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North India Explorer QIN

Visiting: India
Trip Duration 16 Days

Reviews for North India Explorer

Travellers were asked to provide a review of the trip, including highlights and tips.

Trip notes

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North India Explorer reviews verified by reevooReevoo

25 reviews

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North India ExplorerScores 8.1 out of 10 based on 25 reviews
(8 out of 10)


Thorough tour of the areas covered. Intense and feeling quite busy at times, but all good.
Confirmed traveller: 23 January 2017
Published on: 02 February 2017
(8 out of 10)


High Wycombe
Bad points:
- This trip has a “full on” tour pace, but relies on 5 train journeys. We missed 2 days of our 2 week itinerary due to delayed trains. The indiarailinfo web site lists the average lateness of the train to Kolkata that we and previous groups were delayed on as 5 hours 56 minutes – so sometimes better, sometimes worse. One train with an average delay of 3 hours 45 minutes has a punctuality rating considered “Excellent”. Expect to miss chunks of the advertised itinerary.
- There was thick fog for day of the Ganges sailing trip that we didn’t miss. I gather this is common for late December to early January, so Christmas was probably the wrong time to do the trip. Also, the boats were too far from the banks to see much and the boat men kept insisting I lie down to keep the heavily loaded boat balanced, so it was hard to see or photograph what I could see.
- The tour guide organised excursions for a subset of the excursions listed in the trip notes. He gave no information on other options and did not ask what we were interested in seeing. He did help me organise the excursions I was interested in when I asked for help, but this meant that I was doing excursions on my own, and having to pay the whole cost as a single participant.
- Excursions tended to be organised for a short period in the middle of the morning or afternoon with the rest of the time hard to make use of. In free time after arrival, I would go out and explore the area near the hotel, then we would have an orientation walk and be shown the same things I had just seen.
- Many sites made an extra change for photography. Some sites made a big extra change, split between the group, to allow our tour leader to act as guide.
- Some sites banned photography.
- Some of the hotels used, especially in Varanasi and Kolkata, were a long way from the things to see.
- The cities visited have a lot of dust and traffic pollution.
- Constantly people on the street chat to you and you think you are getting a meaningful meeting with a local. Always after a few minutes they then get to now please come and look in my shop/art gallery etc. The result is that if you want to make it more than 100 metres from the hotel you have to ignore them, the result of which is that the shop keepers have blocked you from having any meaningful interaction with any locals. Very frustrating.

Good Points:
- This seemed an excellent itinerary with many varied things to see and do. As always with this type of tour, there was never enough time go to all the places I wanted to see at each city or to see everything at the places we went. Some of the forts and palaces were very impressive in area and decoration.
- I was surprised at the good standard of the hotels.
- I liked the idea of trying so many different forms of local transport.
- Our tour guide was a walking encyclopaedia. He was very helpful in organising optional excursions, finding things in shops, changing money etc. He was exceptionally thorough providing information on city to city travel.
- Each use of an overnight sleeper train saves a day for sightseeing and a night of hotel costs.
- When travel plans on the train were not working out, this was clearly being monitored early and there was good communication between the tour leader and his company, with alterative plans quickly put in place to get things back on track as well as possible.

- When comparing with other trips, note that Explore are providing just city to city travel and accommodation. Almost all food, entrance fees and travel on excursions is extra. You will only have time to see some of the things described.
- Eklingi Temple is worth a trip out of Udaipur if you are interested in Hindu temples, but be aware that the big temple and all the smaller ones are inside a walled enclosure and you are not allowed to take a camera inside at all. (There are lockers outside.)
- The 'camel safari out into the desert' is a 60 minute ride through back streets to the edge of town where there is a photo opp. next to a sand dune.
- There is plenty to do in Varanasi if you research it a bit in advance. I suspect the problem some people have had is not being given much information combined with being stuck in a hotel in the middle of nowhere.
Confirmed traveller: 02 January 2017
Published on: 05 February 2017
(10 out of 10)


