First time trip to India in Jan.2009

May 26th, 2008, 09:41 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 56
First time trip to India in Jan.2009

Hello Fodorians.
My husband and I planning to visit India for the first time and getting different responds about where to stay and where to eat. When we travel we usually trying to avoid touristy way and rather mix with local crowd.However it's not a good idea in India-we have to stay in luxury hotel which coast a lot-why? if we going there to sleep only- otherwise they are not safe. Same about eating - we thought we will eat on the streets and local spots real Indian food, but again was advised against that because it's dangerous, can get sick.
Please tell us what we should do and if it safe to book tour via internet.
Thanks and Happy Traveling.
igemini48 is offline  
May 26th, 2008, 11:19 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,689
I am not totally sure how to respond to your questions, as I am not sure who has been giving you advice (i.e. people who have never been to India, people who have been to India once on a tour and hated it, people who have been to India and got sick, people who have been to India and never got sick). It’s hard to respond to things in a vacuum.

My general comments would be as follows:

1. You do not have to spend a lot on hotels, and especially if you avoid major cities. For a start, get a copy of Alistair Sawday's book called Special Places to Stay India. This has literally hundreds of very interesting places to stay, many in the range of less than US$60 a night and several in the range of less than US$30 a night. They also have a website at, click on the book for India. The vast majority of these hotels are not in the luxury range and some are in the very low budget range, but all look interesting. Also look at Lonely Planet, , their “top-end” hotel reccos are generally very good value for money (although they have started to recco the Imperial in Delhi which is of course a wonderful hotel but hardly in the typical backpacker-Lonely-Planet-reader's-budget).

2. Major cities are more problematic, because in India generally there are too few rooms being chased by too many business and leisure travelers. My colleague in India loves to quote the statistic that there are more hotel rooms in Orlando Fla than there are in ALL of India. This lack of supply is most notable in major cities. You probably aren’t going to Bangalore, but the price of even crappy 2-3 star hotels command there would really surprise you (US$250 and up, the lovely Leela can get US$700 in the busiest season and that ain’t tourists paying that, it’s software engineers, London is cheaper). But Delhi is quite expensive (Mumbai is too, but I would not recommend Mumbai for most first-time visitors). You can probably find some bargains in Delhi, but for the most part, if you avoid cities, you can do better.

2. Having said that, if you want to spend less, you may not get all the comforts of home that you may be used to when traveling elsewhere on a similar budget. The main difference you will find is that a 3-star hotel in India is not going to be anything like a European 3 star, where you know that the hotel is clean, even if the furniture is old, and that everything works. For example, a 3 star in India may not have a back-up generator, and power outages are extremely frequent and common in India. This may mean you won’t have reliable air-conditioning for one thing (you may not have it at all in a 3 star), but even if you are traveling in the winter in North India when you don't need air conditioning, sitting through an hour in the dark in the evening may not be so pleasant or fun. If you want a pool, room service, wireless internet in your room, etc. you are going to be looking at more expensive hotels. Also note that in India, like China, the “star” rating system for hotels is meaningless, so don’t believe the hype on a website. has more and more Indian hotels on it, and is useful for opinions. It will also be about expectations, so if you know what to expect from an Indian 3 star (versus say a Swiss 3 star), then you may have a perfectly fine experience. Sawday has some really interesting hotels in his book and website.

3. For food, I am sure you will get opinions all over the place on this. My personal experience in about 100 trips to India (leave for Delhi and Rikisesh tomorrow) is that I have been ill exactly twice. (I know that the second time was from a salad at the Hilton in Delhi, my fault for eating a green salad I would say, the first was more than 15 years ago, don’t really remember the cause). If you are generally a good traveler as far as food goes, and if you use sensible precautions which you would use elsewhere in most developing countries with a hot climate, IMO you don’t have to be overly concerned. Street food is fine as long as it is freshly cooked and still hot. Only fruits you peel yourself (although at hotel buffets I never observe this rule, I am talking about outside good hotels, for God’s sake I eat sushi in India in good hotels). Cooked vegetables rather than fresh. A yoghurt a day (in the form of lassi or other curds) is helpful for keeping the “good” bacteria” in your gut going. Drink bottled water of course. (Again, in a good hotel, the water will be filtered so you can usually drink it from the tap, if you wanted, but you could certainly brush your teeth with it, another reason to perhaps want to stay at a better class hotel). There are many good restaurants in India as well, both in and out of hotels, you don’t have to limit yourself to street food. (And lots of “real Indians” eat in hotel restaurants too, so don’t think it is only tourists, look around, esp Sunday lunch or business dinners.)

