7 Reasons for Flying to Leh – Ladakh


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.

Flying to Leh - Ladakh

Flying to Leh – Ladakh

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

The adventurous roads in Ladakh

The adventurous roads in Ladakh

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 😉 …

The bike rides in Leh - Ladakh

The bike rides in Leh – Ladakh

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 🙂

Aerial views of Leh - Ladakh Range

Aerial views of Leh – Ladakh Range


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 🙂 🙂

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  1. Rajan Sachdeva on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    Travelling in 1st week.of.September

    If i travel to leh by air and reach early morning. Is it ok to cover kargil same day and back next day?

    Or should we take rest to avoid AMS.


    • Hi Rajan,

      I will suggest avoiding traveling on the very first day at least, technically you will sleep at a lower altitude but the journey will take a toll on your body and you will pass through two high altitude passes to reach Kargil. Better will be to either sleep at Alchi or do Kargil – Leh trip on Day 2 and Day 3

  2. Hi Dheeraj,
    I am planing Leh trip in July end. We will be landing in Leh early morning at 7. We will be resting whole day, and may go to local places (Leh palace, market) strictly if everyone is feeling ok. On 2nd day we are planning Sham Valley Tour (Alchi, Hall of fame, Magnetic hill, confluence of Indus). We all are into 30s. We will be hiring cab with driver.
    Is it strictly NO NO to plan Sham valley on 2nd day?

    • Hi Bhushan,

      Well, yes, that is fine to travel to Sham Valley on Day 2 but the key is to keep the body hydrated, minimal fatigue should happen and previous night all of you had a close to good sleep if not 100% good sleep. In case of too much discomfort on previous day or night, better avoid and take more rest. Also on Day 1 please consider second half for roaming around and do not walk too much to exert yourself. Short walks are ideal with plenty of fluids.


  3. Robert Fernandes on

    I am planning to visit Ladakh on next year probably in February end or March by air.
    Is it good time to visit there or what is the best time to visit it?

  4. Hey Dheeraj,

    Thanks for this article, gave a lot of confidence for people who prefer flying in directly.

    We are a group on 12 people going to fly to Leh on 6th April Midnight From Mumbai and have return flight on 12th April 2017.
    Considering 7-8 April for acclimatization and local sightseeing, we have 9-10-11 at our hand.
    Hotel booking is done at Sangto Green in leh.

    Can you please tell us what can be achieved in these three days, we want to cover Khardungla for sure and rest places are flexible. Also is it advisable to rent bikes in April ? how are the road conditions

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Swapnil,

      Pleasure it helped. Make a two day trip to Nubra Valley and one day trip to Pangong Tso. If the taxi driver agrees and you have couple of more vehicles to accompany you guys, then go from Agham – Shyok route to Pangong tso and stay at Tangtse as Pangong Tso will be too cold to stay. Bikes may be available for rent within Leh but for Nubra and PAngong tso, not available as it is not that safe to travel.

      • Swapnil D on

        Oh that’s sad!
        We were looking forward to take bikes till Nubra atleast for an overnight stay.
        I talked with few bike operators and they said they will provide bikes for Nubra also.

        Are you totally sure we should not take bikes till Nubra? (Okay taking a car for pangong)
        We are fairly experienced with bikes ( been riding since last 7-8 years) , though not much exp in such weather.

        Your comment will be very useful to determine the course of action. Please help 🙂


        • They will provide the bikes buddy but the problem is mostly BRO does not allow to ride bike on Khardungla due to snow on road and unsafe for bike riders especially novice ones. A mere slip up there can result in fatal consequences, please keep in mind. So, depending upon how you ride the bike for first few days, take a call buddy. Don’t take unnecessary risk 🙂

  5. pushpa jayachandran on

    hi Dheeraj
    intend going to Leh Ladakh in July 2nd week, my itinerary is as under:
    Day 1 Chandigarh to Manali halt manali
    Day 2 Manali to chandratal lake via rohtang pass Halt at Chandartal
    Day 3 Chandartal lake to kaza via Kunzom;a pass halt kaza
    Day 4 Kaza to Jispa via kunzumla pass halt jispa
    day 5 jispa to leh via baralacha pass,nakila pas,taglanga pass,serchu visit pang halt in leh
    day 6 leh,local sight seeing, shanti stupa,shay palace,thiksay monastery, stok plalce, ranchoo school halt leh
    day 7 leh to nubra valley via khardongla pass visit disket monastery, hunder sand dunes fouble hump camel halt nubra valley
    day 8 nubra hunder to turtuk village back nubra
    day 9 nubra hunder to pangong lakevia shayok valley, spangmik village, 3 idiots scjhool 9halt pangong lake
    day 10 pangong lake to tsomoriri lakevia tsagala
    pass visit, maan villagem,erak cvillage, chushul, korzok monastery halt at tsomoriri lake korzok village
    day 11 tsomoriri lake to leh via mahe bridge chumathang hot spring halt in leh
    day 12 leh to kargil via fotula pass, namkila pass visit, hall of fame museum, gurudwara pathersahib,magnetic hill,sNGAM point indus and zanskar river confluence,lamayuru moon land view, lamayuru monastery,, mulbek statue halt at kargil
    day 13 kaargil to srinagar dop via zogela pass drass war memorial, tiger hill, tololoinghill sonamarg view

    the above is the itenerary given by a guide he has quoted Rs 88,000/- only for travelling by innova is it OK , are all the places mentioned worth visiting?
    he has quoted hotel accomodation for Rs 39900, we r 2 ppersons .

    kindly help

    • Pushpa, well, I will recommend that you skip the Kaza part and do Pangong Tso to Hanle and Hanle to Tso Moriri. The rates you can check few more options too to decide on the best rate. If you are looking for competitive and customized Ladakh tour and packages, you can connect with info@offbeatescapes.com as most of the readers in the past couple of years have had very good feedback about them and especially their transparent policies along with being there with you all the time in need.

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