India & South Asia
A land of contrasts, the regions of India & South Asia has been the cradle of spirituality and mysticism since the dawn of time. This is a land of epic snow-covered mountains, dense jungles full of tigers and sprawling cities where elephants roam the streets. A festival of colour and an assault on the senses you will love the many colourful places of worship, the imposing Mughul architecture of palaces and forts, strolling along the mighty Ganges and exploring the many ruins of bygone times. A major Hindu pilgrimage site, this area is a must visit for lovers of yoga, seekers of inner peace, connoisseurs of tea and of course…foodies who love a good curry!
The Hippy Trail
Embark on an expedition to India’s spiritual north on this 25-day quest for enlightenment in a region that will inspire and captivate you at every turn. Stroll along the holy river Ganges and try a yoga lesson in Rishikesh, marvel at the splendour of the Golden Temple in Amritsar and volunteer in one of the world’s largest kitchens to help feed the hungry. Explore ‘Little Lhasa’, the home of Tibetan Buddhism in India in Dharamshala and visit India’s highest and most boutique tea producing region for a walk through the gardens and a cheeky cuppa. Feast your eyes on the technicolour carpet of the ‘Valley of Flowers’ on an optional 3-day trek and try to spot India’s most majestic inhabitant, the Bengal Tiger, in the deep, dark jungle.
India is a mystery hidden behind cliché. A place to be experienced: seen with the heart and understood with the soul. This Golden Triangle Luxury Tour is an excellent introduction for first-time travellers who want to immerse themselves in and enjoy the true essence of India. This quintessential tour of India includes a little bit of everything – a fascinating mix of diverse cultures, religion, art, architecture, and regional cuisine – from the magnificent Taj Mahal in Agra to a glimpse of Rajasthan in a visit to Jaipur, India’s first planned city. Learn more about the seven cities built by its various conquerors over the centuries, as well as the arrival of Islam in north India, in Delhi. All these and more combined with the luxury of staying at iconic properties and a daily departure to choose from. Tours are accompanied with local experienced guides, your own personal chauffeur and can depart on any day you wish.
Get ready for an assault on the senses with this journey into one of India’s most colourful and enchanting regions. Explore the hidden side of the ‘pink city’ of Jaipur, take a boat ride on Lake Picchola in the ‘white city’ of Udaipur, get lost in the winding streets of the ‘blue city’ of Jodhpur and dodge sacred cows in the ‘fort city’ of Jaisalmer. Participate in a spiritual Aarti ceremony in Pushkar, visit the not-so-famous Chittorgarh fort and visit Delhi’s ultra-impressive Jama Masjid or Friday Mosque. After exploring Rajasthan’s bustling and exciting cities, escape to the wild and go in search of Bengal Tigers in Sariska Tiger Reserve, spot waterbirds near Khichan and adventure into the Thar Desert on an (optional) overnight camel safari.
As part of your adventure in Rajasthan, stay in converted forts, some of which are hundreds of years old, former palaces that were once home to royalty, and revel in the silence of India’s desert camps.
Ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Rishikesh, India
The fabled ashram visited by the Beatles in 1968 sounds like a major buzzing tourist attraction, right? Think again. The now abandoned ashram is reached by a deserted road leading away from Rishikesh and up what looks to be a dried-out riverbed. The once buzzing, popular ashram is for the most part deserted, in ruins and nature has started to reclaim the buildings and the land. Wander its overgrown paths, admire the psychedelic graffiti or meditate in the old lecture theatre which is now exposed to the elements, watch and listen to the mighty Ganges running through the valley below in this place that saw the best of humanity.
Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka
Sigiriya or ‘Lion Rock’ is where legend has it the ancient Sri Lankan king Kashyapa I of Anuradhapura built his palace. The rock has a surrounding archaeological site thought to be the king’s capital with the palace built at its peak. We love it because it’s a great hike! The view from the top out over the jungle, makes you feel like you’ve stumbled upon some ancient Shangri-La! Apart from one of the best examples of urban planning as recorded by UNESCO, on the way down you’ll also see ancient booby traps still all set and ready to go – and who doesn’t love an ancient booby trap?
