I have created this post on the best Indian travel websites because they have become increasingly more important for travellers over the years and there are oodles to choose from. It can be so frustrating to make sense of the tsunami of information you get whenever you try and research one little thing yet it is essential for your Indian travelling.
It is undeniable that there are a lot of good travel blogs and travel agents out there. It is also undeniable there is a lot of terrible advice out there. I am here to give an honest review of the best travel websites. These I have found personally helpful in the past.
Online Indian travel websites – I do not recommend
Let me start with online travel websites I do not recommend. At the top of the list are the travel blogs that reckon you can get by on ten dollars a day for everything while travelling in India.
I know that is what many readers want to hear, but it is definitely not true, and even if you could manage it, the quality of your experience would be significantly impaired.
I suspect it is either based on an old experience or to make money by pedalling palatable information. These sorts of posts are everywhere!
I will wage a bet with anyone who wants to take it that if you were to ask any Indian if the cost of living is dramatically increasing, they would say unequivocally yes. What’s more, I think you could guess the answer if you were to ask if ten dollars is enough for everything.
Let Me Give You an Example
Now let me give you an example to put things into perspective. The cost of the entrance into the Taj Mahal is currently about seventeen dollars. That is before the cost of transport, food, accommodation and the I Love Agra keychain you want to give to your mother-in-law.
So If your daily budget is ten dollars, how could that possibly work? Turning up without enough money and unrealistic expectations is sure to end in pain, so let’s avoid that.
Travel Websites India – I do recommend
I will now go through the travel websites in India and abroad I do recommend. I think it is worth you checking them out. When planning your dream trip, knowledge is key to making it happen.
Oh yes! They may be dull, and they may be boring, but government websites are the most reliable source of current information around.
The UK Government website
The UK government website is updated with such frequency it is mind-bending how they do it. As only one blogger looking in, I can only presume a massive team of people is responsible for this.
Your government’s website will have the most relevant information on there for you as a citizen of whatever country you come from.
The Indian Government Website
It is worth checking out the Indian Department of Immigration to find out any new rules that may have been added recently or even ones you didn’t even know existed.
Considerations to Make When Using Government Websites
I don’t necessarily agree with everything that is written on these travel websites. For example, the UK gov Indian travel page advises against all travel to Kashmir as it is dangerous. I’m afraid I have to disagree. I have never felt even a little bit threatened in Kashmir.
Travel Insurance and Government Websites
However, if you plan on taking travel insurance, you will have to adhere to that advice if you want it to remain valid. If your government does not recommend going somewhere and you decide to go there anyway, you will be very much by yourself.
Travellers Insurance is something I would recommend taking, especially since COVID-19, as we never know when the country will shut its borders entirely again. This would cost the uninsured buckets of money, so be mindful that we live in volatile times.
Best Travel Insurance Companies
Many people just go for something reliable like Thomas Cook insurance, but checking what is not included is essential.
Do they cover you for a one-stop destination? Does it cover it for hiking? If not, when do I stop walking and start hiking? Or better yet, what do they deem an act of god? That is an actual thing, by the way. Like they know!
Keeping up with Current Affairs
It is also the best place for keeping up with current affairs that could affect your travels, such as pollution, civil unrest and even any recent terrorist attacks will all be covered on their pages. You will also find your nearest consulate should you need one.
COVID-19 and Government Recommendations
Do you know where you can find the most up-to-date advice on the coronavirus? Government websites! It saves you from wading through masses of irrelevant news articles.
Your government will have a very high domain authority, which means it will rank first if there is a relevant page in your chosen search. The truth is that if you don’t keep an eye on these websites, it leaves you vulnerable to all kinds of problems you could have otherwise done something about.
Blogs, Vlogs and YouTube
Of course, I will say these are fantastic sources of information. You are reading this on my own website, after all. Why not check out some more? Have a look around as learning from other people’s experiences can be priceless.
The Problem with Travel Blogs
However, as I mentioned before, not all are prone to handing out good advice. I have read some that are amazing. I have learned a lot myself from reading some of them. Unfortunately, some seem to copy and paste whatever they come across on the internet.
Lousy information can seriously impact your dream trip and potentially be dangerous. I believe it is essential, to be honest with the people reading blogs like mine.
Blogs are Personal Recommendations
There is no law against someone opening up a website or YouTube channel about anything. I can open up one that is all about being a mechanic even though I have never driven a day in my life. There are some top-quality blogs out there, and you can find so much helpful information, but I advise you to apply caution when reading about other people’s recommendations.
The Lonely Planet – Travel Guides
Of course, there are other travel guides, but The Lonely Planet has repeatedly provided the best travel advice. They are not just a series of guidebooks. They are also a travel site with chatrooms that buzz with lots of your travel solutions.
