Visiting Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, and looking to arrange your Indian visa?
The eVisa is a great option, but doesn’t work for everyone. If you intend to visit longer than 30-days, have previously been denied entry and/or are requesting multiple entries, it is imperative that you apply at the Embassy in person.
Find out everything you need to know here. From the requirements, to where to go. Learn how much it costs & how long the process takes.
Check it out here in 3 Easy Steps!
If it’s your first trip to India, no doubt Agra will be on your itinerary. But before visiting the majestic Taj Mahal Indian jewel, there are a few things you need to know.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE IS TO LEARN HOW TO GIVE OUT LOVE AND LET IT COME IN. – MORRIE SCHWARTZ
The one & only Taj Mahal!
It’s closed on Fridays. Open from sunrise to sunset Saturday – Thursday. Seriously! Who would have known? We surely didn’t… But, since it is a Muslim temple, and Friday’s are an important part of the religion, the Taj Mahal remains closed on Fridays. Don’t make the same mistake as us and show up on a Thursday night, planning to visit on Friday morning and head out of town the same night. We ended up being able to rearrange our schedule to stay an extra day. However, many of the people we met, unfortunately, weren’t able to change their plans, so had to settle for coming so far only to see it from the outside. Moral of the story – plan accordingly.
Go early. 1,000 rupees/$15. Head to the ticket counter to pick up your entrance ticket the day prior if you can. Alternatively, visit early in the morning when the gates open at 5:30am to pick up your ticket. Then make your way to lining up at the gates in front of the Taj. 30-minutes or an hour delay will make a huge difference in the size of the crowd, so organize yourself to get up early and make the most of it.
Timing is everything!
It’s a star-crossed love story. Emperor Shah Jahan built it for his wife (his favorite of many), Mumtaz Mahal. It was built to honor her and act as a mausoleum to house her body after she died during childbirth. However, soon after it was built, his son overthrew him and imprisoned him in the Agra Fort. From his cell there, he was forced to look out and see the Taj Mahal. Fortunately, when the former emperor passed, his son had enough mercy to bury him next to his wife in the Taj.
It’s the same on all four sides. From the outside, the Taj Mahal is completely symmetrical. It’s good to know, as with the upkeep required, one or more of the sides may be obstructed with some renovations. So, anticipate some construction, and plan on making the most of your experience despite it.
It’s beautiful. Yes, you probably already knew this. But it’s absolutely stunning! There are plenty of vantage points. So don’t limit yourself to the grounds only. Eat lunch at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Taj. Take a boat ride at sunset to see it in all its glory. Or head across to Mehtab Bagh to check it out from across the river.
Night viewing is an option. 750 rupees/$11. For a few days surrounding a full moon, tickets can be purchased to view the Taj at night. Batches of 50 people are allowed entry between 8:30pm-12:30am 30-minute time slots.
There she is!
Big Brother Hostel – $. If you’re on a budget and don’t mind a dingy setup with the best hosts and the closest location to the Taj, this is the place for you.
Zostel – $$. If you’re looking for something a bit nicer, but still affordable and within walking distance to the Taj, check out the Agra branch of this chain hostel.
Oberoi – $$$$. If budget is no issue, stay at this beautiful property only minutes from the East Gate.
Agra Fort – 500 rupees/$7.50. Also known as the Red Fort, it plays an important role in Agra’s history. Catch the nightly sound & light show at 6:30pm for 150 rupees/$2 (note, we didn’t get a chance to go, so can’t recommend it based on experience, but it’s definitely an option).
Mehtab Bagh – 200 rupees/$3. Explore the gardens & catch a glimpse of the Taj from across the river (also open Friday’s).
Shanti Lodge – $. Check out the view of the Taj from here! The food is reasonably priced and not half bad either.
Not a bad view hey!
Taj Mahal Indian must see or is it overrated? We loved every minute visiting this beautiful site, it definitely lived up to all the hype. I would definitely recommend you visit it if you find yourself in India, it’s worth traveling for!
Located in the Tiger Reserve, you can find the Chaurasi Kutiya Ashram. It’s better known as the Beatles Ashram Rishikesh, due to their experience with transcendental meditation at the location in the mid 60’s.
Start your morning off with an unoriginal, but aptly named smoothie (Beatles Ashram Rishikesh) at Zorba in Laxmanjhula.
BUT TOMORROW MAY RAIN, SO I’LL FOLLOW THE SUN. – I’LL FOLLOW THE SUN
From there, take a leisurely stroll 30-minutes down the road until you reach a sign for the Tiger Reserve. Take an immediate right down a winding, dirt road until you reach the Beatles ashram Rishikesh. From here, pay the steep entrance fee (600 rupees/$9) and make your way in. Climb the hill past the wild monkeys, and witness the beehive shaped meditation caves on both sides.
