If you have experience of driving over rocky and hilly terrain and love the adventure of driving to Manali on your own, then by all means take your car. The routes by road are scenic and will stay embedded in your memory forever. There are three scenic routes that you can take and there are plenty of other places that you can see on your stopover as well. The first is the Ambala-Chandigarh route via NH 44 and 154 and which will take you around 12 to 13 hours with several wonderful stopovers such as Barot Valley and Parashar Lake. The second route the Banur-Palampur route via NH 44 and 205 and takes around 15 to 16 hours. Lastly, the third route is the Shimla route via NH 44 and NH 5 and takes around 15 hours. If you feel that the journey is as important as the destination, then travelling by car is an excellent way to reach Manali. Do keep in mind that there are narrow paths, hairpin bends and trucks which will slow your journey further. It’s always a good idea to drive slowly once you are no longer on the expressway and to make plenty of stopovers or the drive can get too long or arduous. Getting around Manali locally is not too difficult. There are taxis that are convenient and reliable, and you can book one easily. You can book the taxi for a specific route or just book the taxi for the entire day. If you’re going to be there for a few days, then it’s a good idea to strike a deal with the same driver.
If you’re thinking of how to reach Manali by air, the nearest airport is at Bhuntar which is around 50 km from Manali. It is known as Kullu Manali Airport and it is located on the banks of the River Beas. Most pilots find it rather challenging to land here because there’s a single runway which is set deep in a valley while the peaks surrounding it are at a height of several thousand feet. Despite several ups and downs, the airport continues to function and domestic flights from Delhi, Pathankot and Chandigarh land here frequently. Once you land at the airport, you can hire a cab to take you to Manali. While this is a relatively viable option on how to reach Manali by flight, it is often not recommended because weather conditions make landing here difficult. Sometimes flights are cancelled, and you may be left stranded. Although there are plans to upgrade the airport and extend the runway, these are yet to take off and how to reach Kullu Manali by air is still a little challenging. If you’re still thinking how to reach Kullu Manali by flight, it’s always a good idea to have an alternative plan on how to reach Manali.
Manali doesn’t have any close train connectivity. The closest railway station is at Chandigarh which is 315km away or Pathankot which is 290km away. If you have been thinking of how to reach Manali, travelling by train is not feasible as it takes a very long time. You will have to travel to either Chandigarh or Pathankot by train and take a cab from there to Manali. Not only is this time consuming, it can turn out to be quire expensive and exhausting as well.
If you’re wondering how to reach Manali by road, you’ll be pleased to know that this is the best and most convenient way to reach the hill station. The views are amazing and most picturesque. There are many bus services that connect cities like Delhi, Ambala, Chandigarh and Shimla to Manali. You can take a comfortable Volvo bus which plies frequently from the capital of the country, Delhi to Manali. Or the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) also offer services to Manali from New Delhi. The best option would be to travel to New Delhi and then take a bus from there. Since the journey lasts around 12 hours, it is a good idea to take an overnight bus so that you leave at night and reach your destination in the morning, refreshed and ready for your vacation.