Here the topic is the public transport system and tips on how to get from one place to another, best mode of travel, things to keep in mind and the cautions. We think that it will be of a great help while travelling in India.
First of all we would like to give you some special tips or warnings –
- Be prepared for delays of trains, flights and even the road travel in winters, especially in North India and the months from mid-November till January because of fog. The Indian train stations & airports generally are not equipped with techniques and equipment to help run during the fog.
- Never buy any train ticket, flight ticket or hotel reservation from and through a tout. These tickets might end up been fake or stolen. You might end up in a big hassle or problem.
- Pick pockets are common in the train stations, bus stations around busy places like markets etc. So beware (Please refer to the “Warnings” link for more details).
- Always make sure that you reserve/ buy your tickets well in advance. India is a heavily populated country and due to so many holidays and festivals, it becomes very hard to get confirmations on the spot. This is a very special tip to avoid any type last minute surprises.
- Choose your class of travel in trains wisely (Please read further for the train tips).
Local Buses: - There is a good network of local busses within each city. But these busses generally are overcrowded. You might even find people travelling on the bus footsteps and sometimes the buses are so packed that you can hardly move or breathe in it. This is funny but you might see people hanging on the busses.
This is the situation when the pick pockets take advantage. Sometimes it’s not that bad in big cities like Delhi or Mumbai but at small places … Yes that’s the way it is. The busses are generally not well maintained, shabby and dirty (except in Delhi as the transport system has improved drastically in last few years with all new fleet of busses like low floor busses, air-conditioned and hybrid busses etc. And all of them run on green fuel – CNG). But again it is advisable to avoid the public transport as far as possible.
One important thing for women travelers- some people tend to take advantage of the heavily packed busses and touch ladies or women travelers. BEWARE. So on the whole according to our experiences with tourists- a local bus is a strict no for tourists but if you wish to travel between different states then there are some good and pre reserved bus services with advanced busses like Volvos etc. That will be a good choice but only if you are lucky enough to get a reservation.
Taxi and Auto Rickshaw/ Cycle or Battery Rickshaw: - These are the most famous mode of transport in India. The taxis are generally more expensive than auto rickshaws. You can get an air-conditioned taxi or choose a cheaper version which is non-air-conditioned. The fare of the taxis and autos keep on changing frequently and the drivers never want to serve you with the officially fixed fares. They generally make their own fares which are quite high. You will have to ask them the fare before boarding and fix it after bargaining. The correct and official way is to travel by the meter fare. Generally it is not followed.
Always insist on the latest fare sheet to be sure of the fare. On stations, airports and bus stations you will find a prepaid taxi booth, go for it. Auto rickshaws always have to go their own way and don’t be surprised if they flatly refuse you to let you board their rickshaw if you don’t pay them the fare they desire. Well for small distances a cycle rickshaw will be a great idea and experience for you. It is generally cheap (a little slow) but a good experience. It’s good if there is no rain or not too hot or not too cold… Hahahahaha… but that’s true.
Flights:- The flight connections between different states & cities in India are very huge, well organized and advance. It is one of the best networks in the world and covers mostly all of India. There are 2 main scheduled carriers Air India (The national carrier) & Jet Airways. The other small or low cost carriers are Spice jet, Indigo and Go air.
The fares are never guaranteed unless booked and paid for. The fares of all the airlines are flexible and depend on many factors like how advance you book, flight load, weekends and week days etc. Please make sure to book all your tickets in advance and never wait till last moment. The last moment fares are generally very high and shocking as compared to what you might get if you book early.
Delhi Metro Train (Subway system): - This is the latest addition to the public transport system in the capital city- New Delhi. It is one of the worlds most advanced and fastest growing transport network in Delhi. It now covers major parts of the city including the domestic & international airports. It very well connects the stations, airport, markets, cinema halls etc. It is very good, affordable, comfortable & safe service and is always advisable for the tourists. The only drawback is that there is no service between 11 pm – 6 am. The new introduction in metro is the lady’s compartment. This compartment is generally 1st compartment of the train and is exclusively reserved for lady travelers. Well as the metro trains and stations are also crowded, one has to be careful with the personal belongings.
Indian Railways: - Now we come to the biggest transport network of India. The Indian Railways. It is the only network which connects each and every corner, city, town, village of India. Basically it is the life line of Indian transport and it connects people from North to South, East to West and vice versa.
Trains are always recommended for long journeys like overnight journeys so that you can save that hotel money and still sleep and travel in comfort. Advance booking is always recommended as we told you before also that this network is always very busy and it is very hard to get on the spot confirmations. Especially in tourist places and places like Rajasthan where there are very few (sometimes only one) trains between many cities.
There are 7 classes in the Indian trains and from lowest to highest they are – 2S, SL, 3A, CC, 2A, FC, 1A. For tourist we always recommend the classes 3A and above as they are air-conditioned and pre reserved and cleaner. Still for a nice experience we suggest you to travel in either 2A or 1A only.
Rajdhani and Shatabdi are the names of 2 best trains of India connecting only big or famous cities. Other places the connected by express or passenger trains which are slower than them. There are also many quotas (reservations) in the trains like General (for every one), Tourist (only for foreigners), Defense (for military), Ladies quota etc. You will generally find many touts at the train stations trying to sell you confirmed tickets or tickets from foreign quota. NEVER fall for the trap. Sometimes they act as train officers and take the tourists to private offices located outside the station. SAY NO to them and book your tickets only through your own travel agent or yourself in the station official counter for foreigners.
Better to have your agent book them for you and you can print the electronic ticket and travel without any hassle of touts, queues, looking for connections etc. If someone tries to be friendly in the train and offers something to eat, then don’t accept it. Have your own packed food, fruits, water etc. with you. Also keep a chain and lock to lock your bags in the train. Sometimes people misguide the tourists like this is the wrong ticket or you paid more for the travel or go to police as you have been cheated etc. This is all on purpose to make you cancel the tour and then depend on them for the services. Never reveal or discuss your travel plans with anyone to avoid hassles.