Give in to your wandering feet and take a cheap flight to India for an exotic experience unlike any you’ve ever had. In a country nearly the size of Europe the possibilities are endless, and you’ll never be at a loss for something to do. Go sightseeing in some of India’s largest cities, such as Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru. Sit down in Darjeeling for a cup of tea at the base of the Himalayas as you gaze up at the highest snow-capped peaks in the world, or float down the Ganges at the sacred city of Varanasi. Visit the countless temples and sacred sites in this country which is home to more than a billion people and civilization thousands of years in the making. There’s so much to do that you’ll struggle to fit it all in, but not because of your budget. Thanks to our cheap airline ticket deals, money will be the last thing on your mind as you plan your jam-packed India itinerary. Here are some tips to help you plan your trip to India.
India is a big country and the climate can vary depending on where you are. The country has seven climatic regions, ranging from Alpine in the north (Himalayas) to tropical in the south. The Asiatic monsoon has a huge influence on the country’s weather. The southwest monsoon season begins in late May and early June and lasts through September; the south gets the rains between late May and early June, the north about a month-and-a-half later. The northeast monsoon season lasts from October through November; states such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka get most of their rainfall then. In general, December to February are the driest and coolest months, while March to May can be the hottest months as temperatures soar.
Deciding on the best time to take cheap flights to India depends on where you intend to go. India is such a vast country and has such a range of climates that almost every season has its peak time and off-peak time.
While India is a large and climactically varied country, the peak tourist period is generally during the cool “dry” season from November through to March. Temperatures are much more bearable throughout Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra, while conditions are perfect for the beaches of Goa. The peak trekking season throughout the Indian Himalaya is during August and September when crowds can be found on most of the trails but temperatures are warm and the skies relatively dry.
The off season for most of the country coincides with the monsoon or “wet” season that breaks across the Subcontinent from late April. High temperatures and humidity are uncomfortable and regular downpours can be expected. In some low lying regions flooding can be a serious problem, disrupting transport and causing landslides. This normally passes through by the end of September, except in the south of Kerala where rain persists into October and November. December to February are the coolest months of the year in most locations but the climate is varied depending on the area. In the south of India, winter weather is still warm although it may get chilly at night.
You can find cheap flights to India in the winter months and monsoon periods. You’ll have to research exactly when that is depending on where you are going. For example, in Goa the monsoon season can last from June until September whereas in other areas it can last from October to November. While the cheapest flights to India are found during the “wet” monsoon season, when far fewer tourists are visiting, if you are hoping for dry, sunny weather, you will want to plan your trip accordingly to avoid it.
Checking when festivals are on is a wise idea too as they will increase the cost of flight tickets and make cheap flights to India hard to find. If you can be flexible with your dates and your location then you can find the cheapest flights to India, just make sure to secure your flight tickets at least 3 or 4 months in advance, as the best deals on flights can be found by booking as early as possible.
Flight time depends on which of Indian’s many cities you fly into. If you travel to India’s most popular airport, Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, the flight time is about fourteen hours from New York or Chicago and nineteen hours from Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Finding a flight to India isn’t too difficult, as United, Delta and American Airlines all fly into the country. Another option for direct flights from the United States is Air India. If you’re traveling from an international destination, look into flights with carriers such as Air Canada or Lufthansa.
Bring plenty of cotton and linen clothing so you can stay cool, as it gets hot in India, particularly during the summer. If you’re visiting during the winter or staying in the northern regions, bring layers as it can get chilly. Conservative wear is best when visiting the nation’s rural villages and holy sites. Make sure you’re ready when the sun comes out with a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Since sunscreen costs more in India, it’s better to bring plenty with you.
All the major airports in India are served by local bus routes that will either transport you directly into the city center or to a railway station to connect by train. While this is a cheap option, both buses and trains can get very crowded and you need to keep an eye on your luggage at all times. Some airports, such as Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) in Delhi, are serviced by an air train. This is a fast and efficient option if you are arriving in the capital and it takes 25 minutes between the airport and the city center. The easiest way to get from most of India’s airports into the city center or your hotel is by taxi. They are relatively cheap to use and you can purchase prepaid tickets instead of using the meter so you won’t have any disputes with drivers over the fare.
Once you’ve gotten to where you need to go after your flight to India, there are many forms of transportation you can leverage in order to explore. One of the best and most popular ways of getting around India is by air. Air India has a comprehensive network, and low-cost airlines have become very popular with Indians and tourists alike. India has the second-largest rail network in the world and moves more than 15 million people each day, and bus services augment rail services to reach the most remote parts of India.
In addition, you can also rent a car, though it’s actually more common to rent a car and a driver in India than it is to just rent a car. Taxis are also available at inexpensive, daily rates. In the cities, there are good public transportation networks – buses, trains, and metro (Kolkata for example). Auto-rickshaw is another good way of getting around. They are cheaper than taxis and are able to nip through congested city streets. Agree on a price before your journey starts. Cheaper still – but slower – is the cycle rickshaw.
Considering its massive size, India has a diverse range of attractions. Perhaps its most famous tourist attraction is the Taj Mahal in Agra, one of the wonders of the world. It’s a beautiful example of 17th-century architecture, built in memory of the Mughal Emperor’s favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and worth the visit if you’re in the area.
If you want to go on a hike, there may be no better place on the planet than the Himalayas. The Markha Valley and Hemis Festival provides spectacular views and you may even see a few snow leopards along the way if you go during the winter. India is known for its big cats, and besides snow leopards, you can also spot clouded leopards near the foothills of the Himalayas. There are Bengal tigers in several national parks, and Sasan Gir National Park is the only place to see the Asiatic lion.
While the country has well over a billion people, you can get some space by visiting the tropical coastline between Mumbai and Goa. This less-traveled area has beach after beach, and you may find several without anyone else around.
Since India has so many different religions, there are all kinds of festivals that go on throughout the country. The largest of these is Diwali or the festival of the lights, taking place in October and November, where people light clay lamps. In March is the Holi festival, which involves people throwing powders of color everywhere and is not the time to wear your nicest clothes. Both of these festivals take place in all of India, and there are also many smaller regional festivals.
Planning to go somewhere else after seeing the sights of India? Cheapflights can make sure you get the best deals. All the U.S. carriers that fly into India also fly out of it, so you can catch a flight to somewhere in the States or continue your journey internationally. Visit https://www.cheapflights.co.uk for the top flight deals for routes out of India.
India’s largest international airports have a very high volume of flights, so you should arrive early in case it takes longer than expected to get through security.
Once you choose a destination, be sure to check out our India airport guides for more detailed travel information and helpful tips.
(prices quoted are from London)