MANALI LEH CYCLING – Self Supported – Informative Guide & Itinerary

This is a composite, detailed and a step by step Manali to Leh Cycling Itinerary for any individual seeking information to complete this adventurous Trip through the tough terrains of Ladakh! We attempted this Journey in July of 2019 and have documented the complete details of our trip. We have organised all the information in the best possible manner that will be helpful for anyone attempting this trip!

NO. OF DAYS
11
BEST TIME
TO DO

MID JUNE TO END OF AUGUST.
The road is covered in Snow for
rest of the year.

SUITABLE
FOR
FRIENDS/SOLO
TYPE
APPROXIMATE
BUDGET
INR 33,000 PER PERSON
(INCLUDING BICYCLES)
 

Manali To Leh Cycling Infographic

HOW TO START

PREPARE YOURSELF 
ARRANGE YOUR GEAR
REACH MANALI & ACCLIMATISE
START CYCLING

 

HOW TO REACH MANALI

MANALI BY ROAD
  • Manali is accessible only by road.
  • Driving your own vehicle is an option. Having some experience to drive in the hills would come in handy.
  • Private & Government local and luxury buses run to Manali daily from all near by major cities like Delhi & Chandigarh.

MANALI BY AIR

  • Nearest airport to Manali is 50 km away in Bhuntar. This is the least popular and relatively the most expensive option to get to Manali. Take a taxi from Bhuntar till Manali.
  • However, people do take a flight till Delhi and then a direct bus to Manali.

MANALI BY RAIL

  • Nearest railway station to Manali is 160 km (approx.) away in Joginder Nagar. Taxi is the fastest way to reach from Joginder Nagar to Manali. No online registered direct buses run on this route.

DAILY CYCLING ROUTE & INFO

DAY 0

  • Once You’re in Manali,  you need to ACCLIMATIZE – You need to cycle around short distances around Manali to acclimatize yourself to cycling in the hills as well as at that temperature and altitude. This is absolutely necessary to prevent AMS while cycling.
  • You can stay for 2 Days in Manali and enjoy the beauty of the town.
  • Buy the essentials for the trip like portable oxygen cylinders and chocolates & protein bars.
  • Make sure your cycle is absolutely fine. You can it get it fine-tuned at a shop on the Mall Road – Himalayan Bike Bar. The person there is super helpful.
  • We have a detailed article on HOW TO PREPARE YOURSELF FOR MANALI TO LEH CYCLING TRIP! Read it to get detailed information about what you need to do for this Trip!

 

From here the Manali to Leh Cycling Itinerary starts for the next 11 Days!

All the Daily Stops and Landmarks Pinned for Manali to Leh Cycling Itinerary as per XTE on Google Maps. Save This Route Offline.

THE MANALI TO LEH CYCLING JOURNEY

DAY 1 |  MANALI TO KOTHI

  • Distance: 14 km – May vary depending on where exactly are you staying in Manali
  • Altitude: Manali at 2,050 meters (6,726 ft); Kothi at 2,500 meters (8,202 ft)
  • Roads: Well built roads for the entire route; constant traffic

Leh Manali Cycling Expedition

 

Food and Water

  • Food: Dhabas and restaurants at frequent intervals
  • Water: Refill your bottle at the dhabas. Refill bottles from the streams – the water is clean

Accommodation, Lavatory and Network

  • Accommodation: At Kothi, there are relatively very few options for accommodation. Pre-booking the PWD guesthouse would be most cost effective
  • Lavatory: Well built, functional toilets are available in the accommodations
  • Network: All the service providers should work fine

Other Important Info.

  • Mechanic / Local help available: Mechanic is available as you start to get out of Manali. No mechanics in Kothi. Locals should be equipped to help you out too

DAY 2 | KOTHI TO MARHI

  • Distance: 21 km
  • Altitude: Kothi at 2,500 meters (8202 ft); Marhi at 3,360 meters (11,024 ft)
  • Roads: Well built roads for the entire route, cycled through three sets of loops; constant traffic

Leh Manali Cycling Expedition

Food and Water

  • Food: A couple dhabas at Kothi. Beyond that you will get somthing to eat directly at Marhi
  • Water: Refill bottles from the streams / waterfalls – a lot of them on the route

Accommodation, Lavatory and Network

  • Accommodation: At Marhi, there are a few options for accommodation. It is mostly dhabas and other temporary settlements here. INR 250 for a bed in a dormitory
  • Lavatory: Functional toilets are available in the accommodations for the better part
  • Network: Only Jio works here

Other Important Info.

