India Travel Tips
VISAS:
VISA IS COMPULSORY TO TRAVEL TO INDIA.


CURRENCY:
ALL PORTS OF ENTRY IN THE COUNTRY HAVE A 24-HOURS BANK EXCHANGE COUNTER IMMEDIATELY AFTER CUSTOMS AND IMMIGRATION. KEEP THE ENCASHMENT CERTIFICATE THAT ARE GIVEN BY HOTELS / BANKS WHEN YOUR CONVERT FOREIGN CURRENCY INTO RUPEES. RUPEES SO CONVERTED, AS EVIDENCE BY THE ENCASHMENT CERTIFICATES, ARE DEEMED TO BE FOREIGN EXCHANGE WHEN PAYING LOCAL BILLS. ( SOME HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS ACCEPT PAYMENT ONLY IN FOREIGN EXCHANGE FROM TOURISTS ). THESE ARE ALSO NECESSARY FOR CONVERTING THE RUPEES INTO FOREIGN CURRENCY WHEN YOU RETURN. CASH WITHDRAWALS ON CREDIT FROM DISPENSING MACHINES SHOULD NOT BE RELIED ON FOR FUNDS.

HEALTHCARE:
AVOID DRINKING TAP WATER AND TAKING ICE IN DRINKS. STICK TO BOTTLED WATER ( OR BOILED / UV TREATED WATER AVAILABLE AT THE HOTELS ) AND ENSURES THAT THE SEAL IS OPENED BY YOU / IN YOUR PRESENCE. AERATED WATER ( BOTTLED SOFT DRINKS ) ARE FINE. EAT MODERATELY FOR THE FIRST FEW DAYS. ALLOW YOUR SYSTEM TO GET USED TO THE CHANGES. YOGURT ( LOCALLY CALLED “ CURD “ ) IS ADVISABLE FOR WEAK CONSTITUTIONS OR AFTER A HOT CURRY.

WE RECOMMEND YOU TO CARRY WITH YOU A SMALL SUPPLY OF BASIC HEALTH CARE MEDICATION SUCH AS A TRAVEL SICKNESS TABLETS, ANTI-DIARRHEA TABLETS, INSECT REPELLENT, SUN CREAMS AND GENERAL PURPOSE ANTIBIOTIC. ALTHOUGH MOST OF THESE ITEMS ARE AVAILABLE IN INDIA , THE SECURITY PROVIDED BY BRANDS ONE IS USED TO, REASSURING. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT ALL TRAVELERS ARE PROPERLY INSURED FOR THE HOLIDAY. IF YOU HAVE TAKEN YOUR OWN TRAVEL INSURANCE, PLEASE CHECK THAT IT INCLUDES REPATRIATION COSTS

CLOTHING:

DURING THE DAY IT IS BEST TO WEAR LIGHT , COMFORTABLE COTTONS WITH A PAIR OF GOOD VENTILATED WALKING SHOES( OPEN-TOED SANDALS LET IN DUST AND PEBBLES AND COTTONS SOCKS ). FOR THE SIGHTSEEING SESSION YOU MAY FIND A GOOD PAIR OF SUNGLASSES AND SUN-HAT HANDY. AT SOME OF THE MONUMENTS/ TEMPLES. MOSQUES, IT IS ADVISABLE TO AVOID SLEEVELESS TOPS AND SHORTS SKIRTS. YOUR MAY ALSO BE ASKED TO REMOVE YOUR SHOES: IN SUCH CASES STOCKINGS ARE USEFUL.

LAUNDRY:
MOST HOTELS AND RESORT OFFER SAME DAYS LAUNDRY SERVICE. A PORTABLE IRON CAN BE HANDY WHEN PRESSED FOR TIME. IN REMOTE AREAS LAUNDRY SERVICE MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE.

SHOPPING:

INDIA PROVIDES SPLENDID OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE SHOPPER ESPECIALLY FOR SKILL AND COTTON, GEMSTONES, CARPETS, BED LINEN, HANDICRAFTS IN ALL TYPES OF MEDIUM, MINIATURE PAINTINGS AND MUCH MORE. IF ASKED OUR LOCAL AGENTS WILL ADVISE ON WHERE BEST TO BUY PARTICULAR ITEMS. WHEN PURCHASING AN EXPENSIVE ITEM, ALWAYS CHECK THE LEVEL OF DUTY PAYABLE IN YOUR COUNTRY ON THE IMPORT. PLEASE REMEMBER VAT IS PAYABLE ON ALL GOODS DEPENDING UPON THE PRICE.

EXPORTING ITEMS LIKE IVORY, FUR, ANIMAL SKINS, ANTIQUITIES ETC. IS ILLEGAL. IF YOU MUST HAVE IT, OBTAIN A CERTIFICATE OF LEGITIMATE SALE AND PERMISSION FOR EXPORT BEFORE LEAVING THE COUNTRY. IF YOU DON'T SEE WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR IN A STORE, ASK THE STORE KEEPER, MOST STORES HAVE LITTLE DISPLAY SPACE.

