How can you reach Ladakh? Well there are several answers to this question. You can take your own car or motorcycle or rent one, you can book a private cab, travel in a shared cab, hitchhike, catch a flight, or the most easiest and cost effective of all, board a bus. When it comes to a bus, you can either board one from Manali, Srinagar or the most surprising of all, from Delhi itself. You read it right, there is in fact a direct Delhi to Leh bus that you can board from ISBT Delhi.
The Delhi to Leh bus has been one of the most frequent questions I have been asked off-late. The biggest reason behind this in my opinion is that it saves a lot of hassle. Imagine that you are travelling with a group of friends or family or you have kids travelling with you. Wouldn’t it make it a lot easier if you just boarded the bus from Delhi itself and reached Leh in the same bus, without the hassle of looking for a different mode of transport at several places? It kind of makes things easier. You do not have to worry about preparing you car or motorcycle, make bookings at several places or load/unload your luggage as you change your mode of travel. If you too are planning to board the Delhi to Leh bus, mentioned below are a few details that can be helpful.
Delhi to Leh Bus Service
The Delhi to Leh bus is a bus service run by HRTC from Delhi to Leh via Manali. This service starts after the Manali – Leh highway reopens for the season and is declared by the authorities as safe for a Bus to ply. It remains available from around Mid of June until September 15 after which it is suspended until next year.
Total duration of the journey is approximately 52 hours out of which actual travel time is close to 35 hours (excluding the night stay at Keylong). This bus covers a total of over 1100 kms through some of the most challenging roads and 5 high altitude passes. This is an extension of the previous Delhi to Keylong route that was later extended all the way till Leh. It again shortens to Delhi to Keylong only in September before the bus service completely stops in October after it starts to snow at Rohtang.
This bus runs through six different states or UTs (Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir), covering the plains of Haryana & Punjab, lush green landscapes of Kullu-Manali, adventurous roads midst snow covered peaks of 5 high altitude passes and beautiful vistas of cold desert of Leh-Laddakh.
Delhi to Leh Bus Route
This bus will start from Delhi ISBT, travel to Chandigarh via NH1, then reach Manali via Kullu. From Manali, it follows the Manali Leh highway via Rohtang Pass, Keylong, Jispa, Baralacha La, Sarchu, NakeeLa, Lachlung La, Pang, Tanglang La, Upshi, Karu and reach the small town of Leh. You will not be traveling in the same bus with the same driver though. There will be a change of Bus first at either Bilaspur, Sundernagar or Manali and then at Keylong. Drivers too will change at all these places. You may be travelling in 3-4 different buses with 3-4 different drivers.
Delhi to Leh Bus Fare
A one way ticket from Delhi to Leh will cost Rs 1380 per person. As I mentioned above, this service is an extension of Delhi Keylong Bus service so you will need to book two different tickets. The first ticket is for Delhi to Keylong for Rs. 800 and some change. Then again at Keylong you will extend your ticket to Leh for Rs. 500 and change. This price is not inclusive of meals and your night halt at Keylong and you will be needing to pay for those separately. The fare mentioned here is as of year 2017 and may change in following years.
Delhi to Leh bus timings
The Delhi to Leh Bus starts from Delhi ISBT at 3.30 pm every alternate day, reaches Chandigarh between 8-9 pm. After a quick break, it starts on Chandigarh Manali highway, reaches Kullu early in the morning by 5 AM, then Manali between 7-8 am. After a quick break at Manali and possible change of bus, the journey resumes the journey at 10 AM and arrives by late afternoon at Keylong. It halts at Keylong for the night and starts next day early in the morning between 5 – 6 am, arriving at Leh the same day by 6 – 7 pm.
Please note that the bus runs on every alternate day and not daily.
Delhi to Leh Volvo Bus Service
There is no volvo bus available for this journey. HRTC is the only bus service available as of now.
Delhi to Leh Bus Booking
You can book a ticket in advance from HRTC counter at ISBT Delhi (Counter 7). You may be required to book a ticket first for Delhi to Keylong and then get the ticket extended at Keylong for Leh as you change the bus and board a different one for final leg of the journey.
Delhi to Leh Bus Online Booking
There is no online booking system available yet. You will have to reach ISBT physically and buy a ticket. You can however book your ticket a day in advance.
Delhi to Leh bus timings / Delhi to Leh Bus Time Table
Mentioned below are the departure timings from places en route.
Delhi: 02:30 pm
Chandigarh – Sector 43: 8.30 PM
Kullu: 5:30 AM
Manali: 7:00 AM
Keylong – Arrival – 01:00 PM,
Keylong – Departure: 05:00 AM
Leh (Arrival) – 7 PM
Leh (Departure)- 5:00 am
Keylong (Arrival) – 7:00 pm
Keylong (Departure) – 06:30 AM
Manali (Departure)- 1:25 AM
Delhi (Arrival)- 4:00 AM
For your return journey from Leh to Delhi, you can take the same bus. Mentioned below are a few details on Leh to Delhi Bus Service.
