India Encompassed

Ancient temples swallowed by the jungle, rice paddies, local markets, stunning beaches, fiery cuisine, smoking incense at the feet of a golden Buddha, and the friendliest locals around.

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India Encompassed

Postby g_traveller_b88da39b » Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:32 am

Hi Everyone!

I'm a recent convert to G Adventures, having completed the Indochina Encompassed tour with them in May and June this year.

I'm keen to use their tour discount (!), and am looking at travelling to India in April this year (it is the best time for me to get time off work, and it's outside the Indian monsoon season).

In the India Encompassed tour, were many of the hotels air conditioned and have wifi? They certainly did in my travels to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia (and, to a lesser extent, Laos), but I have heard some stories about India. And yeah, it will be hot in April.

Next, the money situation. I'm a Kiwi, and here the big thing is pre-loaded money cards that help lessen the fees bank charge and the currency conversion rate. How did you find it using ATMs and carrying cash (not wads, of course) around?

And how did you find the trains? My understanding is that there's at least one night spent on the train, and it was certainly an experience in Thailand and Vietnam (i.e., an open toilet over the train tracks).

Lastly, thank you for reading this far. Who would you recommend for taking internal flights in India? I need to get back from Kochi to Delhi for my return international leg. I was simply going to fly Air India but I see there's plenty of options.

Thanks very much.

Mike
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Re: India Encompassed

Postby g_traveller_a3f56b3f » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:00 am

I recently just did the Essential India tour which is the Delhi to Varanasi component of your tour.

g_traveller_b88da39b wrote:In the India Encompassed tour, were many of the hotels air conditioned and have wifi?


All the hotels we stayed at had airconditioning. The permanent tents in Dhula Village did not, but it cooled down enough in the evening (was there in November) that it wasn't an issue. They did have fans.

Everywhere had wifi except for Dhula Village. Some places you had to pay for it, and sometimes the wifi was quite slow or only worked in the lobby area. I picked up an Airtel SIM card at Delhi Airport (very easy to find - you walk straight into when you come out of International arrivals) and got 1.5gb data a day and unlimited calls/texts within India. It was very easy to set up - simply gave them a copy of my passport and eVisa and it was working an hour later. Would highly recommend getting a SIM card - there is 4G coverage literally everywhere and means you won't have to rely on wifi. I would also recommend getting it done at the airport, they're very well set up for international tourists. A few people in my group tried to get one in Delhi and faced long queues and they didn't seem as helpful with the paperwork as the airport one did.

g_traveller_b88da39b wrote:Next, the money situation. I'm a Kiwi, and here the big thing is pre-loaded money cards that help lessen the fees bank charge and the currency conversion rate. How did you find it using ATMs and carrying cash (not wads, of course) around?
'

I would be surprised if you can find a prepay money card that lets you load Indian Rupees. I personally just used my Australian debit card to get money out of the ATM. You can get 10,000 rupees (~$200) out at a time. ATM's were relatively easy to find, but don't let yourself get stupidly low before looking for one - in Varanasi no one could use the 5 ATM's within close distance to the hotel for some reason. Our CEO was very helpful at helping us locate ATM's when needed and would often point them out in each town. The Balloon ride in Jaipur you can pay with card if you prefer.

g_traveller_b88da39b wrote:And how did you find the trains? My understanding is that there's at least one night spent on the train, and it was certainly an experience in Thailand and Vietnam (i.e., an open toilet over the train tracks).


We did the overnight train from Jhansi to Varanasi. It took ~13 hours. You're in 3 tier bunks in a carriage with about 60 people. No one had issues with security. The bunks are quite small - we had a tall solid guy in our group who immensely struggled that night. The toilets were okay - there was a western toilet and a squat toilet at either end of the carriage. Both weren't great at the end of the trip - but no different to an airplane toilet at the end of a 13 hour flight really.

g_traveller_b88da39b wrote:Lastly, thank you for reading this far. Who would you recommend for taking internal flights in India? I need to get back from Kochi to Delhi for my return international leg. I was simply going to fly Air India but I see there's plenty of options.


We had an Air India flight from Varanasi back to Delhi included. They were fine for a 1h30m flight. Will you be booking it as part of your flight back to NZ or separately?
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Re: India Encompassed

Postby gump » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:52 am

Hi, I am doing this trip in February, I have booked Air India back to Delhi on the last day of trip then back to Australia with Thai Airlines, my friend booked to leave straight from Cochin airport back to Australia with Singapore Airlines
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Re: India Encompassed

Postby g_traveller_b88da39b » Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:28 am

Thanks g_traveller_a3f56b3f.

I'm booking with a travel agent, and using Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines to get me to India. I would only be using Air India for an internal flight.

You're quite right about the travel cards - they won't let you load Indian Rupees. Instead, I would load the card with NZD and use it like a debit card. The fees for such cards at minimal (you just pay the local bank's fee).

As for cellphones, I've stumbled upon a service called "Trabug". They set you up with a phone and credit on your arrival in India (they usually deliver it to the hotel). But using my own phone would inevitably be cheaper I guess, as Trabug were around $150NZD for the month. Do you have an idea of how much it cost you to use your phone in India? I would only be using the data.

Thank you
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Re: India Encompassed

Postby g_traveller_a3f56b3f » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:50 am

g_traveller_b88da39b wrote:
As for cellphones, I've stumbled upon a service called "Trabug". They set you up with a phone and credit on your arrival in India (they usually deliver it to the hotel). But using my own phone would inevitably be cheaper I guess, as Trabug were around $150NZD for the month. Do you have an idea of how much it cost you to use your phone in India? I would only be using the data.


That’s ridiculous. I paid ~$20 for the SIM card which included the 1.5gb/day data.

Just pick up a sim card at the airport - it’ll take 10-15 mins max and is super easy to do.
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Re: India Encompassed

Postby g_traveller_b88da39b » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:46 pm

Wow. That sounds like a great deal. Thank you.
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