From there, the path is not well signed, so enjoy getting lost and exploring. Make sure to take some bug spray as you are deep in the forest. And witness some of the beautiful works of art scattered throughout the grounds. Here’s a taste of the inspiration that awaits…
I DON’T CARE TOO MUCH FOR MONEY. MONEY CAN’T BUY ME LOVE. – CAN’T BUY ME LOVE
THE SUN IS UP, THE SKY IS BLUE, IT’S BEAUTIFUL, AND SO ARE YOU. – DEAR PRUDENCE
Mother, Sister, Lover!
AND IN THE END, THE LOVE YOU TAKE IS EQUAL TO THE LOVE YOU MAKE. – THE END
WITH A LOVE LIKE THAT YOU KNOW YOU SHOULD BE GLAD. – SHE LOVES YOU
YOU MAY SAY I’M A DREAMER, BUT I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE. I HOPE SOME DAY YOU’LL JOIN US, AND THE WORLD WILL LIVE AS ONE. – IMAGINE
LIFE IS VERY SHORT, AND THERE’S NO TIME FOR FUSSING AND FIGHTING, MY FRIEND. – WE CAN WORK IT OUT
Inner Peace is World Peace!
THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO THAT CAN’T BE DONE. THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN SAY THAT CAN’T BE SUNG. – ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE
AND WHEN THE BROKEN HEARTED PEOPLE LIVING IN THE WORLD AGREE, THERE WILL BE AN ANSWER, LET IT BE. FOR THOUGH THEY MAY BE PARTED THERE IS STILL A CHANCE THAT THEY WILL SEE THERE WILL BE AN ANSWER, LET IT BE. – LET IT BE
Yes, Just Let It Be!
TAKE THESE SUNKEN EYES AND LEARN TO SEE ALL YOUR LIFE YOU WERE ONLY WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT TO BE FREE. – BLACKBIRD
YESTERDAY, LOVE WAS SUCH AN EASY GAME TO PLAY. NOW I NEED A PLACE TO HIDE AWAY.OH, I BELIEVE IN YESTERDAY. – YESTERDAY
AND ANY TIME YOU FEEL THE PAIN, HEY JUDE, REFRAIN. DON’T CARRY THE WORLD UPON YOUR SHOULDERS FOR WELL YOU KNOW THAT IT’S A FOOL WHO PLAYS IT COOL BY MAKING HIS WORLD A LITTLE COLDER. – HEY JUDE
Think of Me!
And if you still haven’t had enough of the Beatles, head to the café they used to hang out in when you’re finished and enjoy some of the best food in town. The team at Café del Mar (also known as the 60’s Café) will be happy to look after you!
There’s so much to know about ashrams in Rishikesh! Thinking about heading to Rishikesh to stay in an ashram for a few days? Here are a few things you should know.
LIFE ISN’T ABOUT FINDING YOURSELF. LIFE IS ABOUT CREATING YOURSELF. – GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
Be at one with yourself & nature!
There are multiple places that call themselves ashrams. There are many good and many bad ashrams in Rishikesh.Unfortunately, some are merely banking on the name. But in reality are nothing more than guesthouses offering yoga. Ok, so what is an ashram? An ashram is defined as a spiritual hermitage. And sure, this is open to interpretation, but after visiting several, you will get a better feel for which ones are the “real thing.”
Book in advance. In peak season (October – March), some ashrams in Rishikesh are fully booked months in advance. If you have your heart set on one, in particular, make sure to book early, to avoid disappointment. Here are a few of the most popular ashrams in the area, but by no means is this an exhaustive list:
Yoga Niketan – a traditional ashram, perched on top of the hill, offering daily yoga, lectures, and mediation
Phool Chatti – a quiet oasis removed from the rest of the world
Sivananda – a division of the Divine Life Society, with locations scattered all over the world
Most ashrams in Rishikesh have a minimum stay requirement. Many require a minimum of 3-nights, though as always, there are exceptions to the rule. If you are only in town for a couple days, they’re happy to bend the rules. Likewise, if they are very busy, they may only accept you for 1-2 days at a time. It’ll likely take you a few days to settle in, so don’t rush it.
Pricing structure varies from ashram to ashram. Be sure to find out what’s included. One ashram is 900/day, whilst another is 300/day. The more expensive one includes a private room, morning & evening meditation and yoga sessions, and 3 meals per day. Whilst the cheaper option only includes a bed in a shared room. If you stay a certain number of nights, the yoga is free, but the food is always extra. Don’t just take it at face value – find out what is and is not included.
Most ashrams in Rishikesh do not practice yoga & meditation on Sunday’s. And on the seventh day, He rested. Of course, with such a full-on schedule, it’s important to take a rest. Though if you just can’t get enough, you can always join a drop-in class outside the ashram.
Ashrams in Rishikesh follow a daily schedule. While the schedule and intensity may vary, it’s a good way to help you find your rhythm. Most start with an early morning wake-up call, followed by some yoga and/or mediation. Take the time to fuel your body as you have the mind, and you’ve got yourself the recipe for success.
Ahhh, that bell!
And, here’s a look at what that daily schedule may look like…
5:00am. I wake to the bell. Pop out of bed like the good ole days of selling books. For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, check out Southwestern’s summer internship program 😉
First up is meditation. So, I head to the meditation hall. It’s empty. I see one other person, so I ask them. They don’t speak English. But, I follow them to the yoga hall. It’s full of people and meditation has already begun. It’s only 5:10am, and the schedule says it starts at 5:15. I’m convinced these ninja-like warriors must set their alarms to wake up before the 5am community bell, so they can get front row seats. I always disliked those teacher’s pets.
I grab a meditation pillow and sit in the back. It smells musky. I’m trying to focus, but I didn’t sleep well and I’m a bit tired. And just as I think I could dose off again, I hear that oh-so-familiar sound of a tuk-tuk horn. I laugh and try to return my focus to meditating. My foot falls asleep. I try not to move, but pins and needles begin to shoot up my leg causing immense discomfort. So, I shimmy around. My valiant attempts are failing.
6:30am. Yoga time! I’ve been practicing irregularly over the past few years, so I feel comfortable with most the postures. It’s simple and I like it. And, I’m surprisingly good at it. Not to “toot my own horn” or anything, but for someone as clumsy as I am, I love that I’m able to balance on one leg for a minute. And place my heels on the ground in downward facing dog with ease. Hey, you’ve got to celebrate the small things in life.
8:00am. They ring the bell signaling it’s time for breakfast. I learned from the people this morning racing to get in before the bell. So, I’m already in the dining hall, patiently waiting. No one else is there yet. Haha, suckers. Our food is served on sectioned stainless steel plates (you know, so our food doesn’t touch). We’re only given spoons (knives & forks would be too risky). And we have to wash our own dishes. I know it’s reinforcing principles of discipline, as back home my dishes go straight into the sink. At least until it’s time to load the dishwasher. But perhaps they should give new inmates an introduction to the proper methods of washing. This morning I picked up a plate, and it had remnants of last night’s dinner stuck to it. Appetising. food is served, and it’s delicious. Eating has never been a problem for me.
In between scheduled activities, you can visit the library, attend lectures, or visit the nearby town. I enjoyed spending a lot of time by myself, reflecting, reading, and writing.
4:30pm. The meditation-yoga-eat schedule repeats itself in the evening. By this point, I am getting used to doing everything at the cue of a bell. I’m starting to like it here.
But there are things about this place that make me feel like I’m in a prison. My room is called a cell. I’m referred to as an inmate. I have to sign in and out of the premises. No visitors are allowed.
10:00pm. And it’s lights out. Ahhh, I really like this part.
As I lay me down to sleep!
After 7-days of this, I felt rested, rejuvenated and refreshed!
I don’t know what I loved more, the bathrooms that had clearly not been cleaned since 1979. Or, the constant smell of mothballs, which gave me fond memories of my grandmother’s house.
I jest, but in all seriousness, I really did enjoy my lil’ home at the foothills of the Himalayas. I would recommend this experience to anyone!
Welcome to the home of yoga, an integral part of any Rishikesh trip! What most consider to be Rishikesh is actually an area outside of the town called Laxmanjhula.
WE CANNOT CHANGE THE CARDS WE ARE DEALT, JUST HOW WE PLAY THE HAND. – RANDY PAUSCH
By the time I arrived from Varanasi, I definitely needed some zen in my life! 24-hours on the train after a 7-hour delay. Followed by tuk-tuk drivers trying to rip me off left, right and center. I am not in the mood!
Nearly everyone who makes the Rishikesh trip is on some type of spiritual journey. If they don’t come here with the intent of it, chances are, they will be before they leave. It’s a rite of passage.
Lord Shiva rules all in Rishikesh!
THE ONLY WAY THAT WE CAN LIVE, IS IF WE GROW. THE ONLY WAY THAT WE CAN GROW IS IF WE CHANGE. THE ONLY WAY THAT WE CAN CHANGE IS IF WE LEARN. THE ONLY WAY WE CAN LEARN IS IF WE ARE EXPOSED. AND THE ONLY WAY THAT WE CAN BECOME EXPOSED IS IF WE THROW OURSELVES OUT INTO THE OPEN. DO IT. THROW YOURSELF. – UNKNOWN
With every form of spiritual, physical and emotional development available in this town, there’s something for everyone.
Scenic town set at the foot of the Himalayas!
Every second person you meet is undergoing their yoga teacher training.
Others are just joining in one of the many drop-in yoga classes. Kundalini yoga helps release anxiety. Hatha yoga promises to create balance in your life. Vinyasa yoga ensures you’ll live a long, healthy life through this cardiovascular workout. Tantraa yoga enhances your sex life. Acro yoga lets you fulfill your lifelong dream of joining the circus. And Laughing yoga…well, it’s hilarious!
Meditation takes people to a deeper level.
Some enroll in massage therapy courses. Others just indulge in the services. I fall into the latter category.
Some heal through Reiki sessions.
Healthy, organic food can be found with ease in this area. And you can take courses to learn all about Ayurvedic.
Still, others come to clear their chakras or undergo some intense emotional blockage clearing treatments.
Everyone is trying something new, from Bollywood dancing to learning how to play the Harmonium (a mix between a piano and accordion).
The hippies are stoked to smoke spliffs in local cafes all day.
And Israelis find safety in numbers.
People are walking contradictions. The gorgeous blonde is working hard to stay fit, before rushing outside to get her nicotine fix. Yoga gurus have morphed into Western women. And people smoking to get high are fearful of the nearby mountains because they have a fear of heights.
It’s a liberating place where everything goes. And everyone is accepted. For exactly who they are. Or who they are trying to become. This is one of the things I loved about my Rishikesh trip.
Age is just a number. Race knows no barriers. And creed is irrelevant. Ultimately, everyone’s here on the same journey. To make the world a better place. To gain a stronger understanding of themselves and get in better touch with their surroundings .
So, c’mon, what are you waiting for? Rishikesh is waiting for you!
Set on the Ganges!
STAY IN RISHIKESH
Shiv Shakti – These guys know what they’re doing. Set in the heart of Rishikesh, Shiv Shakti ensures you’ll feel right at home. Like family.
Yoga Niketan – If you’d prefer to stay at an ashram, this is the place for you. Enjoy a time out for yourself and spend time working on your yoga and meditation practices.
Get in touch with your spiritual side!
PLAY IN RISHIKESH
Yoga – Stop into one of the drop-in classes or stay a while and complete your yoga teacher training.
Meditation – Learn to quiet the mind while getting more in touch with your spiritual side. Check out Gyan Yog Breath’s transformational meditation!
Cooking Class – Learn the Ayurveda way of living, based on ancient Indian medicinal uses of food.
Sunrise Hike – Start your day right with a walk to one of the nearby waterfalls. Enjoy your time with nature while taking in the serenity of Rishikesh.
Rafting – Link up with one of the local guides and enjoy rafting down the Ganges.
Aarti – Held nightly at Parmarth Niketan, join along in witnessing this divine light ceremony at sunset on the Ganges.
Dip in the Ganges – Said by Hindu’s to wash away your sins, this is a powerful experience for Westerner’s alike.
Have you ever asked yourself, why visit India? Whatever you think you know about India, you are probably wrong. Our friend Abi, Delhi born and raised, whom we met on our travels in India, told us, “The problem with India is that even Indians do not know what India is.”
EVERYTHING YOU ARE EXPERIENCING AT THIS MOMENT , WHATEVER IT IS, IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED FOR YOUR PERSONAL GROWTH. TRUST IT. – UNKNOWN
After traveling this incredible country for a mere 5-weeks, I can see exactly what Abi means. There are 29 states (and 7 territories) and each one is completely different. And the contrast of the cities within those states is just as clear. Hampi is nothing like Goa. And Rajasthan’s, Udaipur and Jaipur, are like chalk and cheese. But wow! There are so many wonderful things to explore!
Step into the magic of India!
Depending on your country of residence and your intended length of stay, there are a couple of ways to obtain a visa for visiting India.
Residents of many countries who only wish to stay for a maximum of 30-days can obtain an eVisa, which is definitely the easiest plan of attack. Head here to check out eligible countries and requirements.
If you are from a country not on this list and/or intend to stay longer than 30-days, you’ll need to apply beforehand at an Indian Embassy or Immigration office. While the process may vary depending on your origin and place of application, check out our application process from Sri Lanka.
Don’t monkey around with your Indian visa!
We’re talking about a subcontinent here, so whilst there are seasons, weather patterns drastically vary across the country.
