A Portrait of India? Yes or No?

As my wife and I plan for our next Tauck trip, we have been considering India, but are getting mixed reactions reading old forum posts. The reviews all seem positive, but there seems to be more doubt cast in forum postings. We would appreciate thoughts from seasoned Tauck travelers (British, are you there?) as we are uncertain at this time. Other than Africa, which we have avoided because of prior back surgeries, we have done the most popular destinations and would appreciate honest views. Thanks!


  • Hello Sandman. We did the Spotlight on India tour because Mr B was still working and the Portrait was too long. This does mainly the “Golden Triangle” so although you would miss out on Mumbai, you would definitely see the important parts. The second half of the tour that becomes the ‘Portrait’ part is more leisurely and shows the wealthier but hottest part of India. As you are well traveled, I do not think you will have any problems and there is very little walking involved. If you are not sure, then why not do the shorter Spotlight?
    The sights will shock you and you will be glad of the fabulous hotels for refuge at the end of the days . We thoroughly enjoyed it although mentally it took us about a month to get over it. It is an unforgettable trip. We never found the food too spicy and anyway there are also Western choices. I do recommend going a couple of days to get over jet lag and because most flights arrive and leave in the middle of the night .
    The tour has changed a little since we took it, just be sure you are up to date with all your shots, oh and wear closed toe shoes you can wash when you get home. I just got a ‘this is what you were doing five years ago’ from Shutterfly, so it must have been five years ago if you want to find my posts. I hope Joyce Chew is reading this because I remember she had some good posts.
    We are still on the fence about Antarctica. Mr B was chatting to a former colleague who just got back from there. But anyway, we have four tours booked taking us to Sept 2020. Maybe we can go on one more but it won’t be Antarctica.
  • I strongly recommend the Portrait of India tour. Of our 14 trips to date, I would rank this in the top two. Fascinating country and spectacular sights. I would hate to miss Mumbai, so I recommend the longer trip. We stayed an extra day in Mumbai and took a private tour with another couple - well worth it. My wife was reluctant to go, she only went because it was high on my bucket list. She ended up loving the tour and raves about it more than I do. As British said, the hotels are fabulous - the Oberoi hotels are consistently ranked among the best in the world.

    The only negative is the long plane flights to get there and major jet lag.

    Really, truly, you should do this tour.
  • Thanks, British. You are a valuable resource of information. Would hope to meet up with you on a future tour Sandman

  • edited February 2019
    Out of 17 Tauck trips, Portrait of India is number two ( with K&T safari being #1, and Peru/ Galapagos, Grand Australia, etc. coming in close). We have a number of friends who did business in India and did not encourage us to take this trip. My husband went “ kicking and screaming” and, like Ken’s wife, ended up loving this trip. We were especially pleased we did the Portrait trip as the southern part is such a contrast to the northern part. Our walk through the village at Kumerakon (sp?) was a highlight, from the man doing his laundry in the river to the children, all pressed and polished, waiting for the tuk-tuk to take them to school. Walking through the outdoor markets in Udaipur and Mumbai gave us glimpses of all of the colorful products and foods India has to offer. The Taj Mahal is beautiful in photos, but when you get close you see the beauty of the symmetry, the raised marble and the inlaid stone work. India is a country of contrasts, and a whirl of activity ( think the Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai). We appreciated learning about the culture, seeing the beautiful architecture, and sampling all of the wonderful food. Our experience at Varanasi was very moving and meaningful, as we had the opportunity to set offerings into the Ganges in memory of those no longer with us. The religious rituals as well as the cremation process were fascinating. I found myself taking notes about customs, history and religion that I would incorporate into my travel journal each evening as I found everything so fascinating that I wanted to be sure to remember it. We did a number of side trips/ activities both on our own and through Tauck, and those only enhanced the trip for us. Our Tour Director and the local guides were outstanding. And, then there were all of the smiling faces that we encountered. Tauck has really nailed this trip!
  • Thanks Ken and Joycesw for your insightful comments. I value your thoughts and suggestions, but we are still on the fence. For some reason, like Joycesw, we were not enthusiastic about this trip, but hope to see more reactions to we can finally decide. As we age, we realize that there are not unlimited trips we will be able to do and want to be comfortable with what we chose to do. Thanks again for your insight. Sandman.
  • edited February 2019
    Samdman, would it be impolite to ask your age, do you have other health problems? If being on the fence is your only concern, I think in the Tauck bubble, as you have been to other countries, I think you will be fine. And you can’t always watch the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to help you decide. And like I said, try the shorter tour. Many of the people on our tour were pooped out halfway through. I don’t know how it would have been for them on the longer tour. They were the ones who did not arrive early in the main.
  • Definitely do Portrait of India, from arriving at midnight, solo, to leaving Mumbai an absolutely wonderful tour with highlights every day. Varanasi amazing. Tauck look after everything, internal flights easy. It is fairly energetic, hot weather but experiences you’ll never forget.
  • HI All: I just booked this trip as a solo for January 2020. It looks amazing ! Did anyone have trouble with tummy and/or respiratory problems. Do I need to bring back-up food supplies ?

