I'm at the beginning of arranging my first month long trip to India in November.
After researching various areas I am keen to visit as many places as I can, but still to remain sensible in terms of appreciating those places before moving on.
Generally speaking, I'm looking to fly into Delhi and explore Rajasthan (and it's many iconic cultural sites), travel up to Punjab (namely to see the Golden Temple and border, with a stop to Shimla on the way may maximise that travel?) , next to Mumbai for a few days, then onto the South (to experience the backwaters, rice paddies and tea plantations), with a stop off in Goa (for the beaches) on the way down.
With this in mind, I would therefore I would appreciate your feedback with the initial ideas around itinerary and ask for your honest feedback on:
a) The destinations I have chosen
b) The order of my travel
c) The volume of destinations in the trip
d) General tips and advice
Days 1-9 - Delhi + Agra, Jaipur and Udaipur
Days 10-13 - Shimla? and Amritsar
Days 14-17 - Mumbai
Days 18-23 - Goa (South)
Days 24-31 - Thiruvananthapuram, Varkala, Alappuzha, Kochi and Munnar
Day 32 - Travel home
I plan to maximise a variety of travel options:
- Several internal flights to cut down on travel time from North> East> South
- Train travel
- Car and driver (where recommended)
With your feedback, I will be able to make amendments/ choices/ further thinking where necessary start to move onto planning the more finite details needed.
Thanks in advance
Welcome to India!!!
November is one of the best months to experience India
First, Install an app named "TRIPIGATOR" :P
I think you have planned fine. A couple of months ago, I have had visited most of the places in your list.
Let me tell you my opinion based on my personal experiences as well as my friends'.
Flight to Delhi is the best choice.
Let me order the list first..
This is the optimized order which would save you time, energy, and money.
I hope you know what to expect from these places.
According to my opinion...
Agra - 1 day ( to cover.. which is Taj Mahal)
Jaipur - 2 days
Udaipur - 2 days
Delhi - 2-3 days, assuming you skip the nightlife.
Shimla - 2 days
Amritsar - 2 days.
Mumbai - 2-3 days
Goa- 3 days
Kochi/Cochin- 2 days
Alappuzha- 1 day
Thiruvananthapuram & Varkala - 3-4 days
Munnar - 2 days ( mostly greenery and water bodies)
Note: Traveling time extra
Delhi to Shimla to Amritsar ----- Take Private Operator Bus (www.redbus.in)
Amritsar to Delhi ------ Either Bus or Flight
Delhi to Agra ---- Bus
Agra to Jaipur to Udaipur--- Bus
Udaipur to Mumbai ------- Bus or Flight
Mumbai to Goa ----- Train
Goa to Kochi- Alappuzha- Thiruvananthapuram ---- Train
to Munnar --- Bus or Car. Car is little expensive than Bus or Train
Take flights only when it's absolutely necessary. All these places are mostly between 6 and 8 hours journey. Check-in time and flight time will be around 2-3 hours.
South India doesn't need flight because mostly within Kerala.
Taxi/Private Car operator charges may vary from state to state.
There are some assorted tariffs. For long distance, Day rent + Driver Wage + KM charges or For short distances, Just KM charges applicable.
Use cars for local trips. In Kerala, it's best to use Autorickshaw if you feel comfortable.
Other than Shimla, all the places are very humid. November will be pleasant, though.
Suggestions: Manali is near Shimla. Do visit Mysore while going from Goa to Kochi. Also, if you have saved extra days, try visiting Kanya Kumari and Ooty. Kanya Kumari is just around 3 hours journey from Thiruvananthapuram.
If you want to experience these places completely, try to extend your trip for another 10 days.
I don't have to stress you on dress codes as you may have already known. Know your surroundings. Most of the people would be friendly and help you out. Sometimes, asking a stranger for help is asking for trouble. So, be careful. All the other basic dos and do-nots of other countries are applicable in India as well.
Visit this link for Cell phone service details.
For any other specific information on anything, feel free to ask. I am happy to share
[ Edit: Edited on 05-Sep-2015, at 14:57 by Vorion ]
Thank you so much for this detailed response Pravin, it's really appreciated
I'll download that app straight away, I was looking for suitable apps on my phone that I can utilise!
