When In India: Eat A LOT OF Indian Food

Everything You Need to Know about The Golden Triangle in India

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I was looking through my world map that both my parents and I can travel halfway across the globe to spend in for my birthday and there it was lying beautifully in the middle, the road less travelled of India.

At first, I was very hesitant. Because honestly, who has really been to India? Is it really SAFE? – that was the first question I had in mind because I’ll be travelling with my family and my father just had a kidney transplant.  So I did a lot of research and talked to a lot of my Indian colleagues. One of them even asked, “Of all the countries, why India?, which part?” So I told him I’m planning to do the Golden Triangle and he said, “beware of cow poo.” This area is mainly Hindi so cows are considered sacred.  A part of me just died and I knew there’s no turning back when I already purchased the plane tickets.

Thankfully, as I was scrolling through my IG feed, one of my close friend’s picture popped and there it was, she was in India. She gave me all the travel tips I needed and with a lot of reading on other blogs and sourcing out Pinterest, I was ready to conquer another country.

I’m sure you probably have a lot of questions in mind and I would try to answer it through this blog post.

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Is India really SAFE?

I have been visiting different countries. And by different means that it can either be a third world or a first world or in a deserted island and I can say that danger would always be there.  There will always be pickpockets. There will always be someone who can take advantage of you.  As a traveler, it is your responsibility to be always on the lookout wherever you are. It is advisable to do a lot of research and knowing what kind of place you’re going to and you have to blend in and act like an Indian woman.

But there are some places in which you are not free to roam around in the streets especially if you are a woman.  It is advisable that you have a tour guide wherever you go when you’re travelling by foot. There was one instance that I wanted to go in the tourist markets to buy a lot of cheap souvenirs and our guide advised us against it as he deemed it not to be safe.  I also recall when there was horrible traffic, and our driver had to reroute our car and he advised us to cover ourselves with scarves and lock all the doors. So, just be sure to trust and follow your guide.

In addition, their culture is conservative.  If you are traveling as a couple, act like you’re married and you can buy some fake rings.  Although some areas are open, as a woman, you can wear and do whatever you want but it is best you wear clothes that cover your body and always bring a scarf with you. Some men can think that it is an invitation if you smile at them, so be cautious.

There is no clubbing but you can drink alcohol.  Clubbing is kind of referred as “un-Indian” so a regular night life would be just to cozy up in a bar and save the dances on another country.

Tap Water is not potable.  Even bottled waters that are just refilled, recapped and sold on the streets should be taken seriously.  Be careful and inspect before buying.  My friend who I consulted with ended up in the hospital there because of food poisoning so one thing she cautioned me highly was the safety of food.  India is very famous of lassi and there are some that are made on the streets.  Blocks of ice are just dragged on the streets so I would say not to take a risk and just try and purchase it in hotels and recommended restaurants.  One thing I loved about our tour guide was that I made him decide where to eat and he would always take us to decent, “foreign tourist flocked” and very sumptuous restaurants.  Food is not expensive but it’s not that cheap as you would expect but you have to pay for your health’s sake. 

There are a lot of people who told me not to come here and others told me to be really careful.  I’d say that if you believed in other people’s opinion, would you be able to go anywhere?  It is part of the journey to take a risk, explore the world and follow where your heart leads you.  As cliche as it is, it is up for you to prove them wrong.  Because the truth is, there are numerous good stories to tell about India. Let them hear it as I am now telling you mine.

All in all, tourist spots are REALLY SAFE. India is a safe as in the comforts of your home. 

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Travel Destinations

Delhi
We just had a day to roam around in Delhi.  In here you get a slight glimpse of their lifestyle. There are two parts of Delhi, the Old and New. The city life is in New Delhi especially the Connaught Place.  It seemed like I was in England for a time as some parts remind me of a British infrastructures.  Needless to say, there are a few places you can roam around here.  Don’t miss the Humayun’s Tomb.  Although, the entrance fee is not cheap but it’s definitely worth it.  After all, it is what inspired the making of the more famous Taj Mahal.  One thing I have to say, bad traffic is everywhere but nothing that we can’t handle because yes I lived in the Philippines and I’m definitely used to it.  It’s not worse than Manila though hahah.

India Gate

Agrasen Ki Baoli

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Humayun’s Tomb

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Agra
Need I say more? Agra is the home of one of the eight wonders of the world.  There is really not much to see there apart from the locations I went to so a day tour would be sufficient.

