Help for India itinerary!!

May 25th, 2014, 06:42 AM
  #1  
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Help for India itinerary!!

So, we are planning our trip in late Nov/early Dec to India and Nepal. We have much of the trip organized but have 2 extra days to 'play around with' and include in the following:

What do you recommend? What should we add? More time in one of our choosen citie? Day trip? We feel good about our time in New Delhi, Agra and Nepal. We are really hopin gto find some day trips or other close by places so we aren't on trains or planes any more than we already are. We are fast travelers and don't need to spend days upon days in one place (I know some of you will say we need more time for the entire trip, but really I know we don't). We are not interested in going to Udaipur. Anything close to Varnasi that is doable in 1 day?

Arrive in New Delhi in pm. Spend 3 days
Agra: 1 1/2 days
Jaipur: 2 days
Amristar: 1 1/2 days
Varanasi: 2 1/2 days

Fly to Kathmandu and have 7 days in Nepal
europe2011 is offline  
May 25th, 2014, 07:14 AM
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"I know some of you will say we need more time for the entire trip, but really I know we don't"

So....this is your first trip to India? My first thought is if you already "know" then we can likely be of little use to you here. I'm glad you feel good. India will set you straight.
MmePerdu is online now  
May 25th, 2014, 07:24 AM
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How are you getting from place to place? Do you understand how long travel takes within India?

I'd highly recommend that you not add more destinations. From what you have written you don't have time to see the places you've listed - even if you are "fast travelers."
Kathie is online now  
May 25th, 2014, 08:43 AM
  #4  
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Kathie-
We will be taking a train from New Delhi to Agra. Arriving at 8:-6am in Agra. Train from Agra to Jaipur- arriving at 9:30 am. Flying from Jaipur to Amritsar arriving at 10:20am. Flying from Amritsar to varanasi arriving at 11:30am. Flying from Varanasi to Kathmandu midday.
We assume that arriving to a new city in the morning will give us at least 4-5 hours in the afternoon and evening to see some sites.

MmePerdu- Do you have anything helpful to add about possible day trips or valid ideas? I just know that in the past when I have posted on forums people think we are going to fast on our trips, but we have been traveling the world a few weeks for the past 10 years and have never been disappointed in the time we have choose to stay in places.

What are the top places you would recommend for our trip
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May 25th, 2014, 09:29 AM
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"MmePerdu- Do you have anything helpful to add...?

Sometimes help comes in ways you don't know you need, such as now. When you ask for help from those of us with loads of experience traveling in the places you ask about, and then say you "know", when it's clear you don't, the best thing for you is to help you understand that fact. Travel in India is more fraught, I suspect, than anywhere else you've gone to date. If you make your way around at breakneck speed, you miss the most worthwhile aspects of being in India, the detail, only apparent when you slow down.

With the attitude that travel is travel and you've done it all before, the best favor I could do is to possibly get you to consider that this might be a different sort of trip than your experience is dictating. Adding day trips to what you have already is beside the point. If only you knew. I suggest you just carry on, as is, and then come back for a decent visit another time. I also suggest you not have an attitude about what's said here or, again, you'll miss what's most valuable to you.
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May 25th, 2014, 09:35 AM
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Ok, good, it sounds like you have sorted out your transportation.

Saranath is a reasonable day trip from Varanasi.
Kathie is online now  
May 25th, 2014, 11:34 AM
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This thread is a good reminder for me that in travel, as in life, how a thing is done will certainly be different for different people. There are ways in which I live my life that the OP would no doubt consider "lite", not done as they'd do it. So just because I think it's a dumb way to see India, doesn't mean it will turn out that way for the OP.

I once lived in an historic district and there was a committee that decided what changes to buildings would be allowed, including even paint color. I had a very tasteful friend who was a designer and was on the committee. He took a very liberal view concerning people's desires for their homes, saying "everyone should be allowed to have bad taste". Which is an opinion without trying to impose his will.

It's clear that there are different kinds of tourists/travelers. Some go to learn and see what's there, some go to have preconceptions verified or not and some go with their bucket list in mind. I don't know which these are, nor does it matter. However, when asking for information on a forum, we also get opinion, I don't know how it can be avoided. We all think our way is the right way. What I should do, rather than rant, is choose to answer only those posts that exhibit some indication that we have some point of style in common. I apologize for trying to impose my will, as in this, as in purple houses, you should have what you want without undue criticism.
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May 25th, 2014, 12:12 PM
  #8  
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Thanks Kathie- I'll look into it.

What are the airports like in India in terms of security waiting times, check in times etc...

