manjulika5)

    I was glued to the pictures. I bet it would be surreal to see them in real.

  77. Hello Sandeep,
    wow, after reading this I can’t wait further to visit this place, I am 39 year old & first time I will be doing solo trip to Laddakh in beginning of Sep. I will be flying from Delhi to Kulu and after a day stay in Kullu will travelling to Leh by HPTDC bus. And will have 7 days in Leh to explore Laddakh. I will fly back from Leh to Mumbai.
    Would be great help if you can advice me, as I am but worried to take road from Manali to Leh, what would be your suggestion?
    Is sept 1st week good time to visit?
    Looking forward to hear from you.



    1. Hello Vinod, Ladakh is a perfect destination for solo travel. Wish you an awesome time! We would ideally recommend descending via the Leh-Manali route since by then your body is acclimatised to the high altitudes of the Leh-Manali highway. Consider seeking medical advice regarding the risk involved.

    2. Hi Vinod,
      Even I am planning to take HPTDC bus to travel from Leh to Manali. I need some info regarding the same, Can you please share me your e-mail id ?

      Thanks in advance ! 🙂
      Rohit R

  78. Such a beautiful post! Ladalg will always remain close to my heart and it is amazing when I come across like minded writers who capture it’s essence so beautifully 🙂

  79. Nice Blog!!… We are planning to hire bikes and cover Chandigarh-Srinagar-Leh-Manali-Chandigarh route. Is it the good route to follow in mid August?

    Do we have to rent separate bikes in Leh for sight seeing in Leh Area like Pangong Tso, Nubra valley? Is there any restrictions like this in Leh area?

    Also do we need to take permits in Manali if we go to leh via Manali for non HP vehicles??

    Please help on this.

    1. No, u don’t have to rent another bike to get to leh. you can take same bikes your will hire from manali.

      If you will ask any local there, you’ll be asked to hire local bikes so that they make some money as income sources are less there.

  80. Please guide on Direct flight from Mumbai to Leh any issues in health. is it safe to take direct flight as I have time of 7 days and there is already gang gamed and some have already booked air tickets. Precaution to take while travelling. 15 July to 21st July is our Leh travel decided. Do we need to take medicine before 2-3 days travelling to Leh.

  81. Very nicely written, and so are the pictures Sandeep.
    We are planning for a Delhi-Srinagar-Leh-manali Delhi road trip in July 2016. Our concentration will be more on Leh. Manali will be a mere stop over at night on route to Delhi. My question is if it is possible to drive from Leh to Manali in 1 day and Manali to Delhi, the next day in a Mahindra XUV with all 5 guys being decently good drivers. Also is it possible to drive on these roads in the night too?

  82. Stumbled upon your site while researching on Leh to Manali tour. You are a vivid traveller and I want your advice on my first trip to visit this beautiful place on earth. Im planning Leh to Manali in early September, where my first point of entry would be Leh (Flying from New Delhi). Im not sure if this is a great plan considering all that I read abt AMS.. but I have very few days and I want to spend considerable amount of relaxed time in Manali and Kasol, which Im thinking would be better after the Leh – Manali road trip.

    First of all is it a sane plan considering its my first time ? How many days would you advice I should spend in Leh to get acclimatised to the altitude and then start the journey to Manali.

    Thanks again for your comments and for the mind blowing photographs.

    1. Hi Aparna – Is it a cycling trip that you’re planning? I’m planning to cycle either Leh-Manali or Leh-Nubra/Pangong starting around Sept-4 and I fly in to Leh on Sept-2.

  83. Hi Sandeepachetan

    So, we group of friends are planning trip to Laddakh. The thing is we are short on days.

    We are planning from 15-22 June. 15th monring we will be in Manalis, and we have to be back by 22 in delhi.

    The thing is, if we take the road trip, it will give us only 4 days to roam around in Leh, and 4 days will be spent in travelling to and from Leh.

    But we don’t want to miss out on bike trip eiither, what do you suggest. What should we compromise.

