3 Days in Manali: A Complete Itinerary, where to Stay, What to See, Where to Eat

Duration : 3 Days

Cost Per Person : Rs. 7000 (excluding flights from Mumbai)

Day 1 : Old Manali – Hidamba Temple – Vashisht Temple – Vashisht Hot Water Springs – Jogini Falls

Day 2 : Old Manali – Solang Valley – Rohtang Pass

Day 3 : Old Manali – Naggar Castle -Jana Falls – Mall Road Shopping

Manali, a haven for backpackers, known for its laid back hippie vibes is a popular hill station situated at a height of 2050m (6398 ft) in the northern end of Kullu Valley in Himachal Pradesh. Situated on the Beas river, this beautiful place is divided into two parts, New Manali and Old Manali. New Manali is quite cramped up and touristy, whereas Old Manali is less crowded and a perfect place to stay. It’s quite relaxing and serene surrounded by nature and only 3 km from New Manali. Old Manali is what we would recommend if you want to experience the real Manali.

When to go :

Manali is an all-season destination where the temperatures are between 15-20°C however winters in Dec, Jan and Feb tend to get quite chilly being the coldest months and the temperatures dropping to – 2 °C.

How to reach :

You can reach Manali from major hubs like Delhi, Chandigarh, Shimla, Leh, Kullu and Dharamshala via bus, train or flight however Buses are the easiest and an economical way to reach Manali.

  1. By Road: You can drive to Manali by car or bike which is located around 540 km, 12 hours ride from Delhi and around 306 km, 8 hours ride from Chandigarh. The roads are well maintained, so you can definitely make it a quick weekend getaway if you’d like.
  2. By Bus: According to us, this has to be the most economical and quickest mode of transportation to reach Manali. One can get HRTC buses from the major hubs in Delhi (ISBT Kashmere Gate) and Chandigarh (ISBT Sector 43) which will take around 12-13 hours to reach Manali. There is a hearth of buses running post 9 pm which is the best to take as you will not miss daylight hours. The ticket price per person would range from Rs. 1200 to Rs. 1500 for a Volvo luxury bus, however, an ordinary state bus will cost you merely Rs. 800 where you have to compromise a bit on your comfort level. You can book your bus tickets on the HRTC website or through Red Bus.
  3. By Flight: If you’re coming from any other part of India, take a direct flight to Kullu Manali Airport (Bhuntar) which is the closest airport to Manali. Once at the airport you can book a pre-paid cab to get to your accommodation, since ride-hailing apps like Ola, Uber doesn’t work here. Alternatively, you simply fly to Delhi or Chandigarh and then take an overnight bus to Manali.
  4. By Train: There’s no direct train to Manali. So you can take the train till Shimla(SML) by booking through the IRCTC Website. You can opt for either state/private luxury buses or private/shared cabs from Shimla. The journey is around 246 km which is approximately 6 to 7 hours.

Where to Stay:

There are many options when it comes to staying in Manali, be it luxury or budget resorts, hostels and homestays. After a lot of searching in New and Old Manali, we ended up getting the best deal at Treebo Celebriti in Old Manali for just Rs. 700 per night including breakfast. This hotel had the best views of Manali overlooking the lush pine and deodar trees along with the sounds of the mighty gushing Beas river.

View from our Hotel

Few of the go to hostels in Manali are:

  1. Zostel Manali
  2. Moustache Manali
  3. YOLO Backpackers Hostel
  4. The Hosteller Manali
  5. Backpacker Panda

Well, we would suggest going in for Treebo Celebriti as it offers the best views without making a big hole in your pockets.

Good Times at Hotel Treebo Celebriti

Local Travelling within Manali :

Renting a bike is the best option for you since it is economical as compared to booking any private taxi. Bikes will cost you between Rs. 600 to 1500 per day depending on the type of bikes. You can also rent a private taxi which costs between Rs. 1500 – 2500 per day OR around Rs. 400 for a one-way trip from Old Manali to New Manali (approximately 2 to 3 km). You can also opt for a shared rickshaw or local buses however the frequency is quite limited.

