Manali to Leh – Available Modes of Transport
Manali to Leh – Available Modes of Transport : This article is part of the Manali Leh Highway travel guide and is in continuation of the previous article covering the minimum days required to travel from Manali to Leh and different itinerary versions you can follow depending how many days you have in hand. In this article, the different modes of transport available on Manali Leh highway and which is the best one.
Other articles in Manali Leh Highway Travel guide:
Best Time to Travel from Manali to Leh
Manali to Leh – Minimum Days Required
Manali to Leh Road Map With Distance
Manali Leh Highway Travel Guide
Accommodation on Manali Leh Highway
Primary Attractions Of Manali Leh Highway
Traveling to Ladakh : The hows, dos and don’ts
What is the best and the cheapest mode of travel on Manali Leh highway? This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions that I have been asked in last couple of years. In this article, I will provide some information on several modes of transport available to commute on Manali Leh highway.
What is the best mode of travel on Manali Leh highway?
Without a question, the best way to commute on Manali Leh highway is a self-owned vehicle. It doesn’t really matter if it is a car or a motorcycle, if you are on the wheel yourself or hired a driver, travelling via a self-owned vehicle has several advantages. The biggest one is that it gives you the liberty of time and comfort. You can travel as per your own convenience, stop anywhere you want or take as many breaks as you want.
Traveling on Manali Leh highway in a Car
If you are taking your own car to Manali Leh highway, then you really need to be good at the wheel. You need to know your car well and must be confident of your driving skills. The road will present you with many challenges water crossings, slush, snow, dirt tracks and you will have to be extremely careful while driving across. Please get your car serviced well in advance and whatever seems dicey, get it either fixed or replaced. It wouldn’t hurt to know a little bit of mechanic work yourself.
The best car for this terrain will be a 4WD SUV however even a 2 wheel drive SUV will do the job equally well. The advantage with an SUV is of the ground clearance but do not let that hold you back. I have known people who have commuted on Manali Leh highway in a Maruti 800 as well. If you are taking a Sedan or a Hatchback, you would have to be extra cautious or the belly of your car will be kissing the ground at several places. Just keep yourself mentally ready for a few scratches underneath your car. If you are travelling in an SUV, then you can go at any time of the year when the highway is open (June to September), however if you own a hatchback or a Sedan, then avoid travelling in June and July because in these months, the nallahs and the water crossings are at full flow and more in numbers.
While crossing a nallah in a car, please stop for a minute, step out, inspect the crossing and then take your car across very carefully. If you are still unsure then wait for a little while for another car to arrive and follow its lead. Stay in the first gear, do not half clutch and cross over in a single go while maintaining the momentum. If there is slush around, then ask your fellow travelers to step out of the car so that they can help push the vehicle if you get stuck. Accelerate slowly to ensure that your car doesn’t skid. You really need to go easy on the gas to avoid your wheel spinning. Avoid any sudden movements on the steering, accelerator or brakes as this may send your car spinning.
If you are highly doubtful of your driving skills and are not feeling too comfortable with the idea of driving on such roads, then I suggest you hire a driver who is a local from Manali.
Traveling from Manali to Leh highway in a Private taxi
There are a few ways around this. You can either hire a cab from Manali with the driver or hire a self-drive cab. In both these cases, you need to keep in mind that a taxi hired from outside Ladakh will only be good only till Leh and back. For sightseeing in Ladakh and visiting areas like Nubra valley and Pangong Tso, you will have to book another taxi from Leh itself. In order to book a cab, just go directly to Manali taxi stand and stuck up a deal. At an average, it will cost you anywhere around Rs. 20,000 for a private taxi from Manali to Leh. Depending on your negotiations skills, it may be a bit more or less.
Traveling from Manali to Leh in a shared taxi
You can get a shared taxi as well but this is the most uncomfortable mode of transport. These shared taxis start from Manali taxi stand at 12 or 1 AM, drive non-stop for 16-18 hours and reach Leh by 5 PM next day. It will cost you about Rs. 2,000 – 3,000 per person to get aboard a shared taxi. This also gets tricky in terms of high altitude acclimatization since you will continuously gain height within a matter of hours without any rest, and thus without giving your body a chance to adapt.