    The road trip or the Time up there in Leh

    1. Kibe!!!
      I read the query before reading the name and I was like “Dude, this guy’s itinerary matches ours exactly. What an amazing coinicidence. I should check this person out.” And then there you were :p

    2. From acclimatisation point of view, we would not recommend the Manali to Leh journey to start with. If you are short on time, we would recommend heading to Leh first, seeing places like Lamayuru and Hemis around Leh. Then you can visit one of the three common far off destinations – Pangond Tso, Tso Moriri or Nubra valley.

  84. Hello Sandeepachetan,!
    very very nice blog!
    need one info from your experience.
    From leh to manali is it possible to use state bus at June with a night halt at keylong? I wanted to travel by HPTDC bus but HPTDC bus starts from July. So only option remains is state transport bus.
    Please reply at your convenient time.


  85. Hey sandeepachetan very nice post here thanks for this article post, this year i wll go there . how long is the trip

  86. Hi sandeepa chetan planning road trip from manali to leh. Shall we go with a tour operator or we can manage it ourselves? Your suggestion

    1. Hello Saket, we are joining our friends this year on a tour to remote parts of Ladakh as well as Zanskar. If you are only planning on traveling from Manali t Leh (without traveling around in Ladakh), then you can just take the state transport bus to Leh.

  87. Ladakh Warriors

    I am planning for a Bike Ladakh tour this season. I will go via Kargil and then come back via Manali. Too excited

  88. This look like one of the best trip to leh -Manali. I am planning my next bike trip to leh manali. After that i am going to comment.

  89. Would you recommend going from Leh to Manali or Manali to Leh? Some people have said it is better to go from Leh to Manali because of altitude sickness. If so how would you recommend getting to Leh?



    1. Hello Nathan, your information is absolutely correct. The altitudes on the mountain passes of the Leh Manali route could cause a problem if the body is not accustomed. If you have the time, the best way to get to Leh (at least for us), is visa the Srinagar-Leh route. You have options of taking it slow by halting at Mulbekh, Kargil (most popular) or Drass (we spent a night here). Another option is to fly to Leh from Srinagar or Delhi. In any case, a couple of days for altitude acclimatisation n Leh are a must before you venture further into the Ladakh valley.

      1. K.P.Nagarajan (@UnagK)

        How can one enjoy travelling and still manage High altitude most city folks live sedate lives not the active and rustic travelers attitude.

        1. Hello Mr. Nagarajan, thank you for writing to us! The key is to give your body enough time to adjust to the altitude and the lesser oxygen levels. Travel as slow as you can, ascend to higher heights gradually. Also, drink lots of water and walk slowly. Avoid alcohol. And listen to your body.

  90. Pingback: Loving the Journey: 10 Amazing Road Trips to Add to Your Bucket List - FEMME & FORTUNE

  91. Hi we want to go for the bike trip to leh ladakh from srinagar. will be the climate there? Any suggestions?

    1. Climate in the mountains is always unpredictable, it can be warm and sunny or it can rain and snow. You will need to follow the weather around your time of travel closely.

  92. Hey we are planning to go on a roadtrip from mumbai to leh ladakh then passing to manali n through Lucknow back to mumbai what are gonna be the challenges n necessities we need to keep in mind while driving as well as other things and we are planning to go in month of July thts during monsoon please ping back. Thanks in advance

    1. Hello Rukshar, thank you for writing to us and wish you all the best for this ambitious driving plan. As you would have read, we traveled in Ladakh mostly by public transport. We do not have experience of driving to Ladakh. Do consult Ladakh driving specific websites, devilonwheels is one very good resource regarding this. During our stay in Drass, we did meet a group who had driven a similar route quite successfully, so your plan is quite doable. Happy travels to you!

  93. the road doesn’t open until mid of June. Suggest you to postpone your paln to end of June to enjoy uninterrupted journey.

  94. Bharat Prajapati

    helo devesh How r u, Me Bharat from Gujarat want to go with my wife on this tour, but have not good Partner. i just see your Comments here. if you not Complete your Tour can we discuss for next planning, my email id is

  95. Hello,

    I will visit Ladakh on First week of April. Can you please confirm me in April(1st week) is Khardungla pass and Pangong lake accessible?

    Please inform me.

  96. Hi Chetan,
    The pictures are stunning and you have described the land very well.
    I am in the process of convincing a few of my friends to undertake a bike ride with me on the same route.
    May i have your permission to use your pictures on a closed group post? I could say a thousand words or just show your pictures to convince them.
    Pls let me know.
    Thank you and safe travels.
    – Ajay Menon

  97. Hi Chetan,

    First of all, all the pictures are amazing.
    We have planned for Manali-Leh trip from 15th-24th Aug. Due to the change in weather conditions, is it safe to execute our trip at this point of time.

    Is Anyone else going to leh at this time(15th-24th Aug). Some of our friends have already backed out due to bad weather and now we are only 3 persons remaining. Also let me know if anybody would like to join us for the trip.

    We were planning the bike trip earlier, but now depending on the weather condition we will decide if bike is feasible and if not we will book a cab for manali to Leh.

    Please feel free to contact me @09611837766

  98. Gaurang Kashela

    Hi Chetan,

    First of all let me tell you these all pictures are breathtaking! I am Gaurang, 31 planning to visit Leh-Ladakh from 25th Aug-6th Sep and this will be my first trip and that too solo!
    I just want to know about one thing whether share taxis are available there or not? Because I am not an adventurous person, so biking will not be possible for me.

    1. Hello Gaurang, you will love your first trip to Ladakh, its a perfect place for solo travel. Shared taxis are available for all the places in Ladakh as well as along the Leh- Manali and Srinagar-Leh highway. Shops in the market in Leh have boards put up with information of travellers looking for companions to share the taxi. Have a look at our Tso Moriri story to get an idea about how easy it is to find shared rides in Ladakh! Happy travels!

  99. Hi,

    Any one planning for Manali-Leh Cyling trip from Aug 21 to Sep 2nd.

    Pls let me know.

    Thanks in Advance



  100. First of all , Great photos !!

    We are a couple who will be flying in leh and have to travel from leh to manali by 2 days on sep 2-3. Is it safe for us to take share taxis ?

    1. Hello Nirmal, shared taxis are a very common means to travel in Ladakh. You can hire a shared taxi to travel from Leh to Manali. Just ask around after you get to Leh. Your hotel/ guest house will be able to point you to the correct taxi stand.

  101. Saurabh9310167506 Agarwal

    Hi I am from delhi couple around 38 yrs without kids planning for. Delhi srinagamanliali around in between 8-16 august. 2015 with short travel time in my own suv anyone wants to join can cont 8527737506

  102. “Epic????? This is simply amazing. I was beguiled by the pictures!!! You really made my day Chetan! What splendor and magnificence!!! This year’s summer I just decided where to start. Al thanks to you!
    The paradoxical snow- dipped and dusky mountains, lushy hair pin bends and everything is going to haunt my dreams till I see them for real.”

  103. Dear Sundeepa-chetan…… CONGRATULATIONS !!!!!
    WONDERFUL Photographs with EXCELLENT write up, we feel like get up and start for a self-drive my Car sooner possible, It is very good blog. Here i wanna know we r a couple from Delhi above 50 wish to self drive delhi to leh around 1st week end July 2015.
    1.- Is it safe to drive in own Renault Duster car.
    2.- Are these roads motor able with mid size SUV.
    3.- How many hours it take from Manali to Leh. Is there desiel staion in Leh.
    4.- 15 days are enough for this trip.
    i have good experience of driving for last 30 yrs covered most of Uttrakhands hills like all kadars including Himachal..Sarahan, 6 trips to manali ,3 trips Rohtang pass, 1 trip lahaul.

    1. did you complete your trip to leh by self driven car? i am planing to travel by my own car in may or june this year along with my daughter. how was your experience? can you share? my car is ford classic fiesta.

      1. hi even we 3 friends are planning …from chennai to leh ladakh ….will be lving by 15th june

  104. satyamlathtyam lath


    we are going for a bike travel from manali to leh and back to leh during 20th july to 31st july 2015. we are 8 people. can u tell about the clothes and accessories we should have during the trip. kindly suggest us about what shoes we should be wearing.

