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India Itinerary: Thoughts and Tips

We spent three weeks in India with following routes:

Fly from Amsterdam via London..

New Delhi

Agra

Jaipur

Udaipur

Goa

Mumbay – back to Amsterdam via Brussels

India Tourist Visa

I got my Indian tourist visa in one day at the Indian Embassy in the Hague. It was quick, not many paperworks and efficient. The visa allowed me to stay in India for six months. Most nationals including Dutch nationals should apply for visa to enter India. I told Dutchie that finally we were even – both of us had to apply visa 🙂 Having an Indonesian passport is not easy for traveling to certain countries. Most of the time I had to apply visa to enter certain countries while Dutchie as a Dutch national does not have to. Such countries, like Australia and United States of America, to get their visas are expensive and requiring lots of time and paper works preparation.

Recently the Indian government granted tourist visa on arrival for specific nationals: Cambodia, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Luxembourg, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Currency

Indian currency is Indian rupee. You can get it in the airport via ATM machines. They have ATM machines for maestro and cirrus debit cards.

Transportation

In the city, you can take auto-rickshaw or taxis to bring you around. Of course you can take public buses, but sincerely the cost of auto-rickshaw is not expensive and if you met a friendly auto-rickshaw driver, he might bring you to interesting places that not mentioned in tourist books.

India has developed sufficient and good railways and airways to connect their cities. Their trains has several classes, the higher tickets cost, the more comfortable the seats.  Additionally they have numerous domestic airlines with brand new planes.

Indian Food and Beverages

India is a big country with many ethnicity so the types of their cuisine are actually varied from region to region. I will not explain about each region’s type of food. But if you are not familiar with spicy food, then it is better to be modest for the first few days until your stomach adjust to Indian’s spicy food. Some type of curries could be very spicy, even for me who always eat spicy food.

Indian culinary is heaven for vegetarian and vegans. It offers numerous variety of vegan dishes. My favorite vegan food are: Papad Masala and Palak Paneer. My favorite non vegan food is Tandoori chicken and Vindaloo.

Coffee may be not the strong point of Indian beverages. However, India offers delicious tea such as Chai (Masala Tea). The tea is perfect to start your day replacing Indian coffee.

Few Small Tips

1. Never buy train tickets or tour package from someone that you just met in the street or suspicious travel/tourist office. I suggest to buy train tickets directly in train station, always. And for flight ticket, it could be arranged via hotel or buying the ticket directly at the airport.

2. Wear an Indian’s product. For woman, it could be shawl and for man, it could be Hindu’s bracelet. This is to show that you have been in India for a while. Additionally, it will help you in bargaining Indian products with the locals vendors.

3. Unfortunately, there were quite number of children beggars in touristy places. We refused to give them money but they kept following us. Tourists are their targets, therefore please keep strong and don’t give them money.  Perhaps it is better to give them pens, pencils or educative small toys like this one.  A thoughtful article related to Indian children beggars written by Jillian Keenan. He mentioned some reasons for not giving money to children beggars and how you can help them.

4. Be sure about where to go during Indian monsoon season (June to September). You don’t want to have my experience while in Goa 😉

5. Don’t bring too many clothes to India. India has excellent laundry service, especially in touristy area. The service is cheap, fast and clean. Besides of that, their textile products are really nice with good quality.

Lastly, if possible, please do not carry around your Lonely Planet or travel guide books, this is to avoid become a scamming target. Bring a small notebook of list of places that you’d like to visit.

Will I ever Return to India

Most likely, but it is not in my priority list yet. I would like to visit Kerala, Varanasi and Shimla-Manali-Leh (these places have amazingly beautiful nature and unique culture).

41 Comments »

  1. Hey! You said you would like to visit Shimla and Leh! Do let me know when you are planning to come here, I stay near Shimla and would love to help you plan so that you can enjoy these exquisite places! 🙂

  2. Why do you say returning to India is not in your priority list? You didn’t fall in love with it? (can happen, this is not a judgement, just asking!)

