There is a common question on my blog that I keep answering, “Do you know if flying to Leh – Ladakh will be as exciting as a road trip to Ladakh?.” Well, whenever it comes to a trip to Ladakh, we all favour a road trip over Manali – Leh road or Srinagar – Leh road. We seldom talk about flying to Leh – Ladakh and spending dedicated time exploring the beautiful locations within Ladakh only. The reason to such a notion is simply, journey is more beautiful than the destination. However, in my honest opinion it is not as true as it always reads. There is much more to explore within Ladakh as well apart from the well known popular tourists places you may know. The bike ride or a drive within Ladakh, be it over Khardung La Pass or Chang La pass or more subtle inner line routes, are as equally challenging as roads to Ladakh viz. Manali – Leh Highway and Srinagar – Leh Highway.
In this article today, I will write about seven good reasons for flying to Leh – Ladakh that will help you make a decision in case you are struggling with such a choice. Time is always an essence for every Leh – Ladakh trip. If you know where to spend your time especially when it is not your first trip to Ladakh, well, you may want to consider flying to Leh – Ladakh than riding a bike or driving your car. I have already shared Leh – Ladakh | Most Common Itinerary by Air which can be referred any day to make a memorable trip to Ladakh by air, especially when it is your first trip to Ladakh. However, in this article today, I will keep my focus on the reasoning rather than the plan for a trip to Ladakh by air.
Reasons for Flying to Leh – Ladakh Rather Riding or Driving
1. Roads are closed in winters
This is the most common reason for flying to Ladakh because for about 6 months, both Srinagar – Leh Highway and Manali – Leh Highway are closed due to heavy snowfall. The only way to travel to Leh – Ladakh in winters is by air. Srinagar – Leh Highway opens by first week of May whereas Manali – Leh Highway opens by first week of June. By October end, it becomes very risky to travel on Manali – Leh Highway due to severe cold and possibility of snow block. However, on the life and vehicular traffic movement continues over Srinagar – Leh Highway by mid of November and sometimes end of November. Hence, for rest of the months in the year, you can only fly to Leh and then explore Ladakh. If you are planning to make a trip to Ladakh in winters, then do refer: Leh – Ladakh in Winters – Most Common Itinerary
2. Fastest way to travel to Leh
It will take 3 days to reach Leh from Delhi via Manali side with stopovers at Jispa, Manali and 4 days to come back to Delhi from Leh via Srinagar side with stop overs at Jammu, Srinagar, Kargil . This makes it 7 days. 1 Day is required in Leh for acclimatization. However, you can just take a flight to Leh from Delhi and reach in the lap of trans-Himalayas in just couple of hrs. Beware, it could be a difference of 10,000 feet of altitude and a possibility of 20 Degree Celsius to -2 Degree Celsius 😉 😉
3. Saves you at least couple of days
As said above, it takes minimum of three days to reach Leh from Manali – Leh Highway side if you start your trip from Delhi or Chandigarh. One day you will be resting for acclimatization. However, if you fly directly to Leh, then after first two days of acclimaitzation, rest and local sightseeing around Leh you are good to travel over Khardung La pass to Nubra Valley. This saves you good two days which you can spend anywhere in Ladakh or use them to go back home early 🙂 …
4. Helps you spend more time in Ladakh than on roads
As you see in Point (3), you can easily save two days if you fly to Leh directly. Hence, instead of being on road for 3-4 days and going through the arduous journey to reach your destination, sometimes it is better to just fly in and spend that energy plus time to soak in the place. You never know in which small tiny remote hamlet of Ladakh, you may loose your soul forever 😉 …
5. Better in terms of acclimatisation than taking road trip from Manali
In terms of AMS and acclimatization, I prefer traveling to Leh – Ladakh by air as the second best option after opting to travel by 434 KM long Srinagar – Leh road which takes 4 days. Manali – Leh highway does not give your body an opportunity to acclimatize as most part of the highway runs over 14000 feet. Hence, you are bound to get hit with AMS or make a long 12-13 hr run from Jispa or Keylong to Leh. This also causes more fatigue. Hence, I prefer flying to Leh the second best options.
6. No Fuss About Bike Rentals
As you may be aware that, bikes rented outside Leh are not allowed for sightseeing inside Ladakh. You can use the outside rented bike to reach Leh but then for going to Pangong Tso, Nubra Valley, etc.. you need to rent bikes from Leh only. The one way bike rental is quite costly and leave a big dent in pocket for you, sometimes like Rs 10-12000 for just the pickup/drop from/to Manali/Srinagar. Hence, in case you fly to Leh, you can always rent the bike in Leh which should be sufficient to live the dream of adventure bike ride in Ladakh. In case you want, you can refer: Leh – Ladakh Bike Rental Rates 2017-18
7. You see some breathtaking aerial views of ladakh range
Lastly, you get to see some breathtakingly aerial views of trans-Himalayas which in winters looks like nature’s own carpet of white gold, the snow. Once, you view the scenes, you can only believe it then 🙂
I know the downside of it can be the hefty money the airlines charges for Leh – Ladakh flights especially in season time. However, if you consider the overall fatigue, overnight hotel and food charges for multiple days and of course the costly taxis within Ladakh then you can easily make a choice. It mostly ends up being either saving couple of thousands and going through the arduous journey by roads in 3-4 days or spend that extra bit of money to buy you time and comfort.
I hope the above article helps you in making the right choice in terms of when flying to Leh – Ladakh can be more beneficial against the ever demanding desire of making a road trip to Ladakh. Feel free to share with your friends or family who are planning to make a trip to Leh – Ladakh, who know how it benefits it to them. In case, you want to share any other reason or agrees/disagrees with them, I will look forward for discussion in the comments section of the article 🙂 🙂