recent trip feedback - general
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Nov 24, 2012 3:11 AM Last Post By: Jeraboa
Nov 22, 2012 6:17 AM
recent trip feedback - generalDear fellow travellers
I thought I'd do a feedback post having just arrived back from 2.5 weeks out in India. Had a great time and was a real eye-opener. Have travelled all around the world but India really is something quite different. It's not for the faint-hearted and cleanliness obsessed travellers. If you want an 'easy' holiday then unless you have lots of cash and can afford your own driver and staying in really nice places I would travel elsewhere. If you can rough it and take seeing poverty at all levels then go it really is worth the experience.
general bits of advice:
Safety: I found India to be very safe and perfectly fine even when I was wandering alone day or night (female). Most people were very friendly but do follow the normal advice you find in guidebooks about scams.
Trains: Mostly travelled in AC chair class or second class sitting and during the day so I didn't have personal experience with night time travel - although I did meet a French girl travelling alone and she said it wasn't that safe and you had to be alert with your belongings so if you are female and travelling solo the best bet is travel during daylight hours if possible. I would highly recommend taking trains rather than buses partly due to them being more comfortable as some of the road conditions are quite bad and road journey times can get stretched due to unforeseen events along the way. Also do expect a difference in quality of train between the class you book - for example AC chair class is not always the same.
Another thing to bear in mind is some trains leave earlier than their scheduled time so try to aim to be at station at least 20 mins before. Out of 6 trains 2 were delayed one of which by more than an hour.
Buying train tickets in advance: I did this using cleartrip.com and didn't have any issues. I followed the procedure as set out on this website... http://www.seat61.com/India.htm#book - from outside
Internal Flights: For longer distances consider flights - I used jet airways and found them to be perfectly fine. Some friends flew spicejet who were also good. Kingfisher seemed to have cancelled flights so best avoid this airline.
Local buses: are very cheap and quite reliable but depending where you are sometimes it is a mission trying to find someone you can ask in English which bus to take but if you succeed use them as they are so much cheaper than auto-rickshaws.
Getting around in Delhi - use the METRO! avoid journeys by road mainly due to crazy traffic unless you are travelling to and from the airport in the early hours when traffic is not an issue. The metro is super convenient, efficient and cheap. It's clean and easy to understand. There is also an all female carriage at the front of every train which helps towards the staring and glares from the men. You can either buy a token for the journey you want to make or buy a day card which costs 150rupees (50Rs deposit is refundable). Most of the time it is cheaper to pay for separate journeys rather than the day card.
Money: I relied on cash I changed when I got out there as well as ATM's. I found in smaller banks my card didn't work so use the main Indian banks such as state bank of India. I avoided paying for anything by credit card so as to reduce risk of fraud plus hotels charge and extra 2-3% on top of your bill if you pay by card.
Typical costs: 1 litre bottle water 15-20Rs, 2 bananas 10Rs, large bag of Lays crisps 20-25Rs, bottle of sprite/coke 70-80Rs. Typical breakfast 100-250Rs, typical lunch/dinner 200-300Rs local bus journey 15Rs Delhi metro 6 stops 15-20Rs bus from Agra Idgah bus stand to Fatephur Sikri one way ticket 34Rs
1) At railway stations avoid anyone trying to give you advice on your train. Just find the departures board where all the information is clearly on display like departure time and platform number.
2) Rickshaw drivers can be extremely pushy so stand your ground. If you have more than one driver around you this is the best chance to haggle down the over-inflated prices they quote you. Also be wary of drivers taking you to their friends shops etc.. If you don't want to go just be a bit blunt and tell them - I found that being firm and politely saying no seemed to work with them.
3) generally everyone will stare at you unless you are Indian so just expect it and don't get put off by it.
4) security checks at every metro station and at most tourist attractions - many of which are really pointless and inefficient but have to be done. The less you carry the better especially at the Taj mahal. Try not to take any form of bag with you as then you can skip the lengthy queue and hopefully enjoy the place with less people.
I have posted some information about specific places in trip advisor and will be posting more soon.
Nov 22, 2012 1:31 PM
Nov 23, 2012 7:27 AM
2I love India as much or more than anyone else but sugar-coating India is disingenuous. OP has done an excellent job in presenting India. Her account is full of many useful tips.
No hiding, India is replete with touts, beggars, thieves, and scammers, expectedly so for a country with extreme poverty.
Very little plumbing infrastructure, lack of drinkable water, filth everywhere, bad roads, dirtiest public bathrooms, ... the list goes on. However, this does not deter me from visiting India and many Indiaphiles on this board.
Giving honest and truthful advice should be the most important goal since misinformation may harm fellow travelers.
Nov 23, 2012 2:29 PM
3Thank you so much for the original post. We are beginning the planning process for independent travel next Sept/Oct and you have answered many of our questions. Please don't feel you have wasted your time writing this report, many will appreciate it. It is reports like this that are the most helpful, being honest and the way you saw/found the country, probably how many of us will. May you have many more wonderful experiences as you travel around this amazing world!!
Nov 24, 2012 3:11 AM
4I've travelled all around the world East Africa, middle east, Pakistan etc and agree entirely that India is unique. I love India and have been six times but the OP is correct the poverty you see everyday in your face is completely incomparable with anywhere else I've been. 50% of the worlds poor live in India and it shows, walking down the streets in Lusaka or Lahore or Addis ababa your not confronted with the constant sight of poverty and dirt that you are in India.
Since east Africa has been mentioned above, I've been twice in that part of the world and people don't stare, public spaces are by and large kept clean and it doesn't feel AS different as India does.
You just can't compare India to East Africa or Bolivia, its a very unique place with an entirely different feeling from anywhere else in the world.
I'm not surprised more people don't put trip reports on here if this is the reaction they get.
Thanks for trying to be helpful OP, its a shame some of us here can't be more gracious and appreciate your effort.
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