Trains Vs Planes Vs Car & Driver Vs Bus

#1 Jul 15th, 2015, 15:44
Join Date:
Sep 2001
Location:
UK
Posts:
16,662
  • steven_ber is offline
#1
What form of transport is best for an Itinerary? is a question often asked.

EDITED to add extra info supplied by members.

Trains (usually overnight) Vs Flights Vs Car & driver Vs Bus, here's a few positives and negatives, please add any that I've missed.


Train travel


Positives of train.

Low cost
Saves on hotel bill
Stations normally close to tourist areas
You lose less daytime hours
Train travel really is part of the whole India experience
You get to meet normal Indian people, not touts or someone trying to sell you something.
It's a real 'no stress' way of travelling, very relaxing.
In Sleeper Class (not air con) the open windows allow amazing views, and a whole lot more.
Easily the best overall option.



The negatives of the train are

Late departures and early arrivals for overnight trains.(sometimes booking your hotel for an extra half a day is a good ides, though hotels will normally look after your luggage, or you can use the cloak room at train stations)
The nightmare booking procedure.
You sometimes have to plan your itinerary around better timed trains.
Train delays (not big usually, but December to mid February fog can affect all travel).
Last minute booking can be very difficult, it's possible to learn many tricks, but not worth the effort for a short trip, but worth learning about the Foreign Tourist Quota.



Useful train information.

A useful guide to Indian trains (including all classes of travel)

For a foreigner to book tickets in the general quota you need to set up a cleartrip account, it isn't easy, read how to do it here.

Cleartrip allows you to search for trains, but I can't stress enough how poorly the data was entered into the program, and sometimes it's possible to only find a quarter of trains operating on that route, so don't use it to search for trains, use either www.erail.in (very user friendly) or India Rail Info (more info than erail, but making it less user friendly, but member Dave done a very detailed thread on how to use the website, read it here.)

Indian Railways map.

Once you've booked your tickets, check where you're seated here.

The lowest bookable class (with sleeping berth) is Sleeper Class, it's very popular with backpackers, but deserves a thread of it's own.

If booking trains at a reservation office in India, then a thread called 'understanding reservation forms' is quite old, but still useful.


Internal flights


Positives of flights

Fast
Flight times can often fit in well with hotel check out/in times
Best option for speed.


The negatives of flights

Cost
Still have to pay for hotels
Queue after queue at airports
Stressful
Time taken to get to/from airport
Having to get to airport at the very least an hour before flight
Airports normally far out of town
Cost


Useful flight information.

Ixigo.com is a really good flight search website, though they've added pop-ups that are very frustrating, there are many flight booking websites, but I feel it's always better to find the right flight (on ixigo) then go to the airline's own website, it's a whole lot easier if you need to make any changes to your Itinerary.



Car & Driver


Positives of car & driver

Freedom
The driver keeps the touts away
A big enough car can take 3 passengers and luggage comfortably, this reduces the cost per person.
Door to door
You never have to worry about your luggage
A good driver/guide is worth his weight in gold, very useful to you
A good driver will explain about all foods and drinks
A good driver also makes a great translator
Sometimes great scenery
Can pass through very atmospheric villages, and can stop to look around
One payment, and no hassle booking
Car can get to many places that aren't connected by train or flight, especially in the hills
The best option for Freedom



Negatives of car & driver

Can't travel after dark (driver will say you can, but you'll only ever try it once)
Journeys can be very long, sometimes just too long
Long journeys use up vital sightseeing time
Road conditions are sometimes awful
High cost
Some say you miss out on meeting Indian people (if travelling by other modes), it may be partially true, but your driver is Indian, and if you get along well you can learn a lot about the Indian way of life.
It's essential that you have a driver you get along with, if you see something and wan't to stop, he needs to understand.
Pressure is on to talk to fellow passengers (I love a bit of quiet time)
You may feel a little guilty that you're staying in a hotel costing up to 10 times the cost of your drivers accommodation.
How much to tip?
You always pay for the driver to return to his base.



Useful car & driver information. (supplied by member vaibhav_arora)

Car and driver costs - All cars have to be hired for a per day minimum number of kilometers. The number of minimum km is usually 250 but varies by state a lot. Some places (north karnataka - Hubali for example), the taxi operators' union imposes 300 km per day min. Some operators will allow a rollover of unused kilometers for the next day. All this is valid for the plains.

