“Is it possible to explore Himachal using public transport” is a question that you ‘ll surely have on your mind if you have never used public transport on your trips to Himachal. As someone who travels solo in Himachal and relies on public transport all the time, let me help you clear all your queries.
Traveling using public transport is extremely useful for those who are on a strict budget or traveling alone. It is also one of the safest modes of commute in Himachal. So lets dive into details on “Is it possible to explore Himachal using public transport”
Is It Possible To Explore Himachal Using Public Transport?
The answer is big YES. In fact, I explore Himachal using public transport all the time. And have never faced any issues whatsoever. The public transport system in Himachal is almost exclusively buses. HRTC is the backbone of public transport in Himachal.
HRTC is quite robust. And runs its buses to some of the most remote villages and regions in Himachal Pradesh. If the road is wide enough for HRTC bus to ply on there will be at least one service to that place or villages.
And these days, most of the villages even the remote one’s have been connected by HRTC buses and private buses in Himachal. So it does not matter if you want to go to a remote village or a popular place HRTC has got you covered.
Just to get one thing out of the way, the public transport I’ll be referring to are solely buses in Himachal. The train network is almost non existent in Upper Himachal thanks to the terrain. And flights to Himachal are less and too expensive.
Interstate Buses To get To Himachal
To explore Himachal you have to reach Himachal in the first place. So the main towns of Himachal are quite well connected with Chandigarh and New delhi two of the main towns of North Indian.
Both HRTC and Private buses have volvos and ordinary buses go to the major towns of Himachal like Shimla Kullu, Manali, Rampur Bushar, Mandi, Chamba, Kangra, Dharamshala, Una, Solan, Bilaspur etc.
Of course, once you reach the main towns you can move to your select location accordingly. But the point I am trying to make here is that it is quite easy actually to get to Himachal using HRTC or Private volvos.
You get buses to Himachal from ISBT Kashmiri gate and Majnu Ka Tilla in Delhi and from Sector 43 in Chandigarh.
So reaching Himachal is quite easy actually. Just hop onto one of these overnight buses to Himachal and your are in the mountains early morning.
Intra District Buses To Explore Places Within The Same District from Himachal
Now once reach your intended place of stay you will obviously travel to other places interests nearby. Public transport that is HRTC buses and other private buses are quite robust.
Since Himachal is a hilly state, buses are the only mode of public transport when you want to commute from one point to another. But HRTC and private buses make really make intra district commute quite hassle free.
For instance, I’ve personally commuted to several places in Kullu like Tirthan valley, Parvati valley, Banjar, Sainj valley using public transport that is local buses. Including some lesser frequented and places in Kullu district.
I’ve also commuted almost exclusively in local buses when exploring the pristine Lahaul valley, way before the tunnel opened upon. So my point is you can surely explore intra district places with ease using public transport.
Usually, the main town of that district has entire time table of buses going to other places. So lets say you are in Kinnaur, you’ll get the entire bus time table to various places in Kinnaur at the Recking peo.
Inter District buses to explore different districts in Himachal Pradesh
A lot of travelers trip to Himachal involves exploring at least two district. So this is when inter district buses come in handy when you want to go from one district to another.
HRTC runs several services from one major town in the one district to another major town is another districts. Sometimes even passing several other districts as a result.
For instance lets say you want to get to Spiti from Kullu. So in that case you would take an inter district long route bus service that HRTC runs from Kullu to Kaza during the summers months when the Kunzum La is open.
I’ve personally traveled inter district in HRTC buses when going from Kullu district to Lahaul and Spiti district. Of course similarly you can go to Manali from Dharamshala or Shimla to Manali.
You can get a proper list of inter district buses from the main town of the district. Like for example if you are in Kullu, you can get the the list of inter district buses from Kullu or Manali bus stand.
Main Bus Station(s) Of Popular Valleys To Explore In Himachal
So in order to help you in a better way. I am listing down main bus stations of different valleys and popular districts. What you want to do is go to this main bus stand and enquire and note down the time table of bus services and routes.
