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JC98 Jul 25th, 2006 12:20 PM

India in November?
We're trying to figure out where in the world to travel in November, and have always wanted to go to India. Is mid to late November/early December a good time to travel in India? Weather? It seems like a shoulder season?

Also, for first timers to India, what's the best way to plan for our trip? Should we wing it as we go, or book everything in advance? Or get a knowledgeable travel agent? Please recommend. We're more the independent travelers type, but minding our safety, health, comfort, and budget.

Sorry that the post is so general, because I haven't done any homework on this subject. Will post more specific questions once I've learned a bit more.


patrica_wyne Jul 25th, 2006 01:35 PM

hi JC,
Month of november/ Decembe a good time to travel to india. Nov and dec is always busy season in India. In my opinion it's better to go with a local agent in india. We had wonderfull time in india. We travel with Indian web base travel agency castleandking. you can contact him. He is very helpful.
His e mail Id [email protected]

Craig Jul 25th, 2006 01:44 PM

Late November/early December is a good time to visit India. November is the start of the tourist season so many places have probably already booked up for 2006. What is your budget for this trip? That will determine how you approach it. Many on this board use India-based travel agencies to book everything - the savings can be considerable over going direct or booking with an agent in your home country. We used Compass Tours. E-mail Durjay at [email protected]
Most first-timers concentrate on the "Golden Triangle" - Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Depending on the amount of time you have, you may also want to explore other cities in Rajasthan, visit Varanasi or do tiger safaris at Ranthambore Park.

JC98 Jul 25th, 2006 02:05 PM

Thanks, all, for your responses.

Are the local agents you recommended specialists in a certain region of India--north, south, etc.? Do I book internal transportation as well as accomodation from them? Do they have websites?

We'll probably have at most 3 weeks, and would like to split the time between north and south. We have to visit some people we know in Hyderabad for a few days. Other than that, we'll be on our own.

Is it too late to book things for Nov?

Our budget is about $100/day for accommodation. Not sure how much we can control on transportation, so whatever it takes to get from city to city--by train, bus, or plane.

Craig Jul 25th, 2006 03:24 PM

Compass is located in Delhi thus I would have more confidence in their ability to deal with Northern India. Much of what the agents do is farmed out locally anyway but the farther they are the less control they have. Agents can arrange drivers, local tour guides, internal flights and train reservations. I do not recommend that you try to combine north and south although some have done it in three weeks (spending a few days in Mumbai for example) - depends how hectic a schedule and how much flying you want to deal with. You really need to get moving if you want to go in November. E-mail a couple of agents and get their feedback.

jacketwatch Jul 25th, 2006 03:44 PM

Weatherwise this is a godd time to go. BTW I was checking airfares recently and found very good rates for a trip starting in early Nov. R/T ORD-DEL.

JC98 Jul 25th, 2006 04:16 PM

Thanks, all, for the info.

I'm actually trying to use my airline miles with Delta. They found me a ticket with 2 partner airlines. One is with Aeroflot (Russian!) with a stopover in Moscow. Has anyone flown with them? I'm trying to see if I could get on a more reputable one. Other choice is Air France but requires overnight stay in Paris.

Craig Jul 25th, 2006 04:34 PM

Aeroflot does not get positive reviews. There are better ways to save money on your trip than to redeem miles for a substandard airline. Since I don't know where you are flying from its difficult to make a recommendation.

lerasp Jul 26th, 2006 09:40 AM

i would avoid Aeroflot at all costs! unless your life depended on catching that specific flight and there were absolutely no other options. I'm Russian and have live most of my life in Russia (and still visit regularly). I've flown Aeroflot numerous times. There 2 issues - first, the flight itself. substandard planes and service. They have been refurbishing lately, so you may get lucky with a passable flight. But the 2nd issue is the safety. This airline has serious safety issues. There have been several fatal crashes over the last couple years (not highly publicized as the media is still tightly controlled). The crashes were on domestic flights, but the company is the same. Maintenance is seriously lacking, controls are iffy and everything is squeezed to the last drop. Not something you want to be doing with a 300-seat plane. Do some searches on Google for crash history. Some articles will pop up.
I would gladly take an overnight in Paris and fly AF (or Delta). There are so many flights to Paris from US (different gateways), see if you can get on a flight that wouldn't have you in Paris over night. I know Delta flights to Bombay and Chennai leave around 11am, so any overnight flight from US to Paris will do. This is a low-season for US-Europe travel (excep Xmas), and I think there should be avaiability on some flight, even if it involves and extra hop within US to get to the gateway.
Please think seriously about Aeroflot.

JC98 Jul 26th, 2006 10:05 AM

Thanks, all, for your suggestions, esp. about avoiding Aeroflot! I was about to go with them because I thought it might be interesting to see a bit of Moscow (maybe just the airport), but with lerasp's warnings, we're going to avoid Aeroflot now. Let me go back to the agent and see if we could have a different airline with a better route.

Also, do I need to book everything before leaving--trains/flights/hotels? How easy it is to book these things while you're over there?