1. Small car (compact / subcompact) - Tata Indica - Rs 8 per km.
2. Mid size - Indigo / Verto / Manza - Rs 10 per km.
3. Wagon - Toyota Qualis / Sumo - Rs 11-13 per km.
4. MUV (more luxurious wagon) - Toyota innova - Rs 12-14 per km.
5. Higher than this, sky is the limit - one can hire luxury cars for inter city travel as well. Also, there are self drive cars available for hire in India but am not getting into that as would not be useful for foreigners.

Rates vary a lot in India for car and driver hire depending on price of diesel. The driver per diem has stayed constant by contrast at around Rs 250 per day.

Other charges you must pay - Toll taxes (that are rising as India builds more roads), Parking charges and state entry tax charges (Goa has a border entry tax for all non Goa vehicles but all states will levy an entry charge if the taxi has a commercial number plate - yellow plate - the charge is calculated based on number of days you plan on travelling through that state).

Some operators will simply factor in all of these based on your itinerary and offer you an all inclusive cost.

For the hills (Ladakh / Spiti / Sikkim) - the rates are determined by local taxi operators unions and they price base on specific routes (e.g. One day's sightseeing around Leh would be Rs xxx or Leh to Manali drop only would be Rs 18000 etc.). The price list is published every year but is usually not available online till a good Samaritan takes the hard copy, scans and uploads it. It's possible to find the Leh rate card online now as there're enough travelers going there.



Bus travel


Positives of bus.

Low cost
A very Indian experience
You don't have to reserve far in advance, sometimes you can just turn up and board, but less so on very popular routes.
Buses go everywhere, at at surprisingly regular intervals.
Air con buses are becoming more popular on busier routes.
Sleeper buses (air con with beds) are starting to appear.
The best option if on a very low budget and don't want to book in advance.



The negatives of bus travel are

Often uncomfortable, especially the non-air con buses.
Slow.
Not much space for the luggage
Buses don't always stop where you want them to, but same can be said for flights and trains.
Mostly no toilets on board, and the places a bus stops at for breaks are most often a source of 'worst ever toilet' photos.
Occasionally extremely overcrowded.
All bus travel can be scary, but bus travel in the hills takes that to a new level, absolutely not for the feint hearted.
Some bus 'stations' in smaller towns can be very confusing, try to find an English speaking local to help.
A lot of roads are in an awful condition, huge potholes don't worry the driver, but you'll feel them all too often.



Useful bus information. (supplied by member vaibhav_arora)

Bus booking -
The best places to book are the State roadways undertaking websites. Some of the best sites (state specific) with a booking engine are:

Rajasthan: https://rsrtconline.rajasthan.gov.in/
Himachal : www.hrtc.gov.in/hrtctickets/
Tamil Nadu: www.tnstc.in
Uttar Pradesh: https://www.upsrtconline.co.in/
Maharashtra: https://public.msrtcors.com/ticket_booking/index.php
Haryana: http://hartrans.gov.in/online/index_cf.asp
Karnataka: http://www.ksrtc.in/
Kerala: http://www.keralartc.in/KERALAOnline/
Andhra Pradesh: http://www.apsrtconline.in/oprs-web/
Uttarakhand: https://utconline.uk.gov.in/


The best way to find a state specific bus booking website is to google the following keywords 'state name road transport corporation online reservation'

Many states such as Jammu and Kashmir have sites but don't have a web based booking engine. Such sites are for information only.

The leading private bus booking website is redbus.in but gets such mixed reviews that I never recommend it to anyone.

