Many thanks again to you and the entire First Tours team for another Incredible !ndia trip. The combination of again visiting favorite locations along with new adventures in Shimla, Chandigarh, Kalimpong, Chanoud, and Alwar made for a wonderful month of travel. Of course, the guidance of Raj in Delhi, V.P. in Udaipur, Kalyan in Jodhpur, and Brijraj in Jaipur provided me with new insights into what for me are some of my favorite locations in India. I throughly enjoyed my fifteen days with Om Singh, my very capable and entertaining driver. Together we enjoyed sharing stories and seeing new sights on our travels. As a woman traveling alone I always felt confident that you and your colleagues were following along with me making sure I would again have a wonderful trip. Celebrating Diwali at Amanbagh was a special surprise and a great way to end a very special trip.
I so enjoyed our lunch together at the beginning of my trip and the chance to meet you again before I left for home. It is a pleasure for me to be able to say “thank you” in person and to let you know how each of my First Tours trips has so enriched my life. Finally, thanks to you for the beautiful coasters which I will be sure to have in a prominent place both to share their art and to have a chance to share some of my many memories of India.
I hope to see you again in January”
“I wanted to send you a note to let you know how much Ed and I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated our trip to India with Jeff and Kim Cohen and their kids.
You did a spectacular job organizing this trip, and we could not be more pleased with our experience. If you ever need me to write a review or recommendation for you or your firm, I would be happy to do so.
Thank you, thank you. We will reach out to you for our next trip to India!”
We just wanted to tell you how wonderful a adventure we had and how all your arrangements made for a smooth trip. All the guides and hotels were terrific and we have especially fond words for Shonti Rana. He was so helpful and so interesting and such a pleasure to be with. You have a real gem there.
We have two suggestions. Although we requested a direct flight from Chicago, we would have taken one that involved one change if we'd known how awful India Air was. On our flight over 5 out of 8 toilets were broken, the reading lights didn't work, the audio on the entertainment system was inoperable, things were taped together. On the flight back, thankfully the toilets worked but everything else was out of order including my tray table. Talking to people who have flown Air India before and reading online comments, this is not a new situation. Maybe you could warn people. You did honor our request for a direct flight. We have no quarrel with you.
Also, this problem will hopefully be temporary but we had a lot of trouble getting rupees. Except in Delhi, all ATM's were out of money and currency exchanges and banks wouldn't take credit cards. We got by by getting rupees from the hotels but they didn't have a lot and could give us only 3,000 or 5,000 at a time. We used credit cards for bigger purchases but had need for cash as well. Had we known we would have carried American currency because the currency exchanges in the towns we were in would make that exchange. Hopefully this will be temporary.
We will tell anyone interested in visiting your beautiful country to contact you because you made our trip seamless by removing all anxieties and providing wonderful hotels, guides, and especially Mr. Rana.”
Thank you again for arranging another great time for me in Delhi. It was such fun to spend time again with Neelam and we certainly had some good adventures. Thanks also for taking time from your busy schedule to have lunch with us. It really does feel as if I am returning to my second home each time I come back to India. Your warm welcome and meticulous planning are what help to make each trip so special.
I'll be in contact with you again in late February or early March to begin to plan my next return trip”
"I’m so glad you were able to visit us at the Trident. Thank you so much for everything associated with designing our trip. It was a success and Maria was grateful for a wildlife interlude, textiles were overwhelming her. I thought Delhi looked particularly good and the Rashtrapati Bhavan was glorious. I won’t bother you with too many little criticisms, we touched on some already. Mandawa, Dungapur, House of MG and Kutch Safari Camp were a bit chaotic. Jodhpur totally has act together. Drivers and guides were good. Salvi’s are not making their ikats in India, suspect China. In future, when I return, I’d like to get away from hotels with big tour groups. The Taj was incredibly comfortable, glad to see they’re doing well, however we had our worst meal of the trip at House of Ming, both a little sick. Can you please clarify if I paid for part of Maria’s Nagaur bill, we still don’t understand. Send a hug and a thank you to Shakun”
We are now home after our adventure. It truly was a trip of a lifetime, and we are all travelers. I really have no complaints. Guides, hotels, drivers, arrangements were all perfect. The hotel in Varanassi was what I expected, but it added to the experience.
