Manali to kaza

Manali to Kaza; The bus journey to Spiti Valley

We all have some journeys that stay in our heart forever. The bus ride from Manali to Kaza was one such journey for me. When decided to travel to Spiti, we checked a lot on internet about how to reach there and decided to take the bus. Manali to Kaza is one of the toughest but the most scenic roads in the world. I knew that there is no surety about the bus service, bad weather can block the road at any time.

When I started from Chennai, I only wished was that there should not be any problem on the bus route. Reached Manali on a fine morning, the first thing to do there was to make sure our bus is running next day. The bus station is in the town itself. We got the good news from the man behind the enquiry counter and booked four tickets. That was a big relief, the only alternate option to reach Spiti was in a shared taxi for which I am not really ready.

The next morning, we reached around 3.45 AM at Manali bus station. We were informed that the bus will leave at 4 AM. There was a big crowd but we were happy as we have the reservations. I saw people waiting to have a glance of the bus so that they can run towards it, enter and find a seat before everyone.

manali to spiti valley
Rohtang Pass

So finally at around 4.30 AM, the bus came to the station, everyone entered. The bus had mixed crowd: some going back to their home in Kaza, few travellers, a couple of government officials and some monks. Not everyone got their seats, some are not even aware of the reservation facility. I saw some jealous eyes looking at us and our seats.

We started at 5 AM, it was a pleasant morning. The views on the way were beautiful. Everyone looking out through the windows, admiring the beauty of the world before them. By then those who standing started to make friends and began discussing when they will get a seat. The conductor was a cool person, he talked to everyone while checking the tickets, asked everyone how they are and from where they are coming. The greenery, the mountains, the waterfalls, the Beas river flowing beside us; kept the bus ride more alive. After 2 hours, the bus stopped for breakfast and then we started our ascent to Rohtang pass.

Manali to Kaza bus
views on the way

The bus ride was quite different, the driver was not in a rush at all, he stopped at few places on the way. Till Rohtang pass, it was misty and the temperature was cool. Once we took the diversion to the Kaza road, things started to change gradually. The roads became more and more unrecognisable, the mountains slowly lost its green and turned barren. Huge rock formations began to follow us all the way. And the sun was at its extreme above us. 

Manali to Kaza bus service
Over the edge

Sometimes, the bus has to stop before streams, the driver would go and check the water and call us. He then instructs to put stones in particular areas for the bus to move. Everyone was ready to help vehicles which were struck on the road. Unlike cities, the vehicles coming from the opposite are ready to give side and wait for others to pass. In some parts, there were literally no roads, all we could see are rocks and the bus moved over them swaying.

Many rivers start their journey from these mountains. Snow melts from the glaciers, comes down as small streams which join many such to form even bigger ones, again comes down to the valley either as a waterfall or a stream to finally meet the river. These rivers grow in volume as it goes down, meets civilisation and ends their journey in the sea. We can witnesses every stage of its growth along these roads.

Huge rocky mountains accompanied us throughout the journey, it was the same scene outside for hours. Most of the passengers lost their interest in the views and looked drowsy; except one guy in front of me who was very alert and clicked pictures whenever he saw a mountain with some snow.

Kaza bus spiti valley

By the time for lunch, our bus reached Batal. There are few dhabas in Batal. Few travellers got down there to go Chandratal. The bus started its journey again, slowly climbed Kunzum pass. It is the gateway to Spiti valley. Kunzum pass top is little bit green, we can see many big glaciers from here. Among them, the Bara Shigri glacier is one of the biggest in Himachal. There is a trek from Kunzum pass top to Chandratal lake. Later on the way back from Spiti, we trekked down from there to reach Chandratal.

Manali to Spiti valley bus
Kunzum pass top

Once we reach the other side of Kunzum pass, Spiti river starts to flow with us. Losar was our next village, the district of Spiti and Lahaul starts here. Many milestones passed behind slowly, reminded us that our destination is nearing. Many villages began to appear, the bus which was literally quit after the lunch became alive when people from the villages began to board.  They were waiting for the bus, few passengers also got down at these villages. The Spiti valley began to unfold slowly before us.

Chichong, Kiamo, Pangmo, Hull and Rangrik, these Spitian villages on the way were beautiful. Around each village, there were fields, women working in them. Few monasteries stood isolated between the villages, prayer flags waving all around them. We can see Key monastery on the opposite side of the valley at a distance. The valley was big, huge mountains guarding it on both sides. Spiti river, now big, flows down over the valley. Finally, our bus entered the town of Kaza.

Spiti valley bus service

Things to know before your Manali to Kaza bus ride;

  • Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation runs one bus service from Kullu to Kaza every day.The bus service starts from mid-July up to October. The surety of the service depends on the road conditions and weather.
  • The bus starts at 4 AM from Kullu and leaves Manali around 5 AM. Reservation facilities are available at Manali bus station. The ticket will cost you around 370 INR per person including reservation charges. It is the best option if you are travelling on a budget.
  • This is a long journey and takes almost 12-13 hours to reach Kaza. We reached Kaza that day at 6.30 PM. It will definitely test your patience.
  • The reservations for the return to Manali journey only starts when the bus reaches Kaza. You have to wait at the station for the bus to come. Don’t think that there won’t be much rush, getting a ticket is little difficult.  
  • If you coudn’t reserve bus tickets from Kaza, you can check for taxis going to Manali next day from the taxi booking office which is near to the bus station. If there are enough people to get into a cab, they will take advance from you and ask you to come next day morning for the ride.
  • The return bus to Manali starts almost around 4 AM and it will reach Manali by late evening. 


kaza bus route

Also read: My 7 days Spiti valley itinerary

What to do if Manali to Kaza bus is cancelled?

As I said earlier, the surety of Manali to Kaza bus service is a bit unpredictable. If the something bad happens on the road or weather is bad, the authorities will cancel the bus service without any prior notice.

Taxis are available from Manali to reach Spiti valley if the roads are good to go. The shared taxi will cost you around 1000 INR to reach Kaza. It is pretty expensive than the bus. Share taxis will be waiting in near Manali bus station by morning itself.

If it is not possible for vehicles to go, then you need to catch a bus to Rampur from Manali. From there, you can catch bus to Kaza from Shimla. That is the alternate route to reach Spiti valley.

Manali to Chandratal bus

There are no direct bus from Manali to Chandratal. You need to get down at Batal.  Batal is on the way to Kaza from Manali. The bus from Manali will reach Batal by noon. Furthur to Chandratal, either you need to hike 14 km or should get a ride. During season times, lot of people will be going to Chandratal. So getting a ride is not a big deal, all you have to do is stand in the middle of the road, stop them and ask.

Manali to Chandratal

If you are coming back from Chandratal and going either towards Manali or Kaza, you need to be back to Batal from Chandratal by the time the bus reach there. The bus will stop almost 30 minutes in Batal.

The bus from Kaza reaches Batal by 8 AM and that from Manali reaches by 12 PM. These are approximate timings. So before going to Chandratal, ask the people there about the exact time when buses to each side reach Batal.

If you want to stay at Batal, there are couple of options. The restaurants there also provides accomodation.

Shimla to Kaza bus

There is another route to reach Spiti valley. You can also start from Shimla to reach Kaza. Himachal state buses are available in this route also. But it will take more time compared to Manali to Kaza bus.  Shimla to Kaza route is open throughout the year. There is daily bus service from Shimal which starts by 6 AM in the morning.  Shimla to Kaza by bus is a two days journey which includes a night halt. If the bus from Manali to Kaza is not available, this is the next option to reach Spiti valley.

Hope you got all the information looking for. I suggest everyone to take the bus from Manali to reach Spiti valley. It definitely saves some money and time compared to that from Shimla, more than that it will be a different experience. You won’t find roads like this anywhere else.

Read about Tashigong, the highest village in Spiti valley. Do visit this remote village if you like to have a different perspective about the life in these high mountains.

Do share this post with everyone who wants to travel Spiti valley.

Please use the comment section below for any enquiries or suggestions, am very happy to hear from you.

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Keep travelling…

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Manali to Kaza


  1. Nicely explained dude…really a heavenly feeling… Keep writing….

    1. Thanks Gourav

      1. Hi jithin,

        Would you advice we drive down to kaza from manali in our own car .?

        1. Hi, You can drive to Kaza from Manali, if it is a SUV with good ground clearance. You have to take permission from Rohtang pass. The road will be open by July.

          1. I was planning to make this trip in mid-June, so will the route be open and buses running? Any way to find out?

          2. Hi Anuj, Once you fix dates for your trip to Spiti valley, let me know. I will ask my friends there and get back to you with the details.

          3. Planning to leave manali on 18th or 19th June for Kaza.

          4. Okay, Have a nice journey!!!

          5. Hey! i’m planning a trip to kaza around the first week of June. Will there be any transport facility that will be available during this time?

          6. Hey Yash,
            The road is now open from Manali to Kaza. But the bus service has not started. You can travel in taxi.

      2. Hi Jithin,

        Super read. Any idea whether the bus service has begun? I am planning to travel to Kaza from Manali on June 9th. Any lead will be really helpful!

        1. Hi, The road between Manali and Kaza is open now. I am not sure whether the bus service has started. I will let you know.

  2. U r description make me feel to make a trip…. Well done jithin….

    1. Thanks Arun

  3. Great post with breathtaking pictures! I’ve never been to Manali, but your pictures have inspired me to plan my next trip there. Thanks for sharing this great experience! 🙂

    1. Hi Marta, am glad that you liked the post. Manali is a beautiful place but nowadays, it has become more crowded. So those who need a peaceful place started exploring beyond the touristy places. Spiti valley is around 10 hours journey from Manali, you should visit there.

  4. Great article- it seems like the bus ride could definitely be a bonding experience as well!

    1. Thanks Marta, The journey to Spiti in that bus was a great experience for me. I travelled along with the people there, realised how difficult is the life in the mountains.

  5. What time of the year is it? Can I visit Spiti Valley in October?

    1. Hi Neha, Winter in Spiti will start by October and the bus service will stop. The best time to visit Spiti is May to September. If you want to visit Spiti in winter, you have to travel via Shimla. The Manali to Kaza road will be closed that time.

  6. Looks like a great place to explore!

    1. Yes it is. Spiti valley is a must visit place in India.

  7. The commoradarie of all the passengers on the bus to help with crossing the bodies of water is admirable. Your bus driver sounds like an expert navigator. And the views are absolutely gorgeous!

    1. Thanks Danielle. Am glad that you liked the post

  8. […] Also, read about the bus journey from Manali to Kaza […]

  9. Beautifully described! Love road trips in Himachal 🙂

    1. Thanks Chandrika, glad that you liked the post

  10. This is a great article and very detailed. I bet it was an adventure that I would love to do soon.

    1. Thanks Caty

  11. My goodness! I don’t know if I can wake up that early!!! Sounds like quite a trip though and great informational tips!

    1. Thanks Jas

  12. I so want to read your travelogue on the Western Ghats and this post is super impressive too. I am planning a road trip to Spiti Valley. This should come in handy. 🙂

    1. Hi Harsh, am glad that you liked the post

  13. This is a super impressive post! it is so detailed and sounds like an adventure! I am never a fan of waking up that early but for a adventure, i could haha!

    1. Thanks Krista, Am glad that you liked the post.

  14. It’s not my kind of trip, but I loved reading your post.

    1. Thanks Wendy

  15. Your road trips are so scenic

    1. Thanks Baia

  16. Love that the bus driver took his time so you could see the sites more. I think I would of been holding my breath a couple of times on how close to the edge it looks like you got! Great article!

    1. Thanks Sherrie

  17. Good work bro.Your writing skills are pretty good.As u explained through i visualised the scene.Must be quite an edperience in millions.i am planning to do spiti in march.will bus service be available that tym?

    1. Thanks Ashik, I am glad that you like the post. The bus service to Kaza from Manali usually starts by the second week of July. So either wait up to July or take the alternate route from Shimla.

  18. Can i visit spiti in the month of March. Can u take bikes from manali to spiti?

    1. Hi Madhurya, The road to Kaza (Spiti) from Manali will be closed until July. It is not advisable to take bikes because the melting snow may cause sudden landslides. You can take the road from Shimla to reach Spiti.

  19. Great story. I love reading your blog because you write about completely different places from everyone else that I normally read.

    1. Thanks Tara

  20. This looks like an unbelievable adventure! I would love to add this trip to my bucket list.

    1. Hi Racheal, am glad that you liked the post. The bus journey from Manali to Kaza is definitely a great experience. Looking forward to reading your story.

  21. The road trip look adventurous! Look like the bus can slip down anytime if the road is slippery but glad you have survive and be able to tell us the story of this trip

    1. Hi Kumamonjeng, the bus journey from Manali to Kaza was little scary at some places. There are always chances for landslides in these part of the Himalayas. At some parts, the road is very narrow. It was an amazing experience.

  22. I recently returned from a rather bumpy and scary minivan ride in Laos myself, but it doesn’t seem as frightening as the one you just experienced. Nevertheless, it seems like the scenic views made the entire tumultuous journey worthwhile. Safe travels!

    1. Nathan, hope you had a great journey in Laos. Looking forward to reading your travel stories. Glad that you could relate the bus journey from Manali to Kaza.

  23. Boss this is like a complete guide. I don’t think I need to read anything other than this for a Spiti trip by bus. Internet needs more articles like these. Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Thanks Neha, am glad that you got all the information from my post. Keep visiting The Roads and Beyond.

  24. I’ve watched a TV special about the most dangerous roads in the Himalayas and some of your photos look quite similar to what I saw, the bus almost on the edge of the road. Good job on you making reservations on the bus. I just don’t know if I can stay on the bus for 12-13 hours. Very informative post, and inspiring me also to go on trips that are out of my comfort zone.

    1. Hi Kristina, glad that you liked the post. The roads of the Himalayas are generally dangerous. I feel like our travel will be only meaningful if we come out of the comfort zone. You should definitely visit the Himalayas at least once.

  25. Nice information..
    Kaza will goes to my booklist.
    Thanks for sharing and keep writing brother..

    1. Thanks a lot Yosh, Spiti is an amazing place. You will definitely have a great experience there.

  26. Thanks a lot for such a detailed blog. It was really helpful.

    Will it be possible to cover Manali to Spiti on Bike in one day? We are planning to cover it in Mid-April. We just want to stay a couple of days in Spiti and cover nearby places there, instead of 3 or 4 days bike trip to Spiti.

    1. Hi Rohit,
      Last year, the Manali to Kaza road opened only by July. I am not sure about this year, it depends on the snow.
      Even though the distance is just about 200 km, the roads are really tough to ride. I won’t say it is not possible, but it is better to take a day more to ride up to Kaza. You can spend the first day night in Chandratal lake, it is on the way and continue the journey next day.

  27. What a great post and what a great journey! I’m not sure I could handle how the roads just fall away into nothing. The roads look so narrow! We your scared at any time? The monasteries would have been beautiful!

    1. Thanks Amy, am glad that you liked the post. It was a great experience travelling from Manali to Kaza.

  28. I really hope I will get to explore the Spiti Valley. I have been twice in Ladakh and Zanskar, but never got to Spiti. And each time we flew, so I even skipped the crazy ride from Manali to Leh. Those areas are enchanting are really worth visiting. Thanks for sharing this

    1. Thanks Andra, am glad you could relate to your visit to the Himalayas. Definitely visit Spiti valley also, it is an amazing place.

  29. What a journey! I was trying to picture the part where you said the bus driver had to check the river and had to move around stones/rocks to make a safe pathway. 12 hours is a long journey but one that seems like it’s definitely worth it 🙂

    1. Thanks Candy

  30. I could never take that bus!! I’d be terrified. The views are stunning though.

    1. I would say, if you think about the beautiful views on the way, you would definitely take that bus even though it is terrifying.

  31. Hey, that was a great explanation.
    Is bus service available in the month of april to visit spiti valley from manali ?

    1. Hi Ayush, the bus service from Manali to Kaza is uncertain during that time. It generally starts by July. You can check with the Himachal road transport corporation office in Manali to know the details.

