Without a doubt, India is one of the most visited countries in the world. Colorful, diverse and unique are some of the favorite adjectives used in describing the country. For us to understand what most people are fussing about, we decided to experience India on our own. Besides, you can’t be a traveler without visiting this huge and interesting country at least once in a lifetime.
We spent a rough 5 days in India touring the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. As what most travel experts advised – start with the classics. With only a few days visiting tourist sites and public places, please note that we don’t pretend to be like an expert here. Things that we’ll be sharing here are based on our own experiences and discoveries. The travel guide below is perfectly applicable for those who are traveling from Dubai.
Since I’m a bit talkative and I don’t want you to feel annoyed after reading this comprehensive guide, I assumed the questions you’d like to ask regarding this trip. In your convenience, just click the bulleted question and it will lead you to the specific answer 🙂
- When did you travel?
- How to apply an Indian E-Tourist Visa?
- Which airline did you book? Where to book?
- Where to stay in India? What tour did you choose?
- How much is the entrance fees in Taj Mahal and other sites?
- What’s the weather in India on December?
- Which currency to bring in India? Where to get?
- What to wear in India?
- What about the transport? And tips?
- Where to eat in India?
- How much is your total expenses in a 5 day trip for two people?
- What are the tips when visiting India?
We started planning this trip 2 months before our desired dates. But we strongly suggest you to plan earlier as you can get better rates by then. Our chosen date of travel is from November 30 – December 5, 2016. UAE national holidays falls in between these dates. Most of our trip dates are based on holidays except for our anniversary.
India E-Tourist Visa
For Philippines passport holder, we need to acquire an e-Tourist visa in visiting India. You can apply it online in this link. Please note that you can only apply in less than 30 days from your travel dates. Application takes 72 hours of processing and you’ll receive it via email. Visa fee is USD 60 (AED 220) per person. Don’t forget to print your e-visa.
The Budget Airline
Booked via musafir.com, we took the lowest possible rate available. Via Air India Express, our ticket priced was AED 876 per person. It is cheap for an almost 4 hour journey from Dubai to New Delhi, India.
Leaving Dubai, we experienced an easy check-in, spacious seats (ask them to put you in the emergency exit seats), with in-flight meal and on time arrival. On leaving New Delhi, we experienced a 3 hours delay as there was a technical problem. However, it’s a budget airline with a good rate so you can’t complain.
Accommodation & Tour
Since India is huge and not an easy country to tour around. Most travel experts and online communities like Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor advised to have a travel agency to arrange your tour. We decided to book the accommodation too as we’ve been a lot busier for the last 3 months that we barely have the time to check hundreds of hotels available.
Our accommodation and tour was provided by Gets Holidays, a local travel agent based in India. They are the cheapest agents we found via search. Service is remarkably prompt. Email responses are quick and accurate. As for the tour or service driver provided, we can say that Mr. Rotash (our service driver for 6 days) was good enough to send us to the airport safe and sound. We only have a minimal problem during the last day as he told us that another driver will send us to the airport for departure. We informed his office and they fixed it immediately. Day of departure came, Mr. Rotash showed up. And if you want him to drive for you, here’s his number +91 987 135 2798. It’s relatively cheaper to book directly with any driver in India but I must say that safety and assurance of the whole trip is not guaranteed.
Total fees of Gets Holidays is USD 235 (AED 863) per person. It includes the accommodation in a 3 star hotel, airport transfer, all inter-destination transfers, sightseeing as per itinerary in a private car, everyday breakfast, all hotel taxes, all fuel charges, toll tax, state tax and parking charges of the car and all expenses related to the car and driver.
Entrance Fees to Taj Mahal and Other Sites
We booked our Taj Mahal tickets online 2 weeks before our flight in this website. Select your exact date of visit. Note that Taj Mahal is closed every Friday. Cost is INR 1000 (AED 55) per person as of December 2016. There’s a composite ticket available for the same price which includes other Agra Monuments: Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar’s Tomb, and Itimad-Ud-Daula. Please note that this ticket is valid only if visited on the same day. If you forgot to buy online, Taj Mahal tickets can be purchased on site but expect the queue.