In this manner it will be quite easier for you to explore the places you intend and manage your commute using public transport. If you were wondering how the mobile network is in Himachal, here is detailed blog on which mobile network works best in Himachal
Important bus stations of Kullu
So Kullu town, Manali, Bhuntar, Banjar and Sainj are important bus stations in Kullu district. From Kullu and Manali you get buses to everywhere in Himachal along with local routes and sub-valleys of Kullu district.
Banjar is the hub for local routes in Tirthan valley, Banjar valley and Mandi Saraj along with inter district routes to Shimla. While Sainj is the main bus station for local routes in Sainj valley.
Bhuntar where you get buses to Parvati valley and the lesser frequented Gadsa valley.
Important Bus station of Kinnaur
Reckong Peo is the main bus station of Kinnaur district. From Reckong peo, you will get buses to local routes and villages along with inter district buses and inter state buses.
You get buses to lower Kinnaur, Middle Kinnaur, Upper Kinnaur and Baspa valley (Sangla, Chitkul) from reckong peo. Also you can get buses to Spiti and Shimla districts from Reckong Peo.
Important Bus Stations of Lahaul
So Kyelang and Udaipur are the two main bus stations in Lahaul valley. You get buses to several local routes, inter district routes and inter state routes from Kyelang and Udaipur..
From Keylang you have buses going to local villages of Lahaul in Tod, Ghar, Tinnan, Pattan valleys, Along with buses to Killar in Pangi valley, Chamba and even to Leh in the union territory of Ladakh.
From Udaipur you get buses to lesser known Miyar valley and of course the other local routes in Pattan valley.
Important Bus Stations of Spiti
The main bus station in Spiti valley is Kaza. From Kaza you get buses to several local villages of Spiti. Along with inter district buses.
You can get inter district buses to Kullu from Kaza and vice versa during summers. You also get buses to Reckong Peo in Kinnaur district.
Important Bus Stations of Shimla
Shimla ISBT is one of the most important buses station in Himachal. Being the capital of Himachal you can get interstate buses, inter district buses and of course buses for local routes in Shimla district.
Rampur Bushahr is another bus station in Shimla where you get buses to Kinnaur, Kullu area of Saraj valley, and of course the local villages in Shimla district.
Rohru is another important bus station of Upper Shimla connecting Upper Shimla with rest of Himachal and Uttarakhand.
Important Bus Station of Chamba
So Chamba town is the main bus station of Chamba district. You get buses to different sub valleys of Chamba like Saal valley, Churah valley, Holi valley, Dalhousie, Pangi etc.
Plus you also get interstate, inter district buses from the main Chamba bus station. Dalhousie in Chamba is also another important bus stand in Chamba.
Important Bus Station of Kangra
Major bus station of include Kangra, Dharamshala, Bajinath. You get buses to several parts Himachal, interstate and of course the local routes.
There are also long routes buses from Dharamshala to Manali and Lahaul. Bir biling is also another major tourist destination along with Mcleodganj and Dharamshala.
Important Bus Station of Mandi
So Mandi town and Jogindernagar are the important bus stations of Mandi district. Mandi is like the center of the Himachal and you have buses coming from all over Himachal plus North indian states.
So buses run on local routes, long inter district routes along with interstate routes from and to Mandi. Buses from Mandi go towards Kullu, Shimla, Kangra, Bilaspur.
Advantages of Using Public Transport To Explore Himachal
So now that we know how good is public transport in Himachal. Here are some advantages of using public transport to explore different places in Himachal.
By the way, here is detailed blog on how safe are homestays in Himachal Pradesh. If you are someone who loves staying in homestays, I am sure this will be of great help.
Exploring Himachal using Public transport is Cheap
So if you are someone who loves to travel on a strict budget, then you are better off by using public transport to explore Himachal. Public transport is certainly quite cheaper than hire private cabs.
And by now you now know that is certainly possible to explore Himachal including the lesser frequented and remote corners using public transport.
I personally travel solo most of the times and usually explore places in Himachal only using public transport, unless and until I have no other options.
Exploring Himachal Using Public Transport is the Safest way to travel
If you are solo traveler, safety is one of the utmost importance while commuting in Himachal Pradesh. This where public transport is comes in.
