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INDIAN SPICE

Price from
US$2,179
(per person)
Duration
11
Days
Tour Type
Small Group

HIGHLIGHTS

Old & New Delhi, Taj Mahal, Jaipur, Shekhawati Havellis, Golden temple at Amritsar, Buddhist centre of Dharamsala
COUNTRIES : India

This India group tour takes you around the best sites in northern India; through the Golden Triangle, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab, seeing the Golden Temple, Amritsar and Dharamsala on the way.

The Taj Mahal was once the centre of the Mughal Empire and is now considered one of the 7 Wonders of the World, and this tour will give you a chance to see it up close as the sun sets and the light changes. Built in loving memory of his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan's Taj Mahal is recognised the world over as an icon of India's cultural heritage and is visited by around 7 million people every year.

In Jaipur, capital of the desert state of Rajasthan and dubbed the Pink City, you'll find the wonders of Indian food markets and be able to go and explore some of the many shops and perhaps try your hand at traditional kite flying. After returning to Delhi we head for our Amritsar tour package by train, always a great way to travel through and see more of India. Our Golden Temple tour in Amritsar takes you to the temple itself - Harmandir Sahib. This is the holiest of Sikh Gurdwaras and the building is stunning; set in the middle of a huge square expanse of water, lined with beautiful buildings and mosaics. The site is truly outstanding and moving to visit and one you shouldn't miss.

After our Amritsar tour package we take you to visit Dharamsala, the spectacular home of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, and the home of the Tibetan government in exile. Located in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains, there will be fantastic views and breath-taking scenery. After this fantastic experience, you will return to the vibrant city of Delhi for your last night.

Upon arrival our staff will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in Delhi for the start of your trip. After check-in our local reps will then go through the itinerary with you and introduce you to the local area.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Delhi hotel
  • EXTRAS:
    Single room supplement (INSGIS), Extra day in Delhi - pre-tour

A full day to explore the sights of India's capital. Enjoy a cycle rickshaw ride through the intricate and chaotic streets around Old Delhi and visit the Jama Masjid mosque before moving on to the Lutyens inspired wide avenues of New Delhi. After a visit to Mahatma Gandhi's cremation ground at Rajghat take time to stroll around the Indian parliament buildings as well as India Gate and Humayun's Tomb. This evening enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Delhi hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Dinner

This morning we depart Delhi for the drive to Agra, arriving in time for lunch. After another taste of local Indian food, this afternoon we visit the UNESCO world heritage site at Agra Fort. This is a huge complex with some fascinating history. Later in the afternoon we enjoy a full sightseeing tour of the beautiful Taj Mahal at sunset. Truly one of the wonders of the world this elaborate monument to love was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and took over twenty two years to complete. Sunset is a great time to visit as the light changes gradually with the colours of the Taj changing too.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Agra hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast

We break today's drive to Jaipur to visit the strange and well preserved abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri. The mystical abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri, constructed by Emperor Akbar, served as the Mughal Empire's capital from 1571 until 1585. We also stop at Keoladeo National Park where we take a cycle rickshaw ride through the park to see the resident and migrant wildlife. The park is particularly famous for its birdlife, though you may also see snakes, lizards and turtles around the ponds. After lunch we continue driving through rural India, arriving into Jaipur late in the afternoon. This evening, why not take in a fun Bollywood movie.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Jaipur heritage hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast

This morning we visit the Amber Palace which is a well preserved fort on a hillside around 10km outside Jaipur. Here we enjoy a guided tour through the site. Elephant rides up to the fort are available though we no longer include these on this tour due to concerns about elephant welfare. We then tour Jaipur itself, taking in the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), Jantar Mantar (Observatory), City Palace and some local temples and street life. You then have some more free time and tour options including a chance to visit the Chowki Dhani village in the evening to learn more about traditional Rajasthani culture and crafts, and taste some delicious regional cuisine.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Jaipur heritage hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast

You have a little free time in Jaipur this morning when you can try some optional tours including kite flying, craft markets and food shopping and tasting. Late in the morning we head into the rural semi-desert Shekhawati region whose colourfully painted Havellis with frescoes showing animals and mythology, together with more modern interpretations, led to its reputation as the 'open art gallery of Rajasthan'. We spend the night in another heritage hotel, full of character, faded grandeur and history. These hotels are a real highlight of this tour and travelling through Rajasthan.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Shekhawati heritage hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Dinner

