India travel for family of 4

Nov 3rd, 2005, 05:24 AM
  #1  
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India travel for family of 4

We are planning a trip to India early May 2006. We will be landing in Delhi and staying 3 1/2 weeks. My husband and I are traveling with our two university aged children. As expected, we are footing the bill for all 4. This is our first trip to India and would like advice on an itinerary and reasonably priced places to stay. It would also be helpful to learn about traveling around by train. The only things on the agenda so far are Agra and tigers.
Any advice, tips, must sees or assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Alisonv is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 06:51 AM
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May wather is VERY hot so this may dictate your itinerary. I would say restrict your hot places travel to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur. Land in Delhi, take a train or drive to Agra, splurge on Amar Vilas here for a night - completely worth it and a good TA can try to get you a good off season rate in May, then drive to Jaipur, spend 2 nights here and then take a flight back to Delhi. In Jaipur you have loads of reasonable hotel options, Jas Vilas is oft recoed on this forum, we stayed at Raj Mahal and loved it, Samode Haveli is also a good option. Re tigers - the most popular place Ranthambore closes April 15-Sept 15. Other options are Kanha and Kaziranga. I would say consider going to Leh, Ladakh. It opens only 4 months annually and you are just at the right time. Weather will be great. Only thing is you will need time to acclimatize to the altitude so need to budget a week - in Leh you can stay at the Shangri La. For tigers you can fly from Delhi to the north east, see which place of Sikkim, SHillong, appeal and combine that with Kaziranga. Again, weather in May is conducive to North East.
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 01:07 PM
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Hello Hobbes
Thank you for the reply. How hot will it be? Are the evening temperatures also extreme?
I read on the site about people doing elephant safaris. Is this possible in Leh?
Your tips are really helpful. I checked some of the hotels and they look great. Should I wait to get there to book hotels and tours? Would that be less expensive than booking in advance?

I am also interested in the farm type stays that people have mentioned on Fodors (e.g.harithafarms.com). Is there anything similar in the northeast region?
Alisonv is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 01:09 PM
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Hello Hobbes - again
I meant to apologise for hitting you with so many questions.
Thank you again for any help you can give me. I am a complete newbie to India.
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 04:24 PM
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No worries re questions and abs no apologies required. Why don't u mail me on [email protected] with specifics. Hot i.e. day temps high 30s or early 40s in Delhi, Rajasthan, etc. Jaipur has an elephant back ride to one of the best monuments Amber Fort but it may be very warm to enjoy it. For May unless you want to wing it with no prior planning I would say have some itinerary worked out and along with that some hotel bookings. Some of the properties are small and not easily available eg last year in April which is also off season we could not get rooms at Samode Haveli and therefore stayed at Raj Mahal - which was also very nice. Also, domestic flights should be booked eg if you choose to go to Ladakh that is a flight best booked as it is a single daily service. Home stays eg Haritha Farms and the entire state of Kerala is an option you could cosnider - you could see wildlife and do the elephant safari at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, stay in the back waters, etc. Kerala will also be warm this time of year and only other problem is monsoon rain comes to Karala earlier than the rest of India so early May could work, end May is dicey.
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 11:11 PM
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Hobbes, Good info.

Alsion, The only thing that I can add is to avoid Jaipur too, since it will be hootttt...I can hardly think of any good place, other than the pleasant hill-stations that will be cool in May! I would not recommend May, unless you cannot do any other time.
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Nov 4th, 2005, 09:31 AM
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Thanks, Hobbes I will take you up on your offer to email you.

Thank you too, Dilip. It is unfortunate that between our children's exam schedules and my husband's work schedule, May is the only time we can get there. We are leaving April 29 and returning May 24. Our son will be joining us a week later in Delhi on May 8. After he arrives it is off to wherever. I had hoped we could go in April but it didn't work out.

I am sad about Jaipur. It looks beautiful.

