India

Customized India Itinerary

Golden Triangle plus Holland stop-over

Day 1

Depart San Francisco

  • 1:10pm: Depart San Francisco on Delta flight 2520
  • 8:45pm: Arrive Detroit (a quick 57-minute layover)
  • 9:43pm: Depart Detroit on Delta Airlines flight 9574 operated by KLM

Day 2

International Flight

  • 11:35am: Arrive Amsterdam (2 hour 15-minute layover)
  • 1:50pm: Depart Amsterdam on KLM flight 871

Day 3

Delhi, India

Preparing for arrival:  Prior to exiting the aircraft, fill in an arrival card for immigration/customs clearance.  This must be presented to the immigration officer.  Before you leave the immigration counter, when the immigration officer returns your passport, make sure it has been stamped.  This will help avoid problems later when you are leaving India.

Arrive Delhi, Terminal 3

Luggage is occasionally x-rayed upon arrival as a security measure.

Stop at the currency exchange counter before passing customs.  When exchanging foreign currency for Indian Rupees, keep the exchange receipt to reconvert unspent Indian Rupees back to your original currency when you are leaving India.   Indian Currency Notes Alert: Indian Rupee currency notes printed before 2005 will be no longer be accepted after 1/1/2015. Currency notes issued before 2005 do not have the year of printing on the reverse side. In notes issued after 2005, will have visible at the bottom of the reverse side. Do not accept Indian currency notes that do not have the year of printing visible on the reverse side of the currency. On arrival at Delhi International Airport we will be met and assisted by staff from the Lodhi Hotel and transferred to the hotel for check in.

Lodhi Hotel, Delhi

Day 4

Delhi, India

Welcome to Delhi, India! a monumental city with a vibrant mix of old and new teeming bazaars, stately British boulevards, powerful Mughal palaces and forts, and intricate, ethereal towers, temples and tombs.

After a long morning rest and breakfast, depart the hotel around 11:00am for afternoon sightseeing and shopping:

Your adventure begins in Old Delhi, the Mughal capital established by Shah Jahan in 1638. At the famous Red Fort, where Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled the flag of newly-independent India on August 15, 1947, trade the vehicle for bicycle rickshaws. Weave through the warren of crooked, congested alleys off Chandni Chowk, one of India’s oldest and busiest bazaars, where you will see the traditional workmanship for which India is well known and still thrives (saving a good amount of time for shopping). We will also visit the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India and visit Raj Ghat, Mahatma Gandhi’s serene and evocative cremation site.

Overnight in Delhi at the Lodhi Hotel.  http://www.thelodhi.com/index.php

Lodhi hotel room | Red Fort

Day 5

Delhi

After breakfast enjoy a tour of New Delhi visiting India Gate (the War Memorial) and passing by the Presidents House for a photo opportunity before visiting the Qutub Minar a stunning 240-foot minaret, the tallest in the world, surrounded by an elaborate complex built in the Indo-Islamic architectural tradition.

Then visiting the Bahai Temple a distinctive lotus shaped marvel in marble built as a symbol peace; where all can come regardless of religion. Next, visit Humayun’s Tomb set in beautiful gardens. This Mughal creation popularized Persian-influenced architecture and was an inspiration for the Taj Mahal. Later, leave for tour of Akshardham Temple.

Overnight in Delhi at the Lodhi Hotel

Day 6

Delhi – Agra (4 hour drive)

After breakfast at the hotel, drive to Agra by private vehicle — an approximate four-hour drive.  Arrive in Agra with time for visit to the massive Agra Fort which has been the seat of Mughal rulers for several years. The fort has palaces with pavilions, gardens, mosques and baths. Agra is known for its superb inlay work on marble and soapstone by craftsmen who are descendants of those who worked at Taj Mahal.

Next, cross the river to visit Itmad ud Daula, the mausoleum built by Queen Nur Jahan in 1622 in memory of her father. It is a notable representation of the fine inlaid stonework and translucent marble of the region.  Many historians believe that this monument was Shah Jahan’s inspiration for building the Taj Mahal and is often described as the “petite Taj.”

Later proceed for a sunset visit at the Taj Mahal. You will long remember this scene as the Taj changes color and mood, its marble walls reflecting the pinks and mauves of the receding sun. Overnight at the ITC Mughal Hotel.

