Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Asia (
-   -   How many Fodorites are heading to India soon? (

welltraveledbrit Oct 22nd, 2004 10:46 AM

How many Fodorites are heading to India soon?
I'm heading to India in November(24 Nov-23 Dec). I've wanted to go for ages but our excuse for this extra trip (we were in Brazil in August)is to visit friends in Delhi. I've noticed there seem to be quite a number of people asking about many Fodorites are heading there soon and where are you going?

In making our hotel bookings in Rajasthan (Bundi, Udaipur, Rohetgarh, Deogarh, Jaiselmer, Jaipur and Shekawati)it seemed it was very busy and several hoteliers told me this year looks much busier than last.

I'm curious to know when and where you're going (I wish we had time for Kerala)and why you're picking India this year?

Dori Oct 22nd, 2004 12:26 PM

I'm planning to go the end of March. I chose India because I've been fortunate enough to do a lot of europe, usa, mexico and caribbean and it was just time to do something different. I'll be doing the golden triangle. By the way, have you received any vaccinations?

Craig Oct 22nd, 2004 12:53 PM

India has become a much more popular destination due to better infrastructure and an influx of luxury hotels. We are doing the very basic "Golden Triangle" tour - Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore and Delhi in February. My travel agent has informed me that I was lucky to book early as hotel rates have skyrocketed from last year. We picked India because we are "ready" - in recent years we have done Bali, Thailand, Turkey and Kenya.

obenr Oct 22nd, 2004 01:00 PM

Craig, I am assuming your travel agent is Durjay. May I ask you when you booked your trip with him. I have been working with him since February this year and just recently got confirmed in Rajvilas and Udaivilas. He is also telling me that he has to charge the new prices. I am quite disappointed since we were working with him since February so I wanted to know if he is just pulling my leg (I hope not!). Was just curious.

welltraveledbrit Oct 22nd, 2004 01:38 PM

The question of changing pricing is interesting...we're not staying at any of the Oberoi Vilas properties but if you go for 3 nights there's waa package rate on website...though this still may be more than through a local agent.

We've opted for the family run heritage properties and some of them have increased their pricing significantly from last year.

In several cases it seems to be a question of increasing numbers of tourists and good publicity. For example Deogarh which has had alot of write ups in European and Japanese magazines is very busy and has switched from pricing in Rupees and dollars to pricing in Euros which has made for a significant increase...particularly for US based travelers.

However, that being said the fact is that alot of the family run heritage properties appear to be a bargain by US or European standards.

We haven't got our vaccintations yet but it's the next thing on my list as I did get our visas at the Indian consulate in SF last week.

snapple Oct 22nd, 2004 01:47 PM

we are going to india as well in nov for a couple of weeks....
delhi, kerala and the maldives.

Craig Oct 22nd, 2004 01:48 PM

Hmmm...sorry to hear that obenr. Yes my TA is Durjay. I've been trying to finalize things this week (deposits etc.) but its been difficult because he apparently had a server problem and was being besieged with SPAM - could not sort the good stuff from the bad. We got our pricing about 6 months ago and were confirmed back then for our hotels - Amarvilas, Rajvilas, Sher Bagh and Imperial (we already knew our flight info so dates were firm) - Compass Tours has a policy that once you are "confirmed", pricing does not change so I did not expect him to reneg on the deal and he did not. Quite honestly I saw the price increase coming (articles in the NY Times travel section etc.) and acted accordingly - India is right now a "hot" tourist destination. I should point out that Durjay is providing us with a full time driver plus a tour guide at several destinations.

obenr Oct 22nd, 2004 03:23 PM

thanks for responding Craig. Durjay also gave us a quote maybe in March and but confirmed the hotel reservations just last week. so maybe that's the difference. it's a difference of a bout $400 which is quite a lot since we are only going to be in jaipur and udaipur for a total of 4 days (he is also providing driver and car with guide). anyway, we are excited about the trip nevertheless. we have a CRAZY honeymoon itenerary. we start in the Maldives, then Colombo (1 night) then Udaipur, Jaipur, Kerala and finally, South Africa! All in 17 days!!! We chose India specifically because like the rest who have posted, we have been lucky to visit SE Asia,US, Carribean, Australia and Europe a lot so we wanted a "different" destination. We can't wait!!!

