Varanasi Extension Trip Notes

Varanasi Extension

Last Modified: 25 Apr 2016
Varanasi Extension
Trip code: HHAV-O
Validity: 01 Jan 2013 to 31 Dec 2016
Explore holy Varanasi - an atmospheric blend of temples, river ghats and bazaars. Sail on the Ganges at dawn for a magical experience as the sun rises over pilgrims absolving sins in the river. Explore the city and nearby Sarnath with a driver and private car, and wander independently through the bright bustle of the backstreets of Benares. Visiting Shiva's city is a must on any visit to India.
Table of Contents
StyleGroup sizeEmergency contact
ThemesYour fellow travellersVisas
Why we love itAccommodationClimate and seasonal information
MapMealsHealth
ItineraryMoney mattersA couple of rules
Itinerary disclaimerSafetyResponsible Travel
Physical ratingJoining pointThe Intrepid Foundation
Included activitiesFinish pointFeedback
Style
Original, Comfort
Themes
Short Breaks
Why we love it
- Experience spiritual Varanasi
- Wander the fascinating Varanasi ghats
- Drink chai from a street stall
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Varanasi
Namaste! Welcome to India.
You will be picked up from your centrally located hotel between 8.30-9:00am.
The ultimate destination for all Hindu pilgrims, Varanasi is full of temples, shrines and devotees.
Varanasi is one of the world's oldest continually inhabited cities and is certainly is one of the world's most amazing.
Set off by cycle rickshaw to visit the oldest part of the city, bustling with tourists and priests, and if you are lucky, watch different rituals being performed.
Wander through the Old City with its maze of narrow alleyways packed full of small shops and stalls. See pilgrims bathing in the Ganges River and performing rituals and ceremonies unchanged for hundreds of years; temples full of bells chime and the smell of incense; the dhobi wallahs and the burning ghats.
Spend the evening soaking up the magical atmosphere of a candle flower ceremony.
Included Activities
  • Varanasi - Old City Walking Tour
  • Evening Ganges boat flower ceremony
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 2 Varanasi
    This morning set off on another guided city tour in which you will get a chance to visit a centre famous for weaving Benares silk in pit-looms.
    Varanasi is known throughout India as the finest producer of silk and the famous Banarasi sari. These intricate sari's are generally reserved for weddings.

    Take an excursion to Sarnath (approx. 12 km from Varanasi), and located near the confluence of the Ganges and Gomati Rivers.
    Visit the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna.

    This afternoon is free.
    Included Activities
    • Sarnath - Deer Park
    • Varanasi - Baranas Hindu University visit
      Accommodation
      Hotel (1 nt)
      Day 3 Varanasi
      Start early with a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges, cruise silently along the river as the sun rises passing along the many ghats and temples along the river. Watch pilgrims bathing, and this ancient city wake up and greet the day, its one the the unmissable sites of this remarkable country.
      After the boat ride we transfer back to the hotel to freshen up and have breakfast.
      At this point the trip concludes and you may check out any time before midday.
      Included Activities
      • Varanasi - Sunrise boat trip
        Itinerary disclaimer
        ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

        OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
        Physical rating

        Included activities
        Varanasi - Old City Walking Tour
        Evening Ganges boat flower ceremony
        Sarnath - Deer Park
        Varanasi - Baranas Hindu University visit
        Varanasi - Sunrise boat trip
        Group size
        Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
        Your fellow travellers
        GROUP TRAVEL
        As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
        Accommodation
        Hotel (2nt)
        Meals
        No meals included
        Money matters
        The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye to this unavoidable issue in some areas, Intrepid has established a centralised fund whereby contributions from recommended suppliers are collected and distributed back into the business. Intrepid aim to provide the best value trips in the market, and this fund assists in keeping operating costs and trip prices low to you.

        A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of our traveller - you - is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.

        The official currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR).

        The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency in is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM), which are readily available in most towns.

        Look for Bank of India or ICICI ATM's. Our experience has shown they are the most reliable ATM's to use for withdrawals. Your tour leader should be able to direct you to these banks.

        Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, so please bring clean bills, and small denominations are most useful.

        The use of credit cards can be restricted, mainly to major hotels, shops and establishments.

        If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.

        The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

        Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest INR20. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.

        Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest INR100 per day for local guides.

        Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a porter in addition to your leader. We suggest INR50 per day for porters.

        Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of INR100-INR150 per day is generally appropriate.

        Local transport: For a half day city tour we suggest INR50 per day. For a full day city tour we suggest INR100 per day.

        Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline $US 5-7 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

        Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
        Safety
        SAFETY FOR WOMEN TRAVELLERS:
        Women should exercise caution when travelling in India. Reported cases of sexual assault against women are increasing; recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas and cities show that foreign women are also at risk. While the risk of an incident occurring on your trip is very low, below are some things you can do for your safety and peace of mind when travelling:

        - Respect local dress codes and customs, perhaps dressing more conservatively than you do at home
        - Avoid isolated areas, including beaches, unlit city streets and village lanes when alone at any time of day
        - Avoid travelling alone on public transport, or in taxis or auto-rickshaws, especially at night
        - If you have to use a taxi get them from hotel taxi ranks and use pre-paid taxis at airports. Try to avoid hailing taxis on the street. Some cities (including Delhi and Chennai) have special taxi services for women with women drivers
        - If you’re being collected at the airport by a driver make sure they have properly identified themselves before you set off.
        - When leaving your compartment on overnight trains (ie. going to the bathroom), ask a male travel companion to accompany you where possible

        For further information and advice, visit:
        www.gov.uk/government/policies/supporting-british-nationals-overseas/supporting-pages/advice-for-women-travellers
        www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/women.html

        FESTIVALS - HOLI & DIWALI:
        Travelling in India and Nepal during Holi can at times be unsafe - drinking and drug use is more widespread during this holiday. Your leader/guide will advise your group on what places to avoid on the day.
        It may be necessary to alter your itinerary for the day.

        Diwali (a lunar festival generally held from mid October to mid November every year) is celebrated by local people letting off fireworks in the street. It can be very noisy for several days with extra pollution caused by fireworks. As there are no restrictions on buying fireworks in India there are often injuries caused by people exploding them inappropriately.
        During this festival your leader/guide may be required to alter your itinerary to avoid large crowds gathering and using fireworks.

        Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

        We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

        Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

        For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

        http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/

        PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
        While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
        Joining point
        Hotel City Inn
        A 21/116-L 14, Parade Kothi Opposite Cantt. Railway Station
        Varanasi
        Uttar Pradesh
        221002
        INDIA
        Phone: +91 542 2206010
        Finish point
        Your Varanasi Hotel - Finish Point
        .
        Varanasi
        Uttar Pradesh
        INDIA
        Emergency contact
        PEAK India: +91 9999 916 229
        Visas
        Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

        INDIA:

        An E-Tourist Visa (eVT) Facility is available for holders of a passport for a number of countries. This facility allows travellers to pre-register and pay for their visa prior to travel to India. The Visa is collected upon arrival at one of 16 designated airports in India. Please note strict guidelines on the below website.

        https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html

        An E-Tourist Visa (eVT) visa on arrival is available for select nationalities including but not limited to the following

        Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, German, UK and USA passports.

        Passport holders from these countries can apply for an E-Tourist Visa (eVT) to have their visa issued upon arrival at 16 major airports in India.

        Please follow the instructions at - https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html and complete the application for your E-Tourist Visa.

        - Please be aware of strict conditions regarding application and travel (check under ELIGIBILITY section).

        - E-visas are only available for entry of up to 30 days. If you plan to be in India longer you will need to apply for a tourist visa at an Indian visa application centre in your home country.

        - Please note that travellers entering India overland from Nepal are required to apply for a visa in advance their home country. Visas will not be issued on the Nepal/Indian border.

        - The E-Tourist Visa DOES NOT apply to travellers entering India overland. Please check your trip notes if you are crossing a border between India and Nepal.

        - Indian visas are difficult and time consuming to obtain in Nepal.

        Tourist visas are available in Single and Multiple Entry. Be sure to check the date you require a visa from and the length of time you will need to cover, especially if you change countries during your trip.

        For your visa application you need to include the following information under the local contact section towards the end of the application. :

        PEAK India
        25/3 East Patel Nagar
        New Delhi 110008
        Phone: +91 11 4500 6400

        Please note that this information can change at any time. Please always refer to https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html . This is the official visa online site. There have been reports of other non-official websites that travellers should be aware of.
        Climate and seasonal information
        HOT WEATHER:
        Heat and humidity during summer (Apr-Jun) in India can be particularly oppressive with temperatures reaching 45 degrees C/113 degrees F.

        FESTIVALS IN INDIA
        Please note travelling during major festivals such as Holi and Diwali can, at times, cause disruption the the published itinerary. Please see the 'Safety' section for more details.

        SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
        Please note that while activities on this tour are on a join-in basis with up to 12 participants, depending on the number of travellers booked on your travel dates you may be the only person on this tour or staying at your chosen level of accommodation. If you are anxious about travelling alone, please ask your booking agent to advise which tour dates may already have bookings.
        Health
        All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

        You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
        A couple of rules
        Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

        Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
        Responsible Travel
        We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.

        http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

        The Intrepid Foundation
        Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

        The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

        http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

        Feedback
        After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

        http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback