The Manali Leh road is known as a biker’s paradise and rightly so. Most people prefer to travel this route by car; a car or a motorcycle. Although your vehicle is definitely much more convenient, traveling on this bus route is also a unique experience. It is definitely a very different angle and I am sure it is worth enjoying.
One of the biggest benefits of traveling here by public transport is the cost factor. If you were on a limited budget, traveling to Ladakh by bus can help to significantly reduce the cost of travel. Ladakh has been standing out as one of the most sought after tourist destinations in our country and with each passing year, the availability of public transport here is improving. Therefore, you will have no problem finding a shared bus or taxi to your desired destination.
Leh to Manali Bus Service
There are two different types of bus services available on the Manali to Leh route; and both are provided by the government of Himachal Pradesh. One bus service is run by HRTC (Himachal Road Transport Corporation), while the other is by HPTDC (Himachal Pradesh Tourist Development Corporation). The HPTDC bus is yet another luxury bus aimed at the tourist population. The HRTC bus, on the other hand, is a regular bus that the locals use here.
Bus from Leh to Manali HPTDC
This is a luxury bus that starts in late June until early July, after the Manali Leh highway has been declared safe by authorities for a bus to travel. This bus remains operational until September 15, after which it is suspended until next year. This bus departs from the Leh bus stop early in the morning and arrives in Keylong late in the evening. The next day, it starts in Keylong at 6 am and arrives in Manali in the afternoon
Keylong accommodations are at Hotel Chandrabhaga and are included in the bus fare. There is a lawn in front of the Chandrabhaga hotel and the HPTDC creates tents on that lawn. Yes, you will not be staying in a hotel, but in tents. If you don’t like it, you always have the option of checking into the hotel; but then you will have to pay your room expenses on your own; that is about Rs. 1,000 per room. HPTDC will not refund your fare money if you do not use the tents.
This bus stops at all the main sights for sightseeing, but it is not a daily bus. It is usually available on alternative buses. The schedule for this bus is released by HPTDC here and can be found at HPTDC Bus Schedule for Leh to Manali.
The best part of this service is that you can reserve your seat several days or months in advance. The booking page is available online at HPTDC Booking for Bus from Leh to Manali
Leh to Manali Bus HRTC
The HRTC bus service are the common buses that double in the region for residents to commute. Compared to the HPTDC luxury buses, these are much cheaper and a great way to travel, if you are traveling to Ladakh on a limited budget. Contrary to popular belief, these buses are not really that uncomfortable and you can comfortably make the trip.
In fact, this is not a bus from Leh to Manali. You will really be breaking the journey into two parts and two days. From Leh, you will first board a Keylong bus, which starts in the early morning at 5 am. This bus travels all day and arrives in Keylong at the end of the night, where you will have to search for your own accommodation. The cost of your stay here is not included in the ticket. From the Keylong bus stop, you will buy a ticket from Keylong to Manali Bus the next day and arrive there in the late afternoon on a different bus, as the bus that came from Leh to Keylong will return to Leh from here.
Good to know information
There are several HRTC buses from Keylong to Manali throughout the day, the last one being around noon. So, in case you miss a bus, you will always have the option of taking the next one on the same day until noon. However, from Leh to Keylong, it is only a bus at 5 am. If you miss it, you will have to look for another way of traveling; or spend another day in Leh.
From Leh to Keylong, a seat is allocated with your ticket; but from Keylong to Manali, there is no seat allocation.
Another important factor here is that, in case there is a problem; as if the bus breaks or there is a roadblock; or the bus is not working according to its schedule; so this journey from Leh to Keylong will take two days. The bus stops overnight at Pang or Sarchu ‘and then goes to Keylong the next day; thus making the entire travel time from Leh to Manali in 3 days.
Leh to Manali Bus
The fare is different for HPTDC and HRTC buses. The HPTDC bus designed for tourists and a luxury one are more expensive between the two. The HRTC bus is common and, since it is used only by local residents, it is cheap to travel.
Leh to Manali HRTC Bus Fare
As I explained above, these are actually two different buses, so you also have to buy two different tickets from two different places. You will first have to buy a ticket to Keylong; and then to Manali from Keylong. But expect the total cost of the trip to be close to Rs.700. You pay about Rs. 150 for Keylong and Manali; and close to Rs. 500 for Leh and Keylong.
Leh to Fare Manali HPTDC Bus
For HPTDC Bus, you will pay immediately when booking your seat. The fare per person is Rs. 2,900, which includes your accommodation in Keylong and meals (dinner, breakfast and tea).
Bus reservation from Leh to Manali
As well as the fare, the reservation system is also different for the HPTDC and HRTC buses and I will explain both.
Leh to Manali HRTC Bus Booking
In fact, there is no reservation system available for this. These are like the normal road buses that double in our cities as well. You arrive at the bus stop and get on the bus. Likewise, you will have to arrive at the Leh bus stop early in the morning, find the bus heading towards Keylong; board and buy a driver’s ticket. The next day, you will find the next bus going to Manali at the Keylong bus stop, board and buy the ticket.
Your seat will be guaranteed and mentioned for the trip between Leh and Keylong; but for Keylong and Manali there is no guaranteed place. So, if you arrive and find the bus full, it is best to let it go and wait for the next one in an hour. There are regular buses going to Manali from Keylong until noon.
Leh to Manali HPTDC Bus Booking
This bus is totally dependent on the reservation system. On any given day, the bus will travel only if there are a minimum of 10 passengers per day. If tickets booked online are less than 10, the bus will be canceled and HPTDC will make alternative arrangements for your trip in shared taxis. In this case, you will be required to pay the difference between the bus fare and the taxi.
For this bus, you can book the ticket online or buy in person at the HPTDC office in Manali.
Leh to Manali Bus Online Booking
There is no online booking system available for HRTC buses, but you can actually book a ticket for the HPTDC bus at this link, Book a ticket for the HPTDC bus from Leh to Manali. Before booking the ticket, check the bus schedule from Leh to Manali.
Bus schedules from Leh to Manali
Both buses leave Leh between 5 and 6 am and arrive in Keylong between 6 and 7 pm. The HPTDC bus will start again from Keylong at 6am to reach Manali at noon. Since your ticket for this bus would already be paid, make sure you arrived at the bus stop in time to board the bus. With HRTC Bus, however, as you will always have to buy a new Keylong ticket, you can take any of the buses to Manali that day and you don’t necessarily need to rush to the bus stop in the morning.
Bus route from Leh to Manali
The route of both buses is as mentioned below.
Leh – Karu – Upshi – Tanglang La – Pang – Lachulung La – Nakee La – Sarchu – Baralacha La – Zingzing Bar – Patseo – Darcha – Jispa – Keylong – Tandi – Gramphoo – Rohtang Pass – Manali
Bus from Leh to Manali Luxury
Adding that point here, since several people asked me that. Yes, the HPTDC bus is a complete and very comfortable luxury bus. The seats and the general condition of the bus are always good, if not excellent. Local HPTDC bus drivers are very competent, so you will be in good hands throughout the trip.