What to do in Spiti and what to see there is a widely covered topic. Try googling it and you will get several pages giving you an endless list of activities that you can indulge in; or tourist attractions that you must cover. But then an even important question is of things to avoid and precautions that you must observe in order to ensure a safe trip. In this article, I will list down such 11 things NOT to do in Spiti Valley. This will include safety tips related to road conditions; as well as other topics like acute mountain sickness; and some general knowledge about the region.
No matter the boost in tourism, places like Ladakh and Spiti are still highly remote; where even some of the basic amenities continue to still remain missing. These are still places that remain cut off from rest of the country for several months in a year. Even a small mistake here can cause some serious implications and ruin the trip for you. A trip to Spiti valley requires you to familiarize yourself with the place you are about to visit; and go through the journey carefully. This becomes of even more importance if it is your family you are traveling with.
Top 10 Things NOT to do in Spiti Valley
Below is a list of 10 things that I would recommend you to be careful with.
Do not compare Spiti to Ladakh
This is one of the most common mistakes the people make. A common impression is that Ladakh is tougher than Spiti Valley; and for people who have been to Ladakh, Spiti will be a piece of cake. The truth however is, though similar in several ways, Ladakh and Spiti are two entirely different experiences. As a matter of fact, in several aspects, a Ladakh trip may be a little easier than Spiti.
When it comes to road conditions, Ladakh is a winner all the way. If you planned carefully, you can easily visit Ladakh even in a hatchback or Sedan. Friend of mine has been there even in a Maruti 800. This changes big time when you talk about Spiti Valley. Road here is just a relative term and the stretch between Gramphoo to Batal can prove to be a car killer for a hatchback or Sedan. After Rampur and until Kaza, mostly you will be driving on a broken dirt track full of pebbles.
Also read: Clothes for Spiti Trip – What to Pack?
Road between Kaza to Manali will also see you crossing water streams one after another; so many that you will lose the count. Some of these water streams are deep enough to swallow a whole truck (on a lighter note, of course). There will be large slippery rocks underneath the water and cars getting stuck in these streams is not surprising at all. For Spiti trip, make sure that you are bringing a car with good ground clearance. You still need to remain mentally prepared that at several places, there will be jumping rocks hitting the belly of your car.
Do not underestimate the roads or the terrain
You may have been on numerous road trips; or done a lot of traveling; you may have had your fill of off-roading but you cannot make the mistake of being over-confident in Spiti Valley. The roads here are challenging and can be treacherous if you were not careful. You still need to take it slow and be careful. Understand the fact that you are driving through a region that gets buried under snow come winter and BRO has to work these roads straight each year. One small mistake can see you drive off the road and downhill; or at least cause serious damage to your vehicle.
Do not confuse Lahaul with Spiti
This is another common one of the mistakes made. Usually the words Lahaul & Spiti go together and people end up thinking that it is one and the same place. Fact however is that both are entirely different valleys. Spiti is the area around Kaza, Dhankar, Tabo and Chandratal. Whereas Lahaul valley is the area around Keylong, Jispa, Darcha and Udaipur.
To visit Spiti, you can either travel from Shimla or Manali but in order to visit Lahaul valley, you will have to take the Manali route only. While completing the Spiti circuit, you either exit at Gramphoo after visiting Spiti; or enter the Spiti valley from Gramphoo if coming from Manali side. In both these cases, you skip the Lahaul Valley altogether and do not visit there at all. If you are planning a Shimla – Kaza – Manali trip, you are only visiting Spiti. For visiting Lahaul, you will have to throw in a couple of more days and go towards Keylong, Jispa and Udaipur.
Do not go by the distance
A lot of people tend to plan their trip by looking at the distance. If they see 300 – 400 odd kilometers, the immediate thought is that they can easily cover it in 1 day. Time and distance however do not really work together in Spiti; thanks to the nightmarish roads. There will be stretches that will severely limit your speed down to merely 15-20 kilometers per hour. For example, the journey between Chandratal to Manali is slightly over 100 kilometers but can eat your entire day. To be on a safer side, plan a total travel of about 100 – 150 kilometers for one day; nothing more than that. Remember. there cannot be absolutely any speeding here at all.
