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Classic India: Golden Triangle & Varanasi (2025)

Search for wild tigers in Ranthambore, learn to Bollywood dance in Jaipur & witness a sacred Aarti ceremony on the Ganges in Varanasi 

What's Included

  • Accommodation in twin rooms
  • Max 14 travellers per group
  • Exclusively for people in their 30s & 40s
  • ATOL protected
  • All activities mentioned on the itinerary
  • 11 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 5 dinners
  • Stay in handpicked 3-5 star hotels
  • Arrival airport transfer
  • 2 domestic flights
  • Experienced Pack Leader with you throughout the trip

Flashpackers must provide evidence that they have purchased travel insurance for the duration of their adventure. Remember, flights aren't included and prices are based on sharing a twin room. If you'd like to upgrade to a single room, you can add this during the booking process or by contacting our Customer Experience team.

About your trip

With its riot of colours, tastes, sights and smells, Northern India will send your senses reeling. Experience it all, Flash Pack style, on this classic 12-day adventure.

Join us as we take in Rajasthan’s Golden Triangle: tasting our way through Delhi’s spice markets with a born-and-bred local chef, watching the sunrise over Agra’s incredible Taj Mahal and cycling past pink palaces in vibrant Jaipur. There’ll be tiger-spotting in Ranthambore (one of the best places to see them in the wild) and block print workshops in a Bagru village, cooking with a local family and an upbeat Bollywood dance class. The trip culminates in sacred Varanasi, India’s cultural capital, where you’ll witness an Aarti ceremony on the ghats as you drift slowly down the Ganges – an experience not to be missed.

This is a journey that opens up a window to the country’s fascinating history, but it’s the humble human interactions that will leave the biggest impression – because there’s nowhere quite like India.

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Welcome to Delhi
  • Touch down in New Delhi, a vast metropolis blending ancient history with modernity, where a private Flash Pack transfer will be waiting to whisk you to your central hotel
  • Meet your fellow Flashpackers for an introductory tour of the city, before sitting down to a delicious spice-laden welcome feast and raising a toast to the adventures to come
Culinary tour with a local chef
  • Dive into Old Delhi’s labyrinthine streets for a chef-led food tour, sampling local specialities at some of the city’s top food joints
  • Lend a hand in the kitchens of Bangla Sahib Gurudwara temple, which feeds 35,000 people every day; help to roll chapatis, cook lentils or serve the free meals
High tea & pakoras in Agra
  • Board a train south to Agra and visit one of India’s finest Mughal palaces, the mighty Agra Fort, exploring the red-sandstone city with a local guide
  • Visit a Mughal village for something special: share tea and pakoras with locals on a rooftop overlooking the Taj Mahal
Beautiful Taj Mahal sunrise
  • Rise early to witness the majestic Taj Mahal aglow with morning sunrise; be blown away by the intricate white marble mausoleum built in perfect symmetry
  • Journey south to Ranthambore National Park: this former maharajas’ hunting ground is now one of the best place in the world to spot wild tigers
Jungle Book wildlife in Ranthambore
  • Take a dawn safari by open-top Jeep, an ideal time to spot tigers prowling through the long grass or along dusty tracks after a night of hunting
  • Relax at your resort, before a late afternoon safari, keeping your eyes peeled for monkeys, leopards, deer and hyenas as well as elusive tigers
Dine with a family in Jaipur
  • Continue to Rajasthan’s flamboyant capital, Jaipur, famous for its bustling old quarter of rose-tinted palaces and beautifully preserved courtyards
  • Experience true Indian hospitality with a demonstration of traditional home cooking, sharing stories over dinner with a local family
Block printing & pink rickshaw rides
  • Visit artisan workshops in the village of Bagru, famous for its block-printed textiles
  • Don an apron and take part in a block-printing workshop, creating your very own artwork to take home
  • See Jaipur’s sights in style on a ‘pink rickshaw’ ride, driven exclusively by local women; this social initiative is helping to provide employment and empowerment
Hilltop forts & Bollywood dance
  • Take a sunrise city cycling tour, visiting vegetable and flower markets and joining the locals in temple prayers
  • Visit some of Jaipur’s most revered sights, including the hilltop Amber Fort, the City Palace, Jantar Observatory and the ‘Palace of the Winds’
  • End your day with a Bollywood dance workshop on a haveli rooftop
The holy city of Varanasi
  • Catch a flight to one of India’s oldest cities, Varanasi, a sacred Hindu pilgrimage site on the banks of the River Ganges
  • Navigate the incense-scented alleys, filled with temples, shrines and bustling markets to relax at your boutique hotel – a haven of peace within the city
Witness a sacred Aarti ceremony
  • Experience the magic of Varanasi’s famous ghats on an early morning boat ride, observing the morning rituals of pilgrims and locals as the sun rises over the river
  • Walk along the Kashi Vishwanath corridor, a pilgrimage route through the busy streets, and visit Sarnath where the Buddha attained enlightenment
  • Return to the river for sunset to witness a sacred Aarti ceremony, accompanied by rhythmic chanting and lit by thousands of oil lamps; it’s a profoundly moving and unforgettable experience
Sunrise yoga by the Ganges
  • Gather on the ghats for a private sunrise yoga session, feeling the warmth of the sun’s first rays as you practice your asanas
  • Hop on a flight back to Delhi and relax at your hotel before tonight’s farewell dinner: raise a toast to new friendships made and incredible adventures shared
Until next time, India
  • Bid farewell to your fellow Flashpackers – now firm friends – as you make your own way to the airport; your Pack Leader will be on hand to help arrange a local taxi
  • Return home from your Indian adventure feeling enriched, awed and deeply moved by India’s vibrant culture, rich history and the warmth of its people

Our Favourite Hotels

Here's a taste of the hotels we sometimes use on this adventure. The hotels you'll stay in for your departure will be shared with you one month before you go.

