Manali to Leh Ladakh highway road trip is a dream come true experience for every traveler. Covering a distance of 473 kilometers, it allows visitors to explore the beauty of the region while riding through the criss-cross terrain. On your journey from Manali to Ladakh, you will pass through some incredible points, such as Rohtang Pass and Baralacha La. Each of the places will let you experience the closeness to Mother Nature enveloped with majestic grace. Through this journey, you will get a chance to explore the azure lakes, rugged mountains, cute little markets, conventional Ladakhi mud-brick houses, and cozy cafes. If you are a daredevil, you will definitely enjoy the profusion of offbeat trails in remote and nomadic villages.
Best Time for Manali to Ladakh Trip: The best time to travel from Manali to Leh Ladakh is between June and September as the highway via Rohtang Pass opens up for tourists after the snow clearance during this time.
Manali to Leh Distance: The approximate distance between Manali and Leh is 473 kilometers.
Manali to Leh Road Map: Manali – Rohtang – Gramphu – Kokhsar – Keylong – Jispa – Darcha – Zingzingbar – Baralacha La – Bharatpur – Sarchu – Gata Loops – Nakee La – Lachulung La – Pang - Tanglang La – Gya - Upshi - Karu – Leh
Manali Leh Highway Status: The snow clearance process on the Manali-Leh highway starts every March until May or June. It usually takes about two months to clear the entire snow that has accumulated after the winter season. You may experience the snow-covered roads between Rohtang Pass and Baralacha La, including areas like Keylong.
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The Manali to Leh Ladakh road trip will surely be an adventurous trip that will remain etched in your memories forever.
Situated at an elevation of 6725 feet from sea level, Manali is the starting point of the Manali-Leh road trip. It is a beautiful township that is renowned for snow-clad mountains and cool climate. If you visit Manali during the summer season, you may experience pleasant weather, while the peaks are covered with sparkling snow during the winter season.
Located at a height of about 3900 meters and around 51 kilometers from Manali, you will reach Rohtang Pass, the second significant landmark on your route of Manali and Leh. Soak in the spectacular panoramic views of the snow-capped mountains and glaciers all along the way, while admiring the pristine beauty of the Pass, alpine pastures, small water streams, and mesmerizing waterfalls. You will also get to discover the flow of the Chandra River in the close vicinity of the Rohtang Pass.
Being the capital city of Lahaul, Keylong is a popular tourist destination on the route from Manali to Leh Ladakh for trekkers and tourists who are looking for an overnight stay. It allows visitors to enjoy picturesque walks through laidback villages or immerse in the lofty mountain views. Moreover, you will find the luscious greenery of the resplendent Bhaga Valley.
Jispa is a fascinating trail nestled beside the Chandra River along the Manali-Leh tour. This gorgeous stretch of land is naturally adorned with narrow streams, picturesque peaks, scenic valleys, and luscious greenery. On visiting Jispa, you will find yourself close to Mother Nature since the place is abundant with diverse natural features.
Located at a distance of about 23 kilometers from Keylong, you will find a picturesque Himalayan village named Darcha beside the Bhaga River. It features a massive camping ground that is frequently used by tourists while traveling from Manali to Leh Ladakh. You can even indulge in a trekking expedition in Darcha with your fellow travelers on this route.
If you are looking for a peaceful stop on your way to Leh Ladakh, you should stop at the Zingzing Bar. It is one of the highest roadside bars in the world that serves as a resting ground for army cadets and exhausted travelers. Your Manali to Ladakh road trip remains incomplete if you do not stop at this bar for some refreshments.
Resting on the highest sections of the Zanskar Valley, Baralacha La is another wonderful destination on Manali to Leh Ladakh highway. It is a mountain pass or a confluence point that connects Lahaul to Ladakh. On your visit to the Baralacha La along the way, you will discover that the plateau is surrounded by the Himalayas and Pir Panjal mountain ranges.