Agra: Experience one of the 7-Wonders of the World, the beautiful Taj Mahal
Varanasi: Witness the liveliness of one of the world’s most ancient and holiest cities
Soak up India’s rich history!
EATING & DRINKING IN INDIA
Having enjoyed Indian food for years in our home country, we were eager to try the “real deal.” And we were not disappointed! Food is often referred to as either veg (vegetarian) or non-veg (with meat).
We decided to stick with veg options to help mitigate the risk of getting sick throughout our trip. Sanitation standards are different in India than many first world countries, so we didn’t want to risk it. That being said, with the plethora of veg options available, not once did we ever miss the meat in our diets!
By no means is this an inclusive list, but here’s how to interpret some of our favorite dishes you may find on the menu.
Dosa - Savoury crepe filled with a selection of ingredients
Tea - Anything from black to ginger to masala
Thali - Round platter served with a variety of dishes
Chai - Blend of black tea & herbs
Gobi/Gobhi - Cauliflower
Kingfisher - National beer
Palak - Spinach
Paneer - Cottage Cheese
Ali/Aloo - Potato
Masala - Mix of 5 herbs (cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, ginger & cloves)
Plenty of fun & festivities throughout India!
We budgeted for $48.34 USD/day (for 2 people). Actual was $47.84/day x 36 days = $1,722 total.
Accommodation – $364
Beverages – $83
Food – $453
Transport – $247 *
Entertainment – $430
Miscellaneous – $145 **
*excludes flight from Male, Maldives to Kochi, India & bus from Varanasi, India to Kathmandu, Nepal (in lieu of an international flight)
Being in Mumbai during the famous Ganesha festival and watching the city come alive
Taking in the amazing views from the rooftop terrace whilst enjoying a chai in Udaipur
Watching traditional Rajasthani dance at Bagore Ki Haveli Museum
Taking a tour through Merangah Fort
Seeing a Hindi Horror movie at the beautiful Raj Mandir Cinema
Having a beautiful day as an elephant keeper
Being woken by my hostel at midnight for cake, celebrations and a round of Happy Birthday
Seeing the Taj Mahal in all her glory
Climbing up 365 stairs to have a view over the whole city of Jaipur
Being a vegetarian for 5-weeks
Experiencing a sunrise boat ride down the Ganges River & watching the cremation ghat burn in full blaze
Not getting Delhi belly!
To city slums…it’s a country full of contradictions!
Train tickets should be arranged in advance via an agency (most which are closed on Sunday’s) – some routes may only depart once/week, so plan accordingly.
Low priced tuk-tuk tours come with a price in some cities – drivers will take you to shops to look around, where they will be handsomely rewarded with points, rice, cash or uniforms.
If booking an overnight bus, make sure you book a sleeper and that the agent confirms it is a full, lie down bed.
Trains are a great way to get around!
Zomato is a commonly used app throughout India ; check it out for restaurant recommendations.
Ensure you dress appropriately when visiting the temples (and shoulders and knees must be covered).
If arriving by plane, SIM card options are available directly outside the terminal (expect to pay around 300 rupees for 3G of data) – having a local SIM card is not only convenient, but it’s also economical .
Looking for the must see Varanasi attractions? Considered to be one of the holiest cities in the world, Varanasi is a place you won’t soon forget. Even if you try, I’m certain the craziness of this city will stay with you forever.
FEELINGS COME AND FEELINGS GO. THERE IS NO NEED TO FEAR THEM AND NO NEED TO CRAVE THEM. LET THEM COME, AND THEN LET THEM GO. NO FEELING IS YOUR PERMANENT REALITY, NO MATTER HOW INTENSE IT IS. – UNKNOWN
Unfortunately, we didn’t feel the “magic” this city has to offer, but we no doubt enjoyed our time here. As one of the world’s oldest living cities, it’s a destination that certainly cannot be missed.
This is Varanasi!
Ram Bhawan – Top choice if the location is your main priority. 2-minutes walk from the main ghat, with beautiful facilities and half board included.
Zostel – A popular chain hostel accommodation throughout India, Zostel in Varanasi has a great common area and rooftop restaurant perfect for relaxing after a day out in the hustle & bustle.
Ramada Plaza JHV – To escape the city’s hustle & bustle (trust me, you’ll need to), why not retreat to this 4-star resort for the night.
Experience the livelihood of the ghats!
Old City – Walk the alleyways, and get lost in its twists and turns.
Aarti – Experience a traditional ceremony take place at the main that, Dashashwamedh Ghat.
Enjoy the spiritual ceremony!
Manikarnika Ghat – Visit the large cremation that to get a better understanding of the importance of this custom to the people. One of the top must see Varanasi attractions.
Witness this unique tradition!