With regard to hygiene, I can take you to a coffee shop at 39th and Broadway in Manhattan that would frighten the life out of you if you think bad hygiene exits only in the "third” world. Also, do not abandon all common sense. If the silverware looks dirty, ask for new ones. If a restaurant seems unclean, leave. Another poster here once said that it is often the difference in food and water, and not really its cleanliness, that upsets people's digestive systems more often than not. (My mother moved from Chicago to NYC almost 50 years ago and STILL thinks the water tastes weird....) These are all things to bear in mind when hearing people’s stories about getting “sick” in India.

Cicerone is offline  
May 27th, 2008, 01:04 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 784
It is wonderful place and very surprising. Have a look at , which is the India Tourism site .

We used Cox and Kings as our guides etc for our first trip and found them good.They are an old ( 100 + years in operation )travel company in India and whilst we paid a premium if you are anxious then using a company like that may be a good idea.On our next trip we will be less conservative in terms of using them as we now feel more confident having been once and know - as much as one can ever anticipate - what to expect .

Do not let people deter you from visiting India .Cicerone's advice is all excellent.
JohnFitz is offline  
May 28th, 2008, 10:08 PM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 14
you don't really need to spend a lot on hotel rooms in india anymore. the concept of bed & breakfast is cathcing up quick and fast in many of the larger cities and it would be great for you to choose a couple of places to stay with families. a decent airconditioned room with attached bathroom and breakfast wouldn't cost more than usd 75 per night for a couple. indian families are very hospitable and will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. they may infact, go a bit over the top to please you and you would need to draw the line of where hospitality should stop ! but yes, like anywhere else you need to be careful in what you choose.
treeoflife is offline  
Jun 4th, 2008, 06:53 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 69
Also think about bed and breakfasts. Probably you'd find that in the guide someone suggested. If you can forgo the perks of a hotel it's a great way to get a reasonable and comfortable place to stay. I stayed in two in Delhi. One place was $50 a night, the other $75. Enjoyed them both. You can use trip advisor to get a feel for the places.
ilanit is offline  
Jun 4th, 2008, 07:04 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 612
igemini48, my wife and I went to India for the first time last year, and spent a fortnight in Assam - very remote and well off the tourist trails. We were out of contact with the outside world for all that time, but always felt safe and had a simply wonderful time. This was despite the Australian Government's "Smart Traveller" advice to avoid the state of Assam due to terrorist bombings, robberies and armed hold-ups!

Our final 10 days was spent in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, where we stayed in the normal tourist haunts.

We ate from street vendors and sidewalk stalls and never had any problems.
Mitch04 is offline  
Jun 4th, 2008, 07:05 PM
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I should add that we are hardly young. The trip was to celebrate out 61st birthdays.
Mitch04 is offline  
Jun 4th, 2008, 07:19 PM
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Posts: 1,025
You could help us be helpful by providing some context: 1) age, interests, what you seek in traveling
2) where have you traveled in the past few years?; 3) what style of travel suits you (laid back or structured, backpacking or upscale?;3) what reasons do you have for booking a tour?
Robbietravels is offline  
Jun 5th, 2008, 12:55 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 7

You might find some good info about Touring India. Do a search on Viamigo you will find loads of info about it! Hope it helps!!
alex15 is offline  
Jun 5th, 2008, 01:22 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Alex15: that's the crappiest site about India I've ever seen.

First time post = spam.

dogster is offline  
Jun 5th, 2008, 07:59 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 897

Am very surprised at the tone of your post. You make a lot of assumptions that in my experience are totally untrue.

I spent a month last November touring India with a friend of mine. The most we ever spent was $100 a night which was in a private home with all meals included. We traveled from Dehli, Agra,the golden triangle and down to Kerala, including Pushkar camel fair and Jasalmer. all of our accomodations were usually very good if not always super de luxe.

We ate some street food, in local restaurants and had great meals and a great time.

I am in my late 60's and my friend in her 50's. we traveled by train, bus, hitchhiking (long story) and air. I never felt threatened or in danger. May be harassed by all the shop keepers who were quite aggressive, but never scared.

The trip was completely independent of any tour, and if I wasn't going to other parts of Asia this fall I would return in a heartbeat.

There is a very good forum on that will cover anything and everything you need to know

Go and enjoy
Nywoman is offline  
Jun 5th, 2008, 10:58 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 678
If you are planning to come to the north & west India, including Delhi, Rajasthan, Agra or varanasi, you will find hotel accomodation to suit all budgets. You do have top class hotels which will definitely cost a lot. You also have some nice economy properties with ambience, well furnished rooms, spotlessly clean toilets & serve good food.
As for partaking of food at the roadside, you will find good eateries, locally called 'Dhabas'. They serve fine vegetarian meals. One generally needs to be a bit cautious while ordering a non-veg meal, though. As for having pre-cooked food at a local 'rehri' (a small 4 wheeled cart), I do have grave reservations.
India is perfectly safe & friendly. Let no one deter you from making a trip on that account!
Very Best!!
vp_singh is offline  
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