Travel in India
At Cox & Kings we believe that a good holiday is not luck but judgment. We have compiled the following information to outline the nature of travel in the Indian Subcontinent, and to help you prepare for your holiday. Even with the most meticulous planning, however, minor problems can occur and, whilst our local representatives are always on hand to rectify such occurrences, we do request that you have a patient and broadminded approach to travelling in the Subcontinent.
Our itineraries use a number of reputable airlines and our costs are based on economy class unless otherwise stated. Upgrading to premium economy on some routes and Business or First Class is normally possible subject to availability. Some flight routings involve a change of plane en route to your destination, so please take note of the flight details on your confirmation invoice, as these will show the amount of scheduled transit time in the stop-off city. Please also note that ‘non-stop’ flights have no scheduled touchdowns en route, whilst ‘direct’ flights mean there is no change of aircraft but stops are possible, and indeed probable, as per the airlines’ timetables. Unfortunately, airlines change their schedules regularly, and although we will advise you of any stops or plane changes at the time of booking, we cannot be held responsible for any changes made after this date. However, if you specifically require a non-stop flight please ensure that you request this at time of booking.
For internal flights in India, we generally use Jet Airways or Indian Airlines, whose fleets of aircraft principally feature Boeing 737s, Airbuses and ATRs. Indian Airlines in particular, has acquired a reputation for unpunctuality, with many flights suffering delays, over-flying cities or last-minute cancellations. In-flight catering on all airlines is basic, and normally consists of sandwiches and Indian snacks served with tea or coffee. Impromptu strikes are often called and this may mean delays to your departure, an extra night’s accommodation at your board point or travel by an alternative airline or transportation method. Although these arrangements are at the discretion of the airline, Cox & Kings will do everything possible to minimize the inconvenience. Many flights in India are ‘hopping’ flights, stopping at several cities before reaching their final destination. When you board these flights after the city of origin, there is no allocated seating and the flight will be on a free-seating basis. When departing India from Mumbai, it is necessary to leave several hours before your flight departs, on account of traffic congestion and because flights out of Mumbai are often heavily overbooked and passengers last to check-in are often bumped-off.
Flight Delays & Insurance:
Unfortunately, due to the increase in air traffic, government restrictions and changing weather conditions, flight delays have become more commonplace. These delays can cause problems with onward connections and / or hotel and holiday arrangements and, whilst the airline will sometimes make alternative arrangements to get you to your next destination at no extra cost, additional costs may be involved for accommodation in the event of an overnight cancellation and also after your arrival at your next destination. These may be in the form of additional accommodation costs, transfers and onward travel. It is important that your insurance covers you against the costs incurred as a result of cancellation or delay to your flight, Unfortunately, since most services are paid for in advance, any services missed due to delays are non-refundable. The Insurance Policy offered by Cox & Kings is designed to mitigate the costs and effects of such delays in certain circumstances and we strongly recommend that you are insured against such eventualities.
Cox & Kings will endeavour to request any specific meals or services, on the condition that we are told at the time of booking. Specific seat requests with most major airlines can now only be requested if travelling in one of the premium classes. We are able to request general seating preferences for Economy Class passengers. However, with all special requests, please remember that they are ‘requests’ and as such are at the discretion of the airline and cannot be guaranteed.
Most tours use special airline fares, which normally restrict changes of date, route and airline. Any such changes made after a ticket has been issued will normally necessitate the purchase of a new ticket at the passenger’s expense.
Airport Departure Taxes:
International UK and India departure taxes are included in the cost of your holiday (unless otherwise stated). In other countries these may need to be paid locally in local currency. Please note that these taxes are subject to change.
Driving in India can seem hazardous to Westerners due to complicated codes of conduct that apply. All of our drivers, however, are carefully trained and experienced. Unfortunately, roads in India are not like those in the West and are frequently narrow, bumpy, pot-holed and have stretches which are not sealed, or which are under reconstruction. Livestock is often seen wandering the roads and always has the right of way, which can cause drivers to swerve to avoid it. Road conditions in India change throughout the year, due to monsoon rains and extreme weather patterns, and journey times can vary enormously at all times of year, which is beyond the control of Cox & Kings.
Most cars used will be Indigo, which are comfortable and ideally suited to local roads. The famous Ambassador cars, based on the old Morris Oxford but constructed locally, are also available in most areas on request. We can provide larger or 4 x 4 vehicles if requested, subject to availability and an additional premium. Coaches are also locally custom-made on truck chassis, and are not comparable with European coach standards, but they are comfortable and maintained to a high local standard. Please bear in mind that if sitting at the back of a coach the journey may be less comfortable due to coach design.
Cox & Kings does not organise self-drive car hire on behalf of its clients anywhere in the Indian Subcontinent and advises against self-driving because, in our opinion, it is unsafe. The safety of our clients is of the utmost importance to Cox & Kings, and this advice is offered with our clients’ interests in mind. In the event that you do wish to book an independent self-drive, please be aware that this does not form part of your package holiday with Cox & Kings and as such Cox & Kings is not liable in any way for this part of your holiday. Please ensure that, if you do make such a booking, your insurance policy covers you.