Lyndie Oct 22nd, 2004 03:48 PM

Hi wtb-we're independent travellers and we are off on Dec 1 to Koh Samui, Krabi & maybe another island if we have time then India Dec 18 for 2 weeks. We will vist Delhi, Agra, Jaipur & Udaipur. We decided on a unrushed trip and will spend Xmas at JasVilas in Jaipur. Lily (at JV) has been exceedingly patient with me as I've chopped & changed dates etc. Her prices have not risen since we first talked about staying with her in June. We've visited China, Vietnam (twice), Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Turkey, Greece, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Fiji, Argentina, Peru & Chile since Mar 2003 so thought India was as good a choice as any! The weather in Dec is apparently good. We had Hep B, Typhoid and Meningicoccal vaccines. We already had several vaccines for Africa & Sth America so just needed "top-ups". Have a most delightful holiday!

snapple Oct 22nd, 2004 05:35 PM

obenr -- sounds like an absolutely fascinating honeymoon. where will you be staying in the maldives?

obenr Oct 22nd, 2004 09:14 PM

hi snapple! we are staying at the Soneva Gili in the Maldives for 4 days, Colombo House in Colombo (just for the day), Udaivilas, Rajvilas, Malabar House and houseboat with Tourindia in Kerala and finally Ulusaba and Londolozi Safari Lodge in South Africa! Quite exhausting just thinking about it! We are still aiming to add Dubai (One and Only Resort in Jumeira Beach) but my fiancee is having a hard time pulling off an additional 4 days!

Rajhelp50 Oct 23rd, 2004 06:38 AM

Prices in Rajasthan have risen dramatically over last year, but most family hotels, and they are excellent value, have kept their prices steady.

bluide Oct 29th, 2004 06:31 AM

I'm looking into doing the Golden Triangle as well. Has anyone who has used Durjay recently returned from their trip?

Craig Oct 29th, 2004 07:19 AM

If you enter the words "Durjay Compass" in the "Search This Forum" box and click on "find", you will bring up a couple of reports from posters earlier this year - I do not believe either of the posters are checking into this forum any more.

bluide Oct 29th, 2004 08:04 AM

Thanks Craig. When are you going to India? Seems like you have been very happy with Durjay and his pricing? Did you check around with others?

Craig Oct 29th, 2004 08:27 AM

Bluide - We are going to India in February 2005. We started planning last March. I picked the names of three Indian TA's off this board and sent via e-mail a request to each for hotel pricing on my specific dates that included tax and breakfast. Compass Tours was the lowest of the three. We have since added a driver, tour guides, and rail tickets at prices that I believe to be competitive.

bluide Oct 29th, 2004 08:52 AM

Craig, maybe we will see you there. We are going in February as well and then to the Maldives. I have e-mailed Durjay and his pricing has definitely been the lowest by far. I am also using an agent here in the states but so far the pricing has been significantly higher (about $800-$1000 higher for the 5 nights with same hotels). I'm trying to see if both trips offer the same room quality and excursions, etc. and if there will be any add-ons once Durjay gets back to me. He only sent me an initial quote. Although the quote did seem firm for the hotels/guides, etc., I need to confirm that.

Craig Oct 29th, 2004 09:02 AM

Bluide - I hope you are being very specific with anyone you contact for pricing about the type of room - e.g. "non-smoking superior deluxe room with terrace". This information is best taken from the hotels' own websites as terms such as "deluxe room" can mean many things. I am pretty sure that you won't get a good deal from your TA in the States.

bluide Oct 29th, 2004 04:01 PM

Thanks..Yep..I have checked that. I saw on one of your posts that you are staying in a historical room at Rambagh (this could be an old post, and you might have changed plans), but wondering what you know in terms of quality between a luxury room or historical suite. Right now my pricing is in the superior room (the least expensive) and I will upgrade, but I'm not sure to what level. Anybody have any suggestions on this?

