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  • Berecca 3 posts

    My partner and I are starting to plan out our honeymoon – we’ve both never been to India before and it is top of our list.

    Looking for some advice on north/south, any highlights or must-sees (is the Taj Mahal worth the queues…?) We are considering booking a planned tour for some of it so would be interested in hearing any reviews/experiences of that! We are planning to go for 4 weeks.

    Thanks!

    masaccio 740 posts

    I looove India.

    If you’ve never been before, I would ease your way in and start somewhere a little more relaxing like Kerala. I would also sandwich in some relaxing time in a beach destination. The Taj in Goa is a lovely place with a beautiful safe beach. If you are feeling adventurous, I’d include Amritsar for the Golden Temple, Varanasi and Kolkata.

    A general tip is trying to pick 5* hotels in the crazier places as by 2pm you will want to escape the chaos and lie by a pool.

    How well things work will depend upon the time of year. We always go in the school Easter holidays which is the end of the peak season and before it generally gets bonkers hot. It also means you can venture into the mountainous areas.

    Picks for me would be:

    Kerala loop – Evolve Back in Kabini is amazing (get a private pool), Mysore worth a visit and close to Bangalore (international flights), Ooty a beautiful hill town with a toy train, the backwaters beautiful and Fort Kochi a good place to mooch (we stayed in Old Harbour and got in some great gold and antique shopping).

    The golden triangle – popular for a reason with loads to see and do in Jodhpur, Jaipur, Udaipur. You also have a chance at tigers in Ranthambore. Ending in Delhi which is home to an amazing array of places to see. Don’t miss Humayuns tomb and Quran Minar. The market is very cool, but you will want that 5* pool.

    A northern circuit taking in Amritsar, Mcleod Ganj, and Shimla. The Golden Temple at night is breathtaking, the people more welcoming than you can imagine, and Shimla is very laid back.

    Ending in Mumbai would be good as the Taj is an amazing place. Mumbai is such a fun city. Head to Elephanta island and take a ‘slum’ tour with Reality Tours. Take in the markets – we love the antique markets for random stuff.

    Just a few ideas. Happy to offer more.

    masaccio 740 posts

    On tours, I have never bothered with travel agents for the whole thing, but things like the Dharavi tour in Mumbai are best done locally as you know money is going to the community.

    Self-organisation is pretty easy. Aside from the 5* hotel tip, the key thing is finding a driver. Book an AC people carrier as that will be more comfortable. You can easily compare prices online and ask your hotel to get you a driver for a week for ‘outstation’ travel.

    When arriving by plane know that you can get a fixed price taxi.

    It’s been a while, but last time I needed an Indian SIM to use the local taxi companies like Ola. I found Uber hit and miss.

    GillyDee 94 posts

    Just about to go to dinner in Delhi, so will answer from my perspective in more detail later.

    On my 1st trip (of 6) in 2007 our idiot of a travel agent arranged for our arrival late on a Thursday ( the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays) so we visited on Saturday at dawn. We had our photo taken on Princess Di’s bench and behind us was … nothing. It was so foggy you could only see the glory of it from 6 foot away. Our next trip I engineered a detour to have another go – this time it was in full sunlight and glorious – I cried.

    So, yes, absolutely worth it.

    can2 541 posts

    I also did the 5* hotel-trick as I needed a refuge from the noise and pollution.

    Indian cuisine is amongst my favorites so I planned for that.

    And medicine. Take antidiarrheals etc.

    I never enjoyed Taj Mahal, but Varanasi impressed me.

    And, use fixed price taxi or Ola.

    I’ve travelled around India well enough, but when I go back I will go to Darjeeling. I made it to Kolkata but did not make it to Darjeeling, which I regret now.

    We also combined our trip to India with Nepal, which was great. And there is a new Hilton coming up in Kathmandu Valley. But next time, I will combine it with Bhutan.

    GillyDee 94 posts

    Important question – what month have you in mind?

    Berecca 3 posts

    Thank you so much for the ideas so far! I’m going to share with my fiance tonight.

    Were planning to go November/Early December.

    Erico1875 144 posts

    Try to include a 1AC sleeper train in your itinery

    masaccio 740 posts

    Good shout on meds.