    1. Hello Satyam lath,

      You must have the followings.

      Thermals, jackets, wind cheaters, balcalava, riding boots, socks, bikini for you.

  105. Poonam kharya

    Hi ,

    Me and my husband planing bike trip for leh this july 2015 (11th july 2015 – 24 july 2015 ) . we are going alone from mumbai . is it gud to alon or we have to join any group for bike trip . If we have to join any group , could you please suggest any group if you know .

    1. Hello Poonam, great to know of your biking trip plans for Leh and Ladakh. If you are seasoned bikers, it should be okay. But if you are not, it is better to join a group/fellow bikers for a biking trip to Ladakh. We aren’t into biking so can’t recommend any. But websites like should help.

  106. Hi, Great post and amazing pictures!
    I did this road few years ago I can say it was one of the most scariest experience in my life, I thought I would die there 🙂 But I am still alive so I recommend people do that as well, because of stunning nature.

  107. Sanidhya Singh

    Sir this is the most beautiful thing I have ever read. Still getting goosebumps. Your way of expressing this journey is incredible and not to forge the pictures are breathtaking. I’m also planning a Manali-Leh road trip by my car in November as i’ll be free by then. Will it be suitable? Need your expert guidance.

    1. Hello Sanidhya, you will need to check when the Leh Manali highway closes this year. Snowfall might start on the highway by then. Good luck and happy travels.

      1. Sanidhya Singh

        Thanks a lot sir.
        May I also get details about the DSLR and the lens used to click these magnificent pictures.

  108. These are the awesome pics.
    Need one suggestion that “Is Mid-September is good time to visit LEH ?”

    1. Hello Rahool, September would be a lot cooler than August. Some places in Ladakh and along the highways might start receiving some snow. However the Leh Manali as well as the Srinagar Leh highway should be operational till then. Also, the peak season for Ladakh would be over, so you will get lesser crowds and traffic, always a good thing! Happy travels!

  109. Apoorva Sanghvi

    Excellent write up we felt as if we were travelling with you.Photographs were also very good.

  110. Loved this travel story of yours, need your help as we are also planning a trip to Leh via Manali.
    could you please give some details about from where to book bus ticket and night stay on this trip?
    we are two friends planing to go Leh in Aug 2015 for 10 days. we are from delhi and we want to cover our ongoing journey via Manali and return via srinagar, please suggest my Email_id is 🙂

  111. Looks amazing.. we r 2 frnds planning to have a road trip from delhi to manali and then leh ladak – Rohtang Pass .. first time planning for a road trip and are blank.. any suggestions will definitely help plz.

    1. Amazing it definitely is! We aren’t bikers so can not give you any first hand information about biking in Ladakh. But there are many who bike in the summer to Leh via Manali. Only thing we can say is travel in a group. Avoid solo biking. You should have a look at the biking forums. One of the best resource we would like to point you to is the devilonwheels website. That would be a good starting point for you Leh Manali biking preparation.

  112. wow! such a beautiful route and I am appreciating your words through your pics – that you come into the greenery from the desert. The greens welcome you from the browns!

    1. Yes, it is amazing how the colours of nature play with your moods. Experiencing this transition is one of the most beautiful experiences of the Leh Manali journey.

    1. Thank you Lou! It is exciting to know you are traveling through this road in June. We reckon you will get more snow on the route in June than us when we traveled in august beginning. It will definitely be a journey to remember!

  113. wanderer by heart

    hi! its really interesting to see read your blog. The narratives are simple and easy to read with all possible details ! kudos to you guys! I would certainly like to know which DSLR you guys use? is that a full frame camera? The pictures in this page are quite striking….picture do all the talking too!!!!

    while I have come across info about manali-leh bus route recently only….the internet is full of bike and car trips…how do you describe the experience in bus? is it easy or one needs to pull in some pain? Is it recommended for a person who’s into photography…I mean does it provide ample opportunity for photography?

