You can reach Spiti via two routes, either from Manali or Shimla. The travel is certainly not easy, because of the rocky terrain, harsh weather conditions, snow blocked passes throughout the road that makes it risky. But well worth the adventure!
You can travel via air, train or road from your city to reach Shimla or Manali.
VIA MANALI- If you are taking a flight, the nearest airport will be Kullu, from there you can take a bus, or hire a taxi to Spiti which will take around 12 hours. There are overnight Volvo from Delhi and Chandigarh daily to Manali. No direct trains to Manali but you can take a train to Chandigarh and thereafter take a cab to Manali which will take 9 hours.
VIA SHIMLA- Travelling by flight? Take a flight to Chandigarh and then leave for Spiti via Sangla which can take 2 days if you wish to cover Sangla valley as well. If you are taking the train, you can get down at Chandigarh railway station from where and board a bus or tempo, or hire a taxi and reach Spiti via Sangla valley. Volvo buses are also available to reach Chandigarh.
Spiti Valley from Manali
This is the route you will be taking via Manali - Rohtang pass - Chattru - Kunzum Pass to Kaza- Spiti Valley
Since Manali is the easier way to reach Kaza, tourists prefer this route, although it includes a sudden climb in altitude, which might result in sickness, especially for people traveling from lower altitude regions. Manali is open only for a few months from June to October due to heavy snowfall and landslides in the remaining time period.
Spiti valley from Shimla
This is the route you should take via Shimla - Kinnaur - Reckong Peo/ Kalpa- Nako- Kaza- Spiti Valley :
The Shimla route takes longer owing to a gradual ascent to high altitude, but with the advantage of almost zero altitude sickness. Also, the Shimla route is open via Kinnaur throughout the year. This route is more scenic and you cover a lot of exciting places.
The best route is the circuit where you start from either Shimla and cover Spiti and return from Manali. This can be done only from June to September and takes at least 9-10 days to cover all the important places.
The basic itinerary for a 10-day trip will go something like this:
Day 1: Departure from Delhi to Shimla
Day 2: Shimla to Narkanda (100 km, 3-4 hrs of drive)
Day 3: Narkanda to Chitkul
Day 4: Chitkul to Kalpa
Day 5: Kalpa to Dhankar via Nako, Tabo and Gue
Day 6: Dhankar to Kaza via Pin Valley
Day 7: Kaza to Kee- Kibber- Komik -Hikkim - Langza-return to Kaza.
Day 8: Kaza to Batal /Chandra Tal Lake
Day 9: Chandra Tal Lake / Batal to Manali
Day 10: Reach Delhi. End of tour.
Things to do in Spiti valley?
Spiti valley is an experience you cannot miss in your lifetime. We have chalked down 10 best experiences you cannot miss on your next trip to Spiti like camping at Chandratal lake at 14000 feet, sending a letter from the worlds highest post office or try to spot the famous snow leopard and much more in your trip.
After you’ve arrived in Spiti and settled into your accommodation, it’s time to start exploring! Here are some of the best things to do in Spiti Valley:
Key Monastery in Spiti valley
1. Visit the key monasteries
Spiti is home to some of the most important Buddhist monasteries in the world. The key monasteries are Tabo Monastery, Dongyu Gompa and Key Gompa. Make sure you include a visit to at least one of these on your itinerary.
2. Go on a hike
There are plenty of trails to explore in Spiti Valley, ranging from easy walks to multi-day treks. Some of the most popular hiking routes are the Pin Valley National Park, Kunzum Pass and Baralacha La Pass.
Village in Spiti valley
3. Explore the villages
One of the best ways to experience life in Spiti Valley is to explore the different villages dotted around the valley. Each village has its own unique character and sights worth seeing. Some of the most popular villages to visit are Kaza, Langza and Hikkim.
4. Go on a safari
Spiti Valley is home to some of the most unique wildlife in the world. You can go on safaris to see animals such as the ibex, blue sheep and snow leopard.
5. Go camping
One of the best ways to experience Spiti Valley is to go camping under the stars. There are plenty of campsites dotted around the valley, with some of the best ones being in the Pin Valley National Park.
6. Visit the lakes
Spiti Valley is home to some of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Some of the most popular ones to visit are Chandratal, Suraj Tal and Pin Tal.
Places to see on the route and in Spiti valley:
While going uphill this beautiful valley, look through your window at the charming little villages and scenic mountain passes that will make your ride more special. On reaching Spiti, visit the dozens of monasteries and breathtaking lakes, and indulge in local activities and festivities that are sure to soar your spirit!
