Traveling to India from the Philippines is not as common as traveling to any country in Southeast Asia from the Philippines because of the need to secure a visa to enter India and because currently, there are no direct flights from Philippines going to India.
That said, a trip to India is already in the radar for Philippine passport holders who have already gone around Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and the like. India is fast becoming a destination of interest for discerning Filipino travelers. And why won’t India be? It’s relatively close, as it is still in Asia, and yet it already takes you to a different world altogether with its ancient temples, magnificent architecture, rich culture and tradition and flavorful cuisine.
Green Earth Tours and Travel took a trip to India to explore the destination ahead of its guests. Our travel agency wants to offer destinations we have experienced for ourselves, so we know we can be effective travel consultants and mentors for those keen to visit the country. One can be sure taking tour packages to India with Green Earth Tours and Travel will be a hassle-free and worthwhile experience.
Below is a narration of our tour itinerary around India. Depending on the number of days you have to travel, it’s best to spare at the least 5D4N in India itself. Else, 4D3N India is still doable, but you will find that because of the long distances you have to travel at times, it may be a bit too tight for comfort. Keep in mind that to access India from the Philippines, you will have to go through different hubs like: via Singapore, or Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok, among others. Please refer to our India from the Philippines Tour Package Page for various itineraries you may want to consider. You may also want to ask us about other destinations in South Asia like Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the ever-famous beach getaway, Maldives.
In our case, we passed by Kuala Lumpur, and then flew from KLIA2 to the New Delhi via Air Asia. We spend 1 night in KL, toured the place, before heading to New Delhi and spending 7D8N there. Our tour itinerary was dubbed Colors of Rajasthan, which is a region popular among tourists. We covered Mandawa and Bikaner and of course, India’s Golden Triangle: Delhi, Jaipur and Agra.
Day 1: India Tour from the Philippines
New Delhi City Tour and Rickhaw Ride, a visit to Humayun’s Tomb
We left our hotel in Delhi early in the morning to tour the city. The traffic volume is quite heavy, and wherever there’s space, then the drivers of the cars find a way to get to that space. It’s quite a scene, but really, everyone seems relaxed in their suits and polo shirts driving to work.
We headed to the narrow streets of Old Delhi. (Note: Delhi has New Delhi—where the British opted to occupy and settle during the time they colonize India, and it also has Old Delhi. However, collectively, people just refer to both Old and New Delhi as Delhi.) We took a Rickshaw Ride (also known as a Paddy Cab ride) and boy, was it an experience! We explored the alleyways and witnessed merchants in action selling various wares, a lot of them textiles and accessories. There were times when we went down our rickshaws in order to appreciate the area better, and of course, take pictures.
The rickshaw ride done in the Jama Masjid Area, which is one of India’s largest mosques. Jama Masjid was built during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan, who is the same emperor who commissioned the construction of the famous Indian Icon – the Taj Mahal, also considered among the 7 Wonders of the World. Jama Masjid is a decorative mosque which can accommodate around 25,000 devotees at any given time. Also, one can see the Red Fort, which is a citadel also built by Shah Jahan. Agra, where Taj Mahal is, used to be the capital of India before Shah Jahan moved the capital to Delhi. When he did, that’s when he started the construction of the massive structure made of sandstone walls—a sight to behold.
After lunch, we explored Humayun’s Tomb. Humayun’s Tomb is which features Indo-Islamic architectural styles. Travelers who are interested in history and architecture will have a field day at Humayun’s Tomb, a proportional mausoleum in surrounded by a well-manicured garden. It was commissioned by Humayun’s wife, Bega Begam. Humayun’s Tomb is an example of Muhal architecture in India. The Mughals ruled India for a long time and were descendants from Turks and Mongols. In the compound of Humayun’s Tom is the tomb of Isa Khan, construction of which pre-dates the latter by approximately two decades.
It was a full day spent touring India for us, as we went around India’s civic district, which hosts a lot of government offices, residences of officials, the Parliament House, and the like. We also caught a good view of the India Gate, which is likened to France’s Arc-d’ Triumph. This is a popular spot for first-time tourists in India.
Day 2: India Tour from the Philippines
Travel to Mandawa, a stay at Mandawa Castle
On our second day in India, we headed to Mandawa from Delhi, which is approximately 267 kilometers away. As Filipinos normally want to reference the journey by the number of hours travelled – suffice to say the drive took around 6.5 to 7 hours. It was a long drive, but finally escaped the city traffic and were able to appreciate the Indian countryside better. The cars and trucks were slowly replaced by herds of cows and caravans of camels. We stopped mid-way for lunch. This is normally the case for itineraries in India. Our trip was set-back at times because of railroad crossings.
That said, Mandawa is a lovely site to behold. We reached our hotel at dusk. It was an old, magnificent castle called Mandawa Castle and right there and then, it was as if we were transported 300 years back into time. Mandawa Castle is beautiful! We had dinner in the castle, and a couple in traditional costume serenaded us with songs using local instruments. Food was really good, and we had the choice to try out local Indian wines. Mandawa Castle is charming at night, and we knew Filipinos traveling to India would find a night’s stay in the castle one of the highlights of their trip. We ourselves could not wait to explore Mandaw Castle by day!
