A trip to Spiti can be very overwhelming, especially for the first-time travelers. After all, the terrain & weather are quite hostile for most of the year. This is why my 27 travel tips for Spiti will come in very handy-
Most of these travel tips for Spiti have been curated out of my personal experience. A few of them were a result of the mistakes I made and realized after I gained more knowledge. So be rest assured about these Travel tips for Spiti.
27 Helpful Travel Tips for Spiti That will Make Your Trip a Smooth Sailing
Spiti is very beautiful and culturally vibrant. If possible everyone should visit Spiti at least once in a lifetime instead of overcrowded and overrated places like Kasol, Manali.
This why, I am listing down 27 insights to know before visiting. I am sure these tips will be of great help.
|1. Stay in Rustic Homestays instead of Hotels in Spiti
|2. Avoid Staying in Touristy Kaza While in Spiti
|3. Enter Spiti via Shimla Route for proper Acclimatization
|4. Do NOT Waste Your Time Exploring Kinnaur on Your Trip Spiti
|5. Stay for AT LEAST10-15 days to Have A Complete experience in Spiti
|6. Do NOT Miss Pin Valley on Your Trip to Spiti
|7. 4×4 Drive is a Must if You Are Traveling by Your Vehicle to Spiti
|8. Be Extremely Careful if You Are Going to Self-Drive to Spiti
|9. Keep Extra Tyre for Your Car in Case of Any Emergency
|10. Be Extremely Punctual If Traveling by Local Buses to Spiti
|11. Download Offline Maps to Avoid Losing the Way in Spiti
|12. Do NOT forget to take permits if going via Kinnaur – For International Travelers
|13. Keep at Least a Spare Day in Your Itinerary While Travelling to Spiti
|14. Start very Early if Entering or Exiting Spiti via Kaza-Manali Road
|15. Avoid taking Manali-Kaza Route after 15th October
|16. Plan your Spiti Circuit Trip Starting July
|17. Monasteries of Spiti Are A Must if You are Visiting Spiti
|18. Visit the other Spitian villages as well apart from the common ones
|19. Monitor potential symptoms of AMS During Your Spiti Trip
|20. Fitness Needs to be on Point if you want to Hike in Spiti
|21. Do NOT consume Alcohol or smoke while on your trip to Spiti
|22. People with Medical conditions check with your Physician first
|23. Do NOT Spend A Night A Chandrataal if You Are Entering Spiti from Manali Side
|24. Do NOT Forget to Carry A Sunscreen to Avoid Skin Damage in Spiti
|25. Pack Very Light if You Are Backpacking to Spiti
|26. Warm Clothes Are A Must For Your Trip to Spiti
|27. Please Travel responsibly in Spiti
1. Stay in Rustic Homestays instead of Hotels
Spiti is an epitome of culture, hospitality. Then why waste such an opportunity by staying in hotels. If you are going to Spiti, staying in Authentic homestays is an absolute must.
|Homestays help the local community and are inexpensive as well. Most of the villages in Spiti still have homestays. Only Kaza and Tabo have a large number of Hotels and Guesthouse.
2. Avoid Staying in Kaza During Your Trip to Spiti
Kaza is the main town of Spiti. But slowly it is becoming a touristy town owing to the rise in Popularity. Kaza has started to get crowded with lots of Hotels and Guesthouses.
|Although Kaza can act as a base, but staying in a rustic spitian village will give you an Authentic experience. I had made this mistake but you should not. Villages like Demul, Lhalung, etc are great places to stay instead of Kaza.
3. Enter Spiti via Shimla Route for Proper Acclimatization
|The gradual increase in altitude from the Shimla side is why one should enter Spiti from Shimla side. The altitude gain from Manali side is just too drastic.
Due to gentle altitude gain, the chances of Altitude Sickness (AMS) remain slim as the body begins to acclimatize. This is one of the important Tips for first timer visiting Spiti. So please take this seriously.
4. Do NOT Waste Your Time Exploring Kinnaur During Your trip to Spiti
Most of the itineraries to Spiti will include places like Chitkul, Sangla in the Itinerary for Spiti. This is not wrong but you’ll end up wasting a couple of days. This defeats the purpose if your main aim is to explore Spiti.
|Yes, you cannot avoid certain places in Kinnaur while going to Spiti from Shimla route. But you can certainly avoid the unnecessary detours like Baspa valley.
5. Stay AT LEAST for 10-15 to Have A Complete Experience in Spiti.
Some itineraries will help you cover Spiti in just 5 days. But I do not see a point with such short Itineraries. Staying at least 10 days is a must in Spiti.
