Continuing from the previous article detailing an example of Spiti Valley Itinerary; in this article I will explain how to follow the same travel plan to Spiti Valley by Bus; or other public transport services in this article. True fun of traveling to Spiti Valley beyond any doubt is by your own vehicle, be it a Car or a motorcycle. It has several benefits like taking as many breaks as you want, anywhere you want, flexible itinerary, proper trip planning, less hassle of carrying luggage etc but not all of us have that liberty. A lot of people travel each year to Spiti Valley by Bus or other public transport services.
It is quite a common practice and you will find a lot of tourists in Spiti valley traveling this way, most of them foreigners though. In this article, I will provide details on how you should plan your trip if traveling by Bus or other public transport like private or shared taxis, hitch hiking etc.; which can be helpful to ensure that you are able to plan your trip better and complete it within set timeline.
How to plan a trip to Spiti valley by Bus & other public transport services
Spiti is well connected by road however the frequency of public transport can be a problem. Bus service to most of the areas is mostly once in a day and if you miss that or the bus gets cancelled for some reason, you have no other choice other than to either wait for next day or look for a shared taxi that locals use to commute. Several of the remote villages do not even have a bus plying towards them. If you want to travel to Spiti valley by Bus, then you would have to carefully plan your entire itinerary as per the bus schedule. Secondly, you must keep a few days in had as buffer.
Also read: Clothes for Spiti Trip – What to Pack?
So for example, if your complete itinerary is of 9 days, keep 3-4 days as buffer and plan a trip of a total of 10 days. This is important to ensure that in case you are not able to find a mode of transport to a particular place, you at least have time to make up for this delay. If some of the remote villages are on your travel plan, ensure that you are carrying enough cash as ATMs too in Spiti are not that many. Last but not the least; you must travel as light as possible. Carrying way too many bags will just be an additional hassle.
For the sake of this article, I will assume that you are starting from Delhi and traveling to Spiti via Shimla; Manali being the end point. I will follow a sample itinerary and plan journey using public transport services. Depending on the number of days in hand, you can use this information to draft out your own final travel schedule.
- Delhi to Shimla / Narkanda – Day 1
- Shimla / Narkanda to Sarahan – Day 2
- Sarahan to Chitkul – Day 3
- Chitkul to Kalpa – Day 4
- Kalpa to Nako – Day 5
- Nako to Kaza – Day 6
- Kaza to Kibber, Komik, Tashigang, Kaza – Day 7
- Kaza to Chandratal – Day 8
- Chandratal to Manali – Day 9
- Manali to Delhi – Day 10
Now let us take a look at how you can follow this itinerary by public transport and the cost involved.
Day 1 – Delhi to Shimla / Narkanda
Shimla is one of the most popular tourist destinations of our country. I am using Delhi as a starting point but almost all nearby major cities have regular buses plying towards Shimla so you should have no travel getting here.
As from Delhi, there are several HRTC buses to Shimla from ISBT Delhi. These buses usually start by late evening and reach Shimla either by midnight or early morning. Fare of an ordinary bus will be around Rs. 500 and Rs. 800 for an AC Bus.
Apart from Shimla, if you want to reach Narkanda on Day 1, you can get a bus for the same from ISBT itself. Timing and fare would be same as mentioned for Shimla.
Both Shimla and Narkanda have numerous hotels and you can easily find a place to stay for Rs. 500.
Day 2 – Shimla / Narkanda to Sarahan
There are several buses that you can take for this part of the journey. There is a bus that leaves for Kaza from Shimla early in the morning which would be your best bet.
If you are not able to catch this one, then another leaves for Sangla valley which takes almost the same route until Karchham. This bus too leaves in the morning from Shimla. For that matter, inquire and board any bus that is going towards Karchham, Sangla or Reckong Peo. All these buses would pass through the small town of Jeori where you will need to get off. Right at the main junction at Jeori where all buses stop, a road goes upwards towards Sarahan, about 16 kilometers from here. At the junction, ask around and board any shared jeep that is going uphill towards Sarahan.
Also read: Top 10 Things NOT to do in Spiti Valley
To get to Sarahan from Shimla or Narkanda, you can also board any bus going towards Rampur but then you will have to catch a shared jeep to Sarahan from Rampur. If you are unable to find one going all the way, you will first have to get a shared taxi to Jeori and then another to Sarahan.
