When tourism in Ladakh was not that much only a handful of people would think of reaching Ladakh by flight. Back then, Manali to Leh highway wore the crown of being a major attraction. It wouldn’t completely be wrong to say that people even went to Ladakh just to experience this mountain highway beauty, rather than traveling on it to truly experience Ladakh. Much however has changed now. Thousands of people now reach Ladakh by flight and by each passing year, this number increases. I personally feel flying to Leh better option than a road trip to Leh Ladakh. I have tried to elaborate my views on this topic-“10 reasons why you will fly for your Leh Ladakh tour” which will help you to make a decision in case you are in dilemma.
The first visit to Ladakh is very exceptional. Because for the first time, you truly get to feel the cold Himalayan wind, lack of oxygen, spectacular scenery and have the realization, that the deep blue sky, mountains of varied varieties and beautiful lakes you saw in photographs, weren’t actually items of photo Shoppe.
When I came back from my Leh Ladakh tour I faced a common question from my friends, relatives, and neighbors that, “ which one is more exciting, flying to Leh Ladakh or 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. We seldom talk about flying to Leh Ladakh and spending committed time discovering the beautiful locations within Ladakh only. The reason for such a concept is simple, 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. The bike ride or a drive within Ladakh, be it over Khardung La Pass or Chang La pass or more delicate inner line routes, are as equally challenging as roads to Ladakh from Manali Leh Highway or from Srinagar – Leh Highway.
10 reasons why you will fly for your Leh Ladakh tour
1. Time constraint
Time is always a core issue for every trip. As I am from West-Bengal, India, and October is our festive month. It is true not many people can afford to take a couple of weeks or more off from their work or studies, to travel to Ladakh by road. We also get holidays and leaves in this month, still, time is a major constraint to us. If you know where to spend your time you may want to consider flying to Leh Ladakh rather than riding a bike or driving your car. My personal opinion is that do not lose your main courses by spending your time on starters and desserts. An ideal time needed for a road trip to Ladakh is actually 14 days. So what do you do when you have just 7-10 days to spare? In this situation, my suggestion, you must plan to reach Leh by air. Traveling via Manali will take at least3 days and 2 days if you planned via Srinagar. You can save on this time by booking a flight to Leh.
2. Bad roads
If you want to take your family out on a trip to Ladakh but they do not want to spend so many days on the road? Bad roads are bound to make your elders and children exhausted as well. This will be a great reason to not plan the trip by road and rather catch a flight to Leh.
3. When you are traveling with family
Not everyone in our families prefers to sit in a car all day long, vomiting and would rather prefer a clean trip where they get to look their best, especially ladies. One of my friends reached Ladakh by road last year along with his family, 7 days in hand. He spent 2 days to acclimatize 2 days for full body massage of his wife 3 days for Leh sightseeing. He canceled Nubra, Pangong and Tso moriri for the fear of further body massage.
4. Roads to Leh Ladakh are closed in winters
This is the most common reason for flying to Ladakh because for about half of the year, both Srinagar – Leh Highway and Manali – Leh Highway is closed due to heavy snowfall (from mid of October). The only mode of transport to Leh – Ladakh in winters is by flight. By October, it becomes very risky to travel on Manali – Leh Highway due to severe cold and a possibility of snow block. Srinagar – Leh Highway opens for civilians by the first week of May whereas Manali – Leh Highway opens by the first week of June. However, Srinagar – Leh Highway open till mid of November and sometimes end of November. Hence, for the rest of the year, you can only fly to Leh.
5. The fastest way to travel to Leh Ladakh
It takes three days to reach Leh from Delhi via Manali side with halts at Jispa, Manali and four days to come back to Delhi from Leh via Srinagar side with halts at Jammu, Srinagar, Kargil. This makes it seven days. One day is required in Leh for acclimatization.
6. Cost affectivity
As you may be aware that, cabs rented outside Leh are not allowed for sightseeing inside Ladakh. You can use the outside rented cab to reach Leh but then for going to Pangong Lake, Nubra Valley, etc. you need to rent a cab from Leh only. The one-way cab rental is quite costly and leaves a big impression in the pocket for you, sometimes like Rs. 17,000-20,000 for just the pickup and drop from/to Delhi. This is more than Delhi-Leh return airfare if you plan meticulously. However, if you consider the overall exhaustion, overnight hotel and food charges for multiple days and of course the costly taxis within Ladakh then you can easily make a choice.
7. More time to spend in Ladakh
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 saves you two days which you can spend anywhere in Ladakh or use them to go back home early. Hence, instead of being on road for 3-4 days and going through the laborious journey to reach your destination, sometimes it is better to just fly in and spend that energy plus time to saturate in the place. If you like you can read below-mentioned topic
8. How you can get a cheap air ticket to Leh
I know the disadvantage of flying to Leh Ladakh can be the substantial money the Airlines charges for flight tickets to Leh, especially in season time. But, if you apply certain tricks which I discussed in my below-mentioned topic you can also get a cheap air ticket for Leh.
9. Better in terms of acclimatization than taking a road trip
In terms of AMS and acclimatization, I prefer traveling to Leh – Ladakh by air it is the best option over opting to travel by 434 KM long Srinagar – Leh road which takes four days.
10. See some breathtaking aerial views
Lastly, when you are flying to Leh, you get to see some breathtakingly aerial views of trans-Himalayas which in winters look more beautiful. Once, you view the scenes, you can only believe picture postcards are not sufficient to capture the beauty. As you get closer to Leh, you fly over the famed Manali – Leh highway, seeing the true immensity of it, as an antic vehicle navigates through its serpentine curves. A sudden appearance of greenness as you approach the outskirts of Leh, then you will get the mighty Stok Kangri Range on one side and Khardung La on the other. Then leaving Leh behind, and flying over the picturesque Leh – Srinagar Highway before you turn around and take the final approach from between the two mountains to land at the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport. Stepping out of the aircraft, feeling a sudden transformation in not only the temperature of the wind but also the smell and feel of it, is thrilling to say which sets you in a mood for an adventure of a lifetime.
I have due respect to those who are planning a trip by road to Ladakh, they are looking for a different adventure. I hope the above article helps you in making the right choice in terms of when flying to Leh – Ladakh can be more helpful 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 it may benefit 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.