  • Nancilyn- We had a few people with some minor tummy upsets. Only one person had serious problems. She spoke English as a second language and I don't think she understood or followed the recommended precautions (I know for sure that she ordered ice in her drinks and ate off-tour food). Just eat the tour food and drink only bottled water (even for brushing your teeth) and you should be fine. Bringing back-up food supplies is unnecessary. How would you know when to eat it? As to respiratory problems, they shouldn't be an issue unless you already suffer from asthma, COPD or some such. While the air in the cities (especially Dehli) is pretty bad, it shouldn't be an issue for a healthy adult. Consult your doctor if you have an existing respiratory condition.

  • milmil
    edited June 2019

    I did the Spotlight on India , it was fabulous ! full of history and culture .... amazing trip, all the hotels are incredible (Leela P. amazing!) food was excellent.- I would do it all over again..... Did not go on Portrait of India tour because, first it was a little too long ( I work) and I was more interested on the cultural part of the trip which is up North - "The golden triangle". I'm from a tropical country so beaches are nothing new... Indian culture , traditions and monuments it's what wanted to see. Not one person got sick in my group, it all depends on your stomach, be careful with the water and NO!! street food..... also, I recommend to take 1 pill of Immodium every morning even if you don't need it. I took one while in India, Africa and other places in Asia... never a problem.
    Best advice ,do it! whether is the Spotlight or Portrait , do it. :))

  • I had the runs for half a day. To suggest taking Imodium daily is utterly ridiculous.
    Everyone, please consult your doctor about medicines you may take while in this location. Our tour director told us to consult her as soon as any issues developed and she would get a doctor for us. She herself had issues and had to get an IV one day.

  • Everyone I have talked with who has done the India trips has loved them. I flew for Air India for a year on a contract, and I was based in Bombay (Mumbai) and traveled frequently to Delhi, Madras (Chennai), Calcutta, and Goa. I am trying not to say anything too negative, but I think it is important to stay inside the Tauck ‘bubble’. If you wander off on your own, you will likely see the India that exists outside of the Tauck ‘bubble’. And, avoiding spicy food is not the answer. The spices kill the ‘bugs’. I ate a lot of Tandoori chicken, which is quite spicy and I never had a problem during my year in India. In spite of the rave revues I read here, India is not on my list. That being said, I think Tauck does a wonderful job of shepherding their flock to the beautiful places, and avoiding the squalor. If I had not already seen the other side, I might also be interested.

  • We saw plenty of squalor on the tour Sealord

  • Well, I guess you blew that one out of the water British. (;-). I spent two years in Southeast Asia ... I’m not going back. I spent a year in India ... I’m not going back. That is not to say that those places might be totally ‘charming’ to people who have not been there. Both places are normally hot or wet or delightfully sometimes both. There are beautiful sights to see in both. After I have been every place else in the world that I have not been, and I have been to most in twenty-five thousand hours of flying, I might consider India and Southeast Asia. But, I will probably go to Lake Tahoe instead. (;-)

  • P.S. I’ve never been to Antarctica ... but we are going in 2021. My seventh continent. Have you ever been to Kota Kinabalu?