Spiti is much more than Kaza, Tabo, Dhankar, Hikkim, Komic, Langza, Kibber, Mudh, etc. So, to explore Spiti to its full potential having more days will be quite beneficial.
6. Do NOT Miss Pin Valley On Your Trip to Spiti
Pin valley is a beautiful gem of Spiti. It is certainly not be missed. By Pin valley, I certainly do not mean only Mudh village. Please try to explore the other villages like Teling, Guling, Sangam, Todnam etc.
There are a lot more villages scattered across Pin valley which attract a minuscule number of visitors. It was only after reading and researching about Spiti I came to know that Pin valley is much more than Mudh.
7. 4×4 Drive Is A Must if You Are Traveling by Your Own Vehicle to Spiti
If you are driving by your own car or self-driving cars like Zoom car, make sure you have a 4×4 drive. There are several patches in the Spiti circuit where 4×4 is a must.
|If your aim is to complete the Spiti circuit, 4×4 Drive is necessary as Kaza-Manali route is in complete shambles. We had hired a zoom car and it was 4×4 drive which made our trip quite hassle-free.
8. Be Extremely Careful if You Are Going to Self-drive to Spiti
Spiti is famous for its dangerous roads. Well, a lot of its quite hyped to be honest. But the Kaza-Manali route is truly dangerous. Therefore, it is necessary to have an adept driver behind the wheel during your Spiti trip.
Fortunately, during my trip to Spiti we had a couple of friends who were very good behind the wheel. They were able to manage extremely well.
9. Keep an Extra Tyre For Your Car In Case of Any Emergency
As I said earlier, the Manali-Kaza stretch is extremely treacherours. Therefore, it is very important to have extra tyre if you are self-driving.
Even Shimla-Kaza route has a few bad patches. So to avoid any difficulties it is very important to have an extra tyre during your trip to Spiti.
10. Be Extremely Punctual if Traveling by Local Buses in Spiti
Even though I took a road trip to Spiti, subsequent trips to other places in Himachal by HRTC made me realize how punctual HRTC usually is. HRTC waits absolutely for no one.
|HRTC buses are usually very punctual, especially from the starting point. So please be there well before the time. Otherwise, you’ll miss your bus. Also, very few services ply throughout the day to Spiti.
11. Download Offline Maps to Avoid Losing Way in Spiti
Jio towers have now been installed at places around Kaza, but even then, most of the Spiti does not have an internet connection. So it is very important to have offline maps downloaded on your smartphone.
You’ll find absolutely no one for most part of Journey and you wouldn’t even realize if you might have strayed away from your actual route. Therefore, having offline maps downloaded is absolutely necessary.
12. Do NOT Forget to Take Permits – Only for International Travelers
If you are an international traveler coming from the Kinnaur side, you need to have a permit to move ahead to Spiti. If coming from the Manali side, a permit is not required.
As Kinnaur is quite close to the Indo-China border, a permit is required for international travelers. Indians do not require any Kind of permit.
13. Keep At Least a Spare in Your Itinerary While Traveling to Spiti
The Terrain of Spiti is quite hostile. Freak landslides, whimsical snowfall is not uncommon. In such helpless situations, it is better to have at least a couple of spare days in your Itinerary.
|Frequent landslides do happen at Manali-Kaza route and Kinnaur. This might hamper your schedule. So it is always good to have buffer days.
14. Start Very Early if You Are Entering or Exiting Spiti by Kaza-Manali route
Kaza-Manali route is not even fit to be called a road, especially after losar. Only get a decent rode after coming on the Leh manli highway.
|It usually takes around 8-10 hours to cover the Manali-Kaza stretch. So starting as early as 5 or 6 in the morning is very crucial.
15. Avoid Taking Manali-Kaza Route After 15th October
|Manali-Kaza road officially closes from 15th October. But you can still travel if Kunzum La is not blocked by snow. Earlier even Rohtang La needed to be open, but now with Atal tunnel that is no more the case.
Even if it does not snow for a while after 15th October, extreme temperature creates hard ice during the early mornings. So it becomes quite risky to travel.
Sudden snowfall can lead to very dangerous circumstances. You might end getting stuck at dangerous altitude which can be even fatal.
16. Plan your Spiti Circuit Trip Starting July
If you are keen to do a Spiti circuit trip, then plan it only in July. Reason being, that Kunzum La most of the time is thrown open only after June 15.
|Spiti circuit is basically entering Spiti from Shimla, Kinnaur side and, exiting via Lahaul, Manali side. The Shimla route is open throughout the year. But Kunzum La is only open from Mid June to October.
