(Last Updated On: July 6, 2017)

Hitchhiking in India can be an incredible experience! Though traveling is pretty much cheap across the length and breadth of the country, hitchhiking is perhaps the best way to get across this diverse, enormous and beautiful country. There are a number of Destinations for Hitchhiking in India. However, hitchhiking in India also comes with its own set of limitations and advantages. While it is highly unlikely that you would get a lift from a private vehicle, it is the truck drivers who would always welcome you aboard! What’s more, they will even inarguably make you have a meal with them! Even the villages are pretty welcoming all across.

If you are hitchhiking on mountainous terrains, the army posts will always be a great relief, be it some rest or getting some supplies. Sleeping outside can be a problem and won’t be recommended too, but then again, you can always get friends with dhabawalas and villages! Never abuse the hospitality! Well, here are some hitchhiking road trips you can plan to make across India.

Destinations for Hitchhiking in India

1. Manali to Leh

Now, this will be an epic journey and perhaps the best start to your trip to Ladakh! There have been many who have hitched a ride from Manali to Leh and as usual, the common contenders are the trucks that regularly go across this road. Also, the availability of public transportation along this road is minimal and unless you have your own vehicle, hitching a ride is the only way forward. The good thing is that drivers are always up to picking up any traveler along their direction. Sometimes, it’s for a little fee but most times, it’s free!

Destinations for Hitchhiking in India

Credits: Vicinito

That said, it’s 473 kilometers of a journey and will take about 14 hours to complete if one is constantly driving. For hitchhikers, it becomes essential to make a few stops.

All across the road, there would be several monasteries and Gompas that you can hope to spend the night at. Keylong is one of the most prominent stopovers in the route for hitchhikers.  Till Sarchu, you are in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh and after that, it’s Jammu and Kashmir. The landscapes along the route are pretty amazing and you can also try to visit some important passes including Rohtang Pass (just 51 kilometers from Manali), Baralacha La (the second high altitude pass and the last to be opened after winters), Nakeela, Lachulung La and Tanglang La (highest point in your journey along the Manali-Leh highway).

Best time of the year to hitchhike: After mid-May and before November.

Route: The important points you will have to cross to get to Leh include Palchan, Rohtang La, Gramphu (this would also be the turn towards Spiti Valley), Tandi, Keylong, Jispa, Darcha, Patseo, Zingzing Bar, Baralacha La, Sarchu, Nakee La, Lachulung La, Pang (to go towards Pangong Tso), Tanglang La, Upshi and Karu.

2. Srinagar to Leh

Another incredible way to reach Leh is the Srinagar-Leh highway. It too is 421 kilometres of a journey but across the same enchanting Himalayan landscape! Also called the NH1D it’s a part of the Kashmir Valley. With several towns in between, you will have an epic journey. Similar to the Manali-Leh Highway, this route too doesn’t offer regular public transport and hitchhiking is perhaps the best way to get to Leh.

Credits: Kashmir Mojo

Credits: Kashmir Mojo

Accommodations in the NH1D are pretty well established and you can find a lot of budget hotels. It will take a minimum of two days to cover but it is advisable not to pace. As you enter the Kashmir Valley, the energy will automatically set in and you will not be able to help make several stops. If you are a non-vegetarian, the dhabas along Srinagar serve the most awesome meals and at pretty cheap rates too.

Army camps are pretty spread out throughout and you will never be too far away from help.

Best time of the year to hitchhike: After mid-May and before November.

Route: Srinagar – Kangan – Sonmarg – Zozi La (second highest pass on the route) – Drass – Kargil (diversion towards Zanskar Valley) – Batalik / Mulbek – Namka La / Dha – Fotu La (highest point on the road) / Skurbachan – Khaltse – Bangso Plains – Nimmu – Leh

3. Manali to Spiti Valley

It’s again the same road heading towards Leh but you will have to take a diversion at Gramphu along the Manali – Leh Highway. It’s a journey of about 200 kilometres and can be pretty easy if you are open to the challenges of hitchhiking. There are several reasons why this is one of the most popular hitchhiking routes among travelers. Firstly, it’s the shortest way you can reach Spiti Valley. It is also apparently below the altitude/distance graph. Consequently, the trip can be made within a day if you start very early. Even so, you will have to prepare yourself for AMS (Acute Mountain Syndrome) and the ride can be pretty dizzy if pushed.

Credits: Pikabu

Credits: Pikabu

Secondly, this road is less susceptible to landslides as compared to other routes taking you to Spiti, especially compared to Kinnaur Valley. Thirdly, this is a well-taken road by both public and private vehicle and it will be easier to hitch. Lastly, even if you don’t get a ride for some distance, you can always use a public transport. There are few chances of getting stranded for the night.

Don’t miss out on the Kunzum Pass and Rothang Pass when you are covering this distance!

Best time of the year to hitchhike: After mid-May and before November.

Route: Manali–Rohtang Pass – Kunzum Pass – Losar – Kaza. It’s not a long trip but make sure you take the necessary break. Don’t miss out on the dhaba food. You can always get accommodation for the night in villages and budget hotels.

4. Ahmedabad to Rann of Kutch

Completely contrasting to the above itineraries, this is a road trip that will take a challenge in a whole new different plane. As opposed to the majestic mountains and green valleys of Leh, you will be passing through one of the most deserted and challenging terrains here. It’s a desert landscape all around and small rural patches will be all you see after having covered some distance.

Getting a ride from Ahmedabad would be pretty easy but after you have neared Bhuj, it can get a bit of a sweaty affair. Well, we are hitchhikers and are always ready for what comes to us! You need to be a bit patient making it across. The total distance you will have to cover is nearly 340 kilometres and you will be able to do it within 2 days, given that you manage to get a ride.

Credits: Game of Dumbs

Credits: Game of Dumbs

There are several stops along the way and, especially the Gujarati dhabas that serve the most nutritious meals in the bare minimum price. You might have to change several rides before you reach the place.

Best time of the year to hitchhike: Between November and February, when the temperature is the coolest. Even so, the trip will be draining. However, spending a night under the full moon in the white desert of Rann is one of a kind of experience that will stick with you for a whole lifetime.

Route map: Ahmedabad – Naranpura – Sarkhej – Patiya – Partail – Bhuj – Shekhpur – Mirzapur – Ratatalav – Jakau – Rann of Kutch.

5. Guwahati to Tawang

Back to the mountains, this is one of the lesser known but a pretty amazing hitchhiking trip to make. You are in the north eastern part of India – virgin and vibrant – where the land meets the sky. This will be a route that will not offer you any direct transportation and breaking your journey is the only way to make it across. The good news is that a lot of trucks follow this route and the people from this part of the country and humble enough to help!

However, before you have embarked on a hitchhiking trip, ensure that you have acquired all the necessary permits to cross the state of Arunachal. It will be highly necessary that you have your ID cards ready as you may be stopped anywhere. Worry not, it’s just the protocol in this part of the country and will be a breeze if you are well prepared.

tawang

The total distance you are going to cover in this trip will be about 50 kilometres. This all will be through the hilliest terrains. A one-way trip will take you a fair couple of days if not more. All along the roads, there will be small shacks serving local meals that are always high in energy and protein. Don’t miss a treat. Also, finding an accommodation is easy if you are looking for something within the budget range.

Best time of the year to hitchhike: Between February and May.

Route map: Guwahati – Nellie (pretty straight along the NH 27) – Chaparmukh – Nagaon – Kaliabor (close to Kajiranga National Park) – Jorgarh – Tezpur – Balipara – Potasali – Bhalukpong (along Pakke Tiger Reserve) – Dahung (SH 13) – Rupa – Namshu – Dirme – Jangda – Tawang.

A new road directly from Guwahati to Tawang is being planned and it would take you through Bhutan. But that’s some time now.

6. Itanagar to Ziro

A distance of just about 110 kilometres, this will be the easier hitchhiking trips of the lot. However, to be able to secure a ride, you need to start real early when all the trucks from Itanagar leave towards Ziro. Make sure you have the ILP (Inner Line Permit) ready as you would be nearing state borders and checking is quite frequent along the way. This road trip can be made under a day. You will be reaching the Ziro Valley by noon if you have started real early.

