We planned 10 days in India and decided to split them in (click on each link):
Days 3-4: Drive from Delhi to Jaipur 270 Km, 5 hours, arrive, visit Jaipur and Amber. Sleep in hotel Lemon Tree Premier.
Day 5: Drive from Jaipur to Agra, 250 Km, 6 hours. In the route visit Abhneri and Fatehpur Sikri. Sleep in hotel Radisson BLU. See the sunset in the Taj Mahal.
Day 6: Visit Agra. Evening train to Varanasi, sleep in train.
Day 7: Arrive and transfer to hotel Ramada. Visit Varanasi.
Days 9 & 10: Early flight from Varanasi to Delhi, visit Delhi and sleep in hotel Metropolitan. Flight back to Spain.
Here some of the tips to have a good time in India:
The Indian Rupee (International Currrency Code: INR) is the official currency in India. Rs. is the common symbol for INR. One Rupee is equal to 100 paise. The singular for paise is paisa. Sometimes it is referred to as the Naya (new) Paisa.
Rupee is derived from the root Sanskrit word Rupyakam – meaning a silver coin. Most Indians will understand ‘Rupee’, though local languages might have different words for the currency (From: www.indiaquickfacts.com)
English is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication. Hindi is the most widely spoken language and primary tongue of 41% of the people. There are 14 other official languages: Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit. (From: www.indiaquickfacts.com).
In the cities we visited, english was perfectly fine to explain yourself.
Free wi-fi is not common around India. We stayed in 4 different hotels and only 1 of them offered us 1 hour of free wi-fi per day, the other ones charge you per hour and device.
Usually, when there is a free wi-fi available, it requests an indian mobile phone number to registered you first.
- 2 color passport photographs
- Photocopy of the first page of your passport
- Photocopy of your Indian visa
- Photocopy of your country national document with your address on it
- Your hotel reservations or a proof of where you will be staying in India
- Some companies request an indian reference. If you have a friend in India, you can indicate his/her number and they will call his/her
You can buy a SIM card at the international airport, outside the custom area, or from the stores of the cellphone company. You will get a phone call within 24 hours, after your documents are approved, to activate your card. Choose a provider based on the places you will visit, since some of the providers might charge you roaming at every place you visit. If you plan on traveling to several locations in India, be sure to get roaming activated on your SIM. Otherwise, you will have to buy separate SIM cards at every new place that you visit. I read that for the major cities, Airtel or Vodafone are good options, whereas BSNL has the widest coverage throughout rural areas too.
Easy to find in the big cities. But not all of them work with international cards. Carry cash with you all the time.
If you are travelling in group, we always use “Trip Splitter” to divide costs and know who paid each bill. We used “XE Currency” to convert local currency in Euros/Dollars, and of course Google Maps and Ulmon to not get lost.
It is generally 230V, 50Hz. Plugs and sockets have either grounded / earthed 3 Pin connections (Type D) or ungrounded 2 pin connections (Type C). I personally didn´t have any problem using my Europeans plugs. Anyway I always travel with a universal adaptor that also has 2 USB inputs.
Not accepted in all the places, even in the big cities lots of restaurants and monuments don’t accept them, especially American Express.
Very common in India. They will always ask you for tips. We usually left 10% of the bill.
Not having Internet connection while travelling can be frustrating, but don´t worry, there is always a solution for everything, in this case for free. You just need to plan ahead a download the maps for offline use in Google Maps. Once you downloaded an area (Delhi, for example), you will be able to get directions offline.
There are some limitations to keep in mind. You can only get driving directions, no walking, transit, or cycling directions while offline. If you’re not driving, using Google Maps offline can still be helpful for viewing nearby places and not to get lost.
Here’s how to download an offline map in Google Maps:
- Launch the Google Maps app on your phone and signed into your Google account.
- Search for the city you’d like to download.
- Tap the bar at the bottom of the screen with the name of the place you’ve just searched for.
- Tap “Download.”
- Google will then show you a map of the area and ask if you’d like to download it. You will download the area you are looking at your screen, but if you want to download just the centre of the city, zoom in before and then tap “Download” again to confirm.
In my maps web you can create different layers with all the places you want to visit. Here is my map in case you want to use it. You can also open it in with your Google Maps app:
Always buy water in sealed bottles. Your stomach is not probably used to the food/drinks of other countries, so it is better to take care of yourself and go easy with the food. But try not to be an extremist, give the local food a try after going so far away from home.
Our lovely drivers usually bought the waters for us and keep them in a cooler inside the car.
We all agreed to brush our teeth with tap water, of course, without swallowing. If one gets sick, others also.
Of course everything will be very spicy. In my case, I´m very tolerant with spicy food, but anyway I recommend to start easily with it, always asking for some white rice and naan bread that will help smooth the spice effect. I didn´t get tired of the food, I actually came back to Madrid and ordered Indian food a week later. Love it!
Portions are not always in the same range. We used to order 5 meals for the 8 of us, and then decide if we want some more, sometimes it was perfect and some other times we ordered 5 more meals.
Best Meal: Palak Paneer in all the restaurants we ordered it.
Worst Meal: Kesar Kulfi. It´s a milk ice-cream with saffron and pounded cardamom powder, similar to a regular ice-cream but since kulfi is not whipped it results in a solid, dense dessert. Maybe it wasn´t good in that particular restaurant, but we didn´t give it another chance.
What you should try:
- Pakora. Gram flour vegetable fritters with soices
- Gulab Jamun. Dessert very sweet and good
- Chicken or Lamb Tikka Masala
- Plain/butter/garlic Naan (bread)
- Fried Okra (spicy)
- Chicken Korma
- Chai masala
- Dosa: rice and lentil mixture folded into a crispy crepe served plain or with filling of mildly spiced potatoes
- Paneer Tikka: barbecued cottage cheese malai – fresh cream, cheese and cardamom infused
- Paneer tikka lababdar: cottage cheese chunks cooked with tomatoes, fresh cream and spices
- Tandoori roti (bread)
- Ande Ki Curry: popular egg preparation with mild gravy finished with fresh coriander
For this trip we spend 150-250 euros in India per person, including shopping (scarfs, spices, incense, bags, duvet, etc.), plus 530 euros for the international flight with Lufthansa (from Madrid to Delhi), and 550 euros for the car, drivers, hotels, train, internal flight and gas, all of these is what we paid to Mahendra. TOTAL: 1230 – 1330 euros. Around 120-130 per day for this high-class trip.
What I wished to know before going to India?
It´s extremely noisy, I had no idea noise could annoy me that much. If you get annoy too, try not to roll down the car window if you are in a traffic jam….worst headache ever. Also, while walking on the streets, between the cars, tuctucs, rickshaws, cows, people, children begging for money,etc., it was quite easy to get annoy. Avoid walking on busy streets if you feel the same way.
I programmed several reminders not to forget my tripod for this trip….forget it! …I only wanted to use in the garden outside the Taj Mahal to take pictures of the sunset, but it wasn´t allowed.
What I am glad I have known before going to India?
You won´t scape from the Diarrhea.
My friend Cris told me to bring a shoe bag to put my shoes when entering in the temples, so I don’t have to carry them around in my hand or left them in weird places.
Also, she told me to bring a light scarf to cover my head and shoulder to get in the temples. This I always do it.
Always have a pair of socks not to walk barefoot on the temples.
Do you have any other recommendation?
Also, don´t for get to take a look at my previous posts about “Preparing my trip to INDIA: Part 1“, “Preparing my trip to INDIA: Part 2” and “Readings before going to INDIA“.
If you have any doubt planning your trip, I am more than happy to help you.
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