What do you think about our transportation? Overnight trains sound dreadful to us so we didn't opt for taking any.
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May 25th, 2014, 01:07 PM
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In my experience in India, the airports are chaos.

Are you having a local agent put this together for you? I do recommend it, especially since you are scheduling this so closely. An agent will make sure you get from place to place. And once you get there, to get you to your hotel and to the sights you want to see. I wouldn't count on the flights being on time.
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May 25th, 2014, 03:10 PM
  #10  
cwn
 
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I can't help you with your last two stops, Amristar: 1 1/2 days & Varanasi: 2 1/2 days, but I think you could use another day in Jaipur and a day driving from Agra to Jaipur.

Delhi and Jaipur Airports are congested as is city traffic so it does take up touring time to get started once in Jaipur or any of the cities.

We loved Jaipur and would have liked more time there. We arrived by car and driver about 5 pm and had the next full day and the following day until about 2 pm when we headed back to Delhi. You will lose most of the morning just getting started in Jaipur. It is a huge spread out city with very interesting parts.

We drove, Delhi to Agra, left at 8 and made our first stop in Agra at about 11 then visited the Fort and checked into our hotel at ~2, Lots of people do the train and find it interesting, but we enjoyed the drive...it is a new good highway with no traffic. A day and a half in Agra is more than enough time to see Taj at sunrise and sunset plus the other interesting sites.

If you fly to Jaipur, you will miss one of the places we really liked, Fatehpur Sikri, I would suggest you look in to driving from Agra to Jaipur...that is a fascinating trip and a real look into the countryside. Plus you can visit a wonderful old step well, Chand Baorior, in a tiny village before getting to Jaipur. There is also the monkey temple along the way if you are interested in temples.

Take a look at our day by day blog with pictures. We were there April 2013 and visited three cities, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur spending 6 nights total...a very fast trip. I was determined to see the Taj. DH had no interest in going to India period, so would only agree to a short trip...I crammed as much as I could into our days and he loved every minute, much to his surprise!!!

www.springmix3013.blogspot.com Go to the botton of the write up and click on April 12 to read about our time in India.

Kathie is right...using an agent at least for the transportation part of your trip helps smooth out wrinkles when they happen.
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May 25th, 2014, 07:37 PM
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Thanks for the link to your blog cwn, I just read about your time in India. I remember that intersection outside Agra very well, our trip was in March 2012, so they still haven't fixed it !
It is amazing to experience the road chaos.
We were lucky (?) enough to witness the aftermath of a traffic bingle, tour bus T-boned a 4WD. 60 or so men armed with big sticks were soundly thrashing the bus, 6 had hold of the door handle trying to force it open. Our driver said that only the bus driver would get beaten up, the passengers wouldn't be harmed - unless of course the broken glass got them !
I guess what I'm getting at Europe2011, is that you might enjoy at least one car journey. There's really nothing like driving in India.
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May 25th, 2014, 08:27 PM
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Cwn- thanks for the tips. Still reading through your blog, but so far it is wonderful!! Very helpful and great to see your trip!

Hiring a driver is an idea we didn't really explore and now sounds like it would be wonderful. How much was it to hire Rishi? Where did you hire him from? Hotel? Agency?

So, the drive from Delhi to Agra is 3 hours or so? And the drive from Agra to Jaipur is around 4-5 hours?

What do you guys mean by "using an agent for transportation needs"? Do you mean hiring a driver? Do you mean booking trains/flight though an agent rather than on our own? We were planning on booking trains/planes on our own. If we hire a driver, which sounds like a great idea, we will need to figure that our. Hopefully with your help and input.
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May 25th, 2014, 08:46 PM
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What we're getting at is that all transport in India is subject to delay/cancellation. If you have used an Indian travel agent to book flights, trains etc, they will help when things go pear shaped.

If you contact several agents with your proposed itinerary, asking for quotes, you might be surprised at how little is the difference in cost from what you can book yourself. Then you have the peace of mind knowing you won't be stranded on some random platform.

Worth the exercise I think.

Most on this board are self planners and widely travelled, but India is a whole different ball game.
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May 25th, 2014, 08:58 PM
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We have never booked any part of any trip with an agent so this is a new idea for us. Do you mean contact a travel agent locally in US? I just am not sure what you mean. Also, why wouldn't we get stranded on some random platform if we book with an agent? (Not even sure what that means...)
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May 25th, 2014, 09:23 PM
  #15  
cwn
 
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europe2011....We used India by Car and Driver and Ramesh (the owner) arranged for our car and driver and guides at any of the sites we felt we wanted one. We had the same driver for the whole six days and it was ~$450 total including the two guides we had, cooler with ice water,tolls, gas, a local cell phone to call our driver or the Agent in case we needed something and a comfortable clean new SUV. As you see our guide took good care of us and was so very nice! Others on this board have used Castle and Kings and liked them also/

By "transportation needs" we mean cars trains and planes...Things can really go sideways in India so I would think you would want someone to call to sort the mess out. I did!