    Also, How would you describe the route and leh in may end/ early june ? if the route and place choc-o-bloc with tourist? and what about the accommodation scene? does it get “all sold out” given the fact that laddakh has been getting too much attention lately?

    1. Hello wanderer by heart, looks like a trip to Ladakh is on the cards for you! That’s great!
      The bus ride, while obviously not as comfortable as a SUV would be, is a great experience. And surprisingly quite comfortable. As you would have read, all our photos from this Leh Manali story have been taken from the moving bus. Do read my reply here for more information on the bus ride from Leh to Manali.
      However, you will need to check when the road opens up for next year. Leh Manali highway usually opens for traffic only later in June, of course everything depends on the ground reality at the time.
      While places like the Pangong Tso see a lot of tourists in the summer, it is not (yet) choc-a-bloc. On the contrary, we were the only people when we visited Tso Moriri.
      For details about our photography equipment, do have a look at our Photos page.
      Do let us know if you need any other information. Happy planning!

      1. restlesswanderer

        the link to pictures is quite interesting. are you guys using full frame dslr? do you stick to kit lens or ultra wise (something like 11-16mm) lenses?

        1. A are two and wish to visit Leg in Aug 15. Pl explore if we all can make a group and hire a SUV together.
          9212191170 Delhi

  114. We are reaching Leh on 2nd Nov 2014 and want to cover Leh Ladakh and Manali if possible while need to reach back to delhi by 9th afternoon. Is it possible? and will the buses be available during this time as well easily?

    1. Hi Abhishek,

      We r 4 friends moving to Leh on 4th nov & to retun by 9th nov to delhi.
      If you are not with family & buses unavailable we can share a taxi.

      1. Hi

        I am planning to travel to leh from manali on 16th october and back to delhi by 23rd October.

  115. Hi guys thanks alot for ur ideas n thanks for sharing ur views even i m from Mumbai nut currently settled in uttrakhand dehradun. I m planning on to go to manali n then leh ladkh
    With a friend of mine in my Ford Endouver can u suggest the best route which is safe but adventures..

    1. Hello Amit, that sounds like a great travel plan. The Manali Leh highway provides more adventure than you could imagine! It’s a road trip you’ll remember forever. Just be mindful of the altitudes you will be crossing before getting to Leh. Be well prepared. Wish you a great trip!

    1. Niranjan, we were in a HP state transport bus. On the way we saw many cyclists going up the road. No idea about their cycles. Are you planning to cycle up the Leh Manali highway?

      1. Hi Sandeep, You said you were on HP state transportation bus. I have participated in national bicycle expedition on last week of august at leh. I want to reach leh from Jammu on 24th August 2015. I can’t find any information related to government or private transportation. Can you help me ? Your information will meant to me. Thanks

        1. Hello Deep, best wishes for the bicycle expedition. You should get to Srinagar at least a day before you plan to leave for Leh. You can then book a ticket for Leh in a shared jeep or the JKRTC bus at the bus stand (both near the Srinagar TRC, close to Dal lake). The jeeps leave early morning. Don’t know the bus timings.

      2. I am deepak from mumbai,planning to visit leh at the 1st week of june from manali to leh with family including kids,is it advisable or not to travel on this month?

        1. Hey Deepak, 1st week of June is pretty much the beginning of the season for Ladakh. There might be snow at places. The Leh-Manali road might or might not be completely opened – it all depends on the snow they get this winter. After the 2nd week of June is the better time if you want to go to all the places. On the other hand, in the 1st week of June places would still just be opening up for the season, there won’t be much crowd, there will be a new energy everywhere. Either way, it’s a win-win. Ladakh is always a win-win!

  116. This is lovely and super adventurous. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful blog. We are planning to travel from Leh to Manali. Do we do the Rohtang pass and Tsomiri lake on the way? How do you think we should cover it? And what about the buses from Leh to Manali, how frequent are they?

