Planning for Camping in Manali? Here are 4 offbeat places in under 25km that are ideal for the experience. All these locations promise a more raw, real and memorable experience. Rather than booking a group tour or someplace online, head to one of these suggested places and try camping on your own.
Note: At all these places you don’t essentially need to book a place. Just carry a tent, find a good spot, and camp on your own. Though you can find some commercial campsites too for a more holiday-life experience, if you want to make it more adventurous, just carry a tent, find a flat spot and do camping in Manali on your own.
Now, let’s get started with how I ended up at each place and why I recommend them…
Camping in Manali
I remember I first visited Manali some 5 years ago. Dreading the summer heat in Delhi and wanting a quick escape. At 2000m above sea level, life indeed feels a lot more pleasant.
But in Manali, it’s not just the weather that stays pleasant throughout the year (below 30 degrees even during the warmest summer days) but the experiences are always great too. Other than camping, there are enough things to do in Manali.
In about 30 km radius, you have Buddhist monasteries to visit, adventure activities like paragliding and river-rafting to try. It also has some of the highest motorable passes to conquer, and nature parks to explore. And if you’re still not sure, you always have warm Himachali hospitality to make it up to you. But among all, I can’t suggest you more for any experience than trying camping in Manali.
As I said above, there are various travel companies offering Manali Camping tour packages, but I don’t recommend them as they offer a very unreal and staged experience. Rather, try something on your own.
And speaking of some ideal places for group and solo camping, here is a list of my top 4 handpicked places…
Located 15 km from Manali, Sethan offers a quick escape from big crowds. It and promises a relaxing time under the company of a bunch of friendly Buddhists.
The natural vistas in Sethan are moreover unworldly, especially after sunset, as the Kullu Valley, a few hundred feet below, starts shimmering. Sethan is moreover an ideal place for learning snowboarding and skiing in the Himalayas. And when it comes to camping in Manali, Sethan, of course, remains my top favorite.
Note: Below, you will find me promoting my own campsite. But I want to assure that in Sethan too you can carry your own tent and camp on your own, without a compulsion to book a place. Of course, a self-planned experience feels a little hassling, but it’s more adventurous. Now, let’s read ahead…
In Sethan, I can suggest my own campsite FootlooseCamps. I started FootlooseCamps after travelling across the Himalayas and shortlisting this place to open my first hospitality venture. If you do not know, I am a full-time travel blogger who quit his corporate career in England, moved to India in 2016 and started this blog. Since then, I’ve only been travelling and writing about my journeys. You can read more about it here: my Travel Blogging Journey
So yea, after exploring pretty much every corner in Himachal Pradesh, I chose Sethan to make my first permanent base and start camping in Manali. Needless to say, there must be something special about the place.
You can find more about Footloosecamps on our website as well as see some photos and reviews on FootlooseCamp’s Instagram page.
Here’s another article I’ve written for more details: Camping in Sethan.
How does spending a night surrounded by lush green meadows and beautiful mountains sound? Lovely, isn’t it? Located at approximately 12 km away, Solang Valley offers one of the best places for camping in Manali.
And if you’re into adventure activities, Solang Valley has a lot of thrill and adrenaline rush to offer, with activities like zorbing, paragliding, trekking, and ATV rides.
There are many flat surfaces around in Solang Valley where you can pitch your tent and enjoy a camping experience. Though Solang Valley, just like other places in Manali has got a little crowded in recent years, it is not hard to find a piece of land for yourself.
So yea, stop thinking and go for it. Because at 2400 meters above sea level, a camping experience feels exhilarating to another level.
If you love the sound of the gushing river, then camping near the Beas River would be an amazing experience.
You can find Beas flowing from all the way from Rohtang Pass to Kullu, but the best patch for some camping experience is near Manali. Just keep driving next to river Bear for about 20km distance from the main town of Manali and find a flat surface that looks good to you.
To give you a suggestion, however, ask anyone for Indian Oil petrol station between Manali Bridge and Vashishth. Right opposite the petrol station, across the street, you can find a big flat river bed to camp.
Stretching for about 470 kilometres, Beas River is one of the best places for some riverside camping in Manali.
Anyone who loves nature and peaceful serene places must visit this beautiful Hallan Valley. It is located about 25 km from the bus station in Manali.
This picturesque valley, which also happens to be one of the tiniest valleys in Himachal Pradesh offers spectacular views of the Kullu Valley, and thus making it to the list of camping in Manali experience.
You can also hire a bike and do a day trip to Hallan Valley. Riding all the way to the end of Hallan Valley and back, while catching glimpses of some beautiful apple orchards, makes for a lovely experience.
Hallan Valley is also soon to get Asia’s largest zip line. So whatever your style of travelling is just chill by soaking in the natural beauty or indulging in some adventure-action Hallan Valley is a perfect getaway.
Just carry your tent to Hallan Valley (if you’ve your own vehicle it’s even better) and you should have no problem in finding some good camping spot.
Tips For Camping In Manali
- The best time for camping is between April and July and between September and October.
- In general, you don’t need any prior permission to do camping, but it’s always a good idea to ask local people as the land you’re pitching your tent may belong to them.
- Always carry insect repellants and other necessary gear.
- It’s possible to do solo camping too. I’ve explored all the locations mentioned above while travelling solo.
If, however, you are still thinking whether to do camping or stay in a hotel or a hostel, check this ‘best hostels in Manali blog‘ and make your mind.
How To Travel Manali
The best way to travel to Manali is by bus. There are regular buses from Delhi and Chandigarh that take around 14 hours (from Delhi) and run overnight.
For Delhi to Manali, I suggest you use the HRTC website and book a Himachal Roadways bus. They run right on time. Most HRTC buses from Delhi to Manali run overnight and start from Delhi after 4 pm. These HRTC buses moreover drop you right inside Manali main town. They cost around 700-1500 Rupees the basis on which bus type you’re travelling with: luxury or ordinary.
There are many private buses to Manali too but they have no time schedule. Most private buses also don’t drop you inside Manali but 2 km outside of it at private Manali bus station.
The nearest airport to Manali is in Bhuntar. But flights to Bhuntar are often very expensive and run only from Delhi. So the best way is to book a flight to Chandigarh and travel from Chandigarh to Manali on an overnight bus.
If, however, you are flying all the way to Bhuntar, then be known that Bhuntar is 4 hours drive away from Manali. You can take a taxi from Bhuntar to Manali or catch a local bus.
It is also possible to do a road trip from Delhi/Chandigarh to Manali. If you’re travelling from Delhi, take NH44 to Chandigarh. It takes about 4 hours and some 300 Rupees of toll taxes.
After Chandigarh, there are no toll taxes but just a green tax booth where you need to pay duty for bringing your car into Himachal. There is no green tax or toll tax for motorcycles. Now, from Chandigarh, Manali is about 9 hours away. Currently, the highway work is going on so you may find rough patches at many places.
Though I have written this detailed blog, I actually do not recommend Manali. And this is for many reasons: it is crowded, mainstream and there are better places around like Bir, Palampur and more. I have written this blog on why I hate Delhi to Manali trip stating more reasons. You can also read this offbeat places in Manali blog for more suggestions nearby.
If you found this post on best places for camping in Manali useful or if you have a better recommendation than all the places mentioned above, please share in the comments below.