Date of stay: Aug 2013
Tour or pre planned: Pre planned
Manali reminds me a little of those tales of Shangri-La. It's a peaceful little town hidden in a river valley in the Himalayas and we'd arrived after two days of travel from Leh. After being bounced up and down by 4WD through the mountains, Manali was exactly what we needed. It's a fantastic place to chill out and get your groove back after the hectic pace of India.
It's a total hippie town, especially old Manali. Think guys and girls with dreads, Bob Marley playing everywhere and oh yea, weed. Lots and lots and lots. Wherever there's a patch of grass you can expect to see a few plants growing. As you can imagine, everyone also sells it. I don't believe that it's legal in India, but Christ, how would you stop it?
We stayed at the Drifters Inn and would recommend staying there, staff were friendly and the Inn has free wifi. See the website for more details.
A French guy we met was telling us that for three months when the plants are budding, everyone in town gathers the buds and rolls them between their hands to make hash. So for three months out of every year, every person in town is stoned. FOR THREE MONTHS! I can only imagine that the amount of food consumed during that time increases.
For a place to chill, meet people and just hang out, I would highly recommend Toasted and Roasted. It's also commonly called Dylans. It's located in Old Manali and anybody will be able to point you in the right direction. They have the best coffee and AMAZING chocolate chip cookies. You must try the cookies.
Manali has plenty of outdoor activities such as paragliding, bush walking, white water rafting, etc. So if the weathers good, there is a lot you can entertain yourself with. My friends and I didn’t do anything too strenuous but we were pretty buggered after the jeep ride and the weather wasn’t great.
If you're looking to escape for a little while, or even a long while, a place to get a little bit lost, Manali should definitely be considered :)
Would you recommend this destination: Yes
Would you recommend your hotel/hostel: Yes – Drifters Inn
Overall rating destination: 5 out of 5