  • Mechanic / Local help available: Mechanic may not be available. However, given that this is the stay for Day 1 for almost all cyclists, you can take help from them. Locals should be equipped to help you out too

DAY 3 | MARHI TO SISSU

  • Marhi to Sissu
  • Distance: 50 km
  • Altitude: Marhi at 3,360 meters (11,024 ft); Sissu at 3,120 meters (10,235 ft); Max altitude reached during the day – Rohtang La (Pass) at 3,978 meters (13,050 ft)
  • Roads: Well built roads up till Rohtang Pass. After Rohtang pass, it is a mix of good and bad roads. Respite from traffic after Rohtang Pass

Leh Manali Cycling Expedition

Food and Water

  • Food: Get food packed from Marhi. Snacks available at Rohtang Pass. Post that you can eat at Gramphu, Khoksar or directly at Sissu.
  • Water: Refill bottles from the dhabas and/or streams – quite a few of them on the route

Accommodation, Lavatory and Network

  • Accommodation: At Sissu, there are quite a few homestays to choose from. You can easily get a room with 3 beds for INR 1000
  • Lavatory: Well built, functional toilets are available in the accommodations
  • Network: Only BSNL works here. Try conecting to CellOne tower in your mobile settings

Other Important Info.

  • Mechanic / Local help available: You will find mechanic as well as local people who can help you out
  • While crossing Rohtang Pass, keep your O2 cylinders in a bag where it is easily accessible. Most probably you wouldn’t need them, but you should be prepared
  • There is good probability of encountering fog & rain. Would recommend riding on the inside of the road.

DAY 4 | SISSU TO DARCHA

  • Distance: 62 km
  • Altitude: Sissu at 3,120 meters (10,235 ft); Darcha at 3,360 meters (11,020 ft)
  • Roads: Well built roads for the entire route, mostly a mix of gradual uphill and downhill. Open roads with minimal traffic

Leh Manali Cycling Expedition


Food and Water

  • Food: Dhabas at regular intervals. Plenty options in Keylong and Jispa
  • Water: Refill bottles from the dhabas – a lot of them on the route

Accommodation, Lavatory and Network

  • Accommodation: At Darcha, there are a few options for accommodation. Right at the Darcha checkpoint there are a couple dhabas that offer a place to stay. INR 150 per bed
  • Lavatory: Toilets are available. May have to carry water to clean up afterwards
  • Network: There is no coverage in Darcha

Other Important Info.

  • Mechanic / Local help available: Mechanics are available outside Sissu as well as in Keylong. No mechanic available in or around Darcha. However, you can ask for help at the Darcha checkpoint itself, they will be able to guide.

DAY 5 | DARCHA TO ZING ZING BAR

  • Distance: 21 km
  • Altitude: Darcha at 3,360 meters (11,020 ft); Zing Zing Bar at 4,270 meters (14,009 ft)
  • Roads: Well built roads for the entire route, with minimal traffic

Leh Manali Cycling Expedition

Food and Water

  • Food: Get food packed from Darcha, no dhabas until Zing Zing Bar
  • Water: Given that on the route there are no dhabas and even the water streams are scarce, use your water wisely

Accommodation, Lavatory and Network

  • Accommodation: At Zing Zing Bar, there are options for accommodation. Though these are just temporary settlements. INR 200 per bed in the dormitory
  • Lavatory: Toilets are available. May have to carry water to clean up afterwards
  • Network: There is no coverage in Zing Zing Bar

Other Important Info.

  • Mechanic / Local help available: A mechanic is available just before Upper Zing Zing Bar
  • Note that the temporary dhabas maybe located at Lower Zing Zing Bar or Upper Zing Zing Bar. This may change season to season. To avoid any surprises, inquire on the route about this before hand.

DAY 6 | ZING ZING BAR TO SARCHU

  • Distance: 54 km
  • Altitude: Zing Zing Bar at 4,270 meters (14,009 ft); Sarchu at 4,290 metres (14,070 ft); Max altitude reached during the day – Baralacha La at 4,850 meters (15,912 ft)
  • Roads: Roads are nice until Baralacha La top. Post that it starts to deteriorate, with some really awful roads near Bharatpur. Need to cross a few streams as well. The last stretch for Sarchu is well built

Leh Manali Cycling Expedition

Food and Water

  • Food: Get food packed from Zing Zing Bar; en-route there are dhabas at Bharatpur Colony. Post that you will find dhabas and other temporary settlements in Sarchu
  • Water: There are a couple streams to refill your bottle or refill at a Bharatpur dhaba

Accommodation, Lavatory and Network

  • Accommodation: At Sarchu, there are options for accommodation. These are just temporary settlements and charge a standard price of INR 200 per bed
  • Lavatory: Toilets are available. May have to carry water to clean up afterwards
  • Network: There is no coverage in Sarchu

Other Important Info.

