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How to find the best India group tours? Tips and tours included

How to find the best India group tours?

India is an amazing country, it evokes images of vivid color, richly diverse culture, a relentless bustle of life and sound, and so much more.

There’re many ways to explore this exquisite place, but unless you’re an adventurous backpacker, India group tours are the best way to explore this cultural caboodle.

We are independent travelers to the core, we explored Vietnam and China on our own, advising on taking a group tour may seem like an odd thing to do.  But yet, here we are.

If you arrived at this page by searching for the best India tours you may already be convinced by the advantages of this kind of tour for India. 

Others, who only just fell in love with the country, can read more about our experience below.  We looked into exploring India independently but in hindsight, we are glad we took an organized tour. 

We loved our trip even though the whole experience felt more touristy. But we’re sure it would have been a rather dreadful experience if we would have done it independently.

We had an in-depth look at several India travel tours and hand-picked the best 2-week India itineraries for you.

Our main criterion was the itinerary but we also looked at other important aspects such as the group size to make this selection.  We did a 4-week tour in India so our own tour is not included in this list. 

We looked at the reviews to ensure the quality of these tours. 

All these tours have excellent reviews given by dozens of real travelers.  

This article is not to promote one specific tour.  We give you an objective overview of several India tours that visit different regions of the country.

We aim to make it easier for you to choose by bringing together all the important elements on one single page.  We share the pros and cons of each of these tours so you can easily pick the tour that best suits your needs.

Don’t worry if it looks a little daunting to explore India independently but group tours are not your thing either. 

You can do as we did and arrange a private tour with a car and driver

This is a great alternative that offers you all the comfort of a guided tour and leaves all the flexibility to arrange your own tour.

We describe how this works below.

There is a really good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are deeply grateful) at no extra cost to you.

India essentials 

Amer Fort Jaipur, India
Many of these India group tours take you to Amer Fort in Jaipur.

Why taking a guided tour of India might be more interesting than going independent

I’m sure that some people will be completely fine traveling around India on their own taking public transport.  We didn’t do it and in hindsight, we are happy we took this decision. 

Taking a guided tour in India is so much more comfortable and easy. Especially for first-time India travelers. 

Below we share the pros and cons of both options but let’s start by sharing our own experience. 

Planning our India trip

We initially planned to use the trains for the Rajasthan part of our trip and had looked into several other aspects of how we could travel around India independently.

What made us change course were the scams and the fact that we didn’t manage to reserve our train tickets despite following the tips that we found online. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t get in touch with IRCTC, the Indian railway company. 

That was a setback.  Most trains are night trains and if we would be traveling by train we wanted to be sure that we could get a good rest and didn’t have to share the cabin with 4 other people or, even worse, wouldn’t have a bed at all.

We also read a lot about scams.  Train stations are a hot spot for scams.  I know how terrible I feel if I arrive at the airport after a redeye flight with less sleep. 

Negotiating a taxi rate in a sweltering and overcrowded train station is the last thing I want to do after a bad night because of a shocking train or a snoring co-passenger. 

Our experience in hindsight

So, we changed course and opted for a private India tour.  This was the first time ever we did something like that.  That probably makes you wonder if we had a good time or regret our decision.

We still prefer to do our own thing. It felt a bit strange to see the country in total comfort from behind glass.  But we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

We loved to wander through the narrow alleys of the old cities. 

Exploring these cities on foot was great but not for a whole day.  We were constantly harassed by hustlers and after two hours the sweat ran from our backs because of the +30 degrees Celcius. 

We were happy we could retreat to the comfort of our air-conditioned car every once in a while.

Haggling is not new to us but we never experienced it like in India.  The prices we were quoted were often much more expensive than what we would pay in our home country.  Without our guide, we wouldn’t have had a clue what the normal price was.  Thanks to him we knew what a reasonable price was and when to walk away.

We had a hard time finding OK restaurants. 

We’re not afraid to drop into local restaurants and have fond memories of our trip to China where we often had to order with sign language and by pointing to other people’s plates. 

