FAQs for Visiting Andaman Islands in India

If you are a beach lover, you would love Andaman Islands. It is rich in history and culture too. What used to be Kala Pani, the worst prison term, the exile, it is a tourist paradise now. How times change! So here is a list of frequently asked questions or FAQs for visiting the Andaman Islands in India.

How to reach?

Flights are a convenient way to reach the capital, Port Blair. As I live in New Delhi, I took a New Delhi – Bangalore and then Bangalore – Port Blair flight. I did the trip with Makemytrip, the Bangalore – Port Blair flight  it was a chartered flight (#AndamansCharter), only for their customers. I would say do a web check-in and book a window seat as the first glimpse of the islands while landing is beautiful.

Flights are available from Kolkota too. I am told that it is possible to reach Port Blair by sea via Kolkota. It surely sounds like an adventure but I have not done it.

How Long to Stay?

That would really depend on your leaves, right? I did a seven nights trip and I wanted more! I would happily spend more than 10 days in the region if I go again.

What to see?

port-blair
That is Just the Jetty at Port Blair!

There is a lot to see. I would divide the region into two, Port Blair and the Islands. Port Blair is not a hard core beach destination. Neil and Havelock are beautiful islands with white sand beaches.

But there are many short trips available from from Port Blair. Viper Island, Ross Island, Wandoor Beach, Baratang Caves are some of the short trips available from Port Blair. Snorkeling and glass boat rides are possible nearby.

Port Blair has the historic Cellular Jail. The light and sound show is a must see there.

Havelock Island

beautiful-andaman
The Shades of Blue- Havelock Island

Havelock Island is a white sand paradise. Its Radhanagar Beach frequently listed in the world’s top beaches list. Snorkeling and diving is out of this world. Do pick up a reputed diving school for your experience. Or do nothing and just laze around the beautiful beaches.

I have not been to Neil Island but I hear it is even more beautiful. I would say do go.

There ferries to and from Port Blair to Havelock. The first ferry that reaches back to Port Blair is after the last flight leaves.  So you have to budget an extra night at Port Blair.

What to Pack?

It is a typical beach holiday that I would pack for. The weather is warm. Pack a beach wear that you are comfortable in. I have seen people on the beach from sari to bikini. Sunscreen and sun glasses would come in handy.

When to Go?

havelock
Go When you Get Leaves!

Like everywhere else in India beaches are good from October to Feb/March. I visited in October and the days were hot. Other than the rainy season when it would pour, I am game for any time!

Where to Stay?

andaman-faq
The Bar at the Sea Shell Resort, Havelock

There are many hotels both at Port Blair and Havelock catering to various budgets. I stayed Sea Shell Resort at both the places. It is a decent hotel.

If you would like to read in detail about the tourist experience you could check out my article on the same.

So what are you waiting for? Get planning and packing!

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When vacation is round the corner, the most common topic discussed is the holiday spots one should visit. Some magazines throw light on various tourist destinations that are generally overlooked. Some highlight the specialties of a particular picnic spot. People have varied interests. Some like to visit places that offer spectacular sights with picturesque landscapes and snow-capped mountains. Some like to go for a religious tour and based on their beliefs, visit places that are in line with their beliefs. Some people love adventure while some seek to visit places of historical importance. India has a lot to offer to tourists within India and outside. According to a recent report by Goibibo, here are the top 10 holiday destinations in India based on the average number of bookings on their website. Let us have a look at each of them

1) Goa

Goa

Goa

The smallest state of India gains in prominence by being number one in the list of most visited holiday destinations. People from all parts of the world visit Goa thanks to the pristine beaches here. Century old churches and forts are among other reasons for tourists to prefer Goa. Yet another tourist spot in Goa is the Panaji Bridge. The view is excellent and you could go on a pleasure ride.

2) Uttarkhand

Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand

Those who love nature will love Uttarkhand. Situated in North India, the place is renowned for its stunning natural beauty. The place is busy with various sports activities, which include trekking, river rafting, paragliding, jeep safari and a lot more. The monuments here have historical value.