Craig Oct 29th, 2004 05:10 PM

Sorry Bluide, never considered the Rambagh so can't advise you on this. I'm sure other posters will weigh in.

united_guy_ewr Oct 29th, 2004 07:51 PM

I, too, will be heading to India this December. Business will have me flying into Mombay, with side trips to Delhi, Bangalore, Pondicherry and Chennai. I am currently contemplating personal side trips and cannot decide which way to go: either over to the Maldives for some diving or to Rajastan for sightseeing. Any recommendations? Or, it might be more convenient to simply stay on in Chennai for a few days, which I understand is quite nice.

LAKittee Nov 1st, 2004 11:23 AM

I am heading to India for 3 weeks in Dec. Unfortunately this is a last minute thing so we have not books ground arrangements (just got our flights booked).

If anyone has any ideas for a reasonably priced vacation (not luxury hotels) I am open to suggestions (yes, I just read that the prices have gone up :( )


welltraveledbrit Nov 1st, 2004 12:25 PM

Dear LAKittee,

As I mentioned at the top of the thread we found availability fairly tight at the properties we were interested in in Nov/Dec. However, I think what looks great about India is that it offers great value across the board and that you can get some luxury at a cheap price.

You have several when as you go, my husband's favourite but too dicey for me, book directly yourself which I found time consuming but worthwhile or for ease and advice book through a travel agent (personally I always prefer a local agent).

I did contact an Indian agent who was highly recommended and they provided a good itinerary, but I found that while they offered me comparable hotels they were different hotels than I would have liked and that it was easier for me to rework my itinerary to the availability of the places I wanted to other words with all of the juggling of the dates to fit the availability it was just easier for me to do it directly.

In planning our trip to India it seemed to me there were a great variety of reasonable price charming hotels available.

We're planning three weeks in Rajasthan and have decided to stay in predominantly family run heritage properties.

We've decided on the following:
Haveli Braj Bushanjee in Bundi, Ravla Khempur, Kankarwa in Udaipur, Deogarh and Rohetgarh family forts in more rural areas, Killa Bhawan in the fort in Jaiselmer, Inn Seasons in Jodhpur, Jasvilas in Jaipur and Apani Dhani Eco Resort in Shekwati.

With the exceptions on Deogarh and Devigarh (a modern resortation of an ancient fort) all of these properties are very well reviewed and are less than $60 per night, some far less.

When I said the prices had gone up I didn't mean was just that Deogarh switched from pricing in Rupees and dollars to Euros and almost doubled their rates...however I think this is merely a function of publicity, supply and demand. Frankly, as Raj help suggests the rates generally seem very reasonable.

I'm not sure what area of India you'll planning on visiting but I found the following sites extremely helpful. Many of the British sites reveiwed a wider range of accomodation, though I also found Frommers' detailed reviews very helpful,sorry Fodors!

I-escape has great reviews of hotels in Rajasthan, Goa and Kerala. They cover their favorites from the very expensive to the very reasonable.

Short reviews of heritage hotels by the British Conde Nast Traveller

Alistair Sawday's special places to Stay in India website doesn't give long reveiws of each property but it does seem to pick interesting properties with websites you can click through to.

The forum is also a helpful site.

Hope these help.

JaneB Nov 1st, 2004 12:28 PM

We received our visas in today's mail after applying for them in Houston a week ago. Not really sure when we're going yet--got visas for 1 year rather than 6 months so that we could be flexible. We fly space A, thanks to having an airline pilot in the family!
We plan to visit the usual places in Rajasthan as well as Vanarasi and Darjeeling/Sikkim area. I recently read on that the lake in Udaipur had dried to such a point that you could drive across it at places. Have any of you heard this or witnessed it??

hobbes Nov 1st, 2004 05:31 PM

Sorry - not checked this thread for a while. For those of u with specific qns it may be better to post them as separate posts. The diff between a suite and a room at th Rambagh is that the suite will have a sitting area as well and the entire decor will be very old worl, Maharaja, yesteryears. I would say make the choice based on how lng u will be in the room. If u are going to chill out on the hotel and enjoy the grounds the suite makes sense. If u are mostly going to sightsee and use the room for nights and to bathe the deluxe room will be fine.

hobbes Nov 1st, 2004 11:32 PM

united_guy if this was my first trip to India I would not stay in Chennai. An option other than Rajasthan u could consider and which is fairly close from Chennai is Kerala. U could fly Chennai-Cochin then go to Kumarokam and Munnar.

watakeet Nov 2nd, 2004 07:35 PM

We're hoping for a 7-10 days trip to Goa in late January or early February 2005 to make use of the Chinese New Year holiday. Should we make it Mumbai+Goa or Goa+Kerela?