--------------------------------------------------------


No form of transport is ideal for everyone, and flights or car & driver definitely have more appeal as you get older, but a good test I recommend is to work out the real times you'll need to depart hotels (then arrive at next hotel), to get to/from airports/train stations, and see what hours your be using up, are they useful hours, what are the alternatives and what hours would they use up?
Last edited by aarosh; Jul 18th, 2015 at 12:49..
#2 Jul 15th, 2015, 15:58
Join Date:
Mar 2011
Location:
perth, australia
Posts:
727
  • zamba is offline
#2
Regarding car & driver & cost, it is worth noting that in India you must pay for the return of the car to place of origin. But quite often the positives outweigh the negatives. In my upcoming trip, we will hire a car & driver to go from Kannur to Nagahole National Park. There is no convenient buses and no trains I am sure plus after our 2 nights there, the driver will drop us in Mysore and return home to Kannur. I agree with Steven that a mixture of all, as long as your budget can stand it is the way to go. I have travelled quite a few journeys in 2nd sleeper and a few in air cond chair class, but the most memorable train trips have been those in the cheaper classes as the interaction with the locals is a highlight of any journey. Cheers. Zamba.
#3 Jul 15th, 2015, 16:18
Join Date:
Sep 2001
Location:
UK
Posts:
16,662
  • steven_ber is offline
#3
Thanks Zamba, I will edit the post to add any suggestions, this should make the thread more useful.
#4 Jul 15th, 2015, 16:28
Join Date:
Jul 2005
Location:
Netherlands
Posts:
4,386
  • vonkla is offline
#4
There is also a fourth option : buses.

The negatives of the bus are


Often uncomfortable, especially the ordinary one.
Slow.
Not much space for the luggage.

Positives of bus

Low cost
You don't have to reserve far in advance

We are not on a strict budget and plane soemthing like this
Really long distances. such as from South to North: Plane
Travel time over 4 hours : train
Others: train / bus / car

One remark about saving hotel costs on overnight trains.
We are far over sixty now and don't like to hang around in a town until the train leaves. Thus we often have to keep our room for an extra (half) day.
#5 Jul 15th, 2015, 16:34
Join Date:
Dec 2008
Location:
Interweb
Posts:
16,352
  • vaibhav_arora is offline
#5
It's a useful post Steven. I've often seen people dissing a car and driver as a more 'insular' approach to travel but that's not necessarily true - you get to stop at roadside eateries that you'd never bother with or reach otherwise. We drive on our when when using a car though we have used a car and driver as well. The biggest disadvantage of self-driven car is the impact on available daylight hours to do everything else. The biggest positive is extreme flexibility.

That said, in some places, within major tourist circuits and outside it, a car is the only option available to reach. On the hills, where there are no railways, it has to be a bus or a car (or a bike or a hike, if you're adventurous).

What I've liked to do, when traveling solo, is to start with the roughest mode (bus or sleeper class train) first and end with the best I can afford. I've used a flight or 1AC train for the end. Did this combination more than once and enjoyed the splurge.
#6 Jul 15th, 2015, 16:53
Join Date:
Sep 2001
Location:
UK
Posts:
16,662
  • steven_ber is offline
#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by vonkla View Post There is also a fourth option : buses.

The negatives of the bus are


Often uncomfortable, especially the ordinary one.
Slow.
Not much space for the luggage.

Positives of bus

Low cost
You don't have to reserve far in advance

We are not on a strict budget and plane soemthing like this
Really long distances. such as from South to North: Plane
Travel time over 4 hours : train
Others: train / bus / car

One remark about saving hotel costs on overnight trains.
We are far over sixty now and don't like to hang around in a town until the train leaves. Thus we often have to keep our room for an extra (half) day.
I didn't think of adding buses, and strangely I thought I was being fair to all modes of transport (given my preference for trains), I'll edit and add info about buses later, can anyone add any more positives or negatives about bus travel?

(if you end up with space to move an arm, then you've had a result)
#7 Jul 15th, 2015, 16:55
Join Date:
Sep 2001
Location:
UK
Posts:
16,662
  • steven_ber is offline
#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post
What I've liked to do, when traveling solo, is to start with the roughest mode (bus or sleeper class train) first and end with the best I can afford. I've used a flight or 1AC train for the end. Did this combination more than once and enjoyed the splurge.
I've been doing this with hotels lately, save a bit then splash out towards the end of the trip, it works well.
#8 Jul 15th, 2015, 17:04
Join Date:
Dec 2008
Location:
Interweb
Posts:
16,352
  • vaibhav_arora is offline
#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by steven_ber View Post can anyone add any more positives or negatives about bus travel?

