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India - Golden triangle - advice

Ladyromford and I are planning on visiting India for our 10th anniversary in March and we thought we'd do the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur), so I thought I'd see if any of you well travelled types have been and have any tips:
Should we book an all in package or would you recommend any hotels, tours etc? Better to travel by car or rail between Delhi, Agra and Jaipur? How long to spend in each place?
That sort of thing. We're looking at about 10-14 days total.
Any help appreciated, cheers.

Comments

  • Go to America instead ;)
  • Don't buy any dope. ;-)

    Haggle, but not too much if you can afford it. You are always going to pay over the odds.

    Rail travel is an experience in itself...I would always go by train...but I am a Charlton fan.
  • I've only been to Goa and not the places that you are going to. But in the time i was there i never once got the dreaded Delhi belly, The food was fantastic and unbelievably cheap.
    The only advice i can offer is don't buy any food from the small streetside vendors only eat at restaurant 's
    Enjoy your trip
  • Be careful where you get your rupees' from, they are awash with forged notes at the moment.
  • Be careful where you get your rupees' from, they are awash with forged notes at the moment.

    Very true and you cannot get rupees over here like you can most currencies, use a bank when you arrive
  • edited November 2016

    I've only been to Goa and not the places that you are going to. But in the time i was there i never once got the dreaded Delhi belly, The food was fantastic and unbelievably cheap.
    The only advice i can offer is don't buy any food from the small streetside vendors only eat at restaurant 's
    Enjoy your trip

    Not wanting to contradict, but you can see how street vendors prepare their food...che k out the oness that look well-established and attract a lot of customers...the only time I had food poisoning was from a mixed (veg/non-veg) restaurant. If you can face going veggie for the duration of your trip you will almost certainly be safe from that, um, authentic experience!
  • Don't get friendly with some locals and when they invite you to their village to meet their family and friends, go three up on a moped without wearing a helmet and with lorries going past honking their horns and then suddenly remember that the bloke controlling the bike is deaf and so can't hear the overtaking traffic and then notice he has no mirrors on his bike. AT least the Police officer that pulled us over just laughed and let us on our way.

    I never recommend all in packages but that's just me as I like to be independent. It depends on your comfort levels and experience with travelling. India is a very hectic and confusing country and it can be hard work and stressful especially outside the major tourist places. That's ok with more time but for only a couple of weeks and an anniversary holiday is it worth the extra hassle and stress to you?

    Expect most people to try and rip you off constantly, especially rickshaw drivers, but don't let it get to you.

    I found travelling by coach was quite good and well priced but make sure to check exactly where the drop off point is. Some companies say a town/city but in reality you're actually dropped of in a different area on the outskirts. Think Easy Jet and London Southend airport.

    As Wheresmeticket said a train journey is a must. Seeing people closing up their houses/shops so the train can get by is a novel sight. But just remember that India is huge and the trains are old so what looks like a short journey on a map may be 16 hours. Check journey times thoroughly first. Also I could never really figure out the rules about purchasing tickets. Sometimes the better class tickets are only put on sale a day or two before the journey, other times they were available earlier. But don't just turn up at the station last minute and buy a ticket unless you want to end up in cattle class. Which I did and whilst it was fun being laughed at by the locals the novelty wore off after several hours of discomfort and heat. Would have been more bearable if I could have understood what the pretty Indian lady who decided to talk to me for most of the journey had been saying but hey ho.
  • I've only been to Goa and not the places that you are going to. But in the time i was there i never once got the dreaded Delhi belly, The food was fantastic and unbelievably cheap.
    The only advice i can offer is don't buy any food from the small streetside vendors only eat at restaurant 's
    Enjoy your trip

    Not wanting to contradict, but you can see how street vendors prepare their food...che k out the oness that look well-established and attract a lot of customers...the only time I had food poisoning was from a mixed (veg/non-veg) restaurant. If you can face going veggie for the duration of your trip you will almost certainly be safe from that, um, authentic experience!
    I agree, always buy street food wherever I've been and never had a problem. Just pay attention to how they are preparing and cooking the food and check that locals are also eating it.
  • DRAddick said:

    Don't get friendly with some locals and when they invite you to their village to meet their family and friends, go three up on a moped without wearing a helmet and with lorries going past honking their horns and then suddenly remember that the bloke controlling the bike is deaf and so can't hear the overtaking traffic and then notice he has no mirrors on his bike. AT least the Police officer that pulled us over just laughed and let us on our way.

