Golden Triangle, India

No Thai version…เขียนเยอะเหนื่อยค่ะ มีอะไรถามได้นะ ค่าใช้จ่ายต่อหัว $1400 ถ้าใครไม่กิน(แพง)ก็จะอยู่ประมาณ $900 เรานอน 4-5 ดาว ตลอดนะ INR 1000 = £10, $15, or ฿550. 
Day 1: Delhi

Last night we arrived at 11pm on Thai airways. It took us almost two hours to get out of the airport. Fortunately, our driver is waiting patiently with a placard with my name. Cut down the need to hunt down a taxi. 

After breakfast we proceed on a sightseeing tour of Delhi. Today we visited Jama Masjid-the country’s largest mosque, the elegant but imposing Red Fort, Raj Ghat-a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, Humayun’s tomb-Delhi’s finest example of Mughal architecture, the famous Lotus Temple of the Baha’i faith, the medieval workmanship of Qutb Minar, The Parliament House, the President House and India Gate. My favorite sites are Humayun’s tomb, the Lotus Temple, and the Qutub Minar. 
Dinner was at one of Asia’s top 50 restaurants and one of the only two in India. Indian Accent restaurant is situated in a secluded and peaceful area. They serve contemporary Indian food. We really enjoyed it all. The staffs were all accommodating and extremely helpful in arranging our menu. A total of three courses and two drinks per person came to 8500 INR including tax and service. Drinks were around 600 INR per glass. Overall, I’ll recommend Indian Accent to anyone who wants a fine dining experience in Delhi. 
For hotel, we stayed at The Claridges – heritage hotel – for two nights. Good hotel, ok breakfast. Friendly staffs.
Day 2: Agra 
It took us four hours to get from Delhi to Agra – the Mughal city. Even at 10am when we departed, the streets were still covered with fog. Fortunately, the hazy day brightened up to clear blue sky. We first visited the Agra fort which is built by the great Emperor Akbar. After that we spent two hours touring the highlight of the trip. 

If not for the “high value” ticket system, we would never have had the patience to wait in line to see the Taj Mahal. The symbol of love, built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal was swamped by thousands of locals and foreigners. It seems that all 50K daily visitors were there at the same time. Totally chaotic. 
Since it was Christmas eve, we decided to splurge and go enjoy a gala dinner at the Oberoi Amarvillas. To cut down cost, we stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott. Its a new hotel giving good rates for the peak season. 

Day 3: Agra to Jaipur

We didn’t get to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise because the fog covers it up in the morning during winter months (Dec-Jan). After breakfast we departed again at 10am to the pink city of Jaipur, enroot we visited the Fatehpur Sikri, a deserted red sandstone city built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. 

The drive from Agra to Jaipur is around 5 hours and stopping at Fatehpur Sikri breaks it up well. We spent almost two hours there touring Jodabai’s palace and the holy man’s “Fatehpur” residence. Akbar built the beautiful religious site for the holy man because the man blessed Akbar his greatly wanted first and only child. Interestingly, the emperor who’s a Muslim was married to three wives of different religions – hindu, christian, and muslim. The world would be a much better place if everyone from all religion could live together peacefully like they did. 
After the visit we continued our drive to the ITC Rajputana in Jaipur. We got there around 5.30pm just in time to freshen up for our 7pm Rajasthani dinner at Cinnamon restaurant in Jal Mahal. The restaurant is situated in a colonnial style British-Indian palace which is now run by the Taj hotel group.  
Day 4: Jaipur City Tour 
We started at 9am which was an hour too late so we didn’t get to go up to the Amer fort due to traffic congestion. Our first destination was to take photos with the wind palace “Hawa Mahal”. Its a beautiful facade with many windows so the court ladies could observe the outside world without being seen. Up next is the city palace and museum, City Palace-conceived and designed by Jai Singh is a fine blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture and is one of the most important architectural landmarks in Jaipur. The palace is painted yellow in contrast to the pink city. If you want to see the pink that the city was originally painted in, you can see it inside this palace. Its a lovely hue of light pink. I wish the Pink City is still in that cute shade of pink instead of its much tarnished orange terracotta shade. Our final stop which was a quick walk down the street was the Jantar Mantar – an astronomical observatory. There you can see the Maharaja’s intelligence and skills in mathematics, astrology, and astronomy. 

Before exiting Jaipur, we made a quick photo stop at the abandonned Water Palace. I learned that its now under restoration and will open up as a restaurant. It’ll be great to come back when it opens. Also to visit the grand hill top fort of Amer. 
Note that google map projected traffic time is inaccurate. It’ll be an additional 30 minutes to two hours from what the app said. The 270ish km to Delhi took us 6 hours including a quick lunch stop. 
Day 5: Delhi 
Our final dinner was at the Bukhara, a highly suggested restaurant. Its no45 in the Asia’s top 50 best restaurant list and have been much loved for a long time. The restaurant first open its 130 seats dining room in the 1970s. Two US presidents – Clinton and Obama – dined there. In case you come as a larger group, don’t forget to order the huge family naan. You need at least six people! The chefs and staffs there were super friendly and the atmosphere was very lively. The only downside is the high price tag that came with all the aforementioned goodness. 

For our last night we stayed at Vivanta by Taj in Dwarka. Its right behind the airport so its convenient for our 11am flight back to Bangkok.
Expenses
Car, driver, and guides cost $380 for two people from December 22 – 27, 2016. The flight cost a little under ฿29K for both of us. We stayed in 4-5 star hotels total around $800 for five nights. Food is up to you – don’t ask me how much I spend!  

A little info on tipping, everyone (literally) expects tip here. When you go to the toilets, it’ll be good to have INR 10 handy. In hotels, it’ll be nice to tip INR 20-40 for bell boys. For half day guide, tipping INR 300 will keep him happy. For full day guides or those that put in a lot of effort to keep you out of harms way like from the crowd at Taj Mahal, between INR 500-1000 will be expected. The driver, depending on how much you use him, can be given around INR 500 per day. (I tipped my driver ฿1500 for three days. I didn’t have enough rupees left due to demonetization. I used him 12 hours a day.)
In restaurants if service charge isn’t included, the standard is 7-10%. During our lunch stops between the cities, the bill for two will come to around INR 850 (two drinks, biryani, and samosa). They’ll ask you outright for 10%. Just rounding up and giving them a INR 1000 is appreciated. When in hotel restaurants with bills ranging from INR5000-10000, tipping INR 500 is sufficient. 

Total cost of this trip $1400.

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