Should I get a tour guide for my first trip to India?

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One of my blog readers recently sent me this email asking some questions about his upcoming trip to India. I thought that many people may have similar questions so I decided to turn the email into a blog post. My answers are below in the bold font.

Hi Asher,

I love your website it is very informative.

Thanks mate.

I wondered if you could give me some advise?


I am planning a trip to India, leaving the UK in January 2014, for around 6 weeks with my girlfriend. We don’t know if we should book a guided tour with a tour company to get us started or just book a flight and go from there?

I think for your first trip it is really good to have a guide. India is like a different planet at times and can quickly become a little bit dangerous if you don’t know the ropes. If the tour guide is reasonably priced then I say go for it!

We have seen a tour we like the look of and thought that this would be a good way of gaining confidence and would take a lot of pressure off us. I have attached a link to the tour below and wondered if you would have a look at it for us and give us your advice.

I think this is really wise. My first trip to India I was with people who had been there many times and they taught me many of the tips I list on my site. I have had friends go without any preparation and things didn’t go so well for them and now they never want to go back. If you go a on tour like this then you should be taken care of.
This would be to start with (2 weeks) and then travel down from Goa to Kerala to stay on a houseboat which we can organise ourselves? Hopefully when we get there, we’re even thinking about going across to Sri Lanka aswell. All-in-all about 6 weeks…?

Yes. Definitely organize it when you get down there. It will be way cheaper because you can bypass expensive travel agents. I love to visit Kovalam in Kerala (even though it is super touristy) because it has surfable waves, a nice beach, great food and you could find endless opportunities for houseboat trips on the Kerala backwaters from there.

You mention that you normally budget for around $10 a day but I wondered if you get to experience any of the things mentioned on the tour i.e cooking classes etc…if you do not book through a tour company.

Yeah I normally find my own adventures but once you’re in a place like Kovalam if you shop around and ask the locals then you can get amazing deals.

We have a budget of around £5000 and want to make the most of it!
lonely-planet-indiaThat should be plenty but definitely be careful of rip off artists – they are everywhere!

Lasty, I highly recommend this book from the Lonely Planet. It has all the tips for each destination and helps give you local insider knowledge about what to avoid and what’s a must see or must do. It may even have a list of the best tours on a budget that would save you from overspending. Click this image to see it on Amazon.

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