    I never recommend all in packages but that's just me as I like to be independent. It depends on your comfort levels and experience with travelling. India is a very hectic and confusing country and it can be hard work and stressful especially outside the major tourist places. That's ok with more time but for only a couple of weeks and an anniversary holiday is it worth the extra hassle and stress to you?

    Expect most people to try and rip you off constantly, especially rickshaw drivers, but don't let it get to you.

    I found travelling by coach was quite good and well priced but make sure to check exactly where the drop off point is. Some companies say a town/city but in reality you're actually dropped of in a different area on the outskirts. Think Easy Jet and London Southend airport.

    As Wheresmeticket said a train journey is a must. Seeing people closing up their houses/shops so the train can get by is a novel sight. But just remember that India is huge and the trains are old so what looks like a short journey on a map may be 16 hours. Check journey times thoroughly first. Also I could never really figure out the rules about purchasing tickets. Sometimes the better class tickets are only put on sale a day or two before the journey, other times they were available earlier. But don't just turn up at the station last minute and buy a ticket unless you want to end up in cattle class. Which I did and whilst it was fun being laughed at by the locals the novelty wore off after several hours of discomfort and heat. Would have been more bearable if I could have understood what the pretty Indian lady who decided to talk to me for most of the journey had been saying but hey ho.

    she was probably inviting you back to hers to go through the kama sutra but never mind i bet the train was nice.
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  • DRAddick said:

    I've only been to Goa and not the places that you are going to. But in the time i was there i never once got the dreaded Delhi belly, The food was fantastic and unbelievably cheap.
    The only advice i can offer is don't buy any food from the small streetside vendors only eat at restaurant 's
    Enjoy your trip

    Not wanting to contradict, but you can see how street vendors prepare their food...che k out the oness that look well-established and attract a lot of customers...the only time I had food poisoning was from a mixed (veg/non-veg) restaurant. If you can face going veggie for the duration of your trip you will almost certainly be safe from that, um, authentic experience!
    I agree, always buy street food wherever I've been and never had a problem. Just pay attention to how they are preparing and cooking the food and check that locals are also eating it.
    Restaurants can be OK, of course, but veggie is best if you do use them. Worst option is big hotels.

    Delhi has appalling air pollution so if you can think if somewhere else to go, go to the somewhere else instead. Goa, although it is very touristy, the far south and the far north, but I think you can't go to Kashmir, are all better bets than Delhi.
  • Also give yourself plenty of time to get the Visa. It was a pain in the a for me for some reason and had to be re done 3 times. I was on a career break from work but they don't like you putting "unemployed" down for obvious reasons, but then because I worked for a Government agency they insisted on a letter from a manager stating I was not going there on official business. I was also visiting Scotland for a bit whilst trying to sort the Visa and made an application in person at the official centre in Edinburgh. However they later rejected it saying that as I was officially living in England I had to make the application from there. India is the epitome of unintelligent counter productive bureaucracy.
  • Almost as bad as the EU
  • I did the Golden Triangle as a package, some amazing sites (and sights) but quite a tiring part of India to travel around. I'm glad I didn't do it independently

    Trains are an experience, the roads and driving were terrible (this was 15 years ago)
  • I did the Golden Triangle as a package, some amazing sites (and sights) but quite a tiring part of India to travel around. I'm glad I didn't do it independently

    Trains are an experience, the roads and driving were terrible (this was 15 years ago)

    It hasn't changed mate. Like most of Asia.

  • DRAddick said:

    I did the Golden Triangle as a package, some amazing sites (and sights) but quite a tiring part of India to travel around. I'm glad I didn't do it independently

    Trains are an experience, the roads and driving were terrible (this was 15 years ago)

    It hasn't changed mate. Like most of Asia.

    The driving in India was far worse than most of the other countries in Asia I've been to
  • DRAddick said:

    I did the Golden Triangle as a package, some amazing sites (and sights) but quite a tiring part of India to travel around. I'm glad I didn't do it independently

    Trains are an experience, the roads and driving were terrible (this was 15 years ago)

    It hasn't changed mate. Like most of Asia.