3) Kerala

Kerala is located in southwest of India. The state has a lot to offer to the tourists. A place that looks like a favorite of Mother Nature has everything you would love about with nature. The hill stations, beaches, waterfalls, forests and backwaters are viewers’ delight. Some of the important tourist spots here are Alappuzha, Kovalam, Munnar, Fort Kochi and so on. Kerala has yet another importance. Ayurvedic tradition of the people of Kerala is known all over the world.

4) Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir

Three regions form Jammu and Kashmir. They are Jammu, Kashmir valley and thirdly Ladakh. The place is rightly called the Heaven on earth. The breathtaking beauty of Jammu and Kashmir has not found a parallel. This is a perfect destination on a holiday if one plans to have a relaxed holiday. Some of the important places to visit in Jammu and Kashmir are Srinagar, Jammu valley, Zanskar and Kargil.

5) Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh, the lovely hill state is located in Western Himalayas. It has several green valleys, rivers and snow-clad peaks to keep you mesmerized. Nature lovers and adventure seekers could land here hoping to experience the best. The landscapes are stunning and the air could not be fresher. The place has excellent tourist spots and many activities for those who love activity. A visit to Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh will remain in your memories forever. It is a perfect place to get away from hectic life schedule and relax; a perfect place to engage yourself in various physical activities like mountaineering, ice skating, trekking and para-gliding. The golf course here is one of the oldest in India.

6) Rajasthan

Rajasthan

Rajasthan

Thar Desert comes to mind the moment one thinks of Rajasthan. The state is India’s largest and hence is called “The Land of Kings”. The state is famous for its forts, rides on caparisoned elephants, camel ride and palaces. Travel to Rajasthan could be educative as well as entertaining. The exclusive architectures speak of the culture and history of the people. Jaipur – the Pink City; Udaipur – the Lake City and Mount Abu are some of the most famous tourist spots here.

7) Maharashtra

Mumbai

Mumbai

Maharashtra is India’s third largest state and ranked second in terms of population. It is one of the most visited states by tourists from all over the world. It has beautiful mountains and forts exceeding 350 in numbers that speak volumes of its past. The state is known for ancient temples and beaches. You could go boating in the hill stations of Maharashtra, visit Ajanta and Ellora Caves situated in North Maharashtra and visit cities like Mumbai to have a great vacation. Ajanta caves are famous for paintings and sculpture while Ellora caves reveal the architectural skills of the people of the past.

8) Uttar Pradesh

Taj Mahal, Agra, UP

Taj Mahal, Agra, UP

The most populated state in India, Uttar Pradesh is situated in the north. The house of Taj Mahal has many tourist spots to keep the tourists engaged during their stay. Some of the most frequented tourist spots in this area are Agra, Lucknow, Allahabad and Ayodhya. Three Heritage sites of the world in Agra are Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. Allahabad is the meeting point of three rivers namely Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati. Allahabad Fort is a famous tourist spot here.

9) Karnataka  

Karnataka

Karnataka

Karnataka is situated in South India. It is one of the excellent places in India to spend your vacation. You could have a great time in the hill stations, forests and visit ancient temples and historical monuments. Mysore is famous for cultural heritage and rightly called the Cultural capital of Karnataka. Some of the most important attractions in Mysore are Mysore Palace, Chamundeshwari Hills and Mysore Zoo. Coorg in Karnataka is famously called the ‘Scotland of India’. Famous for its coffee estates, the city delights you with its misty mountains. You could go trekking and white water rafting in this area. Other popular destinations in Karnataka include Hampi, Pattadakal and Bijapur.

10) Andaman

Andaman

Andaman Islands is a group of islands situated in the Bay of Bengal. It is rated as one of the best touring destinations in India. Gandhi Park in Andaman is a combination of historical monuments and man made constructions. Amusement park and water sports keep children engaged. Yet another park in the islands is Marina Park. There are various joy rides such as giant wheels, dragon coaster and so on. Children will love the experience in toy train. Many parts of India boast of wonderful beaches. However, the beaches in Andaman present a unique experience as they are sparsely populated. The adventurous lot would love this place as it offers scuba diving, kayaking, snorkeling and various other sports.

