How to be a Great Solo Traveler in Kashmir

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“Solo travel in Kashmir?!” We are certain, this already rang thousands of bells in your mind. Where traveling to Kashmir is itself questionable at times, and here we are guiding you to travel solo in the valley? So, let us first address the elephant-in-the-room question – “Is Kashmir safe to travel to?” Even though the answer can be dynamic to this, in a nutshell, we can nod a ‘Yes.’ And in this article, we’ll take you on a solo travel journey in Kashmir, where you can make the perfect use of your time and energy in Kashmir in a peaceful mind.

Here are a few things you need to keep in mind while traveling solo in Kashmir

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Research well

Research, research, and research. When you travel solo, research is an integral part of your journey. But the recent pandemic has changed many backpackers’ travel styles and pushed them to be slow travelers; in that case, you sometimes have a flexible itinerary. But for Kashmir, we strongly recommend you research well and chalk out a concrete plan with some buffer time. Research about staying options to conveyance, food options to weather, site-seeing to offbeat travel, and of course, staying up to date with what’s happening in Kashmir. It’ll help you have a smoother experience in Kashmir.

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Get a postpaid connection

In Kashmir, only postpaid connections or local prepaid sims work. Jio and Airtel work works better. Jio has an upper hand in remote locations like Gurrez. However, in some places, especially in rural or high-altitude areas, there is hardly any network. So, if you’re traveling to Kashmir alone for the first time, best to avoid such places.

Prefer homestay

If you want to get the authentic feel of any place, it’s best to live like locals. While traveling in Kashmir, try to opt for homestays or houseboats over hotels. Not only will it take care of your budget, but you’ll also have a wonderful time with Kashmiri families and their homemade foods. Not sure how to find a good stay in Kashmir? Check Best Homestays in Kashmir.

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Have local contact

Any place becomes more accessible when you have some local contacts in that place, and for Kashmir, it’s particularly true. But how can you have local contact when traveling for the first time? You can always consider your homestay owner as your local contact. They’re usually the best person to help you through your trip. Your host will not only make you feel at home but will always be there to guide and help you throughout your Kashmir journey. He can also arrange a reliable cab for you if need be. 

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Use public transport or shared vehicle

Often, budget is a constraint for backpackers or solo travelers. Kashmir’s road transport or train within the state still needs to be planned, and the number of buses of JK transport is irregular. In that case, hiring a cab for yourself could be expensive. In Kashmir, shared vehicles are the rescuers and one of the most efficient modes of transport. You can reach from one place to another either by direct cab or by breaking your journey with shared cabs. Shared cabs start from a particular stand, so before your trip, get a clear idea about the shared cab availability and the journey details to your destination. Your local stay owners can help you the best in this case to guide you. Otherwise, go to the particular stand a day before your journey and talk to the drivers and local people to learn more.

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Make a reasonable estimation of your time

Whenever you travel from one place to another, estimate the time reasonably. Calculate if you can cover a place within a day or if you need to spend the night over. For day trips, we recommend starting early, returning early at your base, and avoiding late nights. Especially in winter, there are road constraints in Kashmir due to heavy snowfall and other weather conditions. Know well, get in touch with the stay owners of the destination and make the decision.

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Avoid conflicts and conflicted areas

The most crucial point to having a peaceful experience in Kashmir is to avoid any infamous, conflicted place and any kind of conflict. Kashmir is a land of beautiful valleys and kind people, and the tourists are always welcomed with warm hearts. But the tension in the valley is undeniable, and things can be different when you travel and live there as a local, interacting and understanding things on a deeper level. In such a case, it’s best to avoid any possibilities of friction or argument with the locals. Avoid the known conflict zones. For instance, Downtown Srinagar, on the bank of river Jhelum, is a serene locality to explore. However, it’s infamous for its stone-pelting history and is still one of the disturbed regions in Srinagar. On the other hand, Aharbal waterfall is a famous tourist destination in South Kashmir; but it’s a conflicted area where even the locals hesitate to go. So, avoid traveling in such places alone, or even if you want to, take your local contacts whom you can trust.

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Keep your documents handy

Kashmir is a highly militarized zone. When you land in Kashmir, you will see men in uniform everywhere, and they can check you anywhere, anytime. They can ask for your documents or permits, and these are especially applicable in the border area. For example, documentation would be checked if you’re traveling from Ladakh to Srinagar via Kargil and Zojila. So research the necessary documents and keep them handy.

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Pack wisely

Except for a few areas, Kashmir is primarily mountains, so the weather can be unpredictable. Cities like Srinagar mostly stay warm during summer and extremely cold during winter, but places like Pahalgam or Gulmarg phases 1 and 2 are cold even during summer after a rain splash. Valleys like Gurrez will always be on the colder side. So, we recommend keeping your warm clothes and raincoat ready in any season while traveling to Kashmir.

Kashmir is a valley of mesmerizing vistas, beautiful people and culture. It’s no less safer and tourist friendly than any place of India. And we are saying it with experience!

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