Hi All, just wanted to share my experience in Kashmir.. may be helpful to other readers
Trip date- Aug 4th-Aug 11th. 7 adults + 2infants.
We flew into Srinagar. The first day weather was rainy and cold. We booked 13 seater Winger from Srinagar Airport to Phalagam for Rs 3000. This was just a drop as you cannot use Srinagar taxis in Phalagam for local sight seeing. Please do not book taxis for your entire trip as it will be useless in Phalagam.
We stayed for 3 nights in Phalagam. It is the best place in Kashmir, weather was perfect and there was no crowd at all as it was off season, It was raining the first day but it got cleared out the next day. We stayed at Himalaya House. The first day we book Tavera for local sighseeing to Aru valley, Betab valley and Chandanwari.
Betab and Aru valley are best. The local taxi rate is Rs 1800 for the above 3 spots. If you have more time then you can spend atleast a day at each valley. The nest day we took ponys to go to Baisaran. It takes about 1.5 hrs to reach Baisaran by pony. Tip for people with infants- Take baby carriers. Baby will be secure on pony and they will enjoy as well. We travelled with one year old infants and they enjoyed the ride. The peak season rate for ponys to Baisaran is ~1100. As ot was off season we got it for Rs 600 each after negotiating. Baisaran is also called mini switzerland. Another beautiful valley where you can spend a day relaxing and enjoying the view. There are few stalls where you can get maggi, tea, soft drinks etc. The next day our hotel guide took us to 4 km hike along the Lidder river and mountains. I do not have any words to describe the views/hiking experience.. it was just too beautiful. The Winger came back to pick us up at Phalagam. We reserved it for Rs 3k/day for the remaining part of our trip.
Phalagam eating options- There is a nice veg eating place Dana-Pani at mall road(Indian Food). We ate almost all meals at Dana Pani. The food is good and reasonable. There is a coffee shop “Café Login” which you can try for sandwich /pasta etc.
On the way back to Srinagar we stopped for river rafting. If you have not done rafting before then it's a must do. Children under 12 are not allowed. They take you for 15 min ride on the raft, you get completely drenched and thrilled!
The next day we did sigh seeing in Srinagar and Dal Lake Shikara ride., Shikara is Rs 300 for an hour for 4 adults. After staying in Phalagam, you may not find Srinagar sight seeing as beautiful.. Gardnes are ok. Go to Pari Mahal in the evening and do Shiakara at sunset as well.
The next day we went to Sonmarg. To reach to the glacier you will have to use ponys. They quote high rates bit we were able to negotiate to Rs 750/pony. The views are beautiful but the glacier is dirty..It take about 2 hours to reach at the top. We got little panicky as it started raining heavily when we reached at the top as we had kids. I would adivice not to take infants to the main point during rainy season. The weather got cleared in 15 mins as we waited under the shade of tea stall.
On the last day of our tip we went to Gulmarg. This place is famous for the Gondola ride. As soon as you reach the ghoda walla will surround you to take the pony ride. They did not allow our driver to speak, He mentioned that you do not need to take a pony to reach the ticket counter. But the locals did not guided us and they took Rs 400/pony for a short ride to the ticket counter. They keep on telling us that you cannot walk .. its a 3km walk etc.. In fact it's just 1km walk on the road although it is little uphill. Later we found out that the pony rate is just Rs 100 to drop at the ticket counter. Gulmarg pony wallas were extremely rude, they lied to us and over charged us. Anyways we reached around 1pm and the counter was closed for namaz. Tip: Even if you booked your tickets online, you will have to wait in line to get the boarding pass for Gondola. Try to reach at the counter before 12 noon. Gulmarg is about 1.5 hrs drive from Srinagar. We went to Phase 1. Phase 2 was closed due to rains and fog.
Overall we enjoyed the trip.. wished we could have stayed few more days in Phalagam. If you are going for 4 days or less then just stay in Phalagam for your entire trip!