Agra Fort

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Taj Mahal

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Jaipur
Oh, this is my favourite. It felt like I was in another country.  If you want to find another part of Indian culture, come to know about the famous Rajasthan.  It takes a few more days to see around Rajasthan and if you are pressed for time and can only visit one, don’t miss Jaipur.  The famous pink city is the home of the royals.  There are a lot of hotels which were converted from royal palaces.  Not too bad to live like a queen for once then?

Amer Fort

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Hawa Mahal

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City Palace

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Abhaneri Step Well

Jaipur Markets

Visa
Almost all of the nationalities require an Indian Visa.  But I find it hassle free as you can apply for an electronic one.  All you need is to fill up the form online, pay for the fee and voila! In two days, you get your visa on your email.

If you want to apply, visit here. https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/Registration

Here is a link of countries exempted for acquiring visa.  https://www.immigrationworld.com/india/list-of-countries-exempted-from-visa-obligations-to-visit-india/

Stay

Connaught Place or Paharganj, New Delhi
 * Unfortunately the one that we stayed in Connaught Place is not included anymore in the listing of AirBnB

Alsisar Haveli, Jaipur
Sansarchandra Rd, Shri Ram Colony, Sindhi Camp, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302001, India
+91 141 236 8290
http://www.alsisar.com

Umaid Bhawan Heritage Hotel, Jaipur
D1-2A, Behind Collectorate, Via Bank Road, Bani Park, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302016, India
+91 141 231 6184
https://www.umaidbhawan.com/

Ibis Aerocity New Delhi
Asset no 9 Indira Gandhi International Airport Aerocity Hospitality District, Delhi 110037, India
+91 11 4302 0202
https://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-7484-ibis-new-delhi-aerocity/index.shtml

Language

Just like in the Philippines, everyone knows how to speak English. So if you know English, you won’t have a problem with anything.  Almost all signages have English translation.

But if you want to learn some Hindi, here are the basic ones to prepare you for your travel:

  1. Hello – Namaste
  2. Water – Paani
  3. Food – Khana
  4. Do you speak English – Kya apa English bolte hai
  5. Thank you – Dhanevaad
  6. Where is the toilet – Toilet kaha hai
  7. Can you help me – Kya aap meri madaad karenge
  8. How much is this – Ye kitnay ka hai

Transportation

To travel across states: you can either take the train, bus, plane or taxi if you want to splurge.
Personally, I would recommend booking flights across states.  This just saves you a lot of time. Most guides would tell you that it’s practically the same when you take the Golden Triangle Tour but believe me, if you want to make the most of your time, book the flight.

I just can’t afford to be in the car 6-8 hours in a day per way.  Delhi to Agra takes you 3 and a half hours per way and Agra to Jaipur takes about 4 to 5 hours and similar from Jaipur to Delhi. Train travel times are likely the same when you’re travelling by car.  One thing to keep in mind when you’re traveling by train is that if you want comfort, make sure to book seats in first class.  Some trains can be delayed so do have enough time for your itinerary.

Getting around the city, I downloaded the Ola app: https://www.olacabs.com/mobile.  It’s basically like Uber so it’s very convenient if you’re traveling around or getting to the airport.

You can hire a rickshaw if you’re feeling a bit adventurous and going on backpacking.

Recommended: Book a private car with driver to tour you around each city.  It is very cheap, rates are even cheaper than Bali with only 16 GBP per day.  It will let you save a lot compared to hiring a taxi.  Day Tours from Delhi to Agra range from 6000 INR to 10 000 INR so do your best to haggle.
Contact:
Delhi: privatecarinindia1@gmail.com
Jaipur: info@maantoursjaipur.com

International Flights Delhi:

from Philippines: flights from Manila to Delhi usually has a long stopover either in Bangkok or Malaysia.  In our case, stopover is in Bangkok so when you book a flight at lunch, you can roam around the city in the afternoon and book a hotel near the airport, spend overnight and catch an early flight to India.

from London: There are direct flights from London with British Airways.  Some flights do have stopover in Dubai.

Currency

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Indian Rupee Currency is only available in India and international banks don’t do exchanges abroad. Try to preorder this currency on Thomas Cook to get the cheapest rates. But any money changers with the name Thomas Cook is legit and offer a very good exchange rate. This is also available in Indira Gandhi International Airport just after the concierge counter. Some hotels like the one we stayed in, Alsisar Hotels, even offered us the cheapest against GBP. Also, most hotels accept any currencies and credit cards.

