Bir Billing Travel Blog: Fantasy Peaks through My Eyes

Bir Billing Travel Blog. I have yet to travel to many parts of Himachal Pradesh, but I daresay Bir Billing was my favorite among the few I visited. The monasteries, colorful skies of paragliders, and the locals.

Bir is known to be Asia’s highest paragliding spot and so I expected it to be more or less touristy. While you see tons of visitors here, most are niche travelers rather than nosy tourists strolling shopping streets for comfort.

On our way to Bir from Manali, I realized why it wasn’t as popular with common tourist folk. And I’m glad it was that way. Here goes my Bir Billing Travel blog :)

Bir Billing Travel Blog

I was off to a bad start. In fact, it is so bad that I doubt that this post even suffices as a Bir Billing Travel Blog. I came down with a high fever the same morning of our planned trip to Bir.

To make matters worse, we’d stupidly decided to take the slow local bus all the way. I say stupid because it almost cost the same as an AC semi-sleeper shuttle for the 9-hour journey. Neither could we pull back from the plan – we’d already booked our next hostel there.

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Bir Billing Travel Blog: My friend landed on his butt.

Bir was the spot I had my eyes on for a couple of months in Himachal Pradesh. Manali wasn’t even on the horizon (and neither was it that great). Yet I sadly had my ‘healthy’ days there instead. I had only two days for Bir and both were wasted on recovering.

Nevertheless, that didn’t stop me from hitting the paragliding point with a puking sensation (ugh). I guess that was the only thing I got to experience. But it was some trip anyhow and gladly my friends could get around more – monasteries and colorful cafeterias.

Finding the Bus to Bir Billing from Manali

Apart from the paragliding, this was the other most fun part of my Bir trip. There was a buy-1-get-1 deal going on so it was also the most uncomfortable and painful ride of my life.

From Manali, do NOT ever get on the local bus to Bir. Sure the mountains are pretty, but the roads aren’t for beginner travelers. From Delhi, Manali has a comfortable road. The roads to Bir are super narrow and curvy.

At Manali’s main bus stand, there are buses to Mandi, Baijnath, Palampur, Dharmshala, and a couple more. We made it here later that morning with my condition slightly better. Locals boarded their buses as drivers stood by their doors and screamed their destinations.

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Bir Billing Travel Blog: Landing spot looking colorful!

We hadn’t an idea where our bus was bound so we asked for the one to Bir and boarded it. The bus was exactly like the ones you saw at Coldplay’s Hymn for the Weekend – colorful.

The bus was empty except for one elderly local of Indonesian origin. Living in Indonesia for a decade myself, we spoke in broken Hindi and Indonesian. She had settled down with an Indian husband and now ran a local shop in Manali. She was headed back home.

Another blog for you to read: 5 Best Places to Visit in Chirala: Striking Hues by the Beach

I Nearly Passed Out

Throughout my nausea and body pain, elderly locals with their canes, the working class, and children getting on and off at stops were what kept me going. We were told it would be a 7-hour journey.

It takes only 5 hours by a private bus to Bir. But here we were without an alternative. 7 hours later when the sunset, the Indonesian lady told me – it was only a couple hours away now. Great.

The seats though comfortable weren’t helping for the long duration. By the time the bus stopped at Bir, I was drained out. My head was pounding and I could barely feel myself walking.

Everything was a blur – the taxi ride to our hostel, the colorful lights, the reception desk. Thankfully I passed out right on my bunk bed. But I could tell the hostel looked comfortable.

And god was it! It was Zostel Plus Bir. It was one of Zostel’s best accommodations in India and it was heavenly. Except I hadn’t the energy to experience any of it :(

Another blog for you to read: Ha Long Bay Itinerary: Gems Amidst Emerald Seas

Finding Secret Hideouts for Travelers

Here’s a little secret I’ll let you on for those beginning to travel. HostelWorld. It wasn’t that great for India before but with more backpacking culture awareness these days, the community of travelers has grown beautifully.

