7 Reasons to Travel to Leh Ladakh via Manali

by Vargis.Khan

7 Reasons to Travel to Leh Ladakh via Manali

Manali Leh highway has always been given preference over the Srinagar Leh highway. For as long as Ladakh has been a hot destination for adventure seekers and travel enthusiasts, the most common itinerary for this journey has been to reach Leh Ladakh via Manali and return via Srinagar.

People always think that the Manali Leh highway is far better than the Srinagar route. It is considered to be more fun to travel on and even more beautiful than the Srinagar route. While this belief is not really correct, there are still several reasons why you would want to travel to Leh Ladakh via Manali rather than Srinagar. Listed below are the top 7 of these reasons.

7 Reasons to Travel to Leh Ladakh via Manali

No matter how we look at it, one fact that cannot be denied is that both these roads are equally beautiful. They are both thrilling and adventurous and enough to inspire the awe out of you.

An absolute comparison also cannot really be drawn. Both the roads have their own advantages and disadvantages. What would finally be the decisive factor depends on one’s own personal choices.

With that being said, let us take a look at when and why you should choose to travel to Leh Ladakh via Manali and not Srinagar.

Also Read: How to Plan a Journey on Manali Leh Highway

Travel Time

This is one of the most common factors due to which people chose to take the Manali Leh route. It may be different for people living closer to Jammu or Srinagar. But for the majority of the tourists, reaching Ladakh via Manali is a time-saving affair than via Srinagar.

You can easily cover the entire stretch between Manali and Leh in two days. Whereas, if you want to travel from Srinagar, it would become a 3 days journey.

For example, if you are starting from Delhi, you can reach Manali on Day 1 and then Leh on Day 3. It will be a very long Day 2 but it can still be done.

However if you are taking the Srinagar route, you would first have to reach Jammu on Day 1, then Srinagar on Day 2 and Ladakh on Day 3 or 4, unless you are living somewhere closer to Jammu.

This however applies more if you are not intending to cover Srinagar Leh route at all. However if you are planning to cover both in your journey, total duration would pretty much come out to be the same, no matter which road you take first.

7 Reasons to Travel to Leh Ladakh via Manali


This is probably the biggest reason why Manali Leh highway wins hands down. When you are packing for your Ladakh trip, you want the fun and excitement to begin immediately. You want to reach those thrilling roads, diverse landscapes, high altitude passes as fast as you can.

If you are approaching Leh Ladakh via Manali, the adventurous journey starts right on the morning of Day 2 as you climb Rohtang La Pass.

However, if you are think of the Srinagar road, you first got to ride a monotonous journey through plains all the way to Jammu, then to Srinagar and then the journey you were waiting for starts.

Adrenalin Rush

There is nothing like it really. You get your first taste of the thrill as early as the morning of Day 2; the moment you start riding/driving on beautiful but treacherous zig zags of mighty Rohtang La.

As you descend on the other side into Lahaul Valley, you know this was just merely the beginning and there is a lot more fun to come yet.

Reaching Ladakh via Manali means one surprise after another. This route is just filled with so many. Roads that will make your heart jump into your mouth, 5 high altitude passes, 2 beautiful lakes, Gata Loops, More plains – what more can you ask for.

The Element of Surprise

Another reason why people prefer to reach Ladakh via Manali is to enjoy the evolving landscape. You first pass through the lush green valleys of Kullu and Manali, climb up the mighty Rohtang La and experience the vistas as they turn from greenery to a cold desert gradually.

However the element of surprise will be a lot less if you were taking this road for the return journey. Whatever you will see here is something that you would already have seen in Ladakh and Kashmir.

The vistas won’t look that mesmerizing, passes won’t seem that challenging, small lakes of Suraj taal and Deepak Taal will look like just ponds after experiencing Pangong and Moriri.

The zig-zags of Gata loops won’t present anything new, More plains will look dull after seeing a similar landscape in Nubra Valley. In short, it will just kill the fun.

water crossing near Jispa

The Unrest in Kashmir

This is one of the biggest reasons why people want to avoid Srinagar route. For example, in 2016 the entire Ladakh season went by with a lot of unfortunate incidents in Kashmir valley. Due to this, people just avoided the Srinagar Leh highway altogether. They reached Ladakh via Manali and took the same road for the return journey home.

