5 Days Kashmir Itinerary - A Perfect DIY Kashmir Package

By Amandeep May 12 2024
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Like every traveller, Kashmir was always on my bucket list. I had only heard or read about Kashmir’s beauty before I spent those 5 memorable days in Kashmir Valley. Exploring snow-capped mountains, serene lakes, and breathtaking landscapes, I realized why Kashmir is often called ‘Heaven on Earth’. The charming beauty of the enchanting region can easily lure anyone. Besides Kashmir’s unparalleled beauty, I was enthralled by the rich culture, ancient architecture, warm-welcoming localities, Kashmiri outfits, culinary experience, and whatnot!

“Is it Safe?”  It is the most obvious question that almost everyone asks when you have finally planned to visit Kashmir. The good news is Kashmir is blossoming these days as the situation is under control. Although I expected to see Indian army men,  I was surprised by their sheer presence. Nevertheless, they did help me a lot while finding prominent locations. Fortunately, I didn’t encounter any problems or threat rumours while encompassing different places on my itinerary. 

Based on my personal experience, here’s the perfect 5 days Kashmir itinerary which I have created for all travel enthusiasts planning to visit the paradise anytime soon. Rather than trying challenging routes, I recommend following this time-savvy itinerary specially curated for first-time visitors to spend 5 days in Kashmir.

Ready to feel the essence of Kashmir through my lens? Let’s begin!

Getting to Kashmir

I preferred the quickest and most convenient way to reach the capital city, Srinagar. I flew to Srinagar's Sheikh ul-Alam International Airport from Delhi. Reaching the base station took around 1.5 to 2 hours (Srinagar).

Air routes can get a bit expensive. I suggest booking advance flights to get cheaper prices.

Moving Around

Kashmir Itinerary

There are two ways to do my Kashmir road trip itinerary. 

You can either choose to stay at the base station i.e. Srinagar while planning day trips to other locations. Or, choose to stay in different places while passing Srinagar. 

My advice: Choose to stay in Srinagar. It’ll save you travelling time.

Although you can complete the tour yourself, I suggest hiring a private cab with a local guide as they can arrange everything from accommodation, transportation and permits to experiential tours.  It’ll cost you around INR 2500/ per day.

The guide saved me time on my trip to Kashmir and also helped me buy overpriced souvenirs at a genuine price. 

Travellers who want to do it themselves can rent bikes from local shops. It’ll cost you around INR 1400/ per day. 

Note: Remember to carry a copy of Aadhaar card, Passport, and driver’s license. You may need to deposit your Aadhar card while renting a bike.

Where to stay

I planned to stay at a hotel’ Dream Live Stay Inn’ in Srinagar which I had booked earlier at a fair price from Book Your Own. The hotel provided all the basic amenities as well as complimentary breakfast. The rooms were clean and comfortable. Based on my experience, I’ll rate the hotel as 4 stars out of 5.

Well, there are lots of other highly reviewed hotels in Srinagar that you can book online as per your location preferences, and budget.

My Well Planned 5 Days Kashmir Itinerary 😉

Day 1- Srinagar

Dal Lake, Srinagar

After resting for a while in the hotel, I was all set to explore the capital city. Srinagar is dotted with tourist destinations that are impossible to be visited in one day. But I have still tried to cover the most prominent places near Dal lake. Here’s my experience of the Srinagar tour:

  • I started my day with a Shikara ride in Dal lake admiring the carved houseboats, floating markets, and breathtaking landscapes.

  • Hazratbal shrine is located in the northern area of Dal Lake. So it hardly took a few minutes to pay a holy visit to a religious site.

  • Then, I visited the most popular Mughal gardens; Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh, and Chashme Shahi showcasing a variety of flowers, water channels, and terrace gardens.

  • Our next stop was Lal Chowk and Residency Road (20 minutes drive from Dal Lake) to buy souvenirs and try delectable Kashmiri cuisines (Rogan Josh, Kebabs, Rumali Roti, Lamb Curry and others) which I have always admired.

  • Finally, we ended the day watching the sunset at the renowned Shankaracharya temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Travelling Tip: If time is not a constraint for you, ensure to visit historic landmarks in Old Srinagar such as Shah Hamdan Mosque, Jamia Masjid, and Khanqah-e-Moula while exploring the bustling markets.

Day 2- Sonmarg

(Day trip from Srinagar)

Thajiwas Glacier Trek of SonmargThajiwas Glacier Trek of Sonmarg

Sonmarg which is also known as the ‘Golden Meadows’ is located in Ganderbal district (80km away from Srinagar). We headed to Sonmarg at 7.00 am in the morning to enjoy the picturesque view of snowscapes. 

  • We started with the most iconic Thajiwas Glacier Trek of Sonmarg. Ponies are also available in case you feel tired. Reaching the top, we were spellbound standing above the white snow and watching panoramic views.

  • Water Rafting at Sindh River gave us an adrenaline rush while navigating through the rapids.

  • The most memorable experience was an excursion to the highest mountain pass-Zojila La Pass (11,550 feet above sea level) with rugged terrain, and deep valleys. Did you know? Zoji La means mountain pass of blizzards.

  • Though it took lots of courage and effort, we still opted to explore Zero Point which is about 25 km from Zoji la pass

  • Many tourists prefer to spend a night in Sonmarg in designated camping sites to enjoy bonfires, staying in tents, star gazing, photography, and the tranquility of nature. But, we preferred to go back to our base station. So by evening, we were back to our hotel in Srinagar.

For an extended route, you can also choose to explore Baltal Valley (15 km from Sonmarg) which is a base for Amarnath Yatra Pilgrims.

