Sunday, November 7, 2010

Travelling in India

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Traveling In India - Modes of transportation intercity / interstate

As I've covered in my previous blog, getting to India is mostly through air travel, and those staying in Malaysia can opt for the significantly cheap budget airlines Air Asia. The other option is JetAirways besides Malaysia Airlines.

So now once you are in India, how do you get from city to city and between states. India is a large country. Travel options vary from flying, driving, buses and trains.


Flying :
For my flights, I first used sykscanner.net, where you key in your from and to (destination) and, dates, one way or return and number of passengers. Skyscanner scans the available airlines and gives you a summary of options, including travel time, and transit if required and cost of tickets. This is really good as you get a good comparison of all airlines available, their timings and cost. A plus point is that it also 'smartly' figures out to link flights if there's no direct flight option.

I used skyscanner to identify my preferred airlines and then books through the airline website, though you should be able to book through skyscanner.

For my trips I found Indigo to offer the best rates, followed by Air India. Indigo, and Jet Airways are budget airlines, where as Kingfisher offer some other value proposition, i.e the Only 5 Star Domestic Airlines. But at times Air India is cheaper, and it does give you free meals on board!

Here's some experience sharing :
Indigo - Indigo is an interesting airline. Reason for choosing, they were the cheapest. First thing you notice on indigo airlines is that all the stewardess (yes I have not noticed a steward yet) is that they all have the same .......


Yes the same hairstyle!

Source : http://www.gadling.com/2010/09/24/galley-gossip-indigo-flight-attendants-are-forced-to-cut-their/

Indigo being a budget airline do not serve free meals on board but do have them on sale. Our take-off was delayed, and we had to sit in the plane for a while, and requested for a blanket as it was cold, the stewardess politely informed us "Sorry as we are a budget airlines, we do not carry / provide blankets". If it was Air Asia, they'd be more 'business'sy and probably offer you a blanket for sale. :) Anyway the plus point of Indigo was, the stewardess offered to increase the temperature / reduce the air conditioning, and even came back after a few minutes to check if it's ok. This really shows personal friendly touch.

Another positive experience was I called the call centre due to some requests, and they picked up after a few rings, I would say unlike AirAsia that is notoriously known to be slow in picking up calls and even wants to charge if you want to call the 'premium fast response' line. Anyway, the call person on Indigo resolved my issue immediately and I was really happy with the response. Not really putting AirAsia down, undeniably, AirAsia is the BEST budget airline with great rates and better coverage, but they do loose out on the service and people factor.


Train
The train service in India has a vast coverage, is huge and equipped with fast trains (fast not bullet trains yet). You get check the schedule at their website http://www.irctc.co.in/ and I think it includes all the trains. The good thing is that you can pre-purchase your tickets for the Air Conditioned (AC) coaches, which have reserved sits. You will need to register at irctc first before you can view their schedules.

Things to note.
i. If there is no direct train from your place to your destination you will need to figure out how to make the connection between trains, the website only provides you timings, routes and stops plus online purchases. I did not try to purchase through their website, however heard that international credit cards are not accepted, so please double confirm. There are some other sites that offer the same online purchase facility so you might want to try them. One site to check out is makemytrip.

ii. I realised that you cannot make booking on Sunday after 2pm. So if you are planning a trip on Monday morning, better pre-buy and not wait last minute, otherwise you will have to purchase the normal (no reserved) sits and probably stand. Sometimes you can buy seats from the conductor before the train departs subject to availability but you will need to go through a crowd that wants to do the same thing.


Buses
With the new highways coming up, travel by bus is also becoming an option, however most bus, even the sleepers are natural air. I just booked tickets at the counter, however redbus.in seems to be helpful having timings searchable from and to destionation and purchases.

All right then, all the best getting around in India.
 

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