One of the most coveted perks at Travelzoo is the Travelzoo Experience, in which Deal Experts and other employees take advantage of the same travel, entertainment and local deals we publish to our subscribers and report back on their experience.
India was never high on my list of places I wanted to go to, but when I saw that the package price on a deal in our Top 20 was essentially the same as the cost of the airfare, India and the Taj Mahal quickly moved up to the top spot on my bucket list.
World wonders, elephant rides, pedicab demolition derbies -- the usual vacation fun.
When I travel, I don’t like to waste time and use a lot of vacation days. I like to cover as much ground possible with the shortest amount of time so the three-city tour (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur – also known as the Golden Triangle) in a week was the perfect trip for me to get a taste of what India was all about.
After exploring India, I can tell you it isn’t the type of trip you plan on your own. You will want a guide -- whether through an escorted trip or if you hire a driver to take you around. This trip won’t break the bank, but it will give you plenty of memories.
Some highlights that you won’t experience anywhere else:
- Being in India made me feel like I was on an episode of Amazing Race. We sat in pedicab while they took us through crowded streets full of food, garbage and people all at the same time. The driver takes you through the tightest of corners possible. You’ll find yourself squealing because you think you are about to hit something. Hold on and enjoy the ride.
- Jaipur, also known as the Pink City, was my favorite city on this tour. Make sure to leave room in your suitcase for purchases such as jewelry, linens, silk scarves, tea, rugs, and whatever your heart desires. The U.S. dollar goes far in India, but be sure to sharpen your bargaining skills because you will put them to use.
- While in Jaipur, we went to the top of Amber Fort via elephants. While the elephants were making their slow ascent up the hill -- my elephant was ironically named Michael Schumacher -- we were bombarded by scalpers trying to sell us things like baskets or postcards or toys that make funny sounds. These guys are relentless, following back to the bus and even having their monkeys slip the item through the bus windows. One guy even went to our next point of interest to meet us there to sell us the photos. Did I mention they were relentless?
- The Taj Mahal is grander and more majestic than what people envision. Pictures don’t do it justice. Make sure to sit on the bench that Lady Di sat on when she visited. Our tour group woke us up at 4 a.m. to get there at sunrise and avoid the crowds. Set an extra alarm clock -- our hotel forgot to give us a wake-up call and our tour guide called us to see where we were.
- At all these tombs and shrines that you visit during your trip, be prepared to take off your shoes and wear booties so leave your Christian Louboutains at home.
- Ride the taxis -- even if you have nowhere to go. It’s like a ride at an amusement park.
Tips before you go:
- Make sure to go to the doctor about getting the appropriate shots about one month before your trip. I tried to go a week before and they said the vaccine wouldn’t kick in by the time I went on my trip. Living on the edge!
- Make sure to bring Pepto-Bismol tablets and take them once or twice every day so it coats your stomach so you are less likely to get a stomachache. We aren’t use to the type of foods and ingredients in India and are more susceptible to getting sick.
- Stock up on straws before the trip as people in India are known to reuse them.