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If you’re looking for a getaway where you can do yoga or indulge in wellness, there’s two options you should consider:
Guided retreats are lead by individual teachers (or sometimes a group of teachers), have set dates, and set curriculums. These are usually local yoga teachers that have their own venue or wellness experts from overseas who come to India with groups from their local community. Guided retreats can be a great travel option if you have a personal relationship with the teacher, or have a deep connection to the intention of the retreat. Guided retreats generally have set start/end dates, and a clear objective for what the guests will get from the experience.
The downside of guided retreats are that you may not connect to the leaders or the schedule. It’s common that many people who go on guided retreats without first knowing the leaders can have bad experiences because it was not what they expected from their trip.
Guided retreats also have set dates, making them much more difficult to schedule. If you are seeking a more self-guided retreat with an open schedule that allows you to do things your own pace, you should consider a self-guided retreat.
Personal retreats are when you go to stay at a wellness resort that has a variety of wellness-based activities you can participate in on your own schedule. There’s a huge variety of offerings for self-guided retreats, including yoga, meditation, personal workshops, nutrition advice, spa treatments, and detox services. At almost any resort offering self-guided retreats, you can pick and choose which activities you want to do and create a custom package just for you.
Personal retreats are great for travelers who want to get away on their own schedule and do their activities at their own pace. Self-guided retreats are usually run by staff at the resorts so you can sign up for them at any time. All the experiences on wellbook.co are self-guided retreats.
India is a vast country and every destination offers different experiences. There are few areas that align with our purpose of offering superior wellness-based experiences.
Kerala is the cradle of Ayurveda and therefore where many legitimate resorts have formerly opened their doors. Ayurveda is one of the oldest healing systems in the world and it’s based on relaxing and purifying techniques to rejuvenate the body and avoid future illness. Kerala offers packages for ayurvedic detox near the beach, in houseboats among the backwaters or in gorgeous cliffs.
Nature and weather in the state of Kerala is tropical, surrounded by greenery and banana trees. The main monsoon season is in May-August and sometimes during the month of October.
However, unlike other places in the world it is still a good time to visit since the rain does not last long.
If you want to connect deeper with nature, relax, do gentle yoga and indulge in ancient healing therapies, Kerala is your place.
The beach town of Varkala has gorgeous beaches and endless shops to buy affordable goodies. In spite of having some tourist attractions and being a surf spot is not a chaotic area and can be lively and fun during the evenings.
Traditional ayurvedic centres are distributed over other cities in Kerala like Trivandrum and Thrissur, or the major port city of Kochi. These are more like financial centres and are slightly more populated. Art markets, traditional functions and fine indian restaurants are common.
Goa is world renowned for its beaches and is the number one holiday spot for both Indians and foreigners. In the past few years has become the second Ayurvedic destination in the country as well. Many travelers go to Goa and miss its beauty because they end up in the wrong places that certainly do not align with their trip purpose. Goa was the place chosen by the hippies in the 60’s and whilst the North is the hub of techno and electro parties, the south is a quiet and relaxing abode.
Although Karnataka is the most popular destination in the country for its cultural richness, tourism gathers in the major cities -Hampi, Mysore, Bangalore, Gokarna- and the countryside remains peaceful and pristine.
The climate in the plains of Karnataka is moderate throughout the year. Nevertheless, in the coastal and hilly region some heavy rainfalls can be expected during the monsoon season (summer).
The pilgrimage state of Uttarakhand offers all kind of spiritual journeys and activities. Rishikesh has the most fame, attributable to its hundreds of Yoga schools and ashrams. The resorts on the mountain range of the Himalayas are a little bit more catered towards foreigners with their upscale facilities, offering spaces hidden in nature, completely away from the roads and touristy areas.
Uttarakhand has significantly less options in terms of Ayurvedic resorts than the South, instead, has a growing community for Yoga and in nature adventures.
India is still a rough diamond in the vast majority of the land. Known for its capability to evoke mixed up feelings by dint of it’s contrast between wealth and poverty as India builts it’s majestic luxury upon sand.
Some areas are better avoided by tourists due to its crime rate such as the suburbs of cities like New Delhi and Mumbai. Another element to keep in mind is the quality of the air and the notorious pollution. Garbage landfill in India is frequently on the streets, beaches and public spaces, and you might need some time to get used to seeing it.
Other areas are hot spots for terrorism in India, like Kashmir and Siachen, where military bases are abundant and their living conditions are unnatural.