Enveloped by the Himalayan mountain ranges on all sides, Sarchu is a beautiful region on the Manali-Leh Ladakh highway. Commonly known as ‘Sir Bhum Chum’ by the locals, this tourist destination is perfect for camping and overnight stays with your friends and family. You can have a fantastic time in these camps in Sarchu while enjoying the treasure trove of scenery.
A mysterious attraction along Manali to Ladakh route, Gata Loops is a sequence of 21 winding curves that leads to one of the highest motorable passes in the region. Situated at an elevation of 17000 feet above sea level, this place adds to the adventurous vacation of Manali to Leh Ladakh bike trip through snow capped peaks in the backdrop.
Another place that you should visit on the Manali-Leh route, is Lachulung La, a mountain pass situated at an altitude of about 16000 feet from the sea level. Upon reaching this pass, you will catch some of the undulating views of the surrounding scenery which serves as a retreat to the eyes of any visitor.
Pang is a place on the Manali-Leh highway where the highest army transit camp exists. It was formerly just a stop for the armed forces but tourists can also alight at this remote place on the Manali-Leh route now. On your visit to the attraction, you will love the breathtakingly beautiful scenery combined with the vistas of naturalistic delights.
Also regarded as the jewel in the crown on the Manali to Ladakh stretch, Tanglang La is one of the highest mountain passes in the region. Since it is the second largest motorable mountain pass on the planet, the ascent will gradually start increasing from here onwards.. You will also get an opportunity to see the Tso Kar Lake behind the gigantic mountains.
Situated beside the Indus River, Upshi is a quaint and picturesque village about 45 kilometers southeast of Leh. It is home to a helipad that is generally used by helicopter-borne tourists and the armed forces. If you move towards the east of this region, you will get the ancient trading route that connects Upshi to Tibet.
On your arrival at Karu, you will be flanked by gorgeous views of the mighty mountain peaks and hills. Karu is a secluded stretch of land on the route from Manali to Leh that attracts travelers to its natural beauty. With sparkling streams, majestic mountains, and resplendent valleys, the place represents the finest demonstrations of nature on the Manali-Leh route.
Being the dream destination for many travelers, Leh is the final stop of your Manali to Ladakh trip. It is a land of rustic charm that is well-known for its high elevations and numerous passes. Since the road that connects Manali to Leh Ladakh boasts exceptional topography, it allows nature lovers and thrill seekers to explore the secrets and stunning beauty and click pictures with a backdrop of the majestic mountains, rugged terrains, and bountiful nature.
Resting at a height of 18379 feet and just 40 kilometers from Leh, Khardung La is one of the must-visit places along the Manali-Leh highway. It is regarded as the highest motorable pass in the world that acts as a doorway to Shyok and Nubra Valley. This place is also a favorite spot for bike riders and adventure lovers as it provides unimaginable dramatic views of nature.
Known for its religious significance and the surrounding landscape, Shanti Stupa attracts a myriad of tourists throughout the year, especially people traveling on the Manali-Leh highway. In this stupa, the white-domed pagoda was constructed by a Buddhist Bhikshu as a part of the Peace Pagoda Mission. On visiting the stupa, you will find the relics of Buddha being preserved at the base while the walls are decorated with pictures of the current Dalai Lama.
Nubra Valley holds a massive name among the travelers and trekkers along the Manali to Leh Ladakh route. It is a giant valley that separates Ladakh from the Karakoram Ranges, which features the most beautiful confluence of the Shyok and Siachen Rivers. The visitors of Nubra Valley are glorified to see a blend of sand dunes, stark slopes, monstrous arid mountains, and the remnants of a glorified place.
Regarded as one of the highest-altitude lakes in the world, Pangong Lake is a pristine place on the Manali-Leh highway. It is well-known for its color-changing properties, i.e., the water on the lake changes its color from blue to red and green. You can stop by this lake and enjoy numerous activities, like camping and a lakeside bonfire.
Flowing on the Changthang Range in the Himalayas, Tso Moriri Lake is among the calm and sacred high-altitude lakes in Ladakh. Also known as the beholder’s paradise, this lake is regarded as a preserved wetland by the Government that serves as a breeding ground for the birds. Surrounded by lofty mountains on all sides, this place along the Manali-Leh route features majestic beauty and a romantic atmosphere.