Do not Drink and Drive
Need I explain this anymore? Driving while under the influence of alcohol in Spiti will be fatal; there is no other or simpler way to put it.
Do not Enter Spiti from Manali Side
An ideal way to complete the Spiti circuit is to start from Shimla and end the trip at Manali. Why? Because this way, your gain in altitude is gradual; and there is almost next to none chance of acute mountain sickness. On the other hand, if you started from Manali, on first day you will gain 2000 meters from plains to Manali. On the second day, you will go from 2000 meters to 4000 meters at Kaza. In a couple of days, you brought your body to heights that it is not accustomed to; that to all of a sudden. This will make you prone to suffering from AMS and ruin your trip.
Also read: Budget Hotels in Spiti Valley
Best thing to do is to first reach Shimla and start the trip from there. Plan from Manali only where you are severely short on time and want to visit only Spiti Valley. For more information on AMS, please read How to Handle Acute Mountain Sickness in Spiti Valley.
Do not go to Chandratal from Manali
This is related to the point above and will apply only if you entered Spiti valley from Manali side. A lot of people first go to Chandratal; spend a night there and then continue to Kaza. This I must advise you to not do. Chandratal is a lake in the middle of nowhere and is at an even higher altitude than Kaza. If you suffered from AMS here, then there is nothing that can be done and you will be stuck the entire night. A better way is to first reach Kaza and cover Chandratal while on your way back. This way, not only you will be at a slightly lesser altitude; but will also have medical assistance available if your condition worsened due to mountain sickness.
Do not be an over-confident fool
Adding this one more point here after seeing this fellow trying some stunts while riding down from Khardung La towards Leh during my last year ride to Ladakh. What came next? Well there was a stone that he could not avoid and since neither of his feet were on the ground, he took a nasty fall. As a matter of fact, he missed the cliff by just a few inches. Slightly harder fall would have seen him tumbling down the hill like the old Jack.
Though the picture is from my Ladakh ride, same applies for Spiti Valley as well. A lot of people try to show off their riding or driving skills here; try to do some off-roading or indulge in some stunt mania. Please do not make this mistake. Spiti is a place for you to soak yourself in the natural beauty around; or click as many pictures as you can. You do not go there to put yourself and your friends at risk.
Do not rush through the trip
Some people try to complete the Spiti circuit with just 4 to 5 days in hand. While this is doable, I will highly recommend against it. This way, you will barely touch the Spiti valley and return; rather than actually enjoying its scenic beauty and experience the culture here. Minimum time needed for a road trip to Spiti valley is 9 days and that is how you should plan it. Completing the trip in haste would also mean that you were speeding and risking an incident or accident somewhere on the route.
Also read: A Complete list of all must visit places on Spiti Circuit
Do not Litter
In the end, Spiti is bound to leave you mesmerized and inspired to visit again. It is a small piece of heaven that I believe every Indian should be proud of. Littering in such a place and staining its beauty must be at all cost avoided. Please respect the region and help the government to keep it clean.
I hope the tips above about things to not do in Spiti valley were of help; and can guide you to plan your trip better. 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. If you have been to Spiti and have another trip to share, please be kind enough to mention it in comments in order to help others.
Hi vargis, thanks for the informative blog.. I’m planning to go spiti from Shimla this August 15 along vth my wife in bike. Apart from this information , Is anything should keep in mind if travelling with female in bike ???
August means rains Naveen so waterproof everything. That will be your biggest concern. Prepare accordingly.
Hi vargis , i am planning to visit spiti valley on coming 5th july to 12gh july 2019, is it safe to visit spiti valley in this time period
Hi Mohit – Yes, first half of July should be OK.
First of all well done for your blog, its very informative!
We are riding a Thunderbird 350 2up and we are heading to Leh from Srinagar in the next few days. Our plan is to keep on riding to Spiti from Manali side through Keylong (hopefully the roads will open soon!) and exit through Shimla.