I believe The Lonely Planet deserves a section all to itself. It is an endless source of quality information. It has had years to refine its style.
The Lonely Planet – Benefits
When discussing the benefits of using the Lonely Planet, it is honestly hard to know where to begin. I should start with all of the up-to-date information on the best hotels, where to get train tickets, maps, the nearest foreign exchange, popular destinations and the best ways to save money on the road.
It really is one of the best sites around for all things travel. What I love most about Lonely Planet is how clear it is.
For example, if you want to find out where your nearest consulates are when you are in one of India’s extensive and confusing cities like Delhi or Mumbai, you can find the address with a map of the easiest way to get there. Be it the local bus service or car rentals. It will always be covered and that’s indispensable on the road.
Incredible India – Official Website
Incredible India is the Indian government tourism website. It is one of the most dominant travel websites in the whole country. It is packed with helpful information about anything from Indian food to hotel deals. It is an extensive website with lots of resources to draw from.
A Word of Caution
However, please remember that it is all one long sales pitch despite the quality of travel information. Sure they may have some of the best hotel deals around, but if you are visiting on a budget, these sorts of travel deals may be out of your price bracket. You can almost certainly get something cheaper elsewhere.
There are oodles of agents online and blogs; there are many outstanding, but many are not. It is a personal choice, but I only go with reputable companies that I know are unlikely to steer me wrong.
Travel agents in India can be helpful for cheap flight tickets or booking train seats. They are also a good source of information for problems such as the best travel routes. You can easily book domestic flights by yourself, but they may be able to help with the best ways to get to where you want to go.
The days of having to go into an office to book holiday packages are all but over and pretty much all agents have their own travel website where you can find all of their best deals.
Disadvantages of Using a Travel Agent
The disadvantage of using a travel agent is that I have taken too many bad tours not to have learned any lessons. There are oodles of Indian travel agents online and like blogs, there are many outstanding, but there are many that are not.
Please check the reviews of previous travellers to gain a better insight into how they have handled the customers previously. It is so refreshing we can do this, right? God bless the internet is all I can say.
Travel Agent Benefits
However, if you are visiting an area of India that will be busy or during peak times, I would strongly advise just paying the difference on something like Booking.com.
There has been more than one occasion where I have not been able to find a bed anywhere. Online travel websites would have sorted that problem for me. Instead, I had to walk door to door and pay far too much for a room.
Booking international flights
The days of walking into an office and talking about tour packages or car rentals are all but over. These days it is all done online and there is a lot of competition out there.
For competitive air ticket pricing
When purchasing an expensive flight, it makes sense to look around for the best prices. If you don’t want to log onto every airline’s website, check out a price comparison website like skyscanner.com for flight booking.
List of best places for travel booking
These top travel websites will do nicely for accommodation options, international tours and booking flights.
- Clear Trip (www.cleartrip.com)
- Make My Trip (www.makemytrip.com)
- Yatra (www.yatra.com)
- Booking.com (www.booking.com)
- Thomas Cook (Thomas cook.com)
Additional costs for using an agent
Obviously, if you were to use Thomas Cook or the Yatra website for flight ticketing, you would have to pay some kind of convenience fee. These travel portals are not a charity after all. If I am perfectly honest, I tend to make my flight bookings directly through the airline and skip the middleman.
Online Travel Booking
Pick a reputable company. By that, I mean it doesn’t have to have a national tourism award or anything. It just needs to be respected and can make secure transactions.
You will be able to check the reviews of other customers who have used your chosen travel company and make an informed choice. Travelling abroad is often daunting for the best of us, so it pays to have a little peace of mind, right?
Airbnb is a company set up to let people rent out their homes to anyone who does not know. Staying in an Airbnb is becoming ever more popular and they are reliable. Will they replace good hotels in the future? Who knows?
Homestays like this are popular with both domestic and international tourists alike. You can not only find them in the top destinations, but you can also find them all across the whole subcontinent. It is undoubtedly one online travel website to bear in mind. If I am honest, it is fast becoming one of the most helpful travel websites in India.
The Downside of Airbnb
However, I would strongly recommend reading the reviews of your chosen homestay as the experience seems to vary somewhat. You will often be staying in someone’s home and the bottom line is you don’t get to control whose home are you walking into.
I have had some fantastic experiences in people’s homes, but I won’t deny I have had some weird experiences.
Ethical Tour Packages
Many of us are mindful of where our hard-earned money is going, so we look for ethical tour packages. It is fair to say they are becoming ever more popular for those on a schedule.
