PRIVATE AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN INDIA
Whether you choose to build your own trip, or our suggested Independent Tours, there are many different forms of transport in India, and hopefully you'll get to experience most of them during your holiday.
We actively encourage people to travel by local transport in India, as we feel this makes your trip a more authentic experience. It also has the added benefit of being a very cost effective way of travelling.
For all forms of local India transport, a flexible attitude is definitely necessary. When it comes to punctuality and creature comforts, the transport in India is nowhere near that of developed countries. The roads and rails in India will provide some of your most eye-opening and exciting moments, but certainly not your most comfortable moments. Our India travel specialists will use a mix of India transport, giving you an adventurous and varied India trip. We'll be happy to talk through any travel preferances you may have over the phone; just give one of our friendly India Travel Specialists a call on 1.877.763.7444.
Transport in India: Trains
The Indian Rail Network is mind-boggling, spanning the full length and breadth of the country. Travelling by train is an essential part of India Travel Plan - chaotic and full of surprises. What train travel in India lacks in terms of comfort, it definitely makes up for in terms of experience. Families will share their home-cooked meals, and everyone will want to chat. At every stop, local traders will hop on board selling chai, pakoras and other snacks.
Sleeper trains in India
For overnight transport in India we book 2 A/C sleeper carriages (or 3 A/C). These are both 2nd class air conditioned carriages, with either two tiers of sleeper beds, or three. These are not private booths, but open carriages with seats that fold down into beds. The comfort level is pretty minimal, but the experience is unforgettable. It is not possible for us to book first class, simply because these carriages are often overbooked and customers are often turfed out if Indian dignitaries decide to take the train.
However, 2 A/C and 3 A/C are most definitely the best place to meet people and soak up the atmosphere of everyday transport in India. We would advise that you bring a blanket or sleeping bag liner, and perhaps a padlock to secure your bag to your sleeper.
India Transport - Train travel
India transport - Varanasi train
The day trips by train are a more comfortable journey as you'll often travel in A/C chair class. This class of transport in India is generally only available on trains between tourist destinations, and they are far more modern.
Toy trains in India
There are also a couple of scenic train journeys in India, involving toy trains that crawl slowly up the mountainsides, giving you wonderful views along the way. One of these trains works its way up to Shimla, the summer resort for the Raj, and another winds through the tea estates surrounding Darjeeling. These are a great way to admire the views at a leisurely pace, although the seating is a little cosy to say the least.
Transport in India: Private Car Transfers
Many of our modules in India involve private car journeys. As we run independent trips rather than group tours, your transport in India will be by air-conditioned car rather than minibus. The type of car will differ according to the size of your party and the nature of your itinerary. For example, if you are taking our tour from Manali to Leh, which takes you through the Himalayan foothills to Ladakh, you might find yourselves in a jeep or something similar, as these vehicles are fit for mountain roads. You can expect the ride of your life - bumpy but brilliant.
Your friendly drivers are likely to speak only basic english, so you might need to employ the handy international language of mime to get chatting. We're sure you'll be laughing and joking in no time.
India transport - Drive to spectacular places
India travel - Travel by plane
Transport in India: Flying between cities
India is vast, and a domestic flight offers you the chance to do a journey in a couple of hours that might take a whole day (or even longer!) by bus or train. As time is factor in many of the Travel Plans that we build, a quick flight will sometimes be the best option for your transport in India. It is perhaps not as authentic as an overnight sleeper train, but it will get you from A to B a whole lot faster.
India has a handful of domestic airlines, including Kingfisher, Jetlite, Air India, Sahara Airlines and IndiGo. Some of these airlines are more reliable than others, and flights on the less organised airlines can often be delayed or cancelled altogether. Years of experience have taught us which airlines, routes and connections tend to run according to schedule, and it is now our policy to book only these flights for our customers. Our itineraries can be fairly fast-paced, so it is important that we choose the most reliable and efficient connections, as cancellations of your transport in India can have a knock-on effect on the rest of your trip.
Of course, flights can always change (usually not by very much) due to unexpected circumstances. We'll keep you up to date with any changes before you leave, but once you're in India our local agents will do their best to solve any problems you experience with your transport in India.
Transport in India: Rickshaws & Autotaxis
For the shorter transfers, for example from your hotel to the airport/railway station or vice versa, it's often best to take a taxi or auto-rickshaw. These are very easy to arrange locally and it's more economical (and fun) for you to book some of your transport in India locally.
When you're staying in the towns and cities, we recommend using auto-rickshaws to get around. From your rickshaw seat you'll get to experience the city up close and personal. The cost of these short journeys will vary depending on your haggling skills, and if you are persuaded to take a detour to the driver's-brother's-uncle's-sister's shop, well, you'll be sure to get a good story out of it...