Planning our trip to India took some time and I’ve only skimmed the surface of the details really, a lot of people have since told me that India is a ‘bucket-list’ trip for them or that they are contemplating booking a trip there in the near future but dont know where to start, so for those that want to know more, or are thinking about going here is how I did it. Here are the logistics, links and costs- feel free to ask any questions, I’ve loads more information I can share!
As Jordan normally does all the logistics- this was hard work for me!
I’d set up a google alert to track flights to India but there wasn’t much variation in prices really,I already knew that I wanted to fly from Birmingham, with no more than one transfer. The dates weren’t set but we did have a couple of things to plan around, a limited amount of time and I wanted to be on holiday for Jordan’s Birthday so that helped structure things.
In the end I booked via Travel Trolley, as they had the best price. I had the choice of a couple of airlines but given that Jordan doesn’t sleep on a plane and mostly watches films I went with Emirates as we get Airmiles with them and know that they have good customer service.
I had some ideas of where I wanted to go, what I thought we would want to do but there is so much to choose from, I started looking around for holiday packages to get an idea of what was possible in the time we had. 10 days isn’t a huge amount of time so I wanted to cram as much in as possible. In my research, I started reading about sustainable travel companies, eco-friendly tourism and discovered a few companies that plan holidays with this in mind. In the end I booked via Responsible Travel based in Brighton, I had spend some time chatting with them about the ideas I had and they put me in touch with a number of approved operators. They are very open about what they do and don’t support and their website is easy to use.
From Responsible Travel I found Bespoke India Travel and began discussing my ideas, interests and requirements with Sanjay, we ended up chatting a lot about what sort of things we could do and started planning a trip. There is no doubt that I could have organised all of this without an agent but there are certainly some things we wouldn’t have been able to do easily if I had done it this way. It was through Sanjay that I discovered Ramathra which I doubt I would have found any other way.
In my discussions with Sanjay he provided me with a lot of local information such as places to eat, etiquette guidelines and options for activities me to consider. We talked about tipping, places to shop, food items to look for and as a result it gave me more confidence that I was making the right choices and I felt well prepared. I was given several packs of information including a handy guide to submitting the applications for our tourist visa’s.
I managed to keep the location of our trip a secret from Jordan for some time, I hadn’t told many people where we were going incase they let slip by accident. I gave Jordan an indication of the temperatures to expect and some ideas of what would be needed clothing wise. I shopped for all of our travel essentials separately and hid them in the house. I did do some last minute panic buying based on some blogs that I had been reading and as a result now own several travel water filters and padlock sets that I’m not convinced we will ever need but it could have been worse.
I spent quite a lot of time avoiding questions about where we were going or making things up as a diversion, including asking my friends to post messages of well wishes that suggested we were going to South Africa. I tried to disguise which airline we were flying with but A) we were on an outbound flight to Dubai that we have been on several times before and B) they needed to do an identity check when we dropped off our bags.
I’ve included links to the where we have stayed an an estimated price per night based Booking.com rates at time of writing.
On arrival at each location, we were met by a local representative of Bespoke India Travel who handled our check in, gave us some contact information and went over our upcoming itinerary. I had wanted to keep each day a secret and had made individual cards for each day detailing what activities were planned but on the first night, we were given a pack containing all of our information and our representative went through the detail of what we had planned for the whole trip- I didn’t really want Jordan to hear this but it did mean we could relax a bit more so it worked out for the best.
Delhi: Maidens Hotel, Heritage Room on B&B basis. 2 nights £157
Beautiful building, good breakfast and close to a metro stop. A little noise from outside but that’s Delhi for you. The grounds were particularly nice with peacocks wandering around and a swimming pool. Plenty of food and drink options onsite. Colonial feel.
Agra: Trident Hotel, Deluxe Garden View Room on B&B basis. 1 night £116
Serene location, good for quiet afternoons relaxing in the sun. Breakfast was good and there are spa services on site.
Ramathra: Ramathra Fort, Deluxe Room (we switched to a luxury tent just to try it out) full board, 2 nights £217
Amazing. The views are spectacular, everything we ate was wonderful and wildlife graze at your window. This is an incredible setting which allows for excursions but we just enjoyed the immediate surroundings. They have a strong eco policy here which is evident when you arrive. Very positive experience and one we wont forget
Ranthambhore: Khem Villas, Free upgrade to a cottage, full board, 2 nights £314 (cottage) £170 standard room
The standard rooms are lovely but the upgrade was spectacular, we had an outdoor bath with rain shower alongside the indoor one and our cottage sat next to a crocodile lake. Food here was very good and the location excellent for trips into Ranthambhore national park.
Jaipur: Dera Mandawa, suite, B&B 2 nights £178
The most hospitable location we stayed in. This is worth visiting for the people alone, we had a fantastic time, ate well and enjoyed the company.
Delhi: Pride Plaza Hotel Aerocity, deluxe room, B&B 1 night £145
I had originally booked another hotel but then changed it to accommodate dinner plans and the need to be at the airport early in the morning when Delhi traffic is at its worst. At this point, I’d already paid so I’ve based the price on what I was paying for the other hotel instead. Prices by the airport seem to vary massively.
Individual pricing for these not available, this is what was built into the tour, some are free to enter, some are chargeable and all of them include guide fees and any local payments required1.
- Full Day tour of Delhi with guide
- Rickshaw ride through Old Delhi
- Jama Masjid (mosque)
- Raj Ghat (Ghandi memorial)
- Qutab Minar
- Humayun’s Tomb
- India Gate
- Parliment House and Palace
- Agra Fort
- Full Day tour of Agra with guide
- Tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daulah (Baby Taj)
- Taj Mahal (sunrise visit)
- Village tour of Ramathra
- Elephant ride at Amber Fort
- Full Day tour of a Jaipur with guide
- Palace of Winds
- City Palace
- Astronomical Observatory
We also had premium return tickets for the express train from Delhi to Agra and dedicated driver for the entire time. Having a driver was essential, not only would we have had difficulty with the roads and some of the navigation but we wouldn’t have known where the best places to stop for shopping or a rest would be.
Shared Jeep Safari x 2 Ranthambhore National Park £unsure
Private Jeep Safari at Ranthambhore National Park £75 per person.
Camel Cart- Ramathra £unsure, but not very expensive.
Sunset boat Ride- Ramathra £free
Cooking Class at Dera Mandawa with market tour – Jaipur £47 each
Not everyone wants to know this but some people have asked as they would like to do a similar trip. If you don’t want to know, skip this part, these are estimates based on what I can remember and prices and exchange rates obviously change with time.
Tour including accommodation : £3334
Spending Money (cash for daily use, tips): £400
Spending Money (Hotel drinks, dinners) £approx £700
Gin Bar: £210 (We had a great time but accidentally spent a lot of money- I am annoyed at myself a little for not thinking about it at the time)
Craft Items (totally optional, we bought a fancy table which ate up most of this money) £720
Rough total: £6,700
For ease, here are the day by day posts detailing what we did.