We've been to Delhi, Jaipur and Agra back in 1998 during Christmas. The trip was memorable, especially when we experienced a couple of delays due to foggy weather. We even had to stay for a night in Bangladesh! Do add in some allowance for the weather in their winter.

hobbes Nov 3rd, 2004 03:33 AM

For Goa u don;t need to factor in extra days for weather - the fog problem is only in the cold parts of India i.e. the north and east. I do not know whether u like big cities - I love Mumbai but it is not really a tourist destination. Kerala on the otehr hand is a atate which there is sooo much to see and savour and enjoy - my only concern is 10 days Goa + Kerala you will get only max a week in Kerala. Look at for an amazing hotel chain Kerala only. Your choices are back waters in Kumarokam and Trivandrum, wildlife and a park setting in Thekkady and tea estates in Munnar.

LAKittee Nov 3rd, 2004 06:33 AM

Dear welltraveledbrit

Thank you for your detailed reply. It is extreemly helpful. I am busy with work and deadlines and am running out of time to research, plan and book. I should have mentioned that we are flying into Delhi, are interested in visiting Agra and then off to Rajasthan. If there is time, we would like to do a side trip to Varanasi or somewhere else of interest. We have 18 days.

Can you tell me a little more about what your are doing for transportation? The itinterary you decided on? Specific "don't miss" things to see or do? Do you have a travel agent you recommend? Will you be hiring a guide/driver? What would be expected average costs?

If you (or anyone else - Craig? others? )can email as much info as you are willing to share that would be fantastic. Same as my username at hotmail.

Thanks and Happy Travels :)

Craig Nov 3rd, 2004 09:30 AM

LAKittee - I won't get to e-mail until tonight (I don't send e-mails from work) so hopefully you will look here for info. FIRST AND FOREMOST - YOU NEED A VISA TO GET INTO INDIA - IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY APPLIED FOR ONE, GET MOVING - THEY TAKE TWO WEEKS TO PROCESS - ALL THE INFORMATION IS ON:
We will have a car, driver and guide for much of our trip arranged by our travel agent in Delhi. The TA also arranged hotels for us and purchased train tickets for one route where going by train is faster than going by car. The travel agent we are using is Compass Tours - contact Durjay Sengupta at [email protected]. We are doing luxury hotels but Durjay can arrange pretty much anything you want. If you give Durjay your list of places/hotels/dates he can propose an itinerary (including must-sees/dos) for you and provide a price quote. He will quote the hotels you ask for. If they are not available he can suggest reliable alternatives. Good luck!

LAKittee Nov 3rd, 2004 11:09 AM

Hi Craig:

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

We actually would also like to incorporate rail travel for part of our itinerary.

I don't have a specific itinerary in mind yet (I admittedly have not done enough research) but we are flying in and out Delhi -- would like to visit Varanasi if possible, Agra and mainly focus on Rajasthan -- and I here I really don't know where to start. All I know is names of places Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Bikaner -- but I have no idea specifically which places are better to see -- which need more time, any that can be missed or other locations nearby that are worthwhile. We will be a group of 4 (incl. 2 Seniors) and would like to find the best places that are worth staying at for a couple of nights so that we don't feel like we are on the "Amazing Race" :) Heritage Hotels are probably in the ball park but not super luxury.

So as before -- any ideas, suggestions, recommendations so that I don't sound like a complete idiot when I email Compass, would be helpful and extreemly appreciated!