VISIT THE VARIOUS STATE EMPORIA AND THE CENTRAL COTTAGE INDUSTRIES EMPORIUM (MOST MAJOR CITIES HAVE ONE LIKE DELHI, CALCUTTA, MUMBAI, CHENNAI, BANGALORE, HYDERABAD ETC.) THE PRICES HERE ARE FIXED AND WILL GIVE YOU A FAIR IDEA OF THE COST WITH A REGULAR DEALER.

BE PREPARED FOR THE OCCASIONAL PRESSURE SELLING FROM SOME GUIDES/ DRIVERS. ALTHOUGH THEY WILL GENERALLY TAKE YOU TO RESPECTABLE ESTABLISHMENT OFFERING REASONABLE QUALITY LIKELY THAT THEY HAVE VESTED INTEREST. IF YOU ARE NOT INTERESTED, AND IF THE GUIDE/ DRIVER IS PARTICULARLY INSISTENT, DO NOT HESITATE TO REFUSE AND BRING IT TO THE ATTENTION OF OUR ASSOCIATE OFFICES/ AGENTS IN INDIA. HOWEVER, PLEASE NOTE THAT WE, OR ANY OF THE ASSOCIATE OFFICES AND AGENTS IN INDIA, ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY SHOPPING AND RELATED PROBLEMS, ALTHOUGH WE ASSURE YOU OF ANY HELP THAT WE CAN PROVIDE.

NEVER, NEVER BELIEVE THE TOUTS (THEY HANG AROUND THE TOURIST-Y SPOTS AND CITIES) WHO PROMISE TO TAKE YOU TO THE BEST SHOP AROUND AND GET YOU THE BEST BARGAIN. THEY USUALLY HAVE THEIR HANDSOME COMMISSIONS BUILT INTO THE COST. USE YOUR LOCAL GUIDE TO HELP YOU IN SHOPPING.


VOLTAGE:

THE ELECTRIC VOLTAGE IN INDIA IS 220 VOLTS. MOST ENGLISH APPLIANCES WORK WELL IN INDIA BUT A UNIVERSAL ADAPTER IS NEEDED. MANY DELUXE HOTELS PROVIDE HAIR DRYERS BUT IT IS ADVISABLE TO CARRY YOUR OWN, IF YOU USE ONE REGULARLY.

TIPPING & GIFTS:

TIPPING IS COMMON, PARTICULARLY IF YOU ARE HAPPY WITH THE SERVICE. PLEASE NOTE THAT TIPS ARE IN ADDITION TO (AND NOT THE SAME) PORTER AGE, WHICH UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED, IS INCLUDED IN YOUR HOLIDAY PRICE. SOME SUGGESTED AMOUNTS FOR TIPPING ARE:

DRIVERS/ REPRESENTATIVES WHO HELP YOU WITH THE ASSISTANCE FOR TRANSFERS RS. 100 - 150
BELL BOY WHO CARRY YOUR BAGGAGE TO YOUR ROOM RS. 30- 75
DRIVERS/ GUIDES FOR HALF DAY/ FULL DAY SIGHTSEEING TRIPS RS. 200 - 250
DRIVERS/ GUIDES FOR LONG TRIPS SPREAD OVER MANY DAYS RS. 150 - 200 PER TRAVELER/ DAY
THE ABOVE AMOUNTS ARE MAINLY INDICATIVE. IT IS OFTEN CUSTOMARY TO PAY HIGHER SUMS DEPENDING UPON THE QUALITY OF SERVICE.

WAITERS IN RESTAURANTS (IF SERVICE CHARGE NOT INCLUDED ) 5 - 10% OF BILLED AMOUNT .

IF VISITING A VILLAGE A SUPPLY OF PENCILS OR CHOCOLATES COME IN HANDY TO DISTRIBUTE AMONG THE CURIOUS CHILDREN WHO MAY FOLLOW YOU BUT YOU NEED TO BE CAREFUL IN CASE THE CHILDREN OUT NUMBER PENCILS OR CHOCOLATES


TRAVELING TIPS

GET YOUR DOMESTIC TICKETS DONE IN ADVANCE AND SAVE SOME PRECIOUS ENERGY AND TIME. ALSO, THERE ARE 'PEAK' SEASONS WHEN TICKETS AREN'T AVAILABLE. SO, BETTER NOT TAKE CHANCES. COME PREPARED FOR DELAYS, ESPECIALLY WHILE FLYING IN NORTH INDIA DURING WINTERS. SMOG ENVELOPS CITIES AND TAKE-OFFS ARE IMPOSSIBLE SOMETIMES FOR HOURS. PICKPOCKETERS ANT AROUND ESPECIALLY AT CROWDED HAUNTS LIKE AIRPORTS, RAILWAY STATION OR EVEN SOME POPULAR MARKETS AND TOURIST SPOTS. WEAR AN INNER MONEY BELT.

