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Luxury Trains in India - Tourist trap or great trip?

Luxury Trains in India - Tourist trap or great trip?

Old Dec 5th, 2006, 01:48 PM
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Luxury Trains in India - Tourist trap or great trip?

I love trains. Thinking of combining three 7 day trips on the Palace on Wheels, Deccan Odyssey and Royal Orient. I'd much appreciate any advice Fodorites can give me on whether these trips are worth it. Are they just sanitised tourist traps, or a great way to get around without grief? I'm a great fan of river cruising in Asia and love the idea of the travelling hotel room. I'll be travelling on my own, and confess I'm just a little nervous of India. Thanks in advance.
dogster is offline  
Old Dec 5th, 2006, 02:09 PM
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A friend of mine did the Palace on Wheels with her parents and loved it. They are Indian but now live in the US. From all that I have heard about it from a few different sources, I don't think it is a tourist trap at all. Unfortunately, I can't give you a first hand report.
mdn is offline  
Old Dec 5th, 2006, 06:22 PM
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I think the itinerary is WAY too rushed to really see and enjoy India, that is my main problem with it. It’s like 7 places in the 7 days or something quite close to that. If you knew someone “doing” Europe this way, you would just laugh, and distances in India are much greater, even within the small area of Rajasthan being covered. If they spent any appreciable time in one place I think it would be fine way to see the sites and really get a feel for India, which has to be experienced by being out there in the streets and getting into the deserts and the bazaars. When I look at what they “see” in Agra, for example, I just know that everyone on the train will hate Agra because all they will see in the Taj (and not at sunrise or sunset either) and the annoying touts around it and they won’t see the lovely parts of the old city....

The other drawback to me is that I hear that the food is quite bland, which IMO is a shame given the number of really excellent restaurants which are now all over the major cities and even some of the smaller ones.

There is no reason to be “nervous” of India.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 11:15 AM
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I have heard amazing things about the palace on wheels. it definitely doesn't give you the freedom to explore as much, but you will get to see all the highlights without anyhassle.
shothyme77 is offline  
Old Dec 6th, 2006, 11:53 AM
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There are MANY reasons to be nervous of India! But yor plan sounds fine. Stick with your plans. I could list many horror stories of independent travelling in India but there's no point. Going on your own, just stick with your propossal and you'll be fine. You will learn so much doing it this way and then maybe another time you can be a bit more cavalier.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 01:26 PM
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I imagine dogster - not that I really know - they will all be rather like the Road to Mandalay Cruise - but on steel wheels...
Mitch04 is offline  
Old Dec 6th, 2006, 07:10 PM
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Didn`t I see a program on PBS about the Palace on Wheels? Looked pretty luxurious to me.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 09:13 PM
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I suspect dogster is after an experience, but not necessarily luxury....
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Old Dec 7th, 2006, 05:59 AM
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hELLO and Namaste Dogster. Greetings from a American who lives in India~!

Perhaps i can give u a little perspective as i am indeed both very familiar with these trains, with travel in Rajasthan, and with India in general

First off, nothing to be nervous about, rather i would say consider it "excitemennt" about your trip!

I have been in/out of the Country for over 17 years, and am deeply devoted to this region, heart and soul! And i would say that Indians are some of the most hopstiable, freidnly and welcoming people too. yea, of course it can be chalanging and maddening at times and a assault on the4 senses, but it is a jounrey par excellence!

Now back to the Luxury Train quesiton. Personlly, I am not a great fan of this mode of travel in India and for most folks I would always say much better to travel in Rajasthan on your own, at your own pace, using car/driver, local trains and staying in the wonderful Hotels en route. I mean u can stay in real Palacs..

But by the tone of your email, the fact that you LOVE TRAINS, you are travelng on your own, and by the fact that you say you live "river cruising", and the traveling hotel room, then by all means this train may be something for YOU, and that would both match your interests and requirements.,

That said, these trains are very very expensive, move very fast thus little interactions with the locals, and very little time off-board to enjoy the wonder,beauty and local culture of each destiantion..And of course, little time to experince all the superb resturants in Rajasthan..

However, if you like the idea of having all things sorted for you, and being with a bunch of other like minded travelers/tourists, then by all means this might be right for YOU..

Anways, the important point is that you are planning a trip to India! Anywayss u will love it.

And if you opt out of the train idea, i would be happy to help u craft/think of a itineary where u can still take a few local/overnite trains en route, but with more time to enjoy each destination.

And what i have said to many who are aksing about "palace on Wheels"! Well, it is not a Palace by any stretch of the imagination, and in my opionion for the price of that train/tour much better to custom design your own Rajathan trip where u can slow down the pace, wander the markets, eat in the restraunts and overall, U can stay in the real and authentic pALACE HOTELS that dot the State of Rajathan, like Rambagh Palace, Lake Palace, to name a few....

Take care, happy travels, and feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] happy to help!
Bonita is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2006, 02:51 PM
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Thank you so much, everybody.

I was thinking of the train trips as a taster in preparation for a lengthier trip later. My nervousness about India, I realise on reflection, is not about the country, the people, the hassles - just about getting ill. As a solo traveller getting sick is a nightmare. Not only are you feeling dreadful but you're not thinking straight - and there's nobody to help.

I've done some more searching on these trains and found many mixed reviews - lousy food, not enough time, relentless clawing for tips - I even found a couple of people who just got off after three days. Then, alternately, I find glowing praise. I just don't really know.

But Cicerone's words ' If you knew someone “doing” Europe this way, you would just laugh' ring loud in my ears. [I'm so impressed with C's many posts on other topics, by the way - thank you for bothering with lil' ol' me] She and Bonita are guiding me away from those particular trains and into a more in depth, slower experience of India. I think I should listen to the experts.

I'm much travelled, not averse to a bit of luxury, with enough time and $$ to do it any way I want - but, as Mitch correctly says, would much prefer an 'experience' to luxury. If I can combine the two, all the better. But if I have to stay in a hovel to have the adventure, I'll willingly do it.

Now, if I could only avoid these damn single suppliments everywhere I go.... it's tragic enough to have to spend my nights alone without having to pay for the privelege...
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Old Dec 7th, 2006, 05:25 PM
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dogster, you remain one of the wittiest and most easy to get-along-with-person I have ever met in my travels. You and your colleague took my Mekong cruise from "bloody excellent" to the "bloody brilliant" rating.
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Old Dec 7th, 2006, 06:34 PM
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Awww shucks.
Mitchy, Mitch, Mitch - what a nice thing to say.
To any other fodorites who might have stumbled in on this luurve-fest - I can be hired [for a large fee] as travel companion.
dogster is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2006, 06:50 PM
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.i agree with some of the will not see all that much from the trains....i recently returned from my first trip to india and we had a driver and car the entire time and loved the experience....

i would also not "trust" the food on the trains quite honestly for day in and day out...
i would do the train for one phase of the trip only...
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Old Dec 7th, 2006, 07:12 PM
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Dogster- I think you could get amuch better experience making your own itinerary involving 1st AC train seats, but staying in luxury hotels (such as the Oberois or Amans). Go at your pace, have time to explore towns, sleep in the finest beds, and it will likely cost less than the palace tour.

If you do get ill, I know from experience that the Oberoi hotels will take care of your needs.
lcuy is offline  
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