Today we leave rural Rajasthan and drive back to Delhi. En-route we'll stop at Cyber Hub or Ambience Mall at Gurgaon on the outskirts of Delhi for lunch and a taste of modern India. The rest of the afternoon and evening is free for you to explore Delhi and do some sightseeing or shopping.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Delhi hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast

We bid farewell to Delhi this morning as we board the early train to the Punjab and the Sikh holy city of Amritsar. Upon arrival we transfer to the hotel before making the short trip to the Wagah border crossing to enjoy the daily border ceremony. Almost like a soccer match, both Indians and Pakistani's turn out in force to cheer on the changing of their respective guards amidst much singing and all round fun.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Amritsar hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast

A full day to explore the holy city, our tour of Amritsar begins with a trip to the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion. The temple itself is beautiful, inlaid with many jewels and covered with gold leaf. We have chance to explore the rest of the city, including a trip to Jallian Wala Bagh before returning to the Golden Temple in the evening to view the Holy book procession.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Amritsar hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast

Departing Amritsar this morning we leave the Punjab behind as we head into the foothills of the Himalayas before arriving into Dharamsala. The rest of the day is free.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Dharamsala hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast

Perched above Dharamsala sits the town of Mcleod Ganj, home to the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama. Offering incredible mountain views against a foreground of spinning prayer wheels and Buddhist prayer flags the home of the Tibetan government in exile is a truly inspiring place. On our tour of the town we visit the Kangra Art Museum and the Norbulingka Institute as well as many small temples.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Dharamsala hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast

We leave Dharamsala this morning for the drive back to Amritsar where we board the evening train to New Delhi, and your dinner will be included on the train. Upon arrival in Delhi we transfer to the hotel.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Delhi hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Dinner

You have some free time in Delhi today before we transfer you to the airport for your departure. If you wish, why not add an extension to Ranthambore National Park, or head to the beach at Goa.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    N/A
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast
  • EXTRAS:
    Goa beach extension, Ranthambore National Park Safari, Extra day in Delhi - post-tour
Included:
  • All accommodation as stated in the itinerary
  • All transport and transfers
  • 24-hour airport arrival & departure transfer service
  • Services of a local tour leader throughout
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary

Excluded:
  • International flights
  • Visa fees
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Drinks, snacks and other personal expenses (e.g. laundry)
  • Tips for driver and/or tour guide
  • Entrance fees (allow approx. US$144)
  • Any other items not mentioned above
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we use most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
sarovar-portico-naraina-delhi.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
Sarovar Portico Naraina Hotel
Delhi, India

Sarovar Portico Naraina is a good value, budget hotel located on the ring road adjacent to Naraina signal. The hotel offers 39 spacious rooms and free Wi-Fi is available all through the hotel.


Sarovar Portico Naraina is a good value, budget hotel located on the ring road adjacent to Naraina signal. This makes it convenient for travellers to Naraina, Kirtinagar, Mayapuri and Delhi Cantonment. The airport, railway station and bus stand are equidistant at a distance of 11 km. The hotel offers 39 spacious rooms with ever welcoming hospitality, modern business and conferencing facilities and multi cuisine dining options. The excellent services and facilities live up to the expectations of its brand name. Free Wi-Fi is available all through the hotel.

retreat-hotel-agra.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
The Retreat Hotel
Agra, India

The Retreat is just 0.6 miles from the World Heritage Site of Taj Mahal. It houses an outdoor pool and features rooms with a flat-screen TV and free WiFi access.


The Retreat is just 0.6 miles from the World Heritage Site of Taj Mahal. It houses an outdoor pool and features rooms with a flat-screen TV and free WiFi access. Complimentary pick or drop is available from Agra Cantonment Railway Station or Agra Airport.

Situated in Agra City, this property is 3.1 miles from Agra Fort and 15.5 miles from the ISBT Bus Station.