While in Delhi and Jaipur, we purchased all entrance tickets on site and queue was all bearable. Price is per person (as of December 2016) Amber fort INR 500, Jama Masjid INR 300, Humayuns Tomb 500.
India Weather on December
During the mentioned travel dates, weather is perfect. It’s around 18 to 22 degrees in Delhi and Jaipur. In Agra, it’s colder with 14 to 18 degrees. Afternoons are just fine and enough to take off the jackets. While it is comfortable to travel with this kind of weather. The fog and mists are not picture-friendly as it looked white or blurry in photos. But if you’re like my husband, he takes advantage of the weather and captured perfect shots with foggy effects! Some of it is already published in our first travel story in India 🙂
When India faced an issue in their currencies as explained in this news to scrap all INR 500 & 1000 rupee notes with immediate effect started from Nov 9 onwards, we faced a minimal problem in buying Indian Rupees. We usually exchanged currencies in the country that we’re visiting but when we heard the news, we tried to buy here in Dubai and there’s no available. Good thing, my husband’s Indian friend helped us. It’s better to have Indian Rupees while in the country and more helpful if it’s in smaller bill as you need to give tips or buy small things like water/snacks. Also, everything in India is cheap!
What to Wear in India?
Dressing in any country you will be visiting should be based on the weather and custom of a country. Since we know that it will be colder on the time of our visit to India, we make sure to bring a jacket, pants for my husband and long skirts/dresses for me. Also, if you don’t like attention especially for ladies, dress appropriately. India has a relatively modest culture. Covering arms and legs is a simple step toward respecting this. Besides, some tourist sites are mosque, temple or holy that it’s not permitted to show off skin.
Transport and Tips
The car service we used in touring around the triangle is provided by the travel agency. So we only rode a taxi once, paid around 600 rupees in Agra for a 30 minute ride. Then we took rickshaws on visiting the public places in Jaipur and Delhi. Expect to pay around 50 to 100 rupees (2.50 to 5 AED) for a short ride. Giving tips of around 5 to 10% of your bill in any restaurant is an acceptable act when in the country. Also, don’t forget about your driver.
A swirling stomach is pretty common for first-timers in India. A lot of restaurants are available in the country but make sure to be careful with what you eat during your travel in India. There are many unpleasant cases of food poison not only in India but with other countries too. We opt to eat in the hotels and restaurants suggested by our driver or the ones where we stopped by. Even our driver told us not to buy anything on the streets as like other food exposed in open air, it might be unclean. But if you’re persistent to try street foods, make sure they are peeled fresh fruits or something that is boiled or fried. Stay on the bottled water. And if you like fast food, there’s KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Dominos in India but not extensive.
5 days Budget in India for Two Person
We spent around AED 5000 on everything for the two of us! It’s the cheaper trip we ever had and we couldn’t be more than thankful for that we got to explore a beautiful country on a budget. Here’s a breakdown of what we spent for a 5 day Golden Triangle tour for two people. Prices are in UAE Dirham.
|Air Ticket via Air India Express||1752|
|Tour/Accommodation via Gets Holidays||1711|
|E- Tourist Visa||440|
|Taj Mahal Ticket||112|
|Other Entrance Fees||270|
Tips on Visiting India
- Be prepared for noise from vehicles honking in the streets.
- Avoid deals that seem too good to be true from shop vendors in tourist sites or tour guides that will keep on following you.
- Stay safe not only in India but to any country you’ll be visiting. Don’t go into crowded areas without your guide or dark areas especially for females traveling alone. And don’t bring huge cash as pickpocketing is a very present problem in crowded Indian cities.
- Stay calm and don’t allow yourself to be irritated when haggling at markets.
- Know the rules and timings of a tourist site you’re visiting.
- Expect to have a gap in communication. English is not widely spoken.
- Ignore the stares. They usually stare at foreigners out of curiosity.
- Wear easy flats or shoes. You may be required to remove your footwear or cover your head before entering some temples or mosques.
- Don’t be too selfish of your personal space. Indians are extremely friendly. They’ll ask to take selfies with you or ask out of the blue questions. Remember the culture differences and be polite.
Hope you find something helpful in this post when you plan to visit this beautiful country. And if you have questions or comments, feel free to ask below! Happy travels 🙂