And traveling to and beyond Kunzum La towards Gramphoo is not advisable when the pass is just thrown open. This is why the start of July is the perfect time to plan the Spiti circuit trip,
17. Monasteries of Spiti Are A Must if You Are Visiting Spiti
Gompas of Spiti play a huge role in the culture of Spiti. Almost every village has a Gompa. In my opinion, they should not be missed.
|Apart from famous Gompas like Tabo, Dhankar, Key, Komic, almost every village has a Gompa. So make sure to also visit such not so popular monasteris along with popular ones.
I knew only about the famous ones, but as I studied about the region more, I came to know about a lot more gompas. I plan to cover those in the future trips to Spiti.
18. Visit other villages of Spiti as well
Most of the people just follow the standard Itinerary. This only covers popular villages of Spiti like Tabo, Dhankar, Hikkim, Komic, Langza, Kibber etc.
|Nothing wrong with that. But there are villages like Demul, Lahaulang, etc that surely deserve a visit. Pin valley also has a lot of rustic villages apart from the popular Mudh.
I also made the same mistake. So consider this as one of the important Spiti travel tips and visit the other villages as well If you have time.
19. Monitor the Potential Symptoms of AMS During Your Spiti trip
The average altitude in Spiti is above 11,000 ft above sea level. At such dizzying altitudes, oxygen levels are below 50% as compared to sea level.
|Therefore, it is very essential to monitor symptoms of Altitude Mountain Sickness (AMS) which include Headache, Nausea. Usually the symptoms subside as the body gets used to low oxygen.
But if it doesn’t go away, then the best option is to just get to lower altitudes. Therefore to avoid AMS entering Spiti from Shimla side is advisable due to gradual increase in Altitude.
20. Fitness Needs to be on Point if You Want to Hike in Spiti
Your fitness game needs to be on point in case you plan to hike in Spiti. Due to the crazy altitude, effort required to do even petty things is a task.
So if you are going to hike in Spiti, you need to have excellent fitness levels. Acclimatization coupled with good fitness will make your hiking experience much more pleasant. Otherwise, it may well turn into a nightmare.
21. Do NOT Consume Alcohol or Smoke During Your Trip to Spiti
Alcohol consumption and smoking are not at all advisable at a demanding altitude like in Spiti. Alcohol tends to dehydrate your body and even more so at such altitudes.
So it is better to avoid alcohol for a few days that you are in Spiti.
22. People with Medical Conditions Check with Your Physician Before Visiting Spiti.
Individuals who have certain medical conditions like Asthma, Hypertension, Heart problems, please check once with your physician.
|Medical services are very hard to get in Spiti owing to the remoteness of the region. Therefore, people with medical conditions should NOT embark on a Spiti trip unless given a nod by the physician.
23. Do NOT Spend a Night At Chandrataal First if you are entering Spiti from Manali Side
Manali to Spiti route is a bit shorter as compared to the Kinnaur one. So there are people who directly spend a night in Chandrataal from Manali. But that is highly dangerous.
|The altitude gain between Manali and Chandrataal is almost 9000 ft. Therefore, the chances of AMS are a lot higher with such crazy elevation gain.
So make sure to head straight to Kaza if you are entering to Spiti via Manali.
24. Do NOT Forget to Carry a Sunscreen To Avoid Skin Damage in Spiti
Harsh sunlight due to extreme altitude can lead to severe sunburns in Spiti. So to avoid it please carry a sunscreen along with you.
|I did not carry one. Fortunately, I did not have severe sun burns. But my skin was tanned beyond recognition. So please do not make such a mistake.
25. Pack Light if You are Backpacking to Spiti
If you are going to backpack across Spiti, then better pack things only that you ABSOLUTELY need. Do not overpack, because you would have to carry it yourself.
|Carrying heavy backpacks at such an altitude would really tire you out quickly. I usually pack very light during my backpacking to avoid any unpleasant experiences.
26. Warms Clothes Are a Must for Your Trip to Spiti
Well, this is no brainer. The weather in Spiti remains cold even in peak summers as compared to other parts of Himachal.
|So it is absolutely necessary to pack warm clothes. During summers you might be fine with a single layering, but if you are visiting in Autumn, Winter or Spring, then you need multiple warm layerings.
Even in summers, temperature at higher villages, Kunzum La is quite low during the night. So having a good jacket is essential.
27. Please Travel Responsibly in Spiti
Spiti is one of the most ecological sensitive areas of our country. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we travel respsonsibly to Spiti.
Please do not litter around in Spiti and try to keep it clean. Avoid using plastic bottles and plastic food items. If at all you are using it please make sure to bring the TRASH back.
That was it for this blog. I am sure that each one of these 27 travel tips for Spiti will be of a great use to people who are planning to take their Epic Spiti Trip.
Feel free to reach out, in case you need more information on any of these Tips.