First trip to India advice

Aug 12th, 2019, 01:52 PM
  #1  
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First trip to India advice

My husband and I are active 62 yr. olds and have traveled extensively on our own planning ourselves. We are considering a trip to India this November and feel we should have a guide and driver. We have not done our homework this time due to unforeseen circumstances so are looking for any help out there.
We love adventure and off the beaten path experiences but also want to see the highlights. We are thinking about staying 3 weeks this trip.
Typically we donít love cities and prefer countryside. We love markets, meeting the local people and experiencing their culture. Touring some temples interests us but too many. We think this trip we should stay at more high end hotels to recover from the expected onslaught to our senses each day. Perhaps we are being overly cautious in doing this but we thought perhaps it is best for our first trip there.
We definitely want to visit Varanasi for a couple of days at least as we think it sounds really interesting.
Any advice?

Thanks in advance.
hurrygirl is offline  
Aug 12th, 2019, 03:03 PM
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Find one of the (many) excellent Indian Travel agents and let them arrange a driver (and guide where you want one). Go to the top of this page and choose "view by country" and select India from the drop down menu. You will then see all recent threads about India. Some of the agencies that get recommended here are Legends and Palaces, Castle and Kings, Panorama. There are others as well. If you have never used an agency before, you will want o tell them exactly what you are interested in - what kinds of places and experiences - what kinds of hotels, etc. You can change any of the arrangements once you get their proposal, but it is good to start out by giving them as much info as your can about your wishes. Have a wonderful trip!
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Aug 12th, 2019, 03:48 PM
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Good advice from Kathie.
I have personally used Mr. VP Singh from Legends and Palaces and vouch for him without hesitation. We procured a car and driver from him during our last trip and will use him again for our upcoming trip though just for rides to and from the airport most likely.
I suggest being careful about sanitation there so see a travel clinic before you go for at the least getting appropriate meds for "Delhi belly" if you get it.
November is good though I would suggest later in the month as the weather there is cooling off.
Have fun!
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Aug 12th, 2019, 06:51 PM
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jacketwatch's post reminds me - do make sure you have all appropriate immunizations for your destinations in India. www.cdc.gov/travel
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Sep 5th, 2019, 07:38 AM
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Thank you for the advice
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Sep 7th, 2019, 08:55 PM
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Advice above is good, consult a travel agent specifying your interests. I’ve used Indian Panorama and India by Car and Driver with great success. I’ve also met Mr VP Singh of Legends and Palaces. Last year he kindly treated us to a night in his home city of Patiala. We had a brilliant time with him. You can read about it in my report from November 2018.

For a first time visit I’d suggest Delhi, Varanasi, Agra, then focus on Rajasthan. So many choices in Rajasthan, the hugely interesting historical city of Jaipur, maybe time in the painted havelli of the Shekwati region, Jodhpur with an amazing fort and great markets, Udaipur on it’s pretty lakes, while Bundi is another small town in Rajasthan worth visiting for its views, relics and ease of getting around. There’s countryside options too. We loved the Hacra desert experience near Jodhpur.

Deciding what you can accomplish in three weeks is a challenge.
Refine, research, refine, ask questions - that’s what I do
sartoric is offline  
Sep 8th, 2019, 05:03 AM
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We used VP Singhs services before and I can vouch for him if you want a private guide.
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Sep 8th, 2019, 06:42 PM
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Hi Hurrygirl. Very wise to use a travel planner for your trip to India. As others noted above, there are good travel companies people to advise you. Contact several of course, to compare.
For over ten years now, I've been helped in many ways by Tim at IndianPanorama, and the great support staff there. (I think this is the company Kathie meant when she listed "Panorama)". If you see Progol's recent South India trip report, you'll read her mention of the company, as well as in others' India trip reports.
That you "don't love cities and prefer countryside" is a big step in the right direction! for enjoying India!
Email : [email protected]
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Sep 8th, 2019, 08:34 PM
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Here's another vote for Tim from Indian Panorama. He's actually from New Zealand, to it's quite easy to communicate with him. He does not get irritated if you ask lots of questions, and take forever to plan your trip. The only advice I would give you when working with him is to heed his advice about hotels, and don't cheap out, like I did. Hotels in India are not good value because of high land prices, so you would have to spend quite a bit to get a decent room. Cheap hotels in India are really gross, even worse than dives in the US. Food is a bargain, so it all works out.

