Stay in Touch
All the hotels we stay at have free Wi-Fi.
If you need data access 24/7, the major Australian telcos have packages that allow you to use data roaming overseas. Cost is around $10 per day.
Australian passport holders require a visa to enter India and the easiest to obtain is the e-visa, available online. This visa is valid for 60 days and entitles you to a second entry within that period if you plan to visit another country and return to India. Cost is US$80 and the process usually takes just a couple of business days.
Beware – there are many scam websites that will charge you a hefty fee on top of the US$80 visa fee and they look like the real thing.
This is the official Indian Government website for e-visa applications:
Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date on which you plan to return to Australia.
Tipping is ubiquitous in India. Wages are low or non-existent and everyone below managers and professionals who performs even the smallest of services for you – toilet attendants, shoe minders at temples, porters, guides and drivers, the orange-clad “guru” who poses for a photo – gets a tip. Working out who gets what is a minefield but that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about it, we’ll handle all the tips, large and small. I’ll be tipping our guide, driver and his offsider at the end of the trip. Some guests have asked to contribute and if you;d like to add something just let me know.
You’ll see plenty, and as a foreigner you’ll get plenty of attention. While it might seem harsh to deny a few rupees to a skinny, ragged child, be aware that it’s an industry, controlled by middlemen. It’s in their interests to use young mothers with infants and to dress children in rags who are more likely to elicit sympathy, thus perpetuating a cruel form of exploitation involving human trafficking. If you want to help, a registered charity is a far better conduit for your funds. On the same topic, kids in villages will often ask for pens but giving won’t do anything for their education, and it encourages them to see tourists as a source of largesse.
ATMs are fairly easy to find in cities, but much less so in towns and villages. They’re by far the easiest way to access funds. Maximum withdrawal at any one time is currently set at 10,000 rupees (about AUD$200) but you can make multiple withdrawals one after another. There are several ATMS at Delhi’s international airport, after you exit the baggage reclaim area.
The cards I prefer to use are the 28 Degrees MasterCard, which I use as a charge card, and the Citibank Debit Card, which I top up with cash before I travel then use to withdraw funds at ATMs. Both these cards have no annual fees and no currency conversion fees. You’ll still pay a fee to the ATM operator for every withdrawal but there’s no getting around that.
Indian domestic air carriers have a checked baggage limit of 15kgs per person, however we have a 25kg allowance for the flight we take from Delhi to Udaipur.
This is not a physically challenging trip by any means, however there are few steep slopes and some rough pavements and stairs. If you have trouble climbing three flights of stairs or getting in and out of buses, talk to us before you commit. Sometimes the staircases are narrow and winding, including those inside palaces, and not always supported with a handrail. We’re travelling at a time of year when heat is not such a problem. Although temperatures will sometimes reach 30C plus, it’s a dry heat with low humidity.
What To Wear
Loose clothing is ideal for travelling in India. Women need to cover their shoulders for temples and heads or mosques and a scarf is ideal. Shoes off for temples and mosques but there are not an awful lot of these on the program. Nights can be a little cool but a light jumper or cardigan, or perhaps a pashmina bought along the way, is perfect. The chance of rain is slim. There are a few times when you might want to dress up for dinner and smart casual is all that’s required. Since we’re several days in most hotels laundry is no problem. A hat is a practical addition to your wardrobe.
Be guided by whatever advice your GP has to offer. All the hotels and restaurants we’ll be visiting are of a high standard where you need have no concern about hygiene. We’ll also carry hand sanitiser. India suffers from mosquito borne illnesses such as malaria and dengue fever and therefore we suggest you cover up and use mosquito repellent in the evening, when the mosquitos that carry these diseases are most active. We’ll be supplying water throughout and since India has a real problem with plastic, everyone gets a reusable water bottle which we’ll refill with pure water while on the bus. All hotels supply pure water. Medications and feminine hygiene products can be difficult to find, bring whatever you are likely to need.
India uses a plug with three square pins that you won’t find in too many other places. However most of the hotels we use now have a socket that accepts an Australia-style plug, as well as European two-pin plugs. If you don’t have such a device, hotels can sometimes supply them. I use an Allocacoc Power Cube which has four Australian-style sockets plus two USB charge ports. Voltage is fine for any electrical appliances you might want to bring along, including smartphones, cameras etc.
Terms and Conditions
Please read our Terms and Conditions page. As a condition of travelling with us, you are required to take out travel insurance. We’ll ask you to provide details, which we’ll need in case of an emergency.
Just about anything by William Dalrymple is great background. Among my favourites:
City of Djinns
The Last Mughal
Age of Kali
We don’t endorse any particular travel insurer, but this Choice article makes interesting reading
Singapore Airlines has one-stop flights to Delhi via Singapore and since they fly from all the major Australian capitals this is a great way to go. Connections are short and you should be able to reach Delhi in one day, although the arrival is fairly late by your body clock.
Air India has a non-stop flight from Sydney to Delhi, leaving at 10:45 or 11:45 and arriving at 18:25 or 19:25. Also a flight from Melbourne to Delhi departing at 10:45, arriving 17:55. Although their non-stop flight is more convenient, having flown with them I really can’t recommend their service. Singapore Airlines is a happier choice.
When south-eastern Australia is on day light savings time (1 October-1 April) India is 5½ hours behind.
Pre and post-tour
If you’d like to arrive a day earlier in Delhi, we can arrange that, and any additional activities you might like to add on. Let us know and we’ll discuss alternatives. If you’d like to stay longer, same applies.
I first visited India in 1975 and I’m happy to say that I’m still refreshed, excited and invigorated with each new visit. Every time I learn something new, discover new layers to the ever-unfolding Indian story. Most of those 16 visits have been in a professional capacity, as a travel writer and photographer. My work appears frequently in the pages of Traveller, published by Fairfax. Among that work is the weekly Tripologist column which I’ve been writing since 2010. I also write on various topics for Traveller, both in print and on the traveller.com.au website, covering topics as diverse aviation, hotels, cruising, travel insurance and security issues. You can find my work here
During the course of the journey I’ll be sharing some of the secrets of the travel industry with you – and if you’ve ever wondered why you board your plane from the left, I’ve got the answer.
I’m also a photographer, video as well as stills. There’s nowhere better than India to hone your skills. We’ll have many opportunities for capturing great images along the way and I can help you process your images using professional software and make sure you come back with stunning memories.
Liz was with me on our first ever trip to India in 1975 and we’ve travelled extensively together since, through Asia, Europe, the USA, Africa and twice more to India. She’s a passionate and energetic traveller with infectious enthusiasm for the world at large. She also brings to our travels an instinct for finding quality experiences, whether it’s food, shopping, cultural forays or performances. She’s been responsible for choosing the hotels, restaurants and shopping experiences for this trip, and there is much to enjoy in each. Her bargaining skills have been honed in the souks of Marrakech as well as the bazaars of Delhi, if you need some assistance in that department.
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