A visit to Manali never gets old or clichéd. Be it summers or snowy winters, Manali is a perfect place to beat the city blues. So, you’re planning to visit Manali this summer to beat the heat or to simply enjoy the snow? Read my 5 blissful things to do in Manali along with along with amazing places to visit in & around the town before you plan your trip.
Manali, India is a land of lush green dense forests, with thrilling views of Beas River, spirituality with temples like Hadimba temple, Manikaran Gurudwara, and even hiking in the Rohtang Pass.
So, I’m going to present my detailed Manali travel guide with the best places to visit in Manali which you can enjoy with your family.
Things to do in Manali with Family | Manali travel guide
Places to visit in Manali
Soak your feet in the Beas River
The day we reached Manali and checked into the Hotel, it was almost mid-afternoon. We had our lunch at a restaurant on the Mall road and went to visit the Beas River. The Beas river is the main landmark of this town with beautiful landscapes for the photographers to capture in their frame.
We had to cross a Park to reach the river bank which was already loaded with tourists. It was very peaceful to sit on huge rocks and soak our feet in the chilled flowing water of the river. After sitting there for some time while enjoying Maggi with tea, we headed back to the hotel as it started to get cold around late evening.
Sitting on the river bed enjoying the strong waves and chilled weather with a cuppa in hand is surely one of the best things to do in Manali, India.
Places to visit in Manali
Know History of the Hadimba Temple & explore spirituality
We started the first day of our trip by exploring the spiritual side of Manali by visiting the famous Hadimba temple. It is an ancient cave temple dedicated to an Indian Goddess, Hidimi Devi (a figure in the Indian epic, Mahabharata) and is surrounded by dense cedar forest in the Himalayan range. A famous temple from Manali surely tops in the list of pilgrimage things to do in Manali.
Places to visit in Manali
Walk in the snow & make a snowman at the Rohtang Pass
The second half of our trip was dedicated entirely to The Rohtang pass, which is a natural divide between Manali and the Spiti Valley and also the entry point towards Leh. The distance between Manali to Rohtang Pass is almost 51km and from the old town square of Manali, it takes two hours long and bumpy ride to Rohtang Pass, and so is adventurous. As it is a relatively cold place than Manali (during summers as well), we rented warm clothes from a local shop before starting our drive.
On reaching the Rohtang Pass, we were mesmerized to be in a valley surrounded by snow-covered mountains. We proceeded to trek into the snow-laden hills and felt the powdery snow everywhere with clouds running through us. Within minutes, the weather started to change drastically, and it suddenly became very cloudy, and so we decided to depart from there to avoid being stuck. It is recommended to take precautions as Manali weather can change in minutes and a traffic jam can also cause a huge mess. A must-do and a not to be missed place from the hill station is truly one of the best things to do in Manali.
Places to visit in Manali
See Natural Hot springs & experience the holiness of Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara, Kullu
The Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara is one of the most sacred gurudwaras relevant to both Hindus and Sikhs equally. It is widely recognized for its natural hot springs, and these are used by the gurudwara staff to prepare the Langar food (mostly rice) for the devotees. The Gurudwara is not exactly located in Manali while in Kullu – another village on the way back to Delhi, so we kept this one was for the last day of our trip. Situated in Parvati Valley on the river banks of the Parvati River known for its heavy flow around the gurudwara as it has caused various accidents in the past.
As it is a sacred place for both Hindus and Sikhs, it is a must visit the gurudwara for the divine connect with a distinguished history. In Hinduism, it is known to be relevant as Manu – known to be the first Hindu Man – post a massive flood recreated human life here. While Sikhs believe that the founder of Sikhism – Guru Nanak Dev – lifted a stone to create the famous hot springs to prepare food for the community not able to fetch food back in those days.
Places to visit in Manali
Walk on a jittery bridge in the Kasol Valley
Just a few miles behind the Manikaran Gurudwara in Kullu, a bridge is built over the Parvati river in the Kasol Valley – caught our attention. In an attempt to appease our adventurous urge we headed on to quickly explore the other side of the bridge. There’s something really exciting about this bridge.
