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Rajasthan Trip report. JBR

Brisbane, Australia
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146 posts
38 reviews
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Rajasthan Trip report. JBR

My wife and I have recently returned from a 23 day driving tour of Rajasthan, Agra and Delhi. There are many companies and options to choose from when arranging this type of travel but after much research on Tripadvisor and other travel forums we chose to hire an independent private driver.

After arriving in Delhi we chose an anti-clockwise route through Rajasthan that saw us visiting: Mandawa, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Ranakpur, Udaipur, Pushkar and Jaipur before returning to Delhi via Agra. Instead of re-writing a trip report I’ve included the link to our travel blog that covers much of our Rajasthan activities.

…blogspot.com.au/2012/10/bags-are-packed.html

I had an Airtel sim card for my iphone which worked very well for about a week. Then when my paperwork got to the government bureaucrats they decided the quality of passport photocopies, extra passport photos, local address provided, etc etc was inadequate, and disconnected my service for the duration. The network service is very good but government protocols are anally retentive.

Recommend you ask your driver our guesthouse to register for your sim card.

I’ll post hotel reviews shortly.

We were very pleased with our driver, Rakesh Yadav. He proved to be a true gentleman, very safe behind the wheel and keen to make our journey comfortable and memorable. I’m very happy to recommend Rakesh to others. He has a website that was designed by another satisfied customer Mike A from Canada.

http://www.laltours.com/

Rajasthan was everything we expected and much more.

Happy to answer any questions.

Cheers

Chris

Georgia, USA
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76 posts
18 reviews
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1. Re: Rajasthan Trip report. JBR

Hi Chris,

Just read your wonderful and funny blog. I just made posting on this same subject under "yarmbutts" asking for advice on how to arrange such a trip. It seems we are looking at making much the same circuit as you but in a clockwise manner, including stops at Mandawa and Bikaner but skipping some of the cities you stayed in.

Did you make the hotels arrangement yourself or go through a travel agent?

Any advice on guides?

Thanks,

Barry

Toronto
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315 posts
32 reviews
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2. Re: Rajasthan Trip report. JBR

Thanks Chris,

Great trip report and blog. I especially liked that you named the hotels......and of course your humour!

Brisbane, Australia
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146 posts
38 reviews
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3. Re: Rajasthan Trip report. JBR

Hi cgw1, appreciate your kind words, thank you.

Hi Yarmbutts,

Further to my previous wafflings on your other post; you will have already noticed from the feedback you are receiving that there is 2 distinct lines of thought when it comes to arranging your road trip through Rajasthan, the organised tour company option or the independent private driver option. And clearly, I was very happy with the latter.

I won’t try to convince you of either option (perhaps I will) but I will explain the process I undertook and why I ended up booking Rakesh Yadav. Let me start by saying I’ve used private drivers in Sri Lanka, Kerala south India and Laos on previous trips, so I guess I prefer to give my business to the little man over the big companies providing my research shows that the little man can deliver a quality product.

It’s easy enough to find driver recommendations and self promoting tour companies here on tripadvisor and this is where I did much of my research. Pick a couple of drivers and tour companies and start some email communication happening. It’s good fun. Remember you’re dealing with people that usually have English as a second language so set out your requirements and keep your questions clear and to the point.

E.g. We have 4 people traveling and need a driver for 17 day Rajasthan tour.

Do you have big car for 4 people? We don’t want sedan car!

Will the cost be per person or for the car?

Can you send me photo of car?

Is car aircon?

How many rupees/km do you charge?

How many rupees/day is the driver allowance?

What will be the tolls/parking costs?

What will be the Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh state taxes?

Any other costs I should know? I don’t want a bad surprise!

Please do not include monument, entrance, camera or other tourist fees.

For info you can expect to pay about Rs 5500/person ($100) for monument, entrance, camera and other tourist fees for your Rajasthan tour. Better to pay as you go, not in a package.

These are a few basic questions to get started.

By the way for your planning purposes: the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays.

Cheers

Chris

Georgia, USA
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76 posts
18 reviews
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4. Re: Rajasthan Trip report. JBR

Hi Biffdog,

I am not clear how you arranged your hotels, I think you are saying that Rakesh arranged them, is this true and how and when did you pay for them?

Also, a quick list of those you would recommend would be great.

BTW, your “waffling” is very interesting!

Thanks.

Brisbane, Australia
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146 posts
38 reviews
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5. Re: Rajasthan Trip report. JBR

Hi Yarmbutts,

Our driver matched or bettered our pre-arranged accommodation options so we ended up cancelling our original hotel plans and going with his suggestions. Yes, he does get a commission in this situation, but as you will soon discover, this is the Indian way. He phones his “accommodation liaison man” who has access to a vast range of hotel options and sure to satisfy your requirements. Tell your driver what your accommodation expectations are (pool, quiet area, view of fort/lake etc, aircon, hot water etc etc) your budget, and tell him you want to see at least 2 rooms on arrival.

