Planning my first trip to India...again

Old Jun 20th, 2007, 01:26 PM
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Posts: 166
Planning my first trip to India...again

During the the last three years I'd been trying to organize my first trip to India. Unforeseen circumstances make me cancel on two ocassions. I hope this time it will be fulfilled. So, I need your help again. After a lot of reading and recommendations posted at Fodor's, Indiamike and other travel forums, I'm almost sure of when and where I want to go. But still, there are some questions. This is my trip plan for February 2008: Total 22 days

Delhi - 3 nights (arrive at 9:30pm)
Agra - 1
Varanasi - 2
Jaipur - 2
Jodhpur - 2
Jaisalmer - 3
Udaipur - 3
Delhi - 2 (leaving at 12:30am)

On purpose, I left out three nights for some off the beaten path recommendations. I know, for instance, that getting to Jaisalmer is not easy and is a long way, so here I will need recommendations of where to take a nights rest travelling from Jaipur. Also, Will like to experience some train travel at the beginning of the trip. Definetly want to take a train to Agra, but, is it better going from Delhi or after taking a plane to Varanasi and then taking the overnight train from there to Agra? Is a car and driver needed in Agra and Varanasi? After this will take a car & driver from Agra for the rest of the trip. Ranakpur is one of my priorities too. Will it need a night stop? Later will indicate Hotels selected for this trip to hear of your experiences and recommendations.


gilawi01 is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2007, 02:06 PM
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I would take out one day in Udaipur and add that to Varanasi. If there is any place to experience India at its most raw its Varanasi. You do deal with a lot of touts but its worth it. If I were you I would do all your delhi time at the end of your trip. That way you will not be scammed as much and will know what to expect in India. Your first day in India will be total shock no matter how well traveled you are. Spending more time in Delhi will make this worse. I would suggest one night and one full day in delhi and even leave that second night for varnasi and spend more time at the end. you may want a car and driver in agra but its not necessar at all in Varanasai as everything is pretty easy to walk to.
blgerber is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2007, 08:17 PM
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i think that a driver is a necessity in agra
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Jun 21st, 2007, 12:46 PM
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Thanks blgerber & rhkkmk:

blgerber: If I understand right, you are sugggesting to spend just the first night at Delhi an then at the end of the trip spend a couple of days more? What types of scams are you talking about? By the way, let me tell you that I've just read your post of your trip to India and enjoy it a lot. Specially the portion of the bus trip to Delhi was hilarious. Thanks for sharing.
gilawi01 is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2007, 09:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Well whenever you get to any big city in the world (there are scams in america also) you are fresh meat and you don't know what things should cost and how things are run. Believe me its obvious after spending time in India who the "fresh faces are". If I can tell you bet the touts can tell. They will overcharge you for everything. WHile it may be pennies to you it creates inflation for the locals when tourists are willing to pay double for the same service because it may seem cheap for them. Someone advised me once on my travels that the best thing you can do whenever oyu arrive in a new place to get out of the big city right away. While the cities you are visiting are all pretty big Delhis size can be intimidating. If you come back you may have the courage to do things like ride the metro (which may I add is amazing and a great experience for any westerner, go out to the suburbs like rajouri garden and enjoy big western shopping malls to see the other side of india) and walk around alone through places you may not otherwise do. I will tell you that the culture shock in India is pretty intense and its better experieinced in a more managable place. In my opinion (others may disagree) Delhi is nice but the farther away from the bigger cities you get in India the better the experiences and people you will meet. You can preebook a train ticket out of delhi if you follow my advice online and print it out. I suggest this but no need to book other tickets. Beware that you do not have an airport in Jaisalamer because of its proximity ot the pakistan border. People all say the camel safaris are great. I don't know what type of traveler you are so if you want any recs on other cities or places you may not know about let me know. I didn't do rajastan but all you talk about with other people in India is the places you have been and how much you love them. I wish I was back there right now and not in some office cube.
blgerber is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2007, 11:48 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 38
22 days will give you a good taste. I'll give my input on what I think would work best.