We wanted to repeat this in India but for some reason, it was not that easy.  And the few times we did, we often fell victim to the infamous Delhi belly.

Our guide brought us to less authentic and more touristy places, the prices were somewhat inflated but at least we didn’t need to run for the toilet the day after.

The abovementioned examples are just a few anecdotes of our India trip but it provides a quick summary of our experience. 

The heat and the hustlers make exploring India an exhausting experience. 

The country absolutely deserves a spot on your bucket list.

I don’t regret our trip for a minute but I don’t think I would have enjoyed it so much if we had traveled it independently.  The comfort of our air-conditioned car and the support of our guide made the experience bearable.

Below is an overview of the pros and cons of guided tours in India.

Jal Mahal Water Palace Jaipur, India
The Jal Mahal Water Palace Jaipur is mostly visited on a golden triangle tour.

Pros and cons about joining an India group tour 

  • A package tour is more comfortable than going independently. You don’t have to plan anything and once at your destination you don’t have to take care of anything, you can fully enjoy the destination.
  • This makes it also less stressful than going on your own. In the unlikely event of a problem, you can always contact your guide or tour operator.
  • A package tour is more social, we always meet interesting people and make new friends. Probably you will as well!
  • You’re less prone to scams.
  • You can see a lot in very little time, which is perfect if you only have limited vacation days.
  • Your tour guide will share the stories behind all the great sights you see which makes your trip even more enlightening.
  • You have less freedom because you have to follow the group.
  • Your holiday is less flexible because everything is arranged in advance.
  • You mingle less with the locals so it is a more touristy experience.

Cheap flights to India 

Flights aren’t included in these India tours.

Don’t worry though, it’s easy to find great flight deals to India.  Momondo is probably the best place to find the most lucrative deals. 

This flight aggregator compares hundreds of flight booking sites and will show the cheapest results. You can compare the results, choose a flight that suits you, and Momondo will direct you to the site where you can make your booking.

You don’t have to limit your search to Momondo.  There’re hundreds of flight booking sites so it’s a good idea to compare a few of them.  Kayak and Skyscanner are two very good alternatives.

We have more tips about finding cheap flights here.

Find your cheap flight on Momondo:
Flights to India

Red Fort New Delhi, India
The Red Fort in New Delhi used to serve as the main residence of the Mughal Emperors.

TourRadar 

We used TourRadar to create this overview of the best tours in India.

TourRadar is an online travel agency that brings together tours offered by several tour operators. They really have a myriad of tours for India.  

The big advantage of Tourradar is that you can compare the tours of different tour operators on one single page.  Even better is that these tours can sometimes be booked for less with Tourradar than direct with the operator.

TourRadar’s user-friendly website makes it easy to find the tour you’re looking for among the many tours they offer.

Tourradar India tours
Overview of India tours on Tourradar

An overview of-the best tours and travels in India. On the results page, you can see the duration, the itinerary, the travel style, and the reviews of the available India tours.

The reviews are real reviews from other travelers that took this trip, they may help in giving you a better idea of what to expect from the tour.

These are the key advantages of TourRadar

They have a 24/7 support service that can answer any questions you have about an upcoming trip.

They don’t charge a booking or credit card fee.

If you find the same tour cheaper anywhere else you can use their best price guarantee and they will match that price.

Every booking earns travel credits ( 3% of the overall value) that you can use towards future bookings. You can use your travel credits to make your next vacation even cheaper.

Booking a tour with Tourradar is sometimes cheaper than booking the same tour directly with the tour operator. Throughout the year Tourradar also offers extra discounts on selected tours. Pretty amazing not?

Taj Mahal, Agra, India
The Taj Mahal is sure to be a highlight of your tour to India

The best India tours

India is a massive country and 2 weeks is clearly not enough to visit the whole country.  Therefore we’ve tried to include a variety of tours to give you an idea of what’s out there. 

To give you a first taste of what this country has to offer.

There are a few excursions that will give you a beautiful glimpse into life in India in just a few days.

We have focused on 2-week tours.  You can follow this link to see tours of a different duration. You can use the filter on the left side of the page to select the tours of your desired duration.