(if you end up with space to move an arm, then you've had a result)
Ha ha. I've traveled through from Simla, all over Kinnaur and then Spiti all by bus, several times in TN, Karnataka, a bit in Gujarat and Rajasthan. I've also done the Delhi-Jaipur return trip on volvo buses practically every weekend for 2 years. There's more than enough space in most cases.

Positives -

1. It goes to places where the train doesn't. In general, bus travel is more developed than train travel in some states such as Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu and of course all the hill states.
2. Last minute availability is a huge plus on most routes.
3. On popular routes between major cities such as Mumbai-Pune, Hyderabad-Chennai, Bangalore-Mysore, Delhi-Jaipur, Bangalore-Chennai, etc, you get a fantastic number of options amongst bus companies as well as a choice of points to board and disembark saving on cost for local transport.

Negatives.

1. It doesn't stop when you want it to, where you want it to, unless you know the driver
2. No toilets on board - but, you may make friends with the driver to remedy this anomaly.
3. In the hill states, depending on the routes, buses can be horrendously crowded - read: goats inside the bus and men hanging on the back. [Saw that on the outskirts of Leh, have a photo somewhere]
Last edited by vaibhav_arora; Jul 15th, 2015 at 19:00.. Reason: second thoughts.
#9 Jul 15th, 2015, 18:37
Join Date:
Aug 2006
Location:
U.K
Posts:
1,595
  • fsg is offline
#9
Vonkla.

My first thought was BUS, that was my preferred mode of travel on my first 10 years of travel in India.

Look up LP see where the bus station was turn up and hope.

I found checking the milestones and timing them could give me an ETA. Watch all the passengers who get on and off, some speak English and like to speak. When you arrive there are lodgings at the bus station. Also the busses depart from there.

On a trip along the Ganges river I eventually arrived at Benares, and it appeared there was no bus onward to Bodghaya.

Train station was most unhelpful. Gave me to form to fill in. Perplexed I gave it back. How to fill in? More agro from ticket master.

How did I get there... by BUS.
Got a train ticket.
From Bihar I went to Assam, got bitten by fleas in the infested bus seats. Did my tour including Cherrepunji and the Kamakya temple.

Return to Calcutta, was by plane , I was fed up with busses.
#10 Jul 16th, 2015, 14:34
Join Date:
Sep 2001
Location:
UK
Posts:
16,662
  • steven_ber is offline
#10
I've updated first post, let me know if anything should be added or changed.
#11 Jul 16th, 2015, 14:47
Join Date:
Jul 2012
Location:
kolkata
Posts:
3,151
  • iamsomnath is offline
#11
Quote:
Originally Posted by steven_ber View Post I've updated first post, let me know if anything should be added or changed.
Add something about boats
#12 Jul 16th, 2015, 15:11
Join Date:
Sep 2001
Location:
UK
Posts:
16,662
  • steven_ber is offline
#12
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamsomnath View Post Add something about boats
In all my time on indiamike we only ever seem to ask the following 2 questions: -

Is there a boat from Mumbai to Diu? (no)

Is the India-Sri Lanka boat running yet? (is it?)

Dal Lake, Kerala backwaters (north & south), Varanasi, Godavari river ('backwaters' and towards Bhadrachalam), Brahmaputra, Goa casino boats, Sunderbans, and numurious river crossings (including those dinky little circular things at Hampi), Mumbai to Elaphanta and that coastal place south of Mumbai), Okha to Mandvi, I'm sure there's loads more, including the luxury Brahmaputra and Ganges trips, but they're not usually seen as a form of transport, usually either a 'must use' to cross rivers, or a relaxing tourist thing.

I wonder, are the rivers used much more in Eastern India where rivers are wider and more navatable? (sp.)
#13 Jul 16th, 2015, 15:18
Join Date:
Dec 2008
Location:
Interweb
Posts:
16,352
  • vaibhav_arora is offline
#13
I'm told in Kolkata, things are a bit different - ferries are used by commuters. I think this boat business is more a Bengali thing Som - maybe you should add a few points.

In Rajasthan, when growing up, I had seen boats only in photos.
#14 Jul 17th, 2015, 01:27
Join Date:
Sep 2001
Location:
UK
Posts:
16,662
  • steven_ber is offline
#14
Can a mod edit the thread title to add 'Vs Bus' at the end of the title?

