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Kashmir trip review and suggestions for next travel trips to Kashmir

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Honeyyyyy1
I went to Kashmir trip in last days of November 2023.My experience is according to that time only.
November is the start of winter season in kashmir.The weather is dull this time.So, don't expect waterfalls and greenery coz glaciers are frozen this time.

First let me tell my itinerary:
Day 1: houseboat stay
Day 2: Pahalgam
Day 3: apple valley on the way to Srinagar
Day 4:Gulmarg
Day 5: sonmarg
Day 6:Srinagar sightseeing

Now I will review in detail with things which could be avoided and things which can be enjoyed more...stay tuned..every other day I will put one day review in replies..
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Vanguard Vanguard
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Day 1: landed in Srinagar by flight.Stayed in houseboat one night.Houseboats are NOT a good experience.People think that these houseboats are floating in waterin the middle of Dal lake

But the truth is, they are parked on the bank of the back side of Dal lake.The water is very bad there.It is stagnant water.The food options are not there.whatever the houseboat owner serves, you will need to eat.

Also, it's very cold inside coz it's on water.

The only thing houseboat is useful is it's free one hour shikara ride .This free one hour shikara ride doesn't come with sightseeing of things in dal lake(Meena bazaar,vegetable market, nadru(kamalkakdi) farms,Char chinaar)..these all are included if you pay extra to shikara owner.In my case, he asked 4000 for these places but we bargained and he agreed for 2500 .Overall it was a 2hour shikara ride.
Shikara ride was a GOOD THING.I enjoyed it.

Deal Cadet Deal Cadet
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I went to Kashmir last year and can attest to what OP said. I booked a travel package from a local travel operator in my city ( Metro). The money pit traps you the minute you book a driver from Srinagar airport. They’ll take you to eateries where the food prices are comparable to those in South Bombay and the food quality is akin to a Dhaba. Same in the case for merchandise, sightseeing etc. At popular tourists spots driver will halt at a place where unscrupulous travel guides will hound you with ₹4-5K for a small tour. Most of these places have J&K tourism board which state ideal rates but your local driver will try his best to make sure you never get to see that. Same in the case for buying souvenirs, the driver will drop you at the best shop and with a nod and wink collect his 40% commision at the end of the day. Mind you I loved Kashmir and it’s hosts but the local travel guide industry can go eat a bag of 💩

Vanguard Vanguard
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I Agree..we travellers need to be very very very careful while visiting Kashmir..that's the reason I am sharing all my experience in this thread..Kashmir is outstanding but their some travel guides/drivers aren't...

Generous Generous
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@Honeyyyyy1

The Idea of hefty commission ingrained behind honest / friendly approach / look .  


Even heavy bargainers gets looted .


For example whole pahalgam swiss valley / points horse ride is priced @ 4000 - 8000 per person ... but the poor horse / horsemen gets only 600-800 rs per trip .


imagine the level of corruption / commission . . . and how much anyone can bargain . 


And when you bargain the look they give you is just disgusting . 

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honey, I am following

Vanguard Vanguard
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Day 1: landed in Srinagar by flight.Stayed in houseboat one night.Houseboats are NOT a good experience.People think that these houseboats are floating in waterin the middle of Dal lake

But the truth is, they are parked on the bank of the back side of Dal lake.The water is very bad there.It is stagnant water.The food options are not there.whatever the houseboat owner serves, you will need to eat.

Also, it's very cold inside coz it's on water.

The only thing houseboat is useful is it's free one hour shikara ride .This free one hour shikara ride doesn't come with sightseeing of things in dal lake(Meena bazaar,vegetable market, nadru(kamalkakdi) farms,Char chinaar)..these all are included if you pay extra to shikara owner.In my case, he asked 4000 for these places but we bargained and he agreed for 2500 .Overall it was a 2hour shikara ride.
Shikara ride was a GOOD THING.I enjoyed it.

Generous Generous
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India mein sab ke sab chor hain

Dubai Jo ki 4 Guna expensive hai

Unka Full Day Abu trip cost is 1999-2999 Itself
Time 9 to 6
Multiple Breathtaking Historical Places included

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Vanguard Vanguard
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My opinion for day 1: whenever you are talking to your agent, SKIP HOUSEBOAT stay.use that day for another useful thing.or we can say, houseboat is just a one time experience.i will never visit houseboat again if I visit Kashmir one more time.

Instead ask your agent to include one hour shikara ride only and take shikara ride further by paying extra.Use the left over time for Laal chowk market.Instead of night stay at houseboat, ask for night stay at hotel only.