The mentioned list is considered the most famous destinations in India. However, India has a lot more to offer. Whichever tourist destination you choose, you can be assured of enjoying unique experience. Some tourist destinations require most of your vacation time and some may require most of your wallet. The spending is definitely worth but with wise spending, you can ensure quality spending of your money.

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It was a cloudy morning and I was out even before the first rays of sun! It was my last day in the paradise and I wanted to make it special. I walked the few steps from my hotel and I was at the beach. There was no one around apart from a few dogs. Thankfully they paid no attention to me. I soaked in the serene atmosphere and inhaled the sea air without any residue of fumes!

There was the lone Mangrove tree with its root all exposed due to the low tide, I could spot a few birds as well. I was content to wait for the sun to come out. For a while it felt that clouds would rule, like they did the previous evening and I was really thinking why did I even get out of my comfortable bed?

But then the sun came out and it was gorgeous! Havelock looked even more beautiful if that was possible.

Sunrise at Havelock, Andaman Islands, India
Sunrise at Havelock, Andaman Islands, India

After the sun got too high to get any more reasonable shots, I decided to take a walk. I love walking and I love walking barefoot. By now if you are wondering what happened to my most expensive dip, just have some patience.

With my Canon D 350 and a brand new 70-300 zoom mounted on it, I decided to click a few bird pictures. I put my cell phone (my first with touch screen and 5 megapixel camera) in my pocket and concentrated on spotting the birds. I managed to click a few pictures but of the type that never even made it to my blog! Walking with my head firmly stuck in the trees above I started wading through the shallow water to get closer to a bird. Something poked in my heel rather sharply and I started falling in slow motion. I ‘saw’ myself falling, I was falling so slow. At the same time I tried desperately tried to break my fall because I could see clearly what was going to happen.

In the end I heard a loud thud and there I was, in the water with my SLR, my brand new lens and my cell phone. This ladies and gentlemen has been my most expensive dip ever! The camera and lens were immediately gone, never to be recovered. I could salvage my cell phone after I came back and but after a few fits and starts it conked off too. However when I was narrating my woes to my husband he said, “Don’t you think you were lucky that you didn’t break a bone?” In the end we still had to say Alive is Awesome!

I have construed many ‘what if’ scenarios since then. The most prominent was that I should have just slept till late, after all it is an easy thing to do! That way I would not have the sunrise experience but I would still have my camera and cell phone. But in the end I had to let go, what happened, happened. I thought I would not buy a camera but I bought another one (my current Canon D 550) within five months along with another zoom lens. Add this too to the cost and I am sure the Havelock fall is going to remain my most expensive ‘bath’ in a long long time, hopefully forever!

PS. This post is part of Alive is Awesome Bathing Experience by Cinthol. It has been great fun reliving my memories with this series. It is also awesome to see what time does to the experiences! Many memories become dim but not the awesome ones!

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I took a vacation with Make My Trip, some of you who have been reading my blog might remember my trip to Andaman with them. I had booked it with Make My Trip India, the division that looks after the Indian holidays.

I have been more of a solo traveler and I was really skeptical of booking a group holiday. But one thing decided it, the reasonable cost of the package! I realized just one week before my trip that I could actually take a week off. I tried to do the airline booking but by then cheap flights were nowhere to be found! In fact at that point of time the independent air tickets were costing me more than 50% of the entire cost of the Make My Trip package. I distinctly remember that I searched on Air India and Air India Express as well but all the prices one week before were astronomical!

Flowers in an Airport

Flowers in an Airport

That is when I decided that I was going to go with Make My Trip. There were two of us, I did this trip with a friend and we had a gala time. I clearly remember telling the tour manager in the end in Havelock that I was very skeptical about the tour as I don’t like group tours but the way you guys conducted it, I am willing to try it again.

I still remember Mustafa Fakhri who managed the tour at the Port Blair and he was an excellent guy. He made sure that the trip was memorable for us.

I also got to know that if you ask them they can customize some of the itineraries. My recommendation is that if you want to experience the beach more customize the existing one because it includes more time around Port Blair than Havelock. I am these days thinking about a vacation in Bhutan and wondering if I will have enough leaves to go by road or should I once again start searching on Make My Trip?

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