    If you get ill, call hotel reception and a doctor will be there immediately and will sort you a prescription. Then call reception to get ‘a boy’ to go get the drugs for you. The one time I had a dodgy tummy (stoopid incident of undercooked pizza at an airport), it was sorted quickly with a horse pill sized antibiotic.

    BBbetter 743 posts

    Some of the recommendations – seriously, for a honeymoon? Avoid Amritsar, Varanasi, Kolkata etc.
    For a honeymoon, stay at one of the palace hotels in Rajasthan. Oberoi and Taj operate most of them. Fabulous and you’ll be treated like royalty.
    Mysore and Bengaluru have some good sightseeing and nice weather. Kerala or Goa are good places to round off the trip and relax by the backwaters or beach in a spa retreat.

    GillyDee 94 posts

    Perfect time of year!

    Why would you spend the time trying to DIY (especially with a wedding to organise)when there are travel agents who can deal with everything for you. From arrival to departure you can be seamlessly cosseted – I love it!

    However, I wouldn’t recommend using a UK based travel agent like Cox and Kings or Audley because their mark ups are considerable. Our 1st trip was Nov/Dec with C&K for our silver wedding where we did the Golden Triangle with knobs on and it was fabulous but expensive.

    Since then we have used IndianPanorama.in (which probably comes in at half the price) to organise a trip around Madya Pradesh before we embarked on a birding tour of Gujarat( which is my least favourite state in India and – horrors – it’s dry). They also arranged a 4 week extravaganza of South India starting in Mahabalipuram thru Pondicherry, Madurai, Trichy, Alleppey, Mysore finishing in Bangalore. We had the same car and driver throughout and had different guides each day for sightseeing. It was all wonderful but highlights were a pre-dawn walk through Madurai as the cows were milked and turned loose to wander the streets, the ladies chalking intricate patterns in front of their houses and the market stalls being set up, a cookery lesson in Trichy, and a food safari. They were happy to let us book some of the hotels ourselves where we had status.

    Another option as part of a hybrid approach is to use a company like Pugdundeesafaris.com who own a number of safari lodges and can arrange packages inclusive of transfers. I’ve stayed at 2 of them – Pench, which was exceptional, and Satpura. Kanha and Bandhavgarh are also fabulous National Parks.
    For pure wildlife watching, mainly birds, we have also used asianadventures. net.

    Indian food is awesome; I could eat masala dosa and bhaji puri everyday. We find avoiding any sort of western style meals and sticking mainly with vegetarian dishes minimises stomach upsets. India is paradise for vegetarians ..

    The usual suspects of Leelas, Tajs and Oberois, JW Marriotts and ITCs are all reliably opulent – we actually spent our 25th in the Umaid Bhagwan Palace, Jodhpur where, as luck would have it, an extravagant Indian wedding took place; the groom arriving on an elephant accompanied by an assorted band and guests – absolutely amazing.

    masaccio 740 posts

    @GillyDee: you answered your own question about why not use Audley et al for India: they are twice the price of DIY. Thanks for the IndianPanorama.in reference though – will take a look for our next trip (this Easter).

    Memorable local guides can easily be found for individual cities without a massive markup.

    But if money is no object or travellers are nervous about arriving somewhere without a known contact then I get why people choose this.

    zapato1060 699 posts

    Even though I am not the OP. This info is invaluable for me as my wife has travelled extensively but is very worried about going India. She pictures mayhem on roads, cows in streets, public defecation, everything ran down, noise and pollution. She tells me she does not want to go but has been to Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam so I dont get it. I have to build a good itinerary hopefully with culture and beaches etc.


    @Erico1875
    we love sleeper trains so this may help!

    GillyDee 94 posts

    Even though I am not the OP. This info is invaluable for me as my wife has travelled extensively but is very worried about going India. She pictures mayhem on roads, cows in streets, public defecation, everything ran down, noise and pollution. She tells me she does not want to go but has been to Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam so I dont get it. I have to build a good itinerary hopefully with culture and beaches etc.

    I was just like your wife; I had no desire to visit India for the same reasons. At the end of our Golden Triangle trip I was not only hooked I didn’t want to come home. But for the fact there are so many other places I want to visit I’d try to come to a different part of the country every year. The culture, sights and food are incredible. Also it’s easy to use up a 241 or BUV with no stress or staying up to midnight.