All tours are operated in English. 

We list the highlights and the pros and cons of each tour so you can pick the one that suits you most based on your interests and preferences.  

It can be hard to compare several tours when the details are spread out across different pages.  We hope we have made it easier for you to find your India tour package by bringing together all the information.

We did our best to make this overview as detailed and as accurate as possible.  We will also regularly update this post when something changes.  We appreciate your help as well.  If you would notice any changes before us please leave us a note so that we can update this article.

Do you want to know more? Below we describe 5 great India tours and packages in detail.

Take a look at our suggestions for the best India tours below.

Lake Pichola Udaipur
Our boat ride on Lake Pichola at sunset was a highlight of our trip.

1. 13 Days – Incredible Golden Triangle Tour with Udaipur, Mumbai & Goa

Tour description

An ambling 13-day journey through Northern India and Rajasthan, you will start in New Delhi and work your way through Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Jaipur, Udaipur, Mumbai, and Goa.

The Swastik is a mark of good fortune to the Hindu people, and this tour company aims to give value for money and insight into the intricacies of the Indian culture.

You will be staying in comfortable and affordable 3-star hotels.  When on the road you can relax in an air-conditioned luxury car.  For most parts of the tour, you will be accompanied by an English-speaking guide.

You’ll see monuments, folk art, beaches, sacred sites, temples, palaces, historical legends, tombs, memorials, gorgeous natural scenery, and a glimpse into the life of Indian locals in all their cultural diversity.

Highlights

  • The Taj Mahal
  • A boat ride on Lake Pichola in Udaipur
  • The Elephanta caves
  • Several UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Qutub Minar and the Humayun’s Tomb, etc.
  • Plenty of beautiful architecture and fold art exploration

Pros and cons about joining the incredible Golden Triangle Tour with Udaipur, Mumbai & Goa

  • Air-conditioned vehicle with chauffeur.
  • English speaking guide.
  • Guaranteed departure for one (the tour will still leave with only one traveler) and maximum participants of six.
  • Not included in the price: airfares, train fares, camera fees, monument entrance fees, insurance.
  • You will be staying in 3-star hotels. If you prefer more comfortable hotels, we would advise you to book another trip.

Important information

  • Breakfast is included each day, and there is an option to have your own room ( for an extra cost).
  • The maximum group size for this tour is 6 people.
  • Swastik India Journeys is against animal cruelty, so you won’t find any activities like Elephant Rides included in this tour.
  • Be sure to ask about specific ‘extra’ costs that may arise during your journey in different locations. If there is anything you aren’t happy to pay or you want to question, contact the tour company directly.

Conclusion 

Swastik India Journeys will provide you with the comforts of a 3-star hotel, guide, and arranged transport in what can otherwise be an intimidating and bustling trip for solo tourists.

We read some complaints about the hotels and pushy tour guides but in general, this tour offers excellent value for money.

With only six potential travel mates, you’ll be guaranteed an intimate and restful travel experience. 

This thirteen-day small group tour is guaranteed to enlighten you and leave memories for a lifetime.

Price 

Prices start at €1.321 (about $1.428 at the current exchange rate at the time of writing). 

More information and booking:
Incredible Golden Triangle Tour

Sunrise at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Seeing the Taj Mahal was amazing

2. Royal India

The Royal India tour takes you on a cultural and historical exploration of India, visiting many of the famous and significant sites that make up India’s cultural identity.

From the world-famous Taj Mahal to the vibrant capital of Delhi and the beautiful “pink city” of Jaipur, participants will be able to see a wide range of beautiful sights and locations.

The tour also includes a number of activities, such as camel rides and boat tours, which keeps things interesting and avoids any feeling of repetitiveness.

In some locations, there are demonstrations of craftmanship or artisanship that participants can take part in.

These include gem-cutting and marble craftsmanship. With art being a significant piece of cultural identity, experiencing these demonstrations is a great way to be involved in the culture and its art.

The tour starts and ends in New Delhi with time spent in a number of other cities in India.

