Kashmir : Planning your trip
Things to consider on planning your visit to Kashmir
Good now you are thinking about arrangements to be done for Kashmir and for the ones who have directly landed on this page, you may want to read the introduction and can read it from here.
Directly jumping on the topic, Kashmir trip can be planned according to your expectations and seasons. If you are interested in snow (like us) best time to visit is in Jan-Feb, its highly unpredictable in December to experience snowfall. Some of the places will have fresh snow like Gulmarg and Sonamarg but same cannot be said for all the locations. Though everyone in Srinagar claims that general snow weather starts by Mid-December.
As Srinagar valley have amazing tulip gardens, and it can be experienced in Mar-April season (preferably April)
However, if you want to experience blossoms and greenery, plan your travel for June-July month (just before rainy season) and everything will be bright and colorful.
There are multiple hotels available from ultra-luxury like The Lalit Palace (which was Maharaja Hari Singh Palace before and now with Abdullah family (J&K ex chief minister)), Taj Vivanta among others to very basic hotels. In Srinagar standard hotels offer basic amenities like hot water, electric blankets at the least, but no harm in confirming. Do also confirm electricity backup as Srinagar experiences lot of outages. Then you have options in Airbnb as well to choose from. We opted for Airbnb and chose Valley Heritage. Valley heritage resort is nestled in local dwellings very near to Hazratbal and Nigeen lake, however there is struggle for electricity hence when city faces power cuts, you will face difficulties to keep room warm and to overcome this challenge they have paid bukhari’s available. For more details on you can read through the reviews of the property on Airbnb through this link
Another option in Srinagar is to go for Houseboats. On the contrary from their Kerala counterparts, these houseboats do not move and rather stay in one location. As most commonly known to everyone that houseboats are in Dal lake, it gets crowded and you may not get tranquillity experience as expected. To find solace, prefer Nigeen lake houseboats as they are few in numbers, gives similar experience and if you are here in summers, you can go for a swim in the lake as well. On top of that, you can easily take a Shikara ride from Nigeen lake to Dal Lake, which we found more serene and relaxing.
We were informed all postpaid networks work in Kashmir. In our observation apart from Jio Postpaid, no other network worked, not even Airtel postpaid or Jio prepaid. Jio postpaid works fine even in locations like Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Pahalgam and many others.
Taxi / Local Transport:
If you are travelling within Srinagar, you will find autos and taxis available from multiple locations (hotel receptions can provide you sources details to hire a vehicle and it depends on your contingent size which vehicle suits you) however we learnt the hard way that taxi prices are too steep (generally taxi owners will quote very high prices like 3500 per day for a couple) however it will be test of your negotiations skills to bring that price down to 2000-2500 per day for car like Indica. Toyota / Innova will charge equivalently. But in any case do negotiate and try to bring down charges to half ( yes 50% reduction) that is the margin locals keep and it is applicable for everything ( you can expect limited negotiation possibilities in food and apparels)
When you are planning for Kashmir trip consider following cost heads
3. Activities like Horse riding, Snow biking, Sledging, Skiing (optional spend but shall be considered)
4. Shopping and food – totally depends on you
Flights from Delhi, if booked in time can be booked around or below 8k per person roundtrip.
Staying locations – All the tourist destinations places like Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Pahalgam have hotels, some places like Pahalgam have plethora of options whereas in Sonamarg options are limited.
In winters, as locations except Srinagar, have more snowfall days, some of the hotels shut their operations due to freezing water and hotels open for business will keep a hefty charge for stay (around 5k or more) If you are interested in waking up to snow covered trees and mountains, you can of course plan to book them.
For a 5N stay in Srinagar your cost of stay will be around 15k on an average for one room. Choosing a hotel location is also critical as Srinagar has become crowded now, and if you are looking for peaceful locations then try for hotels and stay around Dal Lake / Nigeen lake and you will wake up to birds chirping and prayer offerings
For details around the activities, shopping and their costing refer to location pages for more details.
Read more about Kashmir from following links: