How to Travel Spiti Valley From Manali – Planning Journey

In the last few articles that I wrote about Spiti valleyI wrote about the the fun I had in some awesome company that I had. However this fun and frolic came with a lot of planning. You can not just pack your bag and get to travel Spiti Valley, it’s simply not a place like that. Getting to Spiti Valley is easy, however on a survival scale this place marks it’s place. In this article, I will talk in detail about the road to Spiti Valley which goes via Manali.

Route Options Available 

In order to visit this picturesque valley of the Trans Himalayan region, either one can take a long 3 day journey over Hindustan Tibet Highway running through Shimla. Or they can tread along the path of Manali and then take Manali – Rohtang Pass – Kunzum Pass – Kaza (Spiti Valley) route in 2 days.

As a practice and to enjoy the route entirely, it is always better to do the complete circuit for the first time and then keep coming back from one or the other route to explore more and more places in Spiti Valley which is quite difficult to explore in just one trip.

Manali To Spiti Valley

let’s cover in detail in this article about planning the rest of 200 odd KM journey to Spiti Valley from Manali to Kaza.

Manali Spiti Valley Road
Manali Spiti Valley Road

Modes Of Travel From Manali

Most people prefer to self drive or self ride to travel Spiti Valley by their own car or own bike and some also prefer to self drive or self ride to Spiti Valley by hiring a bike or car. You can take your own or rented, car or bike to Spiti Valley but one must be careful while driving or riding through slushy roads, snow and water crossing or nallas especially from Rohtang Pass to Kunzum Pass and almost upto Losar village. Also, it is always handy to learn little maintenance tasks of your vehicle prior to the start of this arduous journey to Spiti Valley from Manali.

Type Of Car. Sedans, Hatchbacks Or SUV/MUV

For cars, although an SUV/MUV is good to have. A 4WD SUV will definitely help but I have seen hatchbacks (including Altos and Nano) and sedans doing good enough job on the road of Grapmhu to Kunzum Pass. If you want to try your sedan or hatch back drive to Spiti Valley then one must drive with extra care and caution. Especially in Grapmhu to Kunzum Pass as it is almost like driving over the river bed.

When In Doubt

Whenever you are in doubt, always step out of your car, walk down the path. Inspect with your foot and plan the path of exit before crossing a dangerous landslide or water crossing on your vehicle. You can also park aside and see how others are crossing the risky section to plan your route of escape. In deep water crossings try to maintain the momentum without any half clutch measures and complete the entire stretch in one go only. It is always handy to ask your fellow co-travellers to get out of the car and push the vehicle from behind in case the car is struggling to pass through the slush or water crossing stretch.

DO NOT forget to help other fellow travellers in need on the route.

Hiring a Private Taxi | Taxi Number or Private Number

You can also hire a taxi from Manali or Delhi to travel on the road to travel Spiti Valley. It is always better to hire Xylo or Scorpio and mostly the charges ranges from 2800 to 3500 per day. This depends upon season of travel and your bargaining skills.

SUV's can be hired from Manali.
SUV’s can be hired from Manali.

Better confirm from the driver if he has done the route over Spiti Valley. When was the last time he did go on that route. Many a times, drivers from Manali are good unlike from Shimla who cover mainly lower hills but it is always better to double check before fixing a deal.

HRTC Bus Service &Shared Taxis| Economical mode of travel

You can take a Volvo run by HRTC or HPTDC to Manali from Delhi and then HRTC buses ply buses on Kullu – Manali – Rohtang Pass – Kunzum Pass – Kaza route. There are two HRTC buses which runs between Manali and Kaza every morning, as soon as road to Spiti Valley via Manali get open in the season, mostly in mid-June. These buses run from Kullu to Kaza via Manali and it reaches Manali around 4.45 AM and leaves at 5.00 AM. Ticket to Kaza will cost you only about INR 250 approximately per person.

Bus Service To Kaza
Bus Service To Kaza

In between, you can also buy yourself a seat in a shared taxi which runs between various places within Spiti Valley. Example, you can cover Dhangkar Monastery, Pin Valley, Kibber/Ki, Hikkim/Komik etc. all in shared taxis available from Tabo OR Kaza. Even shared taxis run between Losar and Kaza too.

Beautiful Spiti Valley…Check Out The Video

ATMs on Road to Spiti Valley via Manali

As per my knowledge there are ATMs available only at Manali and at some places en-route. There is no ATM at Kaza as well AFAIK, so no ATM in Spiti Valley. Hence, it is advised that you carry cash from Manali. I guess you should carry enough cash with you on trans Himalayan trip because ATMs at these limited places can run out of money or become un-operational at any day or time.

Places on Road to Spiti Valley via Manali

The places that falls on this route along with approximate distances between them goes like Manali – Marhi – Rohtang Pass – Gramphu – Chattru – Chota Dhara – Batal – Kunzum Pass – Losar – Kaza.

The approximate distances along with altitude of these places is shown in the chart below. This will help you judge over acclimatization schedule too.

Road to Spiti Valley via Manali Altitude & Distance Graph


Permits for Manali – Rohtang Pass Road

Since 2010, all non-HP vehicles going to Rohtang Pass needs permits which can be obtained free of cost by showing vehicle’s RC and DL copy.

Batal Stop
Batal Stop

Timings for the SDM Office, Manali are 10.00 AM to 5.00 PM and SDM Office Manali will be closed on National / Local Holidays, Sundays, Second Saturdays. So get in touch with some agent to get in advance if you are landing there on these days.

Timings of Manali – Rohtang Pass Road

Starting this year, 2013, traffic on Manali – Rohtang Pass Road has been regulated with timings and traffic will be allowed only one way in those timings. Following is the summary of the regulations:

  • Vehicles going to Rohtang Pass will only be allowed to go from Manali to Rohtang Pass from 6 AM to 11 AM.
  • After 11 AM, tourists or any taxis or vehicle will not be allowed to go to Rohtang Pass, this is like vehicles will not be allowed to cross barrier at Marhi after 11 AM
  • Only exceptions are emergency vehicles and HRTC buses and vehicles coming from Lahaul or travel Spiti Valley which should be certified by Khoksar Check post.
  • Vehicles will only be allowed to come back from Rohtang Pass to Manali after 1 PM to 6 PM only where 11 AM to 1 PM is the maintenance timings when there will not be any movement of vehicles.
  • Vehicles going beyond Rohtang Pass i.e. to Leh – Ladakh or Lahaul + Spiti Valley WILL be allowed from 5 PM to 6 AM too.
  • NO restrictions are present for Ambulances or vehicles in emergency.
  • Any violations to these rules may lead to seizure of the vehicles too.

Summing Up

Have you ever been to travel Spiti Valley through Hindustan – Tibet Highway or via Manali? If yes, please share your view points, suggestions or inputs as comments below, it will help other fellow travellers to plan their own journey too.