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The Claridges, Delhi

Soak up the old-world charm at this elegant mid-20th century hotel, a tranquil retreat within the capital. Expect sophisticated dining, pristine gardens and classic decor complete with Raj-era historical scenes. There’s even a modern art gallery and Ayurvedic spa on site.

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Ranthambore Heritage Haveli

Located in the land of Tigers, this heritage resort has been elegantly built in traditional architecture keeping in mind the natural surroundings and Rajasthani culture. With well-furnished rooms and a vast pool, this is the ideal spot to relax after a morning game drive.

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Shahpura House, Jaipur

The ornate facade and stained glass windows of this historic property provide a stunning backdrop for your stay at this welcoming aristocratic home. Think high ceilings with chandeliers, velvet sofas and walls adorned with swords and shields interspersed with family photographs.

Important Notes

Which airport do I need to fly into and out of? Plus airport code

Fly into and out of Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) in New Delhi.

 

What time should my flight arrive (in time for the welcome meeting)?

Before 12 pm ideally. The welcome meeting will take place at 4 pm at the hotel, which is located 45-60 minutes away from the airport. 

What time should my flight depart on the last day?

There are no activities planned for the last day, so you can leave any time you like. We recommend booking a flight that leaves after 10am. 

Do you include airport transfers?

If you arrive on Day 1 of your adventure, or you book pre-tour accommodation with us, your airport arrival transfer will be included. If you book alternative pre-tour accommodation or are arriving by another mode of transport you must arrange your own arrival transfer.

Arrival transfers are private to Flash Pack and will be in groups depending on flight times. Sometimes this means waiting in the airport for a short while until other flights have arrived.

A departure transfer is not included, but taxis to the airport are good value, especially if you split the cost with others in your group. Your Pack Leader can help you book your transfers the night before if needed.

Should I be prepared for culture shock?

Colourful and chaotic, we think India is one of the most exhilarating and rewarding travel destinations in the world, but first-time visitors should be prepared for some level of culture shock.

Our Classic India tour finishes in the atmospheric spiritual hub of Varanasi. Even by Indian standards, Varanasi can be challenging and disorientating. Not only are the streets here even more crowded, but it is a city where devoted pilgrims come to die, hoping to break the Hindu cycle of rebirth and attain salvation. You will witness cremation ghats on the banks of the Ganges and may even see bodies floating down the river, which can feel shocking to Western travellers. However, bear in mind that death here is a normalised part of life.

Travelling as part of a Flash Pack group, you’ll be well looked after from start to finish. Your Pack Leader will help you adjust to the different experiences and make sure that you feel comfortable.

Do I need a visa?

Up-to-date visa and entry information can be found using our official partner, Sherpa, who can help you arrange a visa if needed.

You can also find essential travel advice – including security and local laws, as well as passport and visa information – on the government website of your home country:

Please be aware that passport and visa requirements can change before departure, so it’s important to stay updated with the latest information.

What vaccinations and medication will I need?

While we are not medical professionals and cannot offer personalised medical advice, we want to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable adventure. Here are some tips to help you prepare.

1. Consult with a healthcare professional

We recommend scheduling an appointment with your travel nurse or doctor at least eight weeks before your adventure. This will give you ample time to receive any necessary vaccines or medications.

2. Up-to-date medical advice

3. Government travel advice

4. Medication tips

If you take prescription medication, ensure you bring enough to last the entire adventure, plus a few extra days in case of travel delays. Carry a copy of your prescription with you in case you need to visit a clinic while abroad.

We hope this information will help you prepare for a safe and healthy adventure.

What level of fitness do I need for this trip?

There are no difficult hikes or strenuous activities on this adventure, however there will are some walking and cycling tour. If you’re not comfortable riding a bicycle, it’s possible to ride in a cycle rickshaw instead.

The ghats in Varanasi involve going up and down steps. Getting in and out of the boats can also be tricky but our Pack Leader and local guides will be on hand to assist you.

We recommend having a read-through of the itinerary above, and getting in touch if you have specific questions on fitness.

What should I wear to visit a temple?

India is a spiritual country with a great number of sacred places. It’s customary to remove footwear before entering a temple, as a sign of humility and respect. You should also dress modestly in trousers or skirts (no shorts) and carry a spare shawl to cover bare shoulders. In Sikh temples, both men and women are required to cover their head.

 

 

What time is sunrise at the Taj Mahal?

Sunrise at the Taj Mahal varies throughout the year. It can be as early as 05:00 in June and the gates open 30 minutes beforehand. In December and January, mornings can be foggy and the sun doesn’t appear until lunchtime. Whatever time of year you visit, we’ll adapt the timing of your trip so you can witness this iconic experience.   

 

Will I definitely see a tiger?

As with anything in nature, nothing is guaranteed and it is completely down to chance. However, Ranthambhore National Park is one of the best places in the world to see wild tigers in the their natural environment, with around a 70 per cent chance of sightings. The tiger population here is now around 90, with lots of new cubs born in the last year, showing that conservation efforts are working.

Keep a look out for the park’s other wildlife too, including 300 species of bird (including eagles, hornbills, flamingos, flycatchers and pelicans), leopards, hyenas, caracals, crocodiles, wild boar, bears, samba, spotted deer and barking deer.    

Will the itinerary change?

Please be aware that the itinerary, activities and hotels are subject to change. These changes can happen with little notice due to availability, poor weather, seasonal changes, or other circumstances beyond our control – but we’ll always do our best to ensure it has little impact on your experience. From time to time, we may also make changes to your itinerary to try out new ideas and keep things fresh and exciting.

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