I agree with sartoric about where to visit the first time. We visited Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Mumbai (you can skip), and Varanasi. On that trip, we only used a guide in Agra. On my second trip, I used Indian Panorama, because I needed a driver to visit Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
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Sep 9th, 2019, 06:07 AM
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Thank you for your advice.
hurrygirl is offline  
Sep 9th, 2019, 06:08 AM
  #11  
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Thank you. Will do.
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Sep 9th, 2019, 06:10 AM
  #12  
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Thank you. Sounds good.
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Sep 9th, 2019, 06:12 AM
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Thank you Cali nurse. I will contact Tim. I believe you helped us plan our trip to SE Asia Jan., 2018 which turned out to be fantastic!
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Sep 9th, 2019, 06:14 AM
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Thank you. We will contact Panorama. The areas you mention look fantastic!
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Sep 9th, 2019, 10:09 AM
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I'm surprised that in a country as diverse and huge as India that everyone seems to recommend the same old itinerary, despite the fact that there may very well be places that would suit hurrygirl better if she really did a deep dive into the possibilities. It may be that the suggestions are as good as any if her interest is general but maybe not. I think once someone has a sense of their own travel style & preferences they should be able to sort through the chaff & usual suspects to come up with places of optimum interest.

I did have the very useful help of an Indian agent on my 1st trip but had to do a lot of directing to come up with the itinerary I wanted. The assumption was that we all do the same forced march from well-known place to place & stay in the same sorts of hotels. Neither was true for me & I ended up thrilled with the outcome. Hurrygirl, you may be thrilled with the usual, but maybe there are better options. I just didn't want to leave you with the impression that the proscribed destinations are necessarily the best.

I've been to India now 3 times for a total of about 5 months and of the places named above, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Varanasi, I've been to Delhi. On my first month-long trip I went to Delhi, Shimla & Rajasthan (Jodhpur, a wonderful desert palace called Rohet Garh & Jaiselmer). I'm not suggesting these would be right for you but neither might the others listed. I have the feeling that you're satisfied with the places you've been directed in part because you know the names. I am suggesting that you might very well come up with a more interesting list yourself (not that anywhere in India is uninteresting). Unless you're content with "the usual" & I have no criticism of anyone's own choices, I suggest you give it more thought & time making the decisions. I'll add for context that I was about your age when I began visiting India & traveled alone 2 of my 3 visits.
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Sep 10th, 2019, 05:49 AM
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Thank you Mme Perdu. That is great advice which we will consider.
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Sep 11th, 2019, 07:28 AM
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hurrygirl,

Congratulations on your decision to visit India! You’ve gotten a lot of good advice here and I just want to second (or third or fourth) the recommendation for Tim and his team at Indian Panorama. We just returned from our second trip to India and they did an amazing job.

India is an incredible place with so many options that it can be so difficult to pare it down for a limited time frame. Of course you know what your own interests are and what you’re looking for, but there is a reason why the “same old itinerary” is recommended and used frequently - it’s an amazing selection of places! You aren’t going to be able to see it all, so focus on those things that are of most interest to you.

On our first trip, we went to Delhi, Varanasi, Agra, and Rajasthan, staying in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bundi, Udaipur, and Jaisalmer, with several fascinating stops along the way. We loved our trip - and as an introduction and seeing some of the world famous sights in real life was nothing short of mind blowing. We loved pretty much everywhere we went.