As well as the most famous destinations, there are also a number of interesting yet less known places to visit, such as Fatehpur Sikri, the abandoned capital, and Pushkar, the secluded and sacred desert town.

There is also time to explore the majestic temples and palaces of Udaipur and the golden city, Jaisalmer, known for its amazing craftmanship and street shopping.

This is arranged by Indus Travels with a maximum group size of 22.

There is an English-speaking guide and breakfasts are provided. Accommodation will be twin-share hotels. Private transport between locations will be provided for the group.

Highlights

  • The historical city of Delhi
  • Make a romantic boat trip on Lake Pichola
  • Visit the Taj Mahal
  • Ride a camel in the desert
  • Jaipur
  • Brahma Temple

Pros and cons about joining the Royal India tour

  • A wide range of cultural and historical locations are visited in this tour
  • Varied activities
  • Plenty of free time allocated in various cities
  • A lot of destinations are packed into the tour – this could start to feel rushed

Important information

Indus travel offers a great tour that is well organized and combines a lot of India’s highlights. 

Note that international and domestic flights and insurance are not included however private transport is included

You will stay in twin-sharing hotel accommodation

Conclusion

This tour is a great option for travelers looking to explore a wide range of places in India and see both the biggest cities and some hidden gems. Previous participants found the tour well-organized with good choices in places to see.

Price 

Prices start at €1.136 (about $1.199 at the current exchange rate at the time of writing).

Check prices and availability:
Royal india Tour

 
City Palace Udaipur, India
India counts numerous breathtaking palaces like this one in Udaipur

3. 12 Days – West Coast India & Rajasthan by Rail

G Adventures provides a fast and furious 12-day travel experience on the West Coast of India by rail.

You’ll sleep in hotels, guesthouses, and one night on a sleeper train, as you meander through the northern regions all the way down to the beautiful beaches of Goa.

The rail travel opens possibilities that other tours may miss, taking you to some remote or less explored destinations in Northern India and Rajasthan.

There’s a lot to see, and you’ll need comfortable walking shoes for jam-packed days in each major location.

Travelers will see New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Bundi, Mumbai, and Goa along the way.

Highlights

  • Taj Mahal
  • Agra Fort
  • Gateway of India
  • Bundi
  • Palaces and forts
  • Walking tours in each city
  • Beaches and monuments

Pros and cons about joining the West Coast India & Rajasthan by Rail

  • Tour group maximum of 15 people.
  • The overnight train trip is a unique experience and gives you one extra day to explore the country (for one of the twelve nights).
  • Jain, Vegetarian, Vegan, Halal, and Kosher food available.
  • Plenty of ‘extra’ experiences available in each location during free time, with prices available on request beforehand.
  • TourRadar rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars.
  • Only 1 Breakfast and 1 Dinner included
  • Travel insurance is compulsory and not included in the quote

Important information

Single rooms available on request (at extra cost).

TIP: Look out for the dates in March of your travel year if you want to be in India during the vivid displays of the Holi festival.

There’s also a twenty-day tour by G Adventures that includes more northern highlights, like a visit to the medieval fortress of Jaisalmer, Jodhpur also called the blue city, and the quintessential Indian holy city Varanasi. 

Conclusion

It’s a value for money tour if you’re looking for more walking experiences with a smaller group of fellow explorers.

The tour will allow you to visit all the main sights of Northern India and Rajasthan with a few unique highlights as you immerse yourself in the bustle of an ancient tradition.

 G Adventures provides a simple but memorable package that allows much room for customized experiences.

Price 

Prices start at €999 out of season (about $1.086  at the current exchange rate at the time of writing).

More information and booking:
West Coast India and Rajasthan by rail

Pushkar Holy Lake
The holy lake in Pushkar is home to many colorful rituals

4.14 Days – North India, New Delhi to New Delhi

For fourteen days of a more unique and diverse Indian tour experience, this is a great choice. With a genuine interest in exploring the more spiritual aspects of Northern India, One Life Adventures is a tour for the under-forties with plenty on offer and an intentionally fast-paced itinerary.