Train travel in India can be a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. New train routes and updated equipment are continually released, and there are many good express trains. Often train travel is more convenient than flying or driving; however, trains cannot be compared with those in Europe. In many cases, carriages can seem quite basic and visibility from the windows may be restricted. Where possible, we try to reserve first class or air-conditioned carriages, but these cannot always be reserved and do not exist on all routes. Please contact your Tour Consultant to discuss the facilities on a particular route. Please note that, in general, most trains do not take reservations until 60 days prior to departure, so your patience in this regard is much appreciated.
Many flights to, from and within the Subcontinent depart and arrive very late at night or early in the morning. Although Cox & Kings will endeavour to book you on a flight that departs / arrives at a reasonable time, often there is little or no choice and some very early check-in / check-out times may berequired. Sometimes it is necessary to leave your hotel before 6am in order to maximise the opportunities for sightseeing during your holiday.
WEATHER FOR INDIA
For information on weather in this region please see individual tour pages.
Accommodation standards vary dramatically throughout the Subcontinent and in general cannot be compared to the West. In larger cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, the hotels we use are fully modernised with excellent facilities, whilst in other cities and towns the hotels are usually smaller but quite often still have good facilities. In the desert cities of Rajasthan, areas of southern India, small hill towns and recently opened areas, many hotels we use are small, privately owned properties or converted palaces, retaining much of their original ambience, but the room size, shape and design can vary enormously (even within the same price bracket). Although palace hotels often have simple facilities and service can be slow, we ask for your patience as this is more than compensated for by their atmosphere and charm. Hotels in India continually try to upgrade their services and many can suffer from building works throughout the year. Cox & Kings will endeavour to obtain rooms as far away from any construction work as possible but please bear in mind that hotels run on full capacity during peak season and specific rooms can rarely be pre-booked.
Check-in & Check-out Times:
If a flight arrives very early in the morning, you may be taken for breakfast or sightseeing before being allocated your room, as check-in / check-out time in India is usually 12 noon. Cox & Kings will endeavour to get your room available as early as possible in these instances.
Game Parks & Remote Areas:
Even when you travel off the beaten track with Cox & Kings, you can be sure that your accommodation in game lodges, smaller hotels and tented camps is the best available. Sometimes the best hotel may be the only hotel, which may be very modest. In these cases we feel that the simplicity of such accommodation is outweighed by the experience of these more remote areas. Game park accommodation cannot be compared to that available in parts of Africa and the Far East and is often reached down narrow, makeshift roads, far from other civilisation. Accommodation will often be in tents or lodges which, although have private facilities, should not in most cases be compared to those available in other parts of the world.
Generally in India, single and double rooms carry the same price, which means that single supplements for certain itineraries can seem high. Single rooms cannot always be guaranteed at all hotels and lodges, especially in peak season. Often, the location and standard of single rooms may not be as good as that of doubles. If you are in doubt, we suggest you request a double room in advance at an additional supplement. If you are unhappy with your room whilst on holiday please query this with a Cox & Kings representative at the time.
FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH OFFICE TRAVEL ADVICE
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) produces a wide range of material about overseas countries that may be visited by British citizens, to ensure that travellers are properly informed about any overseas destination, particularly in relation to political unrest, crime and health issues. Where the FCO considers that British citizens would face unjustifiable risks to health, it actually advises either against travelling to the country in question or against non-essential travel to that country. Full details of all FCO advice can be obtained on the FCO website: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
VISAS AND HEALTH FOR INDIA
We work with Visa Swift, a company that specialises in visa processing. Please visit its website to find out if you require a visa, download visa application forms, follow links to important embassy websites or make general inquiries about its visa service. Visa Swift also offers a full range of passport services including passport renewals, second passports and replacement passports. The Visa Swift service is easy to use: simply go to the website and follow the steps to apply for the visa that you need. Once submitted, you can track the progress of your visa application online. Please telephone 020 7025 4744 for more information or visit the Visa Swift website: http://www.visaswift.com/coxandkings.aspx
For information on inoculations you will require in this region please click here »
EMBASSY AND HIGH COMMISSION ADDRESSES
• Indian High Commission, India House, Aldwych, London WC2B 4NA. Tel: 020 7836 8484.
• Embassy of Nepal, 12A, Kensington Palace Gardens, London W8 4QU. Tel: 020 7229 1594.
• High Commission of Sri Lanka, 13 Hyde Park Gardens, London W2 2LU. Tel: 020 7262 1841.
• For Bhutan, Cox & Kings will process these as there is no consulate or embassy in the UK.
• Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (Dubai), 30 Prince’s Gate, London SW7 1PT. Tel: 020 7581 1281.
• High Commission of the Republic of Maldives, 22 Nottingham Place, London W1U 5NJ. Tel: 020 7224 2135.
• Qatar Embassy, 1 South Audley Street, London W1K 1NB. Tel: 020 7493 2200.