India Mother-Son 1st Time HELP

Old May 18th, 2016, 07:37 AM
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India Mother-Son 1st Time HELP

Hello! I am taking my son (who will be 17) to India in March 2017. We have travelled to many places and are hoping for a memorable trip. Could you please look at the itinerary we have and comment on choice of hotels, order of places, any changes you'd make, and - finally - the cost we've got so far. Trying to a have a range of experiences (Jaipur Friendly Villas for a home stay as well as some high end places)...but would love your insights!

We've been working with 3 different travel people, all based in India. This itinerary and cost is the middle price - there's one lower that includes no touring - and one higher which seems too hand-holding/precious for us. THIS ONE BELOW includes interior flights, driver, guides as we want them, and comes in at about $5900 TOTAL. We will use frequent flier miles to come from USA to Delhi.

I wish we could do a train trip in here, but it doesn't seem to fit...?!

We want to do hands-on activities (street tour in Delhi, cooking class, hike, any textile/craft, and WOULD LOVE A CRICKET LESSON). Thanks for your opinions!

Mar
Travel Plans
Hotels
Sightseeing
9
Arrive Delhi
The Imperial
Arrive (1:20AM of 10th March) and relax
10
Delhi
The Imperial
Sightseeing to Red Fort (outside), Jama Masque, Cycle rickshaw ride in Chandni Chowk Market, Gandhi Memorial, Qutub Minar, Humanyu’s Tomb & Lotus Temple, drive by India Gate and other government buildings
11
Delhi to Samode (4 hrs)
Samode Palace
Visit Delhi if you missed anything on 10th March and then drive for Samode, evening at Samode Palace
12
Samode to Jaipur (1 hr)
Jaipur Friendly Villa for HOLI
Morning Palace visit and village tour, afternoon drive for Jaipur, and visit the bonfire of HOLI festival
13
Jaipur
Friendly Villa
AM play the colours and visit the Amber. Later visit Water Palace, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantra & City Palace Complex, Birla Temple. Stay overnight at hotel.
14
Jaipur to Chhatrasagar (4 h)
Chhatrasagar Luxury Tent
Visit the Jaipur again if missed anything due to HOLI and drive to Chhatra Sagar in Luxury Tents, this is off beaten path relaxing experience for you
15
Chhatrasagar to Jodhpur (3 hrs)
RAAS
Village and farm tour OR bird watching tour, all meals inclusive, all beverage (non-alcoholic) and afternoon drive to Jodhpur
16
Jodhpur
RAAS
Sightseeing at the Mehrangarh Fort, Jawant Thada, Umaid Bhawan Palace and Walk around old city Clock tower market
17
Jodhpur to Mihirgarh (1 hrs)
Mihirgarh
Morning drive for Mihir Garh and enjoy the rural and off-beaten stay, you can have activities as per hotels http://www.mihirgarh.com/activities.html
18
Mihirgarh to Narlai (3 hrs)
Rawla Narlai
AM activities and drive for Narlai, afternoon or next AM village tour,
19
Narlai to Udaipur (3 hrs)
Rosie's Retreat
Visit the Ranakpur Jain Temple and drive for Udaipur, on route visit the Kumbhalgarh Fort,
20
Udaipur
Rosie's Retreat
Sightseeing, visit the Jagdish Temple, City Palace Museum, Boating in Lake Pichola, Saheliyon Ki Bari, walk around the old town market and overnight in Hotel
21
Udaipur 14:20 to 15:35 Delhi by air
Holiday Inn
Relax at luxury hotel and afternoon fly for Delhi, transfer to the hotel for overnight
22
Delhi to home
Fly for home
Morning transfer to the airport and fly for home
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Old May 18th, 2016, 07:58 AM
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Far too many one nighters for my taste.

Don't you think you are going to be jet-lagged the day you arrive in Delhi?

Personally, I would avoid any involvement with Holi, although I suppose your son may like it. See:
http://www.intrepidtravel.com/advent...ghts-in-nepal/

Is that the price for both of you?

In India, slow travel will result in a much better experience.
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Old May 18th, 2016, 08:39 AM
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This strikes me as being a road trip - lots of time on the road, almost no time in the places you are going there to see. One night in a place basically gives you almost no time to see/do/experience anything of a place. Remember that it takes three nights in a place to give you two full days. While none of the drives appears to be especially long (though I have my doubts about some of the time estimates), when you consider from checking out of your accommodations in one place to checking in at another, it takes a minimum of half a day to make the transition. I always figure my proportion of time in transit to time getting to see/do/experience what I came for.

No quesztion, India will be memorable. But give yourself some time in the places you came for so you have memories of more than the crazy drives in India.