You and your company will get hight marks from all of us. Thank you for arranging the slum tour. As it turned out, I don’t think we would have been able to take the boat ride that day due to some conflict.
Looking forward to working with you again as an agent.
We know that Lee Ann will communicate with you, but we wanted you to know that we thoroughly enjoyed our trip to India. Your arrangements were superb and the ball wasn't dropped once.
The Imperial Hotel in Delhi and the Oberoi hotels were truly first class. The Orchard Tents were perfect for the Pushkar Fair. The Hotel Ganges View, which was our choice and not yours, was OK for one night--it was central and part of the Varanasi experience.
Your guides in New Delhi, Varanasi, Agra, Jaipur and Udaipur were excellent--we do have to call out the guide in Agra for going "above and beyond" in providing a wonderful experience and interesting discussions about India with us. He was really outstanding. The guide in Pushkar was very nice, but tended to speak to the person in the front of the group, rather than the whole group, but would answer questions and was very flexible. Our guide in Mumbai was also nice and showed us the sights that we wanted to visit, but provided less commentary about the culture and environment than we would have liked--especially in the slum areas of Mumbai.
You should be very proud of the service that you provide. We felt that it was an excellent value for the experience, and that you helped to give us a great taste of your wonderful country. We also enjoyed meeting you in Delhi.”
Now that I am home and have had time to process all that I saw and experienced on my trip, I wanted to write to say a big “thank you” to you and the First Tours team for another wonderful trip. In looking back at my pictures I realize I was lucky enough to have what seems to me to be two very separate trips. My time in south India included a palace, temples, colorful markets, safaris, time in a tree house, a visit to a tribal house, and a festival where I was the only tourist, to name just a few of my many experiences. I really enjoyed traveling with Dixon throughout the trip. His English is excellent so we had a chance to talk on our long drives. He made a point of being on the lookout for special sights along the way where I could stop for photographs and of course facilitated my visit to the festival.
As you know, Rajasthan is a part of India that I continue to find fascinating. I love returning to favorite places and in some cases meeting up again with others I have met in past years. I enjoyed meeting Davindra Singh in Jaipur and found him to be an enthusiastic and excellent guide. I am hopeful I will again have the chance to see Jaipur with his guidance. Keshav Bhati, our guide for the Badoli Temples has an engaging sense of humor and told stories that made what we were seeing come alive. Needless to say, I always enjoy traveling with Kalyan Singh when in Jodhpur. His depth of knowledge, attention to detail, and ability to always find new experiences for me are much appreciated. Karin and I had a great time shopping with him as well!
I would of course be remiss if I didn’t mention my time in Delhi. From the time Amit and Mr. Shanti met me at the airport I could relax knowing I was in the “good hands of the First Tours team”. Touring Delhi with Neelam is always a pleasure and we seem to start our conversation where we left off the previous year as friends so often do. And again, thanks to you, Sanjay, for taking the time to meet me for lunch and having the opportunity not only to share experiences, but also to thank you in person for planning such wonderful trips for me. As you might expect, I will contact you later in the month to plan for January 2019!”
We are back at home and have been busy catching up with all so a few days delayed in sending this email.
Lynn and I thank you very much for a superbly planned holiday. We could not have been more pleased with the service from the time we first landed in Mumbai until we were assisted to board our flights back to the US. Your choice in hotels were absolutely perfect. We didn’t want to leave the room at the Trident to go home!
Although it was a 50 plus hour journey, including layovers, from when we left Kathmandu until we arrived at our hotel near our home city, it was well worth the journey. Our only glitch was our final short flight from Minneapolis to Traverse City which was delayed 5 hours! Considering the entire trip included 11 flights total, that’s pretty good and never did we lose our luggage.
Again, your selection of hotel properties was ideal and we were so impressed by the level of warmth and service we received throughout the trip. Although the Varanasi experience was very different than the other areas and hotels, we felt it was an extremely special experience and your choice of hotel there made it especially unique. It wouldn’t have been the same experience otherwise.
