advertisement

The year 2011 is just around the corner in the eyes of many travel planners, packagers, and promoters. Friendly Planet (tel. 800/555-5765; www.friendlyplanet.com) will make it worth your while if you can plan ahead for next year and want to go to India. In fact, a portion of these tours have already sold out, so popular is this deal. The company's nine-day Taj Mahal Express tour is priced from $1,199, which represents a savings of $300 if you act fast.

The trip encompasses what's referred to as the Golden Triangle of India: Delhi, Agra and the Taj Mahal, and Jaipur -- the "pink city." The beginning of the trip puts you right in Old and New Delhi to explore its temples, mosques and other architectural monuments of significance. The iconic Taj Mahal is on the agenda the next day, when you arrive in Agra, along with a tour of its surrounding gardens. While you're in Agra you can spend time at your leisure, or add on tours of the Agra Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, among others. Other highlights include the impressive Amber Fort, which you can ascend via elephant (if available). You'll want to spend some leisure time wandering through the streets and bazaars of colorful Jaipur, India's first planned city.

Trip type: Air-inclusive, escorted tour with an English speaking guide and some leisure time.

What the advertised price gets you: Roundtrip nonstop airfare from New York-JFK to Delhi via Air India; seven nights of accommodations at superior and first-class hotels with private bathrooms, fuel surcharges, hotel-airport transfers, buffet breakfast daily, farewell dinner, sightseeing and tour fees per itinerary, and the services of an English-speaking tour director.

What else you will have to pay: Government taxes, fees, and service charges, $138; India visa fee $73.

Book by: December 15.

When: May 2, 5, 9, 11, 12, 16, 18, 19.

Other details: The package is only available from New York City-JFK; you can book a connecting flight on your own from other gates. Departures are also available April 14, 18, 21, 25, 27, 28, from $1,299. Friendly Planet offers an optional Nepal Extension from $799, which includes flights from Delhi to Kathmandu, a full touring program and three nights of accommodations, transfers and daily breakfast.