  • Mechanic / Local help available: Mechanics are not available in either Zing Zing Bar or Sarchu. You can ask for help at the Sarchu checkpoint
  • It is extremely essential that you start as early as possible. No later than 6:30 am, to be able to cross the streams at Bharatpur before noon. Because by then enough snow would have melted to cause problems in crossing the stream
  • While crossing the pass, do keep your O2 cylinder handy for safety purposes

DAY 7 | SARCHU TO WHISKEY NALA

  • Distance: 48 km
  • Altitude: Sarchu at 4,290 metres (14,070 ft); Whisky Nala at 4,600 meters (15,092 ft); Gata Loops top at 4,667 meters (15,312 ft); Max altitude reached during the day – Nakee La at 4,739 meters (15,547 ft)
  • Roads: Roads are nice throughout this route, except for the downhill stretch from Nakee La top

Leh Manali Cycling Expedition


Food and Water

  • Food: Get food packed from Sarchu, there are no dhabas before Whisky Nala
  • Water: There are no streams or dhabas on the route. You need to manage your water in-take to last the entire day

Accommodation, Lavatory and Network

  • Accommodation: At Whisky Nala, there are options for accommodation. These are just temporary dhabas and tents and charge a around INR 200 per bed
  • Lavatory: Toilets are essentially a pit being dug in the middle of nowhere and you can just about fit inside the cubicle. May have to carry water to clean up afterwards
  • Network: There is no coverage in Whisky Nala

Other Important Info.

  • Mechanic / Local help available: Mechanics are not available in either Sarchu or Whisky Nala. A lot of fellow cyclists and bikers may be seen retiring for the night at Whisky Nala
  • On your way to whisky Nala, one has to cross the Gata Loops – a set of 21 consecutive loops making you gain an altitude of approximately 500 meters
  • Unlike other passes, google pin for Nakee La is at the start of the pass instead of it being at the top. This means more uphill than anticipated. Thus Gata Loops Top to Nakee Pass is almost 10 Km.

DAY 8 | WHISKEY NALA TO PANG

  • Distance: 29 km
  • Altitude: Whisky Nala at 4,600 meters (15,092 ft); Pang at 4,700 meters (15,420 ft); Max altitude reached during the day – Lachalung La at 5,065 meters (16,616 ft)
  • Roads: Roads are bad throughout this route. Uphill stretch till Lachalung La is quite dusty
Leh Manali Cycling Expedition


Food and Water

  • Food: Get food packed from Whisky Nala, there are no dhabas before Pang
  • Water: First stream on the route was within the last 10 km of Pang. You need to manage your water in-take to last the entire day

Accommodation, Lavatory and Network

  • Accommodation: At Pang, there are quite a few options for accommodation. These are tents as well as brick and mortar dormitories. Charges are around INR 200 per bed
  • Lavatory: There are functional toilets available at Pang
  • Network: There is no coverage in Pang

Other Important Info.

  • Mechanic / Local help available: Mechanics are not available in either Whisky Nala or Pang. However, locals should be able to help out
  • Government medical camp is situated here. Its free of charge for any medical assistance

DAY 9 | PANG TO DEBRING

  • Distance: 51 km
  • Altitude: Pang at 5,059 meters (15,420 ft); Debring at 4,835 (15,863 ft)
  • Roads: Roads are absolutely well built on this route
Leh Manali Cycling Expedition


Food and Water

  • Food: Get food packed from Pang, there are no dhabas before Debring
  • Water: There are no streams or dhabas on the route. You need to manage your water in-take to last the entire day

Accommodation, Lavatory and Network

  • Accommodation: At Lower Debring, there are a few dhabas and tents for stay. At Upper Debring there are temporary settlements made out of bricks. INR 200 for the bed.
  • Lavatory: There are functional toilets available at Debring
  • Network: There is no coverage in Debring

Other Important Info.

