Fêtes & Cérémonies

A Detailed Guide For Your Next Adventure


Nestled amidst the formidable Himalayan peaks, the Ladakh road trip has long held a coveted spot on the bucket lists of adventurers and wanderers. With its rugged terrain, serene lakes, high mountain passes, and a unique blend of cultures, this journey is an exhilarating exploration of one of India’s most remote and breathtaking regions. From thrill-seekers craving an adrenaline rush to nature enthusiasts yearning for pristine landscapes, the Ladakh road trip beckons, promising an unforgettable odyssey through the heart of the Himalayas. This detailed guide of the Manali To Leh road trip will take you through all the important points offering insights, tips, and a glimpse into the unparalleled adventure you are about to traverse on this.

Best Time to Plan A Manali To Leh Road Trip

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The Manali to Leh road trip spans approximately 478 kilometers and is a dream come true for avid road-trippers and nature enthusiasts. The route takes you through some of the highest motorable passes in the world, offering mesmerizing vistas of towering mountains, pristine rivers, and charming villages. The best time to embark on this adventure is from June to September when the roads are open and the weather is relatively stable. During this period, the snow has melted, allowing safe passage through the high-altitude passes. Keep in mind the unpredictable weather in the mountains, and be prepared for sudden changes.

Manali to Leh Distance and Route

Roads of Leh Ladakh

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Understanding the distance and route from Manali to Leh is vital for planning your road trip effectively and this Manali to Leh road trip itinerary is all you need. Each segment of the journey is filled with breathtaking vistas and unique experiences, making it a road trip of a lifetime. The journey begins in Manali, a popular hill station in Himachal Pradesh, known for its picturesque beauty and vibrant culture. From here, you’ll start your ascent towards Leh, the capital of Ladakh. The route can be broadly divided into the following segments:

    • Manali to Rohtang Pass: Your journey begins in Manali, a popular hill station in Himachal Pradesh. The first leg of the trip takes you from Manali to Rohtang Pass, covering approximately 51 kilometers. Rohtang Pass, at an altitude of 13,050 feet, marks the gateway to your high-altitude adventure.

Distance: 51 Km

    • Rohtang Pass to Keylong (117 kilometers): From Rohtang Pass, you’ll continue your ascent through the stunning landscapes, covering about 117 kilometers to reach Keylong. Keylong is a picturesque town in the Lahaul and Spiti district, nestled at an altitude of 10,105 feet. It’s an ideal place for a break, offering local cuisine and a glimpse into the unique culture of the region.
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Distance: 117 Km

    • Keylong to Jispa: A short 23-kilometer drive from Keylong will take you to Jispa, another charming settlement along the route. Jispa is known for its scenic beauty and is often chosen as a pit stop for travelers.

Distance: 23 Km

    • Jispa to Baralacha La (50 kilometers): As you leave Jispa, you’ll head towards Baralacha La, covering about 50 kilometers. Baralacha La is a high mountain pass situated at an elevation of 16,040 feet, offering breathtaking views of snow-clad peaks and vast meadows. It’s a crucial junction connecting roads to Leh, Manali, and Ladakh.

Distance: 50 Km

    • Baralacha La to Sarchu: After Baralacha La, the route takes you to Sarchu, covering approximately 42 kilometers. Sarchu, at an altitude of 14,070 feet, is a popular overnight stop for travelers. The barren landscapes here are starkly beautiful.

Distance: 42 Km

    • Sarchu to Pang: The next leg of the journey takes you from Sarchu to Pang, a distance of about 80 kilometers. Pang is known for its mesmerizing landscapes, and travelers often camp at the famous Pang Ground under the starry skies.

Distance: 80 Km

    • Pang to Tanglang La: Leaving Pang behind, you’ll ascend towards Tanglang La, covering around 84 kilometers. Tanglang La is one of the highest motorable passes in the world, situated at an altitude of 17,582 feet.

Distance: 84 Km

    • Tanglang La to Upshi: From Tanglang La, you’ll descend towards Upshi, covering approximately 77 kilometers. Upshi is a small town in Ladakh, offering a change of scenery and a taste of local culture.

Distance: 77 Km

    • Upshi to Leh: The final leg of your journey takes you from Upshi to Leh, covering a distance of about 46 kilometers. Leh, the capital of Ladakh, is your ultimate destination, known for its unique blend of Tibetan and Indian cultures.

Distance: 46 Km

Permits And Additional Information

Permits required for Manali to Leh road trip

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For the Manali to Leh road trip, permits are necessary, and they can vary depending on whether you have a local vehicle (Indian) or an outside vehicle (foreign). Whether you are planning your Manali to Leh road trip by car or bike these are important points to consider regarding the permits.

Permits Required for Local Vehicles (Indian):

  • Rohtang Pass Permit: All local vehicles traveling beyond Manali towards Rohtang Pass need this permit, which is obtainable online or in person at the SDM Office in Manali. This permit is required for both Indian and foreign vehicles.
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP): Indian tourists must obtain an ILP to enter restricted areas in Ladakh, including Pangong Lake, Nubra Valley, and Tso Moriri. You can get ILPs online or in person at the Leh DC Office.
  • Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Permit: If you plan to visit the Dah-Hanu area in Ladakh, you’ll need this permit. It’s available in Leh and is required for both Indian and foreign vehicles.

