To be quite honest; it is hard to give a budget estimate for a trip because it depends on way too many factors. Total days of travel, mode of commute and personal spending habits is what will eventually form the total cost of a trip. However, with that being said, there can always be an average minimum; giving a fair idea of how much at minimum you will spend while traveling. If you are planning a trip to Spiti and wondering how much it will cost you; below is how you can calculate your minimum budget or cost of Spiti valley trip.
Contrary to common belief, a trip to Spiti valley is not really going to cost you that much. I remember the first time I went there a few years ago, my per head expense for a 9 day trip came out to be slightly over Rs. 1000. Even after considering the annual inflation and price increase over last few years, if you plan it well; you can still manage to keep you per day expense under Rs. 1000 per person.
With the exception of camps at Chandratal, at most of the places en route; you will easily be able to find accommodation for Rs. 500 – Rs. 600. This will further go down to Rs. 200 – Rs. 300 if you crash for the night at a Chadar / Tent. If a budget hotel is not per your taste then increase the price to Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1200 and you can stay at a good hotel. During your entire trip, finding a place to eat where you will not have to pay more than Rs. 100 for a meal for one person is not a big deal at all.
Your main expense however will come out to be of fuel. This is not really something that is within your control; as the kilometers you will have to travel is a set number and so if the price of the fuel. The only way you can cut down on this is just by traveling in a group; to have someone to share this cost with.
In my opinion, if you truly want to experience the complete Spiti circuit; a minimum of 9 – 10 days must be given to this journey. Any lesser than this and you may have to rush through the journey on certain days. A common and relaxed itinerary for Spiti valley would turn out something like this.
Day 1: Delhi to Shimla / Narkanda
Day 2: Shimla / Narkanda to Sarahan
Day 3: Sarahan to Chitkul
Day 4: Chitkul to Kalpa
Day 5: Kalpa to Nako
Day 6: Nako to Kaza
Day 7: Kaza to Kibber / Komik to Kaza
Day 8: Kaza to Chandratal
Day 9: Chandratal to Manali
Day 10: Manali to Delhi
The above mentioned itinerary ensures that you do not travel either too much or too less on any other day. At the same time, it covers all the major tourist places en route. For the sake of this article, I assumed that you are starting from Delhi. If not, then your journey and cost would differ for the first and last day; depending on where you are starting from. Of course not everyone can follow this itinerary and the cost estimate I will give below for this travel plan too will not be exact but it should at least give you a fair idea of how much you will end up spending.
The total cost of the trip can be divided in three major parts; travel, accommodation and meals. Per head cost will depend on how many people you are traveling with and what is your mode of commute. In this article however, I will provide an overall cost which you can divide by the number of people to get an average.
Accommodation Cost of Spiti Valley Trip
Hotel charges while traveling to Spiti valley will really not be that high. On the entire circuit, you will easily be able to find a hotel where you can get a room for a price between Rs. 500 to Rs. 700; and I mean this for all the places that I mentioned in the above itinerary. Shimla, Narkanda, Sarahan, Kalpa, Chitkul, Nako, Kaza and Manali; all have good budget hotels. The only exception here is the camps at Chandratal where you will have to pay around Rs. 1500 per person at minimum; including meals. If this does not fit your budget, you can chose to not stay here and go to Batal. The Chadar tent or Dhaba at Batal will offer you a bed to sleep on for the night for as less as Rs. 200 to Rs. 300.
So keeping a modest average of about Rs. 700 per night, a 10 day trip will cost you Rs. 6000 – 7000 for accommodation. If you took a stroll at all these places, I am sure you will even find cheaper hotels. If you are traveling with a friend or in a group, then the room will be shared by two people and average cost per head will come down to Rs. 3000 – Rs. 3500.
Meals Cost of Spiti Valley Trip
If you want to keep things under a budget, there are several small Dhabas on the route where you can eat enough and not pay more than Rs. 100 per meal. So an average of about Rs. 300 for meals per day per person will come out to be about Rs. 3000 for the entire trip.
This number however is strictly limited to vegetarian meals at small Dhabas or restaurants. If you eat at the hotels your are staying at; then this number is bound to go up. If you order non-vegetarian, it will again be costly.
So for accommodation and meals; following the above mentioned itinerary; staying at budget hotels and eating at cost effective Dhabas or restaurants; your total cost will be about Rs. 9000 – Rs.10000 if traveling alone; and Rs. 6000 – Rs. 7000 per person if traveling in a group or with a friend.
