new to India Mike - initial planning stage; help for absolute novices - India Travel Forum | IndiaMike.com

new to India Mike - initial planning stage; help for absolute novices

#1 May 27th, 2008, 19:15
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  • Tinkerbella is offline
#1
Hello,

we are new to India Mike and are in the very first stages of planning our trip for next March/April for six weeks.

I would be so so grateful if anyone could take the time to comment on our first draft of trip - mainly to ask if we could do this in our timescale and/or if there are any other places we should consider?!

We want to start off with a week in Kerala and finish with a week in Goa and then spend the next four weeks travelling by train. Places that we want to go are: Kolkata, Varanasi, Agra for Taj Mahal, Delhi, Rajasthan - Udaipur and Jaipur, Mumbai and Goa.

We thought something like this:

Kerala for approx. one week including houseboat trip
train to Kolkata - possible stop between Kerala and Kolkata
train to Varanasi
train to Agra (for Taj Mahal)
train to Delhi
train to Udaipur then to Jiapur
train to Mumbai
train to Goa on Kolkan rail.

As I said I am absolutely new to this so please be kind - am concerned that we want to fit too much in, as well as time to relax in our timescale

Thanks so much
#2 May 27th, 2008, 19:42
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  • SueJ is offline
#2
Welcome to India Mike, and to the fun and challenge of planning your first trip to India!

I think that overall your itinerary looks quite doable - you've allowed 4 weeks for 'proper travelling' and sufficient time to relax at both ends. Also, starting with Kerala is good, as the South is much more relaxed and easier than the North generally.

The areas where I have concerns/questions are:

Which airports are you arriving and departing India via? May influence sequence of your itinerary.

The hop (or should that be leap ) from Kerala to Kolkatta. Have you looked at the distance involved? If it were me, and my budget would run to it, I would fly from Kerala to Kolkatta. I've been to India lots of times, but still always underestimate distances. And that is compounded by the fact that road travel is always much slower than you expect as well.

I have now trained myself to work out a UK distance and say 'that's twice the distance from London to Newcastle' when I'm tempted to think that because it doesn't look far across the map page it isn't far in reality!

As to the choice of places, there are ALWAYS other places to recommend, but it sounds as if you have worked out what is important for you to see. My advice would be to go to the places you really want to on your first trip and then take up other advice for your next trip.

It will also help going forward if you can indicate a bit about your budget when asking for specific advice - it makes such a difference to what people recommend.
#3 May 27th, 2008, 20:19
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#3
I second Suej. the train journey from kerala (trivandrum)to kolkata will be atleast 40 hours. take a flight.

OR take a train from kerala to chennai or bangalore and then take a flight to kolkata.
#4 May 27th, 2008, 20:35
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  • simply_sunny001 is offline
#4
Ok here are my 2 cents

Land in Delhi and hire cab as short distance trains will waste lot of time and you need lot of reservations etc.

Day 1. Spend time sight seeing in delhi
Day 2 Delhi to Agra by cab(Taj Mahal) and then Night stay at Jaipur
Day 3 Spend time seeing forts in Jaipur
Day 4 Leave for Udaipur(should take some 8 hrs)
Day 5 Spend time in Udaipur etc

Now take train from Udaipur to Mumbai

Spend time in Mumbai
Take train to GOA
Spend time in GOA
Then go to Kerala and spend your week
Take bus to Bangalore

and then you can take a flight from Bangalore to Kolkatta
Spend time in Kolkata and take your flight from Kolkata to london insted of Delhi.

The problem is Kolkata is far from Kerala and Delhi too so train journey will be tiring.

And for Delhi/Agra/Jaipur/Udaipur hiring a cab wont be costly and you dont have to take lot of reservations.

Small cabs for 2 people+luggage(tata indica) can be had for Rs 1200-1500 per day.

Hope it helps
#5 May 27th, 2008, 23:18
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#5
Thanks so much for your replies so far

Just to say I think we are looking at a budget of £3000 each; maybe a little less or possibly a little more. That will include our flights as well. I also thought that we would fly to Mumbai.