Fitted with wooden flooring, modern air-conditioned rooms feature a personal safe and a private bathroom with 24-hour supply of hot and cold water. Coffee/tea making facilities and a minibar are included, along with bottled water.

Offering 24-hour room service, the multi-cuisine restaurant serves Chinese, European and local Indian cuisine.

Guests can use the business centre, or make travel arrangements at the tour desk. The front desk open round-the-clock and can assist with laundry or doctor-on-call services. Free on-site parking is provided.

khandela-jaipur.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
Khandela Haveli
Jaipur, India

A heritage hotel, Khandela Haveli, is built like a traditional haveli and elegantly decorated. It features a rooftop restaurant and an outdoor swimming pool. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property.


A heritage hotel, Khandela Haveli, is built like a traditional haveli and elegantly decorated. It features a rooftop restaurant and an outdoor swimming pool. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property.

Nearby attractions include the large and exotic palaces of Hawa Mahal and City Palace that are within 5 km. Khandela Haveli is located 1.5 km from Jaipur Railway Station and 14 km from Jaipur Airport.

The rooms are tastefully decorated and cooled with air-conditioned. They are equipped with a minibar, sofa and satellite TV. Tea/coffee making facilities are available. The en suite bathrooms include shower.

With a 24-hour front desk, the property provides services like luggage storage, laundry and ironing. A tour desk is available to make travel arrangements. A car can be rented to explore the area. Guests can take a relaxing stroll in the garden.

The in-house restaurant serves local and Indian cuisines. The rooftop bar serves refreshing beverages. Room service option is available.

malji-ka-karma-hotel-shekhawati.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
Malji Ka Karma Hotel
Shekhawati, India

Malji Ka Kamra is a restored haveli (private mansion) from the 1920s is 1.1 miles from Churu Railway Station. Located in Shekhawati, the property provides beautiful air-conditioned rooms with original paintings and wall murals.


Malji Ka Kamra is a restored haveli (private mansion) from the 1920s is 1.1 miles from Churu Railway Station. Located in Shekhawati, the property provides beautiful air-conditioned rooms with original paintings and wall murals.

Handmade King-sized beds feature in all the guestrooms. The en suite bathrooms are equipped with hot water showers.

Malji Ka Kamra is 52.8 miles from Tal Chappar Wildlife Sanctuary. It is a 3-hour drive from Jaipur and 5-hour drive from Delhi.

Local guides are available to bring guests out on day trips. Camel and jeep safaris, folk music, farm visits and picnic lunches can be organised.

Spice Court restaurant is located on the hotel's ground floor. It serves both Indian and Rajasthani cuisine, as well as a daily breakfast.

country-inn-amritsar.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
Country Inn & Suites
Amritsar, India

This property boasts 4 dining options, a fitness centre with sauna bath and a rooftop swimming pool with panoramic views of Golden Temple and Amritsar City. A daily buffet breakfast is served.


This property boasts 4 dining options, a fitness centre with sauna bath and a rooftop swimming pool with panoramic views of Golden Temple and Amritsar City. A daily buffet breakfast is served.

Country Inn & Suites is 0.6 miles from Durgiana Temple and 0.9 miles from Golden Temple and Jallianwala Bagh. Raja Sansi International Airport is 7.1 miles away.

Fitted with wooden flooring, the contemporary air-conditioned rooms feature a flat-screen TV with cable channels and a personal safe. In addition to drinking water, coffee/tea making facilities and a minibar are included. 24-hour room service is provided.

Situated on the rooftop, Kebab 'N' Grills prepares kebabs in a show kitchen, while a variety of Indian specialities are served at Spice. Big Shot Pub offers cocktails and spirits, and the 24-hour Cafe Mosaic features coffee and light meals such as breads, sandwiches and burgers.

Guests can use Country Inn & Suites' business centre, or make travel arrangements at the tour desk. The 24-hour front desk can assist with laundry and airport shuttle services.

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Local rating
Our rating
Chonor House
McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, India

Chonor House, a branch of Norbulingka, was designed and built by British architect David Porter in a style intended to blend with the natural environment of the hills overlooking the Kangra valley.


