India might not be the most obvious family cruise holiday choice, but for those intrepid families who yearn for something different, India may be one of the most captivating countries you encounter, and if you’re up for the challenge, the rewards can be great.
The colors, the chaos, the noise, the dirt, the smells … for any first-time visitor to India no matter their age, the culture shock smacks you in the face and can be astonishing, shocking, and often staggering. India is definitely not for the fainthearted, and is rarely considered a top travel destination for the youngest of families. But for those with slightly older and inquisitive children, it’s a destination that attacks and awakens the senses – exhausting yet energising, frustrating yet thought-provoking, mind-boggling yet magical.
Adventure lies around every corner in India, and simple things like a ride in a tuk-tuk will become a memory for life. But neither will you lack for epic encounters and experiences that rival the world’s best, whether it be the opportunity to go on tiger safari, take mountain train journeys, enjoy backwater houseboat holidays, or take camel rides in the desert. Indeed, amid Bollywood beats and such a vibrant culture, your kids may well believe that they’re part of a movie set!
So for those venturesome clans, read on to learn about some of the best family trip destinations in India, including the things to do with kids whilst you are there, plus some top tips for traveling with kids in India.
If you are planning a once-in-a-lifetime family trip to India, the chances are that you will want to include the Taj Mahal on your itinerary. It is described as the most beautiful building in the world. The best time to visit the Taj Mahal is at sunrise, and it’s also the least busy time of day. Feed your family before you come, as no food is allowed inside. Be patient and be prepared to queue.
It’s a good idea to hire a local guide who knows the best spots for photography and can get the kids excited about the culture and history of the Taj Mahal and how it came into existence. There are quiet areas for kids to play in the grounds, and remember it is okay to say no to selfie requests.
The forts and palaces of Jaipur provide a sanctuary of calm children and adults alike. Visit early to avoid tour groups, and marvel at the intricate pink architecture. Let your kids’ imaginations run wild as they discover ornate doorways, maze-like corridors and narrow staircases, peep through lattice windows and explore gardens and opulent courtyards of a bygone era. You may even catch a traditional puppet show, accompanied with live drumming and singing, which will keep your little ones truly engaged.
Across the road from the City Palace in Jaipur is Jantar Mantar Observatory. More than just a collection of bizarre artworks, it’s a mind-boggling complex of 14 giant and highly accurate instruments constructed to measure time, predict eclipses, and track the locations of the stars. It’s one of the top things to see in Jaipur, and kids of all ages will receive a good lesson in astronomy. Younger children will love exploring all the weird and wonderful shapes and shadows.
Chances are that you’ll spot some camels on your travels in India so why not take a camel safari into the desert and camp out under the stars. The Thar desert around Jaisalmer in northern Rajasthan is one of the most popular places to enjoy this Indian experience. It’s an awesome way to escape the cities and witness rural desert life.
Darjeeling is a must-see place to visit with family in India, and a ride on the famous toy train is a must-do activity. The high snow-clad mountains, the zigzag turns and thrillingly steep gradients will delight adults and kids of all ages. You’ll marvel at the Kanchenjunga Peak and an unbelievably picture-perfect view of Darjeeling town, valleys, forests, and tea gardens on this fabulous journey.
The hill station of Gulmarg, in the state of Jammu & Kashmir in northern India, has gained a reputation as one of the best ski resorts in Asia, home to waist-deep powder snow, near-empty ski runs that go for miles and miles and some of the most affordable skiing in the world. During the winter months, a thick covering of snow is perfect for skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing and snowman building.
This is a brilliant place for a family ski or snowboard holiday, and there are a lot of things to do with kids in Gulmarg. For beginner skiers there are a handful of nursery slopes and lessons available, while the options are endless for more experienced skiers and snowboarders.
The forested reserve of Ranthambore is home to leopards, wild boar, sambar, chital, sloth bears, langur monkeys and, of course, Royal Bengal Tigers. Morning and afternoon tiger safaris take place in jeeps and usually last three to four hours. It’s one of the best places to visit in India with family, offering an incredible opportunity to see any of these creatures in their natural habitat.
The reserve itself is quite beautiful, dotted with ancient temples, hunting pavilions and large reservoirs where these jungle cats like to hang out. For a bird’s eye view of the park and its surrounds, climb up Ranthambore Fort that was built in 900 AD. Rumor has it that some weaponry still remains in the ancient barracks.
Mellow Kerala in the south is one of the best places in India for a family trip and an easy place to travel with kids. One of the best ways to experience the rural lifestyle of the backwaters ― a long chain of lagoons and lakes that wind their way inland, parallel to the Arabian Sea – is on a kettuvallam (rice barge), a traditional Keralan houseboat. As you glide gently along the waterways past villages, temples, churches and wading buffalos, you may spot working boatyards, fishermen hauling in their catch or villagers separating coir and spinning it into threads.
Your kids can help steer your ‘floating hotel’ and wave to the local children heading off to school. Keep an eye out for the local birdlife along the way, egrets and kingfishers are commonly spotted in the backwaters. More family adventures include kayaking through these waterways alongside dugout canoes with farmers transporting their produce.
Whichever family trip destination in India you choose, there are always some things to be aware of and bear in mind when traveling with kids.
If you and your little ones are brave and adventurous enough, India family tours allow you the chance to experience incredible adventures like nowhere else on the planet. Filled with spectacular sights, beautiful landscapes, fun activities, delicious food and much more, there is a lot for families to see and do in India. In fact, traveling in India with kids will be one of the most eye-opening trips you will ever take as a family.
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