You, Me and our Ride

What to see:

There are many places to visit in Manali. We wanted to have a relaxing time at Manali hence didn’t do quite a lot of sightseeing but definitely visited around 3-4 spots. Apart from the places we visited, we have also listed a few other places which you can visit if you have a lot of time to spare.

Jogini Falls:

Also referred to as Jogni Falls, this beautiful waterfall is located around 7.5 km from Manali bus stand and around 4 km from Vashisht Temple. One can trek from Vashisht temple till the waterfall which will take around 1.5 hours one way. The entire trek is quite scenic giving you the best views of Manali town.

There are no entry charges to this waterfall.

Vashisht Temple/ Hot water Springs:

Located around 5 km from Old Manali, this 4000-year-old ancient temple is dedicated to the ancient Indian sage Vashisht who was the Guru of Ram and Lakshman. This temple is known for its hot water springs which are considered sacred and believed to have skin healing properties. There are separate Turkish styled bathing enclosures for men and women. You will have to deposit your sandals/shoes at the entrance of the temple which will cost you around Rs. 5 per sandal/shoes.

Entry to the temple and hot water springs: Free of cost.
Vashisht Temple Timings: 7 am to 9 pm, Vashisht baths: 7 am to 1 pm, and 2 pm to 9 pm on all days.

Vashisht Temple

Beas River View Point:

Do not miss to visit the Beas river viewpoint area which is located around 3 km from Old Manali and capture some memorable pictures of this river originating from the Himalayas.

No entry charges for this viewpoint.

Beas River View Point

Hidamba Temple :

This ancient cave temple built in 1553 is located around 3 km from Old Manali in Dhungiri Forest covered with cedar trees. It is dedicated to Hidimbi Devi, the wife of Bhima who was a character in the Indian epic, Mahābhārata.

There is no entrance fee to this temple and the visiting hours are from 8 am to 6 pm daily.

Pic credit – Goibibo

Solang Valley :

For all the adventure seekers, this is a must visit located around 14 km from Old Manali. This valley is famous for paragliding during summer and skiing during winter. You can also indulge in the cable ropeway (~Rs. 500 per person), snow scooter (~Rs. 500 per person) and zorbing activities (~Rs. 500 per person) if you have enough time. You can reach Solang valley though shared cabs and local buses which leave from Manali bus stand in the mornings and afternoons.

There is no entrance fee however there are specific charges for the activities and visiting hours are from 10 am to 6 pm

Pic credit – Goibibo

Rohtang Pass:

Located around 42 km from Solang Valley is the famous Rohtang Pass at an altitude of 3979m (13,050 ft) above sea level and the highest point on the Manali-Keylong road offering breathtaking panoramic views. This is usually the first pass when you go on a road trip from Manali to Ladakh. This pass is closed during winters from December to April. Rohtang Pass is also closed on Tuesdays due to maintenance activity. Please note that you need to apply for permits at least 2 days in advance if you are visiting Rohtang pass from Manali side. Permits are not needed if your returning from Ladakh to Manali. Permits are issued only to the first 800 petrol vehicles and 400 diesel vehicles. If traveling by car, the permit cost is Rs. 750 (Rohtang pass permit: Rs. 500 + Congestion charges : Rs. 50 + Green tax : Rs 200) and Rs. 650 by bikes. You are required to give details such as vehicle number, driver name, contact number, number of passengers, etc. Once you have the pass, vehicles are allowed to go beyond the barrier on Manali – Rohtang Pass road only in two-time slots, one is from 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM and then from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM.

To Book your online permit for Rohtang Pass, visit the official website of Tourism Development Council Manali 

Rohtang Pass

Naggar Castle :

Located around 24 km from Old Manali, this castle is an ancient building that was built 500 hundred years ago offering spectacular views of the Kullu Valley. This medieval mansion built of wood and stone is a unique blend of the Himalayan and Western Architecture. It houses an art gallery which comprises of several paintings made by Russian artist Nicholas Roerich. This unique castle served both as a rest house and a tourist attraction.

Timings: 7 am to 10 pm.

Entry cost : ~Rs 15 per person and Camera charges ~Rs. 25.