I'm updating the first post again, putting positives before negatives, god alone knows why I did it the other way around.

I'm going to add a little bit of useful information to each transport selection, how to search for trains...., different classes, a bit more info about buses, anything useful I can think of.

PLEASE add anything you think may be useful, I know very little about car & driver costs (anyone know an average price per day or per mile for an average size car & driver, how much to allow driver per day for food/accommodation?),

I also know very little about bus booking, anyone have useful info?

Also flight booking, I know good flight search websites, but not booking.

I can only edit the post for the next 14 hours, hopefully if we can add enough useful info, it could make a good sticky.
#15 Jul 17th, 2015, 11:11
Join Date:
Dec 2008
Location:
Interweb
Posts:
16,352
  • vaibhav_arora is offline
#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by steven_ber View Post
PLEASE add anything you think may be useful, I know very little about car & driver costs (anyone know an average price per day or per mile for an average size car & driver, how much to allow driver per day for food/accommodation?),

I also know very little about bus booking, anyone have useful info?
Car and driver costs - All cars have to be hired for a per day minimum number of kilometers. The number of minimum km is usually 250 but varies by state a lot. Some places (north karnataka - Hubali for example), the taxi operators' union imposes 300 km per day min. Some operators will allow a rollover of unused kilometers for the next day. All this is valid for the plains.

1. Small car (compact / subcompact) - Tata Indica - Rs 8 per km.
2. Mid size - Indigo / Verto / Manza - Rs 10 per km.
3. Wagon - Toyota Qualis / Sumo - Rs 11-13 per km.
4. MUV (more luxurious wagon) - Toyota innova - Rs 12-14 per km.
5. Higher than this, sky is the limit - one can hire luxury cars for inter city travel as well. Also, there are self drive cars available for hire in India but am not getting into that as would not be useful for foreigners.

Rates vary a lot in India for car and driver hire depending on price of diesel. The driver per diem has stayed constant by contrast at around Rs 250 per day.

Other charges you must pay - Toll taxes (that are rising as India builds more roads), Parking charges and state entry tax charges (Goa has a border entry tax for all non Goa vehicles but all states will levy an entry charge if the taxi has a commercial number plate - yellow plate - the charge is calculated based on number of days you plan on traveling through that state).

Some operators will simply factor in all of these based on your itinerary and offer you an all inclusive cost.

For the hills (Ladakh / Spiti / Sikkim) - the rates are determined by local taxi operators unions and they price base on specific routes (e.g. One day's sightseeing around Leh would be Rs xxx or Leh to Manali drop only would be Rs 18000 etc.). The price list is published every year but is usually not available online till a good Samaritan takes the hard copy, scans and uploads it. It's possible to find the Leh rate card online now as there're enough travelers going there.

Bus booking -
The best places to book are the State roadways undertaking websites. Some of the best sites (state specific) with a booking engine are:

Rajasthan: https://rsrtconline.rajasthan.gov.in/
Himachal : www.hrtc.gov.in/hrtctickets/
Tamil Nadu: www.tnstc.in
Uttar Pradesh: https://www.upsrtconline.co.in/

The best way to find a state specific bus booking website is to google the following keywords 'state name road transport corporation online reservation'

Many states such as Jammu and Kashmir have sites but don't have a web based booking engine. Such sites are for information only.

The leading private bus booking website is redbus.in but gets such mixed reviews that I never recommend it to anyone.

Similar Threads

Title, Username, & Date Last Post Replies Views Forum
Car & Driver from Bangalore to Hampi & back Dec 28th, 2012 20:23 7 2469 Buses, Automobiles, Motorcycles, and Bicycles
Car & Driver Hire Jan 26th, 2009 07:42 1 2108 Other Areas
Car & Driver - New Delhi Sep 26th, 2008 08:58 2 4008 Delhi
Hiring a car and driver vs. trains/buses in Rajahstan Jun 5th, 2008 14:34 4 1357 Buses, Automobiles, Motorcycles, and Bicycles


Posting Rules

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Forum Rules»
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.3.2
© IndiaMike.com 2018
Page Load Success