One of the first questions you ask yourself when planning a trip to India, is simply: where to go and what are the best places to visit in India? It’s hard to give a brief answer to that question due to the sheer vastness of the county. In the following article we want to give you a good understanding of your options. It will hopefully help you understand which regions are popular, which are not as touristy and all the many delights and challenges of the said regions. With this all in mind you can make a decision on your preferred travel destination. If you rather want to discuss this with our travel magicians, plan your trip with us and we can help you find out where you can go.
What can you expect from India?
India is the seventh largest country in the world. We are blessed with some stunningly diverse geographical terrain. A desert holiday, a beach holiday, an island holiday, a mountain holiday, a wildlife holiday, a lush green plains and backwaters holiday or a combination of them all are possible when you visit India.
Add centuries of history under different reigns, their architectural influences, India’s deep religious and spiritual culture and your holiday can be have layers of depth and understanding the Indian story.
Most of the trips we plan include one, two or even sometimes three geographical elements. You can rarely escape history/culture and places of worship in India. Indeed, almost all our trips include regular forays into the same.
Even if your trip is short and you do not visit multiple regions you will still have hugely different experiences within the same holiday.
Which regions are the most popular?
The popular (but, rightly so) regions are the following:
Rajasthan with stunning forts and palaces, national parks offering tiger safaris, the endless beautiful desert and charming (but often very affordable) heritage hotels.
India Someday recommends a minimum of 7 nights for this region and up to 14 nights at most. Visiting Agra and/or Varanasi would be an add on to a Rajasthan tour
Kerala, rolling hills blanketed in spice and tea plantations, lazy backwaters, thriving rainforests, balmy beaches and fabulous food all in one small state. Lovely traditional hotels, houseboats and innumerable homestays make these holidays incredibly intimate.
India Someday recommends a minimum of 5 nights for this region and up to 10 nights at most. You can combine Kerala with Karnataka (Hampi, Mysore), Tamil Nadu (Madurai, Tanjore, Pondicherry) or Goa.
Goa is lined with bustling beaches that stay warm all winter long. The Portuguese influence means great food and architecture and the lush green countryside provides a ton of alternate routes. There’s delicious Indian and International food (lots of seafood) and a vibrant nightlife for those who seek it.
Goa is one of the most tourist-saturated regions in India, but India Someday can dig out places to stay that are miles away from the maddening crowd. Lovely beach front properties, beach huts, boutique hotels and luxurious resorts are all on offer in Goa.
India Someday recommends a minimum of 3 nights and up to 7 nights stay. Visiting Hampi for 2-3 nights can be an add on to Goa
Where can you go if the mountains are more your thing?
India boundaries hold in thousands of kilometers of the Himalayan mountain range. We love the mountains; and have successfully arranged several week long trekking trips in different parts of the Himalayas. You can look either plan a serious trekking holiday or just enjoy few days in the Himalayas
Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are easily reachable from Delhi. Both states have innumerable multiple day trekking routes. You can also look at relaxed mountain stays, soaking the surroundings and going on daily hikes.
India Someday recommends a minimum of 4 nights, and up to 10 nights for the Himalayas. Look at between 6 to 10 days if you wish to do a multiple day trek, criss-crossing idyllic Himalayan villages. (India Someday helps you organise the logistics for multiple-day treks)
Leh and Ladakh, accessible only between June to mid-October, are a part of the high Tibetean Plateau. One can do a trekking trip or just a sight-seeing holiday.
We recommend a week to 10 days to include a visit to this region. One can take up to three days to reach Leh and Ladakh from Delhi.
Sikkim is another tiny, but beautiful Himalayan state in the North-Eastern part of India. It boasts strong Buddhist influences with remarkable monasteries. We recommend allocating a week to nine days to include a visit to Sikkim.
What are some less touristy and interesting regions to visit?
Tamil Nadu, a state in south India sharing a border with Kerala receives a lot less tourists than its neighbour. Home to stunning temple complexes (tens of centuries old), it also shares the hills with Kerala and has lovely hill stations and national parks. Pondicherry (a coastal former French colony) is a convenient stopover while traversing Tamil Nadu. India Someday recommends a minimum of 6 days and upto 12 days for Tamil Nadu
Karnataka is a state above Kerala. It is home to the Unesco World Heritage town Hampi, endless coffee plantations and forest stays. Mysore, city of palaces, is a convenient drive from Bangalore. India Someday recommends a minimum of 6 days and upto 10 days for Karnataka. See a trip across South India through Hampi here.
Gujarat is just south of Rajasthan and receives a fraction of the number of tourists that Rajasthan receives. Once can easily tack on a few days in Gujarat while visiting Rajasthan. It is dotted with temples, has a vibrant handicraft industry, pretty coastal stops and is home to the only National park in India that features the Asiatic Lion. India Someday recommends 3 days to upto a week for Gujarat.
Madhya Pradesh in the very centre of India is a large state with a lot of interesting architecture and home to some of the finest National Parks in India. If you are willing to endure longer travel times, Madhya Pradesh is the ideal destination to plan a wildlife holiday. Khajuraho (home to the famous erotic temples) and Orchha (a quaint temple town) can be conveniently included when planning a North India i.e. Delhi – Agra – Varanasi – Rajasthan trip. India Someday recommends allocating a minimum of 4 days and upto 10 days for Madhya Pradesh.
Where to go to be even more off-the-beaten-path?
Yes, there are states like Orrisa and Chattisgarh, unfortunately we do not know these states well and do not plan trips there. The Himalayan state of Kashmir is often avoided by tourists due to security concerns, but it is a breathtakingly beautiful region and we are happy to plan trips for our guests there (though we cannot take responsibility for their safety).
The North East (seven states called the seven sisters like Meghalaya, Assam or Nagaland) is a gorgeous remote region of India. We plan trips to this region with the help of a like-minded travel agency.
Where should you go if you only have two weeks in India?
We usually recommend either just a North India trip, or just a South India trip. For a North India trip, a short visit to the Himalayas is a possible addition.
If you love beaches, you can add a few days in Goa to a South India or a North India trip.
If you love hiking or just want to be completely away from other tourists then look an exclusively trekking holiday or an entire two weeks in one of the less touristy states.
A trip across the highlights of both North India and South India is possible. We usually ask our guest to aim for at least a two and half week holiday to include both regions but that would be pretty fast-paced.
Where should you go for three weeks or more in India?
Your options would now be an extensive North India or South India trip, or a combination of both. You can also consider seeing the spiritual cities or trek in the Himalayas plus a visit around Rajasthan.
You can almost always allocate some beach time, or look at two weeks in the popular regions and a week in the not so popular regions. Or check out our blog for some four weeks trip ideas.
In a nutshell, you will need to decide how long you want to travel for and if you are more of a history and culture geek or rather a nature person. If you want to see as much as possible in less time or rather have a relaxed time. If long distance travel is okay for you or you rather prefer short travel times.
We hope this information serves as a starting point to explore your options for an Indian holiday deeper. We usually exchange multiple e-mails with our guests as we plan their route, so a lot of the route discovery will happen over the course of e-mail exchanges. If only one, all or none of these regions appeal to you, plan your trip with us and let us know where you want to go and we’ll make it happen. Also check out all our tour ideas.