A few questions if you don’t mind:
1. Is it possible to get an inner line permit for Spiti from Keylong or Gramphu (we don’t wish to enter Manali)
2. How bad is the gradient to Kaza from Gramphu, if we are riding 2up (with some luggage on a 350cc) do you think it’s doable or will be quite difficult?
Any other suggestions that come in mind would be helpful 🙂
Thanks & Regards,
1. You do not need a permit till Kaza. If it only the area after Kaza that you need a permit for and you can get it from Kaza itself.
2. It is a nightmarish ride but doable with a pillion easily if the motorcycle is not badly beaten up.
Thanks for the reply, so a permit can be obtained from Kaza without issues?
The bike is in good condition and well maintained, it’s just the gradient i was worried about as as you may know the 350cc especially with a pillion and luggage is a littlebit under powered and won’t perform very good if the gradient is steep and the roads are bad! 🙂
Hi Vargis, thank you so much for writing out this blog. I am travelling to Spiti on the 10th June, any idea is Chandratal Lake would be open around that time?
Its still gonna take more time…maybe around 15th ..the road wil open
I am reading all of your blog about spiti. And your blog really helped in planning Spiti Trip.
I am managing to touch Lahaul valley by taking a route from Chandratal to Jispa and then Manali.
This is also one of your suggested itinerary for 10 11 days. Hope Chandratal to Jispa to Manali is as beautiful and scenic as other routes.
Thank you once again
Thank you for taking the time to drop a note Roopa. Do let me know how your trip went after you return.
Your blog is superb and very informative
We r planning manali Spiti trip fist week June
2-4 june delhi – manali 3 nights
5-9 in Spiti
9-10 in Simla
10 night in delhi
11 fly back
I need ur help
Whether manali To kaza road will b open by 5th June 2019
And if we are travelling from manali then I would kindly request u If u can suggest some itinerary for 4 days in Spiti
Manali To Rohtang To Losar (1night stay)
Losar To kaza (1 night stay)
Kaza To Tabo
Tabo To rampur
Rampur To Shimla
Pls advise is it suitable ???
Hi Saloni – It may not open by June 5th so better would be to go via Shimla and return via Manali. You are landing in Delhi on 2nd? And then how are you traveling to Spiti?
I am planning a 15 days bike (RE 350cc) ride with pillion for Ahmedabad-Spiti- Ahmedabad.
I have gone through the itinerary for Spiti shared by you and found most suitable. We can add 4 days for Ahmedabad to Delhi and Back.
What could be approximate costing per person if we stay at budget hotels.
Got the fullest details from your blog.
No worries Parag Bhai, Have a safe trip
Hello – Spiti is definitely a gem of a place and since I’ve never been to leh – I can’t imagine so damn roads at that high altitude.
Since I’m planning to do leh this year, my only concern is the terrain which we gonna face.
Since I owe a pulsar 200, a carburetor one. So when I was riding towards kunzum from kaza – it lacked the power and the rpm didn’t went past 5000 in the first gear or even in neutral.
What would you suggest as a pre-tour settlement I need to do with the bike.
Ps – the service was done prior to the trip keeping tour in the mind.
Thank you for such an informative article..we are planning a 7 day trip with our 18month old daughter and parents to Spiti in October. We are planning from Shimla side.
Is it advisable to go to Pin Valley?
Yes, if you are going all the way to Spiti then you can definitely include Pin Valley as well. It is not all that different.
Hi I plan to visit Kaza through Shimla between 27 April to 4 May and I plan to return via Manali . Need to know whether I can plan my travel back from Manali . Will there be open roads to travel .
It won’t open before late May or early June
Hi Vargis i plan to go to Kaza from shimla from April 17- 24. 1. Where can I get reliable up to date weather information and also what emergency numbers do I need to have in case of medical or other issues?