Day 7

Agra to Jaipur (6 hour drive)

Early in the morning, this day will commence with an incomparable tour of the Taj Mahal, most gloriously viewed at sunrise. This modern day wonder of the world is a testimony to Mughal architecture, the finest combination of Persian, Turkish, Indian and Islamic styles. After breakfast, travel overland to Jaipur with a stop at Fatehpur Sikri an eerily abandoned capital from the Mughal Empire between 1570 and 1586. Akbar built this city to celebrate the birth of his son and future heir to the throne, Emperor Jahangir. While Akbar is believed to have been illiterate, he took great interest in the arts and architecture; Fatehpur Sikri is one of his masterworks. Sadly, it served as capital for little more than a decade, eventually abandoned for lack of accessible water.

Continue on to Jaipur, Rajasthan’s capital also known as the Pink City. The origin of this nickname becomes immediately apparent as you enter the old city walls and greet the pink-colored buildings that rise at every turn.

Overnight at the Rambagh Palace (pictured above)

Day 8

Jaipur

This morning we will drive a short distance outside of the city to Amber Fort and Palace. Perched on a hillside on the outskirts of town, the palace was constructed in the 1590s by Maharaja Man Singh, the commander of Akbar’s army, and was largely motivated by the highly defensible location. This is a beautiful and very well preserved structure, built on four levels and surrounded by ruins, which served as the backdrop for the Mira Nair movie “Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love.” In the afternoon we return to the city for a look at the grand Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds). This magnificent structure was built to allow the royal ladies of the palace to discretely watch the grand processions along the main street, City Palace and impressive Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observatory built in the early 1700s by Maharaja Jai Sing II, the great warrior-astronomer to which this city owes its name.

Tips on Shopping in Jaipur – Jaipur is well-known for its lacquer jewelry, painted with enamel, coated with ‘Kundan’ work. The term Kundan work is a method of gem setting, consisting of inserting gold foil between the stones and its mount. You can find precious and semi-precious stones of many varieties. Garnets, emeralds, rubies, topaz and amethyst are very popular with tourists. Another specialty of Jaipur is called ‘Tie-and-dye work on silk and crepe’ and the ‘Sanganer block prints’. Large and small units of block and screen printers at Sanganer village (on Tonk road which is near the airport) produce some of the finest hand-printed textiles. While in Sanganer, don’t forget to check out Jaipur blue pottery. You can purchase Sanganer bed linen, table linen and dress material on a variety of fabrics in the village or at any outlet in the Jaipur City.  Shops on MI Road sell many varieties of Ethnic block prints and traditional crafts of Rajasthan.  The Jaipur razai (used in place of a blanket, like a comforter) is also very popular and many Indian tourists also from other parts of India make it a point to buy Jaipur razai’s as they are well known for their light weight and warmth

Bargaining at Jaipur Shops

Bargaining at roadside stalls is common and shop owners when coating prices usually add a margin for bargaining to the price.  They expect people to bargain so don’t feel uncomfortable about bargaining. Some stores display signs saying ‘Fixed Price’ but they do bargain so don’t let the signs intimidate you.

Overnight at the Rambagh Palace

Day 9

Jaipur

This morning we will drive a short distance outside of the city to Amber Fort and Palace. Perched on a hillside on the outskirts of town, the palace was constructed in the 1590s by Maharaja Man Singh, the commander of Akbar’s army, and was largely motivated by the highly defensible location. This is a beautiful and very well preserved structure, built on four levels and surrounded by ruins, which served as the backdrop for the Mira Nair movie “Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love.” In the afternoon we return to the city for a look at the grand Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds). This magnificent structure was built to allow the royal ladies of the palace to discretely watch the grand processions along the main street, City Palace and impressive Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observatory built in the early 1700s by Maharaja Jai Sing II, the great warrior-astronomer to which this city owes its name.

Tips on Shopping in Jaipur – Jaipur is well-known for its lacquer jewelry, painted with enamel, coated with ‘Kundan’ work. The term Kundan work is a method of gem setting, consisting of inserting gold foil between the stones and its mount. You can find precious and semi-precious stones of many varieties. Garnets, emeralds, rubies, topaz and amethyst are very popular with tourists. Another specialty of Jaipur is called ‘Tie-and-dye work on silk and crepe’ and the ‘Sanganer block prints’. Large and small units of block and screen printers at Sanganer village (on Tonk road which is near the airport) produce some of the finest hand-printed textiles. While in Sanganer, don’t forget to check out Jaipur blue pottery. You can purchase Sanganer bed linen, table linen and dress material on a variety of fabrics in the village or at any outlet in the Jaipur City.  Shops on MI Road sell many varieties of Ethnic block prints and traditional crafts of Rajasthan.  The Jaipur razai (used in place of a blanket, like a comforter) is also very popular and many Indian tourists also from other parts of India make it a point to buy Jaipur razai’s as they are well known for their light weight and warmth

