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Travel agencies in India e.g. Legends and Palaces, Castle and King

Travel agencies in India e.g. Legends and Palaces, Castle and King

Old Apr 4th, 2014, 01:22 PM
  #1  
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Travel agencies in India e.g. Legends and Palaces, Castle and King

I am just doing some very initial scoping of a possible trip to India. Apart from a beach holiday in Goa this would be my first trip there since I backpacked extensively around Southern India in the 1980s

I am not very keen on being guided every step of the way or following a detailed itinerary specified in advance and so basically just want an agency that will safely and reliably transport us from A to B [e.g Dehi-Agra-Jaipur-Jodphur]. I can see from Fodorite's posts that several Indian agencies such as Castle and Kings and Legends and Palaces get good write ups and these both sound really flexible. However I have a couple of queries that I would be grateful for input into br />
Firstly, my travel insurance only covers me for end supplier failure [I.e. the airline or hotel itself going bankrupt not the failure of an intermediate agencies] and so I am worried about security of handing over significant finances in advance of a trip to foreign travel agencies. In UK, where I live, all ABTA agencies are covered by a national scheme but clearly this would not apply in these cases where company registered elsewhere. Can you pay by credit card as I believe this gives protection? I have searched websites but most seem to refer to bank transfers. Any thoughts on this issue would be very welcome as I have not picked up any references to this concern in posts.

Secondly, and partly as a response to my previous concern as it would reduce the risk, is it possible to just book the car and driver and not the hotels with these agencies or do they only offer 'all in' tours ?

Many thanks
loncall is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2014, 02:39 PM
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I booked the services of an Indian travel agency on my first trip to India about 10 years ago. It was as you describe, hotels and transport only, and they very easily accommodated an occasional change along the way. I was exceptionally happy with the resulting very personal tour and it was all paid for by credit card.

They booked flights, trains, and cars with drivers where needed. I did some research and was able to book every hotel I wanted, not just those booked routinely on their set tours.

I suggest you do have them book your hotels as the agencies get significantly better deals and the people I used passed the savings along. When I wanted to extend the visit in Delhi, I asked the agency what they'd charge and the hotel quoted me almost double that rate. When I mentioned the agency rate the hotel gave me the rate quoted by the agency.

If an Indian agency has been in business for some time and you use a credit card for the booking, there should be no problems whatever. The agency I used was 'Indian Moments' and while they'll suggest itineraries, they're also amenable to providing exactly what you want at extremely reasonable prices. In India, it's not a case of getting what you pay for, it's that you'll pay whatever the market will bear. So better known agencies charge significantly more for exactly the same services. I suspect it's local agencies doing the work and those outside India simply marking them up, way up. Better to deal locally and cut the foreign marketing companies out of the equation. You wind up with more personal service and much more flexibility.

http://www.indianmoments.com/home.asp
MmePerdu is online now  
Old Apr 4th, 2014, 09:14 PM
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I take it you're aware that those destinations can be easily connected by train?
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2014, 09:57 PM
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I did a tour using Castle and King 2 years ago and they took credit cards.
They were pretty flexible and so I booked some hotels directly myself and went through them for others. In any event I had the final choice on the hotels so just ask them.
I was reasonably happy with them although there were a few glitches but they did get sorted out.
Regarding UK companies, I did get quotes first from some and they were almost double what Castle and King gave. How much is assurance worth? Also they only took a deposit and the balance was paid later.
As above about the trains and also for this part we did by the Royal Rajasthan Train which we really liked.
Bon Vogage.
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Old Apr 5th, 2014, 07:19 AM
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We used Banyan Tours for our India journey last summer because they were one of only a few companies that accepted American Express. We do not use the services of travel companies that only take bank transfers--just our preference when choosing a travel company. We were quite pleased with Banyan's services. We booked a complete tour, ie... driver, car, guide, hotels, internal airfare, transfers etc... We put monthly payments on our American Express. Banyan did charge a service fee for using Am. Ex., but it was minimal. I booked the complete tour with Banyan because I couldn't book the hotels cheaper than they quoted us. Lucy at Banyan is wonderful and extremely patient. Lucy will tailor your trip just how you want it. If you want transportation from A to B, just let her know. I found Banyan through Conde Nast and I very happy we used them.