Of course our hotel in Jaipur was paradise! The others were perfect as well. Loved the location in Agra and the urban feeling of the New Dehli hotel was a fun change of pace.
Your drivers were all excellent. It was wonderful sharing the same driver/vehicle from Jaipur to Dehli. He took great care of us and we enjoyed the scenery along the way. We especially enjoyed our guides in Varanasi, Jaipur, Agra and Kathmandu. Once again, the hotel in Kathmandu was amazing! We felt like we were in a little village away from the business in the city, even though in the heart of it. Lynn and I had the honor of meeting the owner who was very gracious. (She said her dog loved us – so we were family)
I will email Brian at ATR who recommended you via Janet Smith to thank both him and Janet for the most excellent referral. We will absolutely recommend First Tours to anyone with thoughts or plans of travel to India, as well as encouraging people to go. If there is anyplace we can provide a write up or provide an additional reference, please let us know.
Thank you again for providing an amazing experience. Our experiences of the places and mostly the people we met will always live in our memories and in our hearts!
Please accept my belated “thank you” to you and the First Tours team for another wonderful trip. I’m sure this will come as no surprise to you that I am already planning for January 2020. I have booked my return flight to Delhi and once I have the flight home booked I’ll contact you to plan my itinerary. I have a travel friend who is on her way to Goa right now and I am looking forward to her impressions as that is a place I’ve put off visiting as yet. Of course Rajasthan is always calling me back.
I feel so lucky to have visited Hampi now as it seems to be on the way to being one of the new “hot spots” to visit. Santosh and I had parts of the site to ourselves allowing time to wander as much as I wished. The two days of touring such an amazing place was incredibly meaningful for me. Of course you have seen how lucky I was in Ranthambore to see Noori. Touring in Delhi with Neelam, returning to Rajvilas, Chanoud, Chhatra Sagar, and Raas added to my wonderful memories of each of those special places. It is always fun for me to again meet up with familiar staff at the hotels and to meet fellow travelers in such welcoming surroundings. And, of course, to see Amit waiting for me when I arrived in Delhi, to have Mr. Munshi as my driver there, and to again travel through Rajasthan with Surendra allowed me to totally relax knowing I was in the best of care. Finally, it was so good to see you again and to have time both to enjoy lunch in Delhi and to debrief at the end of my trip. Thank you, Sanjay, for providing so many special memories this year to add to my Incredible !ndia experiences.”
I have printed the tickets as well as the other documents for Visa entry. I think we will be fine.
We have had an amazing time in Nepal. We love our guide Keshar. Our visits to the artists have been wonderful and everything just flows smoothly. That is honestly all I can ask…..I love knowing that you are in control of things. Hotels have been super.
More later. We have one more day to Bataphur and then we leave the next day.
I was going to send you an email tonight we are here we’re having an amazing time we love our guide we love our driver we love our first hotel in Temple we have no complaints at all it’s fabulous and the weather is great thank you so much”
Thank you and your First Tours team for all you did to arrange what without a doubt was my best trip ever to India. Thank you for the superb itinerary with such a variety of experiences. At the end of each day Karin, Barb, and I would marvel at all we saw and did. Seeing our excellent and familiar guides, Brijraj, V.P., Kalyan, and Neelam along with our wonderful driver Surendra added to what made this such a special trip. I enjoyed meeting your team and having the chance to visit your office. Thank you and your wife for opening your home to me and taking the time from your busy schedules to welcome me back to India. Karin, Barb, and I have been texting one another, each mentioning how we wished we were still “on the road” in India and reminiscing about our trip. Speaking for myself, I’d go back tomorrow and of course will see you again soon in January. I’m tempted as I look forward to 2021 to consider a repeat of the trip that just concluded! I’m attaching just a few pictures that I hope capture in a small way the wonderful time we had.”
Big thank you to you your team. You all deserve a medal for your excellent service for the tour round Rajasthan with the Symes.
Everything went smoothly, the guides were the tops, knowledgeable and charming. Sightseeing was good.