Travel Cost of Spiti Valley Trip
This as I mentioned will be your biggest cost of Spiti valley trip. You can work around the accommodation and meal charges but how many kilometers you will travel and how much fuel you will use is a set number. The only way to keep this expense at bare minimum is to use public transport; frequency & availability of which is not really that great in Spiti. I have detailed about traveling by Bus or other public transport services to Spiti in another article HERE. For now, let me break it down for other modes of transports; to give you an estimated cost of Spiti valley trip.
Privately Owned Vehicles
Following the itinerary that I mentioned above, from Delhi to Kaza via Shimla and back via Manali; total distance covered would be close to 1700 kilometers. At the time of writing this article, Petrol per liter in Delhi is at about Rs. 64 and Diesel at about Rs. 50. I will use these figures for the calculation below.
Self Owned Motorcycle: If you are bringing your own motorcycle to Spiti then expect its average to dip down slightly than what you were getting on plain roads.
Riding in lower gears, steep ascents would definitely consume more fuel. Most of the motorcycles these days give a mileage of about 30 – 40 kilometers per liter (most, I know there are some that give more than this). To be on a safer side let us assume that you get an average of 30. So 1700 kilometers, at an average of 30 with Rs. 64 per liter of petrol would come to a total of about Rs. 3700 as fuel charges. If you are riding with a pillion, then this cost would be about Rs. 1850 per person.
Self Owned Car: Just like motorcycles, I will assume an average of 10 kilometers per liter which I guess is the minimum for most cars. So 1700 kilometers, average of 10, Rs. 64 for per liter of petrol, Rs. 50 for per liter of Diesel; the total fuel cost will be about Rs. 11000 for petrol run vehicle and Rs. 9000 for Diesel engine. For the sake of this article, I will assume that you are 4 people traveling in the same car so fuel cost per head will be somewhere close to Rs. 2500.
Putting all of the above together, if you are riding solo on a motorcycle, then your total cost of the trip will be somewhere about Rs. 13000 to Rs. 14000; inclusive of fuel, accommodation and meals. If riding with a pillion, this cost would come down to about Rs. 8000 per person.
If traveling by a Car, total cost would be about Rs. 9000 – Rs.10000 per person for a group of 4.
Rented Motorcycles or Self Drive Cars
If you are renting a motorcycle, depending upon which one you choose, average charge comes out to be close to Rs. 1100 per day. So for 10 days; you will pay about Rs. 11000 as motorcycle rental. Please note that in this case the itinerary will change too because if you rented a motorcycle from Shimla, you will have to come back to Shimla to hand it over. If you leave it at Manali, then the rental agency will charge you more money for this service. Any such charge will be in addition to this rent.
So adding the accommodation, meals, fuel and rental; traveling by a rented motorcycle will cost you about Rs. 24000 to Rs.25000 for a 10 day trip; if riding solo. If you have a pillion to share this cost with you; then the total cost will come down to about Rs.14000
I am not really sure about the rates of self drive rentals so cannot provide an estimate on that but the calculation will be the same. Just add the daily rental of the car with your meal and accommodation charges I mentioned above and you will get the idea.
If you are planning to hire a private taxi then my honest advice would be to reach Shimla or Manali by Volvo. Do not hire a taxi all the way from Delhi because this will just be an additional cost. Do a comfortable night journey in Volvo from Delhi to Shimla and rent a taxi from there. Same way, catch a Volvo from Manali to get back home in Delhi. The average per day charge of renting a taxi for Spiti is about Rs. 3000. I will again make the assumption that you are traveling in a group of 4. So 10 days of trip from Shimla to Manali via Spiti will be Rs. 30000 as taxi charge as total and Rs. 7500 per head.
Adding meals, accommodation and taxi charges together, for a group of 4, your total trip cost per head would come out to be between Rs. 14000 to Rs. 15000
Please note that there will be several other costs involved like toll charges, snacks, cigarettes, smokes, cold drinks etc which I will consider as a personal spending habit. This will vary highly from individual to individual so I have not included in the cost estimates I provided above. You can add it to the estimates depending upon your own expenditure or of the group you are traveling with.
I hope the information above related to minimum budget or cost of Spiti valley trip was helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or at our Community Forum and I will be glad to answer.