• mcleod ganj travel tips

What to do in McLeodGanj- New Home of the Dalai Lama

Once arriving in Dharamsala after the bus from hell, we had to take a short taxi ride into McLeod Ganj (McLeodGanj).

So now that I’ve told you about that time an Indian dude sat on my lap, I can tell you a few little tips about the area.

Most people show up in Dharamsala but head out right away to McLeod Ganj, the home of the Dalai Lama. This is where many Tibetan refugees have been given a safe place to live.

mcleod ganj travel tips

This is where I got my massage certification, but also where I was diagnosed with Dengue fever, which I had struggled with unknowingly for a week and a half. It was a rough time but luckily I was in a gorgeous place.

mcleod ganj travel tips

mcleod ganj travel tips

mcleod ganj travel tips

mcleod ganj travel tips WHERE I STAYED:

We stayed at Kashmiri owned Hotel Mount View,  Jogiwara Road, near post office, [email protected] , +91 981 62 61717. Everyone was so friendly and really interesting to learn about the US. We watched the results of the presidential election together and they celebrated Obama’s re-election, telling me how lucky I am to be American. Click here for rates and availability.

The double room was simple with no heat, a bucket shower, and Indian toilet for 300 Rs. We split the cost making it only 3 USD per night. Because I was so sick, it was the least I’ve slept in my life. I woke up around 4 every morning and couldn’t go back to sleep because my stomach cramps were so unbearable. You’d think I’d just stop eating, but literally, nothing on earth could make me stop eating (ha ha).

mcleod ganj travel tips WHERE TO EAT:

Hotel Green has the yummiest thupka and momo’s. Jimmy’s Italian had pretty good food (vodka penne and pizza) as well as decent Wi-Fi. The momo’s from the women on the street are to die for. Gakyi restaurants served up delicious Tibetan food. Carpe Diem also wasn’t bad! Chicken and pasta at 4 Seasons wasn’t bad either. There is a French dessert place people recommended on the corner in the main square of town, but I thought the ice cream was terrible!

mcleod ganj travel tips


Tsunglagkhang complex to see some monks in action! Also check out the Kalachakra temple where the Dalai Lama teaches.

mcleod ganj travel tips

mcleod ganj travel tips

Head up to the Tibetan Children’s Village for a touching experience. You can walk there, but wear layers as you’ll get toasty during the hike.

Take a walk to Dharmkot and the waterfalls. You can ask your hotel to make a little map for you.

mcleod ganj travel tips

mcleod ganj travel tips

Take a class like the Thai Yoga Massage class I took for 5,000 Rs.

This is a great place to take treks as well and a little cheaper priced than Manali. Check out Kangra Valley!

Do a yoga retreat. The best way to look for retreats in India is on bookyogareats.com where other yogis leave reviews about retreats all over the world.

You can take Vipasaana (10 day silent meditation course) here just up the hill from town and I am considering doing that this monsoon!

mcleod ganj travel tips

mcleod ganj travel tips

You’d be smart to take a day trip to Amritsar (.

” href=”http://werkenntwen.info/wagah-border-india-pakistan/” target=”_blank”>Wagah border and Golden Temple) from here. We actually put up fliers looking for buddies to share a ride with and it worked wonderfully. We paid 5,000 Rs split between 5 people! I’ll go more into this later next week.

mcleod ganj travel tips

Make sure to plan to see the Dalai Lama! We stayed a full 10 days because we knew he’d be in town. I promise, more to come on how and when to see his holiness!


Tibetan jewelry and artifacts with red and blue (turquoise and ruby) gems. Not all is real, but in this area most is! I also got an Om necklace I wear every day. The banners and flags you always see are sold here. I bought a lovely banner with a Dalai Lama quote that I love about The Precious Life. You can also pick up hand-knitted scarfs, slippers, and cute bracelets. If you walk south down the hill from town, near the women’s hostel, you’ll see a yummy chocolate shop! Further down that hill is the hospital.


We celebrated Diwali here, which wasn’t the best. Most people are Buddhist and didn’t really make a huge deal of the holiday. There were some firecrackers in the town square that did not look safe at all. It was a riot to see little child monks lighting firecrackers! I couldn’t stop laughing.

mcleod ganj travel tips

If you’re not into the ‘meditation’ peace scene, you might not like this area. I did find some people a little fake (or over the top) and annoying. Lots of backpackers trying to one up each other about how at peace they’ve been or how they had the best meditation experience or breakthrough at an ashram… yadda yadda yadda! I got to the point I zoned out and stopped listening to anyone!