Bargaining at Jaipur Shops

Bargaining at roadside stalls is common and shop owners when coating prices usually add a margin for bargaining to the price.  They expect people to bargain so don’t feel uncomfortable about bargaining. Some stores display signs saying ‘Fixed Price’ but they do bargain so don’t let the signs intimidate you.

Overnight at the Rambagh Palace

Day 10

Jaipur to Delhi (1 hour flight on Jet Airways flight #2262)

Get in some last minute souvenir shopping before heading back to Delhi on the 12:00pm flight from Jaipur to Delhi arriving at 1:00pm.  You will be met at the airport by a representative of Indus Travels and transferred to the JW Marriott hotel for an afternoon of rest and using the hotel facilities.

Overnight at JW Marriott

Day 11

Delhi to Amsterdam

Transfer to the airport in the very early morning for onward flight.

  • 3:10am: Depart Delhi on KLM flight 872
  • 8:25am: Arrive Amsterdam.  After clearing customs and immigration, access the main entrance to the Sheraton Amsterdam Hotel by following the signs across Schiphol Plaza.  Take the escalator to the hotel.  The hotel’s main entrance is just a short walk (2-3 minutes) from the central plaza.
  • 9:30am: Check in to the Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel.  If the rooms are not ready, leave our bags with the bell desk and head to the Airport train station.  The Schiphol Railway Station is situated in the airport terminal on level 1.  There is direct access from the hotel by an enclosed walkway.
  • 9:40am: Walk to the rail station Platform 3 and purchase tickets from the yellow machine for Alkmaar or from the ticket booth. The cost is €9.10 per person.
  • 9:59am: Depart on the Sprinter from track 3 towards Amersfoort Vathorst (just past Amsterdam Lelylaan).
  • 10:10am: Arrive Amsterdam Sloterdijk on track 12 and change to track 4
  • 10:18am: Take the Intercity towards Den Helder
  • 10:48am: Exit at Alkmaar (past Zaandam and Castricum).  Go to the taxi queue for a quick ride to the market.

Thousands of visitors from all over the world visit Alkmaar for its cheese market, a particular spectacle which includes a market filled with cheese and hauling cheese carriers. In 1365 Alkmaar was granted weighing rights and a weighing scale, and in 1612 this number increased to four. Exactly when the first cheese market took place is shrouded in mystery. Old documents have been found that confirm the cheese market took place in 1622, but there is also evidence that the cheese bearer’s guild was founded in 1593; we can therefore deduce that there must have been a cheese market at that time as well.

Program (subject to confirmation):

  • 10.50 – 11.15: Performance by the carillon
  • 11.20 – 12.05:  Verbal presentation to visitors, in Dutch, German, English and French 12.15 – 12.45 : Performance by the carillon
  • 12.30: Cheese Market closes

If we have enough energy, we can explore this beautiful canal lined town following a leisurely lunch near the town square.  In the late afternoon, we will head back to the hotel for dinner and an early bed time.

Overnight: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel & Conference Center
Schiphol Boulevard 101
Amsterdam, 1118BG Netherlands
Telephone +31-20-316-4300

Day 12

Bruges, Belgium

We will move hotels this morning.

8:30am  Check out of hotel and walk to the Hertz (3 minute walk).  Your Confirmation Number is: G6050273867. Service Type: Gold Canopy.  Pick up our Volva V70 vehicle and drive to the newly opened (June 2015) Courtyard by Marriott hotel. After checking in and leaving our luggage we will head out on an excursion to Belgium.

Bruges is a well-preserved medieval town in the northern region of Belgium surrounded by beautiful canals and old city walls. This postcard-perfect town makes an ideal day trip from Amsterdam because of its fabulous attractions and activities. Meander along the cobblestone paths of the city center to explore the historic walls and gates. Climb the stairs of the high tower at the Belfort Grote Markt to hear the bells ring and see wonderful views of the area. Visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood, which claims to contain a vial of blood belonging to Jesus Christ. Tour the Brewery De Halve Maan to see how Belgian beer is processed and be rewarded with a free drink. Savor free samples of delicious Belgian chocolate at the Choco-Story Museum. Ride in a horse-drawn carriage around the old city.