Thanks in advance :)

Craig Nov 3rd, 2004 01:27 PM

Here's my itinerary for our 12 days in India - the sights listed are pretty much the standard on any tour of Rajasthan - I researched the shopping areas a bit and left time for that - perhaps you can add Udaipur and Varanasi to this itinerary - also note that the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays:

Day 1 arrive Delhi airport early AM - Drive to Agra - staying at Amarvilas
Afternoon - rest/spa

Day 2 Agra: Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Jami Majid and It-Ma-Udallah Tomb

Day 3 Drive Agra via Fatephur Sikri
to Jaipur - staying at Rajvilas

Day 4 Jaipur: City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal and shopping

Day 5 Jaipur: Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort and shopping

Day 6 Drive Jaipur to Ranthambore (tiger preserve) - staying at Sherbagh afternoon game drive

Day 7 Ranthambore morning and afternoon game drives

Day 8 Ranthambore via train to Delhi after morning game drive - staying at Imperial Hotel

Day 9 Delhi: Red Fort, Jami Masjid, Chandni Chowk and shopping near hotel

Day 10 Delhi: Humayan's tomb, sights on Rajpath, National Museum, Crafts Museum, Gandhi Smriti and Bangla Sahib Gurudwara

Day 11 Delhi: Qutab Minar, Lotus Temple, shopping at Hauz Khas Village and Santushti Shopping Complex

Day 12 Delhi: open for sites/shopping - transfer to Delhi airport for late afternoon departure

welltraveledbrit Nov 3rd, 2004 06:05 PM

LA Kittee,
These are the details of our India itinerary November/December 2004. As you can see we like to spend 2 or preferably 3 nights in each location.

I'm particularly interested in the temples at Ranakpur and the fort at Chittaugarh. We're also very interested in seeing something outside of the urban destinations, particularly Shekawati, Rohetgarh and Deogarh. Bundi also interests us because it seems a little less touristy.

In terms of the car the issue is one of miles covered and whether you cross state lines but the prices are very reasonable. We're hiring a non AC Ambassador with a driver in two parts, first for the trip out to Bundi from Udaipur (days 2-6) and from Udaipur to Jaipur (days 9-18).

If there are four of you you may need a larger car which would be slightly more expensive. There's a very helpful discussion of prices on We're paying about $30 per day which seems standard and includes use of the car all day, all taxes etc and the driver's expenses.

Here's the itinerary, as you can see we we haven't included Agra and Varanasi because my husband has visited both on a previous trip and we're planning to visit them on our next trip.

Day 1 : Mumbai Arrive late and stay overnight near airport.

Day 2,3 & 4 : Fly into Udaipur transfer to Bundi for three nights at Haveli Braj Bhushanjee. Visit the Chandrabhaga fair near Jhalawar one day and the Keshoraipatan Fair the next.

Day 5: Visit the fort at Chittaurgarh, overnight at Kavla Khempur heritage hotel

Day 6,7 & 8: Udaipur 3 nights at Kankarwa Haveli in a Lake view room

Day 9: Devi Garh (1 night) tent room. Modern restoration of an ancient fort with stylish interiors and spa

Day 10 &11 Transfer to Deogarh for 2 nights via the temples at Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh Fort. Family run fort?lots of publicity..looks beautiful

Day 12 &13: Rohetgarh (2 nights) deluxe double. Smaller family run heritage hotel

Day 14,15 &16: Jaiselmer, 3 nights Killa Bhawan small, stylish hotel in a converted Haveli in the center of the fort city of Jaiselmer, it comes highly recommended

Day 17: Transfer to Jodhpur via the temple complex at Osian. 1 night Inn Season, Art Deco styling in a more modern settling

Day 18 & 19: Jaipur, Jasvilas 2 nights. Highly recommended friendly family run hotel, they have given me lots of advice on the itinerary

Day 20,21 &22: Shekwati, 3 nights at Apani Dhani (superior room). Modest eco-resort from which it is easy to see the painted Havelis of Shekwati

Train to Delhi

Days 23-30: 7 nights in Delhi staying with friends.

Day 31: Return to UK.

Hope this helps!

LAKittee Nov 6th, 2004 09:44 AM

Craig and welltraveledbrit.

