Day 1: New Zealand – – Delhi
Head to the airport and catch a Singapore Airlines fly to Delhi. Arrive at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) and be met by a local representative who welcomes you with a mouli ritual. A mouli is a piece of red thread cotton that is considered sacred, and used in religious ceremonies throughout India. The transfer takes you to the hotel for check in and you have the remainder of the day as leisure. You might choose to relax in the hotel or explore the surrounding neighbourhood.
Day 2: Delhi (B)
Get your first taste of Delhi courtesy of a guided city tour. Your sightseeing begins at the UNESCO World Heritage Site-listed Humayun’s Tomb. This colossal site was constructed from white marble and red sandstone in the 1560s, and was the first garden tomb in India. Proceed to Qutab Minar – affectionately nicknamed the ‘Eiffel Tower of Delhi’ – and drive through the Raisina Hill. The latter area is known for its colonial-era architecture. The tour also takes you past Viceroy’s House (now known as Rashtrapati Bhavan), which is the official residence of the President of India. One of the final sights of New Delhi is seeing India Gate.
The group proceeds to explore Old Delhi with a visit to Raj Ghat, a humble memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. Admire the Red Fort and stop at Jama Masjid. Take in the architecture of Jama Masjid and its impressive courtyard, and follow this up with a walk through the oft-crowded lanes of Chandni Chowk. Often called ‘Silver Street’, Chandni Chowk is a bustling shopping area filled with markets and street vendors selling heady spices, dried fruit, nuts and tiny trinkets. Those wanting to give their feet a rest can hop into a rickshaw to explore the area. You have free time after the tour finishes.
Day 3: Delhi – Jaipur (B)
Depart on the drive from Delhi to Jaipur – about six hours. Check into the Jaipur hotel upon arrival and have the remainder of the day as leisure time. Jaipur is perhaps one of India’s most photogenic cities, thanks to in part its pink-hued cityscape and incredible palaces. It is the capital of the Rajasthan state.
Day 4: Jaipur (B)
Head to one of Jaipur’s most famous sites at Amer (or Amber) Fort this morning. This awe-inspiring structure sits atop a cliff, commanding sweeping views of the lake and landscape below. The fort was constructed for a successful General of Mughal Emperor Akbar, and this extensive sandstone and marble complex encompasses courtyards, gardens, private royal quarters and richly decorated interiors. You are transported to the fort’s entrance in a Jeep. Have time to explore the fort and then return to the hotel to freshen up in time for an afternoon city tour of Jaipur. From the coach you will be taken past Hawa Mahal, or Wind Palace, to see its honeycombed façade and ornate carved balconies. Other sights on the tour are the 17th-century Jai Singh Observatory, built by the founder of Jaipur, and then City Palace. The palace is now a museum housing an excellent collection of Rajput and Moghul paintings, as well as manuscripts and other artefacts such as carpets, armour and clothing once worn by Maharajas and Maharanis. You have the rest of the afternoon and evening for independent exploration.
Day 5: Jaipur (B)
Continue uncovering the treasures of Jaipur with a full day of free time. Some ideas on things to do in Jaipur include seeing the Jal Mahal, wander around the stalls of a local bazaar or market, or watch a Bollywood film screening at the Raj Mandir cinema. Foodies can also feed their appetite for Rajasthani cuisine by tracking down servings of local specialities, such as deep-fried crisp crepes (golgappa), onion-filled pastries (pyaaz kachori) and sweet or salty lassi.
Day 6: Jaipur – Fatehpur Sikri – Agra (B)
Depart the hotel after breakfast and travel to Agra (between five and six hours overland). A stop at Fatehpur Sikri breaks up the drive and is an opportunity for you to stretch your legs. This now-deserted city was built from red sandstone by Mughal Emperor Akbar, who intended it to serve as his capital and palace. This magnificent ancient city was abandoned however, once local wells went dry. It remains incredibly well preserved and contains palaces and mosques. Continue to Agra after time at Fatehpur Sikri and check into the hotel upon arrival. The rest of the day is free time.