That route definitely makes sense to go up to Shimla and Amritsar first, as I was thinking it would involve a long distance to Mumbai after there but means a much shorter distance if I go from Udaipur instead.
The timings for each of the places ties in mostly with what I thought, so that is re-assuring.
You have mentioned travelling by buses for a lot of the journey - is this down to reliability and cost? Are these something I would be best to book in advance or is this done when I am there?
The same goes for train - am I best to book these in advance before I go?
Thank you for your additional suggestions too - I looked at the Manali but wondered if I would have the time to fit it in too on the way to Amritsar - I take it the private tour operator bus would take me there on the way also?
I'll also do further research on Mysore,Kanya Kumari and Ooty too.
Unfortunately I can't extend my trip any further so I will need to look at how the transport times fit in with my plan to see if I've got chance to add extra places in.
I'm so excited for the trip and it's great to see that I will be able to fit in elements of the North and South in a month
Sounds great that you chose India for your trip
As far as your choice of destinations is concerned, I think they are fine and also the most popular picks by foreigners. So, I am not surprised! Pravin has given you some good tips above, however I like to make few additions.
1. When you say that you want to explore Rajasthan for its iconic sites, then you must include Jodhpur and Jaisalmer also. And Why not Ranthambore and Bharatpur as well for tigers and birdwatching, if you're interested. Just check this order if it works for you.
Day 1 - Delhi Arrival
Day 2- Delhi : visit some imp sights
Day 3- Agra for Taj Mahal. Stay a night (by car)
Day 4- Agra- Bharatpur by road, car or bus. Private cab is always comfortable and not so expensive. Stay in Bharatpur for birdwatching
Day 5- Bharatpur- Ranthambore. Stay in Ranthambore.
Day 6- Either stay in Ranthambore or move to Jaipur
Day 7- Jaipur- Amber fort, Hawa Mahal, Museum
Day 8- Udaipur via Pushkar (for the only Brahma temple in India)
Day 9- Udaipur: Visit the most romantic site Lake Palace
Day 10- Jodhpur via Ranakpur Jain temples (known for architecture)
Day 11- In Jodhpur- visit Asia's best fortress Mehrangarh Fort
Day 12- To Jaisalmer
Day 13- Jaisalmer- Deserts, camels, havelis (palace)
Day 14- Mandawa (titiled as "open art gallery" of Rajasthan, thanks to its fascinating fort and number of havelis dated to 18th century)
Day 15- Delhi
Day 16- Delhi- Shimla (by toy train or road)
Day 17- Shimla
Day 18- Amritsar by road
Day 19- Golden Temple, Border.
The below additions are suggested by me to help you feel some Himalayan beauty and culture in Bhaderwah. It's safe and offbeat.
Day 20- Amritsar- Jammu (train or car, 5 hrs)
Day 21- Jammu- Bhaderwah (car, 5 hrs)
Day 22- 24- Bhaderwah (vast green meadows, day hikes, mountain homestay culture, glacier)
Day 25- Mumbai (by flight from Jammu)
Day 26- Mumbai
Day 27- 29- Goa
Day 30- Goa to Cochin (flight)
Day 31- Cochin
Day 32- Alleppey for backwaters
Day 33- Munnar
Day 34- Munnar
Day 35- Thekkady
Day 36- Thekkady
Day 37- Varkala
Day 38- Trivandrum
Day 39- Kanyakumari- Vivekanadna Rock
Day 40- Fly home from Trivandrum
So, broadly, we are entering into North, West and South India in this whole trip. Delhi and Rajasthan are easily travelled by road, I suggest personal transport over the public one to save time, energy and also to make most of the small sightseeing points that you might miss otherwise. Delhi, Amritsar, Shimla, Jammu, Bhaderwah are also well connected by road. You may try train from Delhi to Shimla, and Amritsar to Jammu. But mind you, Indian trains are not very clean, generally. However no problem if your journey is less than a day long, like in this case.
Mumbai and Goa are well connected by road, and volvo buses are available which are comfortable with sleeper options as well. Else, flight is best.
Once you've arrived Kerala, then transportation is not that problem but do take private taxi service to save time. Kerala is vast and there's so much to see. I insist Kanyakumari for its iconic Vivekananda Rock where Swami ji s said to have attained eternal Samadhi. Kanyakumari is easily travelled by road from Trivandrum.
