Indian Transport: A Guide

Do you feel safe catching the transport alone? What about at night? So, what’s it like? Yes, yes and great!

These are some common questions I get asked, particularly by women, who want to travel India alone. Despite the rumors, navigating your way through the Indian transport system alone isn’t as hard – and speaking only for myself, I never felt unsafe.

Short Distances: Getting In and Around Town

Tuk-Tuks/Rickshaw:

No matter where you go, you will always be bombarded by rickshaw and tuk-tuk drivers competing for the chance to drive you around. This is mainly because in most cases, (when a meter isn’t installed), they can charge you a much higher fee than they could charge a local.

The other thing to note is the behavior of tuk-tuk/rickshaw drivers. You either love them or you hate them for it. I found that this varied from city to city; some cities the drivers were a delight, super friendly and respectful – but in others, they were relentless, rude and full of ways to scam you.

I always felt safe in a tuk-tuk/rickshaw because if worse comes to worse you can always make a jump for it.

Taxi/Uber/Ola:

Uber/Ola is by far the best way to get around cities. It is not only the cheapest option but also the safest. Regular taxi’s, on the other hand, are much more expensive and I would feel much safer taking a tuk-tuk/rickshaw.

Local Buses:

They are fine. They’re crammed, hot and stuffy but insanely cheap and they get you from point A to B eventually. Keep in mind that they are quite slow and sometimes have gender specific seating. So make sure you assess the situation as soon as you board.

Long Distance: Doing the Long-Haul

Buses:

Buses are my preferred mode of transport in India. If I have a choice, I always go for the nonair-conditioned, sleeper. My reasoning for this is because the AC can’t be turned off and it can sometimes get unbearably cold – otherwise the buses are the same. Yes, it is slightly more uncomfortable but I have found buses are more well-connected, cheaper and offer much more privacy.  In most

Even though buses can be slightly more uncomfortable, I have found that overall they are better connected, cheaper and offer much more privacy.  Traveling as a solo woman, privacy is a major consideration in all of my decisions. Buses offer your own little private box- or in worse case scenarios a curtain. Therefore, you can shut yourself off to the rest of the world.

The worst part about catching buses is your boarding point. Most of the buses board outside their travel agency which can sometimes be hard to find. Other times, you may get dropped off at inconvenient places, meaning you will have to catch a tuk-tuk to your final destination. Saying this, the train stations and airports are also never conveniently located either so you would have to do this anyway.

Advantages:

  • Privacy,
  • It’s easier,
  • It’s much cheaper,
  • Save a night’s worth of accommodation.

Disadvantages:

  • It’s more uncomfortable than a train,
  • Boarding points are sometimes hard to find,
  • Sometimes you get dropped off at inconvenient places.

images

Trains:

Understanding the train system initially takes a little time. See my post here, to help you with this. When booking the train you have quite a few options, but the main ones you need to be concerned with are 2AC, 3AC, sleeper, and 1AC.

In brief: 2AC (air Conditioned, 2 berths and second best), 3AC (air conditions, 3 berth and third best), 1 AC ( air conditioned, 1 berth and first class), Sleeper (3 berths, non-air conditioned and the lowest class I would recommend taking). I always took 3AC or 2AC, sleeper was just that little too crowded for me because sometimes people would have to stand.

The trains are much more comfortable than buses with much softer padding and a much smoother journey. However, there is much less privacy on the trains and you need to be diligent with finding your stop. These problems are easily overcome by carrying an extra sheet of material to hang on your four posts, and by setting an alarm for your expected time of arrival while simultaneously tracking yourself on your map.

Advantages:

  • It’s more comfortable than a bus,
  • Savenight’shts worth of accommodation.

Disadvantages:

  • You need to be diligent and set your alarm for your stop,
  • No privacy,
  • It’s more expensive than a bus.

pl_b

This image is of a two berth AC compartment. So 3 berth is the same, but with three bed layers as opposed to two.

Air

Traveling by air is the way to go if you need to go far, fast. It’s a much more expensive option, but sometimes it will be your only choice – especially if you’re short on time. Don’t be deceived though, sometimes traveling by air can be a more time consuming option. Sometimes when you weigh up airport arrival times, getting from the airport to your desition/origin, flight time and connections, it can be faster to go by bus or train.

Advantages:

  • A fast way for a long way.

Disadvantages:

  • The airports are always a long way out of the cities – therefore, you will need to catch a taxi.
  • Most expensive option.

 

**Images taken from google images and company websites.

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