Do you have Kashmir and India in your travel bucket list?
I know I don’t. But it happened way back in 2016 where my friend pop-up the idea of going to Kashmir. That time around, Kashmir was not famous for Malaysian tourists. I was a bit scared to plan for Kashmir at first but when I started studying about Kashmir and the attractions in India, I just can’t stop reading.
India is famous for its ancient buildings and history. Not to mention, Kashmir is a mini Switzerland where it is more affordable (obviously). I stood in awe when I was looking at the pristine and white Kashmir’s mountains.
How do I plan my visit to Kashmir and India? By studying of course! Let me show you the step-by-step that I did to visit this country.
FIRST: PLACES OF ATTRACTIONS
Do your research and study all the places that you wanted to go to. Question yourself, is it worth going? How long does it take to travel from one place to another? How much time do you need to spend in one place? How much is the entrance fees? *REMEMBER, India is riddled with traffic jams and unpaved roads. An hour’s journey can take up to 2 to 3 hours if the traffic is horrendous. So, you need to put it into consideration while you plan. In my case, I have decided to go to Kashmir and the Golden Triangle (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur). After you’ve got your list of places of attractions, start planning for the SECOND step.
Make yourself flexible with the dates and buy your tickets EARLY if you want to get the cheapest flights available. When I went to India, the cheapest flight I can get was Thai Airways for RM600 with 30kg luggage including meals. Malindo had the same offer but slightly lower check-in luggage which was 25kg but it’s pretty good too. I bought my ticket a bit later than my friends that cost me RM800 and I prefer Malindo airlines since it is a direct flight. If you take Thai airways, you will transit in Bangkok, which adds about 2 to 5 hours of traveling time. If you are okay with it, then just go for it! The most important part is that you get the best deal as possible. Oh! And do not forget that you need a domestic flight to Kashmir which is from Delhi to Srinagar. The cheapest flight that you can get is about RM280 from air India, but AGAIN, you have to buy the tickets 6 months earlier for the best deals.
THIRD: ACCOMMODATION AND TRANSPORT
Do your survey for your accommodation and transportation. Do not stay too far from the places that you want to go to as you want to save the travel time as much as possible. If you rent a van with a driver, you need to make sure that ALL COST is inclusive ( driver’s boarding charges, lodging, fuel charges, all toll taxes, parking charges, and government service tax). You can simply Google “tempo traveller in Delhi” for your golden triangle trip and my tempo traveller was “India by car and driver”. As for Kashmir, I hired my friend to arrange everything. It was easier as he has all the necessary contacts for accommodations and transportation; I just need to pay him for the services. I can recommend you fakhrulaizat, kiwionearth, azreenomar and projectvacation for the service. You can search them on Instagram for further information. If you have someone that you know and trust, just hire him/her to do all the things for you as it will relieve you from all the headaches. AND let’s not forget the communication barrier. It is a MUST for you to hire their local agent for safety purposes.
To apply for your India visa, you can choose between the e-visa or an over-the-counter visa. For e-visa, visit here and do the steps accordingly. The form is quite complicated; please prepare your booked accommodation contact details, softcopy of your photo (with white background), flight details and some of your family details to complete the form. The cost for e-visa is cheaper which is about RM360 for a year (instead of two months in 2018) and can be done online. Over-the-counter Visa cost about RM463 and the visa will be stamped at your passport. Go to the India Visa Centre near Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur to do that. The opening hours are from 9.00 a.m – 12.00 p.m (visa application) and 3.00p.m – 5.00 p.m (for visa pick up).
For over-the-counter VISA, please bring the following before going to the India visa center:
2) 2 photocopy of your passport
3) 2 photocopy of your identification card (ic)
4) 2 copy of visa photo (tell the photoshop that it is for India visa)
5) A copy of your flight itinerary (e-ticket)
Once everything is booked and you’ve got your visa ready, you are good to go! I admit that going to India is more complicated than in any other country that I have visited.
FIFTH: IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
Well, you have done the toughest part of the job! So, before you fly, make a list of things that you need to bring so that you are well-prepared for any circumstances. Let me give you my list:
1) Printed International and domestic flight tickets/ screen capture through phone
2) Make your itinerary so that you will have everything in order (e.g: include the address that you will be staying, the places u want to go to and the entrance fees & etc)
3) Bring enough Indian Rupee and some emergency fund with you (recommended money changer is at Jalan Masjid India).
4) Passport and passport copy
5) E-visa printed copy (for those who are using e-visa, you need to keep it with you at all time)
SIXTH: WHAT TO BRING?
1) Winter Clothes.
Check the weather before you go. We have been experiencing climate change and extreme weather recently, so do not expect that it is not cold in summer for Kashmir.
Bring your own medicine as food poisoning is synonymous with India. I usually bring medicine for diarrhea, pain killer/ headache, fever/flu, muscle pain.
Unless you booked hotels all the way, you don’t need this. But if you will be staying at a boathouse/ hostel, please bring your towel as they will not provide you any.
This is important if you want to sleep comfortably at the airport. Yup! You kind of need to sleep at the airport for 1 night to wait for your next flight to Kashmir. But skip this if you are staying at a hotel.
5) Student Card
If you want to pay 50% less of each entrance fee, then yes, you need to bring your student card, even if you are no longer a student.
So I guess that’s just pretty much about it. You can travel in peace now. I will share with you my 10-days journey to India soon. Have a good day!