Fare per person for Shimla to Jeori would be about Rs. 150 and Rs. 120 for Shimla to Rampur (approximate numbers). Shared taxi will charge you anywhere between Rs. 30 to Rs. 50.
Sarahan is a well known tourist destination and you can find several hotels here for as low as Rs.500.
Day 3 – Sarahan to Chitkul
There is a direct bus from Shimla to Sangla Valley. It starts from Shimla early in the morning and reaches Jeori sometime about noon. To reach Chitkul, first take a shared taxi back to Jeori and then board this bus all the way to Sangla. From Sangla, take a shared taxi to Chitkul.
Fare for this bus would be about Rs. 100. Taxi from Sarahan to Jeori and Sangla to Chitkul would be an additional Rs. 100.
Chitkul has several hotels and you will easily be able to find a place to stay within budget.
Also read: List of Recommended Hotels in Spiti Valley
Day 4 – Chitkul to Kalpa
For this day, first board a shared taxi from Chitkul to Sangla, would cost about Rs. 50 per person. From Sangla, there is a bus that starts at noon to Reckong Peo, fare of this would be about Rs. 100 per person. Catch this bus to reach Reckong Peo and from there, board a shared taxi to Kalpa, for another Rs. 50.
Kalpa has several budget hotels, within price range of Rs. 500 to Rs. 700
If you are planning to stay here for a day or more, then you can go to Kalpa and stay at a hotel there. But if you are planning to continue the journey on the next day itself, then it is better to stay at Reckong Peo because you will have to catch an early morning bus from here. You can take a shared taxi to Kalpa, spend some time there and come back to Peo for the night.
Day 5 – Kalpa to Nako
If you stayed at Kalpa the previous day, then check out of the hotel early in the morning and board a shared taxi back to Reckong Peo but ensure that you reach Reckong Peo by 7 AM. If you are unable to find a shared taxi, then ask for lift, hitchhike but reach Peo by 7 AM.
An early morning bus starts from Reckong Peo at 7.30 AM and it would drop you at Nako by noon. If you are not able to catch this bus, another leaves from Peo at 1 PM for Nako.
Also read: How to Travel to Spiti from Shimla
Total travel expense for the day would be about Rs. 250 for bus fare and Rs. 50 for shared taxi from Kalpa to Reckong Peo. Nako has a PWD guest house and a few other hotels.
Day 6 – Nako to Kaza
The same morning bus that you took from Reckong Peo to Nako is the one you will be boarding today as well. It reaches Nako by noon so you will have ample of time. This bus would drop you at Kaza by evening. Fare would be about Rs. 200 per person.
Kaza is the headquarters of Spiti valley and you will have absolutely no issues finding a budget hotel here.
Day 7 – Kaza to Kibber, Komik, Tashigang, Langza – Kaza
A Bus from Kaza leaves at 4 PM daily for Kibber and returns the same day to Kaza after a brief halt at Kibber. For Komik, the bus is twice a week; leaves Kaza at 4 PM on Tuesday and Saturday. This bus too return to Kaza the same day after a brief halt at Komik.
If you are taking a private taxi, you can cover all these villages same day and return to Kaza. If relying on shared taxis, it could take longer because the frequency is not really the great so you may want to plan according to 2 days, with a night stay at either of these villages.
A private taxi would cost anywhere between Rs. 2000 – Rs. 3000 for this journey. Traveling by shared taxis would cost only about Rs. 200 total.
Day 8 – Kaza to Chandratal
Every morning at around 7 AM, a bus leaves from Kaza for Manali. This is the one you will be boarding. Travel in this bus all the way till Kunzum Pass and get down at Chandratal diversion. Chandratal is further 14 kms from this diversion and if you are lucky, you may be able to hitchhike with some other tourists or may just have to walk all the way. In tourist season, you will come across several people on motorcycles, cars and taxis as well and asking them for lift will be your only choice. In tourist season, It is really not that difficult to find a mode of transport from the diversion point to Chandratal.
Fare would be about Rs. 200 for the bus until Kunzum Pass top. If you are able to find a taxi from Chandratal diversion to the lake, it may cost you another Rs. 50 to Rs. 100.
Chandratal has several camp sites and price would be about Rs. 1500 and above per person including meals.
