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Old 1st December 2010, 15:26   #1
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Default DIY trip to Switzerland - feasible or am I just kidding myself ?

I know that the Switzerland topic has been done to death in our forum.

But one reality check and lot of searches thru the forum later, I realized that I'm still confused as I was at the beginning.

So I went ahead and took the risk of opening another thread.
Mods please feel free to delete the thread if inappropriate.

Ok now, Here's the deal :

First things first : I and my wife have never once stepped foot outside of India.

How feasible would you people think if I opt for a "do-it-myself" trip to SWISS ?
It would be two persons : Me and my wife.

I don't fancy the "package tours" because

1.I do not like the idea of sitting in some bus and pass thru the city/town without ever so setting foot outside.
I mean, I don't want to visit just for the sake of it !

2.I certainly don't like the idea of 50 to 100 people tagging along with us
No offence to group travelers, but I don't like to adjust to other's time and fancy.
(I have very bad experience of "group travel" within India. This one time , we had to wait 5 hours for just two people on some trip who went leasure shopping)

3.I don't trust any of these dodgy travel agency. The bigger the brand name, the bigger amount they rip of ..of you.

4. I want the tour to be relaxed. It's OK even if I visit 2 or 3 cities. I don't want to rush anything

I have a couple of questions in my mind.
Please do pardon me if some questions seems silly

VISA
====
How easy or difficult is to get a tourist visa for Switzerland on our own ?
I'm from Bangalore. Do I need to go in person to mumbai/delhi to get my visa ?
Does a first timer have any difficulty in getting a visitor's visa ?
Is it possible or recommended to get only the visa done by some agent ?
And what about the transit visas ?

BUDGET
======
The big question !
Not surprisingly , (Indian salary ..what do you gonna do ? ) I have a very limited budget. somewhere around 60-70K per person.
Probably 6 to 7 days or less.
Is this enough...I mean roughly ?
As I said earlier I donít want to visit a whole lot of place.
I would be rather happy if I'm able to cover very few places at my own convenience.
Most important thing for me is to enjoy the trip. Be out there ! Öif you know what I mean.

TRANSPORTATION
=============
Airfare ==> Any best deals or routes from Bangalore you guys know of ?
transport in Switzerland ==> Can I rent a car (am I being too optimistic for this budget) ? Doesn't matter even if it's a tiny-tiny car.
Do they allow car rental for first time visitors ? Or should I stick with public transport ?

SEASON and STAY
==============
What would be the best time ? Is possible to beat the rush "tourist season" ?
I'm a big fan of cold weathers and would be nice if we had some "snow".
For the stay , I'm still looking into many hotels online, but if you guys know anything...please do let me know.

ITERNITY
=======
As of now, no idea.
Where in Switzerland should I start and where do you think I should end
Hope it's not too much.
Waiting eagerly for your advice.

Thanks,
nimbleguru
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Old 1st December 2010, 16:09   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nimbleguru View Post
First things first : I and my wife have never once stepped foot outside of India.

How feasible would you people think if I opt for a "do-it-myself" trip to SWISS ?

Your and mine thoughts resembles.

I also never stepped out if India until last Feb10 and then went to Malaysia and Singapore on my own dragging 14 other guys along with me in Rajababu style.
Find further details in my travelogue '' 15 Rajababues in Malaysia and Singapore.


I suggest, go to south east first on your own and then try other destinations.



I am looking forward to this thread.

Last edited by ASHISHPALLOD : 1st December 2010 at 16:16.
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Old 1st December 2010, 16:19   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASHISHPALLOD View Post

I suggest, go to south east first on your own and then try other destinations.
Ashish Bhai : I had followed your thread and thoroughly enjoyed it.

As for the east, I'm not a big fan of hotter climates. That's why I choose swiss.
Besides switzerland and Scotland are in my bucket-list.
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Old 1st December 2010, 16:28   #4
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@ nimbleguru

Certainly a DIY trip mate.

Here's what i did when i had my parents visit me in Geneva (Swiss) a couple of years back.

VISA
====
Had my cousin in India approach one of the Travel Agents and paid them the service charges and got the visa done. Not a pain at all for a tourist visa. Matter-of-fact they also got the Schengen Visa for them to allow transit and travel across the rest of the Schengen countries in Europe.

BUDGET
======
I had a studio apt rented so for my parents visiting me that was good enough during their stay in geneva. However, we did travel to Bern, Interlaken, Florence, Venice, Paris and we had to shell out for hotel accomodations in those place. It was in May (but a couple of years back) and interms of weather April through August is the best time to visit (not too cold, never too warm).

I'd say you'd be better off considering 1 Lac per person as the budget for a week. Again, it's totally possible to skimp on things and bring it down to 60-70K (depending on what kinda hotels you choose to stay in and so on).

