Travelling by rented car with a driver and guide in India,
Why should you travel by rented car with driver in India?
- While India does enjoy great train connectivity, getting train tickets and boarding trains on crowded Indian platforms can be chaotic and stressful. Renting a car with driver eases these worries.
- Having a car with driver gives you immense flexibility. Leave a city at the time you like and make as many unscheduled stops en route as you want!
- If you have a chatty driver it will be a great cultural experience. Drivers usually come from a lower middle class background, living on the road and learning English on the job. Speaking to them will open new doors to the country that you can’t get anywhere else
- It is very affordable. You get the comfort of a nice car and chauffeur. The convenience of leaving when you like plus local knowledge makes touring India with a car with driver a great value for money option.
A ballpark estimate of a rented car per day would be
- INR 3000 per day for a Sedan Car (can fit up to 3 adults comfortably)
- INR 4000 per day for a SUV segment car, Toyota Innova is the most popularly used car (can fit 4 adults + 1 child very comfortably)
- INR 5500 per day for a minivan (can fit up to 8 adults, has variants that can fit 10/12 adults too)
The prices include
- A good quality air conditioned car
- Driver services through your trip
- All road tolls or taxes
- Stay and meal allowance for the driver
- We highly recommended that you tip your driver at the end of the tour
- Car rental prices in Kerala are about 25% cheaper as the driving distance between towns is shorter others in India
- Car prices can vary from company to company, the prices given here are an approximation
- The rates are calculated considering you use the car to drive you from between destinations within a region (longer driving distances). Rates for car hire for internal sightseeing within a city would be cheaper
How does hiring a car with driver work in India?
Unfortunately, the process of hiring a car with driver is not very organized in India. There is no single leading reputed company that specializes in car hires. You can hire a car with driver through a ‘transport agency’ that specializes in providing car and drivers. Alternately you have individual drivers that own cars or an independent driver.
It is preferable to hire an independent driver that drives his own car. His incentive to provide you excellent service is higher as his business depends on recommendations from clients.
It is recommended to book your car with driver before you arrive in India. You would book a driver by typically e-mailing either a ‘transport agency’ or an independent driver.
Would the driver speak English?
It really depends driver to driver. In more touristy regions like Rajasthan and Kerala it is easier to find an English speaking driver.
Can the driver double up as a guide?
Unfortunately not. The drivers rarely know enough about the towns from a historical perspective. Also, the history of most Indian towns is very deep and it takes an expert to know all about it. However, they’ll most likely have their own tales surrounding places and monuments. If you meet a chatty driver you’re in for a treat!
Can India Someday help us with a car hire in India?
Yes! Depending on which regions in India you are visiting we can help you find a trusted driver and car hire. Contact us, for more information.
Guides and Guided Tours
Should we hire the services of a guide or take guided tours?
There is no straight forward answer to this question. It really depends on the kind of traveler you are and if you are traveling alone/as a group of two or a family. A combination of factors, your personal preferences will decide if you want to or do want the services of guides or guided tours. A hired guide will often ride in your car with you.
When will I need a guide?
- If you are traveling as a bigger group, especially with a family with a varied age group
- If you belong to a slightly older age group or are not experienced travelers. Especially, not experienced travel in India or Asia before.
- As a personal preference if you prefer engaging the services of a guide and the conversations through the day.
We think it is alright to not hire guides
- If you are young and traveling on a strict budget
- If you are experienced travelers and like exploring places independently
Are audio tours popular at monuments in India? Are they good?
Yes, audio guides are gaining popularity in India. In fact, are a great alternative to guided tours. They are fairly priced between INR 100 – INR 300 a tour. Sometimes the instrument can be shared between two people.
From personal experience, we have really enjoyed the audio guides at The Taj Mahal, The Khajuraho Temples, The Amber Fort in Jaipur, The Mehrangarh Fort In Jodhpur.
Audio Compass (http://www.audiocompass.in/) has 21 excellent audio tours with over 500+ points of interest across the country. We’ve always found their audio tours to be in depth and wonderfully curated.
What are the salient advantages of having a guide?
Having a guide often shields you in cities that are little overwhelming to manage on your own.
You can get good restaurant and shopping recommendations. Essentially, you have a local by your side throughout the day.
This is where you need to honest about your style of traveling. A guide will be helpful if you like being led one a tress-free holiday. If you are a very independent traveler, you might find having a guide intruding.
Will a guide insist on taking me to shops/restaurants where they get commissions?
With a fair degree of confidence we can say no they will not take lead you to commission traps. We work with a well reviewed and recommended tour guide service based out of Agra.
Can we not hire the services of a guide directly outside monuments? Is that not a cheaper option?
You will find a number of guides outside each monument. Often they will accost you to sell their services. They are quite reasonably priced and usually have a rate card.
Yes, they are often cheaper than hiring a guide or a guided tour through Signature tours. However, we cannot assure their quality.
We certainly do not take a strong stand against them. Often you might find a wonderful guide. However, if you are sure you want a guide then we would recommend spending that extra bit and having a good guide booked well in advance.
How much does the guided tour cost? How do we book it and pay for it?
The cost of a guide or a guided tour ranges from city to city. They are most expensive in Delhi and Mumbai. Expect them to cost between INR 1500 to INR 3000 for a day. Often this will include the expenses of certain activities, like the boat ride in Varanasi or an elephant ride to the Amber Fort in Jaipur.
We can book the tours on your behalf; there would be a separate proposal for each city with details of the tour, activities and costs. During peak season (Dec 15- Jan 15) we might ask you for an advance payment to block a guide.
You can also contact Sunil directly to book guided tours for cities in North India.
But can’t our driver act as a guide or an informal guide at least?
You might have a rented car and driver for part of your holiday in India. The drivers are a very useful resource for tips on places to see, planning your day and places to eat. Hence, they are great informal guides, again often protecting you.
However, a driver will very rarely have the same formal in depth knowledge of a place or monument. Often, a driver might try and set you up for a guided tour with one of his friends.
Are there guided walking tours, cycling tours, off beat tours in India? Where can we find more information on them?
Yes and No. They are not as readily available as in the west or a lot of other countries. Cycling tours especially are not too common in India.
We are working on a list by aggregating walking/cycling off beat tours that are available in India and our honest opinion on them. (we will be linking it to this page, not ready for the moment)