India — Transportation
India Taxis and Car Rental
India has two types of taxis, metered and pre-paid. Pre-paid cab stations are mainly found at airports and transportation hubs with desks where you then take the booking slip outside. Do not give the receipt to the driver until the destination has been reached. India’s big cities generally contain at least one reliable taxi company, with eCabs (+91-22-3219-8484) and Meru Cabs (+91-22-4422-4422) being two reputable firms in Mumbai. Those traveling in a metered cab should ensure it is turned on from the start and females should not sit in the front. Three-wheel rickshaws are very common and are a cheaper, but less safe and less comfortable way to get around.
There are many car and motorbike rental firms in India. Driving requires an international license and can be hazardous due to traffic congestion, erratic drivers, poor signage and bad roads. The newer four-lane highways of the Golden Quadrilateral linking Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are the some of the best in the country. Driving at night is not advised.
India Water Taxis
The city of Kolkata has speedboat water taxis that operate along the Hooghly river linking various parts of the city, as well as temples and tourist attractions. The backwaters of Kerala have an extensive network of canals, rivers and lakes that are best navigated by house boat or state-run ferries that operate between Alleppey and Kottayam. Beware of overcrowding.
India Trains and Buses
Each state runs a public bus service, usually named after the region, with State Transport Corporation tacked on the end. Buses come in different classes, with the cheaper ones being the least comfortable and clean. Express luxury buses are the best and usually have air-conditioning, but not necessarily toilets. Tickets for long distance travel can be booked in advance at stations while local transport can be hailed as they come. The state of India’s roads means that bus travel is cheaper, but less safe than the train.
India’s rail network is the best way to get around for safety and routes often travel through beautiful scenery. There are slower local trains, commuter trains, express trains and long distance trains. The network is efficient and affordable, if not always on time. Tickets are best booked in advance from a station, travel agent or online. The luxury tourist trains are in a separate class altogether, being one of the most comfortable, glamorous and expensive ways to see the country.