TRANSPORTATION
=============

Airfare ==> I'd say straight to Zurich or via Dubai are the best available options.

Transport in Switzerland ==> Totally possible to rent a car, they drive on the same side of the ride as we drive here in india.

For public transport details have a look at SBB: Home - Online Timetable, Ticket Shop, Online travel shop

You could buy weekly passes and that one pass is valid for boat, train and bus. Works out cheaper as well.

SEASON and STAY
==============

Again best time is generally the "tourist" time so i'd reiterate it to be April-August

Yep, you'll find snow all the time in the mountains (Jungfrau, Titlis, Zermatt etc.,)

ITINERARY
=======

I'd say include the following in your itinerary

1. Zurich
2. Mt. Zermatt
3. Interlaken and Jungfrau
4. Mt. Titlis
5. Bern
6. Geneva

If you can stretch your stay longer and get the Schengen Visa, do include Paris and Venice. You'll definitely NOT regret it! (Do take the TGV between paris and geneva, lovely scenic ride it is).

Cheers!
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Old 1st December 2010, 16:30   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nimbleguru View Post
As for the east, I'm not a big fan of hotter climates. That's why I choose swiss.
Besides switzerland and Scotland are in my bucket-list.
Oh,
then best wishes for your swiss trip,
i will follow this thread,
who knows, i may be in Switzerland following your foot prints.

EDIT:
@Phanitha,
now, i know whom to contact if i get chance to visit Switzerland.

Last edited by ASHISHPALLOD : 1st December 2010 at 16:35.
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Old 1st December 2010, 16:31   #6
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Hi nimbleguru, please find my answers in BOLD

I am not agent , i stayed in swiss for three years so i think i can help you out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nimbleguru View Post
I know that the Switzerland topic has been done to death in our forum.

But one reality check and lot of searches thru the forum later, I realized that I'm still confused as I was at the beginning.

So I went ahead and took the risk of opening another thread.
Mods please feel free to delete the thread if inappropriate.

Ok now, Here's the deal :

First things first : I and my wife have never once stepped foot outside of India.

How feasible would you people think if I opt for a "do-it-myself" trip to SWISS ?
It would be two persons : Me and my wife.

I don't fancy the "package tours" because

1.I do not like the idea of sitting in some bus and pass thru the city/town without ever so setting foot outside.
I mean, I don't want to visit just for the sake of it !

2.I certainly don't like the idea of 50 to 100 people tagging along with us
No offence to group travelers, but I don't like to adjust to other's time and fancy.
(I have very bad experience of "group travel" within India. This one time , we had to wait 5 hours for just two people on some trip who went leasure shopping)

3.I don't trust any of these dodgy travel agency. The bigger the brand name, the bigger amount they rip of ..of you.

4. I want the tour to be relaxed. It's OK even if I visit 2 or 3 cities. I don't want to rush anything

I have a couple of questions in my mind.
Please do pardon me if some questions seems silly

VISA
====
How easy or difficult is to get a tourist visa for Switzerland on our own ?
--I suggest you to catch up a Agent for Visa's as swiss is in Schengen territory.
I'm from Bangalore. Do I need to go in person to mumbai/delhi to get my visa ?
--If you submit for a visa through travel agency you need not go in person, if required the consulate will call you.
Does a first timer have any difficulty in getting a visitor's visa ?
-- No idea
Is it possible or recommended to get only the visa done by some agent ?
-- Yes
And what about the transit visas ?
-- No need of a transit Visa, you can directly apply for a schengen Visa which permits you to enter many countries, check for the countries in Schengen territory(For Schengen Visa fee will be slightly higher)

BUDGET
======
The big question !
Not surprisingly , (Indian salary ..what do you gonna do ? ) I have a very limited budget. somewhere around 60-70K per person.
Probably 6 to 7 days or less.
Is this enough...I mean roughly ?
As I said earlier I don’t want to visit a whole lot of place.
I would be rather happy if I'm able to cover very few places at my own convenience.
Most important thing for me is to enjoy the trip. Be out there ! …if you know what I mean.

--- Is this including the air tickets, some times you may get a good deal of air tickets as 25,000 to 30,000 rupees two way. so let us put in this way as below
Air Tickets: 30,000 *2 = 60,000 INR
Travel: you get a 7 days pass with which you can go around complete switzerland use any Public transport, excluding flights & Mountain trains & Cable cars,if you are 2 r more than 2 persons For 4 days you get a swiss pass for CHF 221 (1CHF = 45 INR), for 8 days per person it is CHF 320
Calculate accordingly.