Chonor House, a branch of Norbulingka, was designed and built by British architect David Porter in a style intended to blend with the natural environment of the hills overlooking the Kangra valley. The stone and slates were obtained from the surrounding hills and carried by mule to the site which was at that time inaccessible to motor vehicles. The shape and location of the building preserved the large pine & cedar trees which dominate the garden and dining area at the back of the building.

Chonor House is the best place to stay in Mcleod Ganj, conveniently located near the Thekchen Choling Temple adjacent to HH the Dalai Lama's residence. Each of our eleven well-appointed rooms is beautifully decorated according to a unique Tibetan theme, with murals featuring regions such as Kham, Amdo and Central Tibet and the flora and fauna of the Land of Snow. These striking wall paintings are complemented by appliqued fabrics, hand-knotted carpets and carved and decorated wooden furniture, all created by Norbulingka craftsmen.

All rooms are fully equipped with:

  • air-conditioning/heat
  • a mini-bar
  • hot water thermos and complimentary herbal tea bags
  • free wifi
  • a balcony or terrace

All rooms are non-smoking.

In addition, computer use, scanning and printing is available in the cyber yak cafe at a minimal fee.

Laundry service is available.

Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination you're visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.

All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.

Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.

Single room supplement (INSGIS)
Price from
US$629
per person



Single room supplement (INSGIS)
Min numbers: 1 person

This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. Room shares may be available but the supplement is payable if a room share cannot be arranged.


This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. If you are a single traveller and would be happy to share a room, let us know and we will see if we can pair you up with another single traveller of the same sex. If a room share is not available when you book then we will add the single room supplement to your booking and it will be payable with your balance payment unless we have arranged a room share for you by then. If a room share is arranged after you have paid the supplement then we will refund it to you. Room shares are arranged in order of booking.

Note: The price shown is a low season price. Slightly higher prices may apply during high and peak seasons - the exact price for your dates will be shown on the online booking form and is always available on request.

Extra day in Delhi - pre-tour
Price from
US$64
per person



Extra day in Delhi - pre-tour
Min numbers: 1 person

This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport arrival transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.


This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport arrival transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Note: Single room and peak season supplements apply.

Extra day in Delhi - post-tour
Price from
US$64
per person



Extra day in Delhi - post-tour
Min numbers: 1 person

This option adds an extra day to the end of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport departure transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.


This option adds an extra day to the end of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport departure transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Note: Single room and peak season supplements apply.

Ranthambore National Park Safari
Price from
US$419
per person



Ranthambore National Park Safari
Min numbers: 1 person

This 5-day extension take you to Ranthambore is one of the largest national parks in northern India and was declared one of the Project Tiger reserves in 1973. The park is within a day's journey from Delhi.


Ranthambore is one of the largest national parks in northern India and was declared one of the Project Tiger reserves in 1973. As well as the tigers which are the main attraction for most people, there is a multitude of other wildlife including more than 300 species of trees, 50 aquatic plants, over 300 species of birds, marsh crocodiles and monitor lizards, and 30 mammals including sloth bear, wild boar, Chinkara, Porcupines and Jackals, Leopards, Jungle cat, Sambhar, Chital, Nilgai, Gazelle, Boars, Mongoose and Indian hare. The park is within a day's journey from Delhi.

Day 1 - Travel to Ranthambore
We pick you up from your hotel in Delhi and transfer you to the train station journey on the Kota Jan Shatabdi Express to Sawai Madhopur (approx. 13.20-18.00). The park and your lodge is a short drive from the station.
Overnight at Pugmarks Resort or similar (D)

Days 2 & 3 - Morning & afternoon safaris
You start early this morning for a guided wildlife safari into the park. You travel on a Canter which is an open backed truck which provides good height to see into the bush and forest. Jeep safaris are avaialable as an alternative (limited availability, advance booking required) After some free time over lunchtime, take another safari in the late afternoon in search of other wildlife.
Overnight at Pugmarks Resort or similar (B,L,D)

Day 4 & 5 - Return by train to Delhi
You leave the lodge early to catch the NZM Jan Shatabdi Express back to Delhi (approx. 0705-1230). You then have one night in Delhi and free time before we transfer you to the airport for departure.
Overnight at Delhi hotel (B)

Note: This option is available between October and June. Single room supplements apply. There is a minimum of 2 people required to run this option.