Permits Required for Outside Vehicles (Foreign):

  • Protected Area Permit (PAP): Foreign nationals traveling to restricted areas in Ladakh, such as Pangong Lake, Nubra Valley, and Tso Moriri, must obtain a PAP. You can apply for PAPs through registered tour operators or travel agencies in Leh. This permit is for foreign vehicles.
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Additional Tips:

Some specific monasteries, villages, or military-sensitive areas might require extra permits. Always check with local authorities or tour operators for the latest permit requirements to ensure a smooth and hassle-free Manali to Leh road trip.

5 Must-Visit Places To Visit On Your Manali To Leh Road Trip

These five destinations are just a glimpse of the wonders you’ll encounter on your Manali to Leh road trip. The entire journey is filled with breathtaking landscapes, high mountain passes, and unique cultural experiences, making it a truly unforgettable adventure. Read further to know places you cannot miss out on your next trip.

1. Rohtang Pass

scenic views at Rohtang Pass

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Rohtang Pass, situated at an impressive altitude of 13,050 feet, serves as the exhilarating threshold to your Manali to Leh road expedition. This high mountain pass, nestled within the majestic Pir Panjal range, beckons travelers with panoramic vistas of snow-capped peaks, pristine meadows, and invigorating mountain air. A visit to Rohtang Pass is akin to stepping into an enchanting winter wonderland, creating an indelible memory and marking the commencement of your journey through the Himalayan marvels. It’s an excellent spot for photography and to get a taste of the Himalayan beauty.

Must Read: 51 Places To Visit In Leh Ladakh For A Spell Binding Vacation

2. Pangong Lake

Scenic views at the Pangong Lake

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Pangong Lake, situated at a breathtaking altitude of 14,270 feet in the highlands of Ladakh, is a mesmerizing jewel amidst the stark Himalayan landscape. Known for its ethereal shades of blue that change with the sunlight, the lake stretches across the border into Tibet, China. The lake gained fame after featuring in the movie “3 Idiots,” and it remains a top attraction on the Manali to Leh road trip, offering unforgettable moments of tranquility and natural beauty.

3. Nubra Valley

Tourist enjoying camel ride in Nubra Valley

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Known as the “Valley of Flowers of Ladakh,” Nubra Valley is a surreal landscape with lush greenery contrasting against the arid mountains. This remote valley, flanked by rugged mountains, is a striking contrast to arid desert landscapes and vibrant green oases, thanks to the nourishing waters of the Shyok River. One of the highlights of Nubra Valley is the opportunity to ride the famous double-humped Bactrian camels on the Hunder Sand Dunes.

Suggested Read: 40 Best Things To Do In Ladakh That You Can’t Afford To Miss

4. Leh

Thiksey Monastery in Leh

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Leh, the capital of Ladakh, is a captivating destination that seamlessly blends Tibetan and Indian cultures. Perched at a high altitude of approximately 11,562 feet, Leh is a treasure trove of ancient monasteries, stunning landscapes, and a vibrant local culture. Visitors can explore the historic Leh Palace, which offers panoramic views of the town and surrounding mountains, and visit renowned monasteries like Thiksey and Hemis. The bustling markets of Leh provide an opportunity to savor local cuisine, shop for traditional handicrafts, and engage with the warm-hearted locals.

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5. Tso Moriri Lake

Best place to visit on your Manali to Leh road trip

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Tso Moriri Lake, nestled in the remote corners of Ladakh at an altitude of around 15,075 feet, is a hidden gem for those seeking untouched natural beauty. This pristine lake, surrounded by rugged mountains, boasts crystal-clear waters that mirror the azure skies and snowy peaks. Tso Moriri offers a tranquil escape from the crowds, making it perfect for birdwatching, capturing stunning photographs, and experiencing serenity amidst the Himalayan wilderness. While visiting, you’ll also have a chance to witness the nomadic Changpa tribes making it a memorable experience.

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Travel Tips For Your Next Manali To Leh Road Trip

travel tips for Manali to Leh road trip

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1. Ensure your vehicle is in top-notch condition and equipped for the journey.
2. Pack warm clothing, camping gear, and an adequate supply of food and water.
3. Take time to acclimatize at higher altitudes to prevent altitude sickness.
4. Stay updated on road conditions and weather forecasts.
5. Respect local customs and the environment by practicing eco-friendly travel.
6. Do not over-exert yourself and take proper rests in between for acclimatization.
7. Avoid consuming alcohol or smoking.

Further Read: Ladakh Travel Tips To Bear In Mind While Traveling To The Himalayan Desert

As you traverse the winding roads that lead from Manali to Leh, you’ll find yourself in awe of the ever-changing landscapes, the indomitable spirit of the mountains, and the raw beauty of the Himalayas. So, gear up, pack your sense of adventure, and embark on a trip to Leh Ladakh and embark on a memorable adventure on your Manali to Leh road trip.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Manali To Leh Road Trip

How long is the road trip from Leh to Manali?

The road trip from Leh to Manali typically takes around 2 to 3 days, covering a distance of approximately 479 kilometers via the Manali-Leh Highway

How to plan a road trip from Manali to Leh?

To plan a road trip from Manali to Leh, start by checking the road conditions and weather forecasts. Ensure your vehicle is in good condition, acquire necessary permits, pack essentials like warm clothing, and plan your overnight stops at places like Keylong and Pang.

Which is the best time for a road trip from Manali to Leh?

The best time for a road trip from Manali to Leh is from late May to early September when the roads are open, and the weather is relatively stable.

What are the five passes between Manali and Leh?

The five passes between Manali and Leh are Rohtang Pass, Baralacha La, Nakee La, Lachulung La, and Tanglang La.

Which pass is before Pangong Lake?

The pass before Pangong Lake is Chang La, a high mountain pass located at an altitude of around 17,590 feet (5,360 meters).

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