So, that's all from my end!
In case you need more details, pl drop your email id where I can email the entire plan with travel time, mode and accommodation suggestions that may be helpful/ handy.
All the Best!
Thanks for your appreciating words.
Tripigator app will give you some detailed insight on what to expect from each location. It helps you to plan ahead, but I don't rely completely on Phones and Apps.
I prefer bus over train on long journeys because Buses offer more comfort, cleanliness, and safety. You can't sleep when you are in a constant paranoia of your things getting stolen in Train. It may not happen but as a foreigner you will try to be more cautious in a new environment. You can't keep that feeling out of your mind. :D So, Bus is better than train.
For saving a few hours, I don't prefer flights. Flights are expensive when you book at the last moment. The rates may vary from 1 day to 2 days to 1 week to 2 weeks to 1 month to 2 months to 3 months. Sooner the journey, costlier the ticket becomes. For flight ticket bookings, you can download "Yatra" app. I personally prefer Indigo.
You can find good buses on Red Bus website, there is an app too. Sleeper and Semi-Sleeper with A/c or Non-A/c. I suggest you look for "Volvo" multi-axle model buses as it gives good comfort. Watch out the ratings on individual buses. Below 3 stars are not recommended. Either they are not consistent in the timings or other services.
Charges would be between Rs.500 to Rs.1000. Always try to book the bus tickets before 2-3 days from the travel. Look for some discount coupons. You don't have to carry a hard copy of the ticket in most cases. Text/Email/App confirmation message of the ticket is enough in most cases. Read the TOS.
For less than few hours journeys, Train is better. Book for A/c compartments as may not like the regular coaches. Indian Railway Website and App are there to help you out. Always book your train tickets 2-3 weeks prior to your journey. Or you can contact local Travel agents for the train tickets alone. They will charge you some service charge which is worth the hassle. You can concentrate on your travels instead of tickets.
Purnima has given some good insights. If Manali is difficult, you can try Jammu while on Amritsar. From Jammu, you can take a flight to Delhi.
Mysore is a heritage place, you can see palaces, forts, and museums and it will need a day or two. Kanya Kumari is the tip of India (technically, Indira Point), where you can enjoy the beautiful Sunset and Sunrise. 1 day is enough if you plan right. There are a few other historical places to visit. It's a tip where 2 seas and an ocean collide to give you a breathtaking and an equally a pleasant view. Ooty is another hill station with a lot of greenery and wildlife (2 days). Nearest International airport is Coimbatore which is 80 Kms from Ooty, a couple of hours travel. If you choose Kanya Kumari and Ooty, the order will be Thiruvananthapuram-Kanya Kumari-Munnar-Ooty.
I understand that you can't extend your schedule. You will not be able to visit all the places in a location. Instead, concentrate on the best places to visit. Pick a few on each location. Best places are not always or necessarily the most crowded places.
[ Edit: Edited on 06-Sep-2015, at 04:52 by Vorion ]
May I change a bit and let you chose a more practical working?
Up North, suggest you to take a train to Amritsar it is the fastest and most comfortable way of travelling as against Buses and taxis.
The way to book tickets is https://www.irctc.co.in/ Create a log in and password
From here you can go to Dharamsala (Mcleodganj ) by a shared taxi. This is the place where the Dalai Lama lives. FRom here you can come down to Simla. Please remember it starts getting cold in the month of November in the mountains. Also there are no trains but just buses and taxis plying in this region.
Simla to Chandigarh you can take a bus or a taxi and then train to Delhi. Stay to break the monotony of travelling and then take an early train to Agra a two hour journey. The same night take a train to Jaipur or a bus.
From Jaipur take an over night train to Udaipur and another train from here to Mumbai. Fly or train to Goa and then to Kochi. Then do as the others have suggested. Since you have a time constraint you cannot go to the interiors of so many places. But enjoy South as that won't be cold and will give you an opportunity to be on the beaches.
The places that you chose to travel make the best sense though.
At Delhi you can stay at mayas nest if you like.
Feel free to ask for details...
Welcome to India for trip. India is good place for spend your holiday. Many tourist destinations, attractive places available in India and November month is in winter season, so it's good time for one month traveling. So many travel services exist India. They offer you number of services and also guide well.
Post 8 was removed by a moderator