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Think of India and it is likely the first thing you will think of is the Golden Triangle. The bustling streets of Delhi, the pink city of Jaipur and of course, Agra for the Taj Mahal all make up a perfect Golden Triangle Itinerary. However, due to the sheer size of India, many choose to see this section of India through a prebooked tour, especially if it is your first visit and if you are limited on time.
Read Before You Go: Six Things To Expect From Your First Trip To India
The Top Golden Triangle Itinerary Tours in India
What the benefits of booking a Golden Triangle tour package?
India is easily accessible by public transport and you can explore the Golden Triangle independently, however, there are various for booking a prepackaged tour.
One of the top reasons is time constraints, India is huge and public transportation is not always reliable if you are limited on time in India (I spent two weeks in India) I would always recommend a pre-booked tour. On a pre-booked tour, you will not need to worry about how to get from A to B, it will be sorted for you and your tour will make sure you get places on time. Essentially, you can relax more, which is important for a holiday. You will save a large amount of time prior to your trip, as again, everything will be organised for you, meaning less stress for you.
People often choose pre-booked tours for safety. I do believe India is safe but at times it can feel overwhelming and uncomfortable, from the sheer amount of people alone. By booking a tour you will often be travelling with a local or at least someone who is very accustomed to India. This can give a sense of security to less confident travellers.
You will also be purchasing knowledge. If you are travelling with a good company, like the tours listed below, you will get a wealth of knowledge about the Golden Triangle and the rest of India. Your tour guide will be on hand to share the history, the culture and of course, all of the local’s hotspots throughout your tour.
What stops should be included on an India Golden Triangle itinerary?
Officially, India’s Golden Triangle comprises the three most visited cities in the country’s north-west – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. On a map, these form a roughly equilateral triangle. This triangle has been dubbed “golden” for the extraordinary wealth of cultural and historical splendour on offer in each of the three cities.
Of course, there is so much more to India, but these three destinations offer a great taster and in my opinion are a must for first-time visitors to India.
Within these three destinations, there are numerous places to visit.
Delhi is the chaotic capital of India, a place where you could spend weeks yet barely scratch the surface. In Delhi, you will find Humayun’s Tomb, Jama Masjid and the Red Fort to name a few.
Agra once the home of the Moghul Empire is of course where you will see the beautiful Taj Mahal – a bucket list destination for any keen traveller. In Agra, there is also the Agra Fort to visit, however aside from this, there is not too much else to see, generally, Agra will be the shortest stop on your Golden Triangle itinerary.
Jaipur, also known as the Pink City of Rajasthan, is famous for bazaars and for me, evokes a real sense of true North India. Alongside the stunning architecture, you will visit the Amber Fort, the Hawa Mahal plus others.
The Golden Triangle is possible to be explored in as little as 4 days as part of a tour, however, I would suggest allocating at 5 days with the optimal time being 7 days.
The best Golden Triangle Tour packages for solo travellers
Group tours are brilliant for solo travellers and there is no exception when it comes to the Golden Triangle Tours. Group tours give you an opportunity to meet like-minded people and with so many available you can really find a tour which resonates with your travel style.
I am a massive fan of G Adventures, no only do they offer small group tours (max 15 people) they also have a massive focus on sustainability and eco-tourism. By booking on to a G-Adventures tour you will be booking on to a tour which supports the local community as well as the local wildlife (there will be no elephant riding!).
At present, G Adventures offer a variety of different India tours with the most relevant being the 8 Day Delhi to Delhi Tour and The Golden Triangle with Varanasi Tour. Both of these tours will take you to the main tourist hotspots as well as some local gems. Each tour will list what is included in your purchase price but generally, they will include the majority of excursions, transportation, accommodation as well as some meals.
Dragon Trip is great for tours aimed at budget backpackers. Despite being on a budget, their tours by no means compromise on experience. At present, the most relevant tour is a 13 day North India tour which includes the vibrant culture of the Golden Triangle as well as the relaxation of Varanasi, offering ‘off the beaten track’ experiences along the way. Nightlife is also a big part of Dragon Tours making them great for solo travellers looking to socialise.
Due to the backpacker budget nature of the tour, all accommodation is in single-sex dorm rooms, however, there is an opportunity to upgrade to a private room at an additional price. You will also find Dragon Trip slightly cheaper than companies such as G Adventures, as they opt to use public transportation more in order to provide lower costs.
If you are looking for a female-only India tour I would like to highlight Wander to India, which are tours run by my friend Ellie (in conjunction with India Someday). While tours are limited at present, I believe they will more frequent in the near future and will give you the opportunity to travel with like-minded female travellers. The tours are also run and conducted by Ellie who is a very experienced traveller of India.
The best private Golden Triangle tours
If you are not a fan of group tours then it is possible to book private tours. In most cases, this will be your party, a private driver and a guide. You may find this option slightly more expensive than a group tour, however, it is, of course, more personal and you have more flexibility with making changes to the itinerary.
I recommend the private tour I booked during our trip. We met our Golden Triangle Tours private guide for the Golden Triangle on arrival in Delhi. They arranged our accommodation (can be changed according to budget), transported us between locations (air-conditioned car with wifi), gave us a guide where needed, was not part of a group tour and most importantly gave us free time still. We essentially hand our guide on call for when we needed him, which was great as we still did things our way, but could call him if we wanted to get somewhere a bit further away or if we wanted a restaurant recommendation.
They are a local Indian company who we found through TripAdvisor and we received great communication at all stages from the booking process to the actual trip. My only criticism was they often took us to very touristy restaurants, which were still great but often more expensive, however, once we discussed this with them they knew more what we were looking for when it came to places to eat.
The best Golden Triangle itinerary tours for mature travellers
There comes a time in your life when you are completely over the late nightlife and backpacker dorm rooms, however, that does not mean you compromise on where you visit. There are many tours which accommodate for these priority changes, companies who understand that a comfy, quiet hotel room is preferred at the end of a long day sightseeing. However, the company I am going to recommend is Newmarket Holidays as they are frequently used by my parents and they are always impressed with them.
Newmarket Holidays, I would say, cater towards affordable luxury. Their target audience travels during annual leave (or retirement) and therefore understand that holiday time is precious and should not be compromised. At present they offer two great Indian Golden Triangle itineraries, Tigers and The Taj Mahal which includes the Golden Triangle and a two day Tiger Safari in Ranthambhore Park as well as the Ganges to Taj Mahal tour, a 12-day escorted tour which starts in Kolkata before exploring Delhi, Jaipur and Agra.
External flights are included with Newmarket holidays as well as accommodation and entrance fees but generally, meals will not be included in the price (it is worth noting that food in India is very affordable, with the average meal for two in a restaurant costing on average £10)
Many females stress about packing for India, but don’t, here is my go-to guide of what to wear in India
What shall I do after my Golden Triangle Tour?
Depending on the length of your tour you may have time further time to spend in India. I explored the Golden Triangle as part of a two week trip to India and our time after was spent in Kerala in Southern India, which I found to be a really great contrast to the chaos of the North. Another option is to fly to the west to visit the beaches of Goa or if you are looking for somewhere closer to the end of your Golden Triangle India Itinerary then Pushkar would be an ideal location. In Pushkar, during November you will have the opportunity to see the world-famous Pushkar Camel Fair.