Day 3- Pahalgam 

(Day trip from Srinagar)

Betaab Valley, Pahalgam

Pahalgam (Valley of Shepherds) is located 95 km to the east of Srinagar. So, it took us around 3 hrs to reach this interesting place which is also the starting point of Amarnath Yatra. 

Don’t forget to head early in the morning!

The place is also known for manufacturing cricket bats, saffron gardens, and apple orchards.

The popular Betaab Valley, Aru Valley, and Chandanwari are the major attractions that I had already planned to visit in Pahalgam. 

Do you know Bajrangi Bhaijaan was filmed here? It's a perfect picnic spot for families, and friends to spend quality time. Pony rides are also available as hiking up or down is not easy in Pahalgam.

  • It took us hardly 10 minutes to reach Betaab Valley (named after Sunny Deol’ and Amrita Singh’s Betaab movie) from Pahalgam city center. The entry fee is INR 100/- per person. It’s worth spending time and money to capture some candid moments against the backdrop of breathtaking views.

  • Our next stoppage was Aru Valley (12 km from Pahalgam). It took us around 30 minutes to reach the valley with magnificent views of Lidder river.

Tip: If you want to extend your trip, you can choose to trek to Kolhoi lake and Tarsar Glacier from Aru Valley.

We were too tired by the end of day and planned an overnight stay at Pahalgam while relishing the taste buds with delicious Kashmiri cuisines.

Note: Outside vehicles cannot enter the Pahalgam premises. So we had to hire a local taxi that dropped us to the hotel in Pahalgam.

Day 4- Pahalgam

Chandanwari, PahalgamChandanwari, Pahalgam

Our final destination was Chandanwari (16 km from Pahalgam). The place is typically covered in snow during winter. For travellers planning a Kashmir trip in winter, make sure to include Chandanwari in your 4-night & 5 days Kashmir Itinerary.

We also explored the Baisaran Valley which is the must-visit attraction of Chandanwari. The snow-capped Baisaran is also called the mini Switzerland. 

Although there are lots of things to do in Chandanwari like trekking, snow activities, high hill tours, and so on. But, we preferred to laze around while soaking in the beauty of Pahalgam, exploring local markets, and trying Wazwan, and Kashmiri Kahwas to name a few. 

I think sometimes the perfect thing to do is ‘Nothing’. After spending the day here we headed back to Srinagar.

Day 5- Gulmarg

Apharwat-peak, Gulmarg

Perched at an altitude of 8,700 meters, Gulmarg is a popular Ski destination in India, especially the Kongdoori-Apharwat location. Although you can visit Gulmarg in summer or Autumn season, it appears to be best in winter with deep layers of snow.

I suggest carrying medicine with you as many travellers struggle with altitude sickness.

  • Skiing was on my checklist. So, we headed to Gulmarg quite early in the morning to take a 1-hour Skiing lesson to learn the basics (posture, moving ahead, stopping, slowing down, etc.). It cost around INR 2000/- pp. Trust me, it’s one of the best things I have done in my life.

  • Besides Skiing, Gulmarg is known for its giant Gondola rides which can be tried in two phases. In Phase 1, the Gondola goes at a maximum altitude of 9800 meters. The ticket is INR 750 per person and is available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Phase 2 takes riders at a height of approx. 14,000 meters through Phase 1. Reaching here, you can witness the LOC and Nanda Devi peak. It is usually closed in extreme winters due to heavy snowfall. The ticket will cost you around INR 950/- pp. 

Did you know? Gulmarg Gondola is Asia’s largest and the world’s second-highest cable car ride.

My advice: Don’t buy tickets online, some days Gondolas are kept off. You’ll end up losing money.

After spending the whole day there, it was time to say goodbye to Gulmarg. We headed back to our hotel in Srinagar and packed our bags. For last-minute shopping, we walked through Lal Chowk and tried lip-smacking snacks at local restaurants.  

Safety Tips To Follow In Kashmir:

No doubt, Kashmir is a good-to-go place. I was warmly welcomed and had a great time there. Thanks to my research, pre-planned destinations, and advance hotel bookings.  Trust me, you won’t regret following my 5 days Kashmir itinerary as I have covered the most-safest tourist destinations.  

Based on my experience, here’s a list of some safety tips that you must remember while travelling to Kashmir.

  • Be attentive throughout your Kashmir trip. Don’t get fooled by the locals selling goods or services, especially Dal Lake. If you are interested, make sure to take it down to 60% of the asked price.

  • The best way to plan your Kashmir holiday is to make all bookings in advance. Ensure to book accommodation, hire a local guide, and private cab to commute within the region. 

  • Get some medicines prescribed by a doctor for vomiting, nausea, headache, or altitude sickness.

  • Winters are extremely cold here, so don’t forget to add layers to your bag.

  • It’s pretty normal to forget things in the hotel. Take your time, pack your bag, and leave for Srinagar airport.  

Moving to the end, I hope you’ll have the best Kashmir trip. Do share some pictures of your travelling experience on my Instagram account.  

My Recommended Sites To Plan Quick Trips 😊

Here are my favourite travel planning sites that you can visit to plan a quick trip to Kashmir:

  • I explored BookYourOwn and other travel sites to gather details like must-visit places, the best things to do, and the best time to visit Kashmir. It helped me create a rough itinerary.

  • I used BookYourOwn to book online accommodations. Their platform is user friendly and hotels are also very affordable. Also They offer great discounts on Kashmir tour packages and zero cancellation charges. However, I'd always wanted to plan my Kashmir vacation my way. So I decided to plan everything on my own.

  • I recommend to obtain a Priority Pass to access the airport lounges during long waiting hours.

  • Skyscanner is something that I always prefer to use. I think it’s the ideal platform to discover the best deals on air tickets.


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enjoy your day

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