    1. Hello Shweta Raj, thank you for your compliments. Visit to Ladakh and specially the journey from Leh to manali is something you will remember forever. We are glad you are planning to make this road trip. Rohtang Pass is the last mountain pass of this journey, on the Manali side. Where as Tso Moriri is in the Ladakh region. You will have to make a 2 day trip from Leh to Tso Moriri. Tso Moriri and Rohtang are both clearly marked on Google Maps. Have a look at the map for a clear picture.
      Buses for Manali leave everyday from the Leh bus stand. You go to the stand and book your tickets in the HP state bus that is waiting there.

  117. To the lucky couple, Hi sandeepa and chethan, your words sound dreamy. And i loves the line quoted by Nico. I am also in a plan to visit Leh from Manali. Manal to Leh by flight and return by himachal state tourism bus. It would be good if you can please explain more about the bus service and stays at Leh.

    1. Hello Ajith, thank you for your compliments! The bus that reaches Leh from Manali leaves for Manali the next morning at 5AM. This bus actually terminates at Keylong. At Keylong you book a ticket for the connecting bus to Manali. At Leh, the bus driver and conductor stay in the bus itself. You book the tickets from them. Try to book them before 12 noon to get a good seat. Recommend seats on the driver’s side for the best views.
      There are many guesthouses, hotels and homestays in Leh, accommodation should not be a problem.

  118. My goodness, I have been to this journey; It seems like an epic final journey to heaven! Peaceful, blissful and awestruck is what you feel around those beautiful landscapes and scenic wonders. I am sure God must be living around 🙂

      1. Yes absolutely.. a terrific experience seeing people traveling with such ease even when some of them were sitting on the roof.. That was crazy 🙂

  119. Lynn Esposito

    I’ve been following your journey every day. Look forward to it. And your amazing photos.
    I was in Manali too. Kullu to Manali was a common vagabond route.
    It was mostly a dirt road getting there, and then you had to walk the last bit, and go over this swinging rope bridge. A bit tricky with a back pack. And very exciting.
    Manali was just a small hill station. One street (dirt) and not a very long one.
    A bit out of town was a small old temple with hot springs in it.
    You could immerse yourself in them, I was there alone….so it was finally a chance to sit in hot water and feel clean. (didn’t use soap…. used a stone to scrub).
    Just curious….how long have you been on your tour, and how much longer will you stay on it.
    I truly am so happy for you that can do this……and thru Flickr share it with us.
    It’s just so mind/heart opening isn’t it?
    Stay safe, and keep posting.
    Regards to you both, Lynn

    1. Lynn, we thank you so much for your comments, we look forward to them with every photo we post. It is really really fascinating for us to read them.(Only wish photography was as easy back then!)
      Manali is nothing like a dirt road anymore, it has become a full fledged tourist destination, with rows of shops and eateries (and people). And Kullu is almost a small town, if not a city!
      I don’t think anyone will have the luxury of being alone in the hot spring anymore.
      We have been back home in Mumbai for a while. Spent 3 months in the hills. It was such an enriching experience.
      Intend to get back on the road soon!

  120. I enjoyed reading your story, and of course the extraordinary photos!
    I remember those bus rides. I still have dreams about them almost 40 years later.
    I’m very happy for you that you took this incredible journey.
    It’s a beautiful planet, isn’t it. And what I experienced, mostly people just want to get along with each other.
    Happy trails wherever they may take you in the future. Be well.

    1. Thank you so much Lynn! The Leh-Manali road 40 years back, that must have been quite a ride! Do you have any photos from then that we can look at?
      We were just so overwhelmed by the untouched beauty we saw around throughout the journey – of both nature and the people. It was a journey we will remember forever!

    1. sandeepachetan

      Thank you so much Kaushal! The Leh Manali route is a must-do, as is the whole of Ladakh. And once you have been there, once isn’t enough! Best wishes for making this trip happen!

      1. Hi sandeep i wish to go with my parents to leh dad is above 60yrs. I would be going by hptdc bus. Should we take any special precaution. Please guide me.

        1. i am planning to travel through flight delhi to Leh then wish to travel by road from leh to manali and manali to leh is it viable with family to travel by road in this route any suggestion would be helpful

  121. Pingback: Tso Moriri in Ladakh | SandeepaChetan's Travel Blog

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