Sunrise Boat Ride – Get up at 5am to see the Ganges in all its glory at sunrise.
The Ganges is full of action each morning!
Blue Lassi – Be sure to check out this infamous lassi shop in town. Choose from a variety of flavors, and if you’re keen, give the bhang lassi a try. Note, the bhang lassi includes a paste are from the marijuana plant, so proceed with caution.
Bona Cafe – Try a local Indian dish, or spice it up with some authentic Korean food!
How does a travelers life in Goa India differ to Gokarna? OK, so these are two very different places. But as many people only have enough time to visit one or the other, here’s some guidance to help you with your decision. While life in Goa India tends to have a reputation of its own, that’s one of the main reasons people are either drawn to it or tend to avoid it. Check out our rundown of both Goa and Gokarna to help you decide which is right for you.
I’M NOT IN SEARCH OF SANCTITY, SACREDNESS, PURITY; THESE THINGS ARE FOUND AFTER THIS LIFE, NOT IN THIS LIFE; BUT IN THIS LIFE I SEARCH TO BE COMPLETELY HUMAN: TO FEEL, TO GIVE, TO TAKE, TO LAUGH, TO GET LOST, TO BE FOUND, TO DANCE, TO LOVE AND TO LUST, TO BE SO HUMAN. – C. JOYBELL C.
Of course there are cows on the beach – it’s India!
Similarities: Beach towns on the Eastern coast of India. They are both amazing! And you should definitely visit both if you have time.
Differences:Gokarna is in Karnataka. It is much less developed but has a nice vibe to it wherever you go. You can easily get around by foot. Backpackers are gathered in a central area.
Goa is in a state of its own (literally, it’s India’s smallest state). It is known as a party town. It’s very spread out, and backpackers are scattered from North to South.
An overview of Gokarna!
Zostel– Initially it seems a bit out of the way, but as you settle in, you quickly begin to realize how central it really is. Stay in a dorm or shack up in a private bungalow for the night.
Temples – Gokarna is a temple town, though we were content with only visiting one. They open from early morning to lunch and then close until reopening in the evening from 5pm-8pm.
Beaches – Surrounded by 5 beaches, relax at one or trek your way around the area to enjoy the distinct personalities of each beach.
Always be on the lookout for incredible wildlife hanging around
La Pizzeria Kudle View – Kudle Beach. $$. Don’t be fooled by the name. This place has an extensive menu full of veg and non-veg Indian, Chinese and Western delights. Watch the waves crash as you enjoy your meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Namaste Café – Om Beach. $$. Nestled at the bottom of the stairs leading down to Om Beach, Namaste is a definite winner! Sit downstairs on the open terrace or head upstairs to the rooftop. Food is nice and super affordable.
Hotel Mahabaleshwar – Gokarna Town. $. Conveniently located at the bus station, it’s not much to look at, but the food and friendly service make up for it. Chai and breakfast selections alike are beautiful!
Eat whilst taking in the views over the beach
Wifi is not readily available throughout Gokarna; head to town for an Internet café and wifi access.
Ensure you dress appropriately when visiting the temples (shoulders and knees must be covered).
Kumta is the last stop before Gokarna Road if taking the train up from the South.
Love all, serve all!
Palm trees for days!
Jungle Hostel – Set in the serene Vagator Beach, this is a central part of Goa. It’s not the biggest party scene in Goa, but there’s always plenty of people keen to take a toke or have a drink. So, make of it what you will…
Old Goa – Full of beautiful churches, dating back to the days of the Portuguese rule, Old Goa is definitely worth a visit. The area can easily be walked, and there are no entry fees, so why not check it out for yourself.
Hire a scooter – And explore the beaches!
Don’t take my word for it, listen to what the Hippie in Heels has to say! An American transplant living in Goa for almost 4-years, Rachel can tell you everything you want to know about this east meets west area. To get you started, here are 50-things to do in Goa!
Mango Tree – Vagator Beach. $$. With more of a Western feel to this restaurant, the local food is still extremely tasty. And while you pay a bit more for it, it’s a great place to relax and soak up the atmosphere.
China Town – Vagator Beach. $. Yes, in India! And while the menu does boast a large Chinese selection, I can also attest to the fact that their local food is beautiful!
De Candolim Deck – Candolim Beach. $$. Try one of Goa’s infamous Vindaloo’s here. With an extensive food & drink menu, you’re certain to find something to suit your appetite. Enjoy!
Goa is very spread out (it’s actually India’s smallest state, but it’s still huge). Anticipate catching 2-3 buses to get to your accommodation & around Goa.
You’ll need to organize a scooter to get around town with ease.