Goa beach extension
Price from
US$674
per person



Goa beach extension
Min numbers: 1 person

After one of our busy sightseeing tours in northern India, why not finish your holiday with some time relaxing on the beach in Goa. Made internationally famous by the hippies that used to throng its northern beaches, Goa now has lots more to offer.


After one of our busy sightseeing tours in northern India, why not finish your holiday with some time relaxing on the beach in Goa. Made internationally famous by the hippies that used to throng its northern beaches, Goa today has a huge amount more to offer. You can stay in simple guest-houses, eco resorts or luxury hotels at beaches frequented by backpackers, new-age travellers or remnants of those hippy days. The beaches are gorgeous, and the interior is well worth exploring as well. Extensions to Goa of any length are available on all of our India tours - please contact us for more information and prices.

Day 1 - Travel to Goa
We pick you up from your hotel in Delhi and transfer you to the airport for an internal flight to Panjim, the state capital of Goa. We meet you on arrival and transfer you to your boutique hotel in Calangute.
Overnight at Casa de Goa boutique 3-star hotel (B)

Days 2-4 - Goa. Free time
Your next 3 days are free to spend in Goa as you wish. You can relax on busy or remote beaches, go exploring inland, visit Anjuna flea market, or try a wide range of watersports. Goa also has its famous nightlife to try if that's your thing.
Overnight at Casa de Goa or similar (B)

Days 5 & 6 - Return to Delhi
We pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to your flight back to Delhi. You then have one night in Delhi and free time before we transfer you to the airport for departure
Overnight at Delhi hotel (B)

Includes:

  • Internal flight Delhi-Goa
  • 5 nights’ accommodation with breakfast
  • Return transfers by an AC CAR

Note:Prices shown are for low-season (mid-April to September) and higher rates will apply for high season and peak periods. These are shown on our online reservation form and are available on request. Single room supplements apply. There is a minimum of 2 people required to run this option.

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Indian Spice tour notes

The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.

We use good quality hotels rated at the Indian 3 and 4-star level on this tour. Local star ratings may vary slightly from international standards but we ensure we use some of the very best hotels available at the level stated.

Accommodation is based on twin, triple or double en-suite rooms with air conditioning. We will endeavour to give all couples a private double room. Single travellers may choose to pay a single room supplement to guarantee themselves a single room throughout the tour. Alternatively, they may choose to share a room with one or two other travellers of the same sex. If there are no other single travellers available for you to pair up with at the time of your booking, then we will need to add the single supplement to your tour price, but will refund this or deduct it from your balance payment if we are able to pair you up later on.

Our trips feature a mix of different transport options. We want you to feel like you’re really experiencing the country you’re travelling through, but at the same time finish journeys refreshed enough to enjoy the next stage of the tour. Due to the somewhat chaotic nature of Indian roads, we only use private vehicles for all road journeys. Some fun train journeys may also be included.

The tour price includes a 24-hour airport meet & assist service in New Delhi airport, your arrival and departure airport-hotel transfers and all other transfers.

We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to book your flights for you, and our ATOL (UK flight sales license) covers all holidays booked together with a flight from the UK.

Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from. Your airport arrival & departure transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour whether you book your flights independently or through us. Most of our Indian tours start and finish at Delhi airport (DEL).

We are committed to being a small group operator, as we feel this gives everyone in the group the best chance to get to know their fellow travellers and to hear and make the most of their guide. There’s no point in us providing great guides if you’ve got to peer over 30-40 shoulders to see them! So, we won’t ever put you in a 50-seater coach with 49 other people and just one guide. Instead, we set our India group departures to have a maximum of 18 travellers. The minimum group size is 2.

In India we provide a fully trained, local English-speaking tour leader/driver to accompany you through the tour. Specialist local guides are used for all of the sightseeing tours and national park activities.

At Encounters Travel we have a policy of only using local Indian guides and reps. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing. Please check our website for more details and profiles of some of our most famous local guides.

The tour price does not include entrance fees to the tourist sites mentioned in the itinerary. You should allow approx. US$144 per person to cover these (this includes one visit to the Taj Mahal). You will also need to cover the cost of entrance to any other extra sites that you may wish to visit that are not listed in the main tour itinerary.

