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India Itinerary for 12 Days: 5 Tailored Ideas 2024/2025

By RitaUpdated May. 20, 2024

Are 12 days enough to visit India? Yes, you could experience the best of India, covering 5 to 6 cities at a relaxing pace.

With 12 days, you could choose to enjoy the most classic experiences in the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur), then discover the spiritual atmosphere of Varanasi, go on a tiger safari in Ranthambore, and immerse yourself in the royal charm of Udaipur, or, after Jaipur, head to South India to experience the modern life of Mumbai and unwind on the breathtaking beaches of Goa.

For hidden gems, delve into Vrindavan for the craziest Holi celebrations, explore Khajuraho's finest temple art and erotic sculptures, visit Tamil Nadu for its historical highlights with a South Indian flavor, and cruise the backwaters and beaches of Kerala. For ambitious travelers, consider adding the mysterious Bhutan to your itinerary.

Check out the following customizable itineraries for some inspiration.

Itinerary 1: 12-Day Golden Triangle and Rajasthan Tour (Most-Chosen)

  • Day 1: Arrival in Delhi
  • Day 2: Your Delhi city tour would include a foodie walk with a local chef in Old Delhi.
  • Day 3: Continue to Agra and watch a sunset over the Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh.
  • Day 4: Take a heritage tour of Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal alongside an Indian clothing experience and rooftop drinks
  • Day 5: Travel on to Jaipur, visit Chand Baori en route, and relax in your tented camp
  • Day 6: Spot tigers with two VIP private jeep game drives at sunset and sunrise and learn block-printing on cloth from local artisans
  • Day 7: Discover a hidden medieval fort in Ranthambore, then we'll drive you to Jaipur
  • Day 8: Take a classic Jaipur city tour, including Amber Fort, the City Palace with a high tea experience, and Jantar Mantar.
  • Day 9: Feed and walk with elephants at Dera Amer Camp and indulge in a private spa or body treatment.
  • Day 10: Fly to Udaipur, visit Udaipur's City Palace, and take an exclusive boat ride on Lake Pichola.
  • Day 11: Discover Eklingji and Nagda temples, take a vintage car tour, and enjoy a lakeside candlelit dinner.
  • Day 12: Departure
Take a rickshaw to visit the market

This laid-back itinerary is a hit among first-time visitors to India, especially those eager to mark a milestone. You would experience the chaotic Delhi, the splendid Taj Mahal, thrilling tiger safaris in Ranthambore, royal palaces and forts in Rajasthan, the pink-hued city of Jaipur, and relaxing Udaipur.

With this itinerary, you and your family/loved one(s) would enjoy exclusive moments just for you. You could get lost in the hidden alleys with a local chef to hunt for the most authentic Delhi food, have fun trying on Indian clothing for pictures with the Taj Mahal, and enjoy intimate moments on a serene private boat ride in Udaipur.

Feeding and walking with elephants would create more family bonding moments together, while couples could enjoy romantic hours in a private spa, a high tea experience inside the palace, and a lakeside candlelit dinner.

If you would like to surprise your loved one(s), what could be better than staying in a real palace? Also a luxury glamping experience in Ranthambore would add an interesting touch.

Itinerary 2: 12-Day Cultural Adventure with Holi Festivities (Most Immersive)

  • Day 1: Arrive in Delhi.
  • Day 2: Your Delhi city tour would include Humayun's Tomb and a rickshaw ride through Chandani Chowk. Then transfer to Vrindavan (about 2½ hours).
  • Day 3: Experience the Lathmar Holi celebration, and visit local temples and rural villages in Vrindavan.
  • Day 4: Travel from Vrindavan to Agra (about 1½ hours), don traditional Indian attire and visit the Taj Mahal.
  • Day 5: Your Agra city tour would include Agra Fort and the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah.
  • Day 6: Journey from Agra to Jaipur (about 4½ hours), and enjoy an afternoon high tea experience in the City Palace.
  • Day 7: First have a half-day city tour including Amber Fort, and Hawa Mahal, then experience Holi with a local family.
  • Day 8: Fly to Mumbai and visit the Gateway of India, the Kamala Nehru Park and Dhobi Ghat.
  • Day 9: Have an Elephanta Caves tour from Mumbai.
  • Days 10–12: Fly to Goa, discover Old Goa and relax on the beach.
women beat men with sticks

This itinerary allows a more comprehensive exploration of India: cultural immersion in the north and south with a beach vacation in the Goa.