Upon arrival, we will make our way to the Market square.  Find the Markt bus stop in front of the Belfry.  This is where the “CityTour” sightseeing bus departs every 30 minutes for a 50 minute city tour. Tickets can be purchased on the bus for €16 per adult and €9.50 per child.

Sightseeing ideas: Tour the serene Begijnhof – a group of white hoantwuses once housing single and widowed women and now run by Benedictine nuns. Visit the Heilig-Bloedbasiliek, a church that holds a vial of Christ’s blood. Or marvel at the artistic masterpieces at the Groeningemuseum, which displays paintings dating back to the 14th century.  Admire the architectural beauty of the buildings in bustling Markt and Burg squares and watch fascinating lace-making demonstrations at the Kantcentrum.

We will be sure to visit the Neuhaus Chocolate Boutique as well:

Neuhaus Brugge

Steenstraat 66
8000 Brugge
Belgium

T: 050/33 15 30
F: 050/33 15 30
E: Contact us

Opening hours
Mo-Su: 10am – 6pm

Overnight Amsterdam:
Courtyard Amsterdam Arena Atlas
Hoogoorddreef , Amsterdam 1101 BA Netherlands
Telephone +31-20-2415000

Day 13

Amsterdam Museums

To get to museum square, walk back to the Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena and take the Intercity 3126 train towards Schiphol.  Exit at Amsterdam Zuid walking about 4 minutes to the tram station Amsterdam, Station Zuid.  Take tram 5 towards Centraal Station.  After about 10 minutes and 6 stops exit Amsterdam, Van Baerlestraat.  The Van Gough museum is about a 2 minute walk.

Nestled south of Leidseplein is the plush 19th century Museum quarter (Museumplein). Amsterdam museums are among the main tourist attractions. The RijksmuseumVan Gogh MuseumAnne Frank House and the Stedelijk Museum are the most popular choices, but there are many interesting small museums. There are seventy five Amsterdam museums, which attract almost seven million visitors every year. Alongside the wealth of majestic Golden Age paintings, you’ll find exciting modern art, press, film, theatre and photography museums and some unique Dutch treats like the HeinekenAjax Arena Tours and the Houseboat museum.

For kids there is an impressive NEMO; a hands-on science and technology museum housed in the unique, boat-shaped building. Nearby Het Scheepvaartmuseum – The National Maritime Museum is also worth a visit with its replica of a Dutch trading ship, docked behind. Museums such as the Tropical Museum and Jewish Museum also include children’s section. The Amsterdam Holland Pass and the Museum card is the ideal solution for museums and arts addicted, for tourists wishing to stay in Amsterdam longer and visiting museums elsewhere in the Netherlands.

There will also be time to visit the Diamond museum and possibly join the hop-on-hop-off city tour bus in the afternoon or go on a canal cruise.

Amsterdam Rijksmuseum

One of the largest and most interesting art museums in the world the Rijksmuseum – The State Museum has an unparalleled collection of paintings and objects of material culture, prints and classic photography. Recently rebuilt and modernized, the museum’s show is modern in its way of presentation and respectful towards its beautiful historical building. Without doubt the Rijksmuseum is today one of the best art museums in the world. Open daily 9am – 5pm. Adults €17.50 Under 18 = free.

Van Gogh Museum

Two buildings of interesting architecture, one by Dutch master Gerrit Rietveld, another by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, house world’s richest collection of one of the greatest painters in human history – Vincent van Gogh. Interesting temporary exhibits about the times van Gogh lived and worked, complete the show. Open daily 9am – 6pm. Adults €17 Under 18 = free

Anne Frank House

A hidden annex of Amsterdam canal house, where two Jewish families hid from persecution by the Nazis from July 6, 1942 until their betrayal in August 4, 1944, is one of the most popular Amsterdam museums. It is here that Anne Frank, only 15 years old at the moment of her death in the German concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, wrote her famous diary. You may visit the modest hiding rooms of the annex, but also see an original of the diary and an exhibition about the time of hatred brought on people by the Nazis. July – August open daily 9am – 10pm. Adults €9 Under 18 = €4.5.

Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam

One of the world’s richest collections of contemporary art, Amsterdam Municipal Museum – The Stedelijk Museum reopened in September of 2012 after prolonged period of enlargement and modernization. Its new white building integrally connected to the 19th C. museum surprises with originality of its architecture. The Stedelijk Museum collection of 90 thousand modern paintings, sculptures, photographs, graphics, design objects and video artifacts is not to be missed. Open daily 10am – 6pm. Adults €15 Under 18 = free.

Tropenmuseum – Tropical Amsterdam Museum

One of the most intriguing Amsterdam museums belongs to the Royal Institute for the Tropics, a foundation devoted to the study of the cultures of tropical areas around the world.  Location: Kattenburgerplein 1, quarter Plantage

Nieuwe Kerk – Amsterdam New Church

This late Gothic church is the home of several unique exhibitions throughout the year. Each exhibition will show only masterpieces of a certain era or subject.
Location: Dam square

Overnight:  Courtyard Amsterdam Arena Atlas

Day 14

Delft & The Hague

We will start our day by taking a one hour drive to Delft.  Our first stop is the Royal Delft factory for a visit to the last remaining Delftware manufacturer (Rotterdamseweg 196, Delft). Admire the 17th century hand painted Delft earthenware or pick up a modern version by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders.

Established in 1653, Royal Delft/De Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles is the only remaining Delft blue earthenware factory from the 17th century. The world-famous Delft blue earthenware is still painted entirely by hand according to centuries-old traditions.

Royal Delft Experience (order tickets online 11.00 Euro per person)

During the Royal Delft Experience, you will be taken on a journey through the present, past and the future of the centuries-old earthenware. The Royal Delft Experience starts with an impressive story about the history of Royal Delft, followed by a step-by-step explanation of the production process. Guests will also be treated to detailed information on the other icons of the city of Delft, such as Johannes Vermeer and the royal family.

Visitors will enjoy a tour through the museum and the factory, an inspiring painting demonstration, and a visit to the showroom with the complete collection of classical and modern earthenware on display.

Head back to the center of Delft and stroll around the historic inner city. A visit to the Royal Tomb in the New Church (Markt 80, Delft) will show you the burial tomb of Willem of Orange (1533-1584) who is considered the founding father of the Netherlands. Enjoy a nice lunch at Kleyweg’s Stads-Koffyhuis (Oude Delft 133, Delft), during the summer months grab a table on their floating terrace.

The next stop is just about 15 minutes away. In the Hague take some time to visit the Mauritshuis (Korte Vijverberg 8) and admire Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pearl Earring” along with masterpieces by Rembrandt, Hals and Steen.

‘Het Mauritshuis’ is located next to the political heart of Holland in the city center of The Hague. It has a marvelous collection of art from the old masters of the 17th and 18th century. The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer is the stunning highlight of the museum. There is a reason why it is known as the Dutch Mona Lisa.

The Art Collection

  • The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis is a former 17th century palace which houses many other brilliant masterpieces, besides the ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’:
  • Paulus Potter, ‘The Bull’.
  • Rembrandt, ‘The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp’.
  • Johannes Vermeer, ‘View of Delft’.
  • Jan Steen, ‘The way you hear it, the way you sing it’.
  • Jan Brueghel the Elder with Peter Paul Rubens, ‘The garden of Eden, with the fall of men’.
  • Portraits by Frans Hals.
  • A self-portrait by Rembrandt.
  • Vermeer and other Masters

The question isn’t if, but when are you going to visit the Mauritshuis? Vermeer and many other great masters are waiting for you in the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis. The museum is very popular so make sure you come early.

The Hague is the seat of government and therefore a visit to “Het Binnenhof” with its historical government buildings should not be missed. Pass by the pretty pond “Hofvijver” on your way to Palace Noordeinde (Noordeinde 64, The Hague), which is now being used as the workplace of the king.

The Hague is also known for the Peace Palace (Carnegieplein 2, The Hague), home of the International Court of Justice. The Palace is open to the public through guided tours.

Pick up some souvenirs in the trendy shopping area “Haagsche Bluf” (Haagsche Bluf, The Hague) before ending your day with a nice dinner at one of the many restaurants in the Denneweg or Frederikstraat.  Visit the largest Marks & Spencer on the Continent

After a one hour drive, we will be back to the hotel.

Day 14

Day 14 – Return home

  • 6:00am: Depart the hotel.  Refuel and return the rental car.
  • 9:50am: Depart Amsterdam on Delta flight 9380
  • 11:40am: Arrive San Francisco
  • 12:30pm: Transfer home by Aladdin Limo