Day 3: India Tour from the Philippines
Mandawa’s Havelis, Trip to Bikaner, Camel Cart Ride and Dinner under the Stars
Our 3rd day in India started with a tour around Mandawa Castle. Breakfast was lovely, but we already had our minds set out for the days activities: exploring the castle, and going around the havelis. Havelis are the houses of the rulers and merchants back then. Mandawa used to be one of India’s centers of trade, until ports were transferred to other cities. The havelis are colorful, and are painted to reflect the owners’ stature in society. It also reflected their wealth, as when the owners go to Europe and visit France for example, then a picture of the Eiffel tower or people in European clothes will be painted on the walls. The havelis and forts have earned Shekhawati, which is the region in Rajasthan where Mandawa is, the moniker “an open art gallery of Rajasthan”. The walking tour to see the havelis should be made a highlight of one’s trip to India. If one has more time to tour India from the Philippines (ie, beyond the time allotted to cover the Golden Triangle), Mandawa should be made a priority destination.
After the tour around the havelis, we proceed to Bikaner, which is approximately 191 kilometers away from Mandawa. Translated in time travelled, it took us around 4.5 hours to drive from Mandawa to Bikaner.
Bikaner is the fourth largest city in Rajasthan, and surrounded by the Thar desert. The change in topography is obvious, as you get to pass by sand dunes, sparse agriculture and see camels on the road too. For Filipinos traveling to India, this is a very unique experience, especially for those who have not been to Gulf Countries. This could be very well one’s first experience of being in a desert area.
We visited a camel breeding center. India has 4 breeds of camels, and the research center had them all. That said, it was not breeding season when we visited, but the person in charge was kind enough to show us around and answer our questions. Those interested to ride on a camel could do so for a fee, and only for around 10-15 minutes. Some were able to sample camel milk-based treats. Camel-milk ice cream anyone?
Dusk came. We boarded camel carts and headed to our dinner venue—in the sand dunes, under the stars where traditional music filled the Indian night sky. It was perfect. Consider bringing your company or clan here, and we can assure you, it will be a night to remember! On the way back, we rode a jeep to get to the main road (instead of the camel carts) and headed back to our hotel to rest and prepare for another enchanting day.
Day 4: India Tour from the Philippines
Junagarh Fort in Bikaner, Travel to Jaipur
Bikaner is not all about camels and the desert. We visited a lovely fort, called Junagarh. Unlike other forts, it was not located on top of a hill or mountain. Junagarh boasted of colorful paintings and intricate lattice works, and one can have a field day taking pictures around the majestic place. It also featured artifacts, an arms museum and interesting bits of history.
That said, in the fort entrance, we also noted a wall which featured handprints. We were told that these were of widows before they jumped to their death, to be buried with their late husband. Sometimes, this was voluntary, sometimes coerced. This practice is called Sati (suttee), and is not widely done anymore since anti-sati legislations have been passed.
Onward to Jaipur, the famous capital of Rajasthan. Jaipur is also known as the Pink City, because of the reddish-pinkish color of its buildings. After traveling 335 kilometers (approximately 7.5 hours drive), It was a relaxed evening for us in Jaipur as the next day, we were to explore Amber Fort and ride on elephants. We were excited and could not wait!
Day 5: India Tour from the Philippines
Amber Fort in Jaipur
Our 5th day in India and we were all pumped up. Every day has a new experience—from the city’s rickshaw ride, to the castle and havelis in Mandawa, the camels in Bikaner and our dinner under the stars. No doubt about it, Filipinos planning a trip to India will be in for a treat!
To get to the Amber Fort, one can take a jeep or take the option of riding on an elephant. In our case, we rode on elephants on the way to Amber Fort. It was a unique feeling to see the landscape atop an elephant. The
The Amber Fort is made of marble and sandstone, and overlooks Maotha lake. It is also called Amber Palace, and it even has a special room laden with gold and silver, which we were told were used to receive dignitaries.
We had our fill of picture-taking at Amber Fort, as it was replete with Hindu style artistic elements, series of gates and cobbled spots. Absolutely charming, and again one not to miss.
At the Amber Fort, there were a lot of vendors and hawkers. Filipinos traveling to Inia and visiting Amber For would love the souvenirs being sold, but would definitely need to level-up their haggling skills. It’s not your typical haggling in a Philippine market, or even in night markets in Hong Kong, where normally you use the calculator to communicate. Here, the vendors speak good English, an can get a bit cheeky, like saying “Umbrellas for 100!” and then when you signify your interest and take our your INR100 they say it’s actually USD100. For the uninitiated, this could dampen the mood, so that our expert travel advise is: either you entertain the vendors or ignore them at the onset.