Baralacha La- It is considered to be one of the challenging passes on the Leh-Manali highway, where you can witness the intersection of three ranges, Zanskar, Pir Panjal, and the Great Himalayan range.
Kunzum Pass- Connecting the Lahaul Valley to the Spiti valley, stands one of the largest motorable mountain passes at 15,060 feet. This pass is a famous one open for only 3-4 months in a year. This is one of the highest mountain passes on the way to Spiti via Manali.
Key Monastery- One of the oldest, biggest, and famous monasteries in the Kaza region of Spiti. It is also a training centre for Lamas. This 1000-year-old monastery is located at a height of more than 4000 meters dates back to the 11th century. Around 250 monks reside here and most of them stay here in winters as well.
Dhankar Monastery- An important center of Buddhism, it is famous for the Vairochana statue, depicting four figures of Buddha in meditation. The monastery shall spellbind you with its architecture and painting. This monastery is at a height of 12700 feet and lies between Kaza and Tabo. This Gompa is a 1000 feet tall structure overlooking the Spiti and Pin rivers.
Tabo Monastery- On the way to Spiti, you'll find this ancient and most popular monastery ornamented with beautiful paintings inside founded in the 996 CE. This monastery was build like a fort with 3 feet walls and the main reason for it to survive for centuries.
Gandhola Monastery- This monastery is located at the junction of Bhaga and Chandra rivers. It is famous for colourful flags, wooden idols, seven-story forts, ancient paintings, scrolls, murals, and much more.
Kungri Monastery- Ranked as the second oldest monastery, it is situated in Pin valley. Kungri is famous for its beautiful silk collection, sacred Tibetan texts, the major attraction being the local "devil dance".
Many other monasteries like Tayul Monastery, Tangyud Monastery, Kardang Monastery, and Shashur Monastery are popular in this region for their location, art, and Buddha shrines.
Chandratal Lake- Named after its crescent-moon shape, this high altitude lake is called “Lake of the Moon”. Its attraction lies with the interesting phenomenon, where colors of the water appear to change from red to orange to blue to emerald green as the day progresses. This is a very famous spot for night camping and open only from June to September.
Suraj Tal Lake- It is the 21st largest lake in the world and the third-largest lake in India, locally considered a divine lake.
Dhankar Lake- This lake is a retreat to watch cattle grazing in the meadows, snow-capped mountains, reflecting blue waters. This lake can be accessed after a 2 hour trek from Dhankar monastery.
Nako Lake- Surrounded by four Tibetan temples, the lake is popular for the surrounding willow trees, waterfalls, lovely trails, and activities such as boating in summers and skiing in winters.
Sopona Lake- One of the popular trekking spots in Spiti is at Sopona lake formed by melting glaciers at an altitude of 6593 meters.
Nako Village is a beautiful village at 1200feet near the Shimla- Spiti highway which is on the Indo-Tibetian border
Langza Village is a village with Lord Buddha statue looking down with a monastery and mud houses.
Tashigang Village is a village situated near the Indo-Tibetian border and along the Sutlej river and is the highest village at 15200 feet
Kibber Village is situated at 14200 feet above sea level. This village has the famous Kibber wildlife sanctuary and a monastery.
Losar Village is a remote village near Kunzum pass where you can stay for a night at a comfortable homestay
Komic village is situated at a height of 4500 meters and is also considered the world's highest village connected by a motorable road.
Sutlej River Spiti
Summers are the best time to travel to Spiti valley and enjoy its warm and pleasant temperature of 25 degrees during the day with a nightly drop of 3-4 degrees. Before the arrival of summers, the roads are blocked by heavy snowfall and are hence closed. Tourists are advised to consider the months of May- June, and September - November for their visit.
Accommodation is an important factor while travelling, and you may choose on the basis of budget, comfort, location, and other such factors. You will find hotels, guest houses, campsites, dhabas, homestays, and tents around the villages of Losar, Spiti, Kunzum pass, etc. You might find the good guest houses and hotels occupied in the tourist season, so you must book prior to your trip or choose a homestay in Spiti on arrival providing all basic facilities, perfectly comfortable for trekkers or solo travellers. If you choose a campsite, go to Chandratal! Make sure to talk to your guide in advance about safety measures, food, restroom facilities, and fellow travellers.
Souvenir shopping is a priority while travelling. The question is, what to bring back home from this colourful trip? Himachal Pradesh is famous for its handicraft industry. Usually, people buy woodwork, paintings, jewellery, spices, tea leaves, roasted barley, barley powder, woollen clothing like mufflers, socks, sweaters, and shawls. As you travel through Shimla, Manali, and Spiti, you can choose from a myriad of items with religious influences.
