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Best Places to Visit

The New Delhi-Agra-Jaipur loop covering the Golden Triangle in northern India is top draw for lovers of culture and intrigue. Not only a hub of travel and used as a base for further explorations, but the capital city is also replete with monuments, museums and bazaars set amid a seething mass of humanity. The National Museum in New Delhi has 5,000 years' worth of relics and is arguably the best museum in India.

Agra, the former capital of the Mughal empire, lies to the north and is worth coming to India for on its own as it has the Taj Mahal. This spectacular mausoleum is as sublime as it gets.

To the west is the Pink City of Jaipur, with its wide boulevards, massive forts and rich Rajput culture. The likes of the Aber Fort, the City Palace and Govind Devji Temple need to be seen to be believed. The Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum is a top museum, with exquisite textiles, embroidery, silks and armoury. Also in Rajasthan is India's romantic lake city, Udaipur.

As the glamour capital of Bollywood, Mumbai is loaded with mega cinemas, malls and glass skyscrapers. True to form, however, this modern, west coast finance hub of India rubs shoulders with vast slums.

In the East is the less populous, slightly more ordered city of Kolkata. Also an important financial centre, it is home to India's most impressive colonial buildings, including the well-preserved St Paul's Cathedral.

Lying between Delhi and Kolkata in Uttar Pradesh is the spiritual heart of India, Varanasi. This ancient, living city on the sacred Ganges is a place of iconic, riverside palaces and Hindu religious rituals.

The beaches of Goa in the south-west draw tourists by the millions. This region is one of India's main draws, with everything from cheap backpacker pads to sublime resorts hideaways - a must-see on holidays to India. Keep an eye out for intriguing Portuguese colonial heritage.

Easily the top spot for lovers of natural splendour is the disputed Kashmir region in the north. With its colourful meadows and jagged, snowy peaks, it is a trekker's dream, and perfect for lovers of nature and exploring.

Wildlife can be seen at national parks all over India. Keoladeo Ghana National Park and Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan are two of the best, while the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve in West Bengal is popular.

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Need to know

Language

Hindi is the main tongue of India, spoken by the greatest percentage of the populace. English is also an official language, although the local accents can be thick and confusing for tourists. There are many other regional languages in India, including Bengali and Punjabi (North), and Tamil (South), while Muslims mainly speak Urdu, which is also spoken in Pakistan.

Currency

Indian rupees (Rs) can’t be bought outside of India and cannot be exported either. Banks offer the best exchange rates, and hotels and airports the worst. Cirrus and PLUS debit cards, along with VISA and MasterCard credit cards are usually accepted at ATMs. Credit cards should be accepted at big hotels, shops and restaurants, while travellers' cheques should be in US dollars and changed at banks. US dollars can be used at some outlets, but most vendors refuse damaged banknotes.

Visas

North Americans and EU nationals need a tourist visa, which should be applied for before travel. A multiple-entry visa can be purchased for a stay of up to six months, while single-entry transit visas are cheaper but more restrictive. India tourist visas are valid from the date of issue. Passports should be valid for at least six months with two blank pages.

Climate

India has many different climatic regions, from the alpine Himalayan north to the balmy tropical south. It is usually hot and humid in the most popular areas, with average temperatures in the 25-30°C range and highs reaching 40°C. India holidays are best in the November to February cool season, with the hottest time from March to June. It rains most from July to October, which is also hot and muggy. The country's main climate influence comes from the Himalayas and the Thar Desert, which create monsoon weather. Central, western, and south-western India are best visited in winter, while the north-east is pleasant from March to June.

Main Airports

India is gigantic and has many major gateways. The main hubs are New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Kolkata's Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Chennai's Anna International Airport and Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi International Airport. Direct flights with major carriers connect Indian with Europe, North America and the Middle East. Dabolim Airport in Goa is one of the main secondary airports, receiving flights from the Middle East and Europe.

Flight Options

Several major carriers serve New Delhi, each with an average flight time from London of around 9 hours. Flights from Europe to Goa are available with UK charter and budget airlines, and Kolkata is served by some of Asia’s largest carriers.

Travel Advice

Flying via the Arabian Gulf is one of the best options for cheap India holidays. Local carriers usually offer better rates than the main international carriers. From Southeast Asia, budget carriers regularly offer reasonable prices, especially when booked in advance.

Other Transport Options

The Samjhauta Express train run from Lahore in Pakistan through the Punjab region, while intrepid travellers can book an all-encompassing bus tour.

Kaart

Température moyenne (°C)

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Précipitations (mm)

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Feiten

  1. Tot 50 miljoen jaar geleden was India een eiland. Toen de dinosauriërs over de aarde zwermden, was India een continent dat zich langzaam noordwaarts bewoog, tot het uiteindelijk op de Aziatische kust botste. Daarbij werd het land omhooggeduwd en ontstond de Himalaya.
  2. De hoofdstad van India heeft een groot gebrek aan grondstoffen door de hoge bevolkingsdichtheid. Bijna een kwart van de huishoudens in de stad heeft geen regelmatige toegang tot water.
  3. Er worden honderden mangovariëteiten verbouwd in India, waaronder de Alphonso mango.

Feiten

  1. Tot 50 miljoen jaar geleden was India een eiland. Toen de dinosauriërs over de aarde zwermden, was India een continent dat zich langzaam noordwaarts bewoog, tot het uiteindelijk op de Aziatische kust botste. Daarbij werd het land omhooggeduwd en ontstond de Himalaya.
  2. De hoofdstad van India heeft een groot gebrek aan grondstoffen door de hoge bevolkingsdichtheid. Bijna een kwart van de huishoudens in de stad heeft geen regelmatige toegang tot water.
  3. Er worden honderden mangovariëteiten verbouwd in India, waaronder de Alphonso mango.

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