The Benefits of Ethical Tour Packages
There are a lot of benefits to ethical tour packages and we will now look at if these are aspects that appeal to your needs.
Environmentally Conscious Travel
Many of us know that our beautiful planet is fragile, so environmentally conscious travel is often at the forefront of our thoughts.
These holiday packages will often consider their carbon footprint and ensure a portion of your money will go back into the hands of the people who need it.
Meeting like-Minded Travellers
You are also likely to meet like-minded travellers and therefore it is expected you will have a richer experience. This kind of tour is known as grassroots travel for some reason.
Whatever the case, only a certain kind of tourist would be interested in taking one of these in the beginning. If this sounds like you, there is a good chance you will forge lifelong friendships while you explore the world. That has to be a win-win situation, right?
Getting Off the Beaten Track
Ethical tour packages will often get off the beaten tourist track. Doing this will give you an accurate view of local life. It takes perseverance to get away from the crowds. Organised tours can make the far-flung corners of the world accessible to everyone.
Time-Saving on Your Precious Holiday
Ethical tour packages are also great time savers as they can cover a lot of ground. These companies do the route all the time, so they know how to get you from one point to the next fast!
The Downside to Ethical Tour Packages
With all of these plus points, you may be ready to rush off and start booking one today. However, there are two definite downsides to these sorts of holiday packages, so let’s take a look at what they are, shall we?
The Cost of Ethical Tours
Travel packages made by ethical companies will inevitably cost you a lot more than if you were to organise them yourself. In fact, the same route is sure to cost you a fraction of what you spend with these companies. Although they often have exciting deals. Also, bear in mind it is unlikely that if you need a flight booking it is unlikely to be included in the cost.
However, if you lack confidence or you are pushed for time these travel services may be for you. If you pay the extra you even get to stay in luxury hotels every step of the way. It is a costly way for the avid traveller to have their cake and eat it.
Fixed Travel Routes
The other downside is that you can’t get off the route you paid for as you will be in a group. There is a fixed time frame, so even the option to stay somewhere you have enjoyed is not on the table here.
The Best Travel Sites for Booking Ethical Tours
Here are some companies that I know get good reviews. Check them out when you get the time. If this is for you now, you can make an informed choice.
- Intrepid Travels (www.intrepidtravels.com)
- The Blue Yonder (www.theblueyonder.com)
- G Adventures (gadventures.co.uk)
- Global Himalayan Expedition (www.the.co.in)
Train Travel in India
There is no better way to move around the country than on the train. I would go as far as to say that it is an experience all to itself. In fact, getting the train is something quintessentially Indian and a must for any traveller to this country.
There are over 3000 train stations that fan out across the country like a misshapen spiders web. They connect everywhere, from the hill stations of South India to the harsh deserts of the Thar.
IRCTC Train Tickets
If you would like to book online, the government website is www.IRCTC.in. They do not offer great discounts, but they are good value to start with and there are many classes to choose from.
Using the Tourist Quota
The Indian government is kind enough to set aside a certain amount of seats just for foriners. You will have to register for foreign tickets on their website to use it, which takes some perseverance.
Only government outlets have access to the tourist quota. These seats cost a few more rupees than usual, but finding room on an otherwise heavily booked up train can be so helpful.
Another Word of Caution
Travel agencies have no access to the tourist quota, so they can book using the regular routes only. If they say they can, it is definitely a scam.
Bus Bookings in India
When it comes to bus bookings in India, you will be pleased to know there are many companies to choose from. Check out comparabus.com for a price comparison on private bus tickets. The website compares the cost of bus tickets for the most prominent companies from across the whole subcontinent. They also offer some amazing discounts.
The Downside of Booking a Bus Online
Unfortunately, there are a lot of terrible companies out there. You will often not get the bus you see in the pictures and getting a refund can be challenging to say the least.
Booking Government Buses
You can also book government buses through www.bus.irctc.co.in. These are, of course, reliable, although they will often be slower than private and almost certainly less comfortable.
Planning Your Indian Travel
Booking tickets is essential. It is wise you choose who you buy from carefully. I genuinely recommend the websites I have suggested here, so check them out when you have the chance. 😁
In summary of My Posts on The Best India Travel Websites
I always aim to give an honest, no-nonsense approach to whatever I write about, and most importantly, my work is based on my own actual experiences.
We all work incredibly hard for our time away, and we sacrifice time out of our lives for the experience. It is only right we aim to get the most that we possibly can out of our efforts, right?
If you have more questions about this or any other topic regarding Indian travel, just leave your questions in the box provided.
If you have any ideas on delivering better service, just let me know your suggestions as I am all ears. I want to provide the service you want. So that’s it, guys, until the next time, happy planning.