If you’re planning to have a few drinks, save some money and buy it in the supermarket. There are no taxes in Goa, so it’s really a bargain!
Beautiful Portuguese architecture all around
So what do you think? Would you prefer a travelers life in Goa India or Gokarna? Can’t decide, well check them both out!
India was so built up in my mind. I had so much trepidation, nervous energy, and anxiety about visiting the subcontinent. However, upon arriving in Kerala, my mind was immediately at ease. Sure, it felt different. But in a surreal kind of way, it also felt familiar; a bit like home. Read on below to make the most of your travels in Kochi.
MEDITATION IS A SURRENDER, IT IS NOT A DEMAND. IT IS NOT FORCING EXISTENCE YOUR WAY, IT IS RELAXING INTO THE WAY EXISTENCE WANTS YOU TO BE. IT IS A LET-GO. – OSHO
So you too can make the most of your time in this beautiful region, we’ve outlined some of the highlights for you. Find out where to stay, play and eat in Kochi!
Welcome to Kerala!
Tantraa Homestay – Babu is a wonderful host, who will go out of his way to make you feel welcomed. Basic, private room facilities, in a central location with a great vibe!
Hatha Yoga & Meditation – Follow the sign postings and enjoy a wonderful session with the Master. 300 rupees/$4.50 gets you 2 hours of class (7:30am – 9:30am) followed by a free breakfast.
Kathakali – Enjoy the historical performances unique to Kerala. 300 rupees/$4.50 affords you a variety of shows including dance, music, martial arts, and storytelling.
What a brilliant performance!
Dhobi Ghat – While visiting a laundry facility may not sound all that interesting, trust me, it is! Watch the villagers’ ways of washing, drying and ironing clothes on a commercial scale.
Ahhh, love the smell of fresh laundry!
Chinese Fishing Nets – Watching these guys work is incredible! Get in and lend them a helping hand, or just stand back and take it all in. Treat yourself to the fresh catch of the day afterward.
Amazing fishing nets!
Alleppey Backwater Tour – About an hours drive away, settle in for a slow, relaxed pace on a Kettuvallum boat. We opted for a day trip down the serene waterways, with a traditional thali lunch in the middle. However, I think the people staying on the houseboats for a night have got the right idea. There are plenty of tour companies so make sure you shop around.
Relax, and enjoy the scenery!
Spice Markets & Warehouses – Follow your nose to smell the beautiful aromas in the air. Try the lemon salt, or load up on some masala chai. Better yet, take one of everything!
Ferry to Ernakulam – Take the regularly scheduled boats to the other side. Crossing the river is a good experience in itself. From there, walk around, shop, eat…whatever strikes your fancy. Penta Mannaga is a great place to visit if you need to get your electronics fix.
Sri Krishna Cafe – $ 8am-9pm. The only purely vegetarian restaurant in town. Dine with the locals, and enjoy some beautiful food at a very reasonable price.
Fresh seafood – $$ Always open. Head down to the waterfront for a selection of freshly caught seafood. Vendors will prepare it for you on the spot according to your preference.
Get your seafood – fresh!
Tibetan Chef’s Restaurant – $ 7:30am-10:30pm. Load up on some delicious momos after watching one of the spectacular Kathakali performances. Delicious!
Café La Paillote – $$ Always open. Translating to “Bamboo Hut,” Monsoor undoubtedly serves the best Marsala Dosa in town. We literally ate here every day! Be sure to ask him for some of his special chili-date jam too. A place not to be missed during your travels in Kochi.
Say “hi” to Monsoor for us!
Low priced tuk-tuk tours come with a catch. Drivers will take you to shops to look around, where they will be handsomely rewarded with points, rice, cash or uniforms.
If arriving by plane, SIM card options are available directly outside the terminal (expect to pay around 300 rupees/$4.50 for 3G of data). Be sure to check your balance as we were promised 3GB of data but were only delivered 1GB of data.
For more great things to make the most of you travels in Kochi, be sure to check out these recommendations.
When you picture India, you probably picture Rajasthan. Even though you might not know the name, the characteristics you think of is most likely the spirit this region embodies. To help, we’ve put this handy guide together to help you find out all about Rajasthan!
SHE WAS FREE IN HER WILDNESS. SHE WAS A WANDERESS, A DROP OF FREE WATER. SHE BELONGED TO NO MAN AND TO NO CITY. – ROMAN PAYNE
Beautiful women in their saris, with bindis in place to ignite their third eye. Streets lined with colour. Food to delight. Beautiful temples. And such a rich culture. And this is only just the beginning. Many people’s first trip to India is through the Golden Triangle. Fly into Delhi, visit the majestic Taj, and then experience a taste of Rajasthan! And here are 7-must sees in this beautiful region.