2. Is there possibility of a severe winter continuing this April?
Hi Mr. Vargis, I want to 1st congratulate you on your website. Its a blessing for anyone planning a trip to the Himalays. Everything is so detailed and so well thought out. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
My father and I are planning to visit Spiti valley by the end of this month. we are trying to start by 15th of sept, if not then we’ll definitely start by the 20-22th of sept.
I understand that travelling from Manali to Kaza could be challenging which is why the Shimla route to enter Spiti would be better. This is also something that we had always wanted to do.
But considering that the weather is going to get colder by the day I thought we should start our trip from Manali.
If we start from Shimla around the 20th or later, I think it’ll be much colder at Chandra taal than we would like to experience.
We plan on traveling in no hurry. We want the trip to be atleast 15-17 days. So, i feel like the more i delay Chandra taal the more cold i will experience. So may be i could stay in manali for a couple of nights get accustomed to the altitude and then head to Chandra taal and carry forward our trip with ease.
would like your suggestion 🙂
Thank you so much for your kind words. Since you are traveling late in the season and have 15-20 days in hand, even my strong recommendation would be that you start from Manali. Spend a day or two there, get acclimatized, arrange for Rohtang permits and then proceed to Spiti.
Hi, thank you so much for replying .
This is what I have worked out,
2.solang-chandra Taal 1night
3.chandra Taal -kaza 2nights
4. Kaza- mud 2nights
5. Mud- dhankar- tabo 1night
6.tabo – nako 1night
7. Nako – kalpa 2nights
8. Kalpa – chitkul 3 nights
9. Chitkul – sarahan 1night
10. Sarahan – thanadar 1 night
11. Thanadar – Chail 1 night
12. Chail- Chandigarh- Mumbai
Let me know what you think . We’ll be starting by 20-22 september
Hi – Yes your itinerary is good and doable.
May i go to and fro kaja to mud village via attargo, guling, kungri, guling ,sagnam in a day by a cab?
Yes its Easily Doable in a day… infact 6hrs is more than enough !….I recently Completed my Spiti Circuit Trip in 8 days
Vargis-Can you Share the link of your Blog-Return to Spiti : Experiencing the Magic Once Again!
Mack Bhai that thread got deleted by mistake. I am trying to figure out a way to retrieve it or would have to write it up again.
Dear Vargis, We just completed the Spiti trip and it was a great experience. Thanks for all your help.
OSM..you should Share your Experience at least Itinerary!
Thanks Swagata Bhai. What itinerary did you follow? Do share some pics as well if possible.
Our itinerary was like this:
Day 1: Delhi-Shimla – Narkanda (stay at HPTDC. Quite nice)
Day 2: Narkanda- Sangla- Chitkul (Stay at Wanderes’ Nest. Found it a bit too expensive for what it offers. )
Day 3: Chitkul stay
Day 4: Chitkul-Kalpa (stay at HPTDC. Excellent property)
Day 5: Kalpa- Nako- Gue- Tabo (stay at Tashi Khangsar. great stay)
Day 6: Tabo- Dhankar – Mud (stay at Tara Homestay. good place)
Day 7: Mud- Kaza (stay at Winter White. very hospitable.)
Day 8: Kaza stay
Day 9: Kaza-Manali (stay at Hotel Yak, not recommended at all)
Day 10: Manali- Delhi
We took a bus to Shimla and from Manali. At Shimla our driver Dilip Negi picked us up (he’s a great driver and great company, btw). We were on a tight schedule so had to miss Chandrataal, and had two cloudy days, otherwise the trip was perfect. Really want to go back some day.
Thanks for sharing the details brother !!! And yes, you must visit again someday to cover missed out places
SWAGATA BHATTACHARJEE!!! can you share the details of the driver you traveled with ? Moreover, howmuch did you pay to the driver as rental charge for your 10 days trip?
Sorry to bother you again, just need to know few things as almost a month time left.
1. I travels mostly in northern part from maharastra by my car , and daily almost 700kms plus driving. As its highway drivings / internal road drivings. But never experienced hilly side. And its altogather different or no match to drive on spiti or highest mountain drive. What is your openion is it problem for me to drive Ecosport on Spiti tour ? Shall i hire habituate driver of mountain for support?