Traveling to and exploring different places in Himachal using local buses is the safest way to commute in my opinion. And you just have to travel once to know how actually safe it is.
I personally travel solo and for me my safety is priority so I mostly stay in homestays and commute only by local buses to ensure that I am a hundred percent safe.
Exploring Himachal Using Public Transport will reduce your Carbon Footprint
If you are not aware about the problem of global warming and climate change, then you are surely living under a rock. The ecologically sensitive Himalayas are the worst affected.
So to do our bit when traveling we must try to keep in check our carbon footprint. And one of the best way to achieve this is to travel by public transport.
And with the robust HRTC network that will have in Himachal, traveling and exploring Himachal using public transport is the least we can do to mitigate the fast aggravating problem of climate change and global warming.
If you care about the environment and would love to do your part to alleviate the problem of Climate change, here is detailed blog on how to travel responsibly to Himachal.
Women Get Additional 25% discount on fares in Ordinary Services of HRTC buses
If you are women, then traveling by ordinary HRTC buses will be even more cheaper for you. All women get additional 25% off on the fare on the ordinary services in HRTC.
Of course, only applicable to ordinary HRTC buses and not HRTC run Volvos and semi deluxe buses. But hey if you are traveling on strict budget, then exploring Himachal using HRTC buses will be even more beneficial for you
Tips to Explore Himachal Using Public Transport
So now that we known the answer to the question “Can I explore Himachal using public transport” let me give you some tips to explore himachal using public transport.
By the is here is a detailed blog on how to find a place of stay in remote villages of Himachal. I am sure it will be of a great value to you.
|1. Find out the bus timings of all the routes at the main bus station|
|2. Ask locals about the timings to places you intend to explore in Himachal|
|3. Be punctual and reach before time|
|4. Book tickets online or early in case you are traveling on longer routes|
|5. Check availability of the buses on Sundays|
1. Find Out The Bus Timings Of All The Routes At the Main Bus Station
So if you can find out the timings of the places you intend to visit in a particular valley of Himachal from the main bus station, then nothing like it.
Your job will be a lot easier and you’ll be able to plan your travels before hand. This will result in a hassle free trip as far as the commute by public transport is concerned.
2. Ask Locals About The Timings To Places You Intend To Explore In Himachal
Locals are usullay the perfect sources when it comes to the buses to explore different places in Himachal. They usually know the bus timings and are really helpful in planning commute to places.
So tell them your plan and the places you intend to visit and then will be surely able to provide with accurate information regarding the bus services and their timings.
I personally do this all the time when I am not near the main bus station. I ask the locals and they are more than happy to give me information about the bus timings to places i wish to explore
3. Be Punctual and reach before time when exploring Himachal using public
HRTC and private buses and local and long routes are quite punctual and will not hesitate to leave you if you don’t show up on time. So be punctual and try to reach 15 minutes before departure.
The other issue is if you reach exactly on time you’ll manage to catch the bus, but you might not be able to get seat. I’ve personally expeirenced this when traveling to Bahu in Banjar valley, where I was not able to get a seat for a long time.
4. Book tickets early or online in case you traveling on longer routes in Himachal
Lets say you are traveling to Kullu from Kaza. There is a lone HRTC bus which operates during summer months when Kunzum La is traversable.
So in such cases I’ll strongly advise you to either book the tickets before hand online or get the tickets from bus station itself. Otherwise there are chances that you might not find a seat on the bus.
5. Check availability of the buses on Sundays
Some local routes do not run on Sundays in Himachal. So before making any plans just confirm once with the locals or at the bus stand.
Local people commuting on a Sunday is far lesser than on normal days hence some bus services are naturally not meant to run on Sunday as it would result in lower occupancy.
To conclude I hope you now have the answer to the question “Is is possible to explore Himachal using public transport”. As I have mentioned throughout the blog, you can easily explore Himachal using public transport like I have been doing.
In case you have queries about public transport in Himachal, then be sure to reach out to me in the comments below and I’ll be happy to help.