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 favor a road trip over Manali Leh road or Srinagar Leh road.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Why you should fly to Leh Ladakh?
We seldom talk about flying to Leh Ladakh and spending dedicated time exploring the beautiful locations within Ladakh only. The reason for such a notion is, the 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 tourist 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 from Manali Leh Highway or Srinagar – Leh Highway.
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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 of the 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 rather than riding a bike or driving your car.
Reasons for Flying to Leh Ladakh Rather Riding or Driving
I have already shared the most popular itinerary by Air for Ladakh trip which you can refer 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.
1. Roads to Leh Ladakh are closed in winters
This is the most common reason for flying to Ladakh because for about six months, both Srinagar – Leh Highway and Manali – Leh Highway is closed due to heavy snowfall. The only way to travel to Leh – Ladakh in winters is by air. Srinagar – Leh Highway opens by the first week of May whereas Manali – Leh Highway opens by the first week of June.
By October end, it becomes perilous to travel on Manali – Leh Highway due to severe cold and a 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 till Zojila Pass closes. Hence, for the 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. The fastest way to travel to Leh Ladakh
It takes three days to reach Leh from Delhi via Manali side with stopovers at Jispa, Manali, and four days to come back to Delhi from Leh via Srinagar side with stopovers at Jammu, Srinagar, Kargil. This schedule makes it seven days. You need at least one day 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 a 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 a couple of days
As said above, it takes a 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 the first two days of acclimatization, rest and local sightseeing around Leh you are good to travel over Khardung La pass to Nubra Valley. This schedule 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 the road for 3-4 days and going through the arduous journey to reach your destination, sometimes it is better to 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 lose your soul forever 😉 …
5. Better in terms of acclimatization than taking a road trip from Manali
Manali – Leh highway does not allow your body to acclimatize as most 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 option also causes more fatigue. Hence, I prefer flying to Leh as the second-best option.
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 leaves a big dent in the pocket for you, sometimes like Rs 10000-12000 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 an adventure bike ride in Ladakh. In case you want, you can refer Leh – Ladakh Bike Rental Rates 2020-21
7. You see some breathtaking aerial views of Ladakh range
Lastly, when you are flying to Leh, you get to see some breathtakingly aerial views of trans-Himalayas, which in winters looks like nature’s carpet of white gold, the snow. Once, you view the scenes; you can only believe it then as pictures do not do any justice to it.
You should always carry your own water bottle and refill it as many times as you need water. It will not only keep you hydrated always, but you will also help in saving the Himalayas from plastic garbage. Remember, every tiny step counts and your step in this direction can help save the Himalayas too !! 🙂 🙂
I know the downside of flying to Leh Ladakh can be the hefty money the airline charges for flight tickets to Leh, 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 a 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. Of course, those who are planning a trip by road to Ladakh, they are looking for a different adventure.
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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 plan to make a trip to Ladakh. Who knows how it benefits them. In case, you want to share any other reason or agrees/disagrees with them; I will look forward to the discussion in the comments section of the article 🙂 🙂