A beginner’s guide to India

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India is undoubtedly a bucket list country for many people – but its vast size can be intimidating for first-time visitors.

If you don’t know where to start, we’ve compiled the below guide to help you out. Whether your perfect trip to India involves the bustling New Delhi, the beaches of Goa or the beautiful architecture of the Taj Mahal, all your questions should be answered below. Remember, that we offer escorted tours to India with our travel partner Intrepid. Leave us a question if we haven’t covered it.

Popular places to visit

India is usually best explored as part of a tour – with so many amazing places it would be a shame to stick to just one place. Here are five must-visits.  

Taj Mahal

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You can’t visit India and not stop by its most recognisable building. Found on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra, its complex includes a mosque, guest house and formal gardens.

New Delhi

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Home to the world’s biggest Hindu temple, the country’s largest mosque, and South Asia’s largest shopping mall, New Delhi has grown beyond its own boundaries. But it is also a city with a lot of history, having been the capital for at least seven civilizations – each leaving behind its own monuments. And despite its intimidating size, you’ll find plenty of green space too!

Jaipur

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If it’s history that you are looking for then Jaipur definitely needs to be on your list. It was built in the eighteenth century by Sawai Jai Singh as India’s first planned city and is home to some of India’s best historical sites, including the City Palace, Govind Dev ji Temple, Vidhan Sabha and Birla Temple.

Goa

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Goa is the India destination for anyone looking for a beach! Choose between the contrasting North and South Goa; as a rule, North Goa is for parties on the beach while south Goa is for relaxing on the beach. We’ve previously blogged about the two here so you can pick the best one for you.

You can even fly direct to Goa from the UK for a week long beach holiday, but it also make for a nice beach break after the buzz of New Delhi or Mumbai.

Kerala

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India can be a lively place and if you’re looking to unwind after the buzz of New Delhi, Kerala is a great option. Stretching along the south-west coast for 600km, its beaches are white and backed by palm trees, while inland you’ll find fragrant hills where tea and spice grow, as well as tranquil backwaters that have earned the region the nickname “Venice of the East”.

Getting there and getting around

India’s top five international airports are Delhi Airport, Mumbai Airport, Chennai Airport, Bangalore Airport and Hyderabad Airport. New Delhi remains the busiest airport in India and offers a direct flight to London Heathrow.

As we’ve mentioned already, India is a country to tour. One of the most iconic ways to do so is on board the Deccan Odyssey, which offers six inspirational itineraries. All the routes start from Mumbai, and can take you to the beaches of Goa or to the exotic Ellora Caves.

Escorted tours are also readily available in India, and you can book many of them through Barrhead Travel (you can see some on our website here, but we have more available if you speak to a Travel Consultant in one of our branches).

Other important information

  • India’s currency is the Indian Rupee (INR) and is a closed currency so you’ll need to withdraw cash when you arrive.
  • India is still a cash country so always carry money on you.
  • Remember to haggle!
  • UK visitors need a visa to enter India.
  • You’ll need either a Type C (two-prong plug) or Type D (three-prong plug).
  • Hindi is the official language of India, but English is widely spoken in the major tourist hubs.
  • It is recommended that you discuss vaccinations with your doctor

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The Taj Mahal in India at sunset

Where will be popular in 2018? Our predictions

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There’s something about a new year that brings about the plan-making in us. Maybe it’s purchasing a new diary with fresh pages, or maybe now that the festive season is over our minds turn to what’s ahead.

If you use January as an excuse to map out your year, you’ve probably already thought about what countries you would like to visit. You’re not the only one as January is one of the most popular times of year to book, with airlines and hotels offering an array of early bird discounts. If you’re short on inspiration, however, here are our predictions on what destinations will be must-visits over the next 12 months. 

1. Japan

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Japan is an island full of wonders. Whether you’re looking for sky-high cities, fascinating culture, or stunning natural landscapes, you’ll find it in this two-island destination. The country also boasts an impressive bullet train service, making it an excellent choice for a touring holiday if you can’t choose between the popular cities of Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto.

2. Vietnam

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Vietnam is the perfect mix between old-school oriental charm and modern-day buzz. Its capital, Hanoi, is a mixing bowl of French and Asian culture and boasts a European feel with a lively old quarter. Down in the south though you’ll find tranquil beaches in the resorts of Hue, Nha Trang and Hoi An (but if you begin to crave the city, the bustling Ho Chi Minh City can also be found in the south).

3. Argentina

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South America is a once-in-a-lifetime destination, and Argentina is currently its hotbed. Get lost in the infectious spirit of Buenos Aires where you can tango until seven in the morning. Then take a trip to the breath-taking Iguaza Falls on the Argentinian and Brazilian border. And remember to pop by the Andes.

4. Italy

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Thanks to its generous offering of tourist hotspots, Italy makes this list every year. Whether it’s the canals of Venice, iconic buildings of Rome, the shopping in Milan, the scenic views of Lake Garda, or the rich architectural heritage of Genoa – Italy offers something for every traveller.

5. China

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China is a fascinating country, whether you’re looking for city lights or iconic world wonders. Celebrate modern China in the city of Shanghai, with its high rise buildings, the charming People’s Square and first-class Grand Theatre. Then explore the oriental temples of Beijing, before moving onto the ancient sites of Xi’an – including the Terracotta Warriors.

6. Croatia

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Croatia has seen a surge in popularity over the past few years, largely thanks to Game of Thrones. But this beautiful country is more than just the real-life location of the Red Keep and the House of the Undying. It is home to eight national parks, that are overflowing in fauna and flora, and the striking Postojna Caves.

7. Cuba

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In 2017, the Cuban travel industry opened up and we’re predicting a rise in holidaymakers (especially from cruisers). A little bit different from the other islands in the Caribbean, Cuba boasts a unique, Latin-shaped history with an energetic atmosphere, as well as sunny beaches.

8. Thailand

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Thailand is always popular, and for good reason. Whether it’s the exotic aroma of lively Bangkok or the relaxed beaches of Koh Samui, Thailand offers something for beach-bums and city-lovers.

9. South Africa

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If you’ve never been to Africa before, South Africa is the perfect place to start off. The city of Cape Town has plenty to offer such as Table Mountain, Robben Island and a modern waterfront with shops and restaurants. After you’ve explored the city, get back into nature with a safari in Kruger National Park or a shark diving expedition in Gansbaai.

10. India

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There are many sides to the country of India, but all of them are equally amazing. Feel the buzz in the bustling city of New Delhi, admire the Taj Mahal in Agra, or relax on the beaches of Goa. Whatever India you choose in 2018, we guarantee you’ll love it.

Where are you escaping to in 2018?

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