If funds are available try getting a flight from Delhi to Jaisalmer. I believe Indian Airlines flies this route now, probably others too. This will eliminate a lot of backtracking through Jodhpur, Jaipur.

Now you can hire a driver from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur. Spend a couple of days and drive to Udaipur stopping at Ranakpur along the way.

Take a train from Udaipur to Jaipur, it's a convenient overnighter. Jaipur to Agra is about 5 hours by train.

Agra to Varanasi is an overnighter by train. Fly Varanasi to Delhi spend a leisurely day or two there.

So here's the abbreviated form

Delhi 1 full day, fly to Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer - 3 days drive to Jodhpur
Jodphur - 2 days drive to Udaipur
Udaipur - 3 days overnight train to Jaipur
Jaipur - 2 days, train to Agra
Agra - 1 day, overnight train to Varanasi
Varanasi - 4-5 days, fly to Delhi
Delhi - 1-2 days
shaktipalooza is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2007, 06:09 PM
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Thanks shaktipalooza. Seems to me good options to consider. Will you explain why you recommend 4 to 5 days in Varanasi?
gilawi01 is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2007, 08:39 PM
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4-5 days in Varanasi is admittedly a biased opinion. I tend to favor cities where you can get away from the crazy traffic and Varanasi is wonderful for that. Wandering the narrow alleys is very relaxing.

4 trips to India and I've never been to the Taj Mahal. This year we're moving there so I think it will finally happen.

shaktipalooza is offline  
Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 08:15 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 46
Hi gilawi01,

In November 2005 I used Real India Tours for my first trip to India, 13 days covering most of your cities with the exceptions of Udaipur and Varanasi. I visited Pushkar, Bundi, Bikaner and Mandawa in addition to your city list.

I have been in over 40 countries on four continents, and usually travel independently. (In the past year I have been to China five times independently.)

However to tackle India, considering the costs and infrastructure, I decided a private car and driver was the way to go. I consulted with maybe five different companies that specialize in this, not as agents for other companies.

I decided on Raju of Real India because they did not send me "canned" responses suggesting tours I did not ask about. Raju took an interest, planned a custom trip for me. Then I responded with a whole list of preferred hotels and special requests. Very promptly he responded, noting how he could accommodate me. Thus I was in the Pushkar Palace Hotel and Mandawa Castle, top in their class, and stayed in the fort wall at Jaisalmer.

Some of the hotels were not as unique or deluxe, but all were acceptable. I was on a budget, not paying for luxury retreats and palaces. At each hotel I was treated as a honored guest (because of Raju I am sure) and shown as many rooms as I wanted to see before I selected one.

The point of this is before I looked up Raju, I agonized over the planning. I looked it over and over, and finally followed my instincts and asked his help in the itinerary, suggested stops in addition to my must-sees, and my budget.

The trip could not have been better. I saw everything I wanted to, wandered when I felt like it, took thousands (it seems) of digital pictures, and enjoyed just sitting at abandoned sites looking out at the landscapes.

What a luxury to have your own personal driver, attentive to your needs. Throughout the trip, my driver made me feel welcome in India, and frequently commented on my observations. We stopped for groups of school children in hamlets. He took me on some memorable side trips. He was not a "tour guide" in the official sense, but more of a neighbor showing me around the neighborhood. I had my Fodor's and LP with me to fill in the blanks.

So as to your question, I would ask Raju and see what he says. I was delighted with the honesty and integrity of his operation. (By the way, this is a real post. I live in Miami Beach, and you can verify that by writing to me at [email protected].)
rploehn is offline  
Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 04:12 PM
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Thanks rploehn:

I'm convinced that car & driver is the way to go. I've already send my proposals to two well know (in this forum) companies which already had send me their itineraries (I'm in the analysis process). Will send Rajuindia (Real India tours)my plan to see their proposals.
gilawi01 is offline  
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