TRANSPORTATION
=============
Airfare ==> Any best deals or routes from Bangalore you guys know of ?
transport in Switzerland ==> Can I rent a car (am I being too optimistic for this budget) ? Doesn't matter even if it's a tiny-tiny car.
Do they allow car rental for first time visitors ? Or should I stick with public transport ?
-- I do not suggest CAR, But the rental car self driving will cost you somewhere from CHF 100 to CHF 130

SEASON and STAY
==============
What would be the best time ? Is possible to beat the rush "tourist season" ?
I'm a big fan of cold weathers and would be nice if we had some "snow".
For the stay , I'm still looking into many hotels online, but if you guys know anything...please do let me know.

--- This is the best time if you want to visit in winter, i suppose now the temperature should goto -16 degree, So ideally from now to Feb/March

ITERNITY
=======
As of now, no idea.
Where in Switzerland should I start and where do you think I should end
-- I suggest you to stay in BERN, as the prices will be less comparatively and if you stay in Zurich, Geneva, interlaken the prices will be on a higher side.
After you have fixed your plan you can ping me so that i can give you the places also where you can enjoy a lot.

Hope it's not too much.
Waiting eagerly for your advice.

Thanks,
nimbleguru

Last edited by phanitha : 1st December 2010 at 16:33.
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Old 1st December 2010, 16:39   #7
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Check your passport first Nimbleguru. I read in the news that Schengen is not giving visas to people who's passport was issued before 2001 (the 20 year validity).

That would determine whether you can make a trip to Europe or not. And again, the news just specified schengen visa and didn't mention whether it's applicable for tourist visa as well.

DIY to Swiss is very much doable. That would be the best way as well. I do remember reading some threads here on people's trip to Swiss. Check them out so that info is not being repeated.

60 - 70 K per person is good enough. Check out for cheap flight deals and budget hotels. Get rooms with a microwave. You can pick up frozen Indian food from local shops and consume at your room itself. Food and beverages when bought from local stores and not restaurants knock off your living costs. Plus it makes it handier if you are a vegetarian, not to waste time hunting around for Indian outlets (though there's plenty of them in switzerland).

Have a draft plan with projected costs and then we'll be happy to help work that over.
choose offseason. Christmas - no no. Winter - no no - Summer - no no again).

Enjoy your trip and if you meet Fedex there, say hi from me
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Old 1st December 2010, 17:27   #8
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Hi Nimbleguru,

I did the DIY Swiss trip this summer (1st and 2nd week of May) with my wife and two kids, and thoroughly enjoyed. It is very much doable and almost everything I had planned went pretty fine (I had visited Switzerland couple of times on business, so I knew a thing or two about the life over there). Here are some quick answers:

1. I spent around 3.5L for a 2-week trip. Stayed in a holiday appt in a picturesque village named Spiez, about 30mins by train from Bern. The cost included a day trip to Milan in Italy. You can see holiday appts here. If you are driving, then go for hotels, so that you can have a circular trip. If you go for public transport (see the next point), I reco staying in central swiss (Bern/Luzern) and in a holiday appt.

2. We flew Emirates, which was cheaper by far. Used the excellent public transport (took 15day Swiss pass for self and wife and kids travel free when accompanied by a parent). You get 4d, 7d pass too. The Swiss pass allows FREE entry to most museums and gets you good discount on mountain railways. I figured out that rental cars were expensive, given the advantages of the Swiss Pass.

3. Food is pretty expensive (almost everything is). Most of the days we cooked our own food. If you are eating out, you will have to budget atleast about 2K per meal for a family (2 adults and 2kids).

4. Applied Visa thru a travel agent. They asked for lot of info, but we never had to travel to Mumbai.

5. It would have started snowing by now. The biggest disadvantage during winter times are: 1. The day is much shorter (sun would be between 8AM and 4:30PM or so), and it keeps shrinking as you approach Jan. This would rob you precious time to see and do things. 2. Most of the cruises would not be running or would be operating only 25% of the capacity. 3. Too cold. You just can't be outside for long.

I'm a big fan of DIY trips and therefore had to collect ton of info and would be happy to pass on the same.

Prasad
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Old 1st December 2010, 17:34   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nimbleguru View Post
First things first : I and my wife have never once stepped foot outside of India.

How feasible would you people think if I opt for a "do-it-myself" trip to SWISS ?
It would be two persons : Me and my wife.
While I travelled a couple of times abroad before my trip to Switzerland it was my wife's first, and the entire 17-day trip was a semi-DIY. I selected the itinerary and hotels and just had Thomas Cook book everything for me and do the visa processing for us. It worked out very well. I could perhaps have saved some money by DIYing 100% but I would've ended up spending a lot more time.

My point is, go ahead and do it. It'll work out just fine.

FWIW, the hotel rates I paid through TC were very similar (almost exactly the same as) to what I saw on hotels.de and other websites. Similarly, the air fare we paid was almost the same as what I would've paid if I'd booked our tickets on my own. So I don't know about the rip-off part, or maybe I was just very lucky.