Benevolent Benevolent
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what's the approx. budget for a 6day trip?

Vanguard Vanguard
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30k per person for this trip(includes airfare , travel package,lunch expenses and miscellaneous important expenses)

Vanguard Vanguard
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Day2: After spending a night at houseboat, went to Pahalgam .It's a 2 hr ride from Srinagar to Pahalgam.In Pahalgam, there is a union of taxis which take you to some valleys there.Rates are very high,but you can bargain upto 50% of their asked rates.We didn't go because it's just like gardens.Why spend thousands of rupees to see that?? And moreover, all water bodies are at their lowest level now..so it will be a waste..but one thing we couldn't avoid is Mini Switzerland (attracted by its name)..To visit Mini switzerland, you need to take pony rides.He asked for 4000per person for a pony ride(two way fare for going mini switzerland and back to Pahalgam parking), but we negotiated it to 2500 per person.But things started to get very very adventurous and dangerous...when we started the horse ride, we thought there will narrow roads...but it was a way,full of mud,water, high sloping ,dangerous road with every turn, thinking that if one leg of our horse goes here and there(cont)

Vanguard Vanguard
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(cont day2) you will be dead .It's a highly risky ride .They will not tell you this(even your driver will not tell you this as he also has COMISSION with the horse owners).After bearing so much backpain from horse ride,We reached Mini Switzerland..to my surprise..it's just a green garden on which some eatery shops are there and one small zipline is there..you can see one far away mountain with some snow on it..but it can also be seen from the ground..I didn't see a single reason why Mini switzerland is to be visited after taking so much dangerous horse ride..it was a complete waste of money,time, energy

Deal Subedar Deal Subedar
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We are planning to Kashmir trip too but in March. 7 days wala. almost similar to your (in terms of places). Kids wanna see snow.

We too have similar pricing. 35K ballpark but no air fare. It is srinagar to srinagar and everything included in between, 3 times food and stay and whatever entry fees, shikara, ropeway etc.

Vanguard Vanguard
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Nice, but most of the places have union taxis..so, it's almost impossible that a travel package will take care of everything.I suggest ,check with travel agency again..for snow, only sonmarg and gulmarg might have snow at that time..so plan stay at hotel at these places ..

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Vanguard Vanguard
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My opinion for Day 2: it's a complete waste to visit Pahalgam during Oct-Dec. NEVER go to Mini Switzerland in this time.I don't know what is the situation in other days there..but I don't see a single reason to go there ..that too with dangerous and unregulated horse ride, where nobody will know where your body is (in case if your horse falls)..I am telling this after wasting 10000 on four person horse ride to mini switzerland...If you want to visit other points(all look like gardens) , then you can visit Pahalgam..otherwise don't plan for Pahalgam in oct - dec

In summer,only for rafting, you can visit Pahalgam

Deal Cadet Deal Cadet
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I went to Kashmir last year and can attest to what OP said. I booked a travel package from a local travel operator in my city ( Metro). The money pit traps you the minute you book a driver from Srinagar airport. They’ll take you to eateries where the food prices are comparable to those in South Bombay and the food quality is akin to a Dhaba. Same in the case for merchandise, sightseeing etc. At popular tourists spots driver will halt at a place where unscrupulous travel guides will hound you with ₹4-5K for a small tour. Most of these places have J&K tourism board which state ideal rates but your local driver will try his best to make sure you never get to see that. Same in the case for buying souvenirs, the driver will drop you at the best shop and with a nod and wink collect his 40% commision at the end of the day. Mind you I loved Kashmir and it’s hosts but the local travel guide industry can go eat a bag of 💩

Generous Generous
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All love to Kashmir , but its 360* LOOT .... they will fcuk you from all sides ... first hand experience . 

Deal Subedar Deal Subedar
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who is they?
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Vanguard Vanguard
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Day 3: We started from hotel in Pahalgam to Srinagar.It is a 2hr journey. Apple gardens, Dry fruit shops, kesar fields come on the way. First, we visited Apple gardens, in November, all apples were being packed for export to other states and countries.There were some patchy apples on the trees, but still the photos we clicked were coming perfect. The garden owners will try to sell apple juice, apple jam, pickle etc ...we took juice only..it was fresh and sweet..it was a GOOD experience...Then comes the dry fruit shops( looters) ..they will be very sweet to you in talking but their business is dark.Yiur driver will stop the car at a shop where he will get 40%commision from shop owner.So, every dry fruit price will be 50-60%higher compared to any other local shop in Kashmir..We fell prey to that dry fruit owner and bought some dry fruits..Later at Laal chowk, we got to know about this bad practice ..so I suggest don't buy anything from them..instead wait for local sightseeing in Srinagar

