Plan your trip

One day in Dharamsala/McLeodGanj

Trip details:

I'm a solo female traveling to Dharamshala on April 30. From May 1, I start a meditation course in Dharamkot (about 1.5km from McLeodGanj town centre). So I will have about 24 hours to spend in McLeodGanj. I'd like help with planning what to do in this time and choosing a place to stay that is safe and comfortable (expensive is ok). I like shopping for local handicrafts, eating at interesting places (I'm vegetarian), and would like to do anything else that is interesting here.

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Getting Started By Deepti Gadekar
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Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Hi Ashwini,


Thank you for your trip request. Happy to help you plan your trip to McLeodganj.

Firstly, great decision to spend time at Mcleod while visiting Dharamkot.

Have 2 questiona before getting started:

- for hotels, what's your budget range,

- for places to eat, noted you re a vegetarian.. Are u open to all cusines (tibetan/ continental/ indian)? 

Will draw up notes on your trip by Monday evening. is that ok?

Happy Travels

Ashwini Gupta wrote:  

Hi Deepti,

I'm not particular about budget for hotels - someplace nice, maybe with a great view and in a safe location would be great. I guess anything up to Rs 7-8k should be fine.

Places to eat - I haven't tried tibetan, so not sure, but am generally open to all cuisines.

Monday evening sounds fine. Would like to finalize and book the hotel first, the rest can wait until later as well.


Deepti Gadekar wrote:  



Budget Range per night (INR)


Surya McLeod

The plushest hotels in Mcleod (that I have seen).


Has good views of the valley and of the Namgyal Monastery. From some part so the hotel you can also see snow capped peaks.


I havent stayed here - but have seen this hotel a coupla of times


Hotel Him Queen

I have stayed here on 2 ocassions. This is a mid range hotel…not budget but not plush - (the hotel has seen better days, Richard Gere was staying here once when we stayed here :-)). Not fancy anymore - but  clean, safe and great service.


Has valley views from most rooms. Great balconies to sip on your morning tea. Doesn’t really have snow capped peak views


Annex Hotel

This is a boutique hotel. It has great views. 

Clean, safe, good service, great views.


I know of someone (a fellow travel blogger) who had stayed here and had a good review of it.


Hotels By Deepti Gadekar
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Deepti Gadekar wrote:  


Hi Ashwini,

I have listed hotels below that you can possibly stay at. Listing is basis:

Hotels in Mcleod based on your price range

Safety for a solo female traveller

Proximity to the market/ restaurants/ etc. I would recommend you book a hotel around the Mcleod centre - you can walk down to the market/ restaurants/ monastery - thus even at 10 pm you re safe walking back to your hotel after dinner

But a note that overall McLeodganj is a backpacker kinda place. Therefore even the plushest of hotels/ or even the better of the hotels are not as good as the 4-5 star hotels that one would find in Tier 1 & 2 cities. 

Side note - these are just hotels I have mentioned based on where I have stayed/ seen/ heard. I of course have no affiliation to any of the hotels and gain no remuneration from the recco :-).

Ashwini Gupta wrote:  

Thanks. I will check these out and book one of them in a day or so.

Ashwini Gupta wrote:  

Ok, I've gone ahead and booked at Annex.

Now, I land at Dharamsala airport on Apr 30th at 12:55pm and I need to report to the meditation centre at Dharamkot between 2pm to 4pm on the next day. Can you help me with a plan for spending this time? Nothing too hectic but just want to check out whatever is interesting, plus eat good food. :)

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Hi Ashwini,

Okay cool ... so you have (a little less than) 24 hours in Mcleod.

I will send you a plan to look around/ things to do (that you can choose form really) and places to eat. Will send by Wednesday? Is that ok?


Happy Travels!

Ashwini Gupta wrote:  

Yes, anytime before the 30th is fine actually.

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Okay cool ... will send it across this week.


Places to Eat By Deepti Gadekar
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Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Hi Ashwini,

Below are my top choices of places to eat in McLeodganj (have listed places around main McLeodganj market area since you are only there for a day):

All these serve up great vegetarian fare:

Restaurant / Cafe

Tibetan Available (good vegetarian),



Norling Cafe


Good vegetarian. Good for dinner particularly. Is a proper restaurant with seating.