Haggling is a traditional necessity, so its wise not to pay too much regard to initial prices. Instead fix an items value in your mind then negotiate towards it unhurriedly and don’t be afraid to simply walk away if the price isn’t right. Once you have offered a price though, you should be prepared to pay it as you may cause offence if you then back out. 

While an accepted part of the culture and customs in India, tipping is always optional, and the amounts paid should reflect excellent service. We are often asked for advice on common amounts, and for assistance with tipping. Some suggested guidelines are given below.

Restaurants and taxis: Local markets and basic restaurants - leave the loose change. More up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.

Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour guide. We suggest USD 2-3 per person per day for local guides.

Drivers: You may have a range of private drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, for example if you don't have an extra accompanying guide. However USD 2-3 per person per day is generally appropriate.

Tour Guides: To answer your next question. . . as a guideline we suggest for your tour guide between USD 20-35 per person for the entire tour, but ultimately, its up to your satisfaction with their service and your budget. You should not feel pressured to tip any particular amount.

You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:

India: Additional vaccinations: Diptheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Yellow fever rules for India are quite complicated and lengthy. Please read the WHO guidance.

Malaria: Vaccinations are not available against Malaria, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can be very serious and sometimes fatal. You should avoid mosquito bites by covering up bare skin with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers and applying insect repellents to exposed skin. When necessary, sleep under a mosquito net. Mosquitoes are most active during and after sunset. You should consult with your GP/medical practitioner/travel clinic about the most appropriate malaria prophylactic medication to take for the regions you are visiting. In general the north eastern regions of India including Assam and Orissa are considered high risk,while the rest of India is generally considered low enough risk that anti-malarial tablets are not necessary for most travellers doing relatively short tours.

Yellow Fever: This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes that bite during the day. A Yellow Fever Certificate of vacinnation may be required as a condition of entry depending on which country you are arriving from, or that you have travelled or transitted through recently (including connecting flights with stopovers of over 12 hours). You can view a World Health Organisation map of areas where the virus is present in monkeys and therefore a potential risk to humans. Please ensure you have this certificate with you and to hand if necessary.

Please inform us of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and any prescription medicine you may be taking. We also need to know about any food allergies or physical disabilities that you may have.

Your passport expiry date must be at least 6 months after your time in India finishes. Do not bring a full or almost expired passport. You must also have a machine-readable passport or you may be denied entry. If you have an old-style manually issued passport you will need to replace this with a new machine-readable passport before you travel.

Most nationalities (including UK, USA, European, Australian, Canadian) will need to arrange their Indian tourist visa in advance. A new online e-visa system is available which makes the process more straightforward than before. You can make your application online here... https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html.

Visa requirements for India can and do change regularly and we suggest that you arrange your Indian visa early and re-check your specific visa requirements prior to travel for any changes.

Luggage: Suitcases are fine, though you may find rucksacks or large bags are more practical. You should also bring a small daypack/bag to take out during the day. Your main luggage will be left in the hotel during your sightseeing trips – you will not need to carry it far, and there are nearly always porters to assist.

Luggage allowances: Most international airlines restrict you to between 20kg and 23kg per person of luggage to go in the hold of the plane. Domestic flights often have smaller allowances around 15kg. As airline rules vary we recommend that you take no more than 20kg of luggage if your tour just includes international flights, and no more than 15kg if there are any domestic flights included in your itinerary. Please ask us for details if you are unsure about luggage allowances on your tour. Any excess baggage fees will be your responsibility to cover. Most airlines allow between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage so we suggest that you take no more than 5kg unless you have confirmed that your airline(s) will allow more than this.

Clothing: The weather is mainly hot most of the year with significant variations from region to region. The coolest weather lasts from around the end of November to the beginning of March, with fresh mornings and evenings, and mostly sunny days. The really hot weather, when it is dry, dusty and unpleasant, is between March and June. Monsoon rains occur in most regions in summer anywhere between June and early October.

NOTE: India is very traditional and some heads will turn if you dress provocatively in public. Short tops, short skirts / shorts, tight or body revealing clothes etc should be avoided. You might invite unwanted attention from certain men who stare and pass comments at women to amuse themselves. More detailed climate information is available on the India Country Guide page on our website.