Traveling from Manali to Leh in a Bus:
This is the cheapest mode of travel available to commute on Manali Leh highway. Manali to Leh by bus is a 2 days journey from Manali with night halt at either Keylong or Sarchu. There are two types of bus services on this route, both operated by Himachal government. The HRTC bus is the normal bus service which does not stop for any sight seeing purpose. This bus will only halt for only necessary food and washroom breaks. Fare of this bus is Rs. 450 – Rs. 500 per person one way.
The other bus service is run by HPTDC which is a semi deluxe non AC bus. This service is available only from July 1st till 15th September and halts at several places for sight seeing. Charges are Rs. 2500 per person one way inclusive of accommodation and food. This bus will depart from Manali at 9 am and will reach Keylong by evening where you will be staying at hotel Chandrabhaga. Stay, dinner and breakfast at Chandrabhaga are included in the bus fare. Next day, the bus will start from Keylong at 6 am to arrive at Leh by evening. Schedule of this bus is as in the picture below. I have posted the schedule for the year 2015 below as it changes and published by HPTDC each year. Click on the image to view in full size or save it to your hard disk and then view. You can take the same bus for return journey from Leh to Manali. Schedule remains the same, bus will start early from Leh, reach Keylong where you will again stay at Hotel Chandrabhaga. Next day the bus will start in the morning from Keylong and reach Manali by evening.
Departure time from ISBT. Manali- 09:00 A.M
Departure time from Fort Road Leh.- 05:00 A.M
Per Seat Fare – Rs.2500/-
(Transport Charges 1900/ + Accommodation charges Rs. 600 (M.A.P)
This Bus will halt for the night at at Keylong while undertaking the journey from both side. Night halt will be in the form of a tented accommodation provided by the HPTDC and charges are inclusive of dinner, Break Fast and Tea. The journey of the Bus is confirmed subject to the booking of minimum 10 seats. Bus will be cancelled for the day if tickets booked are less than 10 in which case an alternative arrangement will be made by hiring Pvt. taxis from the private taxi operators by HPTDC. The difference of bus and taxi fare shall be paid by the customers. For this Bus you are supposed to report in the office of HPTDC 30 minutes before the departure of coach. For more information you can contact,
Address of Leh Office :-
Himachal Pradesh Tourism Dev. Corp. Ltd.,
Booking office, Fort Road,
Opposite Hotel Yak Tale,
Contact No. 09418691215
Address of Manali Office
Himachal Pradesh Tourism Dev. Corp Ltd,
The Mall Manali
Contact No. 01902-252116 & 01902-253147
For booking in advance, visit this link.
Traveling from Manali to Leh on a motorcycle
This is my personal favorite. There is nothing like completing the Manali Leh highway on a motorcycle, either as a single rider or with a pillion. However, like in the case of a car, you really need to be confident of your riding skills and your motorcycle as well. It is not really necessary that you have a lot of riding experience in the hills but if you do, it will definitely make the journey easier. Do not just buy a motorcycle and take it straight to Ladakh. If you are new to motorcycles, then please ride it around in the city for a few months at least before riding it on Manali Leh highway. Also ensure that you get your bike serviced at least a week in advance.
If you are riding your own motorcycle, then nothing like it however if you are not, then you can easily rent a motorcycle from Manali to complete the journey. Questions like which motorcycle is best for Manali Leh highway, how can you rent a motorcycle in Manali or whether you should ride alone or with a pillion have been covered in the below mentioned articles.
Please CLICK HERE to take you to the next part of this article covering the various accommodation options on Manali Leh highway. There are ample amount of hotels, guest houses, camp sites and chadar tents available where you can halt for the night. Please go through the article for more details and contact information of these hotels or camp sites.
I hope this information was helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask and I would be glad to help. If you have traversed on Manali Leh highway and would like to add more information to this article, please feel free to do so in the comments section below.