Hello! I am planning a trip to India. Should I pre-plan everything with an online tour operator or should I plan things myself and use booking.com, expedia etc instead and rely on locals for tours etc when I get there. What will be more economical?
If we talk about transportation, booking from local is always cost effective as you can get best rates prevailing in the market. Benifit of using expedia and booking.com is that they had pre purchased prices for hotels, flight etc. and hence they are in position to offer competetive rates for tours. If we talk about transportation prices ,in Rajatshan tempo traveller which is best suited for a group of 6 onwards pax travelling, is offered at $ 0.30 per km. toll, tax & parking extra. And if we say the itinerary is prepared for travelling in North India and expected travelling km is 3000 than the total cost for transportation will comes near about $ 950. And if group consist of 6 people then per head cost will comes to $ 155 per person.
If we talk about hotels, nowadays 2-3 star, boutique hotel and budget hotels are coming into travel scenario, with the help of well established brands they are getting recognition in travel market and are in the range from $ 15 to $30. hence if you go for regional travel agent then also you can get great deals.
I have planned, researched and booked two different trips for travel into India; one for 6 weeks for 7 people and the other for 5 weeks for my husband and I. It depends if you have the time and interest in doing all the hours of work in doing it yourself, if you are staying in luxury hotels then it makes it simpler. But if in budget accommodations or on a limited travel budget, choosing lodging and viewing the different pictures (carefully) and reading the reviews written, can be a bit frustrating to overwhelming in a country like India. You need to study/get apps downloaded for maps of the areas for streets, metros, rail, map with top tourist sites. There area a lot of other travel sites to go to other than what you have listed. You need to know if the sites charge a booking fee, if the hotel taxes are included, if breakfast is provided with the lodging....be sure to document that in your back up paperwork and document if the room was prepaid versus payment made at the hotel... in order to keep from being over charged. Make sure to have your confirmation numbers with you. I always take a paper copy of the confirmation & that has come in handy when some hotel has said that you did not have a reservation. In India, you may book a hotel with one name but your taxi drive will not find it under that name.... so take down the phone number of the hotel AND the physical address to assist in getting to your hotel efficiently. If up to the challenge... have fun and do it yourself. If you are really limited on time you may want to have a travel agent to do all or part of the work for you. Happy travels.
Hello again Dirkie,
I answered your other question about India too...
Anyway, I touched on this in a comment on the other question, but my preference for India is to travel independently, or at least do most of the trip independently.
I prearranged tour definitely has it's advantages- more comfortable, less thinking on your feet, less time waiting in line at train stations, etc. Every hotel you will stay in will be willing to help you book tours along the way as well, or arrange drivers for you. Indians tend to be very hospitable (and they usually get a commission for their assistance).
In addition to the other websites you mentioned, Cleartrip.com and Agoda.com are also good spots to check for hotels.
If you do go without booking a prearranged tour, make sure you go with patience and flexibility as sometimes things are not as straight forward as you might expect. It is all in the adventure!
Keep in touch if you would like more advice!
Better to take the help of an travel agent, price will be same for both