We are probably looking at mid-range places to stay and travel - as long as somewhere is clean we are happy!

Am scared to ask - have we under-budgeted?

As I said we are completely new to India apart from two weeks in Goa in 2006 - which we loved.

Thanks again
#6 May 27th, 2008, 23:37
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#6
If we assume you won't pay more than £600 each for international flights, that leaves £4,800 for 2 people for 6 weeks, so £800 per week between you. On that budget you can stay in really nice places, take a car when you need to and fly when you need to. But don't assume that just because you spent more on a hotel it will be better - some of the best places we have stayed have been the cheapest and it was the cleanliness (not always guaranteed even when you pay a lot), the location, the food, or especially the people that we met that made them the best.

You don't have to fly in and out of the same airport, and can save much time and hassle by flying into one and out of another.

It will depend who you fly with, but if it is one of the Middle Eastern carriers then you could fly directly into Kerala and then out of somewhere else. Or if you went with BA, then you could fly into Bangalore and out of Mumbai.

On your budget you should be checking which carriers link which cities internally, too. If we assume you are flying out of Mumbai on the way back it may make more sense to go directly from Udaipur/Jaipur to Goa by plane, and then take the Konkan railway to Mumbai at the end of your holiday rather than backtrack. That way you can have a few days shopping at the end, too!

As you've been to Goa before you may want to consider the Maharashtra coast instead. That's the bit between Mumbai and Goa, which can also be reached via Konkan railway. It's completely untouristy, with wonderful beaches.....but wouldn't work if you were looking for any kind of nightlife!

Can you tell us about what sort of people you are, age, interests, etc. so we can tailor the advice a bit better!
#7 May 28th, 2008, 01:31
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#7
Thanks.

I will be in my mid thirties and Mark will be in his early thirties when we go.

We both live and work in London and like the normal stuff - eating out, a couple of beers, 'culture' and a night dancing here or there!

We want to experience India as much as possible in our timescale. We are using all of our annual leave for our trip and would like to combine with a holiday - hence starting in Kerala and ending in Goa. We also like history, in particular political history.

We aren't religious but are interested in spirituality - when we were in Goa we took a trip to a temple in Karnataka which we loved, so we ae hoping for more of the same. One of the reasons for going to Varanasi.

The idea of a train really appeals so we can watch India go by, although I will investigate further your suggestions about flying for more of the longer journeys.

We also love our food and would like to fit in a cricket game or two and if possible an elephant sanctuary (sorry about my spelling!)

Thanks,

Nadine
#8 May 28th, 2008, 04:02
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  • vonkla is offline
#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinkerbella View Post Hello,

.....
train to Delhi
train to Udaipur then to Jiapur
train to Mumbai
...
Personally I like Jodhpur a lot better then Jaipur.
My suggestion for this part is

train Delhi
train Jodhpur
car/bus Udaipur
train Mumbai
#9 May 28th, 2008, 05:56
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  • kristinm is offline
#9
We spent basically AUD$7,000 for two adults and a child (extra bed in each room) and went mid range all the way. Not counting airfares!!

BUT We did go into our Amex back up card but only because we bought too much stuff like bedspreads and clothes at Anokhi.

Unless you have lots of self discipline you need to factor in a bit of a shopping budget! Although the things we bought were expensive by Indian standards (but really good quality) they were so inexpensive by our standards that we just got into a bit of a frenzy.

Also a couple of times we took cars when we had originally planned to take a train so it cost a lot more... when someone had told us about a must-see along the road, or we just didn't feel like the train - but then we do love driving holidays and stopping along the way and so on - some people love train travel more.

So - basic budget was good for us any food we wanted food, nice accom, some car travel, a couple of luxury nights in a castle... We had 5 nights in Mumbai which is really expensive so you could save money there (we loved it though!).