Keep in mind – this is best for backpackers only. Some hostels mention upfront for being ‘adults only’. These are usually dormitory-style shared rooms with budget-friendly pricing.

I’m glad HostelWorld had plentiful options for Bir. Some are super cheap, some are comfier, and others have their unique features like organized treks. I chose Zostel Bir Plus, not-so-budget-friendly but it was the biggest one among all and looked cozy.

But here are my best-handpicked recommendations for Bir on HostelWorld:

  1. Bir Zostel Plus (the most popular/fancy spot, but a bit expensive)
  2. Hipostel Bir (Find hipster crowds here!)
  3. Flashpackers Bir (Bicycles available here for hire)
  4. Cosmic Kriya (This one’s got a pool with decent amenities)

*These are affiliate links to HostelWorld. I only recommend sites I trust and use.

Palpung Sherabling Monastery (Not me though)

Palpung Sherabling Monastery, bir billing travel blog
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Bir Billing Travel Blog: Sherabling Monastery

The following day my friends rented out a scooter and explored the place. They visited the Palpung Sherabling Monastery and went for lunch at the line of colorful cafes at Bir’s landing spot.

The Sherabling Monastery is the biggest monastery in India of the Palpung Monastery. This is a recently built monastery in 1975 under the 12th Tai Situpa – Pema Tonyo Ninjye – who holds the monastic seat in exile.

It spreads over 30 acres and houses 1000 monks today with over 250 taking up monastic curriculum on-premise. The sight itself is a world away. However, my friends found it ‘boring’ after a couple of pictures. God help me.

In a nutshell, that’s what makes most of Bir – paragliding, a range of monasteries, vibrant cuisines, some treks, and just eternal peace. Something that I’d die to live by. And here – they found it ‘boring’! When was this ordeal to be over?

Another blog for you to read: Ultimate Coorg Travel Blog: 4 Blissful Days amidst Farms

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Bir Billing Travel Blog: At least she got a good picture at the monastery.

Bir Billing Travel Blog – other Monasteries of Bir. There are plenty of other monasteries in Bir. I saw some mentioned on a note at the hostel’s reception. Chokling monastery, Dzongsar Khyentse Monastery, and a temple – the Lord Shiva Temple Baijnath.

Along the list was a hot spring, the Tatwani Hot Water Spring which was a peculiar find. I’d never heard of hot springs at Bir.

Bir Billing Travel Blog: Eateries at Bir

At this secluded spot, there are surprisingly a good deal of cafes and restaurants. And not just local delicacies – there are varieties of finger-licking cuisines to try here.

The Bir Zostel itself had an amazing cafe. A little expensive but god were they good! I knew they were good. Because they smelled great. The taste however didn’t budge my numb tongue. I managed to get some light meals like kichdi and bread toast.

I struggled to eat and it felt worse knowing these tasted good. Right by the cafe was where they grew all the vegetables – everything was fresh. And here my ass was puking.

Another blog for you to read: Best Kept Secrets of the Riau Islands: Guide to Bintan

eating cake at bir
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Bir Billing Travel Blog: Cakes they ate, which I was left out for :(

To go cafe hopping, my friends visited the Bir Landing spot. Fun fact: ‘Billing’ is the takeoff point and here in the Bir Village is where you’ll land. The skies lit up with colorful paragliders whilst dining at a breezy niche cafe, isn’t that a dream now?

Some notable cafes here are Charlie’s Cafe, Birdhouse, Avva’s Cafe, and Cafe Ilaka (the pizza place).

Cards and Late-Night Conversations

I couldn’t go to the cafes but my condition was sobering up. The first evening, I gathered strength to sit alongside my friends and other travelers. The hostel’s indoor common lounges were plushy with guitars, books, jigsaw puzzles, stacks, and soft cushions.