Other than those, in some overpopulated areas of Goa thefts and other crimes can happen as a result of the amount of visitors coming to enjoy the nightlife.
The authentic wellness experience in India lays in its magnificent nature and its ancient ways to work with her. Resorts and retreat centers are normally secluded spaces surrounded by nature, safeguarded from the turmoil in very placid locations.
India has a numerous amount of resorts offering Yoga retreats, Ayurvedic detox or a combination of both sciences, so it is important for you to set up your intentions for your trip.
Many travelers book trips without asking themselves what they really are wanting to get from their trip. Are you looking to spend time in silence? Recover from burnout? Detox your body? Learn more about yoga and deepen your meditation practice? There’s specific retreat experiences for all these in India, so make sure you get clear yourself before making your travel plans.
Tourists from most countries need a Visa to enter India. You can apply at the Indian embassy of your country or go for the e-visa, which is a quick and simple online process. To get your tourist e-visa you must apply on the government website https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html .
You’ll pay $10-80 USD depending on the duration of your visa.You can apply for a one month, one year or five years visa. Once the fee is paid and the visa processed, an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) will be sent to your email. Print the document and you will be ready to fly to India!
Longer visas normally allow multiple entries that can be very useful for those willing to visit neighboring Asian countries or go back home and visit again later without having to re-apply. Each stay in India should not exceed 90 days. One month visas are usually single entry.
What airport do I fly into?
It will depend on which part of India you have decided to live your experience. Delhi Airport is a great port to arrive in India as it has connections to all the airports from the country. Delhi is the best option for those venturing into the northern section. Anyhow, the wellness retreats are mostly in the southern states, therefore Mumbai Airport is a more appropriate choice.
Mumbai Airport has great international and national connections, taking you to national airports such as Dabolim Airport (Goa), Trivandrum or Kochi (Kerala) and Bangalore or Mysore (Karnataka).
Contrary to what you may think, India is a relatively safe country. Indian people are extremely humble and welcoming. Their whole culture revolves around “Atithi Devo Bhava”, which literally means ‘the guest is God’. Indian householders will often receive you in their houses or cook delicious meals for you, as they believe each visit is a blessing.
Almost all resorts offer shuttle or pickup from the airport. Many packages on WellBook include airport pickup and dropoff. Even if it’s not included in your package, you can always contact the resort directly to arrange pickup and dropoff.
India’s weather is dominated by the monsoon cycle. The temperature changes drastically from side to side of the country and depending on the time of the year. In general, the South is great to travel at any time. Wet season usually starts in June and goes through August although it can rain during the month of October too.
If you enjoy a little rain, rainy season can be a good time to travel to Kerala and Karnataka as less tourists go and prices are cheaper for accomodations. During the rainy season, it usually rains heavily and it’s been less and less predictable in recent years due to Climate Change.
Typically high season in India goes from October to March. If you want to escape the humidity of the monsoon and the extreme heat of the indian summer, you may want to avoid the period between April to September when the weather can be very intense.
Places to visit and different activities are spread out as India is a very big territory, so you’ll want to plan to have some transport other than walking. Getting around is important on any trip. Indian taxis are very cheap, unfortunately, they play with the tourists and you can end up paying double or more from the original price. Uber also operates in India and the price is cheaper and stipulated, with less room for frauds. Public transport is much cheaper but can be risky and confusing for non-hindi speakers.
If you are traveling with kids, we recommend checking out a larger resort in the Southern part of the country. All-Inclusive resort chains will provide child-centers, pools, private beaches and larger grounds for kids to explore. Some of the other areas can be difficult with kids, with limited options for family-friendly activities.
With extremely young children, India can be challenging especially for kids that have never traveled before, as they will be facing for the first time environments that is more harsh than the western atmosphere. Taking the appropriate precautions with water, food, hygienic procedures and having some supplements handy will most likely avoid any inconvenience during your travels.
If you are traveling with a group, have lots of specific needs, or are unsure what type of experience you’d like to have, you might want to consider working with a travel agent. At WellBook, we have a group of western travel agents who live and work in India, and can give you the inside scoop. Our team is all wellness nuts who have transplanted themselves from living in Australia, Europe, and the US to living in different parts of Asia. If there’s any one on earth who can help you design a dream vacation in India, it’s us!
If you’d like help designing a retreat for yourself in India, you can click here.