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How to get around India

 

With the different modes of transport in India, each type is suitable for certain types of trips. If you are travelling long distances between your destinations, going by plane is probably the best way. If you are interested in knowing more about the locals and seeing the countryside, going by trains are your best bet.

If you are travelling within the city, especially big cities like Mumbai and Delhi, the best mode of transport is by a chauffeur-driven car. Buses, taxis, as well as auto rickshaw services are also nice modes of transportation to go around a city.

Quick Facts

  • Air India, Jet Airways, and SpiceJet are the main Indian domestic airlines.
  • For maximum comfort, you may book one of the three air-conditioned classes when riding trains around India.
  • You can book your train tickets at the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation website
  • Maharajas’ Express and Palace on Wheels are famous Indian luxury trains.
  • Redbus is a popular platform for booking buses in India.

Domestic Air Travel

In a country as large as India, air transport is a good option for travelers who want to cover long distances over short periods. Taking a domestic flight offers you the chance to do a journey in a couple of hours that might otherwise have taken a whole day or longer by bus or train.

The domestic airline with the widest range of routes is Air India. It connects to about 70 cities. Along with Air India, Jet Airways, SpiceJet, AirAsia and Indigo also service flights between major airports such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata. The journey usually takes 1-2 hours and the fares range from US$70 to US$200.

One of the most popular routes is Delhi to Mumbai. The total flight time is around 2 hours and ticket prices range from US$60 to US$90. You can go by GoAir or Air India. There are about 15 flights serving this route daily and flight times vary throughout the day.

Another popular route is Udaipur to Mumbai. You can fly with IndiGo and AirIndia. The flight time is around 1½ hours and ticket prices are from US$80 to US$130. There are about 15 flights serving this route daily, mostly going in the evening.

Booking your domestic flights is relatively simple. All domestic airlines have their own booking offices in the city, as well as a reservation counter at the airport. You can also book online on the airlines’ websites or through a travel agency.

The average time to travel from the city centers to major airports in India may take between 1-2 hours. The check-in counters for domestic flights closes 45 minutes prior to the time of departure. It is advisable to reach the airport at least 2 hours before your flight departure time.

Travelling by Train

India is home to one of the world’s largest railway networks, and riding its rail is a memorable travel experience in itself. India is extremely well connected by a rail network that intertwines its 60,000 kilometers of tentacle-like tracks throughout the country. It’s possible to travel from one side of India to the other in three days.

The most popular class of travel for most visitors is the Sleeper Class, which gives a reasonable amount of comfort but a whole lot of atmosphere for a pittance. Those seeking more comfort and cooler carriages should opt for one of the three air-conditioned classes which are the Air-Conditioned 3-Tier, Air-Conditioned 2-Tier, or the Air-Conditioned 1-Tier.

Express trains are express rail services of India. Express trains make a small number of stops, unlike ordinary passenger or local trains. Because of their limited stops, these trains are able to obtain the highest speeds of any trains in India with the average speed greater than 36 km/h.

Duronto Express trains are most likely to be the fastest express trains in India. They specialize in non-stop and point to point running rail services. Duronto train services connect the metros and major state capitals of India by running non-stop from source and destinations with some technical and crew halts in the journey.

To book train tickets in India, there are three ways available. You can book them at the stations by filling in a pink paper with your personal information and the train you want to take. You can book your tickets online through the official website of Indian Railways. You can also book your tickets through a travel agent.

The Indrail Pass offers visitors the facility to travel as they like, over the entire Indian Railway system without any route restriction within the period of validity of the ticket. It can only be purchased by foreign nationals and non-resident Indians on payment of US Dollars or Pound Sterling, and is available for different durations.

Travelling by Bus and Coach

India has a large network of buses that travel from city to city, and state to state. It can be attractive on short journeys as services are more frequent than trains. It is much easier to book and catch a bus than a train. However, bus travel is usually slow and uncomfortable.

Rickety government-run buses are packed with people, as well as livestock and luggage. They cover most routes, both short and long-distance. In addition, popular routes between larger cities, towns and resorts are usually covered by private buses. These tend to be more comfortable, with extra legroom, tinted windows and padded reclining seats.

In addition to ordinary public buses, major routes often have comfortable, air-conditioned buses, often referred to as Volvo AC, which are on par in comfort and safety with their international counterparts. They also have limited stops, making them well worth the slight extra expense.

Services vary enormously in terms of price and standard. Prices will fluctuate depending on the routes and type of buses you are taking. For a 800 km (500 miles) journey on a middle tier class bus, the cost of a bus ticket will be around US$14.

If you are interested to travel by bus, ask a travel agent to assist you with booking your tickets. You can also simply go to the bus station and get your tickets, or purchase the on the buses themselves. If you do decide to take the deluxe bus services, you may book them online at www.ticketvala.com.

Asia Highlights can also help you to purchase your tickets, taking away any stress or concerns that you may have when it comes to you planning a trip.

Hiring a Chauffeur-Driven Car

For those who prefer to travel around India independently and at their leisure and time, hiring a car and driver is a great solution. Self-drive car hire is not recommended, as driving in India can be a hair-raising experience. It would take an experienced person to be able to safely negotiate the country’s unruly traffic.

