Chris Croft's Personal Blog

October 27, 2012

Tips for going on holiday to India

Filed under: Books and Culture, Happiness, Travel and driving — Tags: , , , — chriscroft @ 6:33 pm

I’ve been twice, so I’m not an expert but I know a bit. I was asked for any tips and this is what I said – I hope it helps anyone else who is going to this fantastic and wonderful country. I love the people, the food, and the buildings more than anywhere else in the world.

  • allow plenty of time for the taj mahal, it’s fantastic, just sit and stare at it.  Ideally go at sunrise and wait outside the doors before it opens so you’re the first one in!   It gets really packed during the day.
  • don’t expect any privacy, people will stare at you and want to talk to you, so you might as well be a celebrity and talk to everyone and have fun
  • it’s worth having a guide (not sure how your trip is organised) and good English is the main thing to try to get, though hard to assess until too late and they arrive!
  • see the Jantar Mantar if you can, it’s brilliant – in Jaipur
  • we only got ill because we went into a restaurant where no westerners were, and it had sticky tables and flies buzzing around – what were we thinking? On my second visit I didn’t get ill at all, and we ate food from street vendors but it was freshly cooked and still hot
  • beggars – not many and you get used to them. don’t give them money ever (it all goes back to central beggar-masters etc) – take a load of biros to give out!  Or maybe some small packs of cards to give out – you can get these from amazon very cheaply and I think they count as educational….
  • we felt safe all the time
  • take a great camera!
  • camel trips – over-rated. maybe try a 30 minute one but all day will be hell!
  • elephant ride – fun, but again, only for 10 minutes!
  • don’t trust the monkeys who hang around the monuments
  • it gets cold suddenly when the sun goes down at 6pm so take a sweater/fleece for the evenings (when you pack for the trip, and every day when you go out)
  • great shopping! get some hand made silk dresses – they do it in a day and it’s only £20 or something, and you choose the style and the material and they make it spot on (though tightly / closely fitted!). take more cash than you think, it’s very tempting!
  • when they say they will ship it home for you they really do. they are very honest, though everyone is taking a cut from everything so when they recommend a shop or restaurant it’s often just that they are getting a cut.
  • definitely negotiate on the price of everything you buy from a shop!
  • consider reading before you go (or taking with you) A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.
  • have fun – it’s the most brilliant country in the world, without a shadow of a doubt

I hope that helps!!



  1. You can do India yourself. I did a month across the top of India by rail booking everything myself, almost.

    You cannot easily book rail outside of India through the internet, you are trying to book against a live system via the Indian banking system and the western banking system that is very suspicious of the transaction (my card was blocked at each attempt). It will end in tears. Also, if you as a westerner book off of the public system you are taking a seat away from an Indian who may have no other choice of travel mode. India could not function without her railways.

    If you decide to really do it yourself and book each journey in India you are in for a big surprise. First, you are still depriving an Indian of a seat. Second, it could take a whole morning to achieve. Third, everything requires a form, including buying a rail ticket. You fill out the form for the journey you want indicating the class. If they have seats you get to purchase it. If not you have to immediately slap in another form with all the same information except the next lower/higher class of travel, they do not just search for available seats on the basis of the first form. All the while you are at the ticket wicket you will be fighting off the locals trying to get their form taken ahead of you.

    If rail takes your fancy, and it really should, then contact India Rail’s UK representative located in Wembley. They can do the full travel agent routine or have your itinerary ready and they will book the whole lot in one go on an India Rail Pass. You leave with everything set out and everything confirmed. The earlier you book the greater your chance of actually getting first class accommodation/seats.

    Why do it this way?
    The accommodation/seats are part of the tourist allocation, they earn India foreign currency, if not sold they don’t get released for general sale until shortly before the train is due to depart, so you are not blocking an Indian’s travel options. It’s safe and comfortable (a good stout chain and padlock lets you chain a backpack to the underside of the seat). You cover vast distances cheaply and still see India. If you do the Ahmedabad to Udaipur journey on the standard gauge you really get to see India close up and personal, a basic train in all respects but a fantastic journey (it is ten hours, take food and be sure you have plenty of water 6 litres per person should be OK, 4 litres wasn’t I found but they were having a heat wave) if you get off at a station to stick your head under the tap listen out for the train whistle. When it sounds you get back on they only wait a short time after sounding the warning.

    Comment by Adrian Hetherington — October 27, 2012 @ 9:28 pm

  2. Is that right about Beggarmaster Central?

    I bet you look good in that silk dress!

    Comment by Martin Herrington — October 28, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

  3. Thank you both for some really useful information re travelling to india it is on my list however my father is ill at present so cannot leave the uk for longer than a week Michelle Cunningham

    Comment by michelle — October 31, 2012 @ 10:32 am

  4. […] out my Dad’s blog here – it has his top tips for India specifically!   […]

    Pingback by Essential Travelling Tips | Pauperintoprincess — November 13, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

  5. Hi,
    This is Mac Mik in India , we are from tours & travel background .We do have such a nice program for tourist from the world .Where they can stay with us & enjoy their stay with no worries of food & accommodation & travel .We receive you from the airport New Delhi .
    We also help you in getting visa. We have various tour & resident cultural program where you stay along with other foreigner expat & travel along with them.
    People those are bag packers & they wish to see India on their own is a good choice but not a very cultural.
    You can just go on Surfing over net for things you don’t know.

    A guide is far better to make your trip in India more effective & interest.

    We just mean it to be in your budget with more of India

    Comment by Macmik — December 15, 2012 @ 10:39 am

  6. […] out my Dad’s blog here – it has his top tips for India specifically!   […]

    Pingback by Essential Travelling Tips - Pauper to Princess — July 24, 2015 @ 8:25 am

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