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Trip Report Incredible India with kids! From somone who said they would never go!

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I gather most of my travel advice/ideas from all of you wonderful people on this forum. We have been expats in Asia since 2009. We were first in Beijing and are now in Singapore. I have had a firm "no India" policy since living in Asia. China was dirty enough for me. I couldn't imagine experiencing any more filth and poverty. On top of that in 2009 we had 2 small children and now we have 3 (ages 8,6,3). For our Christmas 2014 trip my husband finally put his foot down. Every vacation had been to a different beach and he said he could no longer take another beach. We had to experience some culture and do some touring. We felt the children were old enough so he convinced me to look at Rajasthan. Despite that fact that I said I would never step foot in India I decided to humor him and look in to it. My first stop was this forum to see what people were saying. Based on the good reviews I decided to contact Arvind at Castle and King and give him our constraints (small children) and asked him to put together an itinerary that would appeal to both my husband and my children. After many drafts this is what we came up with:
Day 1: arrive delhi-stay at JW Marriott at the airport
Day 2-take 1 PM train from Delhi to Ranthambore Tiger National Park. Overnight at Sher Bagh tented camps
Day 3-2 tiger safaris (one in morning and evening). Overnight at Sher Bagh
Day 4-drive from Ranthambore to Jaipur. Overnight at Jaipur Marriott
Day 5-Drive Jaipur-Udaipur. Overnight at Oberoi Udaivilas
Day 6-Udaipur. Overnight at Oberoi Udaivilas
Day 7-Drive Udaipur-Jodphur. Overnight at Ratan Villas
Day 8-Jodphur. Overnight at Ajit Bhawan
Day 9-Fly Jodphur to delhi-overnight at JW Marriott airport
Day 10-Fly home

Highlights of the trip were Ranthambore and Udaipur. Kids absolutely loved the safari and they loved the Oberoi! The Oberoi was fantastic with them. We were supposed to spend only 1 night in Jodphur and then spend 1 night in the desert. It was a 2 hour drive from Jodphur and stay in a tented camp. However, after all the driving we did we decided to scratch that and stay in Jodphur. That is why we had to switch hotels in Jodphur as Ratan Villas was sold out the second night.

I did not take detailed notes but from reading other trip reports it is safe to say we had all the same guides in cities and we had Krishna as our driver. He was fantastic and always entertained the kids while my husband and I did some shopping. Our longest drive was Jaipur-Udaipur at 8 hours. We really shortchanged Jaipur. I initially had skipped it entirely on our itinerary but Arvind convinced me to add it. He said we must do Dera Amer elephant safari in Jaipur. The elephant safari was only ok as we have done them in Thailand and Vietnam as well. I do plan to go back to India and spend more time in Jaipur.

Udaipur was probably our favorite. I don't know if it was because of the hotel or the lake but we had a really nice time there. In Jodphur we did all the textile shopping and used our extra duffel for scarves, duvet covers, rugs, pashminas, etc.

I have completely fallen in love with India and have told all my friends they must do it. Our children loved it and even though we've been all throughout Asia (including the Maldives) they say India was their favorite. I am definitely a convert. I have been back since to see the Taj Mahal and plan to go back again next year. Also, it has definite advantages over China: 1. Everybody speaks English 2. They understand customer service

Sorry I don't have details on restaurants, shopping, etc. Our guide in Udaipur gave us time to shop and took our children to a local cricket match were my 8 year was asked to join. That was definitely the highlight of his trip! The whole vacation was fantastic and I am so glad my husband pushed me to go. If you have children and think India is not the place for you please reconsider Rajasthan! Oh, and in 10 days not one of us got sick!

The main reason for this report is to let people who have children know that India is a fantastic to go. It is hard to find information on different places where someone has taken small children.

Thanks to everyone on this forum who had been to Rajasthan as I combed through trip reports to give Arvind feedback.

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