People traveling to Leh Ladakh definitely must have come across signage asserting ‘the phenomenon defying gravity’ at the Magnetic Hill. The highlighting feature of this place is that the car starts moving when parked in a specified box marked on the road while engines are off and gears on neutral. You can stop at this place to witness the magical phenomenon and click stunning pictures for memories.
The Royal Leh Palace, constructed by the 17th-century king named Singge Namgyal, is the fundamental attraction in the town of Kashmir. Although the royal families were exiled to Stok, the edifice still possesses its glory. If you are an ardent lover of the Himalayas, you must make a visit to this architectural icon on your journey from Manali to Leh.
Located in the Changthang region, Tso Kar is a beautiful lake renowned for its undulating beauty. Also known as the White Lake, it deposits salt on its shores as the lake is filled with saline water. Travelers visiting Tso Moriri Lake along the Manali-Leh highway never forget to visit Tso Kar to witness the nomadic tribes of Khampas, the black-necked cranes, and several other migratory bird species.
Lamayuru Monastery is the authentic resting ground of the Drikung Kagyu tradition on the Manali to Leh highway. This monastery serves as the parent of over 50 small monasteries in Ladakh and more than 500 Buddhist monks. It is the oldest monastery on a mammoth rock structure that attracts a myriad of visitors towards the two masked dance festivals held every year.
Alchi Monastery is the oldest monastery you can see during the Leh Ladakh road trip. Belonging to the Alchi group of monuments, it was built by the famous translator Guru Rinchen Zangpo between 958 and 1055. On your visit to the attraction, you will find the wall paintings reflecting the artistic and spiritual details of Hindu kings and Buddhism from early centuries that are recognized throughout the world.
Located around 15 kilometers away from Leh, Shey Monastery is another monastery that constitutes the Shey Palace complex. The highlight of this monastery is a 10 meters statue of a seated Buddha made of copper and gilded gold. Umpteen wall paintings depicting the image of Buddha add more charm to the monastery. Besides the attraction, you will only find some ruins of the palace that attract a number of visitors.
Hemis National Park is the largest high-altitude protected reserve in India and is a must-visit destination to spot the rare species of snow leopards on the Manali to Leh Ladakh route. To catch a glimpse of the snow leopards, you are required to arrive during late winter when the weather is comparatively cold. Apart from this, the Tibetan wolf, the red fox, and the Eurasian brown bear freely stroll around the vicinity of the park. Moreover, since the park is surrounded by the dry forests of birch, fir, and juniper in the low-altitude regions, it does not permit any motorable vehicles.
Situated in McLeod Ganj in Dharamshala, Namgyal Monastery is the personal gompa of the 14th Dalai Lama on Manali to Leh Ladakh highway. In this monastery, the disciples used to perform encrypted rituals during the Dalai Lama's time. You will also be surprised to see both the interior and exterior structures of the monastery portraying the influence of Tibetan Buddhism. Today, it houses a tantric institute where the students are given valuable preachings, rites, and rituals to protect the precious knowledge.
Another attraction you can see during the Manali to Ladakh road trip is the Spituk Gompa, a monastery that draws an inevitable source of existence from Buddhism. Constructed in the 11th century, this monastery reveals a huge statue of Kali unlike other gompas in the region that safeguards their origin, establishments, and existence. You can see more than 100 monks praying and paying tribute to the Goddess in the gompa.
Sangam Point or the confluence of two mighty Zanskar and Indus rivers is yet another one on the list of adorable spots to see during the Manali to Ladakh trip. Several tourists pay a visit to this spot every year to witness the divine spectacle of the rivers. It is relatively surprising to witness the snow-covered Zanskar River and the flowing Indus river at the same time during the winter season.
Gurudwara Pathar Sahib is a temple dedicated to the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, which can be easily accessible on your journey from Manali to Ladakh. Both men and women can enter the gurdwara with an orange scarf donning on them. Travelers can find the displays of the imprint of the body of Guru Nanak Dev and the footprint of the demon in this gurudwara.You can stop by the premises of the temple and pay your respects to the god before proceeding ahead.