Any advice on the hill stations? I hear that they are really wonderful. How do I learn more?
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Nov 4th, 2005, 03:37 PM
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Hi Alison: May will be extremely hot. Temps in Delhi then can hit up to 110-115 degrees and bear in mind that A/C is not to be found like in the US where I assume you are coming from. If so you won't be able to handle Delhi then. Bear in mind most cabs don't have A/C. Honestly if you can't go except in May then go to India another time. I don't think you will enjoy yourselves at all then unless you perhaps can go south, like to Kerala. If you want to see northern India wait until you can go in winter. My inlaws live in Delhi and I check the papers daily to see what the temp is there. Its still in the 90's. My wife is Indian born and even she refuses to go in the summer. I think you will spend alot of $$ for nothing if you go to Delhi then. JM2C. Larry.
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Nov 4th, 2005, 03:43 PM
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While Delhi sightseeing may not be a/ced your hotel, car (and I would strongly encourage you to book a car and driver to minimize your time in the sun - a booked driver will have a cell phone, be available on request, etc), restaurants, shopping areas are all a/ced. It is hot. I agree. But if this is your only available time go for it! Coller destinations worth thinking about are the North east i.e. Darjeeling, Gangtok, Shillong - they also work well with the Kaziranga sanctuary. As your trip is early May arther than late you could also consider Kerala tho a TA will be able to better advise re monsoons. In that case you could look at the backwaters i.e. Kumarokam, Thekkady - Periyar wildlife sanctuary, Cochin. This part of India has some of the best home stay and hotel experiences in all of India.
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Nov 4th, 2005, 03:57 PM
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Just found this terrific site for average temps throughout the world. Darjeeling in the summer seems pretty nice. http://www.weatherbase.com/
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Nov 4th, 2005, 10:01 PM
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Alisonv. Go to Thailand instead. You and your family will not regret it. It's hot there also but not nearly as hot as it would be in India in May.
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Nov 4th, 2005, 10:47 PM
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Early May is not that bad a time to do the golden triangle, Jaipur, Agra provided you move around in an AC car & stay indoors during midnoon restricting your sight-seeing to early mornings & evenings. Thereon you may visit the Corbett Park & month of May is the best time to see an indian tiger from a tree machan, as they come to drink on waterholes before hunting.But don't for get to carry your water-bottles! you have some wonderful hotels in the buffer zone but the best part is that you can stay inside the park, going off to bed listening to the calls of the forest denizens. Mind you it is not all that hot inside as the Ramganga & Mandal rivers make it a bit cooler. Now your next journey could be Binsar to show your kids the eternal snow on the Himalayas...they will never forget the scenery! Stay on in the Garhwal/Kumaon hills like Mukteshwar where you will see the oldest vetrinary institute (1905), the best views of Kumaon Hills can be had from the FRH. Now turn your face towards Shimla & Manali. After doing shimla go on to Sangla & put yourself up in those luxury tents...you will have fresh bakery all the same!! Drive on to Ki & Kibber(1000years)monasteries. Further on will not be possible as the Kunzum Pass opens July. Comeback to Kalpa & take the road to Aut on the way to Manali. thereon you may drive to Dharamsala, to visit the Dalai Lamas residence in Mcleodganj & finall hit those houseboats on Dal Lake...don't be afraid of Srinagar, my German clients have done it only this May!!!
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Nov 5th, 2005, 07:01 PM
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Thanks to all for the info. We are looking into the North East and are planning on hiring a driver in Delhi. We were planning on taking the train to Agra and Jaipur. (The pedal rickshaws in Agra are jsut so tempting). Perhaps we would be better off hiring a driver for the whole 3 city trip?
Corbett sounds like a very strong option. We want to see tigers and the other wildlife. Hopefully we will get lucky.

I am really interested in the tents at Sangla. We enjoy the off beat. The whole north east sounds beautiful.

If we have time I would love to head south but that may be best left for the next trip. I have a feeling that this is just the beginning.

Has anyone been to the Elephanta caves? They sound worth the side trip. Are they?
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Nov 6th, 2005, 11:04 AM
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Alison, since you did suggest that you were open to hill-stations...you may want to check out Simla or Kulu-Manali.

