In the West, we're used to renting a car with fixed prices and without worrying about how many kilometers we'll put on it. That's typically not how things work on the Indian Subcontinent, at least when it comes to hiring a car with a driver.

Most car rental quotes in India aren't all-inclusive

How most transport operators work in India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal

Instead, most transport operators will ask for your itinerary and then manually put together a quote. Underlying the quote will be assumptions about the hours and kilometers that you'll be using the vehicle. Operators generally assume a vehicle will be driven during the daytime and for no more than eight hours a day. To come up with a price, they'll employ a per kilometer rate, multiply it by the estimated mileage, and make manual adjustments to account for road conditions, elevation changes, and the number of passengers. They'll also factor in whether you're being picked up or dropped off at an airport, to account for airport fees.

As charges are incurred during your trip, your driver will pay them off with money provided by his employer. If hourly or mileage limits are exceeded, your driver will keep track of that too. At the end of your trip, you'll be presented with a final bill to settle, net of whatever you paid upfront. Since parking, tolls, and local taxes are almost never included in the upfront quote, what you'll be asked to pay at the end will invariably be more than  you were quoted upfront, even if you didn't trigger any of the various extra fees mentioned above.

Your driver will generally pay for incidentals along the way and add them to your final bill

As an aside, there are some operators that will significantly discount their quotes to international tourists with the intention of making commissions from shops and showrooms along the way. So if you are comparing quotes and get one that is substantially lower than the others, be wary.

Why not go through a local aggregator?

In recent years, local aggregators like MakeMyTrip and Savaari have made it much easier to hire a taxi in India without going through an operator. While these services are very economical, there are several reasons why they may not be right for you, including:

  1. Your driver will likely not speak English. These services are built for locals, not for international visitors.

  2. You may need to split your trip into segments (airport transfers versus local usage versus outstation) and book each individually. Expect the car and driver to be different each time.

  3. Quality is variable. Operators that work with aggregators do so at razor thin margins to prevent their vehicles from sitting idle. Clients that come through an aggregator are typically not their top priority.

  4. You won't have a direct line for assistance. Read customer reviews on 3rd party websites to see what experiences people have had contacting customer service at these aggregators.

  5. Local aggregators aren't really an option in Sri Lanka or Nepal.

Being rushed through a trip by your driver (who's focused on their next fare) is a common complaint in South Asia 

What makes Stayfari different?

At Stayfari, we use technology to enhance the experience of our customers, and not just to drive down costs. Our customers are international travelers to South Asia. Many of them have been to or even lived in India, Sri Lanka, or Nepal. But some are visiting the Indian Subcontinent for the first time. In addition to vacationers, we get plenty of folks traveling for business or to visit family.

As such, we work with only the best drivers and operators who consistently meet our standards. This makes our prices sometimes higher than those of local aggregators, but very competitive for international standards.

In addition, we simplify things for our customers in a number of ways:

  1. Our instantly generated quotes are all-inclusive of tolls, parking, taxes and any fees. Unless you add a day or a significant detour to your itinerary, the quote you get upfront is all you'll be asked to pay.

  2. We do away with hourly and per kilometer rates. You're free to use the vehicle at any time of day, for as long as you want. Within any city along your itinerary, your mileage is unlimited.

  3. You'll have a dedicated English-speaking driver and air-conditioned vehicle for your entire trip. Drivers are competitively salaried and provided an extra allowance to pay for their room and board on nights spent away from home.

  4. We do not make money on your trip aside from charging you for our services. We incentivize operators, drivers and local guides to do the same.

  5. All payments are made securely online, either by credit card, PayPal, or Apple Pay. We charge 50% of your total upfront and the balance is due halfway through your trip.

  6. During our trip, we're just a WhatsApp, text message, email, or phone call away. We respond swiftly to resolve any issues or handle any changes in your plan.

  7. Cancellations made at least 72 hours before pickup are refunded in full, no questions asked. Late cancellations are refunded to the best of our ability without being unfair to drivers.

  8. We obsess over customer feedback, using it to continously improve the services we provide. Please read our reviews on Trustpilot to see what our customers have had to say.

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We think the the service we offer matches what visitors to South Asia want and expect. To decide for yourself, why not generate an instant quote today?