We just got back from a thoroughly amazing and inspiring trip to North India, travelling overland from Delhi to Kolkata. We were lucky to be part of a lovely group of like minded people and we instantly all got on and had many a laugh and giggle. Our tour leader, Pradeep, was incredibly knowledgeable as a tour guide and also worked very hard to accommodate all our various needs including hunting down ATMs with cash in them, finding us restaurants that sold alcohol, arranging extra trips out on optional days and generally took excellent care of us all - nothing was too much for him! Tour highlights for me were Udaipur - our beautiful view of Lake Pichola and the City Palace from the roof top restaurant of our hotel, visiting the Amber Fort at Jaipur and obviously the sunrise trip to the Taj Mahal - stunning, although the Mini Taj was just wonderful too. I personally loved the experience of the overnight trains and found I slept really well and fully embraced the squat loos, however I know that not everyone in my group felt the same! It was a shame that the weather in Varanasi and on the Ganges was foggy and cold so the fact our river trip was cut by half a day was actually a good thing. It was also a shame that this weather slowed down/cancelled trains which meant we had a long coach journey from Agra to the Ganges boat trip (although this was excellently and speedily arranged and catered for), and missed a whole day of sight seeing in Kolkata - we only got to have dinner in a restaurant and sleep in our hotel before we departed to the airport early the next morning. None of this was Explore's fault - it was down to the weather, however, I would have gladly given up the free day in Varanasi for an extra day in Kolkata in retrospect. I thoroughly enjoyed all our cycle and auto rickshaw rides, our visits to temples and having lunch in the sikh temple in Delhi. It was a lovely gesture from Explore to provide us with a Christmas meal in Jaipur. My top tip would be to make sure you bring out lots of English money to change into Rupees as currently ATM's have long queues and many are not working due to the changes in their notes. Overall we both had a wonderful trip and would definitely recommend this tour.
Confirmed traveller: 02 January 2017
Published on: 07 January 2017
(9 out of 10)


Costa Mesa, CA
India is not for a novice traveler. Once you get passed the air & noise pollution, the country and people are beautiful!
Confirmed traveller: 28 November 2016
Published on: 02 December 2016
(7 out of 10)


This was our first time to India and nothing prepares you for the noise, squalor and chaos we experienced in this country. Added to that was the cash crises which meant that for the first few days we struggled to get hold of Rupees to spend.
The cities were very polluted and many complained of sore throats at some stage or another.
The itinerary is fairly hectic, moving from centre to centre, often by overnight sleeper trains which tended to suffer from delays.
The main sights were spectacular with obvious highlights being the Taj Mahal and the Amber Fort at Jaipur with the procession of elephants carrying visitors from valley floor to the top.
The boat trip was exceptional on the Ganges - a real feeling of adventure and a unique experience.
Hotels were fairly basic and not always as clean as hoped for, but there were some really nice ones as well.
We missed seeing Kolkata due to a long delay on the last train ride. Perhaps the time in Varanasi could have been reduced?
- be prepared for some early morning starts
- hectic schedule
- you need to be resilient to heat, noise, poverty, dirt, pollution, chaotic road traffic and white knuckle 'tuk-tuk' rides etc
- mosquitos only seemed to be a problem in Kolkata
Overall, this was an 'experience' type holiday and not one where you come home feeling relaxed and refreshed
Confirmed traveller: 28 November 2016
Published on: 30 November 2016
(5 out of 10)


I've been to India before so am accustomed to the country but the pollution in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur in particular was appalling and at a dangerous level. The currency crisis was v stressful and I did not appreciate the fact that Explore did not communicate at all with support or information for us. Most of us were unimpressed with such a poor level of customer service/ support. The accommodation in Agra was dreadful, stained sheets, old grey towels and dirty rooms. I was expecting budget standard accommodation but this was very poor. I also felt three nights on a train sleeper was just too much for many of us. I don't feel the itinerary made clear quite how much more we were expected to shell out for transport and guides. Our tour leader was very sweet but not the most dynamic and didn't really come up with ideas about what to do on free days. His itinerary was different from the one you sent to us and some of the changes meant we missed things because he timed things badly and sights were closed or nearly closing. We were frustrated when changes came without warning or consultation. Calcutta was a delightful end destination but given we arrived late due to train delays I felt on balance I would have been happy to lose a day in Varanasi in order to gain an extra day in Calcutta.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 14 November 2016
Published on: 16 November 2016

I really am very sorry that you’re unhappy with our level of contact during the currency withdrawal in India. I do apologise for the inconvenience but as the government deliberately gave no notice there was an understandable period of uncertainty while contingency planning was put into place. Whilst we do appreciate you would have felt reassured with a call, our leaders were best placed to provide updates and information and so we didn’t feel a call from our office staff in the UK would be of any benefit.
I will discuss the hotel in Agra with our operations manager as we expect hotels to be simple in standard, but clean. This itinerary has a lot of free days and nine optionals so you are able to tailor the trip to your interests. We do note the details of the optionals in the trip notes and their associated costs.