Jogiwara Road (the main market road)

Namgyal Cafe

Cafe style, Tibetan & Continental

This is a must visit cafe! It started as a cafe inside the Namgyal (Dalai Lama’s) Monastery with the chefs being Tibetan refugees who were given vocational training. Serves up some of the best thukpas, Pizzas (yes!) and carrot cakes. Food is best enjoyed with a book in hand (from their bookshelf). This place has now shifted OUT of the monastery campus (and unfortunately I like this place a lot less now that it is out of the monastery - as the whole ambience and bit of the food has changed too), but still worth a visit. 

In one of the back alleys (safe though)- inside a Hotel called Om Hotel

Tibet Kitchen

Tibetan and Bhutanese (bit of Thai as well)

Bit of a sit down kinda place. Great Tibetan and Bhutanese Food! Not one of the most authentic in terms of food (more the fine dine food kind), but good food nevetheless.

Jogiwara Road (the main market road)

Jimmy’s Kitchen

Continental/ Italian

The food is great, but the view even better - rooftop dining with a view of snow peaks.

Jogiwara Road (the main market road)

Momos on the street


You should catch Momos sold off carts on the main market road. (Steam / Fried). You get great vegetarian moms - sold by middle aged Tibetan Ladies off a cart… authentic, cheap and fairly hygienic for street food.

Everywhere in Mcleod but mainly on Jogiwara Road and also outside the Namgyal Monastery



There are several cafes in Mcleodganj - most of them serving up amazing coffee with tea cakes/ crepes/ panckaes/ sandwiches. Great for coffee and even better for meeting other travellers. My favourites - Moonpeak Cafe (on the road going towards the Namgyal Monastery) and the Namgyal Cafe



Things to Do/ See in Mcleod By Deepti Gadekar
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Deepti Gadekar wrote:  


I will send in the things to see/ do list as well by Saturday latest (sorry for the delay in sending this in).

Happy Travels!

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Hi Ashwini,


Below is a list of things that you can do in 24 hrs at McLeod. Have tried to enlist things that are interesting, varied and doable in 24 hrs (except have added a Triund trek - just for your assessment, you may not be able to club that in 24 hrs though):


Namgyal Monastery

This is the Dalai Lama Temple. A must visit while you are at McLeod (irrespective of whether you are/ are not religious). (The temple complex is known as the Tsuglagkhang Temple complex and the Monastery inside is called the Namgyal Monastery. Colloquially known as the Dalai Lama Temple).


This is about a 10 minute walk from the main market (and from where you are staying).


The walk is on an incline when you return, so please do wear comfortable walking shoes.


You can spend many hours at this place - but needs at least about 30 to 45 minutes to visit this place. On one of our visits, we were fortunate to see the Dalai Lama in person.

Tibet Museum 

This is very close to the Dalai Lama / Namgyal Monastery. If you like history - you will like this. Showcases the history of Tibet

St John’s Church

This is a beautiful church build in the 1800s with beautiful Belgian stained glass windows and is set in the backdrop of beautiful deodar trees.


It is about 2 kms from the McLeod main markt (in the direction of Forsyth Ganj). You can take a taxi from the main market - should take you about 20 mins.

Shiva Cafe

Have listed this in things to do - simply coz it’s a cool cafe (almost another must visit while in McLeod). It is on the trail to the Bhagsu Waterfall - which is of hardly any interest when it’s not monsoon - but Shiva Cafe is a great place to hang out and is en route to the Bhagsu Waterfall. This is about 1-2 kms from the Dalai Lama Monastery.

The Triund Trek

This is actually a must do thing when you visit McLeod. But since you only have 24 hrs - I am not sure you have the time to do this. I am listing this anyway - in case you think you want to do this (you may not have the time and perhaps not the energy to do anything else after this on the same day). Although it’s still worth it. Having said that, this trek is the most fun when done in a group - so you may want to tag along with other travelers that you may easily find when you hang out at a cafe in McLeod.


Triund is ridge in the Dhauladhar mountains which you trek to (about a 8-9 kilometer trek). The trek has great pitstops - (tea stalls, maggi, etc). 

Ashwini Gupta wrote:  

Thanks so much. This is wonderful.

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Great Ashwini... Hope u have a fab trip to McLeod.

Thanks for your review... Very kind of you!

Happy travels!


Great detail and very attentive

Deepti has been very helpful. She paid close attention to everything I mentioned and gave very detailed and well organized advice. Highly recommended!