    • No worries at all for asking that 😉 I really do like India a lot and still think it is a photogenic country, so it is still on my bucket list to revisit 🙂 It’s just that my partner and I decided to prioritize our long vacation on diving holiday at this moment. At this moment I enjoy the underwater life more – it’s just like entering a total different world that fragile, the beauty of colorful corals and surrounding always amaze me. Scuba diving is like a therapy for me 😀 Did you feel that way when scuba diving?

      • I understand! The first time I dived (in Tanzania) I felt this sensation of entering a different world of colors and species. It was really powerful and almost unreal. I dived quite a bit during a period of maybe 5 years but since I met my husband I haven’t dived. He always tells me to go and dive but I am afraid these days!! ,-)
        Moreover, I may have told you already but he has an ear problem and technically he could dive but doesn’t want to risk it (to damage the second ear too). So, even if we love the sea and snorkel whenever we can, there are other things we enjoy doing too (like historical architecture; domain where India marvels!).

        Where is your next holiday going to be in and when?

        • I feel sorry for your husband! Ear problem is a common issue for some scuba divers as well. Actually I have allergy that could prohibit me from diving (the allergy affects my sinus) so I always bring my spray – but that helps a lot! Snorkeling is also fun and you can still get the chance to snorkel with whale sharks!! 😉
          The next diving holiday will be the Philippines with stop over for couple days in Spore. We have been diving in the Philippines before – Malapascua and Panglao, and this time we will go to Moalboal and Dumaguete. Moalboal is famous for sardine runs so hopefully we will be lucky to see it and it is closed by to Oslob for the whale sharks – but we are not sure whether our diving center would like to bring us there or not. Oslob whale sharks is bit controversial because the locals feeding the sharks..so we will see. Dumaguete is more for critters and small marine species thingies..

          • When is this trip coming up? I don’t know any of these places by name you mention but my uncle has been diving i the Philippines. Spectacular.

            What is that story about Oslob and feeding? I thought whale sharks eat only planktons… ?

            • Hi Miia, it will be December-January, for New Year celebration. The Philippines underwater is bit similar to Indonesia. Both countries are in the Coral Triangle area (the amazon of underwater world ;)), the corals are simply stunning. It appears the locals fed the sharks with shrimps and the whale sharks were hooked! Oslob is popular place to snorkel with the whale sharks – the price is quite expensive to snorkel with the sharks there – it is sort of new income for the locals..

              • Lovely trip ahead you have!!!

                I have to google Oslob. I had no idea they eat shrimps. Well, shrimps are good 🙂
                So the whale sharks gather in this area bc of the feeding and that is why it is controversial?

                    • Actually I am not so sure. I always confused with this matter, maybe I should not but in other hand I would love to snorkel with whale sharks 😦 How about you? Would you do it anyway?

                    • Yeah… I think my curiosity and passion for whale sharks would win. And after all, it is a way for the locals to make a livelihood.

                      But I recognize that you can use this same argument regarding those famous Andaman island tours that take tourists to see local ethnic tribes. Apparently it is a real zoo.

                      Controversial indeed: something that destabilizes for sure the traditional environment but that on the other hand provides a living in otherwise difficult conditions!

  3. Heyy… nice post and good places you have chosen to visit! But i notice that you have been to the Western side of the country… when u revisit, i feel you might, check the eastern sea coast, mainly Pondicherry and Andaman Islands, that got scuba diving and snorkeling too! You can go to the hills too of Sikkim and forests of Duars! It’s kinda fun on the east side too 😉
    Cya latr!

    • Wow!! Thank you so much for the tips! I have been wanting to return to India – India is very rich of culture with beautiful nature! It will be great to combine it with scuba diving on my next visit! I will consider it very much! Have a great weekend!

  4. Hi Indah ! 6 months definitely wouldn’t have been sufficient and will never be to explore India 🙂 . People plan visits to India for one major reason that is Festivals. Thank you for visiting and sharing wonderful thoughts and tips. According to me 🙂 I think you’ve just seen the 20% of India. There is a lot more to visit if you plan again and i’m sure you’ll 🙂 . God bless

    • Thank you so much Keval! I would love to visit India again!! I was there for three weeks and I wish I had six months to complete the trip 😀 I am sure I will be back to India again someday! Have a great week!

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