Tips for Traveling to Manali - Trekking Spots near Manali
- If you can drive to Joshimath, then Manali will be cakewalk. Roads in Himachal Pradesh are much better than Garhwal. Stay 1 day in Naggar on your trip to Manali. The place is quiet and charming. The view of the valley is breathtaking and the HPTDC Hotel is very good, albeit, a bit expensive.
- On the way back from Manali, you can stay for 1 to 2 days in Kasol on the Bhuntar-Manikaran route. That route is the most beautiful route I have seen in Himachal. All the tiny hamlets like Jari in Parvati Valley, Kasol, etc. are worth visiting. Kasol is just 5 kilometers before Manikaran Gurudwara and also has a HPTDC hotel which you can book in advance via phone.
- Don’t stay in Manikaran. The place is dirty and hotels are bad, but you can visit it from Kasol. Remember the road to Manikaran is not good like other routes of Himachal. It is bumpy and dusty, especially when Manikaran is just a few kms ahead. I went there last year and the roads were like that.
- Regarding hiking and trekking spots near Manali, if you want to do some real treks with guide and porters and with tent, then some short 3 to 4 days route in that region are Hanuman Tibba from Manali, Chanderkhani Pass and Malana trek from Naggar.
If you want to do some day trek kind of walking without guides, porters, or tents, then try Kasol. The place is really quiet and good for spending a short hiking vacation.
We went to Manali in July last year so Manali is still fresh in my memories, so I will give some suggestions with that trip in mind. We went to Manali and onwards to Spiti Valley. We took Volvo for both ways and it was very comfortable. We left Delhi around 6 and by 7.30 am next day we were at Manali. Volvo from Delhi to Manali will take you through Panipat, Karnal, then Kurukshetra, Ambala, then Chandigarh, Rupnagar, Swarghat, then Bilaspur, Mandi, then Kullu, and finally Manali. The route is beautiful post Swarghat. Before that it’s all normal highway driving. For exact directions and kilometers in between two points visit this link: http://www.oktatabyebye.com/travel-directions/driving-directions-from-New_Delhi-to-Manali.html
- HPTDC has set up good hotels in Manali, especially location wise: Hadimba Cottage, Hamta Cottage, and HPTDC Log Huts would be good for you if you want to enjoy nature. You can check availability and book them on this link http://hptdc.nic.in/cir0203.htm#hhamik; otherwise, there are many private properties in Manali that would give you some accommodation options.
- For next three days, you can have a few options in hand like visiting Solang Valley which is just 14 kilometers from Manali, it is a very beautiful place and is meant for adventurous people. In case, you love trekking, then you can go for Bhrigu Lake which is located at a height of 4270 meters above mean sea level and will take two days, may not be very simple but very worthwhile. You can hire a guide cum porter from Manali and do this trek. The route will be Gulaba to Bhrigu Lake, 14 kilometers, stay overnight besides lake and be back next day. Gulaba is 22 kilometers to Rohtang Pass from Manali.
- Another trek near Manali can be done from Naggar to Malana over Chanderkhani Pass. Naggar is a quiet village just 25 kilometers from Manali. It has an old castle converted into a heritage museum and some old temples. The route will be Naggar to Shillu Pathar just 11 kilometers but it will take 5 to 6 hours, Shillu Pathar to Chanderkhani Pass at 3600 meters - Malana (10 kilometers 5 hours). Check if the pass is doable at this time before you plan to do this trek and do take a guide.
- Regarding trying best food in Manali, I would recommend you just three places which are must visit: Johnson's Cafe on Circuit House Road in Manali, Pine View or Pine Retreat on same road, and Original Sher-E-Punjab restaurant located right on the Manali Mall Road. Shere-E-Punjab restaurant in Manali has been there since 1972 and is meant for die-hard Punjabi food lovers. You will love their excellent service. Also you will like their delicious tandoori trout, butter chicken, chicken curry, dal makhani, mutton biryani, makke di roti, and sarson da saag. Out of our 5 days spent in Manali, we ate around 5 times in this restaurant. Neither me, nor my friends who visited Manali have tasted such type of food. This is the reason why so many Shere-E-Punjab restaurants have come up in India.