Not many places in Himachal Pradesh or India are as a popular as Manali or Kasol. Both of them are quite well established on tourism circles. So why not compare Kasol versus Manali and find out which is better to visit as tourist destination.
From insane landscapes to enchanting forests both Kasol and Manali have it all. But which one should you visit ? You might have had this question on your mind. So let me help decide by comparing Kasol versus Manali
I have personally spent a lot time in both these tourist towns and have a fair bit of idea about both of them. I’ll be comparing Kasol and Manali with respect to Stay options, budget, places to visit, safety, treks, family friendly, cafes, ease of reach.
Kasol Versus Manali – Consider These 11 Important Points Before Deciding
In my personal opinion, both the places are extremely picturesque and should be at least visit once in your life time if you love the mountains and Himalayas like me.
But if you don’t have a lot of time on your hand and only can visit only one of the places I’ll help you choose based on the 11 key factors.
Personally I find Kasol to be quite overrated after having seen quite a lot of places in Kullu, Lahaul, Spiti, Kinnaur, Mandi. And I have 11 reasons to prove it. Once again I am reiterating that this my personal opinion.
1. Which Is More Easier To Reach Kasol OR Manali
Both Kasol and Manali are quite accessible throughout the year. Most of route to reach Manali and Kasol both fall on Manali-Chandigarh highway.
You can either reach by Air or by road to both Manali and Kasol. The nearest rail connectivity is Chandigarh so the rail option is not feasible for both.
To reach Kasol by air you need fly to Bhuntar in Kullu. From Bhuntar you need to take a diversion towards Parvati valley and reach Kasol either by Taxi or Local bus.
To reach Manali by air you have to get down at Bhuntar and continue on Manali-Chandigarh by hiring private taxi or Local bus to reach Manali.
And if you are coming by road to Manali you have Chandigarh-Manali highway going all the way to Manali. And if you want to visit Kasol, then just take the diversion towards Parvati valley from Bhuntar.
So both Manali and Kasol are equally accessible. And it is really upon you where you actually want to visit.
2. Kasol Versus Manali – Which Has Better Places To Visit
Both Manali and Kasol are known for its beautiful rivers, enchanting forests, and snow-capped peaks. And both have some insanely scenic places. But if you ask me Manali has better places to visit which that are accessible.
Kasol as such does not have any particular tourist places or landmarks to explore. Its kind of a place where you just relax and go around on hikes and spend the time by the river and saunter in the towering pine forests. Chalal. Choj, Katagla, Rasol, Grahan are some of the places to visit in Kasol.
While Manali Town has so much more “so called places to visit” which include Hidimba Devi Temple, Mall road, Manu Temple, Nature park, Old Manali, Atal Tunnel, Rohtang La, Solang valley, Kothi, Marhi, Gulaba, Vashisht, Jogini falls.
Even Kasol has some amazing nearby places but its not easily accessible when compared to Manali. You actually have to work hard to reach the places. But in the end it is quite rewarding. Places like Malana, Rashol, Grahan, Kheerganga, which are near to Kasol are not very easy to reach.
To conclude, Kasol is much more relax and do nothing kind of place. While Manali has a lot more insanely scenic landscapes and other beautiful places to visit which are quite accessible. So Manali gets the win here in my opinion.
By the here is detailed blog on 16 best valleys to explore in Kullu out of which Parvati valley and Manali area are a couple of them.
3. Which One Is Safer Kasol or Manali
So Kasol as you would probably know is the smoker’s paradise. And the maximum number of people come here smoke hash and get high. So although relatively safe, things can get unsafe here if you are not careful.
And if you don’t like people smoking and drinking all the time everywhere, playing loud music makes you uncomfortable you are better off visiting Manali instead.
While the aforementioned things also happen in Manali but at smaller level compared to Kasol. And Since Manali is one of the biggest tourist resorts in our country with a lot of families coming as well, I personally feel Manali is much more safer than Kasol.
I personally did not find either Manali or Kasol unsafe as such, but you hear such news about Kasol every once in a while. So be very careful especially if you are traveling solo and stay away from all the illicit activities going on in Kasol.
So personally I think Manali is much more safer than Kasol, also Kasol is quite safe as well if you stay from the illegal things like hash. By the here is a blog on 16 pretty alternatives to Kasol
4. Kasol Versus Manali – Which One Is Better for Budget Travelers
Both Manali and Kasol are heaven for budget travelers and solo travelers. With a lot of inexpensive budget backpackers hostel, Kasol and Manali and perfect for budget traveling.
In Manali, the old Manali area is full of budget hostels for the budget travelers and backpackers. Also you get cheap hotels in Mall road except for peak season. Plus you have a lot of Dhabas in case you don’t want to spend a fortune on food.
Similarly in Kasol you have budget hostels but not as many options as Manali. You can also get cheap hotels in Kasol most of the time, except for the peak season from April to June. And yes like Manali, you have Dhabas as well to cut down your food budget.
You can got to hostelworld.com to find cheap hostels and budget in Manali and Kasol. And both Manali and Kasol have robust public transport. So in case, you do not want to hire cabs, there is a cheaper and a better options of local buses.
So overall I would say its tie. Both Kasol and Manali have a lot of backpackers, solo travelers, budget travelers visiting them.
5. Kasol Versus Manali – Which Has Better Options to Stay
Manali is the clear winner here. From incredible boutique homestays to cheap hostels, Manali has at it all when it comes to staying options. Kasol on the other hand is just a small town with enough options to stay but nowhere near variety which Manali provides.
Manali has been on the tourist map for a good 40 plus years which has made it one of the go to destinations for travelers across the country and globe. So naturally it has a better infrastructure to cater to each and every type of tourist.