Varanasi was as intense as intense as any place I’ve ever visited, but also a wonderful experience. It’s not an easy place to visit, yet it captures so much of what we loved about our first trip. Of course, seeing the Taj Mahal is remarkable - and even seeing all the other visitors from all over the world was fun! In Rajasthan, you’ll likely see more forts than temples (although you’ll see the latter, too). My favorite fort was in Bundi, a smaller and less-visited city, and the art work within the fort and palace was stunning. We stayed in a number of heritage hotels and havelis, which we loved. These are usually older buildings that were part of estates, palaces or wealthy homes.

You might want to look at my trip report from that trip:

Just returned from an amazing trip to India!

Our more recent trip was to Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It’s a little less dramatic and probably a good place for those who are timid about the challenges of India. Tamil Nadu has thousands of temples, many of them are part of large complexes, with remarkable soaring towers and smaller temples and shrines within. Here is the heart of the culture in this region.

Kerala is lovely, much of it lush, and no surprise as it is filled with small,waterways, making it a relaxed place to visit. We really enjoyed our stay in Cochin, too.

My current trip report is, alas, only partly written, but you can see some of the (many!) photos from that trip!

A world away in 5 weeks - India to Sri Lanka and back

Hope this helps!





Last edited by progol; Sep 11th, 2019 at 07:38 AM.
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Sep 11th, 2019, 09:32 AM
  #18  
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Hi Progol,
thank you for your detailed note. Your trips report is great.
We are now working with Tim with Panorama to plan a trip to Rajasthan area this Nov. He seems great and is working madly to get it to come together for us so last minute.

Thanks again
hurrygirl is offline  
Sep 11th, 2019, 11:42 AM
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Hurry (my dear) girl..through India is by no means a pleasant experience. Some of the hardcore veterans above have 'braved' the length & breath of the mighty land...enjoying the essence of what the mystical country offers. A land of extremes. Raging rivers , mighty mountains, holiest of the holy, filthiest of filthy contrasting in every aspect.....
The sensible fordorites above have a positive hint. Many have done it 'solo', to repeatedly tell lasting , lilting tales, singing praises of divine hospitality , soft on the heart,overly helpful simple folk
..while an eternally paranoid few fodorites,talk of 'women predatory ' ...' women obsessed ' bunch of marauding maniacs, prowling the dark side of India. True , but as true as any place else in this wonderful world.

The truth. India is beautiful, mystical, endearing, enigmatic, unsystematic, magical and most of all magnetic.

A sincere piece of advice.

Go with a planner , atleast, first time around, for folks of your age. ..
Round two...you'll be doing it on your own.
pl post experience. Will help folks like you here in the future
Have a great trip.
inquest is offline  
Sep 11th, 2019, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by inquest View Post
Hurry (my dear) girl..through India is by no means a pleasant experience. Some of the hardcore veterans above have 'braved' the length & breath of the mighty land...enjoying the essence of what the mystical country offers. A land of extremes. Raging rivers , mighty mountains, holiest of the holy, filthiest of filthy contrasting in every aspect.....
The sensible fordorites above have a positive hint. Many have done it 'solo', to repeatedly tell lasting , lilting tales, singing praises of divine hospitality , soft on the heart,overly helpful simple folk
..while an eternally paranoid few fodorites,talk of 'women predatory ' ...' women obsessed ' bunch of marauding maniacs, prowling the dark side of India. True , but as true as any place else in this wonderful world.

The truth. India is beautiful, mystical, endearing, enigmatic, unsystematic, magical and most of all magnetic.

A sincere piece of advice.

Go with a planner , atleast, first time around, for folks of your age. ..
Round two...you'll be doing it on your own.
pl post experience. Will help folks like you here in the future
Have a great trip.
The last paragraph is sound advice. For a first timer don't do it on your own. After you see it for yourself then decide if and how you want to go again.
Walk first, run later.
You have said you want a guide and driver and I think that is a wise choice. You know best what you need.
All the best, Larry
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