• Evening snacks: Karnal
• Dinner: Ropar
• Early morning break: Pandoh
• Breakfast: Gulaba
• Lunch: Koksar
• Breakfast: Bharatpur near Baralacha La
• Lunch: Pang
• Evening snacks: Upshi
Additionally, the bus also stops at major mountain passes for 5-10 minutes.
Leh to Delhi Bus Service
You can also take the return journey using the same bus service. This bus is the same that runs from Delhi to Leh via Manali. It starts from Leh Bus stand and reaches ISBT Delhi after covering a total of 1100 kms via Manali.
Leh to Delhi Bus Fare
A ticket from Leh to Delhi will cost Rs. 1365 per person.
Leh to Delhi Bus route
This bus follows the Manali Leh highway and then NH1 till Delhi. You will be travelling from Leh to Karu, Upshi, Tanglang La, Pang, Lachulung La, Nakeela, Sarchu, Baralacha La, Jispa, Keylong, Rohtang La, Manali, Chandigarh and arrive at Delhi.
Leh to Delhi Bus Timings
This bus starts from Leh Bus stand at 5 am and arrives at Keylong by 7 pm. From Keylong, it starts again at 5 in the morning and reaches Delhi after a short break at Manali.
For this bus too, you can book your ticket in advance. Just go to Leh Bus Stand, find the bus that goes to Keylong and the conductor will give you the ticket.
A special camp site has been set up at Keylong for this bus service, both for Delhi to Leh and Leh to Delhi. You may chose to stay at the same camp or check in to some other hotel. However, if you are not staying at the camp site, please ensure that you are present next morning before 5 am or the bus will leave without you.
For further inquiries, you may call at the numbers provided below.
Delhi to Leh Bus Service by HRTC
Delhi to Leh bus (Operated by Himachal Pradesh Tourism)
Departure : Every alternate day (till Sept 15) from ISBT, Counter 7 Time: 02:30 pm
For more information you can call ISBT at 011- 23868694
ISBT Chandigarh (Himachal counter): 0172-2668943
Keylong bus station: 01900-222245
Manali Bus stand at 01902-252323, 01902-252116 & 01902-253147
HRTC Keylong depot contact number: 01900-222245
Delhi to Leh By Bus
With above details provided, let me also add a few general tips based on the queries I get.
This is not a luxury bus, not even a semi-deluxe. It is just an ordinary roadways bus all the way till Leh. If you want to travel in it, be mentally ready as the journey can get tough and challenging. The long sitting hours in an ordinary bus, the twists and turns on the hills and the high altitude is bound to take a toll on the body. A better way to do this will be to catch the bus from Delhi to Keylong and spend a day there to get acclimatize to high altitude. There is an early morning bus from Keylong to Leh starting at 5 AM. Catch this bus after spending a day here. As a matter of fact, very few people are able to run to Leh in the same bus. Most of them end up taking a break at Keylong.
Is it safe for solo woman traveler? Absolutely. On your journey you will find several other couples and families traveling in the bus. Drivers and conductors behave well; rather well caring knowing that you are a solo woman traveler. You will also not face any trouble during your accommodation at Keylong.
For accommodation at Keylong, there are a few hotels right near the bus stand where you can easily get cheap accommodation.
If you are interested in photography, then you will need to be careful about which seat you pick. If you sat on the wrong spot or on the wrong side, your photography window will be very limited. From Manali to Leh, most of the time the valley is on the right side so grab a seat in the row behind driver’s seat. For Leh to Manali, grab a seat along the door of the bus. If you sat on the wrong side, you will just be clicking photographs of a mountain wall.
Even though in a bus, you will still be traveling through a cold desert and crossing 5 high altitude passes on the way. Keep a light woolen jacket, wind proof jacket, cap, and gloves handy for times when you will get down from the bus for sightseeing. Keep your socks on as well.
You may suffer motion sickness at several places and in order to avoid that; you should drink plenty of water and eat small meals throughout the day. Do not go empty stomach and do not overeat either.
At all the places that this bus will stop, washrooms facilities will be a challenge. The bus stops at Chadar tents where you will have to use shared washrooms that almost everyone uses who stops there.
Do not expect this bus to stop at every tourist attraction you come across. The HRTC bus does not stop anywhere at all but the HPTDC bus may stop at a couple of places. Sightseeing is limited to only a few places on discretion of the driver and conductor. As a matter of fact, on Day 1, the sightseeing break will only be limited to at Rohtang top for 10 minutes. Then it is a straight run to Keylong with a brief stop at Tandi Petrol station for tank fill. On day 2 as well, the bus will stop at only the passes en route for 10 minutes each but not all of them.
Private tour operator also run buses for both Manali to Leh and Leh to Manali. However for further details, you will need to contact the travel agents at Manali or Leh.
If you do not want to travel all the way from Delhi in this bus, then you can board a Delhi to Manali Volvo. From there you can either catch this bus from Manali or Keylong. Regular HRTC buses run between Manali and Keylong till afternoon. Tickets for Leh bus are available at Keylong bus stand counter, an evening before departure of the bus from Keylong to Leh.
You can also opt for Delhi – Keylong – Udaipur bus at 3:45 pm from Delhi, get down at Keylong and then take the Leh bus from there.
I hope this information on Delhi to Leh Bus service 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 would be glad to answer.