The agents will also arrange for hotels at any price level you ask for, but we were a bit timid about putting our trip all in one person's hands as we normally travel independently. So I arranged direct with the Oberroi for a great package deal.

The agent asked if he could price the hotel package also and was $200 cheaper for the same deal, but my Doubting Thomas (DH) was uncomfortable with that so I went with the hotel direct for his peace of mind....remember he didn't want to go! Most people told me the Indian agents can do better on the hotel price, but I liked paying the hotels direct.

From Agra to Jaipur took us from abut 8:30 when we finally left the hotel until just after 5 when we arrived at our hotel in Jaipur. That was one of the best days...glad we drove that leg. The stretch between Delhi and Agra and Jaipur and Delhi is much tamer, shorter driving time with interesting scenery, but nothing much to actually stop for...unless it is a Hindu funeral procession!

Agra to Jaipur took all day because we made a long stop at Fatehpur Sikri where our agent provided a guide. It is a great place....the only tourist there that day were Indians dressed to the nines out seeing their country. On the shuttle bus back down to the parking lot we had some wonderful interaction with them. We stopped at a very nice clean restaurant (the hotel had packed a lunch for us so we got drinks and a sweet) around 1pm and then at the step well which is very interesting as is the temple across the street. We were shown around by a local there. It was so worth the all day drive just to see rural India.

sartoric Thanks for the compliment on the blog.. the driving through India was one of the things my DH loved the most, but then he hates the pressure of meeting plane and train schedules and the hassle of dealing with the security checks.

Yes. the intersection is still there and the train was stopped on the tracks making it worse! But it is classic India!!!
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May 25th, 2014, 09:38 PM
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We are talking about contacting an Indian agent. A US agent just adds another layer that is rather useless in India. If you are using flights and one gets canceled, call the agent and they will sort it out for you and get you on your way a lot easier and probably faster than you could do it yourself. There are lots of layers in India that we in the US are not use to dealing with.

This was the first trip I have ever used an agent for and it was the best thing I did. I used an Indian company and paid them in cash when we got to Jaipur, more than half way through the trip! Needless to say I was a bit out of my comfort zone, but it was no different from many reports I had read on Fodors. In 10 years of using help from the board, I have not been disappointed. We tend to travel "fast" by most Fodors' standards, but the basic travel information is the same whether you spend 2 days or two weeks.
cwn is offline  
May 25th, 2014, 09:56 PM
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Europe2011, you still may be stranded on a random platform, but you will have a local agent to sort out an alternative. I did say an Indian travel agent, no use in adding an extra layer as cwn says.

I've never used an agent before either, and have traveled to many third world countries. India is just so different to anywhere else.

Castle and Kings is highly recommended on this board, there is also the one cwn recommend.
We used Target Tours, which was fine.

Given that your trip is a few months away, what could it hurt to get some quotes for comparison ?
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May 25th, 2014, 09:59 PM
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PS - a train platform.
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May 26th, 2014, 05:29 AM
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I completely agree that it's a good idea to have an agent in India. Traveling in India is not like traveling in Europe or even other parts of SE Asia. It might be doable on your own, but the potential for difficulties and challenges is much higher and having someone who is your contact person provides a level of security and ease.

We are also independent travelers and found it odd that we would need an agent, but like the others have said, so glad we did. There were a few snafus which got resolved quickly and easily, but it's also the idea that there is someone in the background -- India really ISN"T like other places, and it's a good feeling to know someone is there.

We used TGS Jaipur -- we were very happy with this company - . A few others on this board have used them, too. There are other companies that have been used by other Fodorites, and it's worth contacting them to see if you can work with them.
progol is offline  
May 26th, 2014, 06:34 AM
  #20  
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This is some great advice.

I am still not understanding what we would we need an agent for. Please help me understand the reason of having one. Can you give some exact situations that it would be necessary/helpful. I am like you guys and have also planned and traveled without one so I am curious on what they would be able to do. I am very open to getting quotes and seriously looking into it, but please give me some more information.

Any other companies to inquire with besides TGS Jaipur.

@cwn- you said "From Agra to Jaipur took us from abut 8:30 when we finally left the hotel until just after 5 when we arrived at our hotel in Jaipur."
That included stopping at some sites, right? That wasn't the time it took from one city to the next?
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