Several other travelers, most from Delhi and some from other parts all gathered talking till midnight. I got hold of a guitar and played a little myself. My body pain, however, lingered and I returned to sleep.

Meeting other travel enthusiasts, that’s what I lived for. But staying alive was my first for the day and I could tell the day had been better.


Finally the awaited part of this Bir Billing Travel Blog! The time had come to paraglide. My friends had managed to book a morning slot and my condition seemed to improve (I’d have gone either way).

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Bir Billing Travel Blog: Feet dangling free over the village.

Bir Billing Travel Blog. Things were finally looking better… on my last day. I heard the mornings were a better option for paragliding and so we went!

With the wing/canopies strapped to the top of our van, we set off to Billing. This was our first time there was to be a professional bonded behind us.

As we reached the top, we could feel the air getting thinner. Reaching the windy flat peak, an old officer sat with a pen and a register. I signed my name onto it – In the event of death, I shall solely be responsible yada yada yada.

I couldn’t care less. Strapping myself to the wings, I jolted towards nothingness at the end of the peak, and whoosh! The whole village was in view below and god did it look pretty. The Chokling Monastery, Bir Colony, and our Zostel as well were in clear sight beneath!

It was a 15-20-minute flight with my feet dangling free. While the professional guide behind me told of all the places visible from up there, I realized how small the village was. It was a tiny haven away from the rest of the world.

Another blog for you to read: Singapore Budget Travel Guide for 1 Week on the Tropical Land!

Story of the Hidden Waterfall Trek

paragliding landscape bir billing
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Bir Billing Travel Blog

We landed consecutively and my head was tumbling all over again. Returning to the hostel, we packed up and had a couple of hours in hand before leaving Bir.

I sat by the cafe’s counter along with other visitors sipping fruit juice – some from the previous night’s card game. The hostel, like others in the area, hosted half-day treks and tours for its visitors. One was the hidden waterfall trek I’d heard before.

Asking about it, the dude next to me told of how adventurous the little trek was. These are short guided treks typically in the morning typically hosted by local travel agencies and hostels. I looked it up and found a couple of them – the Bangoru waterfalls and the Gunehar waterfalls.

I’m not sure which one he went on but he turned passionate while explaining the slippery rocks that he had to squeeze through to get to this hidden tranquil spot. It wasn’t a major attraction in Bir but it sounded like a fun morning activity for a couple of hours.

Not for me though, it was time I headed back. Post stuffing up my backpack, I showed my new-found friends at the cafe of this blog (yes, this website), talked a bit, and waved goodbye :)

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Bir Billing Travel Blog: Ah that’s me, happy for one moment in Bir.

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Heading back to Delhi

Bir Billing Travel Blog – My nausea was lifting later that afternoon. We had a semi-sleeper bus shuttle booked for that afternoon to Delhi. I was glad to be able to get rest on the way back.

Most of these private buses are comfortable and there wasn’t anything on my mind.

So before getting on the bus, we had a shot of pani puri in Bir at the streetside vendor of Bir’s bus stop. So much for my conscience while being sick. It wasn’t that great but anyway, the bus again got dizzy.

That makes me realize, that the way to Bir is really narrow and pointy – the elevation is an add-on to it. I’ve never had car sickness but here it was again. Even though the roads were fine, it was just the continuous wobbling due to edgy turns.

But gladly, by the next morning, we made it back to Delhi – alive. We were back from heavenly peaks to polluted scum, blistering heat, and deceitful people (the autorickshaw driver scammed us right away).

I was in no condition to argue so yeah, welcome to the capital city. That finishes this Bir Billing Travel Blog.

Without a doubt, I’m visiting Bir in the future for a longer stay, probably for paragliding lessons, and hopefully without getting sick.

Until next time, happy traveling :)

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Manas Patil

Hi there! I'm a 22-year-old dude all the way from India, I love traveling and building itineraries! Sign up and get your FREE COPY of my travel checklist to get the best of your next vacation!

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