Vanguard Vanguard
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Then comes kesar fields. In November, kesar fields were empty as kesar was exported in October.But still we got some field area with kesar flowers..we clicked some photos .Then, there came two persons selling kesar ..they had a kesar flower in their hand and a small box of kesar to sell...BEWARE, DONT BUY anything from them..they will tell you that they are owners of kesar land, but you need to think that NO KESAR LANDOWNER will try to sell its kesar in this way, they are already playing in money due to their high quality kesar exports ..so it is a SCAM ..anyone who is selling kesar below rs250 per gm , is suspicious..but from a registered shop only..I also got a guy who was selling kesar at rs130 per gm..don't buy from people like these..most probably that kesar is fake. Then came a cloth factory.AVOID it also as same 40% commission rule of driver applies there..just see the factory work..that's it

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Helpful Helpful
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awesome thread... bookmarked 

planning for a visit in  next year.

Generous Generous
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better choose Kerala ... good people , awesome food ... scenic locations and no loot mentality . 
Generous Generous
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And not to forget worse / bad food except Srinagar .

And never fall for buffet offers / offered by top notch restaurants ... food is going to be bad / bad and bad . 

and never plan your vacation in holy month in Ramadan , they will give excuse in doing everything .... its just we tourists are torturing them .. when they are fasting . 

Vanguard Vanguard
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Day 4: After spending night at hotel in Srinagar, went to Gulmarg .It is a 2+ hr ride. Main attraction there is awesome scenes in the way and there also and Gondola ride .There are two phases: phase 1 and phase 2.We had booked Gondola ride tickets online for phase 1.After Reaching Gulmarg, the driver will stop at Gulmarg parking.From there, you need to take union taxi to Gondola ride starting point. We paid 500 to reach Gondola ride after bargaining ..Gondola ride is an awesome experience.After reaching top , it was a breathtaking view..snow covered mountains, some little snowfall.We did a sledge ride there and it was quite expensive (700 per person) but a good experience though...we clicked very good pictures there ..took gondola ride back to ground station and went back to Srinagar hotel..Gulmarg is a positive experience

Vanguard Vanguard
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Day 4 opinion: Gulmarg is a very very positive experience place to visit.I strongly suggest that this place should have a 1- 2 day stay in your itinerary..you can skip Pahalgam and add that day here..this is a paradise you deserve to experience slowly

Deal Subedar Deal Subedar
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Exactly. Same I was going to add here. Increase your stay in Gulmarg amd reduce any other destination. Gulmarg is best in Kashmir trip. 


Vanguard Vanguard
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Day 5 : Sonmarg.After staying a night at hotel in Srinagar, early morning we ventured out to Sonmarg.It is a long travel of 2+ hours to Gulmarg parking.After that, there is a union taxi to reach Gulmarg top.He asked 8000 for this.but we bargained it to 6500.It is a 1+ hour journey more with some points in between Main points were Zero point,Zhojila pass and Kargil war memorial at the top. The most snow is found in sonmarg only.Every mountain is filled with snow and it is a paradise place.There is so much snow that I was bored of it..lol..The best experience of Kashmir is here only.We clicked best pictures there.It was the best experience.We stayed there for 2+ hours and came back.The way to sonmarg is very very very dangerous.But there are skilled drivers available..so don't worry about that..

Deal Cadet Deal Cadet
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@Honeyyyyy1 @saymyname  @saymyname78 Thanks for such a detailed review! Can you let me know the shops where items would be genuine & at reasonable prices?  Pls suggest few names as we plan to visit.
Also let me know if I need to switch my Jio Prepaid to Postpaid as prepaid doesn't work there. What would be some good options?

Vanguard Vanguard
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Personally , I found the price of products least costly in Lal Chowk market(especially dry fruits,some clothes)..otherwise, every shop at which our driver stopped, was looting like hell..and nowadays everything is available everywhere, so I found nothing special item except kahwa, kesar.For kesar, don't trust any agent or seller...if your stars are alright, you can get real kesar otherwise not..be it any shop ,agent or seller 
Yes, you need to take/convert to postpaid connection there of Airtel /jio
Post Tycoon Post Tycoon
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You can contact me I can help you as I have 1 friend who is serving tourists you can do hotel booking by yourself as well if you want   for further assistance dm I am also from Srinagar Kashmir 🤗

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