  • Sealord - You have life experiences, having lived in India and SE Asia for extended periods, that 95% of Tauck travelers don't have. I would rank both the Portrait of India tour and the Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand tour just below the Kenya/Tanzania tour and the Peru/Galapagos tour. My criteria is based on uniqueness of wildlife and differences in the cultures. This is why the European tours we've taken, although fun and enjoyable, rank slightly lower. Note - we toured China and Australia/New Zealand prior to discovering Tauck. My rankings are limited to my Tauck experiences. Bottom line, I'd recommend both the Portrait of India tour and the Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand tour. I'm with you about desire to keep seeing new places before doing repeats.

  • Take your anti malaria pills if your (travel) doc recommends. Bring Imodium. Also bring a round of antibiotics (like a ZPac) in case you do get ‘hit’ with stomach ills. Your doctor can prescribe. Don’t drink or eat anything in the street and don’t eat or drink anywhere that the guide doesn’t recommend! I did not eat meat or fish until we got to the coast, where the fish was fresh. Ate Indian food and learned to order yogurt to help manage the spices. If you order ‘bland’ Indian food, it’s ‘blah’! Went in January 2018, and the weather was great — sometimes hot, not sweltering. Delhi was very polluted (but I didn’t like Delhi) - the rest okay.

  • Hi, I’m a Tauck newbie (senior) with a ton of wonderful travel experiences in the past. I’m doing “Portrait of India” March 1, 2023 as a single (first time traveling single). Can I contact other people on my tour before the tour starts and how do I do it? What is appropriate daily clothing at this time of year for a female? I live in South Florida so I’m accustomed to hot weather. Do the hotels have swimming pools? What does one do during “free time”? How much money do I need to exchange and bring? Does WhatsApp work from India? Probably more questions to come. TIA

  • PortraitofIndia

    Welcome to the forums.

    This is a user forum and rarely monitored by Tauck. Tauck does not release names of travelers so if you what to contact someone who has booked a spot on your departure, post your departure date like you did above and hope fellow travelers respond to your post. If you both desire, once you make a connection you can discuss personal matters and exchange personal contact information via Private Message (click inbox icon at the upper right) so you don't expose your info to spammers and scammers.

    As to your questions, you can read through the particular forum archives to see what others who have taken this tour have posted in the past. Also a number of active forum folks have taken this tour so should be able to help you. As far as hotel amenities, you can just go to the hotel website. In general, for a number of valid reasons, very few travelers get foreign currency before departing the US, but instead, use an ATM at the arrival airport or hotel.

  • milmil
    edited November 2022

    Sandman1 Hi.
    India is a tough subject- I would recommend to go and make your own opinion... India you either love it! or hate it!
    I personally LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, the people are super nice, the food is nothing like Indian food( here in U.S or at least in Seattle) in India it is Delicious , clean and safe.. as long as you eat at the hotels or at the restaurants Tauck takes you.
    When I went ( group of 28) no one got the Delhi Belly- everyone was fine.
    Also, you may have heard about poverty and garbage everywhere.. well not around any of the hotels we went neither any places we visited. We did not see misery anywhere... Yes, we noticed in Delhi homeless people leaving in tents under bridges, but I also see that here in Seattle.
    India is one of those places that your experience depends on your budget too, if you go Cheap- you will see accordantly- and also some people like to focus on the negative and ugly.-

    British is great help and YES!!! She is here- contact her by PM.- I can also give you info. if you need any.- My best advice, don't listen to the negative, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! you won't see cows everywhere.. They are mostly in Varanasi and you will love it! Just make sure to watch your steps.