    GillyDee 94 posts

    @GillyDee: you answered your own question about why not use Audley et al for India: they are twice the price of DIY. Thanks for the IndianPanorama.in reference though – will take a look for our next trip (this Easter).

    Memorable local guides can easily be found for individual cities without a massive markup.

    But if money is no object or travellers are nervous about arriving somewhere without a known contact then I get why people choose this.

    I’ve not done just DIY – my point was UK agents were at least twice the cost of Indian travel agents.

    pbcold 351 posts

    In no way do I wish to dampen your excitement but I went to Mumbai for the cricket world cup in October and the level of chaos and the challenges travelling from A to B were not at all to my liking. My brother, who works in the travel industry and loves India, describes it as a “marmite” experience. Having said that, the IHG was perfectly reasonable and the Taj Mahal Palace very good indeed. Have a wonderful time.

    GillyDee 94 posts

    Just stopped at a roadside cafe for lunch – various breads, pickles and aloo gobi; 360 rupees total for 4 people. Love India!

    BBbetter 743 posts

    In no way do I wish to dampen your excitement but I went to Mumbai for the cricket world cup in October and the level of chaos and the challenges travelling from A to B were not at all to my liking. My brother, who works in the travel industry and loves India, describes it as a “marmite” experience. Having said that, the IHG was perfectly reasonable and the Taj Mahal Palace very good indeed. Have a wonderful time.

    Yep, any place or event with resource constraints like poor infrastructure or few hospitality facilities is a strict no go for even the locals. Multiply that with the heat and humidity. The only stadium I would recommended (unless you are a diehard cricket fan) is Dharamshala. If you are lucky you may also bump into the Dalai Lama.

    pbcold 351 posts

    Wankhede Stadium was an utterly extraordinary experience that I would not have missed for the world and will most certainly not repeat.

    cin3 168 posts

    It will be an amazing trip. Ignore the people telling you not to go to Mumbai, Varanasi etc.

    Try to spend some time in Himnal Pradesh too.

    runnerbean 57 posts

    Not honeymoon, but asking on this thread because of some of the suggested areas/ itineraries.

    OH has an urge for North India for say 10 -14 days plus a beach add on of maybe 5 tacked on the end. This would be autumn/ winter 2025 so am looking at how many avios, and possible itineraries so that I’ve got clear options lined up for the booking window. I’ll have a BAPP 241 and the Avios coffer should be fine.

    Yes I know it’s still some months off but I’m a planner…

    Any initial views particularly the beach add-on?

    We were in Kerala many years ago (just after 9/11) and although lovely have no particular urge to go back yet.

    BBbetter 743 posts

    Any initial views particularly the beach add-on?

    We were in Kerala many years ago (just after 9/11) and although lovely have no particular urge to go back yet.

    The obvious choice for beach would be goa. But they are getting expensive and crowded with the rising domestic purchasing power.
    There are a few other resorts on the west coast, but there may not be any other restaurants nearby. There’s an IC on the east near Chennai.

    BBbetter 743 posts

    OH has an urge for North India for say 10 -14 days

    Some amazing palaces converted to hotels – checkout Oberoi or Taj groups. You can include Agra as a day trip from some places or when stopping over at Delhi.

    ChasP 168 posts

    Build it around the Golden triangle for a busy few days – get a copy of the CD Inside by Paul Horn to get you in the mood for Agra. Definately stay in one of the converted Rajashtan palaces

    Internal flights are cheap and its a big country

    But on any holiday and especially a honeymoon you don’t want to be full on for the whole trip so a beach is a good idea – a few days relaxing on a houseboat on the Dal Lake is an even better one

    We also included a few days at TigerTops in Nepal

    The comments about using an Indian Agent are spot on – shame its a while since we did it so can’t recommend

    masaccio 740 posts

    OH has an urge for North India for say 10 -14 days plus a beach add on of maybe 5 tacked on the end. […]

    Any initial views particularly the beach add-on?

    We were in Kerala many years ago (just after 9/11) and although lovely have no particular urge to go back yet.

    Depending on your definition of North India, there is a cheap direct flight from Chandigarh to Goa with IndiGo. The Taj is a fabulous resort that is still within walking distance of other places to eat. The beach when we last went was safe and swimmable.

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