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Best places to visit on a low budget this monsoon!

June 23, 2014 08:28 IST

Best places to visit on a low budget this monsoon!

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Neha Pandey Deoras

Packages for this season are 30-40% cheaper than peak season and are for value-conscious travellers. 

The monsoon is not a traditional travel season. The good news is that you get the best travel deals during monsoons.

And it may be worth your while because you get to see great places at great prices - even 40-50 per cent cheaper than peak season. 

Says Rajeev Kale, chief operating officer at Thomas Cook India, "Destinations like Himachal, Leh-Ladakh, Bhutan and the Northeast continue to be preferred. Apart from these, Kashmir, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Gangtok, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan are finding favour of not only Generation-Y tourists but also MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions), ad hocs and women travellers." 

You can travel by yourself or in a group, as part of a pre-arranged package or a customised package. The tour cost is lower by almost 20 per cent when travelling in a group as opposed to a customised one. But a customised tour offers more flexibility and choice.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Kerala Tourism

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Or, you could look to book your travel and stay through an operator and do the sight-seeing on your own.

While this gives more flexibility, you should research well or you'll end up paying five-seven per cent more.

Sometimes, with some hotels in Goa, you get sight-seeing complimentary with stay. But you might not want to see all the sights on their list. 

That's why travel enthusiast Gaurav Mashruwala prefers going on his own. Some tips from him: When travelling check if there are overnight trains.

That will not only lower your travel cost but also save one-night/days hotel expense. Similarly, when booking hotels, see what more you can get in that cost, like say one-night's stay free or free dinner along with complimentary breakfast.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Goa Tourism

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Do not take an all-meal deal with a hotel or tour package because then you lose on local cuisines. All-meal deals are best when going for a jungle safari or the likes.

"I prefer homestays (staying in the home of a local family). It's reasonable, warm and you can get good local tips on say, good restaurant(s), budget shopping and so on," Mashruwala says.

But then, this requires more planning. You should ensure you book 30-45 days in advance. 

Last minute travel may cost you as much as peak season rates - 30-40 per cent higher. Whereas, you could approach a tour operator even at the last minute. 

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Photographs: Courtesy, Kerala Tourism

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Given they have room and ticket blocks available, you can get a good deal even then. Some say even when booking in advance, travelling by yourself could be 15-20 per cent more expensive than packaged tour. 

Typically, those travelling in the monsoon are not looking for a lot of activity but to relax.

Monsoon tour packages are designed for periods of three to five days, to incorporate couples with school-going children.

Hence, the target travellers are young couples, honeymooners, those who avoid the crowd during summers and those in their late 40s and early 50s. 

Here are some getaways and their cost as part of a package. The costs are for a family of four.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Kerala Tourism
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Kerala

Kerala is the most sought monsoon destination. It offers the annual Splash Monsoon Carnival (a joint initiative by Kerala Tourism and Wayanad Tourism).

Additionally, the rainy season is ideal for ayurvedic treatment. Unlike most other national parks, the one at Periyar remains open during the rainy season.

The snake boat races draw a lot of tourists, as they are held during the monsoon, says Vishal Suri, chief executive officer, tours, at Kuoni India.

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Image: Wayanad.
Photographs: Rajettan/Wikimedia Commons

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Says Neelu Singh, chief of operations at Ezeego1.com, an online travel portal: "Our package for four nights and five days starts at Rs 15,241 a person, includes accommodation, all meals on houseboat, transfers, sightseeing, taxes and a pick-up from Cochin and drop to Trivandrum."

This is for Bekal, Alappuzha and Alleppey. 

Cox & Kings' four nights and five days package would cost Rs 21,999 per person (Athirapilly & Kumarakom). These are exclusive of airfares; airlines are giving discounted fares and travellers have taken advantage of these.

All of Cox & Kings' monsoon packages include only hotel and the local sightseeing component, with breakfast. Kuoni India's package starts at Rs 10,424 a person for five days at Munnar, Thekkady and Alleppey.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Kerala Tourism
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Goa

Goa is more affordable during monsoons. A major draw are MollemNational Park and Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary. Goa also has some festivals in the monsoon - The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. 

Says Karan Anand, head of relationships at Cox & Kings: "Our package for four days and three nights is priced at Rs 9,999 a person."

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Image: Goa
Photographs: Reuters
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Ezeego1.com's four days and three nights package at Colonia Jose Menino Resort starts at Rs 1,037 a person. Price includes accommodation and meals. 

"There are other packages offering a variety of accommodation from Rs 1,117 to 13,093 per person. We also offer packages with airport or railway transfers and sightseeing. Goa holiday packages with return airfare start at Rs 14,151 a person," says Singh.

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Photographs: Soman/Wikimedia Commons

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Northeast

Meghalaya is the place to experience for those who really love the rain.

The Abode of Clouds is renowned for Cherrapunji (wettest place on earth) and living root bridges.

Sikkim, Darjeeling and Gangtok are also preferred.


Photographs: Rishav999 /Wikimedia Commons

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Ezeego1.com's package for five nights and six days starts at Rs 18,012 a person, inclusive of accommodation, meals, sightseeing and taxes across Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Gangtok.

Cox & Kings' package of five days and four nights is priced at Rs 9,999 a person. Kuoni India's package starts at Rs 15,900 per person for six days, inclusive of accommodation, meals and transportation assistance to airport or station.

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North

Cox & Kings is offering a package to Kashmir. The package for five days and four nights costs Rs 9,999 a person, says Anand. 

Kuoni India has a package for Leh-Ladakh. "The best time to visit Leh is between May and September; the weather is the warmest. There are no rains in the monsoon there," says Suri.

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Kuoni's package starts at Rs 17,000 a person for six days, inclusive of accommodation on a twin sharing basis, all meals and airport transfers to and fro from Leh. It includes visit to Leh, Hemis, Nubra and Pangong.

Khajjiar in Dalhousie is also a popular spot, called Mini Switzerland. Ezeego1.com's Dalhousie and Dharamshala package for four nights and five days comes at Rs 15,292 a person, includes accommodation, meals, sightseeing and taxes.

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Photographs: Amareshwara Sainadh/Wikimedia Commons

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Uttarakhand

The Valley of Flowers, with around 300 different varieties, in Uttarakhand is only open from April to October, being covered in snow for the rest of the year.

Says Kale, "For stay at Mussoorie and Manali Sterling Holiday Resorts offers stay at an average spend of Rs 7,500 onwards a person for three nights and four days."

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Photographs: JC Ramek/Wikimedia Commons

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Some other destinations that find favour are Mahabaleshwar and Lonavala. Cox & Kings offers a Magical Lonavala package for three days and four nights at Rs 10,249 a person. 

Ezeego1.com offers a two nights and three days package with accommodation, meals and taxes, starting at Rs 1,915 a person.

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Image: Needle Hole Point Mahabaleshwar
Photographs: Tatiraju.rishabh/Wikimedia Commons
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For a slightly broader budget, Ezeego1.com has a Mumbai-Mahabaleshwar Volvo package for three nights and four days, inclusive of city transfer from Mumbai and sightseeing at Rs 9,469 a person.

So, take your pick and make the most of this monsoon.



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