    The driving in India was far worse than most of the other countries in Asia I've been to
    Yeah true it is. It's unbelievably bad compared to just really bad :-)
  • DRAddick said:

    Don't get friendly with some locals and when they invite you to their village to meet their family and friends, go three up on a moped without wearing a helmet and with lorries going past honking their horns and then suddenly remember that the bloke controlling the bike is deaf and so can't hear the overtaking traffic and then notice he has no mirrors on his bike. AT least the Police officer that pulled us over just laughed and let us on our way.

    I never recommend all in packages but that's just me as I like to be independent. It depends on your comfort levels and experience with travelling. India is a very hectic and confusing country and it can be hard work and stressful especially outside the major tourist places. That's ok with more time but for only a couple of weeks and an anniversary holiday is it worth the extra hassle and stress to you?

    Expect most people to try and rip you off constantly, especially rickshaw drivers, but don't let it get to you.

    I found travelling by coach was quite good and well priced but make sure to check exactly where the drop off point is. Some companies say a town/city but in reality you're actually dropped of in a different area on the outskirts. Think Easy Jet and London Southend airport.

    As Wheresmeticket said a train journey is a must. Seeing people closing up their houses/shops so the train can get by is a novel sight. But just remember that India is huge and the trains are old so what looks like a short journey on a map may be 16 hours. Check journey times thoroughly first. Also I could never really figure out the rules about purchasing tickets. Sometimes the better class tickets are only put on sale a day or two before the journey, other times they were available earlier. But don't just turn up at the station last minute and buy a ticket unless you want to end up in cattle class. Which I did and whilst it was fun being laughed at by the locals the novelty wore off after several hours of discomfort and heat. Would have been more bearable if I could have understood what the pretty Indian lady who decided to talk to me for most of the journey had been saying but hey ho.

    she was probably inviting you back to hers to go through the kama sutra but never mind i bet the train was nice.
    In my mind she was.
  • DRAddick said:

    I did the Golden Triangle as a package, some amazing sites (and sights) but quite a tiring part of India to travel around. I'm glad I didn't do it independently

    Trains are an experience, the roads and driving were terrible (this was 15 years ago)

    It hasn't changed mate. Like most of Asia.

    The driving in India was far worse than most of the other countries in Asia I've been to
    Yep, I was travelling in the fast lane on India's version of a motorway and coming towards us was an old man with about forty water buffalo, the coach driver never even considered this unusual he just slowed down and moved to the middle lane.
    Absolutely bonkers on the roads out there
  • The advantage to all - in. ...and it's easy to forget this later...is the effect the heat has on you. Having to sort out tickets, find a stall to buy water, walk 100 yds down the street when every step makes you drip with sweat can make the sights unimportant and the trip becomes an effort. If you do it yourself take your itinerary and cut it in half....
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  • The advantage to all - in. ...and it's easy to forget this later...is the effect the heat has on you. Having to sort out tickets, find a stall to buy water, walk 100 yds down the street when every step makes you drip with sweat can make the sights unimportant and the trip becomes an effort. If you do it yourself take your itinerary and cut it in half....

    That's why I'd recommend for a short trip an organised tour to save the hassle. Independent travel is great, but you need to spend longer in a country to allow yourself time to buy tickets, get to places etc, and recover.
  • Definitely advise travelling on at least one train. it's a great experience and you'll be well fed in conversation and food from locals and families.

    Unless you have your heart set on Taj Mahal at sunrise, you can do Agra in a full day trip by train (or car) from Delhi. You'll have time to visit the mausoleum and Agra Fort.

    Of course as you've got 10-14 days, you easily have time to stay overnight and sightsee at a more relaxed pace.

    I work for a tour operator in London specialising in Asia holidays, so feel free to DM me if you've got any other questions. Can put you in touch with one of my colleagues who creates tailor made India trips.
  • edited November 2016
    .
  • DRAddick said:

    I did the Golden Triangle as a package, some amazing sites (and sights) but quite a tiring part of India to travel around. I'm glad I didn't do it independently

    Trains are an experience, the roads and driving were terrible (this was 15 years ago)

    It hasn't changed mate. Like most of Asia.

