Are hired drivers in India safe?

Old Apr 21st, 2010, 05:46 AM
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Are hired drivers in India safe?

I'm an American woman traveling alone to India for a short trip. I have arranged to have a driver and tour guide in Delhi and Agra. Are drivers safe? I'm typically a cautious person, but not paranoid, but I admit my family's comments about my safety ("What if the driver takes you off into the middle of nowhere!) are sinking in a bit... I booked through Le Passage to India, which seems to be a fairly reputable company. Any thoughts? Thanks for the feedback!

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Old Apr 21st, 2010, 05:54 AM
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I booked with a local agency after I got to Jaipur and took off to the Shekhawati region, a bit off the main tourist trail. No problems at all. (And nobody knew where I was, and I didn't have a cell phone.) If you're nervous, take a cell phone, but I'm sure you have nothing to worry about.
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Old Apr 21st, 2010, 10:01 AM
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the driver we had could not have been any safer.... we felt completely at ease in his car in town on and the "highways"...
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Old Apr 21st, 2010, 11:00 AM
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All of my drivers were courteous and totally professional. One was much more than the others and several were better drivers than others. I think if you are hiring one from an established company or through personal recommendations will be fine.
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Old Apr 21st, 2010, 12:18 PM
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Agree with all of above responders. My daughter and i traveled for 2 weeks with a driver, including in some off-the-beaten path areas, and felt fine and safe. He was an excellent driver and very protective and respectful. He was also quite knowledgeable of the car workings under the hood, which he said was a bit part of his job--maintaining the vehicle in tip-top shape and safe working condition.
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Old Apr 21st, 2010, 04:17 PM
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Thanks everyone - I appreciate the feedback! One thing someone else mentioned was to have the driver check in at the hotel with his license. I think it will all work out well. I agree hiring from an established company probably means that the drivers are reputable. I'm excited to visit!

Thanks again!
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Old Apr 21st, 2010, 07:05 PM
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India, and Asia in general, is very safe in terms of crime. There are exceptions of course, but it is generally far safer to travel in India (even alone) than in most other places in the world, including the United States. If nothing else, you are almost never alone in India, and even “off the beaten track” in desert areas there always seem to be people. If you ever feel unsafe, shout out. A crowd of people is sure to come to your rescue.

Hiring a driver or guide through your hotel would be one way to be super sure of safety, as the hotel would know your itin and the driver. Hiring through an established agency recommended in a guidebook, on this board, or through friends or colleagues is another. The recommendation of having the driver give a plate number to the hotel is a good one, hotels often take this as a matter of course when drivers arrive to collect passengers. (I would have the hotel take the car’s license number rather than or in addition to the driver’s own license, as I am afraid to say that the driver’s license may in fact belong to someone else in the family…but I digress).

If you have a mobile phone which works in India, you can call the police or emergency services, the numbers are 100 or 108. However, you would have to know where you are, and you may not actually know your location. So I would try to get help from people nearby (many of whom will have mobile phones too). You can also call the hotel, and have someone on the street tell the hotel where you are.

I have travelled dozens of times on my own with a driver in India and have never had any issues (other than perhaps a bit of an overload on the Punjabi-pop music). This includes everything from drivers hired through hotels to rickshaw taxis hired in the street, and from trips of several days to trips of several hours. Of course these are my own anecdotal experiences, but I believe they would reflect the common experience.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2010, 03:36 AM
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Make sure the driver speaks enough English that you can communicate easily.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2010, 04:06 AM
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you can be rest assured about the Indian hospitality and this goes down to all rungs of the society including Drivers. Indian beleive that " A Guest is equivalent to God" and any normal person would be very courteous and respectful. Exceptions do exist but you have nothing to fear as you can always draw public attention by making some noise and the ordinary man will come to your rescue
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Old Apr 23rd, 2010, 01:13 PM
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Thanks everyone for the advice. I feel much better about this. It's sure to be a great trip! Thanks for all the tips!!!
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 07:39 PM
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this past January my sister and I were in Delhi and because of the fog in Delhi, we decided to drive from Delhi to Jaipur, and fly back to Mumbai from Jaipur. At the recommendation of BostonHarbor I used Yatrik travel in Delhi, they arranged a car for our shopping trips in Delhi and drove us from Delhi to Jaipur. Mr Sharma was our driver, he was just the most wonderful guy, spoke wonderful English, was extremely polite, concerned and protective about us, knew all the right places in Delhi, knew all the addresses, he was just the BEST. They initially told us to pay them up front, which was fine with me, but once we got there they told us we can pay them once the trip ends in Jaipur. I highly recommend them.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 11:48 PM
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After many internet searches over many months and then followed by a couple of emails we (Family of 4) chose Pawan Sharma of Driver India Tour ( due to the number of good recommendations. We were very worried about meeting him for the first time on our arrival at Dehli airport at 2am in the morning. Not to worry, as agreed there was the friendly face of Pawan and our driver (Manesh) for the next 30 days (December - January 2010). After paying Pawan enough to cover the first 7 days we set off for our 30 day adventure. We travelled all around Rajasthan - Delhi - Jaiselmer - Jodhpur - Udiapur - Jaipur - Agra and then east to a tiger safari in Bandhavgar and onto Varanasi. At all times Manesh was safely driving and trying to be as helpful as possible. In terms of being the most efficient way to see India I cannot recommend a car & driver highly enough, especially Pawan & Manesh.
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Old May 27th, 2010, 03:38 AM
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They are perfectly safe plus our driver could change a flat tyre faster than an F1 team ...
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Old Jun 8th, 2010, 03:53 PM
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I can just agree with maxabelle and barbtsch. My wife and me also did a tour thru Rajasthan, Delhi, Agra, Orcha, Kajuraho and Varanasi in Nov 2009 for almost 3 weeks. We first had purchased a driver-car-hotel package with Sushil Takur from Oasis Travel, but we were a little bit dissapointed with Sushil. He had promissed us a driver who spoke fluently English, and our driver was very good, ecxept that he didn't speak a word in English. But we decided to continue the trip for the mean while. In Rajasthan we met with Pawan, who was driving two girls from Spain. We asked our driver to always drive behind Pawan, because he knew all the good places. Getting to Agra, we left our initial driver. As we made good friendship with the Spanish girls, they accepted that we went all four of us in Pawan's car to Orcha, Kajuraho and Varanasi. We didn't have to pay one cent extra for this. We were very impressed with Pawan, he speaks fluently English, knows all the insider tips, puts his clients in hotels with good value and you just feel confortable with him. I can just recommend anybody to hire Pawan.