There is always a high chance that things may turn violent in Kashmir valley. You may need to alter your plans anytime. But with Manali Leh road, the only factor that can force you to cancel or postpone your trip is just Mother Nature.

Also Read: Is Kashmir Safe for Tourists to Travel Now?

Better preparation for what to come

This is another very important factor. Driving or riding on Manali Leh road will prepare you better for what is yet to come in Ladakh. You get to practice your hand on the wheel. After driving for almost 500 kms between Manali and Leh, there is nothing in Ladakh that you cannot handle.

Better placement of Zanskar In the itinerary

In my opinion, if you want to visit Zanskar valley, it is best to do it while you are on your way to Srinagar from Leh. It adds a little more spice in your return journey. It will be something that you still look forward to after completing the valleys of Ladakh.

From Leh, you can reach Kargil and then take the Kargil Padum Road to arrive in Zanskar Valley. Even after completing all of Ladakh, you will still have more surprises waiting in your itinerary. It will no longer be just a return journey home.

kargil padum road

Leh Ladakh via Manali – Conclusion

In the end, I would again like to add that no matter how you plan it, you must include both these roads in your Ladakh journey. Skipping either one would mean that you missed a lot.

I hope this information on choosing whether to go to Leh Ladakh via Manali or Srinagar was of help. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or our Community Forum, and I will be happy to answer.

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Icchaant July 13, 2018 - 10:06 pm

Kudos to you! You have actually written all what a first timer like me is looking for!!

Vargis.Khan July 14, 2018 - 5:17 am

Thanks Icchaant

Tazeen June 21, 2018 - 6:01 am

Hi…which is the best time to visit ladakh?? i am planning to visit Ladakh with my husband in last week of july via Manali.. Is this correct time to go ladakh??

Vargis.Khan June 21, 2018 - 3:24 pm

Early July or September is usually the best time for but yes, you can definitely visit at end of July as well.

Seshu April 29, 2018 - 4:37 pm

Hi Vargis,
Just love your blog, very informative and so easy to understand, good going,
So we are four pax planning a trip this June, I heard tat there was some unrest in the Sarchu area and it is not tat easy to take our cars after tat point, what is the situation now?
Is it safe to travel in tat route?

Vargis.Khan April 30, 2018 - 7:09 pm

Thanks for your kind words Seshu. As long as the car is registered in your name, there is no problem at all and you are free to bring your vehicle.

Seshu May 1, 2018 - 2:19 am

Thank you so much. We were thinking of hiring a cab in Delhi and self drive, so tat is not a good option now?

Vargis.Khan May 1, 2018 - 2:57 pm

You can hire a self drive but can only use it to reach Leh. For local sightseeing in Ladakh, you will have to rent another Leh registered cab and leave your self drive from Delhi parked at some hotel.

Seshu May 2, 2018 - 9:49 am

Okay sir, thank you so much. And the same applies to Zanskar Valley right ? We cannot use the car hired at Delhi to go to Zanskar?
So now if we hire a self drive car from Delhi we can just take it to leh, park it for some time do the Nubra and Pangong Lake using leh car and come back to Manali via Sarchu using the car hired from Delhi !!!

Vargis.Khan May 2, 2018 - 2:05 pm

You are right Seshu. Same applies for Zanskar as well. You will have to leave your Delhi cab parked in Leh and then use it again for coming back home. In case of Zanskar, you will have to leave the cab parked at Kargil

Himanshu Dhamesha February 11, 2018 - 2:58 pm

Hi i am planning to visit Ladakh in 1st week of April via Manali. will the road open during this time?

Vargis.Khan February 12, 2018 - 6:15 pm

No it will not be open in April

mukesh sharma May 22, 2017 - 10:39 am

we are to faimely with 5 kid ( 4 to 10 year ) want to go leh by manali on 1st jun 17

pls reply

Vargis.Khan May 22, 2017 - 9:16 pm

Please let me know what help is required.

Vaibhav kathuria May 9, 2017 - 7:53 am

Hey i am planning to go ladkah in june mid or july 1st week in 2017 … Which way should i go for .. and please tell me the easiest roads to travel as it is my first time and what budget should i take(per person) if i rent a bike from srinagar or manali … and i am going with my friends.

Vargis.Khan May 9, 2017 - 3:29 pm

Hi Vaibhav – Where are you traveling from and how many days do you have in hand?

Vaibhav kathuria May 9, 2017 - 10:07 pm

8 to 10 days and i can travel from delhi or kashipur (uttrakhand) Near nanital..

Vargis.Khan May 10, 2017 - 1:41 am

Hi Vaibhav – You should start from Delhi to Srinagar and return via Manali, journey will be easier this way. For 8-10 days, motorcycle rentals alone would cost you about Rs. 10,000 to 15000 depending on which one you chose. This will get divided in half if there are two people on the motorcycle. Including Fuel expense, accommodation and food, you should keep a budget of about Rs. 22000 – 25000 if traveling solo on a motorcycle and about Rs.17000 if traveling with a Pillion.

Vaibhav kathuria May 10, 2017 - 8:38 pm

Sir can u plz give me ur whatsapp contact where i can easily ask questions or facebook?

Vargis.Khan May 10, 2017 - 9:00 pm

Vaiibhav – Please send me your phone number using the “Contact Me” in the menu Bar at the top. I will message you on watsapp

Catalina April 14, 2017 - 11:50 am

Hi,thanks for the info. Im planing to go on final week of may to ladakh..i should return delhi the 20 of june..reading your article i see my only choise probably would be via srinagar..do you think it is not safe or too risky?what kind of unfortunate incidents had happened?

Vargis.Khan April 15, 2017 - 4:13 am

Situation in Srinagar is a little tense with the entire election thing going on right now. Hard to say how it will be by 20th May. May get peaceful by then.

dip May 9, 2017 - 1:50 pm

Hello catalina, A month ago we were considering to leave for Leh from Srinagar and return back via Leh-Manali but it felt like situation is never getting under control.. Now the plan is to travel on Manali-Leh road.. We begin our journey on 30th May

nikhil April 13, 2017 - 7:05 am

which is the best time for photography in ladakh?I want to shoot blue skies
1) mid june to mid july or
2) september.

Vargis.Khan April 14, 2017 - 4:19 am

September is always better for Photography in Ladakh.

nikhil April 15, 2017 - 7:28 am

thanks for the reply.this is our plan

15 sep – mumbai to srinagar
16 sep – srinagar to kargil
17 sep – kargil to leh
18th sep – leh
19th sep – leh to diskit
20th sep – diskit to turtuk
21st sep – turtuk to leh
22nd sep – leh to pangong
23rd sep – pangong to hanle
24th sep- hanle to tsomorori
25thsep – tsomorori to jispa
26th sep – jispa to manali
1) wheather i will get accommodation during this time as many camp closes during this time
2) how is weather condition?is cold bearable as i will be travelling with my family
3) wheather leh manali highway open on 25 and 26th sep?
my plan b is to travel on 16th june. that is 16th june to 27th june

Vargis.Khan April 15, 2017 - 8:39 pm

Hi Nikhil

Your plan looks good.

1. Camp sites usually start closing by first week of October so you will have no trouble finding one at this time.
2. It will be cold yes but mostly during nights. Days will still be moderate.
3. Yes, Manali Leh highway will remain open.

nikhil April 16, 2017 - 6:26 pm

Thanks for the reply sir.Excellent website sir.

Vargis.Khan April 17, 2017 - 9:14 pm

You are welcome brother, and thank you for your kind words !!!

Rajan Nair March 18, 2017 - 3:29 am

Thanks a lot, this info is a great help for a a person like me who is planning a trip to Ladakh.

Vargis.Khan March 18, 2017 - 3:39 am

You are welcome Rajan


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