We knew our prices, we paid what we were expecting and we were happy our driver got some kickback.

I’ve always arranged my own accommodation and generally got it fairly correct, so I was somewhat apprehensive to go with our driver options but I was pleasantly surprised. Remember these guys do this every day and with the right driver it’s important to them that you are kept happy.

Cheers

Chris

Georgia, USA
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76 posts
18 reviews
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6. Re: Rajasthan Trip report. JBR

Hi Biffdog,

That’s it! We’ve booked up with Rakesh for February next year! We have often followed recommendations like yours on Trip Advisor and have only had one less than excellent experience – and that was only just short of excellent!

Fro example, we did this for a Beijing guide and were astonished at just how good a guide and how gentlemanly he was. So now it’s time to meet Mr Yadav, who seems to be the Indian equivalent.

Rakesh is asking us if we’d like to have the same hotels as you and Robyn used. It seems you had a great experience at the Aashiyan B&B but I could not really tell how you liked the other places. Would you mind giving us a thumbs up or down for the hotels in Mandawa, Bikaner, Jaiselmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaipur and Agra?

Were the hotels downtown in those cities and did they always have en-suite bathrooms? For one thing en-suite bathrooms are very convenient and after my wife and I each had food poisoning in Madrid last month, practically a necessity should the Delhi belly have us again fighting for whose turn it is to throw up.

Thanks for any help you can give,

yb

Brisbane, Australia
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146 posts
38 reviews
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7. Re: Rajasthan Trip report. JBR

Hi Yarmbutts,

I’m pleased you’ve been in contact with Rakesh and have progressed to the planning stage. My wife often comments that we were very fortunate to stumble across this gentleman. I’m sure you’ll be very happy.

Regarding the accommodation options, yes I’ve been slack and not yet put reviews on tripadvisor. However let me provide a quick summary.

All the hotels we stayed in had en-suite bathroom, hot water, air-con and were generally in the Rs 1500-2000 budget. We are comfortable in the 3 star smaller hotels/guesthouse and certainly not 5 star travelers.

Mandawa- Hotel Heritage Mandawa. Good location, ok rooms, nothing great. I would give it an average review.

Bikaner- Hotel Sagar. We really liked it here, big bedroom with huge ensuite, restaurant had great Indian food, 1 km from downtown. Above average.

Jaisalmer- The Royale Jaisalmer. Fantastic location at the base of the golden fort. Great views, rooftop restaurant, close to everything. Avoid room 202, directly below the restaurant/bar, noisy. Above average.

Jodhpur- KP Heritage Haveli. Great location below the fort and 15 minute uphill walk to fort entrance. Downtown area near the clocktower. Above average.

Udiapur- Hotel Pichola Haveli. Great location right on the lake. Huge room and en-suite, hot water was intermittent. Room 101 was very noisy. Recommend a room on the upper floors at the rear of the hotel. Don’t bother with the lake view option rooms –too noisy. Despite the early morning noise we loved it here. Take ear plugs. Above average.

Jaipur- Amer City Heritage Hotel. Location not downtown. Good 3 star hotel. Very comfortable. Good restaurants nearby. Above average.

Agra- Bhoomi Residency. Great location if you want walking access to the Taj. Very good small 3 star hotel. Very comfortable. No restaurants nearby. Above average.

All these hotels were good value for money and would definitely stay at these hotel again.

Cheers

Chris

Steinbach, Canada
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15 posts
2 reviews
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8. Re: Rajasthan Trip report. JBR

My father and I recently returned from India after choosing Rakesh as our guide.

Biffdog's reports were completely accurate! Mike A. from Canada was also a great reference.

He is a wonderful man and a great driver! In such an intense place, Rakesh's calm and kind demeanour makes you feel very safe and looked after. I would definitely recommend booking with him if you are traveling near Delhi or throughout Rajasthan. His prices were fair, and he answers everything promptly and honestly.

Make sure you ask him to set up guides for you when visiting sights. Rakesh will organize it all, and they are quite inexpensive. Tell them you do not want to visit lots of store though!

We visited Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, and Udaipur on a 9 day tour in May.

Feel free to ask me about him or our destinations!

Brisbane, Australia
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146 posts
38 reviews
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9. Re: Rajasthan Trip report. JBR

Hello CarterF,

I'm pleased to read your positive feedback and that you enjoyed your travels with Rakesh Yadav. I hope others also get to experience his friendly hospitality whilst touring through his amazing country.

Cheers

10. Re: Rajasthan Trip report. JBR

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