Hey what’s up! My name is Justin. I work with Colter and he told me your the guy to talk to if I’m planning a trip to India. He said you had a guide or a book you put together about your trip. Just looking on any insight on time of year to go and what hostels would be good. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanx!!
I unfortunately only went to Delhi and Mumbai, with a day trip to Agra. Normally I like to do less typical trips, to get out and see more of the smaller cities, but I had limited time. Not sure how much time you have, but I could easily spend a month+ in India multiple times in my life. I was there in August and September of 2011, and the weather was pretty good. I think it may have rained one day, but was pretty warm and sunny most days. I couldn’t tell you much about the weather norms and different times of year so that’s best left to google.
The hostel scene changes rapidly, so it’s possible better options exist now, but I didn’t really stay in any hostels. I tried to stay in one in Delhi when I first arrived, but it was VERY poorly advertised, and was the nastiest place I’ve ever stayed (I’ve stayed in some nasty place). I almost left, it was only about $4 a night for my own room so I could walk away without losing tons of money, but it was late at night so I decided to stay for one night and leave the next day. By the next day I realized where I was staying was probably nicer than the majority of homes the locals had, and I ended up staying for the experience. It was an interesting moment of clarity (India is good at providing these), and something you should prepare for as well. If there are decent hostel options now they’d be on hostelworld, but beware that the hostels there probably wont operate like most you’ve been to elsewhere in the world. I did miss the social scene of a hostel because I was traveling by myself for most of India. If you can’t find any decent hostels, I’d recommend getting a low to medium range hotel off agoda. They’re decently priced and nice enough. Try stay closer to town center though because sometimes it can be hard to get rides, I stayed further out of town near the airport one night and it took a while to find a tuk tuk.
Speaking of tuk tuks, they’re in my opinion the best way to get around, cheap and fun. Not sure how much traveling you’ve done, but India is as much a hagglers place as anywhere else, so know that you can always barter rates down, but don’t get caught up wasting too much time or getting angry, frustrated, or disappointed as you’re likely only haggling over a matter of a dollar or two. I myself am all about the principal of it so I like to win then tip the difference they wanted+ if they treat me well. Also, you can book impromptu tours via tuk tuk, every driver is a tour guide if you pay them. The way I did it was I researched what I wanted to see, roughly mapped it out and broke it into different days, then hired a tuk tuk for the day to take me everywhere.
Food – the food is amazing!! I love Indian food, and there it’s cheaper and better, although a lot less sanitary. I have a strong stomach, maybe it’s very strong, but I could tell every day my stomach kept getting worse and worse from the sketchy food places I was eating at. However, it was so good, and I had limited time so I kept eating it and loving it, YOLO. I stayed at a nicer hotel in Mumbai (I had just spent 10 days trekking in Nepal and wanted to treat myself), and the hotel chef treated me like a king; he called my room when I ordered room service and ended up giving me the ultimate Indian sampler platter. It was amazing.
The culture shock you may have heard about is abundant, extreme poverty is all around and it’s sad. I’ve been to a lot of places, a lot of poor places, but India still required an adjustment. I think it’s healthy though to absorb it and reflect on how lucky we are, just be prepared for what you’ll see, smell, and feel.
If you want to check out my photos feel free: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mike_miner/collections/72157627531591149/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/mike_miner/collections/72157628787930953/
Sorry I don’t have more specifics, I don’t really remember that much detail about it, haha. If you have any questions about the places I went or any of the photos feel free to ask. Oh, and if you can make it in February/March that would be awesome because its Holi Festival!!
Good post, Mike. India is not a place you can fully prepare for Justin. You just have to experience it. Just remember to give yourself a week or two to adjust. It is truely a unique country. Don’t try to judge it or understand it, just do as the locals do and enjoy. We consider ourselves quite experienced travellers and yet, we found travelling there with a family in tow extremely hard. Even so we have a plan for two future trips there. It is a fascinating, mesmerising place.
Saw this sites travel blogging tip on hostelbookers and visited for inspiration.
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