There are a number of chauffeured-driven tourist cars, with some being air-conditioned, available in the main tourist centers. These unmetered cars are usually cheaper than taxis if booked for an extended period of time, that will give you a picturesque and enlightening way to enjoy a foreign land.

You can choose between an air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned car. Standard cars are the antique-looking and very romantic Hindustan Ambassadors. Other models are available too like Toyota Innova, Tata Indica, and Tata Indigo.

A vehicle with off-road capabilities is essential in some of the more remote and hilly regions, including eastern Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Sikkim, and parts of Uttarakhand.

Rental cars start around US$27 per day, which should include a maximum of 200 km, with additional kilometers charged at around US$0.10 per kilometer. On longer trips, the driver sleeps in the car, for which his firm may charge an additional US$2-3. Tipping the driver around US$2.00 per day is generally appropriate.

There are many different companies offering chauffeur services. Some of them include Hertz, MyDriver, and Blacklane. You can book online at www.avis.co.in to hire a car. Alternatively, Asia Highlights can book these chauffeur-driven cars to help you make your planning easier.

Ferries and Boats

The best way to explore India’s topography is by taking a boat ride along the waterfront with cruises around the various rivers and lakes. Depending on the location, they can take anywhere from a few minutes, hours to even days.

The Brahmaputra River Cruise is one of the best ferries in the country. Flowing down from China, the Brahmaputra gushes down the shores of Assam. The river showcases an amazing variety of flora and fauna. A handful of UK and US tour operators offer Brahmaputra River Cruise, including Saga Cruises, International Expeditions and Fred River Cruises.

The Ganges Heritage Cruise is a boat ride that takes you through the Ganges River. This boat trip is a good choice for people wanting to escape the crowds, but wanting to experience the beautiful traditional towns and villages surrounding this famous river. You can book the cruise through websites such as www.avalonwaterways.com.

Apart from river ferries, few boat services run in India. You can take the regular passenger service vessels to Kerala from Kollam, Alappuzha and other stops, or take more scenic trips. Kolkata, Chennai and the Andaman Islands are all interlinked by rivers, and there are boats that ferry passengers between them.

These services are often seasonal, and are generally suspended during monsoon season. There is the catamaran service from Mumbai to Goa. One particularly attractive boat trip is the backwaters excursion in the vicinity of Kochi in Kerala.

Local Transportation

Intercity transport in India may not be the fastest or the most comfortable in the world, but it is cheap and goes everywhere. You generally have the option of train or bus, some flights, and occasionally boat trips. Here are some other options.

Taxis and Auto-Rickshaws

Most locations have metered taxis at main stations. You may be able to find other passengers to share a taxi ride to the town center.

Many stations, and certainly most airports, operate prepaid taxi schemes with set fares that you pay before departure. App-based taxi-booking companies such as Uber and Ola are common.

The auto-rickshaw is a three-wheeled motorized vehicle, with room for two passengers and limited luggage space. They are cheaper than taxis, better at nipping in and out of traffic, and are usually metered.

You can call these via the Ola Cabs Auto App which electronically calculates your fare when you finish the journey.

Buses

Buses go almost everywhere, usually more frequently than trains, and are sometimes faster. Luggage is placed in the hatch of private buses. On state-run buses, you can usually squeeze it into an unobtrusive corner, although you may sometimes be requested to have it placed on the top of the roof of the bus.

There are two types of buses in India which include the cheap and standard ones, and the costlier, air-conditioned tourist buses. In recent years, online booking services have become more common, allowing you to compare schedules and fares.

You can buy tickets online and even select your own seat. Two of the best are www.makemytrip.com and www.redbus.in.

Suburban Trains and Metro Rails

For fast, stress-free journeys across famous cities such as Delhi or Kolkata, taking the metro is a good option. This is a relatively recent addition to both cities and one of the cheapest forms of urban travel.

Unlike the national rail network, these trains are modern, comfortable, and fully air-conditioned.

Motorbike

Riding a motorbike across India, you get a closer look and feel of India with all the smells and sounds added. Motorbike rental is available in many tourist towns and can be a fun way to explore locally.

A recommended firm in Delhi is Bulletwallas. Some companies organize packaged tours for a safer motorbike experience of India.

You can typically get a motorbike for approximately US$3-5 a day and it’s a great way to get around. Some of the best areas for motorbike adventure are around Goa and the south coast.

To hire a motorbike, you will also need an International Driving Permit, in addition to your home country’s license for India.

Shared Jeep

Another common and useful means of transport, especially in mountain areas, is shared jeeps, whose size and four-wheel drives are ideal for the rough terrain.

These ply fixed routes tend to depart at fairly fixed times from designated locations, usually in town centers. The number of passengers varies from six to ten, depending on the type of vehicle.

Jeeps can be rented directly or through an agency for customized trips, sometimes over several days. Prices are fixed, although it’s wise to check the going rate with an independent source if possible. A typical fare from Jammu to Srinagar for example is around US$10.

Explore India with Asia Highlights

There are many different types of transport in India, and you’ll get to experience a variety of them during your trip. For all forms of local transport in India, a flexible attitude is definitely necessary.

With Asia Highlights, we can ensure that booking for your transportations will already be set so that you can enjoy discovering India.

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