The Story

Best time to go: October - April
Best for: Slow Travel, Culture & Beach, Repeat Visitors

Combining the cultural highlights of Tamil Nadu and the beautiful beaches of the Andaman Islands is one of India’s best-kept secrets. Start in Chennai, formerly known as Madras, before exploring Pondicherry and the superb shore temples of Mahabalipuram. Fly to the Andaman Islands for seven nights of R&R.

This private tour includes your own personal guides and private drivers. At every point, you’ll be met and helped along the way. Any element of it can be tailored and tweaked to your own personal interests and requirements. If you have a longer time to spend in India, some guests like to extend their time in Tamil Nadu, or other places in the country. Needless to say, we only use the best guides and logistical support, to ensure that your overall experience is absolutely second to none. 

Begin in Chennai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which was the first base of the British East India Company. You will embark on a series of immersive storytelling experiences uncovering hidden side to the city. Many of these are done on foot, allowing you to truly get under-the-skin of the destination. You’ll be guided through the bustling markets, scented with spices, and bursting with life. You begin in Mylapore, a where mythology and folklore intertwine to give you a glimpse of living India. You then turn to the colonial Madras, where you see how British language, bureaucracy, education, and architecture left an indelible mark on Chennai and its inhabitants. There are many superb international hotels in Chennai, and we generally opt for the colonial Taj Connemara.

You will then be driven to Pondicherry, about a four-hour drive to the south and once the capital of the French East India Company. It is everything that you would expect, a fusion of France and India. Will see colonial French buildings, with little boulangeries and cafes with French Indian Fusion food to boot. You will again be led around by private guide on an immersive walking tour, seeing how Pondicherry developed from the 17th century. In Pondicherry, there are a few superb colonial boutique hotels. We favour the Palais De Mahe for its superb location, food, and service and one of the best hotels in Tamil Nadu.

You then turn back north and will stop at the World Heritage site of Mahabalipuram. These impressive shore temples cut it into the coastal rocks. Spend two nights in the pretty Tamil village of Covelong at the Taj Fisherman’s Cove.

Drive north and fly to Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman Islands. You’ll be met on arrival and taken to the fast boat to Havelock Island, which takes a few hours. We think seven nights in the Andaman Islands is the perfect amount of time to both relax and explore. Whilst in the Andaman Islands you can set out on nature walks, dive or snorkel, kayak through mangroves, or just relax on some of India’s most beautiful beaches. We’ve split the itinerary between three nights in the hills in a beautiful boutique hotel called Jalakara, and then four nights in the rustic luxury of Barefoot at Havelock. To those who want to opt for a more luxurious option, you can spend the final four nights at the Taj Exotica. Some guests just like to stick to one hotel here, and of course, any variation of this itinerary is possible. 

Return by boat to Port Blair, where you will fly back to Chennai and stay near the airport at the Trident. The next day you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home after your wonderful tour of Tamil Nadu and the Andaman Islands.

Guide Pricing

Starting At

£2310-£3595
SilverGold
Price per person including all accommodation, private transfers, unique experiences and excluding international flights. We can arrange international flights should you wish.

Highlights

  • A wonderful combination of a week of culture and a week of beach
  • Explore the hidden side of Chennai with a private guide
  • Immersive yourself in the former French city of Pondicherry, a glorious franco-Indian fusion
  • Stay in the best boutique and luxury hotels
  • Explore the shore temples of Mahabalipuram
  • Finish on the beaches of the Andaman Islands – the best you will find in India

Suggested Hotels

Day 1-2

Vivanta by Taj – Connemara

$ $ $ $ $  

Chennai’s only luxury heritage hotel, the Vivanta by Taj Connemara offers superb dining, a spectacular swimming pool and a wide range of spa treatments.

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Day 1-2

Vivanta by Taj – Connemara

$ $ $ $ $  

Chennai’s only luxury heritage hotel, the Vivanta by Taj Connemara offers superb dining, a spectacular swimming pool and a wide range of spa treatments.

View hotel
Day 3-4

Palais De Mahe

$ $ $ $ $  

Superbly located in Pondicherry’s French Quarter, Palais de Mahe makes a charming boutique retreat with swimming pool, spa and great French-Indian cuisine.