This region has a considerable Buddhist population, and you'll find Tibetan artefacts such as beads, flags, bamboo baby cradles, buddha statues, intricately carved singing bowls crafted from copper and brass, said to possess healing powers when played. Clothing such as Pashmina shawls and sweaters, vibrant skirts; multicoloured Kinnauri jootis and topis; Tibetan and Pahari native jewellery made from silver and stone; wall hangings, paintings, metal and woodwork carvings, carpets and rugs are some examples from a plethora of things to choose from!
What to eat in Spiti Valley?
Explore local delicacies with lunch in a monastery! Roadside cafes and dhabas are perfect for small eats throughout the day. You will be surprised by the mix of Indian and Tibetan food and staple cuisines like dal, rice, vegetable, special Spiti bread. But as you travel higher into Lahaul- Spiti region, you'll find traditional Pahari-Tibetan-Punjabi influences like Thukpa, Momos, Madra, Thentuk, Churpe, hot steamed dumplings, Tsampa, and beverages like Chaza, Seabuckthorn juice, and tea, to name a few!
Village festival at Komic monastery
How to prepare for a trip to the valley?
Preparing for Spiti valley is not just about packing a bag and leaving, but requires solid planning in advance. Situated in the northeastern part of India, covered with snow-capped mountains, one needs to carry the right woollen clothing and accessories for high altitude treks. During the day, you may need to put on light layers (woollen and cotton clothes)and add thermals or heavy jackets in the night. Regular jeans, thick trousers, a pair of socks, caps, scarfs, trekking shoes, sunglasses, full-sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, gloves, mufflers, fleece jackets, all depend on the season you choose to visit Spiti.
Other necessary items include torch, medicines, sunscreen lotion, lip balm, sanitizers, toiletries, camera gear, chargers, and power banks. Mobile connectivity will most likely be weak as you proceed to high altitudes. The networks that might work at places are BSNL, Airtel, and occasionally Vodafone.
Spiti Valley- Family trip
The name 'Spiti Valley' is gaining rapid popularity and reaching a lot of people these days. Since it's a high altitude region with rocky terrain, travel is challenging. Nonetheless, families turn up in numbers every year, and so can you with extra care and precautions. A family trip often includes elderly members, children, and toddlers.
You should arrange for transport facilities in advance, for instance, a car or a taxi for sight-seeing all day as they might not be comfortable walking or trekking for long periods of time. Accommodation must be comfortable and spacious for kids to move around. One must take extra care to carry prescribed medicines for any family members as well as stocked pharmacies that might be scarce in small towns and villages.
Get Your Vehicle Ready for Spiti Valley
Though it is always cheaper and hassle-free to use public transport, if you plan to hire a motorbike or a car or take your own vehicle, then you need to get it road trip ready. Carefully choose a suitable vehicle considering performance factors like mileage and tire strength, space availability for luggage, repair kit, spare parts, tool-kit, cables, wires, petrol pipe, and vehicle documents. SUV cars are preferable for hilly terrain and spacious interiors for long trips. Don’t neglect these factors and ruin your trip!
Cost of Spiti Trip
For any trip, a budget is a deciding factor! 9-10 days should be good for Spiti valley to cover all major tourist spots. If you take a 9-10 day trip from Delhi, considering the budget covering transport, food, decent accommodation, and miscellaneous charges, it will amount to approximately 12K-15K (per person?) on basic needs and facilities. It all depends on the choices you make with transport, stay, and food. If you hire a private taxi or a motorbike, the cost automatically exceeds a nominal budget.
Road to Langza
Permits for Spiti Valley
International traveler requires a permit to enter specific places in the region, especially tourists taking the Manali route. An Indian National does not need a permit and can freely travel at any point in time during the year. An exception here, though, is Rohtang Pass. Be it an Indian or an international traveler, to cross the pass, everyone requires a permit and the necessary documents and identification.
Geyu Mummy monastery near Nako
Renting a Motorcycle for a Spiti Valley Trip
Riding a bike through the valley is a real thrill, and some of us prefer the pleasure of open riding on hilly roads and breathing in the crisp air. However, make sure the rider is responsible for a sturdy bike that suitably supports the rocky terrain. The best place to hire a bike would be Manali: there are several travel operators and mechanical workshops that rent well-maintained powerful bikes. But here's the tip: do not rent over the phone, you need to manually check the condition of the bike before agreeing to the terms and conditions.
If you require help in planning your Spiti trip we have experts who can help you with the best resources and plan according to your budget and time. Else we have fixed departures every week to Spiti Valley. You can join our Spiti valley Tour here.