2. Un planned journey ok ? means following your 10 days itineraries, but stay deciding after visiting destinations. will it work ?
3. How about weather would be in first week of September? will it be there Landslide chances? Raining?
1. Hard to comment or give any kind of reassurance brother. You will have to make this call yourself based on your own confidence or driving skills. As far as I can tell, as long as you know how to maneuver your car around and go slow, you should be able to handle the terrain.
2. Yes it will work, that is how I always travel
3. No, monsoon would be gone by Septemmber.
Thanks for reply. Just last query as this is first time high altitude drive, as compare to road , what would you suggest shall i first travel to laddakh then next year spiti?
It doesn’t really matter Sheetal. Both are equally challenging. My recommendation would be that you first go to Spiti as the number of passes en route is less and challenging road are mostly limited to last couple of days of the travel.
thanks a ton for info
You are welcome !!!
Your blogs are great,interesting and very informative.I have a query here,me and my 6 friends are planning to visit spiti in mid of august,from 14 to 22 august from Shimla. We are still in dicey situation because its a monsoon time.If in case we are going what precautions we should take and specially is it doable?We are planning to hire innova/fortuner for 6 people.Your help will be very much appreciated.
Hi Abhinav – If you are going in an Innova / Fortuner then all that you need is a experienced driver at the wheel really. Have someone good drive you through, keep an eye on the weather forecast and you will be OK.
Thanks a lot for reply !!!!But I forgot mention in my previous query is that possible to take Manali route instead from shimla in the date frame mentioned?So we are planning to hire a car and driver from delhi ,so another question over this is shall we hire a cab and driver from Shimla or Manali or is it ok to do from Delhi itself?As I went to your others blogs over spiti and prefer not to take manali route in mid august because of two high altitude Rohtang and Kunzum!!!Great to read your blogs and thanks in advance 🙂
To be honest, when you go to Spiti in August then you should actually cover the entire circuit and not just one part of it. Manali Kaza route is quite fun actually and you must travel on it. Hiring a driver from Shimla or Manali will be better because he then would be a local and will have better driving experience in those areas than a driver from Delhi.
If me n my wife plan trip to leh and spiti valley from haryana.. travelling by swift car 2008 modal. Preferably visiting srinagar with kargil ..what will u suggest- best and safe route..? Maximum time duration for whole round trip..?
I am a new rider (covered 3500km only) in plains ,i am planing for spiti trip ,in june 2018 with my other two friends who are good riders ,i had been on laddkah trip last year as a pilion, i am a decent rider ,though i am not sure about myself ,PLS ADVICE ME WILL IT BE SAFER FOR ME TO GO ,ITS 8 DAY TRIP????
we are three people with 2 bullet
9638385653 can you call me ??
Just go slow and follow the lead of your friends and you will OK. Do not rush through the journey in the hills.
thanks for your Advice i will in mind
You are welcome
I am plannning to do this from Shimla route and return from same route as I am doing it with Sedan. Pls suggest where to stay and point of attraction and what should be the ideal itinerary as wanted to do this in 6 days maximum.
We are 3 people all can drive.
Delhi – Rampur – Day 1
Rampur to Kalpa – Day 2 ( Need suggestions on enroute and attractions)
Kalpa – Kaza – Day 3 ( Need suggestions)
And return from there…
Pls give your inputs.
Please take a look at this article.
Hi, I am planning to visit spiti in mid june, we will be 6-7 people and might be innova will be hired for this trip. our journey ll be of 4 days including travelling.
Is this doable ? also what are your suggestions for our journey?
4 days sounds a little too less. Where are you you traveling from?