Pic credits : Cleartrip

Jana Falls :

Located around 13 km from Naggar Castle is this beautiful waterfall located in Jana Village surrounded by pine trees, apple orchards, deodar forest, and snow-capped mountains. There is no entrance fee to visit this waterfall. Don’t miss to try the Himachali food at the Jana Fall River restaurant. Timings: 6 am to 6 pm. You can take the local buses hailing from Manali at 8.30 am or else ride down to Jana Falls.

Pic credit www.trawell.in

Where to eat: 

Manali is a foodies paradise and you can try out the various quirky cafes spread across Old Manali.

Cafe 1947

Do not miss this cafe when you are in Manali. Situated in Old Manali on the way to Manu temple, this Italian cafe is famous for its pizzas, pasta, and burgers. Try to grab a spot at the area situated by the Beas river and you will thank us later 😉

Opening hours – 12 pm to 11 pm except Wednesdays (7 pm to 11 pm) Cost for 2 : Between Rs. 500 to 800

Johnson and Johnson Cafe

Situated on the Circuit House Road, this one is the oldest cafe in Manali providing the perfect ambiance with an open green lush lawn and the views of the snow capped mountains. Don’t miss to try the grilled trout fish which is a quite popular dish.

Opening hours : Open 24 hours.
Cost for 2 : Between Rs. 1000 to 1500

The Drifter’s Inn

This cafe situated around 350 meters from Manu Temple is perfect for brunch if you want to lounge around and have yummy English breakfast with some jazz music playing in the background while viewing the snow-capped mountains.

Opening hours: 9 AM to 11 PM
Cost for 2: Between Rs. 600 to 1000

The Lazy Dog Cafe

We brought in Donald’s birthday at this cafe and didn’t regret our decision at all. This is the only cafe which is open till the wee hours and had amazing food and live music situated by the banks of Beas river. Do try their premium alcoholic beverages and desserts.

Opening hours: 11 AM – 1 AM
Cost for 2: Between Rs. 1000 to 1500

Dylan’s Toasted and Roasted Coffee House

If your a coffee and cookie lover, you have to visit Dylan’s. As it is a small sit-out area, be ready to wait for your order however the breakfast menu is scrumptious. We tried their coffee and also packed the chocolate and milk cookies for home. They were indeed mouthwatering and the best we had tasted so far.

Opening Hours: 9 AM – 11 PM
Cost for 2: Between Rs. 300 to 500

Where to shop

When you are in Manali, don’t miss to visit the popular Mall road where you can shop for souvenirs, woolen jackets, sweaters, pullovers, shawls, blankets, gloves, caps, etc. If you are looking for original Pashmina shawls, then this is the right place. We ended up buying souvenirs and woolen mufflers to take back home. Try out Adarsh Restaurant when your here for its yummy Punjabi non-veg cuisines especially trout fish and the 6 flavored ice-cream.

Mall Road Shopping

Adventure Activities to take on:

  1. River Rafting: This adventure activity is quite popular in Kullu which is located around 40 km from Manali. January to June and September to December is the best time for rafting. Rafting can cost from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1000 depending upon the total distance.
  2. Skiing: If you are visiting Manali in winters, don’t miss on experiencing Skiing in Solang Valley. The best months for Skiing would be December, January and February and amateur skiing activity would cost around Rs. 300 for 10 mins.
  3. Paragliding: This is the perfect activity to experience in summers between April to May and September to October. A short tandem paragliding flight would cost you around Rs. 600 which would last for around 2-3 mins whereas a long tandem flight ride would cost around Rs. 1800 and would last around 20 mins giving you the best views of Manali.
  4. Trekking: There are many treks which you can experience while in Manali from easy to difficult levels. Few of the popular ones being Brigu Trek, Hampta Pass, Beas Kund, Deo Tibba Trek.

Total Itinerary Costs:

Hope you had a good read.

Do reach out to us in case you have any other queries for planning your trip.

Until then HAPPY TRAVELLING.

Until we meet again, Manali

4 thoughts on “3 Days in Manali: A Complete Itinerary, where to Stay, What to See, Where to Eat”

  1. Superrb Diana, awesome blog…. supeeerrrbly put up each details from the travel to stay to all the internal travel n tourist spots….perfect …. fabulous read…and it’s really helpful for any one planning a Manali trip….

    1. Thanks Roger. Happy you found it useful. Our intention is to share all the possible minute details to our readers.

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