It provides this fourteen-day adventure starting and ending in bustling New Delhi, including a Brahmin blessing, holy offerings, food markets, winding alleys and architecture, main tourist sites, and much else between.

You’ll see New Delhi, Varanasi, Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Jodhpur, and Udaipur from all kinds of perspectives, including air-conditioned buses, and classic Indian tuk-tuks, the back of a camel, and sleeper trains.

Be sure to pack some comfortable walking shoes.

Highlights

  • Taj Mahal
  • Monkey temple
  • Homestay in Varanasi
  • Pushkar camel ride
  • Udaipur haveli and bike ride
  • Bollywood movie
  • Old Delhi food tour
  • Rickshaw ride
  • A memorable local cooking experience

Pros and cons about joining the North India tour

  • A medium group (maximum 22 people) ensures a more intimate experience with plenty of room for socializing too
  • 13 breakfasts and 5 dinners included (vegetarian and vegan options available)
  • One Life Adventures Tour Guides available throughout, with assistance from local guides in each location
  • A greater focus on spiritual and romantic-type experiences than mainstream tourism
  • Domestic Agra flights included
  • Shared rooms (no upgrades to single rooms possible)
  • Airport transfers (Day 1 and 14) not included
  • Insurance is not included

Important information

You’ll have jam-packed days and spend the evenings in comfort with eight nights in hotels, one night in a local homestay (a highlight for most reviewers), two nights on trains, and two nights ‘glamping.’

Airport transfers are optional ( done by Women on Wheels).

Conclusion

One Life Adventures is bound to give you a romantic take on beautiful India that’ll have you photographing continuously.

It’s a tour aimed at unveiling the true sacred side of this stunning region and creating lasting memories.

Price 

Prices start at € 845 (about $ 919 at the current exchange rate at the time of writing).

More information and booking:
14 day North India Tour

Kerala Backwaters India
The backwaters are a nice place for a stressless retreat

5.14 Days – The Tropical South, Kochi (Cochin) to Kovalam

An all-age tour that takes you from Kochi (Cochin) to Kovalam in 14 days, The Tropical South tour from Exodus Travels is hugely popular with families, solo travelers, and couples alike. 

It will take you to Cochin, Munnar, Madurai, Alleppey, Kovalam, and Kanyakumari on a private air-conditioned bus with a personal tour guide from Exodus Travels.

There are plenty of extras available to customize your experience along the way, including rickshaw rides, dance, heritage sites, cooking classes, and backwater cruises.

Highlights

  • Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Keralan houseboat
  • A home-cooked traditional meal with a local family
  • Sri Meenakshi temple
  • Sweeping beaches at Kovalam
  • Tea plantations.

Pros and cons about joining the Tropical South Tour

  • Only 16 fellow travelers (maximum).
  • A night on a houseboat.
  • All breakfasts included.
  • Single accommodation available (on request).
  • Great pace of tour in general with reviewers raving about the food and accommodation.
  • TourRadar rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars.
  • Insurance and International flights not included.
  • You might find yourself paying for lots of extras that are not included in the tour price (a ‘pro’ if you’re looking to diversify your experience a little).

Important information

You will spend 11 nights in a hotel, 1 night in a local homestay, and 1 night on a houseboat.

The tour includes all breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 3 dinners, with vegetarian and vegan options available on request.

Conclusion

Exodus Travels is an established and popular tour company that is well-known for its attention to detail and professional tour guides.

If you’re looking to relax amid the bustle of this colorful region in India, the 14-day Tropical South tour is an ideal choice, especially if you are a foodie who loves to travel comfortably.

Price 

Prices start at € 1.549 (about $ 1.685 at the current exchange rate at the time of writing).  

More information and booking:
The Tropical South

Exploring Chandni Chowk in Delhi with a tuk-tuk

6. Explore India with a private car and driver 

A private car and driver offers the best of both worlds.  You have absolute freedom regarding your itinerary and a professional driver will safely take you to all the sights you want to see.

This is how it works.

You arrange your India itinerary in advance. 

If you have a good idea about the things you want to see and do you can plan your complete itinerary and book your own hotels. 