The historical gems of the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra) are not to be missed for a first visit. You would also see Mumbai's vibrant city life from its skylines and Dhobi Ghat, and explore the nearby 1,500-year-old Elephanta Caves temples. Then treat yourself to a beach resort experience in Goa.

Beyond the typical sightseeing, you would have chances to celebrate Holi, one of the most colorful festivals, alongside the locals. Experience the most traditional and atmospheric of celebrations — Lathmar Holi in Vrindavan, where you would see Krishna-story reenactments of women chasing men and playfully beating them with sticks. For a more authentic celebration experience, you could dress up in Indian clothing and join a local family in Jaipur for Holi.

If you're interested in it, check out more details from our 12-day India tour with Holi celebrations.

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Itinerary 3: 12-Day Tamil Nadu and Kerala Discovery (Classic South India)

  • Day 1: Arrival in Chennai
  • Day 2: Explore Chennai's highlights: Fort St. George, San Thome Church, Kailasanathar Temple and Ekambareswarar Temple.
  • Day 3: Go on a drive from Chennai to Pondicherry (about 4 hours), see the spectacular rock sculptures at Mahabalipuram and visit Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
  • Day 4: After a drive from Pondicherry to Thanjavur (about 4 hours), go sightseeing at the City of Dawn and ornate Gangaikonda Cholapuram village.
  • Day 5: See Saraswathi Mahal Library, the Brihadishvara Temple, Thanjavur to Trichy by car (about 1½ hours), and Tiruchirappalli Rock Fort.
  • Day 6: Travel from Trichy to Madurai by road (5 hours), then see Thirumalai Nayak Palace and Meenakshi AmmanTemple
  • Day 7: Go from Madurai to Thekkady by car (about 4 hours), and visit Periyar National Park.
  • Day 8: Transfer from Thekkady to Kumarakom (about 3 hours) and enjoy a sunset boat cruise on Vembanad Lake.
  • Day 9: Take a backwater cruise from Kumarakom to Alleppey, then continue by car for half an hour to idyllic Mararikulam Beach for some relaxation.
  • Day 10: Beach time at Mararikulam Beach.
  • Day 11: Transfer to Kochi. Then visit St. Francis Church, Mattancherry Palace, and the Chinese Fishing Nets, and watch a Kathakali dance performance.
  • Day 12: Departure

If you're looking for a tropical vacation with fewer crowds in India, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are the best choices.

History and architecture enthusiasts, you would be amazed by Tamil Nadu's spectacular rock-cut sculptures at Mahabalipuram and its magnificent temples, such as Ekambareswarar Temple, the Brihadishvara Temple, and the Meenakshi Amman temple.

For nature lovers, Kerala would be a paradise for you to explore. You could spot animals in Periyar National Park, take a traditional houseboat ride through the backwaters of Alleppey and out onto the Vembanad Lake, then, relax on the idyllic beaches of Mararikulam.

Itinerary 4: India and Bhutan in 12 Days (Best of South Asia)

  • Day 1: Arrive in Delhi
  • Day 2: Have a one-day Delhi tour of Chandni Chowk, Jama Masjid, Qutub Minar, and Humayun's Tomb.
  • Day 3: Go on a drive to Agra, visit Agra Fort, and watch a sunset over the Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh.
  • Day 4: See the Taj Mahal and Itimad-ud-Daulah, and travel by road to Jaipur (5 hours)
  • Day 5: Take in Jaipur's highlights — Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal, and Panna Meena ka Kund, then enjoy a locally-inspired cooking class.
  • Day 6: Visit Nahargarh Fort, and then we'd return you to Delhi.
  • Day 7: Fly to Paro, then go by road to Thimphu and visit the Buddha Dordenma and the Memorial Chorten
  • Day 8: Discover the highlights of Thimphu: Tashichho Dzong, the Folk Heritage Museum, and Bhutan Post Office Headquarters.
  • Day 9: Transfer from Thimphu to Punakha and explore Simtokha Dzong, Dochula Pass, and the Punakha Dzong
  • Day 10: Journey from Punakha to Paro by car (4 hours), then explore Paro Dzong, and the National Museum of Bhutan
  • Day 11: Enjoy a hike at Paro Taktsang (Tiger's Nest Monastery)
  • Day 12: Departure
India and Bhutan tour map

