India in January
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Nov 11, 2012 11:43 PM Last Post By: fivejacks
Nov 9, 2012 8:51 AM
India in JanuaryHello Everyone
I am planning a 3 or 4 week trip in India in January 2013. We are a family of 4, two adults in their early 50s and two sons, 21 and 19. We have all done extensive traveling, both on our own and as a family. We are also from South Africa, and will be flying from Cape Town, via Johannesburg if need be.
I need some itinerary help. We leave South Africa on the 1st of Jan, probably arriving in India on the second, and staying till about the 25th or so, it depends on the itinerary. Here is a little sample I have come up with. This is a draft, a starting point, and please add to it or add any comments you may have. I know it is hard to know what people like. Broadly, we like to see a different way of life, eat different food, visit cultural and historical places, observe culture in any way, such as listening to the local music, watching sport, or talking in a bar. If you feel you have something that is worth it, let me know and I'll see if it takes our fancy.
Fly into Mumbai: This I am confused about. I initially thought to miss Mumbai. However, my dad wants to take one flight and have a break (getting old :)). So that rules out indirect flights, which I know are cheaper. So I thought we would stay 2 nights here.
Fly to Delhi, spend about 5 nights doing the Golden Triangle, Let me know which attractions/cities you think are worth it and which we can miss.
Then, train/bus to Rishikesh for about 5 days. My parents love yoga and kudulini and things like that so we thought we'd head here for a while. Apparently there are also some beautiful walks, as well as a music school. Sounds like a nice place to spend a few days.
Then, fly to Kerala form Delhi (where we would backtrack to). Here we thought we would travel to a few towns, and probably stay on a houseboat. Again, any hints or tips, please do share.
I then thought we would fly back home via Mambai.
Please, any advice is appreciated. I do know that we are missing out most of India - but I have also heard that trying to cover most of India in a few weeks would be impossible and not enjoyable. I have thought about Rajasthan and the Desert, but have ultimately chosen to make those wait for next time. But, again, I am open to suggestions :)
Oh, I have forgotton about our budget: We are fairly mid range, looking at spending between 100 and 130 US$ a day between the five of us. This obviously excludes airfare.
Thank you in advance!
Nov 9, 2012 9:36 AM
1with 100-130 dollars a day for 5 people you are on a tight budget, this means you have to find cheap places to stay , i would suggest you try to get overnight trains to save some money and try to stay a few days in places , so you might get it a bit cheaper.
book the trains soon, because they are often full and 5 people are a lot.
Nov 9, 2012 9:50 AM
2If you really want to experience different way of life,food,culture,music sports;you need to stop spending so much time traveling city to city,.Pick 1 or 2 cities and stay there.Make friends with some locals,eat where the locals eat,You are going to be way to busy running to catch flifgts and plan new ones to see or remember anything of India.2 cities-2 home bases.
Nov 9, 2012 11:34 AM
3I agree in principle with #2. Limiting yourselves to just two destinations in almost a month might be a little extreme, but the philosophy is sound.
India is very difficult to travel. The logisitics in India are horrible, people get sick, things get cancelled and delayed. With a family of four everything becomes four times more difficult and four times more likely to happen. I guarantee you, someone will get sick and you'll all have to stop traveling for a few days, someone will get their ticket to somewhere on some type of conveyance cancelled and it will throw the whole family into a tizzy. Some hotel somewhere will not honor your reservation. The less you move around the easier it will be, both on yourselves and on your budget.
I'm not going to tell you what to do and not do or where to go or not go, but you should make a few tough decisions and travel a lot less once you get there.
Nov 9, 2012 12:03 PM
4i would say, india is easy to travel, but agree totally with the possibility of getting sick, the idea with only 2 places as a base makes absolutely sense, so everybody can do his or her thing without compromising the others, even if one gets sick.
eat only things that are freshly cooked in front of you. only bottled water out of the bottle, no jars!
Nov 9, 2012 5:22 PM
South Africa has a historical connection with India since Mahatma Gandhi who was the leader of the independence struggle in India spent 20 years in Durban before returning home to India. You could build on this South Africa and India connection by visiting Mani Bhavan in Mumbai where Gandhi used to stay when in Mumbai and also Raj Ghat in Delhi where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated and since you have an interest in listening to local music here is prayer song that was one of Mahatma Gandhi's favourite.
For houseboats Alleppey in Kerala is the place to go and overnite stays in the backwaters is very popular and south of Alleppey the beach town of Varkala is also worth a few days stay.
looking at spending between 100 and 130 US$ a day between the five of us.
Your budget is good but better make sure you are 4 or 5 before making hotel reservations !