  • Mechanic / Local help available: Mechanics are not available in either Pang or Debring. However, cyclists do stop at Debring before cycling through the Taglang La
  • It is important that you sleep in time and get going early the next day, for you have to conquer the highest of mountain passes on this highway

DAY 10 | DEBRING TO UPSHI

  • Distance: 75 km
  • Altitude: Debring at 4,835 (15,863 ft); Upshi at 3,480 meters (11,417 ft); Max altitude reached during the day – Tanglang La at 5,359 meters (17,582 ft)
  • Roads: Roads are well built till Tanglang La top. Post that barring a small stretch of downhill, the roads are fine

Leh Manali Cycling Expedition


Food and Water

  • Food: Get food packed from Pang, if you want. However, there are quite a few villages once you are well into your downhill stretch from Tanglang La
  • Water: There are a few streams during the uphill. Also, there are villages (starting with rumtse) as well as dhabas while going downhill

Accommodation, Lavatory and Network

  • Accommodation: At Upshi, there are motels as well as homestays to choose from. INR 250 for the bed
  • Lavatory: There are functional toilets available at Upshi
  • Network: There is network coverage in Upshi. Though, it is limited to BSNL post-paid sims. However, if the sim is purchased locally, then pre-paid BSNL, Airtel and Jio works

Other Important Info.

  • Mechanic / Local help available: Mechanics are not available in either Debring or Upshi. However, locals should be equipped to help you out
  • Though, the information provided for network in the above section is accurate, we recommend that you check locally at a sim shop to be on the safer side. There is one in Upshi main market

DAY 11 | UPSHI TO LEH

  • Distance: 47 km
  • Altitude: Upshi at 3,480 meters (11,417 ft); Leh at 3,524 meters (11,562 ft)
  • Roads: Roads are well built throughout the root. There is quite the traffic on this route which only increases as you approach Leh

Leh Manali Cycling Expedition

 

Food and Water

  • Food: There are a lot of dhabas and restaurants on the route. No need to get the food packed
  • Water: There are quite a few villages and dhabas for you to refill your bottle

Accommodation, Lavatory and Network

  • Accommodation: At Leh, there are motels, hotels, hostels, homestays and whatever else you will like to choose from
  • Lavatory: There are well built, functional toilets available everywhere
  • Network: There is network coverage in Leh. Though, it is limited to BSNL post-paid sims. However, if the sim is purchased locally, then pre-paid BSNL, Airtel and Jio works

Other Important Info.

  • Mechanic / Local help available: There are mechanics available in Leh
  • Though, the information provided for network in the above section is accurate, we recommend that you check locally at a sim shop to be on the safer side. There are a few near the Leh main market
  • You can visit Hemis or Thiksay monastery on your way to Leh depending on how much time do you have at hand. Visiting Thiksay will be more convenient in case you have to choose one

MORE ON LADAKH

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WHERE TO STAY

IN MANALI

We stayed at the Lost Tribe Hostel in Manali

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Lost Tribe Hostels (TLT) (@thelosttribehostels) on

Want to check out other options you have to Stay in Manali? Then here’s a list of other hotels & hostels available in Manali.

 

ON THE MANALI – LEH HIGHWAY

  • The Manali to Leh highwayhas options to stay approximately every 40 km. Barring a few villages on the route, a lot of these locations are temporary settlements that people put up for the time the highway stays open. It is generally open from around beginning of June till mid September. Almost throughout the route it is around INR 200 per night.

IN LEH

In Leh we stayed at Hearth Hostel. 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Hearth Hostel (@thehearthstays) on

Then again there is no shortage of hostels or hotels to choose from. So whatever is your preference you can go for it.

WHERE TO STAY

IN MANALI

We stayed at the Lost Tribe Hostel in Manali

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Lost Tribe Hostels (TLT) (@thelosttribehostels) on

Want to check out other options you have to Stay in Manali? Then here’s a list of other hotels & hostels available in Manali.

 

ON THE MANALI – LEH HIGHWAY

  • The Manali to Leh highwayhas options to stay approximately every 40 km. Barring a few villages on the route, a lot of these locations are temporary settlements that people put up for the time the highway stays open. It is generally open from around beginning of June till mid September. Almost throughout the route it is around INR 200 per night.

IN LEH

In Leh we stayed at Hearth Hostel. 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Hearth Hostel (@thehearthstays) on

Then again there is no shortage of hostels or hotels to choose from. So whatever is your preference you can go for it.

WHERE TO EAT

IN MANALI

ON MANALI TO LEH HIGHWAY

  • On the Manali to Leh highway, there are options to eat approximately every 30 km or less in the beginning, which changes to around every 40 km (approx) afterwards. For the better part we were eating where we were going to retire for the night. A meal on an average would cost INR 150 per person.

