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We are not new to India, we are not backpackers but we are not 5 star. Can you recommend a travel agency who can book hotels and arrange driver/guides? Many Thanks!

In 2010, I had booked two back-to-back package tours, to south India with Explore and to Rajasthan with Adventures Abroad. Both were cancelled for lack of interest. A friend urged me to contact Swagatam, with its head office in Delhi and several others around the country. Swagatam put together essentially the same itineraries for me and then adjusted both of them to satisfy my preferences. I was traveling alone; even so, their price for what turned out to be six weeks, with my own driver, land cruiser, and local guides at almost all destinations along the way, was less than the two package tours. I didn't ask for deluxe hotels, but some of them were just that (and staying in palaces in Rajasthan is part of the fun), and all hotels were more than acceptable.

The only problem I encountered was that the vehicle and driver assigned to me for Rajasthan weren't satisfactory: the car was too small and the driver really didn't speak English. I phoned the office and by later that evening, a Swagatam representative was at my hotel in Delhi to confirm that both would be replaced immediately. I was more than satisfied.

I don't know what may have changed since 2010, but I'd certainly suggest that you contact them for a quote. Also, if you enter "Swagatam" in this message board's search box, I think you'll find some other reviews.

In India, all those travellers who have smart phone don't contact travel agents for Hotels, its a fact. So to get the best deal for Hotels you should check Tripadvisor.in for top hotel reviews and then book it from Makemytrip.com as they are in a price war with other major online travel agents like Goibibo and Oyo rooms. Malemytrip is the biggest OTA in India, they are even a NASDAQ listed company. Just google them to know more about them.

But for taxi and transportation you need to look for local tour operators. Like in Delhi you can contact Mann Travel, Santram Holiday for transfers. In Jaipur you can contact City Cab and Rajputana Cabs.

A piece of warning, Don't book a package for any travel site which don't have any good reviews on tripadvisor or on Google maps. And google lapka to be safe from shopping traps (nothing serious), but its good to know) :)

Hope you enjoy your to to India. You can also contact one of my friend in Delhi, he is a travel blogger. His site is JatinChhabra.com

Regards
Pratap Singh

We have used Sita Tours for India for several trips there and had nice hotels and guides/drivers. We have also used Third Eye Travel for trips to Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and they also do India Tours. We would recommend either one as both provide hotels, drivers and guides at reasonable rates.

If you have decided to visit Rajasthan, I will suggest you to visit Jaipur, Bundi, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and then from here you can drive towards Agra, Varanasi, Khajuraho and then enter southern India. Expected days to visit all the above sites is around 12-14 days, but they are all worthy.

Plus for Hotels, do check Oyo rooms as currently, they are offering great rates for hotel, I got a hotel deal in Agra for three days for which I paid 7200 INR ($105.)for 2 rooms, 3 days. This deal was for 14000 ($204) on MMT. I am not saying that you will always get a great offer in Oyo or any platform, but you can follow these sites to get a great discount on hotels.

I used Cox and Kings (UK company not the US company) for a small group tour of Rajasthan two years ago. There were 3 couples from the UK plus myself. We stayed in heritage "hotels" (palaces and forts, etc. converted to hotels) which is part of the fun of going to this region. Because it was such a small group, we had a very "relaxed" approach, but covered so much. Cox and Kings has been in business for more than 100 years. They do a lot of India tours. I had them book and independent "extension" for a tiger safari to Kanha and Bandhavgarh for 1 week.