Thanks again. All the info is extreemly helpful -- a bit overwhelming. I have tons of Q's and don't know where to start :) So I will probably post a seperate thread for itin suggestions and feedback.

A couple of little ones: If we rent a car with driver and have an itin where we stay 3days in Udaipur and 3 in Jaisalmer should we have the car for thoses days? Would the daily rate be less if we are just doing some local travel and not many KM's? What is customary? Also What is the impact or implication or meeting car/driver in one town and ending tour in other town?
Will most drivers double as a guide or do we need to specifically request English speaking etc...?
Do most of these cars have functioning seat belts?
Any important questions that I should ask when I book the car/driver?

Thanks again!

Craig Nov 6th, 2004 01:14 PM

LAKittee - we have a car and driver at our disposal for our entire stay - I compared the cost of doing this versus hiring at each hotel and there did not seem to be much difference. I found as I worked out my itinerary that there would be a need for a driver almost every day to get out and see all of the sites and shop. However, since I am not visiting either Udaipur or Jaiselmer, I can not comment on these areas. I don't think there is much impact in having a driver take you to another town - he'll just drive back to where he came from - no big deal. Although drivers speak English, I think it is best to hire a guide in addition for sightseeing, especially if you don't plan on taking the time to read up on things before you go. Don't know about seat belts but from my experience in 3rd world countries, I will be pleasantly surprised if they are available. If you have a preference on size and features of car (sedan or SUV, a/c or non a/c) that will make a difference. I think you said you are going in December so a/c may not matter. The standard car is the Indian-made Ambassador. We are going with an SUV for a more comfortable, safer ride and more room for all the stuff we intend to buy. The typical SUV is a Toyata Qualis.

welltraveledbrit Nov 6th, 2004 02:13 PM

I agree with Craig's points...because we're in India for a month and because we're going out from Udaipur in two directions we've made arrangements for two different drivers.

It seems from the estimates we secured that when you take a driver from one destination to a next (rather than round trip) there is some additional cost but to seems to work itself into the approximately $30 US per day. The more local trip to and from Udaipur is somewhat cheaper.

When you hire a driver for a longer trip outside of a local area there seems to be a certain charge per Km with a daily his costs...However on our itinerary from Udaipur to Jaipur we haven't come near to the minimum kms as we have several days at each destination.

As you suggest this means one ends up with a car in Jaislemer when it may not be entirely necessary...however from our perspective it's very convenient if the driver can take us out of town on a day or two to visit some of the temples and villages in the surrounding area.

I certainly don't think a car is seems very easy to get around Rajasthan with buses and trains but it's really a matter of convenience and not having to deal with the hassle at the bus station etc.

The two places that we're using for car hire are Lily and Mahendra at Jasvilas who have been recommended on this board and have been very helpful and Parul Travel in Udaipur which is recommended in the Footprints guide. However I do suggest looking at the discussion of car hire on India mike where Lily has a very helpful posting.

Hope that helps!

LAKittee Nov 6th, 2004 02:18 PM

We will probably go for a Toyota Quali since we will be a party of 4. I saw a post that quoted the Ambassador at about $30-40 per day, so how much should we expect the Quali to run?

For the guide, would it be best to book one for the entire duration? and if so, what is the cost, or just on a city by city basis?

This will be our first trip to india, but I think we will have plenty of time to read up about locations on the way over.... (not the best flight connections :( ) so I appreciate all the info to help me make more informative choices when we book the land arrangements.

Craig Nov 6th, 2004 03:52 PM

I think you are better off going with local guides which a TA can arrange for you or you can do through your hotel (e-mail the hotel for rates to get an idea). Although we may have the same driver for our entire trip, we will most likely have different guides.

LAKittee Nov 7th, 2004 10:37 AM

Thanks again for info. I took the plunge and made a seperate post asking for feedback on itinerary and a few more questions -- so please throw in your 2cents or 2 pence :)

01pat23 Nov 7th, 2004 04:41 PM

As well as visiting Rajashan, etc., I will be going into Gujarat - staying a week at Diu over the New Year. My first time in India - has anyone been to Gujarat, please? All information gratefully received!!

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:46 AM.