I have a jawa 1967 model nd I am planing to visit delhi to spiti valley in June last week
Please advice me I can face any problem regarding by old vechale from police nd any security check
This time is best or not
What problem can be face that time
Thnx in advance
We are visivisi spiti on June 9/10.if we are leaving kaza at 5am reaching chandartal spending one hour hand going back to manali that day itself by starting our joint run at 1pm. Is it possible. ..? Will the roads have streams at kunzum pass at this point
Hi ..I have a royal Enfield cast iron 2004 model standard . I am thinking of taking my motorcycle for leh ladakh plus spiti … is ok for my motorcycle for this trip
Yes you can bring it if you are confident that your motorcycle is in mint condition and very well maintained. But go via Shimla though. Because it is over 10 years old now, you will not get the permit to cross Rohtang if you took the Manali route first.
Is there any restrictions for old bike for getting inner line permit ? I think I will do spiti next time. It will be just leh ladakh trip from srinagar .can I get permit for this route?
No the problem is only at Rohtang. There is no such restriction in Ladakh for ILP. And there is no permit needed for going to Leh via Srinagar.
Yas it’s ok I am also going July fast week
we are planning to visit spiti valley from 23june to 30 june..Is that advisable.what is the current status of kunzum pass…kaza-chandratal-manali road is open or not?
It is not open right now but will be by your dates of travel.
I am planning to visit Spiti 10 days form delhi-Shimla route and returning via manali in july end.
I have a Honda WRV Diesel with ground clearance of 188mm. Is this car Good?
Apart from the drive what all adventures can we have?
What are the necessary things we should carry?
Yes, WRV is good but be careful at water crossings between Kaza to Manali route. There is no adventure in Spiti as such, just scenic beauty. Take a look at the link below.
Hi, We are planning a trip to Lahaul-Spiti in end July. Is that advisable?
Yes you can do it but there will be chance of rain at that time so prepare accordingly.
Hey, thanks for the detailing. Can we go on a bike trip with a pillion rider here? Will it be very risky or doable?
And also I’ll be carrying a tent with me and not hoping to stay in a hotel at all. So I guess the route from Shimla to spiti won’t be much of problem, or is it?
Going with Pillion is not a problem, you can do it but how are you going to manage all the luggage and a tent on a single motorcycle?
Hi. We are riding on Dominar . Is it possible to ride Pillion? I was told that terrain is tough and vehicle cannot manage with pillion. Is it so?
Traveling by Domina, I will suggest that you go solo. Not because of engine but because for 2 people on a Dominar, such long hours and bad roads will be very inconvenient.
Which motorcycle are you riding?
Dear Vargis, I am planning to visit spiti valley in first week of June…
delhi – manali (stay) – spiti valley by TOYOTA INNOVA own driving and also suggest some good hotels and other tourist place near spiti or on the way….
Hi Vijay, For hotels, please see these two posts.
For tourists places, please see this post.
Hi, is May a good time to go to Spiti? Also, We’re travelling from the Shimla side, would you have any recommendations for stays in Sangla, Kalpa? There’s eight of us, college students.
Yes you can go in May but will not be able to cover Manali – Kaza route at this time. For hotels, please take a look at the articles below.
I am planning to visit Spiti valley in the 1st week of September(going to follow 6 days Itinerary) Manali-Spiti-Manali(Motorcycle) Is it advisable?
Yes it is a good time to go this way
I am planning to visit Spiti valley in the last week of September. Is it right time to visit ?
Can we observe snow there ?
September is a good time to visit Spiti but there will not be snow at this time in the valley.
Thank you so much.
You are welcome !!!
Thank you so much for the information. Is Rampur to Kaza drive possible in a day if we start by 6in the morning from Rampur? If not which is the best place to halt overnight? I heard that is bus route and road is better than Manali Kaza road. Is it possible to travel this road by i20 which has about 170 mm clearance
Thanks in advance
Hello – Yes you can do Rampur to Kaza in a day if you started by 6 AM. However, considering that you will be in an I20 and will have to go slow at bad stretches of roads, I will highly recommend that you do it in two days. Start early and if you are at Nako by 2 – 3 PM then continue to Kaza. If you reach Nako after 3 PM, then stay there for the night and continue to Kaza the next day.