Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Quirks of New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport (and domestic)

Security at Delhi airport is very interesting.  This information applies to Terminal 3 where some domestic and all international flights arrive on the lower floor and departures are on the upper floor. 

On arrival be aware that if you walk out of the terminal building you cannot re-enter under any circumstances

For departures once you enter the building, even if you don't check in, you cannot leave under any circumstances.  Worse still the seats are uncomfortable and there are few shops or places to eat.

There is a free shuttle bus between T3 and T1.  Both terminals have the Police controlled pre paid taxi's but the fares are much lower from T1 and from T1 you can also pick up a rickshaw and local buses.  Funnily enough there are 3 Police taxi booths at T3, 2 inside (one each end) and one outside, they all quoted us a different price for the same destination!  From T3 you can connect with the metro.

Food and drink facilities are better and cheaper at T1.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Good value Rajasthan rooms and hotels with swimming pools

We are budget concious travellers but try to maintain a reasonable standard of accomodaion and like to get value for money.  Prices quoted are for a double en-suite room in April 2011.  Hotels with pools were good as we could sight see in the mornings then relax by the pool later in the day when it was too hot to be out.

For initial research on hotels and price I like make my trip .  They guarantee the lowest prices so once you know this price you can negotiate a lower price direct at the hotel to save them paying commission.   

Agra, Hotel Sidhartha, good location near the Taj Mahal on a traffic free street so nice and quiet. Paid Rs520 for a double non A/C room with TV.  Pleasant restaurant in the garden.

Sawai Madhopur Hotel Aditya resort is a good location very near the safari booking offices.  A little more basic than we would have liked but there are few budget options here.  Good value at Rs450 for non A/C double with TV, suggest lower floor room as the roof top one was very hot.  Rooftop restaurant, cleanliness dubious.

Jaipur Hotel Pearl Palace, contrary to the Lonely Planet book they do not do free pick up and drop off just free pick up.  Lovely rooms, all different, some may be noisy if under the restaurant and the air coolers are also noisy.  Great roof top restaurant.  Rs800 for air cooled room.  A little overpriced we felt.

Pushkar Hotel Navratan Palace, great value for money as it is in a good location (top of the bazaar street near the main temple), has a nice big swimming pool and gardens.  Not overly clean rooms but acceptable.  The A/C rooms were nicer than the fan rooms.  Fan room Rs500 or A/C with TV Rs700.   Restaurant in the garden

Udaipur Hotel Mewar Inn, booked ahead for our first night in Udaipur as we were arriving late.  Free station pick up.  Non A/C rooms were very good value under Rs200 but A/C rooms not so at Rs500 and Rs600.  Bad location.

Udaipur Ajanta Hotel, up a small alley in the old town.  This is like a haveli with attractive rooms and the most comfortable bed and pillows we had in India.  Small pool to cool off in.  Stunning roof top restaurant.  Free wi-fi and computers available.  Easy to walk to all the attractions.  Rs1100 A/C with TV

Jodhpur Blue House probably not our best choice but we went to Heaven and it was full and the prices had gone up.  At Blue House we paid Rs600 for a double A/C room with TV.  Tucked away down the backstreets.  Friendly family owners but not great value.  Manish owns Jankar restaurant (a 10 minute walk away) which has a lovely garden friendly staff good food and reasonable price.  The cheese veg bake is superb.  

Jaisalmer Hotel Golden City, ignore touts who tell you this place has a dirty pool and rooms.  The pool was spotless, rooms pretty clean.   A few people felt the sheets were not clean but the manager assured me they were all clean but old and stained they are getting new mattresses and bedding soon..  Good location and value at Rs650 A/C TV. Rooftop restaurant.  A short walk to the fort and en route you pass Royal bakery that has amazing fresh croissants, pastries and desserts.

Bikaner Hotel Padmini Niwas, believe this is the only hotel in Bikaner with an outdoor pool.  Rooms were comfy with carpets.  Beds a bit on the firm side but they gave me an extra mattress.  A bit out on a limb but you can walk to the fort in 15-20 minutes.  Restaurant had a limited menu with some things a little overpriced.  Good restaurant nearby at Shri Ram Heritage, the American breakfast at Rs110 was a huge feast for 2.  Double room A/C TV and fridge Rs600.

The majority of the rooms were what I call Indian clean, OK at first glance but when you look closer the bathroom doors are usually dirty, under the toilet seat and walls don't get a thorough clean.  I carry a small cloth and use tea tree oil in water to go over the important areas.

TIP - Always ask to see more than one room, for some reason they often show you their worst room first.  

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

INDIA Booking things on line

There are many websites to book things on line in India but the one we like best is Make My Trip

The hotel sections offers very good rates on rooms and reviews to help - we booked a hotel through them, could not print out the voucher but were not even asked for it by the hotel.

Flights,international and domestic, bus and train info is all on line.

Another good site is Clear Trip but their prices were often dearer.

Monday, 2 May 2011

INDIA booking trains on line and getting the tourist (TATKAL) quote

Travelling in India we have learnt that if there is a train making the journey it is almost always better than taking the bus providing you can book a seat.  Rather than waste time queuing at stations (first for the application form then to get a ticket) and getting bad information and outright lies why not book on the Internet.  

The India rail website has improved no end and I have booked on line using a UK credit card.

TATKAL is a type of ticket available to tourists 2 days before departure, as an example to travel on 3rd you can buy from 1st but we found out that with a 5pm train we could not buy it until 1 day before (i.e. the 2nd).

To plan ahead off line buy yourself "Trains at a glance" from the railway station and use the fold out map (hidden in about the 6th page in) to find the cities you want to travel between and then the matching numbers will lead you to the timetable.  This year all train numbers have 5 digits so if the timetable number has 4 you need to add a 1 at the front. 

For day trips we favour the CC (Air Con seat) category.  An open carriage with 2 seats at one side and 3 at the other, large windows, reclining comfortable seats.

TIP - For an overnight journey try to get bunks in the compartment not the aisle and in the centre of the carriage.  There are only 2 bunks here as opposed to 3 in the carriage they are shorter beds.  The bottom bunk is created by putting down the backs of the seats, sags in the middle and has a very uncomfortable join.  Also you get bumped whenever anyone walks down the corridor.  We were also right next to the door so at every stop had people queuing up beside us to get off, as usual talking very loudly and banging around, worse still we got the nasty niffs from the toilets.