I've been reading the postings on this forum and it sounds like most people had a driver and a guide. Otherwise, it's impossible (or very difficult) to take public transportation and go on your own? For instance, to do the golden triangle, is it possible or worth it to do it on our own or just hire a driver/guide or join a tour?

Still have a lot of homework to do!

Thanks all!

waynehazle Jul 26th, 2006 12:39 PM

<b><font color="RED">Oh My God! Don't even say AEROFLOT</font></b>

Yes avoid at all costs. If you saw my India trip report (The Crucible) I posted last week, the ABSOLUTE worst moment in my life was spent on a Aeroflot plane flying to Delhi. I couldn't be paid any amount of money to fly with them again.

I am glad someone Russian is on the board saying it.

JC98 Jul 26th, 2006 01:19 PM

waynehazle, I just read the section on Aeroflot in your trip report. Pretty scary. OK, yet another confirmation to avoid that airline.

Interesting report (haven't got thru it yet), but how much did it cost to have a personal guide/driver? Say to do the golden triangle?

JC98 Jul 26th, 2006 01:25 PM

waynehazle, why did you choose to go with a guide in India? You sound like the adventurous type but you went everywhere escorted by a guide? Is India very difficult to travel on your own?

Again, I haven't done much research at all. It kinda makes me a bit nervous that everyone is going with a guide.

waynehazle Jul 26th, 2006 02:06 PM

yes, I am pretty adventurous. The year before I went to Cambodia. It was my first trip to a &quot;developing nation&quot;. I was going to go with a tour company. A friend said, just jump on a plane and go. So I did that.

When I as thinking about India, many Indian friends said, <b>Don't Even THINK about doing that in India.</b> I was told India was just chaotic and overwhelming, especially to a first timeer.

I figured having a private guide was better than going with a busload of tourists. They made all the hotel arrangements, trains, tickets for all monuments, etc. I am pretty sure my entire land fee was under $2000 including all hotels, buffet meals in hotels, admissions, driver, train tickets etc.

With a private guide/driver, it is easier to say &quot;Hey what is that over there?&quot; and get them to stop. They can also arrange last minute things. The Sikh temple and Indira Gandhi memorial weren't on my agenda, but my guide got tickets and I was driven there.

Guides are pretty good at waving off some to most of the hawkers. Instead of 50 people following and aorrounding you, they can cut it to the 5 most persistent.

DOWN SIDE TO GUIDES: They all have friends who own shops &amp; love &quot;giving you the opportunity to pick up a few things&quot;.

If I was going back to India... I think I would do a lot of things the same way. I would just arrange more 'on my own days'.

<i>So Monday morning, take me to see monuments X &amp; Y and then lunch. Afternoon on my own, Tuesday on my own. Wednesday morning, pick me up and drive me to the next city. </i> Something like that.

navinkurian2002 Aug 9th, 2006 05:12 AM

The best way is to have select a city as a base Mumbai or Delhi.Decide if you want to visit the north,south east of west of india. Then then book tickets from there. Booking in advance will make you miss out on a lot of places. Booking in advance is advisable in peak seasons to places like goa etc.

Mumbai for travellers

fuzzylogic Aug 9th, 2006 05:42 AM

JC98 - India is not difficult to travel around independently. But doing your own thing - booking your own train tix; wandering around finding somewhere to stay - takes time.

You can't really compare with Cambodis where the puakpw

fuzzylogic Aug 9th, 2006 05:52 AM

continued ..

Cambodia - yes - but number of places visited by tourists is limited. waynehazle may have gone to Siem Riep only (please clarify wayne).

But possible permutations in India are enormous - precisely because it is so easy to travel around.

So the choice is yours.. have the pleasure and challenge of doing your own thing but covering less ground - or sacrifice that to cover more ground in a structured, organised, not totally yours sort of way.

Pluses and minuses.

waynehazle Aug 9th, 2006 09:03 AM

In Cambodia, I went to Siem Reap, then flew to Phnom Penh. In Phnom Penh I got a kid on a moped to give me a ride around town. All I did was step outstide my hotel. Tons of young men sit around waiting to give someone a ride. It was awesome.

Yeah I think if I was to go to India now, I would look into doing it more independently. There would be certain days I would want a driver or a guide, but there are plenty of days I would want to walk around on my own.

JC98 Aug 9th, 2006 10:12 AM

Thanks, all, for your advice!

The problem with my trip seems to be I need/want to cover vast distances in India within 2 weeks. That makes planning a lot harder. Also, my trip is coming up in mid November, and I haven't booked anything yet. Hope it's not too late?

Current thinking for 2 weeks in India:

* Fly into Delhi at 11 p.m.
* Next day fly to Hyderabad
* 3 days in Hyderabad
* Overnight train to Aurangabad to do Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves for 2 days
* Train to Mumbai. Sightsee 1 day.
* Fly from Mumbai to Delhi.
* Agra and Delhi for 3 days
* Fly home from Delhi


Lots of grounds to cover. Need a travel agent expert in each area. Please recommend any good ones that you know.


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