Next time we'd certainly spend less as we'd be less dazzled by the shopping and probably more confident to catch trains and buses rather than cars - and we'd probably try and go to fewer places now that we know we have the bug and we will DEFINITELY be back!!!!
#10 May 31st, 2008, 19:44
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#10
Thanks so much for your replies.

Do you think we could do our planned trip in five weeks instead of six?

Also, Vonkla - what makes you prefer Jodhpur a lot better then Jaipur?

Thanks

Nadine
#11 Jun 1st, 2008, 06:35
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#11
We had 5 weeks -but only went around Rajasthan, Delhi, Agra, Amritsar for 2 days and Mumbai. I would imagine you might want to tighten up your distances a little - perhaps cut out one of the extreme (edges) of the trip ...you're spending quite a lot of time travelling between places. The good thing about just concentrating on one area like Rajasthan (which is huge in itself) is that you get to see the things in between the bigger places. We spent time in some lovely smaller places, and also spent 3 or 4 days in each place which was really nice.

I wasn't thrilled with Jaipur either by the way - its a big big city, and very touristy and touty. The old city is lovely and the markets are interesting - but if you're going to say, Old Delhi and Udaipur or Jodhpur, you'll see much the same thing in general. I didn't love Jodhpur - but when we were there it was overcast and very polluted and two of us had chesty infections from Mumbai so I guess we were a bit down. The Bishnoi vilage tour was fascinating though and it is a nice place overall - quite dusty and frontiersy.. not as city slick as Jaipur.

Amritsar is fascinating if you like history and culture - the golden temple is sublime and you have Jallianwallabagh and also the border crossing which is really something you WONT see anywhere else!'

I found planning our trip so hard - you worry so much you'll nmiss out on something. Now I want to plan another trip - and one part of me wants to go back to Mumbai, Udaipur, Bundi and Jaisalmer and really get to know them and hang out there - and another part wants to go to Kolkata, Kajahuro, Varanasi etc..... I guess you just have to settle for what you can do in any one go.

Oh - and one other thing, we flew Mumbai-Udaipur and back again at the end and the internal flights were only about $110 AUD each person one way.... so you could consider that to save a couple of days.
#12 Jun 1st, 2008, 17:14
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#12
Thanks KristinM.

That is the thing - there are so many places we want to go!!!

We are ofF on holiday to Turkey for two weeks in two weeks and plan to spend some of our time planning our trip. I really want to go to Kerala, Varanasi and Taj Mahal on this trip and my boyfriend really wants to go to Kolkata!

I think I will post some where else also but does anyone here know how to find train schedules and timings?

Thanks again,

Nadine
#13 Jun 1st, 2008, 22:31
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  • machadinha is offline
#13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinkerbella View Post I think I will post some where else also but does anyone here know how to find train schedules and timings?
Please check our Trains sub-forum, especially the "sticky" threads there (threads "stuck" on top of the forum), and notably this "mother of all train threads": http://www.indiamike.com/india/india...rmation-t1750/ .

You will also find some applicable sites in the "travel links" link in my signature.

I've been meaning to comment on your thread, just didn't get around to it yet. Wanting to "do" practically the entire country in 5-6 weeks strikes me as a pretty daunting task (you're not alone in this though, many people look at a map and think Oh I'd like to go here and there and there. It's a common and natural mistake.) I'm not saying what you want can't be done, certainly with a couple of flights, and at least your number of destinations as such still looks realistic; but consider bringing it back to a more manageable area indeed. And like I usually say: Try to look up India on a map that shows it on the same scale as your home country. And bear in mind the infrastructure and speed of transport may not be what you're used to.

Please remember India is about the size of Western Europe, to give you some comparison, and except for rural areas of the latter, getting around isn't quite as smooth nor as easy on the mind and stamina.

So consider doing the Algarve for a week, going all the way out to Prague, back to Berlin, now Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris with some sidetrips, then Barcelona and down the coast there, all in a little over a month and counting on transportation often being slow and frustrating. I guess some people actually do that; and then others don't. It's up to you what you enjoy.
Last edited by machadinha; Jun 3rd, 2008 at 08:52..

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