The Adventure of a Lifetime: Manali to Leh Road Trip

manali to leh

The Manali-Leh road trip is one of the most popular and adventurous road trips in India.

It’s an epic journey that takes you through some of the most stunning landscapes in the world, ranging from lush green valleys to barren deserts and snow-capped mountains.

This road trip offers a unique opportunity to explore the remote and majestic region of Ladakh, a land that is steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty.

The journey begins in the picturesque town of Manali, located in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. From here, you will embark on a thrilling 473-kilometer journey that will take you through some of the highest mountains passes in the world, including the Rohtang Pass, the Baralacha Pass, and the Tanglang La Pass, before finally reaching Leh, the capital of Ladakh.

This road trip is not just about the destination, but the journey itself, as you will witness breathtaking views, encounter different cultures, and experience the thrill of driving through some of the most challenging roads in the world.

The Manali-Leh road trip is an adventure that will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

Let’s embark on this epic journey and discover the wonders of the Manali Leh road trip together.

Best Time to Visit

manali leh

The best time to visit manali to leh by road is during the summer months, between June and September.

This is when the roads are open, and the weather is pleasant, with clear skies and warm days. The summer months are also ideal for sightseeing, trekking, and camping, as the temperatures are mild and comfortable.

However, it’s important to note that the Manali Leh road trip is not without its risks, even during the summer months. Heavy rain and landslides can occur, leading to road closures and delays. Therefore, it’s essential to keep an eye on the weather forecast and road conditions before embarking on the journey.

If you’re looking for a more challenging and adventurous experience, you can consider traveling during the shoulder season, in May or October. The roads may be less crowded during this time, and you may get to witness some snowfall in the higher reaches, adding to the scenic beauty of the landscape.

It’s important to note that the Manali-Leh road trip is not recommended during the winter months, between November and February. The roads are closed due to heavy snowfall, and the temperatures can drop to sub-zero levels, making it challenging and dangerous to travel.

Therefore, it’s best to plan your trip during the summer months for a safe and enjoyable experience.

Route Map: Manali to Leh

manali leh road map

The Manali to Leh bike trip is a long and challenging journey that covers a distance of 473 kilometers.

The journey begins in the scenic town of Manali and takes you through some of the highest mountain passes in the world, offering breathtaking views of the Himalayan range.

The route is divided into two main sections: 

the first section covers the distance from Manali to Sarchu, and the second section covers the distance from Sarchu to Leh.

Here’s a breakdown of the route map:

Manali to Rohtang Pass:

The journey begins in Manali, located in the state of Himachal Pradesh. From here, you will travel to the Rohtang Pass, which is located at an altitude of 3,979 meters. The journey takes around 4-5 hours and covers a distance of approximately 51 kilometers.

Rohtang Pass to Keylong:

From Rohtang Pass, you will travel to Keylong, which is the administrative center of the Lahaul and Spiti district. The distance between Rohtang Pass and Keylong is approximately 54 kilometers and takes around 2-3 hours to cover.

Keylong to Jispa:

The next stop on the journey is Jispa, a scenic village located on the banks of the Bhaga River. The distance between Keylong and Jispa is around 22 kilometers, and it takes approximately 1-2 hours to cover.

Jispa to Sarchu:

From Jispa, you will travel to Sarchu, located on the border of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh. The distance between Jispa and Sarchu is approximately 82 kilometers and takes around 4-5 hours to cover.

Sarchu to Pang:

The next stop on the journey is Pang, a small village located at an altitude of 4,520 meters. The distance between Sarchu and Pang is approximately 75 kilometers and takes around 3-4 hours to cover.

Pang to Upshi:

From Pang, you will travel to Upshi, a small town located in the Leh district of Ladakh. The distance between Pang and Upshi is approximately 147 kilometers and takes around 6-7 hours to cover.

Upshi to Leh:

The last part of the trip will lead you from Upshi to Leh, which is the main city of Ladakh. The distance between Upshi and Leh is approximately 50 kilometers and takes around 1-2 hours to cover.

Here, One of the biggest benefits of traveling from Manali to Leh via Atal Tunnel is that it significantly reduces the travel time, making the journey much more comfortable and convenient.

The tunnel is also considered an engineering marvel, providing an incredible experience for travelers.

It’s important to note that the Manali-Leh route has challenging road conditions with rough terrain, sharp bends, and steep inclines. Therefore, Ensure vehicle is in good condition and drive cautiously to stay safe on this journey.

Distances to Leh:

Manali to Leh distance: Approx 473 KM

Delhi to Leh via Manali Distance: Approx 990 km

Distance between Chandigarh to Leh: Approx 785 km

Distance between Shimla to Leh: Approx 705 KM

How to Reach Manali

Manali has convenient connectivity to major cities in India through road, rail, and air transport.

The nearest airport to Manali is the Bhuntar Airport, which is about 50 km away. After arriving at the airport, one can opt for a taxi or bus to reach Manali.

If you are traveling by train, the nearest railway station is Chandigarh, which is about 310 km away. You can go for a bus or taxi from that point to reach Manali.

Road Conditions

manali to leh road

The Manali to Leh route conditions can be quite challenging due to the high altitude, steep gradients, and rough terrain.

The road is mostly a single lane with occasional passing points, so drivers need to be extra cautious while driving on this route.

During the summer months, the road is relatively smoother, but during the monsoon season, the road can be quite treacherous due to landslides, mudslides, and water crossings.

In winters, the road is covered with snow, and only 4×4 vehicles with experienced drivers can traverse this route.

Therefore, it is essential to check the weather and road conditions before embarking on this journey. You can check the local weather and road conditions by contacting the local authorities or by visiting their websites.