Detailed India Expenses

Delhi
1000 Sim
2300 Lunch
100 Water
600 Tattoo
1800 Tomb
2300 Saree
400 Dinner
2000 Driver + Tip
10510 Hotel for 2 nights

Agra
1000 Coffee
2835 Lunch
1400 Taj Marble
3300 Taj Majal
100 Rickshaw
1050 Guide
6500 Taj Driver + Tip
1100 Driver to Airport

Jaipur
2200 Lunch
1500 Scarf
1800 Driver
1200 Dinner
500 Coffee and Tea
9500 City Palace + Tour Guide
2400 Driver
5000 Dinner
13000 Hotel for 2 nights
600 Lunch
3000 Driver
1700 Dinner
4420 Hotel for 1 night
1300 Lunch
2000 Driver

Delhi
2500 Dinner
7500 Hotel
300 Taxi

Flights
8410 Delhi to Jaipur Flight RTN
412.51 GBP LDN to Delhi RTN
972.46 USD MNL to Delhi RTN for 2
107 125 INR

Total: 160 447 PHP: 3 people for 7 days

  • domestic flights to MNL, hotels for layover in Bangkok, personal shopping and other tips not included

Travel Tips

Food
1. Ask your tour guide to take you to a traditional Indian restaurant.  I can eat Indian food all week. They just have the best cuisine.
2. When you’re in Jaipur, never miss the delectable dishes of Rajasthani cuisine.
3. Make sure to only drink a SEALED bottled water.

Electronics
1. Some tourist spots charge you when you bring camera and videocameras.  Although I haven’t been charged personally, I just read this on other blogs so just to let you know.
2. Power sockets are the same as of European ones.  In India the power plugs and sockets are of type C, D and M. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

Clothing
1. Dress appropriately for the weather.  Research how warm or cold the place is on the date of your trip.  India is a very large country. What may be raining on the south, might be a desert in the middle and snowing in the north.
2. Cover up as much as possible if you’re walking with the crowd.  It always helps to bring a scarf with you.  Not only does it look good in pictures, it also helps with keeping off dusts and inappropriate stares.

Money
1. I have a habit of putting my money in different places as in a worst case scenario I lose my bag or my luggage, I still have enough cash.
2. I always take a screenshot or a copy of everything (passports, hotel bookings, visa) on my phone and leave everything else on the hotel safe, provided that the hotel is also credible.
3.  It is not mandatory but it’s likely advised to give tips.

Environment
1. I swear I haven’t seen a cow poo.  India looks the same as any third world country.  It is actually more developed than Siem Reap, Cambodia.  Although this does not justify the fact as I only travelled to few of the places.
2. New Delhi and the triangle is a really busy place so prepare yourself for a lot of traffic and vendors stopping you to sell goods.

People
1.  If there is any service or hospitality I would recommend, Jaipur has the best.  With the amount of history and culture twirled around the royals, I can very much see why.  Do book in heritage hotels to get a feel of what Jaipur really is all about.
2. If you go on public places or travel destinations, there would be a lot of vendors trying to block your way and sell you things.  Be firm and always come with your tour guide to be safe.  There was a case when we went to the India Gate, a female vendor just grabbed my hand and applied temporary tattoo no matter how much you say no. They would charge you a high fee for the service you never wanted in the first place.  Just beware.
3.  I haven’t booked any tours but I did have a private car and sometimes get a private tour guide for history and security purposes.  After the tour, they would get you to a place like a local shop and from there they will try to sell you local products.  Although this is a good strategy, it is just very tiresome and time consuming when you want to see other places.  Their negotiating skills can be very persuasive.  Do your best to haggle as they do charge very highly if you’re a tourist. And if you don’t want to buy, act like you’re not interested because when you try to ask questions, they will really try to let you buy just about anything.

Communication

  1. Please do buy their local sim. It’s cheap and you need it to contact your driver and hotel.  Wifi is not widely available and mobile data charges are always expensive.
  2. A lot of people communicate through WhatsApp and I do a lot of haggling when it comes to booking private drivers.
  3. Communicate well what you want and expect for your itinerary.  They will always adjust and try to accommodate your needs and give you an epic travel.

Itinerary

Day 0
Flight to Delhi

Day 1
Delhi
Connaught Place
India Gate
Agrasen Ki Baoli
Humayun’s Tomb
Shopping

Day 2
Day Trip to Agra
Agra Fort
Jewelry Shopping
Taj Mahal

Day 3
Flight to Jaipur
Amer Fort

Day 4
Jaipur Market
Hawa Mahal
City Palace
Samode

Day 5
Abhaneri Step Well

Day 6
Pasalubong Shopping
Flight to Delhi

Day 7
Flight to London

If you have any further questions, do email me on my Contact. I’ll do my best to help you if you’re planning to explore India.

 

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