IN LEH

  • When in Leh you should definitely visit Il Forno 
  • Bonfire Restobar has a good scene going too
  • If you want vegan food, Bodhi Greens is a good option.
  • Other than these, the main market road has tons of options to try

HOW TO GET BACK FROM LEH

BY ROAD

  • Going to either Manali or Srinagar and then taking other modes of transport is convenient and is really the only way out by road from Leh.
  • You can reach Manali or Srinagar either by taking a shared taxi (INR 2500-3,000 per seat) approx. or the local buses (INR 1,000).
  • Government Bus registered online costs you Rs. 3000 to reach Manali, which includes a night stay.
    However there is another government service running daily at 3:30 AM from Leh Bus Stand which needs to be booked at the bus stand in person. This costs you about 1000 to reach Manali. 
    This bus halts at Keylong at night and resumes service at 4:30 AM to go to Manali, Delhi, Haridwar, Chandigarh. You need to spend approx INR 200 per person to stay the night at Keylong.
  • Private buses don’t run on Leh – Manali route. Only Private taxis and tempo travelers.
  • Another option is to cycle your way back to either Manali or Srinagar.

BY AIR

  • There is an airport in Leh, which connects to almost all the major places like to Delhi, Mumbai etc. This is one of the most convenient ways out of Leh. However, it would be relatively the most expensive too.

BY RAIL

  • There are is no railway station in Leh or Manali.
  • However, there is a railway station in Jammu (700Km), if railways is your choice of transport.
  • Nearest railway station to Manali is 160 km (approx.) away in Joginder Nagar.

Wondering how to get your cycle transported back as well? Read our Informative article – Arranging Cycles for Manali Leh Which talks about pros of Buying Vs Renting Cycles for the trip and how to transport them to Manali & Back from Leh!

HELPFUL TIPS FOR THE TRIP

  • Given that, there is no network coverage during a good part of the highway, it is important that you save google maps offline. Once saved offline, GPS works without the network and you will be good to make the trip.
  • If you do intend on buying a bicycle, know that there are a lot of brands out there which produce good MTBs. Not venturing into the more high end models of any of the brands, Raleigh Terrain 10 for INR 25000 with accessories is a good option. In our opinion this cycle would serve the purpose without a doubt.
  • One mistake that new cyclists tend to make is carrying excess luggage than required. Excluding the tent, you should not exceed 8 kg.  Don’t over-pack. For a travel this long, people generally pack for change of clothes. However, there are barely any places where you can take a shower on the route. (No place to take a shower between Jispa and Rumtse).
  • It is important that you cycle in or around Manali for a couple days so that you acclimatize yourself to cycling in the hills as well as at that temperature and altitude. AMS (Acute mountain sickness) could be a real threat on the journey. 
  • Make sure that you buy O2 from one of the pharmacies. They give portable O2 cylinders starting at Rs. 400 for 6 Ltr Cylinder.  Though, you might not end up using O2, it is still absolutely essential that you keep a cylinder with you for any emergency.
  • In addition to O2, you may want to keep camphor (kapur), it is convenient to carry and does help with breathing.
  • Almost throughout the highway you will find plenty of streams. Water is clean enough to be consumed as it is. Please refrain from buying plastic bottles. Rather use your own bottles and refill them at the streams.
  • For the better part, places to stay on the highway offer similar facilities/food depending on if you are stopping at a temporary settlement (like dhabas) or a village. However, Tashi Yang-Khil home-stay in Sissu is worth a mention for the hospitality that the family showed towards us and the views we could enjoy from the room.
  • Carry some protein bars, chocolates, etc. for when you are hungry in the middle of nowhere.
  • Carry candies, chocolates, etc. with you and feel free to give it to the local kids that you will come across while passing by villages/settlements on the highway. Spread happiness!

And when you do end up in Leh after the dream bicycle expedition and that sense of accomplishment, this complete guide to Leh-Ladakh is all you need to sign off your amazing trip on the perfect  high note.

PICTURES FROM THE TRIP

Manali To Leh Cycling Infographic

RELATED READING


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Saransh Agarwal

Saransh Agarwal

A footballer & number cruncher! Saransh loves adventures and worked at Goldman Sachs before co-founding Xplore The Earth.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Abhishek Tyagi

    Do we require any kind of permit to go to rohtang pass or to cross it on bicycle? I believe no but just confirming to avoid last minute hassle.

    1. Ismail Lakdawala

      Hey Abhishek, a cyclist needs no permission to go to Rohtang Pass. We were also not sure about this before the trip as all other vehicles which run on petrol or diesel needed a permit. However, cyclists are privileged in this case! So ride on, freely!

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