One however has a little bit of choice when it comes to taking photographs, especially when riding the elephant. It’s hard to take a good picture, so normally you get the services of hawkers who take your pictures along the way and sell them to you on your way out at a particular gate at Amber Fort. Haggle down to 1/3 of the price, and don’t feel guilty nor obliged to buy all shots.
After Amber Fort, we had lunch and visited several shops: from textiles, to jewelry, to carpets. Some went on a buying spree, while others opted to just look around, and listen to the discussion about the craftmanship involved in the various products.
When taking a tour package to India with Green Earth Tours and Travel, please inform us ahead of time if you wish to go shopping in these kinds of places, which normally sell big-ticket items. You are not obliged at all to do so at all, and we can also take you to a place in Delhi instead called Janpath Road, where you can buy souvenirs for as low as INR100—from pens, to bags; from shawls to pants and everything in between.
Day 6: India Tour from the Philippines
Chand Boari and the Umaida Lake Palace
Jaipur is known as the Pink City. It’s being “pink” has a history—the then Maharaja Ram Singh commissioned that the city be painted in the color denoting hospitality during the visit of the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria to the place. Since then, residents have maintained the pink color of the city, which is now mandated by law.
For some reasons, we were not able to drop by the Pink City during our visit to India. We were told, it would have been a place where (apart from Janpath Road in Delhi) we could have purchased souvenirs, crafts and whatnot.
Instead, the group headed to the Abhaneri Village on our way to Agra. We went to see the Chand Boari is a very unique tourist attraction in India. Unlike the temples and forts, the Chand Boari is a stepwell used by locals to store water. We were told that when the water levels are shallow, women would go down the steps to perform dances. In a way, the stepwell also became an area of congregation.
The Chand Baori has been used as a filming location for famous movies, including those made in Hollywood like The Fall and The Dark Night Rises.
Nearby, there was a village where we visited and bought more carpets from. A potter also sampled how it is to make his wares, and a little magician hopped on the bus to show us his magic tricks.
After Chand Boari, the group headed closer to Agra, stopping by the chariming Umaida Lake Palace for lunch. Umaida Lake Palace can also be an option for an accommodation while in India, especially for people who wish to live in a palace and who want to try organic Indian food.
It was dusk when we reach Agra, and we stopped by a mart where some of us bought kurtas for our visit to Taj Mahal on the next day.
Day 7: India tour from the Philippines
Taj Mahal and Agra Fort; Janpath Road/Janpath Market in Delhi
Finally—a visit to one of the world’s 7 Wonders—the Taj Mahal. A trip to India is not complete without a visit to Taj Mahal. Filipinos traveling to India would be crazy not to include this in their itinerary. As a travel agency selling India tour packages, Green Earth Tours and Travel offers a visit to Taj Mahal as part of the Golden Triangle Itinerary. Again, the Golden Triangle in India covers Delhi, Jaipur (covered earlier) and Agra, where Taj Mahal is.
The Taj Mahal is often called “a teardrop in the cheek of time” because of the poignant love story behind it. A visit to the monument built by Shah Jahan for Mumtaz Mahal is definitely one for the books, and we are sure that it is a part of many people’s travel bucket list.
Please be ready to wake up early (like around 4AM) to avoid the long queues and the heat of the sun. The monument is open for guests at sunrise. Also, guests will be given shoe covers when entering the monument itself. Be wary of photographer-hakwers, who will offer to take your photos and then charge you for them. You may politely refuse and should not feel obliged in any way to accede to the persistent photographers. Do not forget though to take a picture at Diana’s Bench, which is where Princess Diana sat down during her visit to India in 1992 shortly after her breakup with the Prince of Wales. Kate Middleton and Prince William then visited India and sat on the same bench last April 2016.
After (or before) the Taj, one can also visit Agra Fort, which served as a residence for the Mughal emperors and their families, including that of Shah Jahan. The Agra Fort is also where Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son who dethroned and deposed him as emperor. Shah Jahan could only look longingly at the Taj, where his beloved Mumtaz was buried from afar.
Both the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort are UNESCO heritage sites.
After our tour to the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, we headed back to Delhi passing by NOIDA, and shopped along Janpath Road before dinner.
Janpath Road is a heaven of treasure troves for the bargain hunters. Be prepared to haggle your heart out when shopping for souvenirs to bring back home to the Philippines. (You may want to buy an extra bag for the extra kilos you will find yourself packing after your shopping spree!)
Day 8: India Tour from the Philippines
Home sweet home!
Most of the group went back to the Philippines from New Delhi via Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, while some proceeded to other cities in India for a quick visit to some friends.
We hope you enjoyed this blog, and we hope this encouraged you to visit India soon. India is a rare gem. Do not expect the glitzy tourist spots, but expect to learn about an ancient civilization, expect to love Indian cuisine and appreciate a culture so unique.
We will definitely be going back to India. Hopefully airline companies will offer direct flights from Philippines to India soon.
Dhanyavaad, which means thank you in India.
See you soon. For inquiries about and bookings to India, please feel free to email us at email@example.com and consult with our travel experts.