Suggested List: This is a guide only – there’s no problem if you bring more or less with you. Cheap comfortable clothing is also readily available in India and laundry is inexpensive. It is also worth having some smarter clothes for going out. Towels are provided and laundry services are available in all the hotels we use.

Men: • Lightweight trousers, shorts, light shirts & t-shirts • Swimwear
Women: • Light cotton skirts/dressers, loose-fitting trousers, light shirts or t-shirts, loose shorts • Swimwear
Men & Women: • Jumper/sweatshirt/fleece • Long sleeved shirt(s) (for cool nights, protection from the sun & mosquitoes, and visits to religious sites etc) • Handkerchiefs, socks & underwear • Comfortable trainers/sandals for daily wear • Other shoes/sandals for evening wear • Sunhat or headscarf (headscarfs come in handy for some sights which require women to cover their heard) First Aid: Although First Aid and medication is readily available in India, it may be very different to what you are used to so individuals should consider bringing along their own personal kit. Your personal kit might include: • Sunscreen, sunblock & aftersun • Insect repellent/relief • Antiseptic cream/spray • Plasters and a bandage • Lomotil or Imodium against diarrhea • Pills against nausea • Aspirin for heat-stroke (or hangovers) Your kit should also include your brief medical history, including allergies, blood group, drug vaccinations etc. We suggest bringing copies of prescriptions if you will be carrying medicines on board your flight.

Toiletries: • Razor, soap & box, shampoo • Toothpaste, toothbrush & container • Sanitary items
Note: If you wear contact lenses, you should consider taking or wearing glasses instead, as lenses can be uncomfortable and/or cause infections in hot and humid climates.

Other useful items: • Sunglasses • Small Torch • Money belt • Camera and equipment • Toilet paper (this is not always provided in public toilets so it is a good idea to carry some spare tissues in your bag. It should be placed in the basket beside the toilet, not flushed away, for you might block the pipes).

IMPORTANT: As it can get extremely hot in India, and the sun can burn very quickly, it is very important to ensure you are protected from the sun with sun-cream & sun-hats, and do not get dehydrated.

We run small-group departures on our Indian tours throughout the year, with less frequent start dates during the hot monsoon months of May to September. All departures are guaranteed to run with a minimum of 2 travellers. Departure dates and prices are listed on our website (please check the website for up-to-date prices and special offers).

Private and tailor-made tours are available on any dates and may be adjusted to fit your personal requirements, available time and budget.

If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You can pay your deposit or full balance online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer. We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...

You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK  to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.

Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.

If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.

IMPORTANT:  We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour.  If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.

We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
If you book a flight departing from the UK from us with your tour, or if you live in the UK and your tour includes domestic flights, then your entire package is ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 10467.
Additional financial protection is also provided through International Passenger Protection for passengers not booking flights.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.

It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.

  • Don’t prejudge: Things in different countries will almost certainly be different. That doesn’t make them worse or inferior, just different.
  • Communicate: Don’t expect locals to speak your language. Take the trouble to learn a few words or phrases of the local language. Don’t worry about sounding silly. Most locals are patient and accommodating and appreciate you making the effort to communicate in their language.
  • Conserve energy: Be careful not to waste valuable resources. Use local resources sparingly. Switch off lights, air-conditioning and fans when you leave the hotel room and don’t waste water. Remove superfluous packaging. Many countries have far less efficient waste disposal systems than ours. Remove packaging from newly acquired items before leaving home.
  • Don’t litter: No matter how untidy or dirty the country you’re travelling in may look to you, avoid littering, as there is no need to add to the environment's stress. Many of the countries we visit have a tough challenge dealing with rubbish and waste. Please consider taking home as much plastic waste as you can (e.g. water bottles).
  • Choose environmentally friendly products: By using environmentally friendly (bio degradable) sun creams, shampoos and detergents you can help reduce pollution.
  • Respect local customs and traditions: As you are a guest in these countries, you should also comply with the local customs. If you are friendly and well mannered, the locals will reciprocate and it will only enhance your experience. It’s important to follow dress and behaviour guidelines especially when visiting religious or sacred sites (your tour leader will advise you how best to do this).
  • If a client commits an illegal act the client may be excluded from the tour and Encounters Travel shall cease to have responsibility to/for them. No refund will be given for any unused services.