The hotels were very well chosen, we had good rooms, nice food and mostly excellent service.
The transport was fine, the drivers were on time and were safe drivers, we felt very comfortable with them.
The only comment I would make is that the service at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai was the worst of all.
The staff were not bothered. On occasions we had to wait up to 40 minutes to have a drink served after being ordered. Then only 3 drinks came but not the 4th then we had to wait for another 20 minutes for the 4th to appear. This happened 3 times which tested John’s patience to a considerable degree!!
Other than that we are now safely home to 6C degrees!
Please keep in touch and all good wishes to the family.”
“Dear Sanjay it was great being able to meet you again in Dehli after so many years. Thank you and Joan for putting together such an enjoyable second trip to India for us. Much as it was very enjoyable the highlights for us were the close up view of the tiger in the wildlife park and the two night stay at the Tag Lake Palace at Udaipur, a unique hotel so far above all the other hotels that I have ever visited. With many thanks.”
Now that we have arrived home and readjusted our time zone we wanted to take the opportunity to give you some specific feedback on our wonderful India trip.
We were met at the Delhi airport and guided through immigration and to the domestic terminal. It was very good of you to have arranged this as we would not have been able to navigate this easily ourselves.
For the first part of the trip (Nov 30 – Dec 8) we had a single guide (Sanjay Mishra) and driver (Perna). They were both excellent. The pace of the visits was perfect we were neither rushed nor bored. Our village and market visits were interesting particularly since the rice and millet harvests were taking place. Sanjay was informative and had good rapport with those we were visiting. Perna was a safe driver and was always sure we were comfortable and had enough water. Hotels were fine although lack of WiFi at Eco Beach Resort was inconvenient. Swosti Chilika was lovely and the Hello was what we expected, helpful staff, clean but not elegant.
We enjoyed the dance performance in Puri and were accorded VIP treatment as some of the few tourists in attendance.
The organization of the second part of the trip to the south was more complicated. The two cars were clean and recent and the drivers, Joshi and Govind, were excellent. We want to especially commend Joshi who was with us from Kochi to Trichy. He enriched our experience with his friendly manner and his knowledge and sharing of useful information.
The guides were mixed. We were very pleased with Elan in Chennai who went out of his way to accommodate our special interest in hearing a performance at the Music Academy and in eating lunch at a certain restaurant (Savya Rasa), with Bola who took us to a bustling flower market and to the Chettinad towns on the way to Thanjur, and with Sandar in Thanjur who improvised when one of the temples on the itinerary was closed by taking us to an active and even more interesting temple.
As to the other guides, we were somewhat disappointed by Susan in Kochi. The city tour seemed abbreviated and finished at lunchtime. When asked about visiting the Spice Market she told us it was only in shops now and we were only taken to one shop for packaged spices. (We did visit spice merchants on our trip to Madurai thanks to Joshi). In Madurai, BJ was informative but again seemed rushed compared to some of our favorites.
The hotels were mostly comfortable and uniformly had excellent staff. The Taj Malabar in Kochi was excellent but in retrospect I think we would have enjoyed staying in the more central old town that seemed to have some nice hotels and more flexibility in terms of dining. In Thanjur we had a lovely room at Svatma and they arranged a concert for us there even though there were not many guests. We liked the Gateway in Madurai with a beautiful view and the Taj Club House in Chennai although while we had a nice room there, it came with a tiny and awkward bathroom.
Our trip on the houseboat was peaceful and our crew delightful. It was much appreciated that they took us on a slightly longer route to a less congested area of the backwaters. The drive to Madurai was long but Joshi broke it up well and the landscape was beautiful.
Other highlights: we enjoyed the Kathakali dance program in Kochi which, although touristy was really informative and entertaining. Also the dinner and cooking lesson at Nimmy and Paul’s home. It was both delicious and educational and I look forward to trying some dishes. The unusual and enormous houses and the Chettinad lunch were a treat. And our visits to craft workshops such as metal casting and tile making were interesting.