Credits: Topsy

Credits: Topsy

The best thing about this trip is the road and the high mountain curves. Sit tight as your truck driver would be racing through 90-degree turns!

Best time of the year to hitchhike: Between February and May. This is the time when you get the maximum sun.

Route Map: Itanagar – Yupia – Pith – Chod – Jath – Ziro

7. Leh to Nubra

The Leh to Nubra Valley road is best enjoyed if you are riding your own vehicle. However, if you choose to hitchhike, the options can also get pretty limiting. The best thing, however, is that you will have to make several stops and breaks and each one of them would be worth it! The total distance would be about 150 kilometres and you would be passing some of the most awed landscapes on planet earth! This journey will take you through the Khardung La Pass, arguably the highest motorable road in the world.

Credits: Travel Planet

Credits: Travel Planet

You will be able to see the Shyok River meeting the Nubra River and creating magic. Every scene from this trip would be a postcard-perfect moment that will be remembered for a lifetime. What makes this trip the most special one is watching the arid landscape of Leh gradually change into a valley of greenery and flowers. It’s no less than a blessing!

Best time of the year to hitchhike: After mid-May and before October. This is also when this road will be open for vehicles.

Route Map: The most preferred route will be Leh – Phyang – Khardung La – Khardung – Khalsar – Diskit – Hunder – Sumur – Panamik – Nubra

8. Mumbai to Goa

Back to the plains, this is one of the most decorated and talked about road trip you should be making with your friends. Popularized by the movie Dil Chahta Hai, the Mumbai to Goa highway is fun, giving and a lot of memories. Getting a lift is easy. However, you might have to change hosts a couple of time. Most vehicles starting on this highway will directly go to Goa. You would, however, want to make the necessary stops. After all, how can you miss the roadside dhabas and the several cafes that make this trip exciting!

Credits: Phenocs

Credits: Phenocs

Start early and you should be able to cover the 609 kilometres route in a couple of days. Even if it takes more, it’s okay. There are several budget hotels and dhabas you can spend the night in. Once you have reached Goa, awash off all the tiredness!

Best time of the year to hitchhike: Winter months, between November and February

Route Map: Mumbai – Pimpri – Pune – Satara – Karad – Chikodi – Belagavi – Goa

9. Jodhpur to Jaisalmer

The land of the Rajputs, this would be a trip that you will have a lot of fun and make a lot of good friends in. The food around here is awesome and something that every traveler should experience. It’s a distance of about 290 kilometres that can be easily covered within a span of two days. Make sure you halt somewhere cheap and delicious at night – the dhabas of course. Just put your bed outside and go to sleep by staring at the stars. A couple of beers will go perfectly with the royal but the cheap food served!

jaisalmer

When on the road, there would be several interesting places that you simply cannot miss out on. These include Mandore, Osiyan, Khichan Village and the Ramdevra Temple. The golden fields and the unique countryside scenes will keep your enchanted.

Best time of the year to hitchhike: Winter months, between November and February.

Route Map: Jodhpur – Agolai – Shaitrawa – Deschu – Pokhran – Lathi – Jaisalmer

10. Chandigarh to Manali

Himachal Pradesh has been voted as the safest state for solo travelers, be it hitchhiking or riding your own vehicle. To add to the glory is a landscape that anyone would fall in love with beautiful people, beautiful valleys, the Himalayas looming over and a fine essence in the breeze. For a traveler, there couldn’t be a better sight before the eyes. You will be making several friends on the way and even though the breeze has a chill, it would be the warmest welcome ever!

Credits: Emaze

Credits: Emaze

This is a popularly taken route to reach Manali and getting a ride won’t be too much of a problem. Apart from the lines of trucks, you would be able to try your luck with the several private cars that take the road.

Best time of the year to hitchhike: Apart from the monsoon months, any time of the year would be great to take this road.

Route Map: Chandigarh – Hoshiyarpur – Kurali – Rupnagar – Kiratpur Sahib – Kaula – Mandi – Kau – Kullu – Manali

We hope this road trip will keep you busy for your journeys for a couple of years now! Exploring India through hitchhiking is one of the best ways to understand its culture, soak in its landscape and be one with the land. Go and get there. It there is a will, there will always be a way!