Exploring a 3 million km network of roads might sound quite inviting, but in India it comes with a caution. Being able to absorb a destination in your own time and space, rather than being reliant on a waiting cab or public transportation schedules is definitely appealing and in many countries, it is easy to get off the plane and hire a self driven car almost immediately. However the roads and driving practices in India are not for the faint hearted and coping with the traffic and being able to proficiently veer away from stray cows, dogs and manoeuvre past pot-holes might be quite challenging for many. This is why for most visitors the option of hiring a car complete with a driver is the most appealing and convenient option for your travel plans.
Companies for Hiring Self Driven or Chauffeur Driven Vehicles:
Hiring a cab can be quite budget dependant on your travel plans. The difference between public transportation and hired cars is considerable; hence people prefer to use the former. If you still want to explore the roads by driving yourself, here is a list of companies that maybe useful:
1. Auto Riders – This Company gives you the option of self driven or hire cars, for long durations. The services are present in top cities of India. The choice of cars is also wide, so you can opt for something appropriate for the group size.
2. Eco Rent A Car – Another company which has a wider base of cities, offers self driven and hired cars across Tier 1 and 2 cities. The company has a fleet of over 550 cars and is accredited by the ministry of tourism. Long duration hiring options are also present.
3. Avis – Avis is one of the most popular choices of car hiring in India. A professional set up with a wide variety of cars, the company caters to pan Asia region and not only India. You can also book ahead with them before arrival in India.
Most often it is just as economical to hire cars with a driver than drive yourself as the rates are not too different. You also have the advantage that a local may know the ways and can take directions in the local language. Usual rates for AC and Non AC cars differ only by Rs 2 per km. Standard day cabs charge on basis of 8 hrs/ 80 kms or 4 hrs/ 40 kms. Small hatch backs are around Rs 7 – 9/- per km while sedans can be anywhere from Rs 9- 20/- per km. Make sure you fix a price before hand. For overnight stay in a place, the driver is given a fixed sum for stay and food.
Ask at your accommodation for a recommendation of a local driver. Homestay hosts will be happy to arrange a driver for the day for you, and will help you plan your excursion.
Tips on Driving in India:
While it is not recommended, here are some tips if you do decide to drive yourself.
1. Roads – Even there is a colossal road network in India only 60% of it is said to be paved. That too, most often, is not in the best of conditions. While highway roads are well paved, the local roads in town are dotted with pot-holes. Poor infrastructure and negligence is often the cause of accidents in India.
2. Multiple Drivers – It’s almost imperative to have multiple drivers on the Indian roads, so that you can share the wheel. Driving in new cities or countries can be unnerving and overwhelming and thus more exhausting.
3. License & Other Documents – Check if your license is valid internationally before arriving in India. India needs an IDL or an international driving license for you to be on the roads. You also may have to show the car registration papers if asked.
4. Local Rules & Regulations – There are number of one ways and city specific rules other than the right hand drive in India. Get a bearing of the place with a friend or a hired car before venturing to drive on your own. People often jump red lights so be on your guard. Hazards are caused by slower vehicles and cyclists, so cautious and aware of what is around you.
5. Maps – While GPS and Google Maps are reliable, smaller ways and the narrow networks of roads may not be identified quite easily. This is where a friendly chat for directions from locals might be of great use.
6. Road Sense – You will need to get used to the lack of traffic control in some cities. Unpredictability of drivers in India is an infamous yet real hazard that to face.
7. Directions by Public Services – Even though the highways are well signposted with boards and directions, but smaller routes may be difficult to explore.
Planning a trip to India? Check out our selection of homestays for an authentic, great value Indian experience. Our reservations team can assist with arranging car hire with a driver between homestays. Get in touch or leave a comment for help planning your trip.
Find out about the homestay experience and don't forget to check out our ideas on things to do in India or browse our India homestays.