Bagore Ki Haveli Museum. Udaipur. 7-8pm. 100 rupees/$1.50. Nightly Rajasthani dance performance. After hearing so many wonderful reviews about it, we decided to take in the nightly show. The performance offers an insight into Rajasthani culture through dance, stories, and puppetry. We were especially fond of the lady that balances multiple pots on her head whilst dancing around the stage. Talk about balance!
The amazing balancing act
Mehrangarh Fort. Jodhpur. 9am – 5pm. 600 rupees/$9 including an audio tour. When you visit Jodhpur you can not help but notice the massive imposing structure overlooking the town, enticing you to visit. The sheer size is amazing and the history of the place is highly entertaining. Until we visited, we didn’t know this was the fort used for filming a scene from The Dark Knight. Check out these other famous Hollywood movies also filmed in India.
The sheer size is amazing!
Camel Safari. Jaisalmer. Most people come to Rajasthan to experience the region’s deserts. And what better way to do it than on the back of a camel! We rode camels in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Still not having recovered from our time on the uncomfortable creatures, we decided to give it a miss. But on all accounts we heard from fellow travellers, it’s a great experience! And a definitive highlight of the trip is sleeping in the desert under the stars.
all about rajasthan – Such a stunning creature against a beautiful backdrop!
Amber Fort. Jaipur. 8am – 6pm. 500 rupees/$7.50. Explore the fort and get lost in its inner mazes. Hire a guide or audio tour to learn more about the fort, or wander through on your own. Be sure to check out the tunnel that connects it to neighboring Jaigarh Fort. Very cool!
An important part of history in Rajasthan’s capital!
Elephant Experience. Jaipur. Spend a day learning what it’s like to be an elephant keeper. Engage with the beautiful creatures, spending time feeding, riding, bathing & feeding them. Read more about our experience here.
It was love at first sight!
Raj Mandir Cinema. Jaipur. Shows at 9:30am, 12:30pm, 3:30pm, 6:30pm & 9:30pm daily. Although we didn’t get to see a traditional Bollywood movie, it was still a great experience. The cinema appeared old and grand with subtle touches of luxury. We felt nostalgic thinking of visiting the cinema when we were children. Although we were watching a Hindi horror movie, we laughed as much as we screamed. Well, I probably screamed more, but Rob and the other moviegoers found this quite amusing in itself.
Get your Bollywood on in this picturesque setting!
Go Shopping. Throughout Rajasthan. Udaipur is best known for its hand-painted artworks. Whilst not a shopping Mecca, Jodhpur is the perfect place to load up on red chillies and other spices. Jaisalmer is the city to find mirror-wok items and camel souvenirs. Load up in Jaipur with silver, textiles and woollen carpets.
Get your fill of colour & culture!
Udaipur > Jodhpur > Jaisalmer > Jaipur
For even more great places to visit or if you’re after a site all about Rajasthan, check out their tourism site
Summer: April – June
Harsh temperatures of 48°C+
Monsoon: July – September
As the season’s name suggests, expect more rainfall, but lower temperatures
Post-Monsoon & Winter: October – March
Temperatures continue to drop
October – November is peak season
December – January has extremely volatile weather patterns, down to 0°C sometimes at night
Check out our full guide on Udaipur. It was easily one of our favourite cities in India! Find out where to stay, what to do & where to eat.
Baba Haveli – A simple guesthouse in a central location. Baba and his family will take good care of you.
Moustache – Kick back in any number of private or dorm rooms at Moustache. With a great common area on the ground floor and a fabulous rooftop restaurant, you’re sure to feel right at home.
Panna Meena Ka Kund – Free. Visit this ancient step-well, which is a great site near the main fort. Ask your tuk-tuk driver to take you here.
Royal Gaitor Tumbas – 30 rupees/$0.50. Walk through the beautiful shrine, which houses the remains of Jaipur’s King’s. For an added bonus, climb the 365 stairs adjacent to the shrine, to visit the temple and enjoy a view overlooking the entire city.
If you’re short on time, be sure to check out this guide on how to make the most of Jaipur in 24-hours.
Tiwari Hotel – For a super local experience, be sure not to miss this one! We were the only Westerners in sight, but were immediately made to feel welcomed and we enjoyed a beautiful meal here.
Peacock Rooftop Restaurant – Definitely worth the visit! While this rooftop restaurant doesn’t offer any real views of the city, the ambience definitely makes up for it. While a bit pricier, we had one of the best meals we’ve had in India here, so it was well worth it!
Well there you have it, our India highlights – all about Rajasthan guide. Where in Rajasthan do you want to visit?