My tips for India trip:
1. India is the same like Indonesia, lots of people trying to rip-off tourists. So, be careful in choosing the right tour guide or when your friend refer for someone. It’s better for you to ask your local friend first. I had browsed for so many tour agent, but I am too afraid to book by internet, so I tried to call one (actually, the guy in my office who called them), and they said no train to Agra because of the winter season, so the fog is so thick. Instead, they offer me a tour with driver and private car. hey, what’s the point of joining day tour if you go with private car?? so, the choice is only 2: going fancy with private car -spend more money but you get the convenience, or go backpacking but it’s really awful IMO. I’ve been backpacking for several times, but I think I cannot survive in India. Looking at the bus has already make me sad.
2. I decide to play safe and rent the car, and it was recommended by a trusted guy in my office. Yet, I am still sure that he got commission. I don’t know is it the culture or what, but you’ll feel that some people are nice because they think they can get some money from you. He said that the tour guide is included in the package. But, in fact when we meet him and walk for a while (FYI the tour guide looks so creepy with a face like mafioso). He kept telling me that Taj Mahal is a gem, and I can see the gem in the marble shops!!! so, 2nd options: you better buy/ rent the audio guide tour from the official in Taj Mahal rather than hiring a tour guide. Well, there some sites that do not provide this audio tour, so my suggestion is to have your local friend with you or a lonely planet book.
3. Friend said, do not give money to the beggar, otherwise you will be surrounded by beggars.
4. Lots of local people there wanna take pic with the foreigners, so even though i’m only chinese person (not a bule – western), they ask for my pictures!! argh…. i’m so paranoid.
5. They said the water there is not healthy.. so always drink bottled water.. and be safe with the foods.
6. When you booked hotel, always read reviews from the previous guests, and always make sure that you don’t missed anything. I mis-write the amount of people staying (1 instead od 2 people), and ended up with the hotel gave me one tiny room, for a deluxe room price!! i screamed and cried there, then they gave me a proper room. it’s really terrible!!