This itinerary is specially designed for those who want to have a broader exploration of South Asia in 12 days. You would discover the icons of India and the happiness philosophy of isolated Bhutan, spending 6 days on each.

Following a classic route around the Golden Triangle, you would navigate the bustling streets of Delhi, see the majestic Taj Mahal at sunrise, and discover Jaipur's glorious Amber Fort and City Palace.

In Bhutan, start with its capital, Thimphu, where ancient landmarks meet modern life. Don't miss Tashichho Dzong for breathtaking views, the Buddha Dordenma for spiritual inspiration, and the Folk Heritage Museum for a deeper dive into Bhutanese culture.

On your way to Punakha, stop at Dochula Pass for stunning Himalayan views. In Punakha, discover breathtaking Punakha Dzong amid rural beauty, and experience the serenity of Tibetan Buddhism.

Your last stop would be Paro. Hiking to the cliff-side Tiger's Nest Monastery is not to be missed as well as Rinpung Dzong in Paro.

Itinerary 5: 12-Day History Immersion with Khajuraho in India (Less-Beaten)

  • Day 1: Arrive in Delhi.
  • Day 2: Take our Delhi city tour with Jama Masjid, the Qutub Minar, Humayun's Tomb, and Chandni Chowk market.
  • Day 3: Transfer to Jaipur and visit Chand Baori en route.
  • Day 4: Have a Jaipur city tour, taking in Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal, a cooking class in a local house, the City Palace, and Jantar Mantar.
  • Day 5: Transfer to Agra, then take a village walk around Mehtab Bagh.
  • Day 6: Our Agra heritage tour includes the Taj Mahal, the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, and Agra Fort.
  • Day 7: Transfer to Orchha (about 5 hours) with Shankargarth fort in Jhansi en route.
  • Day 8: Explore the Orchha Fort, and transfer to Khajuraho.
  • Day 9: Tour the Temples of Khajuraho, and fly to Varanasi.
  • Day 10: Take a heritage walk, and witness a Ganga Aarti ceremony.
  • Day 11: Take a Varanasi sunrise boat trip, and explore the Buddhist highlights of Sarnath.
  • Day 12: Departure.
Khajuraho TempleKhajuraho Temple

This itinerary is tailored for history lovers who would like to explore the top highlights of India as well as its unspoiled historical landmarks on a first visit.

Your history trip would kick off with India's most popular "Golden Triangle" cities in this sequence: Delhi–Jaipur–Agra. You would discover Mughal-built historical relics, including Humayun's Tomb in Delhi, the Taj Mahal in Agra, and Amber Fort in Jaipur.

Then you would venture into seldom-discovered parts of India: Jhansi, Orchha, and Khajuraho. With a short stop at the serene Shankargarth fort in Jhansi, you would explore the enchanting Orchha Fort complex, where the Raja Mahal dazzles with its exquisite frescoes and the grand Indo-Islamic Jahangir Mahal offers stunning cityscape views beyond.

Afterward, you would see the finest temple art in Khajuraho temples. The Western Group showcases the best of them, featuring its notorious erotic sculptures.

Finally, conclude your trip in Inida's spiritual capital — Varanasi. Take a heritage walk to see the ghats used for various purposes including Hindu rituals, watch a Ganga Aarti ceremony, and enjoy a sunrise boat ride. if you're a fan of Buddhism, don't miss Sarnath, the traditional site of Gautama Bhuddha's first sermon.

If you like it, contact your India expert for a personalized itinerary with a quotation.

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