Because I was there for 10 days, I watched some TV in the room on “sick days” and ate Oreos, cried watching Brokeback mountain (the censored Indian version where two friends go camping together, and one oddly dies but they don’t explain why). I didn’t really get into the “spiritual stuff” here, but stayed true to myself. There was a lot of Reiki and energy healing in my massage class but I chose not to implement that into my massages that I give, as I don’t necessarily believe it works.



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About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Elynn June 5, 2014 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel, I have been reading your blog for months and I am so happy that you update on a daily basis! You’re one of the most dedicated blogger I have seen! The first thing I do every morning when I come into my office is to check out your new post with a hot cuppa in hand.. I enjoy reading your blog and I love your honest feedback and humor! Can’t wait to see more on your blog! :)

    • Rachel Jones June 6, 2014 at 11:09 am - Reply

      That is so nice to hear!! I love when people say “cuppa” :D Thanks for reading, it means everything!

  2. Rebekah June 5, 2014 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Haha- yeah I’ve definitely run into people who are all about trying to compete for who’s more zen or more in tune with the culture or whatever. Its so ridiculous. Its not like anyone is going to give you a prize.

  3. Vivian June 6, 2014 at 7:54 am - Reply

    Hi! I just discovered your blog through Joella’s “This Beijing Life”, and I’m hooked!!

    Just wanted to say hello from Tokyo!! xx

    • Rachel Jones June 6, 2014 at 11:11 am - Reply

      Oh, I”m so glad you found it! thanks for reading all the way from Tokyo :)

  4. Vanessa @ The Journeyling Colognian June 9, 2014 at 5:00 pm - Reply

    Rachel, I saw you commenting frequently on Ashley’s Blog (Ashley Abroad). I have been to McLeod Ganj in November 2011 and loved it. After travelling across Tibet from Lhasa till Kathmandu I really wanted to see McLeod Ganj as well and I am really glad I made it there. Unfortunately I missed the Dalai Lama, probably I have to go back for longer to get a chance to. Right before McLeod Ganj I have also visited Amritsar to see the Golden Temple and the Wagah Border Ceremony. The first is absolutely stunning.

    • Rachel Jones June 11, 2014 at 7:17 pm - Reply

      You’ll have to go back to mcleod then ;) I love the golden temple, the idea behind it is very cool. The wagah border was nuts! lol

  5. Victoria June 13, 2014 at 1:54 am - Reply

    Many congratulations on your success Rachel. It’s well deserved. :) I’ve been wanting to go to McLeod Ganj and Tibet for the longest time, so this post is enormously apt!
    Thanks babe!

  6. shwetank June 14, 2014 at 8:37 am - Reply

    Hey dear,

    I am visiting Mcleodganj with my friends (12 in number) on 27th around, please suggest me safe place to stay and near by places for nature sigh seeing . Thank You !

    • Rachel Jones June 14, 2014 at 11:09 pm - Reply

      Hi Shwetank, the place I have mentioned in the post is the only one I can recommend- I didn’t stay anywhere else! Sorry!

  7. Divya March 2, 2015 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    Hey Rachel,
    I am so surprised that you continued your journey while still suffering from Dengue. It is one sneaky and painful fever to have. I remember when I was down with Dengue, I couldn’t get out of the bed for good 45 days!!

    Wish you amazing journeys ahead. Happy travels.

    • Rachel Jones March 2, 2015 at 6:11 pm - Reply

      wow you must have had it worse! that’s intense. I was lucky to keep moving or my trip would have been ruined.

  8. siddhartha singh September 23, 2015 at 2:41 am - Reply

    I checked you blogs about a year ago and then totally forgot the name. Happily I came across them once again. You’re blogs are the best. I really get to know a genuine firsthand experience which is very helpful. Gonna check it before travelling anywhere even in India. Thanks a lot for the effort.
    Wish you luck.

  9. Kunal Priyadarshi February 15, 2017 at 12:17 am - Reply

    No matter how many times you go Mcleodganj, you never get bored of it. It is such a peaceful and spiritual place. I don’t see Mcleodganj as tourist sites but for me it is more of places I look to relight myself.

  10. narender panghal January 20, 2018 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    I love to read your blog but by mistake you put wrong link for hotel mountview . Please check

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