Day 7: Agra – Delhi (B, D)
Tick off a true bucket list experience today! The Taj Mahal is the unrivalled architectural emblem of India and it is the first stop of your day. Upon reaching Taj Mahal you will learn about its remarkable history and design. It was built by Shahjahan as a mausoleum for its favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Its ivory white marble-clad famous is as iconic as the story behind it, and your time spent exploring the grounds will be one of the most unforgettable experiences of your tour of India.
Take a tonga (horse-drawn carriage) ride through the city and then move to Agra Fort. The red sandstone fort is another of Agra’s architectural icons and was the main residence used by Mughal emperors until the early 17th century. Explore the courtyards, ramparts and gates inside the fort, and learn about its interesting history – including how Shahjahan came to be imprisoned inside the fort by his son.
Return to the hotel to check out and start on the drive back to Delhi. This trip takes about six hours and you have free time upon return to the city. Tonight, sit down to a farewell buffet dinner with your group.
Day 8: Delhi – – New Zealand (B)
A transfer picks you up from the hotel and takes you to the airport in time to catch your return flight back to New Zealand.
Day 9: New Zealand
Arrive in New Zealand today.
Day 1: New Zealand – – Singapore
Make your way to the airport to catch your Singapore Airlines flight to Singapore. Land at Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) and arrange your own transport to the Grand Park Orchard Hotel for check in. Settle into your room at this 5-star hotel and then have the rest of the day at your leisure. The hotel is located just around the corner from Singapore’s famous Orchard Road – a boulevard characterised by its collection of high-end boutiques and shopping opportunities – and is also close to public transport, making getting around the island a breeze. Within the hotel itself is a main restaurant, alfresco bar area and a sleek swimming pool.
Day 2: Singapore (B)
Wake up anticipating your first full day in Singapore. There is no itinerary or schedule for your time in the city, so the day is yours to do with as you please. First-time visitors to Singapore may like to tick off some big-name sights and attractions, such as Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa, Marina Bay Sands and Singapore Zoo. The sumptuous buffet breakfast at the hotel is sure to keep you fuelled and energised for a day of exploration.
Day 3: Singapore (B)
Take this morning as the opportunity for a lie-in or make an early start on the breakfast buffet. Foodies may want to leave some room though, so they can delve into the incredible culinary offerings throughout Singapore. The food scene of Singapore is legendary, covering everything from hawker markets and Michelin star-awarded street vendors, to fine-dining restaurants and hole-in-the-wall eateries. Head out to search for the best plates of Hainanese chicken rice, char kway teow, chilli crab, laksa and satay. Adventurous eaters can also take up the chance to try more local specialities, such as fish head curry and barbecued stingray.
Day 4: Singapore – – Delhi (B)
Check out of the hotel and make your own way to Singapore Changi Airport in time to catch your flight to India! You will arrive at New Delhi’s Indira Gandi International Airport (DEL) and a greeting from a local representative awaits. You are transferred to the hotel for check in following a mouli ritual at the airport. A mouli is a piece of red thread cotton that is considered sacred, and used in religious ceremonies throughout India. Spend the rest of the day relaxing or exploring the neighbourhood around the hotel.
Day 5: Delhi (B)
Delhi offers visitors a chaotic mix of sights, sounds and experiences – and you get to experience it with a guided city tour this morning. The first stop is Humayun’s Tomb, an enormous UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the mid-16th century. This structure was also the first garden tomb ever built in India. The group sees Qutab Minar and some of India’s most important government buildings with a drive through Raisina Hill. One of the most important buildings in the area is Rashtrapati Bhavan, formerly Viceroy’s House, which is the official residence of the President of India. The last stop within the New Delhi area is India Gate, a war memorial that is also the location of the Indian Army’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Move from New Delhi into Old Delhi with a trip to Raj Ghat, the modest memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. Proceed to the Red Fort and then Jama Masjid. Mughal Emperor Shahjahan – a ruler best-known for commissioning the Taj Mahal – was also behind both of these New Delhi structures – a legacy that hints as his influence throughout India. The tour next takes you to nearby Chandni Chowk, or ‘Silver Street’. Pass by crowded markets and vendors offering everything from street snacks and spices, to dried fruit and trinkets in this busy shopping area. A rickshaw can be used to explore for travellers that want to give their feet a rest. You have free time after the tour finishes.