Sanjay, we appreciate all your efforts and were very pleased with your choices. All went smoothly in terms of logistics and it was overall a trip that even exceeded our expectations. Something unexpected was that since there were so few tourists around, we were treated very well everywhere and even interviewed by local TV at a craft workshop in Odisha with our photo the next day in the local paper.”
“I just want to say thank you for arranging a fabulous trip! There were a few hiccups, but for the most part, the guides were terrific, the hotels were amazing, and the itinerary really worked for us.
Many, many thanks!”
Thanks again to you and the entire First Tours team for arranging another wonderful trip for me. I really enjoyed traveling with Dileep for the first part of the trip and enjoyed meeting my familiar guide in Pondicherry and the other guides throughout my travels. I had put off visiting Goa as we have beautiful beaches in the U.S. and I thought “why come all the way to India for a beach?”. Of course I was wrong and really enjoyed my relaxing time at Ahilya by the Sea. Thank you for suggesting the three nights there. Quite truthfully, I wish I could have stayed longer. The experience at the Ahilya Fort was totally different, but equally relaxing. The drive to Mandu was even more enjoyable to me than visiting the archaeological site as I had the chance to see rural life in the area and was greeted by locals not yet spoiled by us tourists! I found both of the properties relaxing and a great way to wind down from busy touring. I haven’t had enough time home yet to process all that I learned and saw while on the trip. Of course, I’ll be in contact with you again once I have booked flights for next January.”
“Just a quick note. We are back safely from India. The arrangements were first class and the journey was above expectations. Thank you for the hard work you put into it.
Robert and Lisette”
Back home safely after a wonderful holiday in your beautiful country – we had such an interesting and exciting time and the itinerary worked out very well.
Thank you so much for all the hard work and preparation which your staff put in to make it all go so smoothly. I will send a more detailed critique of the trip in due course when I have
had the time to go through the programme and put my thoughts on paper.
It was a delight to meet you – Joan is always singing your praises and I am so glad we took her advice and asked you to help us.
I always enjoy visits to Delhi – the Parade was quite wonderful and the day in Meerut just so special but more of all that in due course.
Suffice to say I would be only too happy to recommend First Tours to other friends and of course, plan our next visit!!
All best wishes, ”
Just a quick note to say how much we enjoyed your wonderfully crafted tour of so many places in India. You and your excellent drivers and guides really added to our enjoyment of the visit and it made it all a total pleasure. Not only was this great for me as a regular visitor to India who never gets time to visit all the beautiful cultural sites there are, and for my sister who has been before, but the real triumph was travelling with her daughter on her first trip back to India since she was a baby: your effortless help fo us at every step of the way gave her such confidence that she felt immediately at home. That was very precious to me, we had wonderful time together, and I couldn't have done this without you.
Thank you so much for all your careful shepherding of us around the places we wanted to go - we all loved the trip and will of course be back. Whenever we are, we will be in touch to arrange another trip with you. It made it all so effortless, all your choices were right for us and really well judged.
Thanks again, and I hope if you ever travel to Ireland that we can be of some help in arranging things for you and steering in the right direction.”
We just got back from an amazing vacation.
We were well taken care of in Bhutan, you planned a great trip for us. The guide and driver were helpful and went the extra mile to make sure this was a memorable experience. Thanks for planning a terrific trip.
Myanmar was unbelievable too, and Kyaw Soe was absolutely fabulous. You should definitely connect if the situation arises.”
Just wanted to let you know we arrived home safely yesterday afternoon after an uneventful flight and a relatively quick trip through the airport in San Francisco. Thank you again for your hospitality at both your friend’s house as well as the visit to your club. We enjoyed both very much. Thanks also for your efforts to change our itinerary and reservations.
Hopefully this virus problem will resolve itself sooner rather than later and with a minimal amount of total damage to the world. We will look forward to planning another trip to India in the not too distant future to complete our desire to see the places in India we missed this time and perhaps add a few additional sites.
Thanks again, Bob Arenson”
I hope you are doing well - feels like a lifetime ago that we were there in India.
We had a videographer with us as we travelled India and the video is complete and sent to everyone - and I thought you might like to see it.
It was so awesome and everyone has a great time.