All posts filed under: Asia

How Much Does It Cost to Travel Rajasthan, India? (Budget Breakdown)

India had been on my radar for a while, so when a YVRDeals alert popped up that was too good to resist, we jumped on it. How much does it cost to fly from Vancouver to India? Our fare was $1,516.48 for two round-trip tickets from Vancouver to New Delhi. With some processing fees the final total was $1,671.71 CAD*. We would travel China Southern with a layover in Guangzhou. Total flight time each way: 20 hours there and 16 hours back. Days spent in India, excluding international travel days: two weeks. China Southern’s rates seem to be holding consistent at the $800 price point. Flying the larger carriers, like Air Canada or Air India, will push your fare upwards of $1,200. *All prices in this budget breakdown are in Canadian dollars. Tour or independently travel Rajasthan, India? Tickets in hand, so to speak, Greg and I had every intention of booking a guided trip. (That’s tourism speak for “tour”.) We had always assumed we’d opt for a tour because I was a) intimidated by planning the …

I Really Wanted to Love the Hippie Outpost of Pushkar, But This…

From everything I had read, Pushkar sounded like my kind of place. A placid lake in a small desert outpost? Yes please. It was just the relief one needed from the mania of New Delhi and the traffic-choked streets of Jaipur. But what had me seriously travel-stoked on Pushkar was that it supposedly enjoyed some seriously boho vibes. My guidebook wrote: “Pushkar’s spiritual energy also attracted the hippy overlanders of the 1960s, and the budget hotels and cafes set up to cater for them have kept it firmly on the backpacker trail.” Complicit in this description was this travel blogger’s swoon-worthy review: 6 Reasons to Put Pushkar on Your Bucket List Perfect! I thought. Just my brand of gypset travel.   Except that it wasn’t, which I realized when my expectations confronted reality. You see, I had anticipated more of this…   but found more of this:   Err…that is not my brand of boho. Allow me to recount our visit. We arrived in Pushkar just before the golden hour, some 90 minutes before sunset. Sadly, our …

Are Photo Shoots Becoming Our New Travel Souvenir?

I’ll be the first to admit, photo shoots aren’t commonplace among travelling flashpackers. So how in the hell did I end up dressed in a lengha, spinning in the courtyard of the Fairmont Jaipur? It all started pretty innocently… Have you ever heard of Flytographer? Basically it’s the Airbnb of photographers. Most people are using the service to capture marriage proposals in Paris or European holiday candids. Since Greg and I loved the wedding photos we had taken in Havana, we figured, why not do the same in India? A month before we left, I did a quick search to see if there were any Flytographers listed in Rajasthan. Search result: zero. Long story short, I linked up with Navin Varma, a Mumbai-based photographer who was up for a collaboration; one that meant he’d need to catch two planes (each way, no less) to get to Jaipur. Through my work contacts, I managed to connect with Fairmont Jaipur, which kindly let us shoot on their jaw-dropping property. (And then fed us breakfast!) Now, I will say that my original vision …

Is 2 Weeks Enough Time to Travel Northern India’s Rajasthan?

Obviously not! Rajasthan is northern India’s largest state by area and the ‘Land of Kings’ has a hell of a lot to do, see, eat and shop. Annoyingly, every city deserves a visit which makes allocating a short 14 days an exercise in extreme FOMO. Before we left Canada we had elected some priorities: Agra (Taj Mahal), Jaipur and Varanasi. (The latter is actually located in Uttar Pradesh, not Rajasthan.) But where else should we spend the rest of our time? Top choices included Jaipur, Pushkar, Jodphur, and Jaisalmer. Highlights of Rajasthani cities: Delhi – Red Fort, Jama Fasjid*, Humayan’s Tomb`, Chandi Chowk Market, Baha’i Temple` Agra – Taj Mahal*, Agra Fort`, nearby Fatehpur Sikri Ranthambore National Park – jeep-tiger safaris Jaipur – the Pink City*, City Palace`, Amber Fort*, Nahargarh Fort*, Central Museum*, Royal Gaitor*, Galta Monkey Palace` Pushkar – Camel rides*, Pushkar Lake*, hippie vibes & drum circles Jodphur – Meherangarh Fort*, Blue City Udaipur – Lake Pichola*, lake cruises, culture of rooftop dining*, havelis, Monsoon Palace` Jaisalmer` – Jaisalmer Fort, overnight camel safaris …

10 Things I Got Totally and Utterly Wrong About India

How was I supposed to know?? With a forecast of 30°C, I thought I’d be sweaty AF. Not the case. Rajasthan enjoys a dry heat, which means sweat is not a havoc-wreaking, holiday-fashion-killing travel culprit. Well, at least not in March; I can’t speak to monsoon season. Naturally, I thought I’d get sunburned (here’s looking at you Thailand). In fact, I did not get sunburnt, which makes India the only foreign country I haven’t been burnt in. The driving distances between cities are lengthier than they appear. With roadways filled with massive lorries, errant cows and highways that bottleneck at random villages, those kilometres start to feel like miles. This is helpful to know when planning to travel Rajasthan by car versus train. I kind of thought I might die in India. I mean…at least in a car crash. There were several instances when we were speeding toward what was surely an imminent head-on collision. Then, before certain death, we’d pop back into our own lane, hearts pounding away in our throats. For the record, …

India: Bought the ticket, taking the ride

Have you heard? I’m going to flippin India. I’m two parts excited and one part nervous. However, I feel like I’ve been travel-training for this my whole life. The tickets are booked. Greg and I fly to New Delhi on March 3 and back on the 18th. Things I’m really looking forward to: But I’m not going to lie, I’m totally anxious about… So, folks who have travelled to India, I could use any advice or wisdom you want to impart on me. Here’s my itinerary: New Delhi – Agra – Jaipur – Pushkar – Jaisalmer – Varanasi – New Delhi* *Correction: As of 1/23 we’ve decided to go to Jophur and Udaipur instead of Pushkar and Jaisalmer. It just works better for our itinerary. Don’t give me tips for Goa or Mumbai or that awesome little mountain town the Dalai Lama calls home. I ain’t got time for that. Drop a comment below and tell me what I should NOT miss or paste a link you think I’ll find helpful.  

How to Survive a Full Moon Party in Thailand

Full moon parties (FMP) are held once monthly on Haad Rin Beach on the island of Koh Pha Ngan (pronounced Koh pin-yawn). For the few days preceding and following the full moon, backpackers flood the island. Prices for accommodation can double or even triple. The number of attendees is staggering and the atmosphere becomes something akin to ‘frosh week.’ A typical FMP can see ten thousand people on Haad Rin, which is not an incredibly long stretch of sand. FMP around New Year’s Eve can see upwards of twenty-five thousand party-goers. With rumors of people dying during these epic parties, personal safety is paramount. Here are some tips for how to survive – and even enjoy – the experience: 1. Don’t show up too early. The whole point is to make it to sunrise! Eat a proper meal before departing for the party. 2. Establish a meeting point upon arrival. If you become separated you’re basically looking for a needle in a human haystack. In the dark. 3. Pace yourself. It’s a long night, make it a social one. …

Thailand Travel 101

  Thailand is the ideal jump off point for backpacking through Southeast Asia.  A travel hotspot, the country has well trodden backpacker trails, perfect for first-time travellers or those new to Asia. So you ask, “If the country is so easy to travel, why read a how-to guide?” Setting expectations and arming yourself with insider travel knowledge will save you both time and baht (money). We won’t bore you with details like the exchange rate or which power adapters you’ll need, we’ll give you the real deal type of advice you’d get from someone who has just been. Read on rookie Canadian traveller for tips to not only survive, but thrive in Thailand. What’s with all the… Tuk-Tuks These zippy little vehicles are ubiquitous in Thailand. They operate much like a cab. If you’re in a Thai city (especially in Bangkok’s notorious backpacker ghetto Khao San Road) you may be offered an obscenely cheap fixed price tour. The reason? The driver will make a few pit stops along the way, typically depositing travelers in boutiques owned by vendors they know. In exchange …

How to Barter in Thailand

  Prices in Thailand are rarely fixed (with the exception of food menus). When shopping as a rookie Canadian traveller you’ll already be at a distinct disadvantage – vendors can smell your novice negotiating skills from a mile away. (They do this every day!) Here are some tips: The less emotional you are, the more you will enjoy bartering. Determine in advance how much you are actually willing to pay for an item. If you’re quoted $4 for a t-shirt but want to pay $2, your first offer shouldn’t be $2. Always negotiate bus fares, excursions and hotel accommodation. Traveling with a group? Let the seller know! There always seems to be price discounts for groups of two or more, and the more nights you stay, the greater your discount should be. Etiquette says you should barter in good faith. Don’t haggle if you don’t intend to purchase the item. However, it is perfectly fine to enquire after a price to gauge  affordability. Asking the price does not enter you into a transaction. Don’t haggle aggressively over what amounts to less …

2 Weeks in Thailand – Where Should I Go?

“I only have two weeks in Thailand, where should I go?” I’m a cheerleader for Thailand; what can I say, once upon a time I spent 45 days there. It wasn’t enough. Of all the countries, I’m most frequently asked by friends and family about Thailand. The number one question is, “Where should I go?” It’s an easy enough question to answer…when time and money aren’t a consideration. However, most travellers don’t have that luxury. With precious few weeks of paid annual holiday, we must make concessions. Compromise can be a bitter pill to swallow when the destination is as distant as Thailand. Admittedly, it is disappointing to travel so far and see so little of a destination, but an overzealous itinerary can ruin a trip. To answer the question, here are three itineraries for a two week trip to Thailand. Northern Thailand or Southern Thailand? Most international travellers arrive in Thailand by way of Suvarnabhumi Airport, a.k.a. Bangkok International Airport. Located smack in the middle of the country, it’s practical for traveller on a two week holiday to …