Upon reaching the centre of the bridge, it tends to move at a fast pace, or at least it appears so 😉 making it very difficult to even keep a step forward. But, going on with our hysteria we continue to cross it. At the end of the bridge, we were welcomed by another spectacular view of the steep mountains of the Kasol Valley. We even encountered some locals who use this reckless bridge for their daily chores by taking all their stuff tied to their heads…Not Kidding! See the picture below, the locale here is carrying huge baggage at his head while trying to cross the bridge safely. How audacious.
So, whenever you’re in Manali or around Kullu, don’t forget to look out for this bridge. It’s going to be your most vivid memory and surely become one of your favourite things to do in Manali like it’s for me.
The footfall in Manali increases during spring & summer, but visiting the places in winters with snow all around is altogether another experience, and I’m yet to experience that, waiting for that another trip 😀
Did you know Manali is also an amazing place for camping? Camping in Manali is a unique experience in itself which not many get to undergo. The lush forest of Manali makes for an amazing campsite, so try out this adventure on your next trip to Manali.
Where to Stay in Manali
If you’re headed on a Manali trip, I would highly recommend staying near the Mall road. Staying at the centre of Manali city will have its advantages of best connectivity to the highway, restaurants just a few blocks away and all the Manali tourists within easy reach.
Being one of the renowned tourists’ places in India, Manali has a relatively high number of hotels available. Manali gets huge amount during spring and thus it would be best to book the hotels in advance.
Although there is not one best time to visit Manali, a visit to Manali in winters will land you to a fairyland. Although, the hotels in Manali near the Mall road charge moderately high than the ones in old Manali – so choose wisely. I recommend picking from these – House of Amigos, Johnson’s Hotel, Victory Resorts, The Crazy Indian Pad which have both dorms & separate rooms and lastly The Madpackers Hostel if you like to cut on the budget.
Where to Eat in Manali
Being one of the famous tourists’ spots in India, Manali has a variety of restaurants serving Indian, Italian, Japanese, Tibetian and many more cuisines. There are some of the best restaurants in Manali’s old town. To name a few – Mount View Restaurant – the oldest fine dining restaurant in Manali serving some exquisite delicacies. Adarsh restaurant is known for its’ delicious Indian food items. “Dylans Toasted and Roasted coffee house” is one of the most popular coffee houses in Manali. Fancy exotic Asian food, head to *Chopsticks Restaurant* for its famous Chinese, Japanese, & Tibetian food. Not all the restaurants still accept credit cards, it’s best to have some cash handy.
How to reach Manali
Manali tourism gets a boost through significant connectivity through amazing highways with private cars/taxis & buses and even well connected through airlines. The nearest airport to Manali is Kullu which is no more than 1-hour journey from Manali. If going via road, then you can have the pick of your own car or a taxi. If driving on your own, make sure there are 2 drivers who can change in between as a 12-hour drive can be hectic. If you would like buses, then I would suggest an (overnight) Volvo – windows won’t open – or a semi-Deluxe – AC/Non AC but the flexibility of opening windows.
The Journey from Delhi to Manali
As much as I am excited about the destination I am heading to, the journey is no less exciting for me. When we decided to visit Manali, it was like a dream come true. I was young and heard lovely stories about the place. It was a family trip with uncles, aunties and a bunch of cousins.
The distance between Delhi to Manali is 550 km and hence an approximately twelve-hour drive from Delhi, although not a hectic one. The highway from Delhi to Manali was an entertaining experience and this road trip also qualifies as one of the top things to do in Manali.
We enjoyed the road trip to the fullest with the roadside dhabhas (restaurants), beautiful green farms, and wonderful landscape of Himachal Pradesh. We entered the Himalayan state early morning and were welcomed by the lush green mountains, where we enjoyed our morning tea of the valley. The entire upper Himachal is breathtaking & there are numerous things to do in Manali.
How to travel in Manali town
Although it is best to explore the old-town vibe of Manali by foot, sometimes while going a little far, autorickshaws are available for hire. While Rohtang pass is almost 2-hour journey from old Manali, and only 4X4 cabs go there, it’s best to hire a local cab from the taxi stand. Even if you’ve hired your own cab to see Manali, it’s recommended to hire a private vehicle from Manali to see Rohtang Pass.
The visit to Manali can be relaxing, spiritual and memorable all at the same time.
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– The Wanderer