    The driving in India was far worse than most of the other countries in Asia I've been to
    Yep, I was travelling in the fast lane on India's version of a motorway and coming towards us was an old man with about forty water buffalo, the coach driver never even considered this unusual he just slowed down and moved to the middle lane.
    Absolutely bonkers on the roads out there
    I still have a bad leg from being run off the road on a motorbike. Right of way depends on the size of your vehicle. Except for cows. I love it. A cow regularly walked into a cafe I used to use and try to muscle into the cooking area...They flapped tea-towels at it til it gave up and left. Happy days.
    You rode a motorbike in India are you mad
  • edited November 2016
    .

  • edited November 2016


    On Indian roads might is right, except for cows. I still have a bad leg from being run off the road on a motorbike. A truck was coming towards me on a narrowish road, so I steered over towards the side but there still wasnt enough room. Hit the broken up gravel at the side at around 30mph and slid on my knee for a few yards. Rode back to the lodge I was staying at where they sloshed purple iodine on the grazes and cuts that ran all up my leg. I screamed.

    (A cow regularly walked into a cafe I used to use and try to muscle into the cooking area...They flapped tea-towels at it til it gave up and left). Happy days.

  • DRAddick said:

    Don't get friendly with some locals and when they invite you to their village to meet their family and friends, go three up on a moped without wearing a helmet and with lorries going past honking their horns and then suddenly remember that the bloke controlling the bike is deaf and so can't hear the overtaking traffic and then notice he has no mirrors on his bike. AT least the Police officer that pulled us over just laughed and let us on our way.

    I never recommend all in packages but that's just me as I like to be independent. It depends on your comfort levels and experience with travelling. India is a very hectic and confusing country and it can be hard work and stressful especially outside the major tourist places. That's ok with more time but for only a couple of weeks and an anniversary holiday is it worth the extra hassle and stress to you?

    Expect most people to try and rip you off constantly, especially rickshaw drivers, but don't let it get to you.

    I found travelling by coach was quite good and well priced but make sure to check exactly where the drop off point is. Some companies say a town/city but in reality you're actually dropped of in a different area on the outskirts. Think Easy Jet and London Southend airport.

    As Wheresmeticket said a train journey is a must. Seeing people closing up their houses/shops so the train can get by is a novel sight. But just remember that India is huge and the trains are old so what looks like a short journey on a map may be 16 hours. Check journey times thoroughly first. Also I could never really figure out the rules about purchasing tickets. Sometimes the better class tickets are only put on sale a day or two before the journey, other times they were available earlier. But don't just turn up at the station last minute and buy a ticket unless you want to end up in cattle class. Which I did and whilst it was fun being laughed at by the locals the novelty wore off after several hours of discomfort and heat. Would have been more bearable if I could have understood what the pretty Indian lady who decided to talk to me for most of the journey had been saying but hey ho.

    Stop looking at my tits
  • Make sure you don't have any 500 or 1000 rupee notes as they are no longer legal tender.
  • We did the "golden triangle" many years back. Bolting on Amritsar, Varanasi, the Khajuraho Temples (for the extreme porno carvings) and then spending 4 days on a houseboat on the Dal Lake in Srinagar in Kashmir. The latter was the highlight but I doubt you can do it anymore because of the political situation there.
    Our trip was organised and I'm glad it was. We only stayed in top-line hotels and either had a car with driver or flew between cities.
    It was a great trip but Mrs cafcfan ended up with food posioning and on a drip in our hotel room. I guess this sort of thing is inevitable when you have frogs living happily in hotel swimming pools.
    Inevitably, (it always happens to me) most of the sites including the Taj Mahal came with the added bonus of scaffolding, making photography especially difficult. But it does mean I have a nice little piece of original Taj Mahal marble in my telephone table!
    When I went there were import restrictions in place. So you couldn't get a coca-cola, you had to have a local campa-cola instead. The local version of seven-up was called thro-up. Totally accurate branding that.
    I still can't get over the sight of people just squatting down and having a dump by the side of the road (but eventually I managed to persuade Mrs cafcfan to stop doing that).
    Great trip but hard work.
  • Do Agra in a day,apart from the TM it is a shit hole. Delhi is patchy but interesting. Jaipur is lovely and worth lingering in. Don't trust anybody who says that the ticket office is closed no matter how many seemingly random people substantiate it.
    Do not eat salad even in posh hotels. Veggie street food is a must as long as it has a long queue of locals. Don't buy booze from cheap places it is little more than wood alcohol.
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