On this day, make a note of the time when the bus from Kaza reached the Chandratal diversion point because you will have to be here the next day to board this again towards Manali.
Day 9 – Chandratal to Manali
From Chandratal, you will again have to reach back the diversion point near Kunzum Pass. Find a mode of transport if you can and if not, then start walking back. The bus that you took from Kaza for Chandratal is the same you will be boarding again today. Be sure of the time on Day 8 when you reached Kunzum Pass and got off the bus. At the same time on Day 9, be present at the same spot to board the bus again.
Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Chandratal
Day 10 – Manali to Delhi
Numerous buses running on this route and I sure you will easily be able to find one. HRTC buses charge about Rs. 700 for Manali to Delhi. AC buses or Volovos would charge over Rs. 1,000.
If Pin Valley too is on your itinerary, then you will have to get down at Dhankar from Nako and board a shared taxi towards Mud Village. In peak tourist season, you will easily be able to find a taxi or other tourists traveling this way that you can ask for lift from. Shared taxis from Dhankar to Pin valley would cost about Rs. 50 – 100. Mud too has several accommodation options within budget.
Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Pin Valley – Spiti
Spiti Valley By Bus
Below are schedules of few HRTC buses plying on the route that may be of help.
- Shimla to Pooh – 4.40 AM
- From Shimla to Thangi – 5.30 AM
- Shimla to Kaza – 6:00 AM
- Bus from Shimla to Kalpa – 6:45 AM
- Shimla to Rampur – 1:45 PM
- Delhi to Rampur – 4:20 AM
- Shimla to Rampur – 4:45 PM
- Shimla to Rampur – 1:15 PM
- Chandigarh to Reckong Peo 11:00 AM
- Chandigarh to Reckong Peo – 10:30 PM
- Delhi to Reckong Peo – 6:15 AM
- Chandigarh to Kalpa 11:15 PM
- Reckong Peo to Kaza – 7.30 AM
- Kalpa to Shimla – 7.40AM
- Reckong Peo to Dakho – Kalpa – 8.30 AM
- Reckong Peo to Kalpa – 9.00 AM
- Pooh to Shimla – 9.30 AM
- Reckong Peo to Chitkul – 9.30 AM
- From Reckong Peo to Moorang – Thangi – 10.00 AM
- Reckong Peo to Rampur – 10.00 AM
- Bus from Reckong Peo to Delhi – 11.30 AM
- Reckong Peo to Nako – 1.00 PM
- From Reckong Peo to Kalpa – 1.00 PM
- Reckong Peo to Rampur – 1.30 PM
- Kalpa to Chandigarh – 3.30 PM
- Reckong Peo to Kalpa – 3.45 PM
- From Reckong Peo to Rakcham – 4.00 PM
- Reckong Peo to Kafnoo – 4.00 PM
- Shimla to Reckong Peo to Pooh – 4.00 PM
- Kaza to Shimla – 7.00 PM
Why you should travel to Spiti Valley by Bus or Public Transport
Using Public transport services for your trip to Spiti valley is not all that bad. It has several advantages over traveling by your own vehicle, some of which I will list down below.
If you are traveling on a tight budget, then reaching Spiti valley by Bus is your best bet. The only thing that will beat this is hitch hiking all the way which is kind of next to impossible. No matter how you travel, by motorcycle, car or private taxi, the total cost will come out to be more than what you will spend when using public transport services.
Also read: Spiti Circuit Route Details and Road Map
No driving experience in Hilly region
If you have never driven on hills before, Spiti definitely is not the place that you would want to be your first.
The word “bad” doesn’t even come close to define the road conditions in Spiti valley. The Manali to Kaza stretch is a nightmare to travel on. Completing the entire circuit, you will be driving on narrow roads, crossing two high altitude passes, driving on dirt trails, broken roads, through stones & boulders and crossing numerous water streams. You may have driven on hills a few times before but those are nothing like what you will encounter in Spiti. If you are not too sure whether or not you will be able to tackle all that I mentioned above, it is best to not take the risk and travel to Spiti valley by Bus.
Traveling in a bus or shared taxi with the locals of course would give you a true taste of Spitian life. This is another reason why you may want to leave your car parked at home and cover Spiti valley by bus or in a shared taxi.
I hope this information on traveling to Spiti valley by bus 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.