EDIT: Just realized that my costs and travel modes were very similar to those of prasad14, with the only exception being that we travelled in December and it was just the two of us (no kids). The itinerary was very different, though. In two weeks we saw a lot of places and shifted base across 4-5 locations. Seeing Switzerland in the winter has its own charm, but it's not for everyone.

Regards,
spadix

Last edited by spadix : 1st December 2010 at 17:37.
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Old 1st December 2010, 17:39   #10
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I think I'm overwhelmed by so much good response.
THANK YOU everyone !

It'll take a day for me to digest such good information.
(I'm reading your replies again and again so that I don't miss anything)

@Steve Austin : I'm ready to stretch my budget. But I'll have to postpone my tour to April-May.
I think I'll give a visit to some travel agent and inquire about the VISA as you guys clearly suggested.
Thank you. Sincerely

@phanitha: I agree with you. I think I'm better off on public transport.
I'm still at the very beginning of my trip plan. I'll definitely share my plan with you once I'll chart out something.
Thanks for the valuable suggestions. Really appreciate it.

@MX6 : That's news for me !! I think my passport is post 2002.But I'll go home and check once again. I'm pretty sure my wife's passport is 2010.
I'll have a draft plan as you suggested and post it here in couple of days.

Again, Thank you guys for such quick and very useful response/suggestions.

Let me share this with my wife and get back to you.
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Old 1st December 2010, 17:45   #11
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@nimbleguru: Any time you can comeback to me with your queries, i hope you will enjoy your trip to Swiss, Plan and make it successful.

@ASHISHPALLOD: Thank you and any time. I have recently came back from swiss. A very wonderful experience in life. Unforgettable

Last edited by phanitha : 1st December 2010 at 17:48.
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Old 1st December 2010, 17:51   #12
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Just another couple of pieces of information. I used the SBB website and the Lonely Planet (Switzerland) extensively for planning our itinerary. There's also this generic Swiss tourism website (whose address I forget now) which was very helpful.

I was in Bengaluru at the time -- would've gladly handed you my copy of the LP guide if I were still there. I don't think I'll be needing it any time soon .

Regards,
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Old 1st December 2010, 18:33   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spadix View Post
Just another couple of pieces of information. I used the SBB website and the Lonely Planet (Switzerland) extensively for planning our itinerary. There's also this generic Swiss tourism website (whose address I forget now) which was very helpful.
Yikes!! I too used sbb.ch and LP guide extensively. Seem to have re-invented the wheel, given the body of knowledge available here. Once I decided not to use rental, I never bothered to take help from team-bhp thinking that mods would take me off. Good lesson learnt.

I found the following websites useful:
1. switzerland.com - Switzerland (further has several useful links)
2. Swiss Alps tourism - MySwissAlps.com
3. Jungfrau Region -*Wandern Schweiz, Wanderurlaub Schweiz, Wengen, Wengen Lauerberhorn, Wintersport Schweiz, Bergsteigen Berner Oberland (around Interlaken, activities arranged around season)

Almost every small village, shop etc., would have their own website, so information is not a problem and the tourist offices of the region are very helpful and reply for the emails very quickly. I also had posted a few questions on virtualtourist.com and got some great answers (on the way back, we exited Europe from Paris and some kind soul pointed my attention to cheap tickets on TGV trains, where you get almost 67% discount if you book tickets when the booking opens, 90d prior to the departure).

Go ahead Nimbleguru, you'd be glad you did a DIY.

Prasad14
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Old 1st December 2010, 18:50   #14
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@Nimbleguru - You need to go through this thread - http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-backpack.html (Europe on a Budget - 5 weeks trip with family on a backpack!) by Chetan.

Though the thread talks about Europe & not related specific to Swiss, but there're lots of tips & methods that has been discussed as how to carry out a DIY trip with abroad. May be if you PM the thread owner, you'll get to know lots of ideas.
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Old 1st December 2010, 20:12   #15
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Hi nimbleguru.I did post a travelogue about a month back of my trip to Swiss.
According to your budget choose only swiss or 2-3 countries.
I had taken the visa and my airtickets through travelagent.
Hotel bookings and travelpass in the trains I did on my own.
I did not take any taxi and all travel was by public transport.
My suggestion land at Zurich take the train from airport to Interlaken or Spiez or Thun via Bern all these places are quite near to each other depending on your budget.
Places are plenty around Interlaken and you can go through the websites already mentioned in this thread.
Must watch is Jungfrau, Mt.titlis,Mt platus,Lucerene if possible Zermatt.
Swisss rail pass is very good option and you can book online.
When I booked all these it was quite difficulty to get organised but once the travel plan was in place every thing went on to perfection.
When you book tickets on your own it is like an adventure just try it.
All the fares are on line so you can have a rough estimate.
Food is quite expensive carry a lot of instant foods along .

Last edited by gajadonga : 1st December 2010 at 20:18.
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