India is a vast country...many facets.. 4- 6 weeks is a good time to explore India.. Jan - the perfect weather. your budget seems adequate.
can suggest a plan to you..but need some more inputs... your interest - culture, history, wildlife..etc etc... what all areas you need to cover in India.. Rajasthan is a must see.. so is Kerala.. Goa is indeed popular... himalayas can be included.... if you wish you can have a look at www.trip2india.com and www.visitRajasthan.com - once you have an idea of the country and the product and according to your interest can suggest a most suitable itinerary and travel plan..
cheers....amit dhir [email protected], www.triptoindia.com
It is good decision to visit INDIA. Since it is a vast country, you need to decide which are the places you want to visit- north, west , south or east or a mixtures of some of these places.Also if you decide what are the places you "must" see, then it is easier to suggest you. India has lot lots lots to offer--Palaces, beaches, magnificient Forts, Hill stations, etc etc..
Since still lots of time is available with you, suggest to read some guide books so that you will have some idea.
I am Thai and can give you some ideas about where to go on budget.
If you are going to spend 4 weeks in Thailand, here's what I have in mind for you: Bangkok, Ko (island) Samui, Ko Phi Phi (where Leonardo starred in the movie the Beach), Ko Similan (paradise for diving) and Chiang Mai (if you're a mountain person)
Phuket island may be popular, but I don't think the beach there is beautiful. You see I am a beach person, and I hate to go to beaches that don't have clear blue water.
I'll recommend what to do in Bangkok and around. As for the islands and Chiang Mai, please visit Thailand Tourism Authority at www.tat.or.th
Bangkok - Stay at Khao San Road. There are lots of cheap guest houses. You don't need to book in advance or anything. You can just go there and stop at each to take a look; see if you like the place and the price. If not, move on. There are plenty of them to choose from.
Must-See & Must-Do in Bangkok - (Remember that we are a Buddhist country, so there are a lot of "wat" (temples). Don't waste your time going to every wat they recommend. Below are the wat that are important and beautiful.)
1. the Grand Palace - Dress appropriately (number 1, 2, 3 are close to one another)
2. Wat Phra Keo (Emerald Buddha Chapel) - Pay respect to Thai people's most respected Emerald Buddha. Even though I'm Thai, I'll never get used to the flawless beauty and instant charm of Wat Phra Keo.
3. Wat Pho - See the Reclining Buddha. Get a traditional Thai massage here (very cheap)
4. Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn ) - by the Chao Phraya River. It looks most magnificent -like the name suggests- at dawn. The best way to appreciate it from afar is to take a boat across the river at dawn, but the best way to explore it is to actually see its beauty closeup during the day.
5. Jatujak weekend market (opens from 10.30 to 18.30) - This is where you'll find everything at bargain price. Bring a hat, a hand-held fan and buy a bottle of water there. It's hot. The newly open subway takes you right in the middle of Jatujak. Don't take the skytrain, for you'll have to walk quite far. You CAN'T skip Jatujak!
6. Patpong (go-go bars, fake jeans and watches) & Silom soi 4 (cheap night clubs) - Get there around 10 or 11 at night. Buy a coconut sold along the road. Don't drink just its water; eat the whole thing. It's so refreshing.
7. A boat ride along the Chao Phraya River in the late afternoon or early evening - More expensive ones are available at any hotels along the river. Cheaper ones are independent boat owners at the piers.
8. Jim Thompson's house - The stunning Thai-style house along a little river of the famous Jim Thompson, the founder of Jim Thompson Thai silk.
9. Jim Thompson Thai silk store - The main branch is the one worth visiting though you're not buying anything. Thai silk is purely amazing!
Some items are unbelievably cheap. I bought myself a wrap sarong made of Thai silk with rainbow colors at only $25. T-shirts, handkerchiefs, little elephant dolls, and Thai-style paintings are quite cheap.
10. Thai massage is famous, and there's a good reason behind it. There are millions of Thai massage places around Bangkok. If you spot one, check for the price posted in front. Try one. An hour massage (choose from back massage, foot massage, body massage, and more) usually costs 200 baht to 300 baht. Worth the experience.
11. The Royal Barges Museum - The most fabulous of all the vessels in the museum is the 46-meter "Suphanahong" or "Golden Swan" (the King's personal barge, used only in very important traditional events held along the Chao Phraya River) which is made from a single piece of timber.
12. (optional) Thai boxing at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium
Must-See & Must-Do around Bangkok:
1. The Floating Market - The most famous one is Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. It's 80 km outside Bangkok. You can take an air-conditioned bus leaving from the southern bus terminal. The market is active in the mornings only, from 6.00 am to 11.00 am. If you want to take photos without hordes of tourists, get there early. The best way to explore the market is to hire a long-tailed boat for around 300 baht an hour, (or less depending on your bargaining powers).
2. Ayutthaya - The ancient capital of Thailand, where you'll be seeing a lot of old ruins of palaces and temples. It's about 1 and a half hour to 2 hours from Bangkok. Here you can get an elephant ride around the city.
P.S. Have a fun trip.