Day 6: Delhi – Jaipur (B)
Travel to the capital of Rajasthan as the group sets out on the drive from Delhi to Jaipur today. This trip is expected to last about six hours. Settle into the hotel once in the Pink City, as it is affectionately called, and have the rest of today for independent exploration.
Day 7: Jaipur (B)
Your sightseeing itinerary in Jaipur begins at Amer (also called Amber) Fort. Located just outside central Jaipur, the fort boasts a lofty perch atop a cliff overlooking the lake below and surrounding landscape. You are taken to the fort’s entrance by Jeep and then have time to wander this massive complex, moving between its courtyards, private apartments and immaculate gardens. Learn about the fort’s construction and admire its ornate interiors along the way. Return to the hotel to freshen up in time for an afternoon city tour. Be in awe of the honeycombed façade of Hawa Mahal, or Wind Palace, and hear how women of the royal court used to hide behind the screened windows and balconies. Stop at Jai Singh Observatory, a popular sight that was built in the 17th century by the founder of Jaipur. The final stop on the tour is City Palace, another of Jaipur’s recognisable landmarks built by Jai Singh. As well as still containing apartments still occupied by the Jaipur royal family, the palace also doubles as a museum and has a good collection of Rajput and Moghul paintings, plus carpets, manuscripts and armour. Clothing once worn by Maharajas and Maharanis is also on display. Have this evening as leisure upon returning to the hotel.
Day 8: Jaipur (B)
The entire day is yours with free time today. Those wanting to see more of Jaipur’s regal sights can seek out Jal Mahal (also called the Water Palace). Travellers wanting to pick up knick-knacks or a more local atmosphere can spend time in a bustling market or bazaar. Or, for a unique experience, buy tickets for a Bollywood film screening at the Raj Mandir cinema. Don’t forget to make time for culinary pursuits though, and try to sample Rajasthani cuisine such as deep-fried crisp crepes (golgappa), onion-filled pastries (pyaaz kachori) and sweet or salty lassi.
Day 9: Jaipur – Fatehpur Sikri – Agra (B)
Leave Jaipur after breakfast and set out on the road to Agra. This journey takes approximately five to six hours by car. A pitstop at Fatehpur Sikri is made along the way. Here you will learn about this now-abandoned ancient city, which was originally built by Mughal Emperor Akbar as his new capital. Those plans were deserted once the local wells dried up. Explore the well-preserved palaces and mosques contained within the city before continuing with the group to Agra. Check into the hotel and have the rest of the day as leisure.
Day 10: Agra – Delhi (B, D)
The appeal of Agra covers many things however none are more magnetic than the opportunity to see the Taj Mahal. Arguably the most famous landmark in India, seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time is an unrivalled bucket list experience. Walk around the grounds to appreciate the world-famous design and architecture of the Taj Mahal, and learn more about its construction and purpose – including how it was originally intended to be a mausoleum for the favourite wife of Shahjahan.
From the Taj Mahal you are taken through more parts of Agra by tonga (horse-drawn carriage). Your next major sightseeing visit is Agra Fort. This red sandstone behemoth is another of Agra’s acclaimed architectural landmarks, and holds a complex of courtyards, gates and ramparts. Learn about the history of the fort and those that called it home, including Shahjahan when he was imprisoned here by his son.
The group returns to the hotel to check out and collect luggage before setting off on the drive back to Delhi. This trip is expected to last for about six hours, and travellers are free to do whatever they please once in Delhi. Be sure to return from your explorations for tonight’s farewell buffet dinner with the rest of your companions.
Day 11: Delhi – – New Zealand (B)
An airport transfer takes you to Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) and you board a flight to commence your return journey to New Zealand.
Day 12: New Zealand
Arrive in New Zealand today.