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EXPLORING INDIA : From Kaziranga to the Himalayas to the desert of Jaisalmer to the backwaters of Allepey to the sun baked coral beaches of Lakshadweep....A first hand account of exploring this beautiful country.

Monday, November 04, 2013

How cheap is travelling in India


Just back from a wonderful week of holidays in the land of thousand elephants – Thailand. The immediate thought on return was that when are we going back again? My family had given a dictum to cut down on my wild trips to wilderness in India and chalk out plan for a trip to Koh Samui next year.

This second trip to South East Asia had also made me ponder- is travelling in India is really cheap. The answer is probably not. The kind of money we had spent on inland travel annually in India can give us a couple of international holidays every year. Two main reasons for travel in India becoming costlier are very high hotel tarrif and steep airfare. In recent years, the airfares in India have gone through the roof, yet most airlines are claiming losses. Let me present a comparison of travelling to two of the exotic destinations of India – Andamans and Lakshadweep. As I have been to both these places, I vouch for the unparallel natural beauty of these places offers. Both can give a run for money to any of the island destinations in terms of beauty. The ex-Delhi fare on date (Nov 1st wk 2013) for travel in January 2014 end to Port Blair is Rs.16000/-. Ex-Delhi return fair to Agatti, Lakshadweep for the same dates are Rs.20000+. Compare these to ex-Delhi return fare to Bangkok – Rs.17600/-. To add to the flair, all inclusive Thailand packages are available for around 22-25K from many leading travel portals.

Bhimtal near Nainital in Uttarakhand

The second factor contributing to high cost of travel in India is hotel tariff. Most hotels in India are self styled star rated. As there is no independent agency validating these rating, one is forced to consider experiences of fellow travelers on sites like trip advisor. Yet I was in shock to see my hotel at Portblair. If someone is giving a high rating for a hotel in trip advisor, then make sure to check his travel credentials. The possibility is that the enthusiastic rater might not have seen a better hotel or may be was on his maiden trip. Any decent hotel in India cost not less than 2000 without breakfast or meals. As my travels are generally to wilderness of various national parks of India, I am often forced to stay at one of luxury resorts that have mushroomed around these parks. A 2N/3D family trip to any of the national parks of India costs around 25K. The room rates of these resorts are generally mind boggling. Yet the facilities many of them offered are lower than the resort I had stayed at Phuket that cost me 3000 bucks for an ocean view room with breakfast. I had paid Rs.6500/- per night (with meals) for Lakshadweep resort way back in 2007. Most hotels in India do not have net presence. Thus the ones available on net are always costlier. I generally travel through our peer networks and use their contacts which have allowed me to get best value for money in India. But not every traveler is fortunate to have such networks.

Given the fact that you are willing to spend 30K per head, which destination will you choose – Bangkok or Andaman or Lakshadweep? I am sure you have found the answer. Even travelling to Singapore was not that costlier till rupee started its slide. The rupee had eroded by about 14 rupees against SGD since my visit in 2011. Yet a trip to Singapore is affordable to many. Only place that has become real costlier is Hong Kong beacuse of the ruppe slide. You can have two trips of Thailand at the price of one to Hong Kong or can do Singapore + Thailand at that price. So, are you packing your bags!

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posted by Rupankar Mahanta at 4:39 PM

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