All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).

You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.facebook.com/encounterstravel
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')

The time in India is GMT plus 5 1/2 hours.

The time in Nepal is GMT plus 5 3/4 hours.

The time in Bhutan is GMT plus 6 hours.

The time in Tibet is GMT plus 8 hours.

Daylight saving adjustments are not applied.

Sockets are mainly two round pronged and 230 volts (Type C,D,M). Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don’t have one already. Standard European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are sometimes available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already but cannot be guaranteed.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.

It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.

General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.

You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.

Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Know Before you Go' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.

'Know Before you Go' campaign

Indian Spice dates & prices

This tour is also available for booking privately for travel anytime through the year, and we can also customise the itinerary to fit your personal requirements. Please contact us for details and prices.
Start Date End Date Price (P/P) Offer Price Note
17 Dec, 2016 29 Dec, 2016 US$2369 - - Book now
24 Dec, 2016 05 Jan, 2017 US$2369 - - Book now
14 Jan, 2017 26 Jan, 2017 US$2369 - - Book now
04 Feb, 2017 16 Feb, 2017 US$2369 - - Book now
25 Feb, 2017 09 Mar, 2017 US$2369 - - Book now
11 Mar, 2017 23 Mar, 2017 US$2369 - - Book now
25 Mar, 2017 06 Apr, 2017 US$2369 - - Book now
08 Apr, 2017 20 Apr, 2017 US$2369 - - Book now
22 Apr, 2017 04 May, 2017 US$2179 - - Book now
20 May, 2017 01 Jun, 2017 US$2179 - - Book now
09 Sep, 2017 16 Sep, 2017 US$2179 - - Book now
23 Sep, 2017 30 Sep, 2017 US$2179 - - Book now
07 Oct, 2017 14 Oct, 2017 US$2369 - - Book now
21 Oct, 2017 28 Oct, 2017 US$2369 - - Book now
04 Nov, 2017 11 Nov, 2017 US$2369 - - Book now
18 Nov, 2017 25 Nov, 2017 US$2369 - - Book now
02 Dec, 2017 09 Dec, 2017 US$2369 - - Book now
16 Dec, 2017 23 Dec, 2017 US$2369 - - Book now
30 Dec, 2017 06 Jan, 2018 US$2369 - - Book now
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INDIAN SPICE Reviews
Service

Posted Oct 07, 2016
Service rating : The booking and reservation process with Encounters Travel went smoothly without any problems. Everything was explained clearly and precisely what was needed prior to receiving our trip confirmation and itinerary. Anthony with Encounters Travel made this trip a breeze, and now I can cross this off my bucket list.

Product : Five things I wanted to see on my first trip to India and this tour covered all of them. Taj Mahal, Pink City, Amber Fort, Wagah and the Sikh Golden Temple and a bonus Dharamsala home to the Dali Lama in exile. Couldn't ask for a better tour! The only area of improvement would be to replace the Sarovar Portico Hotel in Delhi as it was a really bad hotel and it was booked at the beginning, middle and end of our tour. I submitted my review of this hotel on TripAdvisor for more details. We opted not to stay there at the end of our tour even though it was already prepaid for and instead go straight to Delhi airport and fly home. All of the local tour guides and drivers for each of our tour locations were excellent in providing us just enough history and detail, especially our guides in Amritsar and Dharamsala. The only exception would be our travel escort for the Golden Triangle portion around Delhi. He was very young, inexperienced and didn't seem to know enough to help the group decide what our priorities were and how to achieve them. Instead of taking the lead as a tour escort normally should do, he tried to blend in with the group and also hit on the single women on our tour, something that's unprofessional which made them feel a bit uncomfortable at times. But in the end we were very happy with our experience with Encounters Travel and their Indian Spice tour of Northern India.
Read More...
Service

Posted Oct 07, 2016
The booking and reservation process with Encounters Travel went smoothly without any problems. Everything was explained clearly and precisely what was needed prior to receiving our trip confirmation and itinerary. Anthony with Encounters Travel made this trip a breeze, and now I can cross this off my bucket list.
Read More...