It is always advisable to carry necessary equipment such as tire chains, a spare tire, a jack, and a toolkit in case of emergencies.

To sum up, the Manali to Leh road conditions are challenging, and it requires a skilled driver and a well-maintained vehicle to complete the journey.

Things to Carry

things to carry in ladakh trip

It is essential to carry all the necessary items while embarking on a road trip on the Manali-Leh highway. This list is not exhaustive, and one can add or remove items according to their preferences and requirements.

Here is a list of essential items that one should carry:

  1. Warm Clothes: Since the journey takes you through high altitude regions, it is crucial to carry jackets, sweaters, and mufflers.
  2. First Aid Kit: It is always wise to carry a first aid kit that includes essential medicines, bandages, antiseptic solutions, and pain relief sprays.
  3. Snacks and Water: Carry enough snacks and water to keep you hydrated and energized during the journey. You can also carry dry fruits and energy bars for quick energy boosts.
  4. Camera: The journey through the Manali Leh highway offers some of the most stunning views. So it’s always great to carry a camera to capture those beautiful moments.
  5. Power Bank: Since there is no guarantee of finding a power source during the journey, it is essential to carry a power bank to keep your phone and other electronic devices charged.
  6. Cash and Cards: It’s essential to carry enough cash and cards for fuel, food, and accommodation during the journey.
  7. Toiletries: Carry essential toiletries like toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, and tissue papers.
  8. Sleeping Bags: It is always advisable to carry sleeping bags in case of emergencies or if you want to take a break and rest for a while.
  9. Sunglasses: Since the journey takes you through high altitude regions, carrying sunglasses can protect your eyes from the harsh sunlight and UV rays.
  10. Portable Stove: Carrying a portable stove can come in handy if you plan on camping or if you want to cook your meals during the journey.
  11. Spare Tire: It is always wise to carry a spare tire in case of a flat tire, as finding a mechanic or a repair shop on the highway can be challenging.
  12. Extra Fuel: Since there are very few fuel stations along the highway, it’s always wise to carry extra fuel in jerry cans to avoid running out of fuel.
  13. Riding Gear: It is essential to wear appropriate riding gear such as a helmet, riding boots, gloves, and a jacket to ensure safety while riding on the highway.
  14. Bungee Cords and Straps: Bungee cords and straps can be used to secure luggage and other items on the bike during the journey.
  15. Spare Parts and Tools: Carrying spare parts such as fuses, spark plugs, and bulbs along with necessary tools such as wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers can help in case of any mechanical issues on the bike.
  16. Motorcycle Cover: It protects the bike from dust, rain, and harsh weather conditions during the journey and while parked at night.


Camping in Ladakh

Accommodation options on the Manali-Leh highway are limited, especially in the remote areas. However, there are some options available, depending on your budget and preference. Here are some options:

Guesthouses and Homestays: Guesthouses and homestays are popular among tourists and are available in many villages along the highway. They offer basic facilities and are a good option for budget travelers.

Tented Camps: Tented camps are another popular option on the Manali Leh highway. They offer basic facilities such as a tent, sleeping bags, and meals. These camps are usually set up at beautiful locations and offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Hotels and Resorts: There are some hotels and resorts available along the Manali-Leh highway, especially in the towns of Keylong and Leh. They offer better facilities and services but can be expensive.

Camping: Camping is also an option on the Manali-Leh highway, especially in the remote areas. However, it is important to obtain necessary permits and follow safety guidelines while camping.

It is advisable to book accommodation in advance, especially during peak season (June to September), as the options are limited and can fill up quickly. Also, pack a warm sleeping bag & extra blankets for the night as temperatures can drop drastically.

Places to Visit

Pangong Lake

Manali-Leh road trip is not just about the journey, it’s about the destinations that you can visit along the way.

Here are some of the most popular places that you must visit during your road trip:

Rohtang Pass: Located at an altitude of 3,978 meters, Rohtang Pass is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. It offers panoramic views of the snow-capped mountains and is a favorite spot for adventure enthusiasts.

Keylong: Keylong is a small town located on the Manali Leh highway, known for its scenic beauty and serene environment. The town is situated at an altitude of 3,080 meters and is a perfect place to relax and rejuvenate.

Pangong Lake: Pangong Lake is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ladakh. It is a high altitude lake located at an altitude of 4,350 meters and is known for its crystal-clear waters and stunning landscapes.

Nubra Valley: Nubra Valley is a must-visit destination on the Manali-Leh road trip. It is a high altitude desert located at an altitude of 3,048 meters. It is famous for its sand dunes, double-humped camels, and monasteries.

Leh Palace: Leh Palace is a magnificent nine-story palace located in the heart of Leh. Built-in the 17th century, it offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Magnetic Hill: Magnetic Hill is a natural wonder located on the Leh-Kargil highway. It is known for its unique magnetic properties, which make vehicles appear to roll uphill against gravity.

Shanti Stupa: Located on a hilltop in Leh, the Shanti Stupa is a white-domed stupa with a Buddhist significance. It offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and is a popular destination for meditation and peaceful retreats.

These are just a few of the many places that you can visit on your Manali Leh road trip. Each of these destinations has its own unique charm and is sure to leave you mesmerized.


Manali-Leh tour is undoubtedly one of India’s must-visit destinations, and it’s not hard to see why with its breathtaking scenery and thrilling experiences. The trip requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a spirit of adventure to truly enjoy the journey. Proper preparation, gear, and mindset can make this road trip unforgettable, creating lasting memories.

So, pack your bags, hit the road, and experience the magic of the Manali-Leh road trip!

If you found this article on the Manali Leh road trip helpful and informative, please share it with your friends and family who might be planning to embark on this adventure.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *