When it comes to Ladakh, people always dream of making a self-drive Ladakh road trip, or others dream of making a Ladakh bike ride. However, there is altogether a different fun and experience when you travel to Ladakh by bus or public transport. These 5 reasons on why to make a Ladakh road trip by bus will plan it without fear.

Planning Ladakh trip using Public Transport

Ladakh is a remote place that is often on the list of many a wanderer. Of course, a few kindred spirits visit this place, and fewer still make the trip by public transportation. If you’re an ardent reader of this blog, you are like us.

And, you’ll not hesitate for a heartbeat to interact with kind, beautiful people and culture of the Land of Lamas.

Why do the Ladakh Road Trip by Bus

Now, these days, there are many ways to reach the wonderland – including a direct flight into the capital city – Leh.

However, the road journey is where the magic lies. Trust me when I tell you this, you need to make the Leh trip by road. However, people are often keen on visiting the place by riding their motorcycles or driving their vehicles. Some venture out and get into visiting by hiring a personal cab. But, I am here to tell you – why you need to visit Ladakh by bus.

There are multiple sources of details we have covered for your convenience. Head on over to get all your questions answered for making a trip to Ladakh by bus or public transport.

Remote corners of unseen & offbeat Ladakh
Remote corners of unseen & offbeat Ladakh

1. It is cheap to travel to Ladakh by public transport

First and foremost, a lot of us dreamers who have Ladakh on their bucket list are often hesitant given the budgetary constraints. A Ladakh road trip requires a huge commitment in terms of the number of days required to enjoy the place truly. Now, with longer the duration of any trip, the expenses are bound to add up.

The two biggest expenses for any vacation are, of course, lodging expenses and transportation expenses. Food makes up for the third biggest chunk. However, that is not much of a concern for a Ladakh trip – you eat what you get, and that’s sustenance enough.

With public transport – you have multiple options in terms of comfort. These range from luxury to local/non-AC buses – and you can fit your budget into your travel plans. With the biggest hurdle behind you – it becomes easier to focus on truly enjoying the trip in the Himalayas.

Thiksay Monastery is located on top of a hill in Thiksey village, outside of Leh in Ladakh, India.

2. You meet new people

Ladakh is stunning, and the memories you will make here will be unmatchable. While solo trips are also a welcome affair, the real joy lies in sharing the place with someone. Imagine, to have someone who can connect with what you’re feeling in the moment and understand the gravity of the views in front of you.

This is no small connection. When you’re traveling by bus – you will get to meet very like-minded people that come from diverse walks of life. Everyone has had their journey and hopes and dreams of wanting to visit Ladakh – and getting to interact with such folk will alter your perspective on life forever.

Also, public transport will offer you ample opportunities to interact with locals and pick their brains on secluded, never-before-seen-or-experienced places that most tourists won’t be aware of.

3. You never get lost when traveling by bus to Ladakh

The bus drivers and conductors will do their job. You’ll get from point A to point B. Also, the drivers have made this trip so many times that they know all the best places to stop. They will know from experience how much time to devote to a stop. Staying too long on high altitude places can cause AMS. I can tell you from experience that these are the biggest concerns when you’re planning and researching your trip to Ladakh.

And, having these biggest concern points off your plate makes you concentrate your efforts on what truly matters – experiencing Ladakh to its fullest. Other things that will be perfectly planned would be food stoppages, adequate water availability – and knowledgeable minds, keeping an eye on your health. Isn’t that just wonderful?

4. Eco-friendly mode of transportation

When you’re visiting such far-flung places in the world, you’ll start appreciating the value of nature. Chances are, however, that you already yearn for a life outside of the city bustle. It is what makes you unique. It gives you an entry into the highly exclusive club of Ladakh visitors.

For, if you don’t appreciate nature and all that the natural wonders stand for – you won’t be craving a visit to this magical land. Not only are you saving a lot of carbon emissions, but you’re also ensuring the atmosphere remains clean in the region. Given that you’re visiting experience nature at its finest – why not invest in keeping the environment safe, healthy, clean, and pristine!

5. Public transportation allows you to relax and enjoy the views

Given that most of your journey is planned and taken care of for you, you can just sit back and enjoy every passing moment and view. You don’t need to worry about where the vehicle is going if you’re on the right path, what time do you need to reach your pit stop for the night.

All you have to do is soak in the moment and be 100% present without having to sweat out about the logistics. How is that not perfection waiting to happen?

Stupas at Hemis
Stupas at Hemis

Reference Articles for making a trip to Ladakh by Bus

FAQs about Traveling to Ladakh by Bus

  1. Is there any other way to travel to Leh from Manali if I miss the bus?

    There are plenty of buses or travel options that run between Manali and Keylong. If you miss the HRTC bus from Manali, you can always reach Keylong from Manali either by other buses or shared local jeeps.
    Once you reach Keylong, you can take the next morning bus from Keylong HRTC bus stand or shared local jeep from Keylong to Leh.
    Apart from the HRTC buses; private tour operators also run buses between Manali to Leh. Finally, you can also look out in old Manali for other tourists to share private taxi costs.
    If you miss the HPTDC bus from Manali; you can reach Keylong and cover the rest of the journey from Keylong to Leh on your reserved ticket.

  2. How much time will the bus take to reach Leh from Manali?

    Manali to Leh is a 474 km long journey, and the direct bus from Manali to Leh takes about 17-18 Hrs. Other buses including the HPTDC bus service cover the journey from Manali to Leh in two days with an overnight stop at Keylong.
    The bus from Delhi to Leh also takes two days with an overnight stop at Keylong. The total distance of 1050 km from Delhi to Leh is covered by the HRTC bus in 35 hrs. Beautiful Roads at Jispa.
    With the opening of the Atal Tunnel in 2020, as you are not required to travel from Rohtang Pass the time the bus journey takes will considerably reduce by 3-4 hrs for reaching Keylong.

  3. Is it possible to book the Manali – Leh – Manali bus online?

    When it comes to HRTC, the Manali to Leh bus booking is not available online except for the direct Manali to Leh bus service. The HRTC Delhi to Leh bus service cannot be booked online as well as of now (Sept 2020). You can book bus tickets for the HPTDC Manali Leh bus service online using the HPTDC official website.

  4. Is the journey on a Manali to Leh bus comfortable?

    The HRTC buses that run from Manali to Leh do not have much comfort and are standard buses. Hence, do not expect much and try to travel like a local. Some local travel agents do run tempo travelers.
    Still, then you are looking for shared tourist taxis or tempo travelers, which costs higher than these standard buses. However, when it comes to HPTDC Manali to Leh Bus service, they are semi-deluxe buses that provide the comfort of seating to an extent. They are better than HRTC buses but again come with a cost.

  5. Do these buses from Manali to Leh stop for any sightseeing on the route?

    There are two kinds of buses that run from Manali to Leh. HPTDC runs one bus, and HRTC runs other buses. The HPTDC bus from Manali to Leh will stop at all the sightseeing places. And, the HRTC buses will not stop at all the sightseeing places.


If you want to visit Ladakh and for any of the above reasons are stopping, you – fret no more. Book your next bus out, and you’re sorted on a lot of fronts.

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Have any questions regarding the bus service to Ladakh – ask your questions below!

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Shefali spends most of her time day dreaming about her next big vacation. A happy-go-lucky personality, she is an amalgamation of all the places she’s lived in and experienced! She is always confused as to where to call home, having lived in Chandigarh, Shimla, Dehradun, Mumbai, Hyderabad in India and Vancouver, Abbotsford in Canada. Her love for travel is only challenged by her love for reading and eating delicious food! In order to sustain her dreams, she brought out her inner geek, got an MBA and has a job in the corporate world crunching numbers. Do follow @notravelplans on Instagram for updates on her next great adventure.


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