It has been less than a day since we returned from the beautiful Kashmir Valley and all we can do now is think about our vacation in the Indian paradise. It was a perfect way to bring our travelling drought to an end after 11 long months. (We visited the beautiful valley in Jan 2021.)
Honestly, Kashmir was never on my (Sakshi’s) list because I never thought it was ever possible, courtesy of its sensitive situations that are regularly portrayed by the media. When tourism resumed last year after the long phase of lockdown infused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kashmir was among the very few places in India that was welcoming travellers without restrictions.
Pramod and I began to research about Kashmir and soon decided to begin 2021 by exploring Kashmir. During our trip, both of us received many queries about the place. Here are five important facts you must be aware of before travelling to Kashmir.
Do you need to show a negative COVID test for Kashmir?
No, you do not need to show a negative RT-PCR test for travelling for Kashmir and there is no institutional quarantine as well. At the Srinagar airport, the officials collect your contact information and flight details before you are taken for a swab test. It is a hassle-free process that doesn’t take more than five minutes.
Please note that in Kashmir, only postpaid sims work. While we had Airtel, which did not work particularly well, we were told that Jio works best in Kashmir. Also, the WiFi is not particularly fast as they still operate with 2G speed. However, we did not have an issue in the houseboat as we were the only ones there. But, if you are planning on staying in a hotel, the speeds will drop as there could be many others using it.
Is Kashmir safe to travel?
YES! A BIG YES! As I mentioned earlier, I never thought travelling to Kashmir would ever happen because of safety reasons, but I was so wrong and I’m glad I chose to ignore the myth surrounding Kashmir’s safety issues. It is as safe (or unsafe) as travelling to or within any state or city in the country. Places like Gulmarg, Pahalgam, and Srinagar are very normal places, but with an exception – they are extremely picturesque and one must experience that at least once in life. Since we went in peak winter, the snowcapped mountains and tons of snow was around us 24×7.
While you’ll meet some of the warmest people in Kashmir, you’ll also come across many tourist traps, be it during a Shikara ride on Dal Lake or while horse riding in Pahalgam, and one must be alert to not fall for it. Rule No. 1 in Kashmir: SAY A FIRM NO! If you don’t do that, the vendors won’t let go of you. They are persistent salesmen and in no time, you may end up splurging. Rule No. 2: Use your best bargaining skills, it is very important. Whatever price they quote, you can get it down to at least 50-60 percent – A lesson we learnt during this trip.
Kashmir is one of the rare places in the world that blossoms in the three renowned seasons – winter, summer, and autumn. From offering the most stunning snowy views to the most striking autumn colours and the best summer sights, Kashmir is one hell of a destination for all nature lovers.
To find out more about our Kashmir trip, click here