(3 out of 10)


The trip may have experienced exceptional difficulties. We arrived on diwali and on the following day (Monday) the majority of visitor attractions were closed. The level of atmospheric pollution was astonishing with most of us suffering from stinging eyes, sore throats and hacking coughs. The government induced currency crisis let many feeling insecure and anxious.
Hotel accommodation was expected to be "simple" but facilities within them were frequently dirty, inadequate or falling to bits. An organisation with the buying influence of Explore/Cox & Kings should be able to attain better.
Travel by tuk tuk is an essential part of the "experience" but its fascination began to pall after the repeated exposure to noise, dust and traffic terror. The longer coach rides should be provided with mire comfort such as adequate leg room for tall passengers.
The program itinerary can be criticised as being unimaginative and repetitive: arrive, at leisure to explore (a strange and bewildering environment), visit market/temple/fort, move on to next city and repeat. Specifically, the Delhi visit was greatly disappointing - does Explore not understand that attractions are closed on Mondays? The tour would leave the impression that India is a country of filth and poverty from a bygone age: it could be balanced by exploring rural life or a spell in a modern area ( if only for a hot shower).
Whilst not Explore's fault the level of atmospheric pollution including dust is a major impediment to enjoying India - romantic sunsets and sunrises no longer happen. It is also a health hazard: I would consider it irresponsible not to warn potential travellers of this especially for those with existing problems such as asthma or bronchitis.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 14 November 2016
Published on: 15 November 2016

I am sorry that the harvest field burning and the fireworks from Diwali caused such a physical discomfort with your group. I appreciate that India has not quite come round to a greener ideology and to assist in this we do support a number responsible tourism initiatives in regards to pollution. I also apologise for the inconvenience regards the currency change but, as the government deliberately gave no notice, there was an understandable period of uncertainty while contingency planning was put into place. Whilst this is a ‘simply’ trip we do expect the accommodation to be quite basic, but clean. In light of your comments we have requested a review of the accommodation on this departure to ensure our standards are being met. As the tour pace is noted a ‘full on’ trip it’s jam-packed so you get the full India experience, as such there is lots of travelling with long days interspersed with city tours and visiting local highlights. Thank you for your comments regarding the addition of a health advisory and we will look into this further.

(9 out of 10)


Excellent trip across North India taking in most of the major sights. Highlights were Varnesi , Jaipur and Agra. Train rides fun, but quite hard work at times.
The trip down the Ganges was very relaxing after the hustle and bustle of the cities The Food on theboats was excellent.
Amazing as it was cooked on a boat and on a beach.
Our tour guide was great.
Very well informed, good fun and very patient.
He was very kind and thoughtful to those who struggled with a few health problems.
It would have been nice to spend a bit more time in Jaipur.
Confirmed traveller: 17 October 2016
Published on: 03 November 2016
(9 out of 10)


Fantastic trip - well worth it. Some long days but standing at the Taj at sunrise will take some beating.

Abi our leader was simply one of the best, can see how he received 'Tour guide of the year 2015'.

One minor gripe, the hotel in Kolkota was one of the worst I've encountered! Especially the rat running around with toast in it's mouth whilst we were eating breakfast!

If you can change this hotel then it will be one of the best Explore tours ever.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 12 April 2016
Published on: 18 April 2016

Thanks for such a positive review, George. We're delighted that Abi looked after you so well, and you've got such a great memory of the Taj at sunrise. I've taken your feedback on board and removed the VIP Hotel in Kolkata from our offering - we're now using an upgraded alternative.

(8 out of 10)


The general organization was excellent and everything went like clockwork. The Explore Leader was very pro-active in managing the day to day programme to optimize use of time. He gave outstanding attention to the well-being of the party at all times and all his recommendations for options well worth doing and excellent value.
The accommodation was well-selected in terms of location and comfort and met expectations given the overall holiday cost. The only exception was the hotel in Kolkata, which was dire - very dirty, bone-idle staff, terrible electrics and a pounding disco in an adjoining building throughout the evening. When my air-conditioning was switched on it showered the room with soot - which did not seem either to surprise or bother the porter. He did not seem to understand my request for clean bedding (soot covered) and none came. There appeared to be no joined-up supervision of staff. Change this hotel!!!
The highlight for me was the Varanasi experience, and I loved the boat trip. We all came down with tricky tummys, however, and some attention needs to be paid to where the cooks source their water. Otherwise, the boat lads were generous, great fun and big-hearted. The effort they put into keeping us comfortable and amused is to be commended.
Confirmed traveller: 11 April 2016
Published on: 24 April 2016

Thank you for your review, Christopher. While we're delighted that you enjoyed your trip overall, we're equally unhappy with your experience at the VIP International Hotel in Kolkata. Based on our customers' feedback, we have removed this hotel from our itineraries are we're now using an alternative, upgraded hotel.