Your current plan does look good. However I am pretty sure that most of you will get de-hydrated. So do keep tons of mineral around you. Trains are preferrable to cars (in India) for travel greater than 5-6 hours. Of course, unless there is no train service!! Skip the South for now...Stick to the Northern part of India, if you are sure that you will be coming back.
Even the Elephanta Caves in Mumbai (Bombay) is not worth all the travel down, especially since you have lots to see up in North. If you folks are interested in Hindu mythology, take a trip to the sacred places in the North like Mathura, Benares, Varanasi etc. If a history freak, then go around Delhi/Agra/Jaipur exploring the various dynasties that invaded India. For tigers, you really need to keep your fingers crossed...esp during summer!
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Nov 6th, 2005, 11:55 AM
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I'll say it one more time then I'm done. You will regret being in the north of India in May. If you don't believe me perhaps you should ask any Indian friends or aquaintainces what such heat and conditions will do to those not at all used to it. And if you get "Delhi" belly which is a good bet then how do you stay hydrated? Get the IV's ready. Good luck.
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Nov 7th, 2005, 10:43 AM
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Hi Jacketwatch
Thanks for the caution. I know you are right. We are coming from Canada so we are probably going to have a heck of a shock! We will be staying in the Delhi area for the shortest time possible. We are going to book a car and driver so hopefully we can avoid cabs. We will then head to Corbitt National Park and Agra. Darjeeling looks very good so we may head up there afterwards.

Hobbes gave me the URLs for the Indian airlines so we may purchase a 2-3 week pass and head South as well. We are trying to cram a lot in to our stay while trying to avoid heat prostration.
Alison
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Nov 7th, 2005, 12:48 PM
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Whew! Thats a relief to hear and I'm not the one going. LOL! If you are from Phoenix or the like then you would have a better chance but Canada. OMG! I can well understand you wanting to see the Taj and actually I have been fortunate enough to see it 4 X's and each time is as stunning as the first. If you are in Agra during a full moon by chance that may me a greattime to see it, esp. if its a clear night. Do stay well hydrated, wear a hat, not a baseball style cap but a hat that is perforated, wear light colored cotton clothing and please, no matter how tempting the aromas avoid street vendors, esp. in the summer. Why? Well inIdia the cow is sacred and as such they roam whereever they please. So the equation is: cows=dung=many flies=open air markets where food is, well in the open= flies+dung+open food= "Delhi" belly. I am not trying to be an alarmist. I spaek from visceral experience. I contacted typhoid there once so the reality of sub standard sanitation made an indelible impression on me. However common sense and some care with what you injest should see you thru. Actually you want to consider becoming vegetarians while you are there as meat processing isn't the same as in the US or Canada. Do consider meds such as malarial tablets. The CDC usually recommends them for India, esp. in the summer. I don't mean to be preachy but do realize I've been therebefore. Cheers, Larry
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Nov 7th, 2005, 12:49 PM
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ttt
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Nov 9th, 2005, 05:54 AM
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Hi Jacketwatch
I know ...I know.. Canadian winter to Indian summer! OMG is the best way to describe it!

We will definitley avoid the street vendors selling tasty bowel-inducing treats. We will also try to avoid the meat while we are there (hadn't thought of that). Thank goodness I like lentils!

The Taj by moonlight sounds wonderful both for heat avoidance and just sheer wonder.

I don't think you are being preachy I appreciate the advice. Being a newbie means listening. I have travelled to Africa so we will go to a tropical disease center here in Montreal. They should shoot us up and give us enough pills to make us rattle!
Thanks again.
Alison
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Nov 9th, 2005, 06:31 AM
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I've been to India three times now and I would never consider going there in May. We're talking Arizona temps mixed with New Orleans humidity to the extreme. Unless you're doing a true luxury tour, it's hard to get around India emotionally, physically and mentally anyway, so why do it when your body just wants to shut down and you can do very little. And by all means, be very careful about what you eat and drink, because there is a pretty good chance you will get sick at some point for at least a day or so. Especially while dealing with the heat. The country of India spins a very wonderful tourism tale about travel in India, most of which has nothing to do with the reality of what is still most of India. There are some really wonderful places on earth to visit in May. India may not be one of them.
I've done trains in India twice and unless you do the luxury train tours (expensive) you might be disappointed unless you're doing it purely for the experience. My last train trip was two days from Mumbai to Trivindrum in the south...third class. I will never do that again.
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