Punakha Dzong, Bhutan
The administrative centre of the government of Bhutan until 1955 when the capital was moved to Thimphu, Punakha Dzong is the second oldest of its kind in Bhutan. Known locally as the ‘palace of great happiness or bliss’ the dzong occupies a picturesque location at the confluence of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers and monks can often be seen conversing on its banks. All of Bhutan’s kings have been crowned at this site, which is especially spectacular in spring when the lilac jacaranda trees burst into flower creating a sharp contrast against the buildings white-washed walls.
Frequently asked questions about India & South Asia
India and Sri Lanka require at least an e-visa for most nationalities but please check with your consulate locally as visa requirements change frequently.
For Bangladesh and Bhutan please check with your nearest consulate.
Yes. For services you undertake independently such as a meal in a restaurant you should budget roughly a 10% tip. Tipping is of course discretionary and should be in line with the quality of service received.
Tipping for local guides, drivers and other providers whose services are listed on the itinerary are included in the trip price.
Some street vendors may try to pressure you into providing a tip or ‘baksheesh.’ It is important that you only provide a tip if a service has been rendered and you feel the service has been up to standard. If you are being asked for ‘baksheesh’ by a provider of an included service, please direct the person to your trip leader or local guide.
For India and Sri Lanka it is a good idea to bring some US dollars to change locally. ATM’s in large cities are reliable as long as they carry the MasterCard or Cirrus symbols. Card skimmers are widely used in 3rd party ATM’s so it is always best to use one that is inside a bank. Credit cards are widely accepted in both countries with the exception or local markets.
In Bhutan bring some US dollars to change for spending money. If you’re on an itinerary which includes India, Indian rupees are widely accepted in Bhutan. Credit cards are accepted in large cities and stores.
In Bangladesh it is a good idea to rely mostly on the exchange of US dollars although ATM’s are reliable in large cities. Credit cards are also widely accepted.
You should check with your local provider if coverage is provided in the countries on your itinerary prior to departure. Make sure you are also aware of their international roaming charges.
It is fairly easy to pick up a local SIM card on arrival at the airport in India, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, it becomes less easy to achieve this later on.
In Bangladesh you will need 2 passport sized photos and a photocopy of your passport and Bangladeshi visa to obtain a local SIM card.
If you wish to use a local SIM you will need to ensure your phone is unlocked prior to departure from your home country.
Internet access in India, Sri Lanka and Bhutan is generally very good when in large cities or towns, it becomes less reliable in remote villages.
Hotels and cafes in large cities in Bangladesh will have WiFi although it may be somewhat unreliable.
Toilets – All hotels in India and South Asia have clean, upright western toilets. Public toilets you encounter will likely be of the eastern squat variety.
Pharmacies – Pharmacies are readily available in major cities, although it is unlikely that the pharmacist will speak English. If you require medication from a pharmacy, please let your trip leader know as far in advance as possible. They will be able to arrange your local guide to go with you to collect what you need or the local guide may be able to pick up what you require on your behalf.
Hospitals – Hospitals in large cities are generally of a good standard. We ask that if you are feeling unwell that you let your tour leader know as soon as possible and consider their advice when it comes to hospital admission. Trip Leaders have the discretion to remove someone from the trip if they feel that continuing would endanger their health.
Please ensure you purchase adequate travel insurance that includes repatriation to your home country in the event of a medical emergency.
For all medication please carry a note from your GP detailing what medication you are on and why you are taking it to show to officials should you be asked.
Absolutely not. Please do not even brush your teeth with the water. Most hotels provide complimentary bottled water for this purpose.
Drinking the water is likely to result in hospitalisation.
We hope you like curry! We sure do! Chinese and Western dishes are also widely available.
Absolutely. Please disclose these when you secure your place on the trip so that we can make our local providers aware. Your trip leader may not be able to accommodate any dietary requirements that have not been disclosed in advance.
If you have a gluten free diet, consider bringing some snack food from home. There will be plenty of fresh fruit in local markets, however, beyond that you may find that variety in snack foods for this diet may be somewhat lacking.
Women should wear long trousers with a loose-fitting shirt or blouse over the top. Harem pants and a long kaftan work really well together and are readily and cost effectively available for purchase in markets locally. Women are required to cover their heads with a scarf in mosques.
Men should consider wearing long pants, shorts will attract stares.