While Kasol is not known for Luxurious and Experiential type stay options because it was always marketed as a budget backpackers haven. So Kasol might not cater to every type of Tourists.
So Manali for me is the clear winner here just because it can cater to budget backpacker as well as those looking for luxurious getaways and everything in between.
6. Kasol Versus Manali – Which is Better Family Destination
So let me give you a bit of context, Kasol is a smokers hub with most of the people coming here to smoke good quality Hash and get high in addition to getting drunk. I am not saying that all the people visiting Kasol will do the same, but most of them will.
By the way consuming hash is illegal in India and can attract a Jail term if caught. So In my opinion, you should stay away from it while in Kasol.
Almost every cafe you go, you’ll see people openly smoking up Hash. This might be enough for you to understand that Kasol is not a family friendly destination. But yes If your family is cool about this and can ignore it you can visit it.
Now coming to Manali, people do come to smoke up hash and get drunk here as well, but that is on a much smaller scale compared to Kasol. Except for old Manali, most of the areas in Manali like Mall road, Aleo, Prini, Dhungri, Shanag, Burua, etc are quite family friendly.
So if you want to have good time and enjoy some pretty landscapes with the family then you should be straightaway heading to Manali. And even I would personally advise against taking your family to Kasol unless your family is progressive and uber cool about the smoking thing.
7. Kasol OR Manali – Which Is Better For A Winter Trip
You can get to experience snow both at Manali and Kasol. But Manali being at relatively higher altitude than Kasol means that it snows in Manali for more months.
It snows in Kasol from December to January, while it can snow from in Manali and nearby areas from November end to early March if the conditions are favorable. So your chances of getting a snowy experience are definitely more in Manali if you visit after January,
Of course, there are places like Tosh near Kasol where it snows for similar timeline like Manali, but that it far at least 25 km away from Kasol. And even if its not snowing in proper Manali town you can get snow in Solang valley or even just 4-5 km away from Manali for that matter.
So In my opinion, It snows in Manali much longer than it snows in Kasol when the winter season is normal. Witnessing a snowy wonderland is one of the 31 promising reasons you should be visiting Himachal.
8. Kasol or Manali – Which is Better Trekking Destination
The popular treks in Kasol include Kheerganga trek, Sar pass trek and those are the most famous ones. With Sara Umga La and Animal Pass being kind of offbeat treks.
The popular treks in Manali area includes Beas Kund, Bhrigu Lake, Hamta Pass, Rani Sui , Lamadugh trek. With Kalihani pass being kind of difficult and offbeat trek.
So for Manali is clear winner with more number of treks people can go onto. Kasol on the other hand does not have lot of options for Causal trekkers. But Manali has tons of options when it comes trekking for each type of trekker.
Its some insane hikes like these which attracts a lot of solo travelers to Himachal from across the globe. Let me know your thoughts on this one.
9. Which One Has Better Cafes – Kasol or Manali
Manali and Kasol both of plethora of Cafes serving muti-cuisine delicacies to soothe your tastebuds, but are as expensive as the cafes in the city.
Popular cafes in Kasol include Evergreen cafe, Jim morisons cafe, Freedom cafe, Bhoj Cafe, Little Italy, Panj Tara which servers predominantly Italian and Israeli food. While Bhoj serves Indian food as well.
Popular cafes in Manali include Lazy dog, Cafe 1947, Dylons Cafe, The Shed, Fatplate Cafe, Drifters cafe, Johnsons cafe, Cassa Bella Vista, Chopsticks and many more. Most of the cafes are located in Old Manali.
So as you can see Manali has many more options when it comes to the cafes. So if food is priority then better head to Manali instead of Kasol. While Kasol has cafes, but certainly not as many as in Manali.
And again the reason being, Manali has been on the tourism map for quite a long time and it attracts people from across the globe which is why there plenty of cafes in Manali as per your taste and budget.
10. Which Has Better Internet Connectivity Kasol or Manali
Manali and Kasol both have awesome 4g internet connections for almost every network provider. So internet connectivity isn’t a problem at all in either Manali or Kasol.
The major network providers in India that are Jio, Airtel, Vodafone work very well in both Kasol and Manali with decent 4g internet where you can easily surf, stream, do video calls.
But I would still advise to bring Jio or Airtel or both and not bring Vodafone at all in the mountains or Himachal Pradesh to be specific. As soon as you are out from the Major Tourist place like Manali or Kasol, Vodafone stops working.
While Airtel and Jio work almost everywhere in Himachal in the remotest of villages. But yes as far as Manali and Kasol is concerned all three major players work very well here without any issues.
11. Kasol Versus Manali Based On Stay Duration
Kasol and Manali both require at least 5 days to explore a bit around. But if you have more days on your hand you can definitely explore a lot of other places around.
While you can manage to popular areas of Manali in a week, but if you truly want to venture deep and explore the true Manali, then it certainly will take a lot of time.
Same is with Kasol, There are a lot of beautiful places which require some time explore and experience their true beauty. So in my opinion, you need at least 5 days for both Kasol or Manali, but you can get away with weekend trips if you just wish to explore popular places.
By the way here 5 epic backpacking itineraries for Himachal. A couple of itineraries include both Kasol and Manali Feel free to check it out.
To conclude now have a fair bit of understanding on Kasol versus Manali. And the 11 points I have provided in the blog have helped you decide..
If you ask me I would suggest that you should visit both Kasol is not a very family friendly destination so you are better off visiting it with your friends unless your family is super cool about the stuff that people come to consume in Kasol.
While Manali is and will remain an evergreen destination for everybody and can be visited along with family or with friends. But have some surreal landscapes which you must witness at least once in your life.