  32. Incredible photos, especially the one on the edge! Really great tips here, I’d especially love to see the monastaries along the river!

    1. Hi Erica, Spiti valley is an amazing place to travel. There are many old monasteries here, definitely, you like them. Don’t miss to visit the monasteries of Ki and Dhanker.

  33. That is such a beautiful trip! The long drive of 12 hours from Manali to Kaza seems really worth it. The sights and the views sounds so good. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks

  34. I loved this post! What an adventure, India never ceases to amaze me, I will be in the area from July and this is something I would really be interesting in doing and your post was very informative, just worried about the monsoon. Those roads looks hectic but that is part of the adventure.

    1. Hi Lisa, glad that you liked the post. Traveling to Spiti will be an amazing experience. Hope the monsoons won’t be that much worse when you are here. Welcome to India.

  35. Traveling is amazing because of trips like this – not only do you get to understand what other people’s daily lives are like, you get to create a sense of community with them. Great detailed story!

    1. Thanks Maegan, Glad that you liked the post. I completely agree with you. Traveling gives you the opportunity to understand a lot of things, the major reason for my love towards travel.

  36. Wow, that road trip reminded me of a similar (though less nerve-wracking) ride in northern Philippines. I would love to feel the thrill of riding by the edge of the cliff. It’s another reason for me to go back to India.

    1. Hi Rye, you should definitely travel in this bus from Manali to Kaza. It will be a great experience.

  37. Wow what an adventure! Glad for you that the bus came at all and that the road and weather conditions were good enough to make to whole way through to the destination!

    1. Hi Mei, We were lucky that day. The weather was perfect. We had a good time traveling to Kaza from Manali.

  38. Wow, what a unique bus adventure! I’d be one of those people to reserve ahead of time and good thing you did. Love your photos, thanks for sharing this experience 🙂

    1. Thanks Carmen, am glad that you liked the post.

  39. Hey jithin . There is any bus from kaza to manali and if yes than what is the timing ???

    1. Yes, there are buses from Kaza to Manali. The service will only start when the roads are clear after the winter. If there is service, the bus starts from Kaza at around 5.30 in the morning.

  40. According to you, if one is planing to stay in Kaza and explore more about the place, for how many days should one plan his or her trip?

    1. Hi, In my opinion, you need a minimum of 4 days to visit nearby places from Kaza. You can visit places in less time also but that will be just for namesake. I would suggest planning your trip for a week so that you can travel peacefully.
      I think this itinerary will be useful for you, please check

  41. Hi Jitin,

    Thanks for such a detailed information. I am thinking to visit spiti on June and will reach Manali on 13th June means 14th June i’ll need to take the bus early morning. One more question – In kaza are homestays are available and approx rates. if possible share the contact details.

    1. Hi Sujata,
      There are many homestay available in Kaza. Most of them are economical and will cost you an average of Rs.500 including food.
      Have a great time in Spiti.

  42. Jitin, this article was just wow. It felt as if we were traveling with you. 🙂 Thanks for the amazing and detailed post. Very helpful. By the way, I am planning to visit Spiti this May end so I was also planning to take a shared cab from Manali to Kaza as you said Bus service starts from July. And then stay and visit nearby places from Kaza if possible. You are right, homestays cost around 500 as per my inquiry too. Anything else you feel can be visited or not to be missed ?

    1. Thanks Parin, am glad that you liked the post. Hope you will have some good travel experiences in Spiti valley during your trip. If you have more days, then I would suggest exploring some far away villages like Tashigang. Mudh and Dhanker are really good. You can trek up to Dhanker lake also.

  43. Hey jithin right now I’m in manali. I’m planing to go Spiti walley tomorrow. Can you please let me know how I can reserve my bus ticket!!

    1. Hey, I am not sure whether the bus service has started by now. You can go and inquire at the Manali bus station.

    2. Hello… but did you check if the roads have opened for Rohtang Pass and towards Spiti ? Because I am also planning to come on 23rd May but heard roads are not open yet. 🙂

      1. Hello Parin,
        I think the roads are not completely open from Manali to Kaza. As informed by friends from Kaza, it is not good to go now.

  44. Hi Jithin Thomas,
    Really your article deserves more appreciation for budget travel to Lahaul Spiti valley through BUS.
    I am totally vegetarian. Could you please tell us what food can be availanble during whole journey till Lahaul Spiti ?
    What are the Charges for food over there? What is the cost of staying if I would like to stay there for more then 2 months ? Rent etc. any licence needed to stay there for longer duration…
    Waiting for your answers dear.

    1. Thanks Sunil,
      There is nothing to worry about vegetarian food in Spiti. Every kind of food is available there. Momos and Thupka were my favorites. The cost f food depends on the type of restaurants you prefer. In a moderate restaurant, a meal will cost you maximum 100 rupees. There are other budget restaurants also there.
      License and all is not required, only foreign nationals have to give enter their name in police register. Indians won’t have such problem.

  45. Hi! Jithin, me and my friend are planning to go manali and spiti valley on june 5th ..can you please guide us through the transport and route.. Please

    1. Hi Aditi,
      Let me know what all things you want to know.
      Inbox your queries on our facebook page;

  46. Bro, how you make reservation for bus??

    1. Hey Arshit,
      You can book the bus tickets to Kaza from the Manali bus stand. Just go and ask in the reservation counter. Make sure the bus is running currently.

  47. Hi Jithin, Thank you. This was really helpful. Need your tips though on things to do in Spiti. So I am doing Srinagar-Leh-Manali and while my other friends are leaving for chandiChan from Manali, I decided to wait back and am thinking of doing Kaza. So I reach Manali on 7th August and have to reach Delhi by 12th morning. Do you think I’ll be able to do spiti in 3 days or should I plan something like Mcleodganj

    1. Hi Ashay,
      Spiti in three days would be a bad idea. I would suggest you pick some nearby destinations around Manali and chill.

  48. Hey! i am planning a trip to spiti in June last week. I will be staying in zostel. Can you let me know what modes of transport are available to travel from kaza to nearby areas (ki kibber etc) ?

    1. Hello Anonymous,
      If you are staying in Zostel for your entire trip, then it is better to hire a taxi ( you can share with other travelers). There is bus service to Kibber, but only once in a day.
      You can also hitchhike but not sure how long you have to wait for a ride.
      So I would suggest hiring a taxi for a day, it will take you to all the places you want.

  49. Dear Jitjin, Thanks a ton for writing this blog and sharing your experience. This is valuable indeed.
    I am planning to visit spiti from 1st to 5th Oct’18. Will the road be open for Manali to Kaza ? What is your guess?

    1. Hi Aniket,
      October is too late buddy. Rohtang pass will be closed in October. So Manali to Kaza travel is not possible. You can take the route via Shimla to reach Kaza.

  50. Hi Jithin,

    I was planning to go to Kaza on the 6th of July but it has started raining there and I am a bit skeptical about the trip now. Should I go through with my plan or should I postpone it for August or September?

    1. Hi Vanshika,
      Climate is unpredictable there now, there are chances that Rohtang pass may get closed due to sudden landslides. It is good to take the route via Shimla to reach Kaza.

  51. Hi Jithin,
    Your post is really helpful.
    Do you have any idea if the bus station at Manali is one and the same for all to and fro destinations? I am looking at travelling from Chandigarh to Manali by bus which would reach Manali around 3 am and want to catch the early morning bus for Kaza, provided I am at the same bus depot.

    1. Hi Lana, The Bus depot in Manali is not difficult to find. It is adjacent to the mall road, in the town center itself. You can book the tickets for your journey to Kaza from there also. I don’t think it will be easy to catch the Kaza bus on the same day. The journey from Manali to Kaza is not that easy, you will get very tired. Also it is better to book the bus ticket in advance. Otherwise the chances of getting a seat is very less. So spent one day in Manali, take rest, go to the bus station and check for the bus, book the ticket for the next day and have a great journey.

  52. Hello, where can I book bus ticket in advance?

    1. Hello Subhajit, you can book the tickets to Kaza from the bus station in Manali. It is in the middle of the town.

  53. Manali is an beautiful place for travelling you just share the valuable info for us thanks

    1. Thanks

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