As I had promised earlier, today I am blogging a brief review of KSTDC (Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation) package tours and hopefully it’ll help you to make a decision whether to travel with KSTDC or not, for your future trips. I want you to understand it very clearly that I am not promoting or advertising KSTDC in any form. This review article is simply my 360 degree unbiased firsthand experience of traveling in any KSTDC package tour. I’m penning it down only because I had noted that there’s no such utility article available in Internet while I was doing my pre-travel information digging. Moreover, in this age of knowledge- sharing is caring, right?
|My hotel room in Mysore.|
Pros of KSTDC Package Tour:
* Booking is very easy as you can book your tickets online right at their well maintained website. You’ll get your e-ticket which you need to produce on your journey date with your valid ID. Simple procedure right?
* Hospitality in their tourism office at Badami House (Bangalore) is fairly OK.
* Tourist buses which are used seem well maintained.
* Punctuality is maintained throughout the trip.
* Briefing inside the bus is timely and fairly adequate.
* Food is not included in the package, so you have liberty to choose from Pasta to Pao-bhaji. (Just for your knowledge, package includes the transport and accommodation only. Rest all other charges/fees/expenses are solely yours).
|Our trip vehicle for Mysore, Ooty and Kodaikanal trip was a non-AC deluxe 2*2 bus.|
* Food breaks are given in timely intervals and all the food-stops they choose serve moderate to good food at reasonable price.
* Sightseeing schedule is adjusted in such a way that you won’t feel out of breathe despite it being very tight.
* Hotels used for overnight stay are good to moderate with modest hospitality.
* Tour Package costs very reasonable- certainly "value for money". If you are single then you’ll end up paying little extra, otherwise for travelers traveling in double/triple the package cost gets quite cheap!
* Roads in Karnataka are mostly very good unlike most parts of northern India which certainly makes your bus journey much less tiring. Well this is not the credit of KSTDC but I thought it worth mentioning.
|My hotel room at Kodaikanal.|
Cons of KSTDC Package Tour:
* All KSTDC tour packages do not have options for AC bus, like, even if you want to pay more and purchase your AC ticket it won’t be feasible. My trip vehicle for Mysore, Ooty and Kodaikanal trip was a non-AC deluxe 2*2 bus.
* No adequate staff to help you with your luggage. Luggage management is solely your responsibility.
* Hindi briefing by the tour-manager is grossly inadequate and I believe, in a country like India it can prove quite unhelpful for many tourists.
* Although the food places where you’re taken are acceptable but you’ll lack the freedom to explore local food places on your own most of the time.
* You’re taken to emporiums and curio shops wherever they want (based on their vested interest) and allotted an unproductively large time slot in the name of shopping. Thus your choices to shop anywhere as per your will is minimized. You end up paying more for an article and, last but not the least, your sightseeing itinerary is compromised of its "already tight time schedule"!
|All the food-stops KSTDC chooses, serve moderate to good food (not included in the package) at reasonable price.|
* Time per each sightseeing destination is not properly allotted, e.g.- you get only 1 hour to explore the huge and exquisite Mysore city palace, where as you get 2-3 hours for ‘not so worthy’ botanical gardens/parks.
* There’s no buffer time to explore the place at your own or indulge in shopping.
* This is my last point for ‘cons’ and certainly my personal sore point. Our tour manager (Mr Sekhar) was highly big-headed, rude guy and that sort of temperament in no way expected from a tour-manager. He had poverty of speech and smile. Interacting with him felt like interaction with any Govt officer/clerk from whom you want to get some work done. I don’t want to elaborate this bitter point in my travel blog with unnecessary details of our conversation, but, I would only say that he created such a negative impression in my mind that while departing at the end of trip in Bangalore, I didn’t bother to share even a courtesy goodbye or handshake with that man. It was the only disappointment for me in the whole KSTDC tour package but undoubtedly a very serious one when it comes to tourism industry.
|My hotel room at Ooty.|
KSTDC Package Tour can be a great option if:
* You are traveling solo.
* You are on a tight budget.
* You can put up with the ‘lack of liberty’ which is expected from a package tour.
* You don’t want to be stressed with arrangement of transportation and hotel booking.
* You want to cover a lot of places in a limited time.
* You have a limited time which you want to utilize to its maximum.
* You are not into luxury traveling.
* You can bear up with some long (sometimes boring) bus journeys.
* You do not care how your tour manager turns out to be!
My Rating for KSTDC Package Tour:
3.5 / 5 (of course, leaving aside my sour experience with the particular tour manager).