FARES FOR TAXIS AND AUTO-RICKSHAWS CHANGE FREQUENTLY AND DO NOT ALWAYS CONFORM TO THE METER READING. ASK FOR THE LATEST OFFICIAL FARE-CONVERSION TARIFF-CARD. FLEECING IS COMMON SO JUST KEEP YOUR COOL AND ACT SMART !

TRAINS ARE A CHEAPER TRAVEL OPTION FOR LONG DISTANCES AND SAVES YOU OVERNIGHT HOTEL EXPENSES. MOREOVER, IT IS A LOT OF FUN....A GREAT CHANCE TO SEE THE COUNTRYSIDE AND MINGLE WITH THE LOCALS.

THE LICENSED YELLOW & BLACK TAXIS PLYING IN MOST TOWNS AND CITIES ARE METERED. JUST INCASE YOU ARE TOLD THAT THE METER DOESN'T WORK, FIX A FARE BEFORE RIDING WITH HIM. YOU CAN ASK THE HOTEL DESK, YOUR GUIDE OR A LOCAL FOR AN APPROXIMATE FARE TO YOUR DESTINATION.

DON’T HIRE CAB WITH PRIVATE NUMBER. I.E. WHITE PLATE CARS THESE ARE ILLEGAL TAXIS, YOU WILL BE NOT INSURED IN THESE CARS, HIRE CARS ONLY IF IT HAS YELLOW PLATES, YELLOW PLATE CARS ARE LICENSED TAXIS.

NEVER LEAVE AN UNLOCKED SUITCASE IN A HOTEL ROOM OR AN UNATTENDED ONE ON AIRPORTS/ TRAIN STATIONS.

PHOTOGRAPHY COULD BE AN ISSUE AT SOME PLACES. FOR PLACES OF MILITARY IMPORTANCE LIKE RAILWAY STATIONS, BRIDGES, AIRPORTS, DEFENSE INSTALLATIONS AND SENSITIVE BORDER REGIONS, YOU WOULD REQUIRE TO SEEK PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHORITIES CONCERNED.

REMOVE YOUR SHOES BEFORE ENTERING TEMPLES, IN SIKH TEMPLE YOU HAVE TO COVER YOUR HEAD WITH SCARF. SOME TEMPLES PROHIBIT PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE MAIN HALL AND THE INNER SANCTUM. USUALLY, SIGNBOARDS ANNOUNCE THIS. BE PRUDENT AND ASK IF THERE ARE NO SUCH INDICATIONS. SOME TEMPLES AND OTHER MONUMENTS LEVY A FEE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY.

IN A BUDDHIST MONASTERY, REMEMBER TO FOLLOW A CLOCKWISE DIRECTION WHILE ANY SORT OF MOVEMENT FROM SPINNING PRAYER WHEELS TO WALKING AROUND THE STUPA OR EVEN THE EXTERIORS. SIT ON THE STEPS OUTSIDE OR ON THE FLOOR. IF YOU GET TO MEET A RIMPOCHE (HEAD LAMA) OR ANY RESPECTED MONK, IT'S POLITE NOT TO TURN ONE'S BACK ON HIM WHILE LEAVING. IT IS DECENT TO REMOVE THE HAT AND LOWER AN UMBRELLA WITHIN THE MONASTERY.

CARRY SMALL CHANGE - YOU'LL NEED IT OFTEN FOR PEOPLE WHO HELP YOU WITH LITTLE THINGS LIKE THOSE WHO KEEP YOUR SHOES OUTSIDE TEMPLES/MOSQUES ETC.


WOMEN TRAVELERS TIPS

BE FRIENDLY BUT DON'T GET FRIENDLY, ESPECIALLY WITH THOSE SERVICING YOU IN HOTELS, TRAINS OR EVEN YOUR CABBIE OR COOLIE. DON'T WEAR ANYTHING THAT ATTRACTS GLANCES. IN METROS LIKE DELHI, MUMBAI ETC., IT IS OK TO DRESS WESTERN BUT IN SMALLER CITIES AND TOWNS, SHORT SKIRTS, TIGHT PANTS OR BLOUSES CAN MAKE YOU STAND OUT IN THE CROWD. DRESS SOBER - LOOSE AND LONG CLOTHES THAT NEITHER DEFINE BODY SHAPE NOR EXPOSE IT.

NEVER ACCEPT A RIDE TO.. ANYWHERE. IF THERE'S SOMEONE ACCOMPANYING THE DRIVER IN A TAXI OR AN AUTO-RICKSHAW KEEP YOUR HOTEL ROOM LOCKED WHILE YOU ARE INSIDE. CHAIN LOCKING YOUR HOTEL ROOM DOOR IS A SMART PRECAUTION.

SAFETY TIPS

CARRY YOUR PASSPORT, TRAVELERS CHEQUES, MONEY, CARDS ETC. IN AN INNER SHIRT/JEANS POCKET.
TURN YOUR ALARM SENSORS ON WHEN IN CROWDED PLACES LIKE AIRPORTS, RAILWAYS STATIONS ETC. WATCH FOR FACES THAT ARE ALWAYS LURK IN A RADIUS OF 10 FEET.