I agree with Thursdays, I think your first day itinerary is pretty ambitious for hiving just gotten off the plane!
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Old May 18th, 2016, 08:52 AM
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If I'm going to cut a place, which one do you suggest? I could also add one day or so (trying not to be away from home too too long as 3 other kids at home!)...
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Old May 18th, 2016, 10:16 AM
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Okay - so where do I cut and where do I add the nights?? Thanks.
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Old May 18th, 2016, 10:46 AM
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You are the only person who can determine that! Look carefully at each of your stops - which ones do you feel most excited about? Are there any you feel lukewarm about?

The one that stands out for me as perhaps cut-able is Chhatrasagar, 4 hours from Jaipur and 3 hours from Jodhpur. It's a tented camp, which means it will likely take longer to get settled there and to pack up again. But you have a number of one-night stays that could easily be cut and added elsewhere.
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Old May 18th, 2016, 10:47 AM
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Hi Writer. 13 nights (have I counted correctly?) for $5900 for your both sounds reasonable!
Have you received any feedback from previous clients of Mars?
I certainly don't think it a prereq to a great India trip, but since you are in the area...why skip the Taj Mahal? It'd be one thing if you were in an entirely different region of India, but you're not that far. Surely your son (and you!) would get a kick out of it.--an iconic place that is made for pix to show his friends back home!!

Jet lag's appearance, IME, is unpredictable. With me, it tends to catch up with on day 2 or 3 in a different time-zone. Based on your previous travels, plan according to your pattern and other factors (plane travel economy vs business miles; layover time between USA and DEL, etc)

Other than Delhi and Jaipur, i've not been to the places on your itinerary, so can't offer specific time/place suggestions re cutting out.
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Old May 18th, 2016, 10:48 AM
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I am just trying to finalise plans for a 17 night trip to Northern India later this year and so I recognise some of your likely dilemmas.

In terms of price I worked out [roughly] what it would cost me to book direct at the hotels I had picked and to then add a car and driver versus what it would cost me to have an agency do the whole lot for me. For our choices and at our time of year [late September] the former do it yourself method was cheaper. Plus I feel easier about booking directly with individual hotels etc. as it spreads the risk of provider failure.

I would agree with what others have said about perhaps allowing more time to get over possible travel fatigue and jet lag in Delhi [but you will know better than all of us your likely limitations on this]

We are not great fans of moving on every night and are choosing to cut out some of the one night places [e.g. Samode palace] in order to have two nights in nearby Jaipur or to travel for slightly longer between our 'must see' sights with fewer one night stops. Again I guess this depends on your energy levels and travel style plus how often you want a 'rest day' to sort out laundry and/or flop about reading !

Have you definitely ruled out Agra and Taj Mahal ?
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Old May 18th, 2016, 10:52 AM
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We aren't travel agents, and only you can decide what most interests you. For instance, most first-timers starting in Delhi visit Agra for the Taj, but I see you have omitted it.

You have only twelve days in country, one of which will be jet-lagged.

If I were doing this I would spend at least two full days in Delhi, even though I don't especially care for Delhi. Then, if I were skipping Agra, I would take the train to Jaipur for at least one full day/two nights. (BTW, please do not ride elephants up to Amber.)

Then I would do a side trip to the Shekhawati area, and that might be a one nighter. I would (and did) hire a car and driver in Jaipur for that.

Then I would take the train on to Jodhpur for another two nights.

Both those train trips can be done on "superfast" trains in the morning.

At that point I would switch to car and driver and pick one of Mihirgarh or Narlai (if they are important to you - never heard of either) or somewhere else before finishing in Udaipur. Another option is to keep going to Jaisalmer.

If you decide to do Agra, take the fast train from Delhi and spend at least one night so that you can see the Taj at dusk and dawn. Use a car and driver to visit Fatehpur Sikri and the Bird Park. Take the train to Jaipur.

You can research train timetables at cleartrip.com and you might read this as well:
http://seat61.com/India.htm

If you insist on traveling over Holi you had better check to make sure that sites are open and hotels available, and take some clothes you don't care about.
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Old May 18th, 2016, 11:01 AM
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What about this:


I don't think we are going to get to Agra or to Varanasi this trip. I'd like to narrow the focus of what I already have, probably skipping Samode Palace and Narlai, which would give us:

Delhi

Delhi

Jaipur

Jaipur

Jaipur

Chhatra Sagar

Jodhpur

Jodhpur

Mihir Garh

Udaipur

Udaipur

Udaipur

Fly back to Delhi, then back to US
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Old May 18th, 2016, 11:12 AM
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I agree.. you're wise to leave Varanasi out of this particular plan. But I still think you should try for a night in Agra.
I'd switch it around somewhat--three nights New Delhi, two nights Jaipur.
What in particular about Chhatra and Mihir Garh attracts you and/ or your son, to make them worth the one night each? Is it worth the schlep factor for one night? That is not a judgment at all--as I said, i don't know these two places, but answering the question to yourself or on here may help.
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Old May 18th, 2016, 11:23 AM
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http://www.chhatrasagar.com http://mihirgarh.com

Those are the places we would stay - just beautiful and different and out of the cities (both for broad experience and for a respite) plus son is very into photography so good opportunities...

I like the idea of 3 nights in Delhi...

May it would be better if I just give in an add a day?

So that would be
Delhi - 3 nights
Jaipur - 3 nights (we want to do a cooking class there and there's a full day textile class I'm interested in)
Chhatra - 1 night
Jodhpur - 2 nights
Mihir - 1 night
Udaipur - 3 nights (another cooking class, plus football club for son to join for a practice/game)
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Old May 18th, 2016, 11:27 AM
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At the risk of having you drowning in options, here is another possibility.

Have you considered skipping Delhi entirely, and landing instead in Jaipur? This might make your trip logistically easier, and allow you to spend more time in the other locations. And that would eliminate a long and boring trip from Delhi to Jaipur. And then, as thursdaysd recommended, you could add a trip to the Shekhawati area, either staying overnight, or as a long day-trip. We too found that area well-worth seeing.

Before we decided to start our trip in the south, we had planned on landing in Jaipur on our flight from New York City, changing planes first in Abu Dhabi. As it was, we landed in Jaipur on a domestic flight from Chennai and found it an easy airport to navigate, especially by Indian standards, and much easier than Delhi would have been.

And to further complicate things, I'd still recommend staying at Rawla Narlai (in Narlai). We were just there for 2 nights in February. It is pretty, comfortable, has a nice pool, and is easy for a 1st-time visitor to India. It is easy to get to from Jodphur on a good road, and is located in a small charming rural village. We enjoyed seeing local rural life while strolling through the village. The best part were the jeep safaris. We got to see a beautiful leopard on a rock above us. In addition, we saw a lot of interesting birds, including an enormous owl.
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Old May 18th, 2016, 11:34 AM
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That looks really do-able Bostonwriter and more balanced than your initial thinking.

What textile course are you looking at in Jaipur ? I love sewing and am keen to visit the Anokhi textile museum near the Amer fort but have not spotted any classes.
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Old May 18th, 2016, 11:40 AM
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According to the TA reviews there is a good chance there will be no water in the lake at Chhatra Sagar. I would not plan to stay in a place - Mihir Garh - that was purpose built in 2009 when there are plenty of historic properties around.

But they are both way out of my price range.

Do the tents have AC?
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Old May 18th, 2016, 11:40 AM
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I think your latest itinerary is much better.
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Old May 18th, 2016, 12:20 PM
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The textile class I found is at Jaitexart. I'm interested in the vegetable dyes and block print tradition.

I did not consider the lake water!! So perhaps that makes Chhatra Sagar not worth it. Mihir Garh was suggested to me but I am very open to other properties. I had Rawla Narlai on the first itinerary but cut it on the latest...

My frequent flier miles will go Boston-Delhi and back the same route. I am also - I think - able to use miles to fly into Mumbai and out of Delhi.

But I was in Delhi 20 years ago for a brief time and was interested in going back. Thoughts?

I guess I'm hoping for a balance of city and countryside. Not interested in safari (have been to Thailand for magical elephants in the middle of nowhere and camels in Morocco) but historic properties for some of the time and home stay for some...

Can anyone comment on Imperial (Delhi), Jaipur Friednly Villas (Jaipur), Chhatra Saga, Mihir Gahr, Rawla Narlai, and Rosie's Retreat or Samode Haveli in Udaipur?

Am losing my mind over the possibility of adding Mumbai, Now!!
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Old May 18th, 2016, 12:24 PM
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At this point in planning, I usually make a rule - no additions!! I think you could benefit from the same rule. This stage of planning - doing the final cuts in the itinerary is difficult and it can be tempting to add something else, but it just compounds the problem.

Good catch by Thursdays that the lake might be dry!
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Old May 18th, 2016, 12:55 PM
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Thoughts about booking directly with hotels and hiring independent driver?? Or using tour company (which I am SURE adds $$)?
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Old May 18th, 2016, 01:04 PM
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We booked hotels directly for several reasons. These days it is usually easy to book most places in India yourself. And many times you get better rooms, as all the money is going to the hotel, so that they have more incentive to take care of you. I know the theory that a tour company has leverage, but in our experience, we've been given better rooms than the people we met who booked through an tour company. And yes, sometimes you can get a better rate by booking yourself.

And we booked cars both with independent drivers and through an agent and found with due diligence the results were comparable, but that the independent drivers were a little cheaper.
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