India Driver Tours also has some off-the-shelf tours that take you to the most famous sights in Northern India and they can also offer you some hotels.  Their prices may be better as they usually have some deals with hotels in the cities where they operate.

You can also opt for something in between where you customize one of their tours to your liking or ask them to fine-tune an itinerary you had in mind.

In addition to the itinerary, you will also have to decide on the car you would like to be driven around in.  Car classes are similar to what you’re used to when picking a rental car.

Next, you can start dreaming of your India vacation.

Once the big day is there your driver will be waiting for you at the airport upon arrival.  He will chauffeur you to the hotel and you can arrange the travel schedule with him in more detail. 

He will inform you about the sights there’re to see and you can decide on what you want to see and things you may want to skip.  You can decide when you want to be picked up. 

Some days you may have a jam-packed day and may want to leave early, other days you can sleep in, treat yourself to an extensive breakfast, or return to the hotel somewhat earlier to enjoy the pool.

We absolutely loved the freedom that came with a private tour.

Pros and cons about taking a private car and driver

  • Complete freedom to decide on your India itinerary and hotels
  • You decide on the pace of the tour yourself
  • No socializing with other people in a group
  • Slightly more expensive than a group tour but still very affordable

Important information

Conclusion

A private car and driver give you complete freedom over your itinerary.  This is the closest thing to an independent trip without the discomfort or the charm, it just depends on how you look at it,  of India’s public transportation. 

This is the perfect solution for families and groups who want to travel together or those who have a specific tour in mind.  As a solo traveler, a group tour might be better if you prefer to socialize with other travelers.

Price 

Prices upon request. The price will depend on your itinerary, the kind of hotels, etc.

More information and booking:
Tours with car and driver

The Palace of the winds in Jaipur

Travel insurance for your trip to India

Travel insurance isn’t included in any of these guided tours in India.

We absolutely recommend taking out travel insurance for India. It is even mandatory for some of these tours.

India knows a big difference in the quality of its health care system between urban and rural areas. There’s also a big difference between public and private hospitals. 

Even private hospitals are still relatively cheap compared to the costs in developed countries such as for example the United States.  

We recommend taking out insurance, even if it is not mandatory for the tour you’re about to take so that you have peace of mind and are sure to get excellent treatment wherever you are.

Travel insurance policies mostly vary by country of residence.

Have a look at what’s available in your country and compare this with what’s offered by World Nomads.

When it comes to insurance it’s really important to not just take the cheapest option.  Make sure to look at the small print and see what is covered and to what amount.  There are big differences between the various policies.

You can find more information about World Nomads here or click the button to get a free quote:
WORLD NOMADS

We we lucky to see tigers while we were in India

Visa

Only residents of Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives can enter India without a visa.  Unless you’re one of the lucky ones living in one of these 3 countries you will need to arrange the necessary paperwork before your trip.

India has introduced e-visas.  Most people can now apply for a visa online and it no longer requires a trip to the embassy.   This is the official government website where you can apply for the visa.

Several other websites also call themselves official offices but these are not related to the government and some of them charge huge service fees.

The tourist visa fee charged by the government used to be on average 80 USD (it varies by country).  It has since been reduced to on average 25 USD.

The fee is seen as a processing fee which means that it is charged regardless of whether your application is approved or not.  A minor mistake such as an unclear picture or an unreadable scan of your passport can lead to a denied application.  

This made us a little uncomfortable applying directly to the government.  We used a visa agency that subjected our data to an additional review.

Click here to see prices and submit your application:
Visa for India

Conclusion

If you’re keen to explore India, the five tours above should provide an excellent starting point.

It is just a handful of tours, some for young and ambitious travelers, others for those looking for something different, or a more customized family experience.

No matter your selection, you will be able to find yourself having a fulfilling and memorable time exploring this exciting location and sampling its many tastes, sights, and sounds.

Each tour presents various benefits of its own, and this is by no means an exhaustive list of what is available in vast and fascinating India. It’s a place well worth visiting, where ‘my soul sees your soul,’ and unforgettable scenes will be etched into your memories forever.

Which one is your favorite?