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Day 3-4

Palais De Mahe

$ $ $ $ $  

Superbly located in Pondicherry’s French Quarter, Palais de Mahe makes a charming boutique retreat with swimming pool, spa and great French-Indian cuisine.

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Day 5-6

Vivanta by Taj – Fisherman’s Cove

$ $ $ $ $  

The Vivanta by Taj Fisherman’s Cove hotel is a stylish spa retreat near Chennai in Tamil Nadu, offering relaxing beachfront comfort and delicious food.

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Day 5-6

Vivanta by Taj – Fisherman’s Cove

$ $ $ $ $  

The Vivanta by Taj Fisherman’s Cove hotel is a stylish spa retreat near Chennai in Tamil Nadu, offering relaxing beachfront comfort and delicious food.

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Day 7-9

Jalakara

$ $ $ $ $  

Jalakara on Havelock island in the Andaman islands is a fabulous low-key luxury hideaway, offering wonderful wellness and nature experiences.

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Day 7-9

Jalakara

$ $ $ $ $  

Jalakara on Havelock island in the Andaman islands is a fabulous low-key luxury hideaway, offering wonderful wellness and nature experiences.

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Day 10-13

Barefoot at Havelock

$ $ $ $ $  

Located on one of Asia’s greatest beaches, Barefoot at Havelock Island in India’s idyllic Andaman Islands is the last word in barefoot eco-luxury.

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Day 10-13
Villa at Taj Exotica and Spa Andaman Islands Havelock Luxury Hotel

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa Andaman Islands

$ $ $ $ $  

The Taj Exotica & Spa Andaman Islands is the first luxury resort to open on the idyllic Havelock Island. The Taj offers 75 spacious villas, all wonderfully located under the canopy of Coconut and Palmyra trees overlooking Radhanagar Beach, one the world’s most picturesque beaches.

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Customise Your Itinerary

We can tweak and change any element of this itinerary and you can depart on any day you want, add nights here and there, and we can fully customise your day-to-day experiences depending on your interests. Here are just a few ideas of many that we can look at and discuss when we come to plan your tailor-made itinerary.

Idea 1

Continue further into Tamil Nadu, visiting Tanjore, Madurai or Chettinad before flying back to Chennai and then onto the Andaman Islands.

Idea 2

Rather than finish back in Chennai, you can fly to a host of other Indian cities to conclude your trip such as Calcutta, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore or Hyderabad.

Idea 3

Spend a night in a local village house in the Andaman Islands between Jalakara and Barefoot at Havelock - the ultimate immersive experience.

Idea 4

Head out on the Indian Ocean on a sailing trip instead of using the hotels in Havelock.

Caroline Douglas, Tamil Nadu & Andaman Islands, February 2018

So, we’re back and I’d like to thank you so much for organising a really brilliant trip which worked like clockwork. Loved the Andamans, so like Thailand 30 years ago and also loved Pondicherry and Chennai all for different reasons. What was wonderful was that all five hotels were fantastic and all totally different. Thank you so very much and, oh yes, I also must mention that everyone in India, especially Ramesh, our driver, couldn’t have been more helpful and kind.

Further Itinerary Suggestions

Kick-back in the Andaman Islands

Calcutta - Andaman Islands - Chennai  

The Andaman Islands are closer to Burma and Thailand than they are to India, and yet they haven’t seen the huge development that has blighted many of these picture-perfect beach destinations.

12 days from £2195 p. p.

Classic Tamil Nadu

Chennai - Rajakkad - Madurai - Chettinad - Tanjore - Pondicherry - Covelong  

For hardened Indiaphiles, Tamil Nadu is somewhat of a holy grail. Lying off-the-beaten-track, you can explore stunning Hindu temples with a distinct Dravidian Culture awaiting you.

15 days from £2005 p. p.

Southern Trader: a tour of Kerala and Tamil Nadu

Chennai - Pondicherry - Tanjore - Madurai - Rajakkad - Munnar - Backwaters - Cochin  

This classic route takes you from Chennai (Madras) in Tamil Nadu, through the hills and into the Kerala to see the tea estates, backwaters and ending on the beach.

16 days from £2270 p. p.