Edited by: torontomm
Nov 9, 2012 10:27 PM
6I suggested 2 cities to stay because the OP stated they wished to experience a different way of life,culture,music,food,you name it..I suggest you are not going to experience this culture from an airport or a train station....Their Stated Goal was to Experience culture,not bag cities and check them off of a list...5 days in each city is just going to keep this family in the head lock of hotel staff and touts.No local folks.No culture.
Nov 10, 2012 5:24 AM
7One of the things you need to watch out for in North India at that time of the year is the fog and the cold. Flights get delayed and cancelled. Trains get horribly delayed (sometimes by upto 24 hrs). It is not easy and might overwhelm you.
I suggest you go to Kerala first from Bombay where the chance of fog, etc is minimal. Spend a couple of days in Bombay itself. Go to Cochin and Alleppey and even Calicut (Kozhikode) where Vasco da Gama first landed. Houseboats don't come cheap and can cost up to USD 300 a night.
You might then head to Delhi and Rishikesh early Februrary when the chance of fog is less and the winter is almost over. (BTW you might find some good yoga places in Kerala itself). The Golden Triangle is very touristy and you are unlikely to experience too much of the Indian culture on this (at least not the good part).
As someone said, India is difficult to travel but with the internet and budget airlines, you will do fine. You can make train reservations online at www.irctc.co.in. Just create a log in and password and you can book using your credit card. You can use this website to research trains and schedules - www.indiarailinfo.com.
On your budget, USD130 looks on the low side. Indian hotels can be very expensive in the big cities. The food less so if you avoid the restaurants in the big hotels. A meal for 4 in a small town restaurant can be had for USD8-10.
Hope this helps.
Nov 10, 2012 7:11 AM
You might then head to Delhi and Rishikesh early Februrary when the chance of fog is less and the winter is almost over.
Good advice above from #7, Srivathsa as first two weeks in January in north India are downright chilly.
dylanbuch, if possible delay your start by two weeks to around Jan. 15 , so you can do Mumbai, Kerala in January and then Golden Triangle and Rishikesh in first two weeks of Feb.
A good houseboat for overnite stay is expensive but the cost includes all meals and it is a delightful ex[erience.
Srivathsa, not easy if you are not living in India.
Now irctc asks for a local mobile number for registration and do not accept International credit cards for payment (except Amex).
Nov 10, 2012 7:30 AM
9Sorry about the irctc bit. An Indrail pass might make sense. A 21 day pass on AC-2/3 and ChairCar costs about USD 250. http://www.indianrail.gov.in/international_Tourist.html. Have never used this but might be worth checking it out. The site says that there are foreign tourist quotas on trains - but whether it actually works in practice is anyone's guess.
Nov 11, 2012 9:23 AM
10Thank you for all your responses! It is much appreciated. Let me try and respond to everything that has been said.
I now realize that maybe we were trying for too much. Maybe a better option would be Mumbai and Kerala? But the disappointment with this is that we do not get to see the Taj, which we all really want to see. However, is the Taj worth changing our whole plans for? Are there other attractions in the area which could make it viable? The other option would be to fly from South Africa via the Middle East (Qatar, Emirates) to Delhi. We could then do Golden Triangle and maybe Rishikesh? Let me know if you have any thoughts on this. Please offer any suggestions of what to do in Mumbai. I have tried to look but cannot seem to find anything with a 'wow' factor. However, I do understand that many of the best cities in the world are amazing to visit not necessarily for any specific attractions but for the general feel of the city and the energy of the people. Could Mumbai maybe be one of these cities?
Unfortunately we cannot travel on other dates, these are the dates we have to use.
Thanks again everyone, much appreciated!
Nov 11, 2012 5:20 PM
Mumbai is very special in India but it does not have a single "wow" type of attraction for tourists like the Taj in Agra but Mumbai is Bollywood and Bollywood music and films are at the centre of entertainment industry in India.
The best Indian writers, poets, musicians and other artists from all parts of India are drawn to Mumbai where their talents combine to create artistic magic in the form of Bollywood musical films that are enjoyed all over India and outside of India. So in my opinion Mumbai has inner beauty, Mumbai is not great to look at but the creativity of Mumbai is unmatched by any other city in India.
No reason not to see the Taj which you all want to see. This trip should be about your interests and by all means you should go to Agra for the Taj which does have a "wow" factor and when in Agra you should also see the Agra Fort and maybe the abandoned Fatehpur Sikri on way to Jaipur if you go there and of course the capital city of Delhi has many attractions for the tourists.
So, I think you can skip Mumbai and stick to your original plan of Delhi, Golden Triange, Rishikesh and Kerala and fly in/out from Mumbai/Delhi as convenient.
Nov 11, 2012 11:43 PM
12Go see the Taj,you will regret it if you don't...Then go to mumbai and Kerala.Skip dirty Delhi.
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