    Safety... it is pretty safe, just make sure to use common sense... and I wouldn't walk outside the hotels late at night.
    The hotels are beautiful, excellent service , good location, amazing food exquisite Spa's.
    My personal last words... GO!!!!!! GO!!GO!!! You will love it.
    P.S : if you fly Emirates- they have excellent connection to Delhi 3-hour flight.

    PortraitofIndia Hi.
    I did this tour several years ago, but looking at the itinerary it hasn't change and Tauck still uses same hotels and they are the Best! - they are Castle type of hotels.

    The Leela Palace is super High end, so do not dress as if you wear in South Beach. :) cocktail attire for night time is perfect.- during day time dress just like you would here.. for me the Capris are my travel solution. :) ATM's in all the hotels- not an issue.- How much would you need- they do take CC everywhere, just a couple of times I use cash, once in the bus as the TD/local guide brought up the street sellers to show their merchandise..Then the TD or Local guide would handle the transactions and also to buy my magnets in each city.
    I went as a solo girl traveler and had no issues- the airport inside it's well organize and easy to navigate.
    Yes, all the hotels have swimming pools* POOLS ARE NOT HEATED!
    The 1 hotel ,I would be cautious with the food- would be the Varanasi hotel. Taj Ganges, Varanasi.. I did mostly bread and pastas.. nothing else here, food was a little questionable? No Friuts, No soups, No yogurt- Hell no eggs at breakfast time. ( but only at this hotel- all others are fine!)
    I did not do the extension to Mumbai or the South- only did the north, what they call The Golden Triangle.-

    • If anyone it's interested , I have the name of a private tour company- run by women and which supports all women causes in India. They educate and support shelters etc.. They are super reliable and professionaIs,I hired them in Delhi- for 2 full days, we saw a lot, temples and parks- museums etc..


    Please read the story.


  • edited November 2022

    Most of the hotels have wonderful pools. Most of the hotels are spectacular.

    The temperature in March will be quite warm. You can use several different websites to find out the predicted temperature in each city. One such website is weatherspark.com. I'd expect highs in the 85-95 F range throughout your tour

    WhatsApp works, I think. Not positive.

    What to do during free time. This is very person specific. Some people make use of the facilities of the hotels. Some people arrange to see something not covered on the tour. Do some research and them come back to the forum with more specific questions.

    I forget, but I don’t recall exchanging any money. I prefer to use a credit card. If I did exchange money it would have been $100 or less.

    I believe Tauck suggests what clothes to bring, in a general sense. After reviewing old posts for this forum you might have more specific questions.

  • RE: Rupees-you can’t easily Rupees outside of India. All of the hotels have ATMs. When I was there, the Rupees being devalued and many ATMs were not stocked with the new currency. However the hotels were very helpful in directing us to nearby ATMs. The concierge put us into a cab - we had no problems.
    Pools: I took the Portraits tour in February. In the south, the pools were very well used and refreshing!
    Clothing: comfortable breathable clothing is the key. Bright colors will definitely fit in. I didn’t take a ‘cocktail’ dresses. During the day slacks or capris with a tee or shirt and sneakers. At night, I wore either a simple dress or slacks and clean top.
    It was one of my favorite trips - fascinating, colorful and exotic!

  • India is a fabulous trip! The sights, sounds, colors, and even the smells are unlike any other place in the world! I LOVED the trip! Even though I got very sick on the day of the Taj Mahal visit. I ignored the advice of the tour director and had a drink with ice—stupid move. I needed to have the hotel doctor come to my room. After appropriate antibiotics, and rehydration salts, I enjoyed the remainder of 5he trip and also was able to visit the Taj Mahal. Every place we visited, every meal we enjoyed, every souvenir was unusual, one of a kind, memorable, and a blow out of a bucket list trip! No one should miss India!

  • Expectations. I spent most of a year in India, and it was not guided by Tauck. India has an interesting culture, and there are many sites to see. But, those who choose to go should not expect all glitter and beauty. The traveller should also be aware that you will likely see amazing pollution, and abject poverty. If you are prepared for those experiences, along with the good and amazing, you should enjoy the trip.

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