Guarded by the Indian Army, The Hall of Fame is the honorary tribute to people who lost their lives in the Kargil War and several other battles of the country. On your visit to the museum while traveling from Manali to Leh, you will get the opportunity to see the preserved items commemorating the soldiers and a 1.30 minutes film introducing the visitors to the realities of the Kargil War. The two extensive rooms in the museum feature numerous exhibits that present the Ladakhi history and culture.
Situated 19 kilometers to the east of Leh, Thiksey Monastery is a beautiful and verily described monument in the Thiksey village that comes along the Manali-Leh route. This attraction attained fast recognition from different parts of the world due to its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Tibet. In this monastery, there is a 15 meters high statue of Maitreya, which is the largest statue in Ladakh and it covers two stories of the buildings.
If you are visiting Nubra Valley on the Manali-Leh highway, you should definitely set foot on the soil of Diskit Monastery, an administrative center of Nubra. It attracts a myriad of visitors throughout the years to its glorified architecture. Resting at a height of 3142 meters above sea level, the monastery is easily accessible through rugged, tough roads and a tiny stream.
Another remarkable contribution of King Sengge Namgyal is Hemis Monastery, which is a reputed site visible on a Leh Ladakh road trip. Due to the surrounding hillocks and the greenery, the monastery remains hidden despite resting in a gorge. When you go inside the monastery, you will witness numerous gold statues and stupas embellished with precious yet rare stones.
There are not many ATMs on the Manali-Leh Highway. Hence, it is recommended to carry a sufficient amount of cash before leaving Manali. If you fail to withdraw cash by any chance in Manali, you will find one ATM in Keylong on the way to Leh. But, there is less probability that the machine will be in working condition. Some of the ATMs that you will find after reaching Leh are Axis Bank, HDFC, ICICI Bank, Jammu and Kashmir Bank, and SBI.
Visitors can find mechanics and puncture shops around Darcha, Keylong, Khoskar, Marhi, Sarchu, and Upshi along your journey on the Manali to Leh Ladakh Highway.
Airtel and BSNL are the only service providers in Leh valley. If you possess a postpaid connection from any of these operators, you can enjoy hassle-free network connectivity on your trip to Leh. On the contrary, if you do not have connections from the aforementioned service operators, you can either buy prepaid connections from them or use the phone booths situated in Leh city.
It can be a daunting task for Indian nationals to buy an Airtel or BSNL SIM card as the government considers the Leh-Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir regions to be sensitive. Thus, it is advisable to apply for SIM cards only if you are planning to stay in the city for a longer period. While foreign nationals can easily get prepaid connections. All you need to do is submit two photocopies of your passport and passport-sized photographs each.
AMS is an abbreviation for Acute Mountain Sickness, which is the greatest challenge for people traveling to Ladakh. It occurs when there is a scarcity of oxygen in your body as you reach higher altitudes. Some people may experience little effects of AMS while others may have some serious complications. Headache, nausea, and vomiting are some of the symptoms experienced by travelers.
In order to avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), it is advisable to carry Diamox on your Manali to Leh Ladakh trip.
If you are an Indian national, it is mandatory for you to carry at least one ID proof, which can be an Aadhar Card, Voter ID, PAN Card, and Indian Passport. You will be required to present these documents to some restricted areas of the Leh region. Moreover, you should carry the attested copy of your ID proofs if you need to submit them for inline permits in restricted areas. On the contrary, foreign nationals should carry a copy of their passport and visa, along with the original ones.
The distance between Manali and Leh is approximately 500 kilometers, and there are numerous bus services that operate on this route. Some of the prominent bus services that you can consider on your Manali to Ladakh road trip are JKSRTC and HPTDC. It will cost you around INR 2500 for one way on the Manali Leh highway bus trip with an overnight stay in Keylong. However, these services are only operational between July 1st and September 15th every year.