Me and three friends are arriving in Delhi Febuary 2nd 2013 we arrive at delhi Airport so ideally would like to work our way down to Goa and spend around 7-10 days there realxing before we end our four months travelling trip... This means we have just under three weeks to try and explore as much of India as possible, obviously seeing the main attractions etc. We've spoke with STA Travel who have pretty much told us to book an excersion trip (15 day tour) with them which begins in Delhi works through the towns and ends in Goa, transportation and hostels included but the price is £649 which personally I think is ridiculous but wanted others opinions??
Would it be easy enough for us to arrive in Delhi book our own internal flights, trains, buses etc and make our own journey down to Goa or would this be as impossible as STA say?? Were on a tight budget so spending £649 before we even land in India is quite worrying, if anyone has been before or can shed some light on this that would be great.
Thanks : )
STA is in the business of selling tours - therefore, they are going to tell you that you need a tour. But like any business, they embellish the truth in order to make a sale. The truth is, India is tiring and often challenging, but traveling around independently and booking everything when you arrive is a perfectly good option, and done by thousands of travelers daily.
If you decided that you want to fly down to Goa to save some time and very long bus or train journey's, than I would definitely book that in advance. Look online for deals instead of going through STA. Once you have that flight, then you can plan a general itinerary for the rest of your trip, and do all the booking when you arrive. The key though is to be a bit flexible. It is possible that a train will be full and you'll have to wait till the next day, or switch up your route a little - especially when there are 4 of you together.
I would probably book a hotel for your first couple nights in Delhi. It's not the kind of city that you want to wander around looking for a place when you aren't used to India. Likewise if you decide to stop by Mumbai.
Thanks that's a great help, I thought as much... We've the first few nights pre booked at a hotel in Delhi so will probably stay there then move on after had day or two rest. I've read alot about a Indrail Pass, would this be a good idea to travel down to Goa? As we would like to try see as much as possible on our way rather than flying over it all and missing great experiences. We are all looking and having around £1000 for the month in India would you think this is enough?
Much would depend on what you want see and do in India.
Make a list of cities you plan to visit and then book travel tickets in advance through the internet. Almost all major cities are connected by air and train and bookings are possible through the internet. Once in the city you could try short bus journeys for local sight seeing or shared cab or three wheeler etc.
Generally there would be no problem getting accommodation in all major cities. Go through a website like tripadvisor and make a list of hotels in each city you plan to spend the night and also check the rates from the hotel websites to get the tariff of the chosen hotel. I do not recommend booking budget hotels in advance through the internet or otherwise. It is always better to have a look at a budget hotel and even try for some discounts before taking up rooms. Most hotels do give discounts when asked for.
This is just how I travel in India and I am an Indian and travel a lot within the country.
1000 pounds for month is about $50US a day, which in India is tons of money. If you stick to a strict budget, you could do it for less than half of that. But $50 will allow you to stay in nicer hotels, take taxis often, and eat and drink pretty much whatever you want. You will also have money for shopping. You will still have to watch your spending to keep on that budget, but generally, you can have a very comfortable trip.
I don't know much about the India Rail pass, but I've heard that it's not great value. The easiest way to find out is to go to the India rail website. Make up a draft route that you might take, and start looking up prices for individual train journeys. You can see what the prices are for different classes of trains on each route. Add it all up and see if it would be cheaper to buy pass for your whole trip. Keep in mind that though the train system in India is excellent and goes just about everywhere, there are some occasions where buses will make more sense.
congratulations on taking the plunge and making the trip to india...india is a sensory overloafd....from the sights to the smells to the sounds, it can be quite daunting...it is a wonderful place to visit..but for three young ladies there are a few things that i must warn you about...i am an indian myself, and have travelled a fair bit around the world!
as you rightly said the best way to see india is through the indian railways...there are trains travelling from delhi to bombay...but fly to bombay and take the konkan railways through to goa...on the train, dont eat anything a stranger offers you, take bottled water...the food on the platforms and provided by the pantry on the train is delicious, but with a constitution like yours that might not be used to the spices be a bit wary eh?
carry pepper spray...us indians are quire fond of white skin, and for the foreigner it can be quite uncomfortable the way indians want to look at you and talk to you and...unfortunately touch as well...thats why, stick to your group..places like goa, the people are much more westernised, chillaxed and these sort of problems are rare..you know what beach you are staying in goa yet?
from delhi, you should catch the taj express or the shatabdi to agra...in agra you can see the taj mahal/agra fort and then if you want to travel to fatehpur sikri on a bus which is about 2 hours away..definately worth a visit! you could hire a cab and drive from delhi to agra and see all these places in a day...the cab ride should cost you no more than 100 pounds...up and down. remember entry to taj etc is around 15 quid
rajasthan is good to visit too....a bus from delhi...usually rajasthan tourism dev authority does decent buses too....
if you have the time, do visit the golden temple...i found it one of the most spiritual experiences..
then goa..its fun...cheap booze, good food..
pricing wise...1 pound=75-80 indian rupees...a can ok coke should cost you 20-25 rupees...prepaid taxis is a good idea...specially to and from the airport...
lemme know if i can help you further
Wowww Sonam thanks for all your advise that's been a great help.. I'm sure there will be more questions when we start planning our trip around India so I will let you know if thats ok? Pepper spray?!?! - This has slightly worried me... There are three girls and one boy will this put the locals off a little? I'm not usually a worrier so should be fine but I have been warned India will be a massive culture shock - this is one of the reasons I'm most excited about India!! Think we will start planning more in regards to India probably when were in Australia giving us around two months to think about where we want to go/see etc.
Thanks again for all your help and I'm sure I'll be in touch soon!! x
Ps. Not sure what beach were staying in Goa yet.. Any recommendations?
Hey Bex! I land in Delhi on the 1st feb so around the same sort of time as you are. Im in Delhi for a couple of days and then ive booked a tour around the north for about 20 days. After the tour im free to go wherever i want and seing as ive got 2 months there i think im gonna use the trains alot. lol.
From what ive been told its easy to get around India and you deffo dont need to book a tour to travel around.
Like many of the above members, I too spent a few months travelling through India with my boyfriend and sister. We used the trains for all our travel. It was very easy and convenient. They actually paste a list of passengers on each carriage which is very useful. Just a couple of tips I would recommend just based on our experience: 1) Book in advance - the railways are super busy in India so may not always get the right day or class 2) There are quite a few different classes, I would recommend reading up about these as we travelled in a couple and wouldn't recommend them 3) Bring a chain, lock or something similar so for overnight train journeys you can lock up your luggage. We did this but met a few travellers who had their luggage taken. 4) Depending on when you travel/class etc, they are not as cheap as you may think but cheaper than flying, but your budget seems adequate anyway.
Good luck and enjoy! It's an amazing country but not for the inexperienced!