Good trip to incredible India.

Frank Ermlich
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Old Jul 3rd, 2010, 05:35 PM
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Greetings from Australia.

I couldn't agree more with the information provided above about Pawan. It seems to be a combination of many variables but safety on the road is paramount. He is also truthful about commission shops (he won't put you in an awkward position to buy something you don't want) and he allows you to explore Rajasthan as you want. I didn't want someone talking in my ear the whole time - i had a guidebook that gave me deep history and then from site to site i could hire an additional guide if i felt i needed it (which only happened once). You don't need someone holding your hand the whole time but you do need some sage advice and that is Pawan.

My review is below but you can read many more at his testimonials page here:


Drop him an email and tell him Peter and Mechele sent you or you can contact us directly thatsthat at

Choosing a driver in India is no easy task.It can make or break whether you will have an amazing time in India or not. With choosing a driver there are many many worries. Will your driver be trustworthy, a safe driver, have a reliable car, friendly, understanding, honest,offer a reasonable rate and able to accommodate if you have any changes or different needs.

Pawan Sharma is the ultimate and only driver we would recommend in India do not be fooled by the current design of the website. Pawan is all the great things you are looking for in a driver in India for your trip and more.

He is honest, funny, reliable, respectful, flexible, knowledgeable, patient, conscientious, caring and has the maximum amount of professionalism you could wish for when booking your journey.

We loved our Rajasthan experience, but mostly we loved it because we were lucky enough to travel with Pawan. We understand now that a driver from his team is hand picked by Pawan himself and only part of the driving team according to the above attributes.

Driving in India can be a scary,chaotic and confronting experience - there is no way I would trust just anyone with this, but with Pawan we felt safe at all times. From city to village travelling with Pawan was a joy. The accommodation he recommended was perfect each and every time and the restaurants and local street food he assisted us with were fantastic.

Nothing was a problem for Pawan and he picked up on things we enjoyed and adjusted things accordingly as we went.He knows the sites well and has many recommendations of textiles or as your taste likes.They are recommendations though from the heart and honest - not from a scamming or commissioning angle as many drivers operate in India.

Pawan always provided clean drinking water for our journey and fresh fruit.He made regular stops and to his credit we covered large distances but we always felt there was enough time to do everything, nothing felt rushed.

Pawan’s English is excellent and this is a huge advantage in being able to express yourself in India. Pawan often translated for us in local villages when we were engaged in a wonderful location with the locals, our chance meetings were incredible experiences but that was because Pawan was more than happy to translate and let us enjoy these incredible moments in India.

The passenger is what matters to Pawan at all times.

In our experience Pawan’s style was perfect he briefed us on each site we went in to and advised that there are guides inside the site if we wanted to pay for them to take us around but up to us. My feeling is if you spoke with Pawan upfront that you would want him to be part of the guiding as well - that this is something which can be worked in to your tour package cost. For us the way Pawan worked it was what we wanted at the site he would give us great advice on entry and what to expect inside when you are visiting different tourist sites and what may be expected on entry fees etc giving us our space to explore places in your own time.

Since we have been home we have many friends & family who have thought about India but have been too worried given some stories they have heard and being with a driver they could trust. We are a married couple in our mid 30’s but we can tell that Pawan would be a caring driver no matter what your age.

We can not recommend Pawan & his tour company highly enough as who you should hire when you come to India.If you want to experience India our recommendation is to do it with his company. You will not regret and most likely you will just be planning your next visit like we are.

Peter Gilchrist & Mechele Axford, Sydney Australia

Here are some links to us with Pawan on our trip January 9th - 24th Rajasthan 2010
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Old Nov 10th, 2010, 11:11 AM
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Old Nov 10th, 2010, 12:21 PM
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I realize it depends on itinerary, but could anyone provide a general sense of cost for car and driver for multi-day trip and/or a short journey, say from Delhi to Jaipur with sightseeing en route? Thank you.
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Old Nov 11th, 2010, 11:28 PM
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I used a driver for five nights and six days in March 2008 to do the Golden Triangle Delhi-Agra-Jaipur.

I paid a little more than I had to because I had done some thorough research on and after the trip I tipped well because he gave excellent service both as a driver and interpreter. He was also a great source of local knowledge when needed. All up I paid 11000 rupees for the five days, including tip, to have the driver available with car whenever I needed him during that period.

You could probably do it cheaper, possibly half that, but I doubt you could do it better

That worked out to about AU$57 a day then and would be less than $50 a day now.

My India trip reports, including the driver's web-site, start here:

The second and ninth reports are the most relevant to drivers.

Cheers, Alan
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