BTW- Our driver was fabulous--Purin.
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Old Apr 5th, 2014, 08:52 AM
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Thanks for these helpful replies and leads to follow up.This is what I love about Fodors, getting different perspectives all within 24 hours of your first query !
loncall is offline  
Old Apr 5th, 2014, 09:02 AM
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Increasingly we find ourselves dealing with cash rather than credit cards, and carrying travel insurance to reimburse us for anything that might cause us to cancel or disrupt our trip. I suspect one reason an agency can get better rates at hotels is because they pay up front when they've got your final payment. Also, they build a reputation with the hotel for being a good and consistent customer. We felt we always got the exact room we expected (or much nicer in many cases)

You certainly have nothing to lose by asking any or all of the agencies mentioned here for what ever level os service you want from them. Our bill was specifically broken out with costs for car and driver, guide, lodging, etc. You really don't NEED a guide for many places, especially if it is a return trip, or you have experience using audio guides, which were available in so many places. We rather enjoyed it just to have someone to talk to about local culture and lifestyle and current events.
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Old Apr 5th, 2014, 09:32 AM
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I arranged a transportation-only itinerary with TGS Tours. I booked the hotels and a domestic flight myself. The destinations and daily itinerary were up to me. TGS arranged the car (Innova van) and drivers and booked a couple train tickets.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Old Apr 6th, 2014, 01:51 PM
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I only booked car and driver in advance. I booked hotels directly and if I had to do over I might even wait and use hotel car and driver. There were some days we hardly used car. Guides can be booked inexpensively through hotels, even 5 star hotels. I found that I could book directly for less than an agency. But i also did hours of research and found this site very helpful.
J
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Old Apr 6th, 2014, 07:15 PM
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We spent all of January and February of this year in India. Based on recommendations here on Fodors, I contacted Castle and King via email. I sent them a copy of the itinerary we had worked out. I noted which cities we would need drivers for and which trips we'd be taking the train. Arvind immediately got back to me with a total quote for all the drives and train ticket prices. I thought the price reasonable and paid via a secure link he provided with a credit card. (He first offered me the option to stop by the Delhi office and pay - but Delhi was to be our last stop, so we didn't do that). Though I knew we could get train tickets on line I just decided to avoid that hassle and have C&K get those for us. He then sent me e tickets for those trips.
He also got us an Indian SIM card. With one exception, we made all our own hotel reservations. Arvind was great to work with. All the drivers were careful and on time. They all spoke at least some tourist English. Some more than others. We did not contract for any "guide" services, only drivers. Because our itinerary was wide ranging we mostly had a different driver between each location. . . C&K obviously contracts with local people. We used public transport in each location - or arranged day tours from hotels or with rickshaw drivers when we wanted that.

I'd recommend them highly.
glover is offline  
Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 07:39 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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I was extremely pleased with the service from India Panorama. Contact details are below.
Faith Pandian, originally from Australia and her husband, from India, own the company. Faith did a great job arranging hotels, drivers and transportation. I really appreciated the way she listened to our needs and suggestions but also gave us her recommendations. In the end, it was a winning collaberation.
I don't remember how payment was made. I personally wouldn't hesitate to wire funds to this
company.
 
Mrs.Faith Pandian
Director
Indian Panorama - A Complete Tour Planner for India
( a Unit of Cholan Tours Pvt Ltd)
E Mail #160;[email protected] ,    www.indianpanorama.in 
iamles is offline  
Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 08:21 PM
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We used castle and king and were extremely satisfied. I don't recall if we sent a small deposit, but the majority, if not all of the fee was paid at the end of our trip, when we arrived in Delhi and met with arvind personally. Arvind procurred several of our train tickets and had a messenger deliver the train tickets directly to our first hotel in udiapur. Not only did he trust us to pay him, but when my husband was pick pocketed at the end of our trip, arvind offered to help us out financially if we needed money on our last day. We thought his services went above and beyond duty and I highly recommend castle and king.
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Old Apr 26th, 2014, 11:33 AM
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We used Banyan Tours for a three week trip in February. Lucy Davidson was outstanding in planning our trip and accommodating our requests for off the beaten pass destinations. We had fantastic guides and drivers- Sanjeev and Purin were the best and were fantastic!! I also like the idea of using an Indian company. I would highly recommend Banyan.
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Old Apr 26th, 2014, 12:05 PM
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Call Mr. VP Singh at legends and palaces. He can tailor a trip for your specifics. He did for us and we had no problems.
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Old Apr 26th, 2014, 08:04 PM
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In fact, when we had big problem, it was Mr. Singh at Legends and Palaces that made it a non-problem. Having local agent is most important.
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