A serene town located amidst the ‘aanchal’ of the Himalayas, Manali is the epitome of perfection. It is one of the most exquisite places that Himachal has to offer so it is best to make the most of it. But of course, just like me – every millennial student is aware that we do not have unlimited funds to exploit. Our bank accounts are not overflowing with that family money so we have to come up with innovative ways to tackle the budget of a much-needed vacation.
But even with that, everyone deserves to have a relaxing and refreshing trip. It certainly should not turn into a liability and you should get to make the most of Manali. Well, here’s how you can do it.
Choose a HOSTEL instead of a HOTEL!
1. Easy on the pocket
Hotels tend to be heavy on the pocket. It is just as simple as that. Most hotels that I come across on booking platforms always exceed the ‘student’ budget I cut out for myself. And if I do choose to stay in some cheap hotels that fit my budget, I am often disappointed because they usually turn out to be dingy places that have terrible service. That is why backpacking in Manali is best in a hostel. Hostels have beds priced as low as INR 350 per night and allow you to extend your vacay a few days if you want.
2. Your kinda crowd
Hotels always have a melange of people residing in them. Families, honeymooning couples, college students on their annual trip etc. etc. Whenever I have stayed in a hotel, I have next to never found any friends. And my travel world completely changed when I found Manali hostels.
Hostels are always filled with people of my age who are avid backpackers and have so many stories to share about their interesting and adventure filled lives. I have met travel bloggers, graffiti artists, young poets, musicians, mountain climbers, bankers and even trapeze artists from all over the world. And thanks backpacking in Manali, I now have couches to crash on in countries I didn’t even know existed.
3. Helpful people around
Now unless you are staying in a 4-star property and shelling out loads of money, hotels are never equipped to help you plan your stay there. Most hotels are drab and grey and have a receptionist that knows next to nothing about the city.
Hostels are totally different. Most hostels have a 24×7 dedicated help desk to suggest the best things to you. They are very knowledgable and can tell you everything about the city – starting from the most populated tourist attractions to the hidden cafes and au natural waterfalls hidden around Manali. For someone like me who travels solo most of the time, such travel desks are a godsend.
4. Activities Galore
Manali hostels most definitely have a more lively atmosphere than hotels. There are tons of interesting and unique activities happening in the hostel at all times. From Hindi learning classes, chai making classes, movie nights to karaoke nights, costume parties and beer pong games – hostels have so much to do without you even having to step out.
And if you are looking for some outside action, hostels organize many tours of the city that you can go on – some of them are even for free. When I was backpacking in Manali – I stayed at The Hosteller and went on 3 tours. we went cafe hopping one day, on a day tour to Jogni falls another day and even say the famous Sajla village. One thing a hostel cannot be is boring. Take my word for it.
5. Service on par
Even though hostels are pretty cheap and low on budget – they definitely do not skimp out on providing quality services and accommodation. Rooms and washrooms are always clean, linens are always fresh, the in house cafe serves delicious food. I paid only INR 399 for my dorm room at The Hosteller Manali but the washroom was fully equipped and even came with a hairdryer. Most hotels don’t even have that!
I have always noticed that the staff in hostels are always warm, happy to help and dedicated to making your stay a wonderful one. Many hotels I have visited have grumpy and unenthusiastic staff, which puts a damper on the whole experience. But while backpacking in Manali, I found the most friendly and helful staff in the Manali hostels.
6. Something for everyone
The unique thing about hostels is that their price is low. The price is low because they have dormitory accommodations where 4 – 8 travellers can reside in a single room. While this is excellent for solo travellers and people looking to intermingle and make new friends, there are also some travellers (like my dear friend Harsh) who do not want that. This applies for couples too.
You may want your own accommodation and not have to share a room. But Manali hostels solve this problem too. Apart from dorms, they even have private rooms. These rooms can house 2 -3 people and are comparatively quite cheaper than the average double bed hotel room. Pay less, get a private room and enjoy all other activities and amenities of the hostel. What can be better?
Take it from me, once you experience the vibrancy and liveliness of a hostel – you will never want to go back. Backpacking in Manali for me was completely transformed when I came across these places where I can stay for cheap, meet fabulous people from around the globe and experience the best of local culture.
You should head to Manali and check them out yourself.