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India Travel Tips


Please keep these points in mind while traveling to India to make sure you enjoy your trip without any interruptions.

DOs and DON’Ts while travelling in India

  • It is perfectly safe to travel to India at any time during the year.
  • Try to zero in on some of the important places of interest on your itinerary instead of crowding your travel plan with too may destination tours.
  • It is advisable to read up on the destinations you are planning to visit while travelling in India.
  • Almost every destination in India boasts of a variety of five star and deluxe hotels that feature facilities comparable to those offered by international chains. Also, there are a number of heritage hotels converted from old palaces.
  • There are also several budget, standard, deluxe and luxury hotels besides guesthouses located in different parts of India that are approved by the government’s tourism department.
  • The best period for India travel is during the period from October to March, as tourism is at its peak during these months.
  • It is advisable to ask your agent to arrange for train and road travel while you’re visiting destinations in India. This is perhaps the best way to explore rural India and its many charms.
  • English is a very commonly spoken and understood language in India. But in case you do have trouble getting your message across to locals you can book guides and interpreters from authorized India Tourist Offices.
  • It is advisable to drink bottled water or packaged mineral water during your tour.
  • Make sure you carry all your medication if any while traveling to India along with the prescription from the doctor.
  • It is advisable not to eat very spicy food on your India travel. In fact you may request the hotel staff where you’re staying to take care not to garnish your dishes with a lot of chilli and spices.
  • Please do not feel ill on being stared at by locals. They are generally very helpful though a little curious about tourists who travel to India from different parts of the world.
  • In case you are planning to tour restricted areas such as Arunachal Pradesh you must procure the required permit from an India Tourist office. You may ask your tour agent to arrange for the same.
  • Most of the Banks in India function from Monday to Friday from 1000 hours to 1530 hours.
  • All the post offices in India work from Monday to Friday from 1000 hours to 1630 hours.
  • All the government and administrative offices in India function from 0930 to 1700 hours on weekdays.
  • Always carry your passport and other important travel documents with you.
  • Keep the attested Photostat copies on person and stow away the originals in some safe place.
  • It is not advisable to buy air / rail or travel tickets from unauthorized persons who present themselves as travel agents.
  • Foreign nationals are advised to pay all their bills through credit cards, traveller’s cheques or foreign currency. Indian rupees will only be accepted if you can furnish proof of having exchanged money at an authorized currency exchange center.
  • It is advisable not to hire cars or vehicles from unauthorized personnel or travel operators. The best thing to do in case you require transport would be to ask your approved tour operator to arrange for the vehicle(s).

Information on Custom / Immigration / Visas

  • On arrival in India, tourists are required to obtain a Currency Declaration Form and must fill up the Disembarkation Card. Tourists must also ensure that they make an oral declaration of the baggage they’ve brought along.
  • Tourists who do not have articles that need to go through customs clearance may comfortably go through the Green Channel.
  • Tourists who require customs clearance for goods need to go through the Red Channel.
  • Passengers holding a visa permit for 180 days must acquire a Registration certificate and a residential permit. Four passport size photographs need to be furnished at the time of registration.
  • While leaving the country foreign nationals are required to submit the Certificate of registration at the concerned office.
  • Foreign nationals are required to have a Yellow fever vaccination certificate while traveling to India.

Clothing

  • Travel as light as possible. Clothing and laundry are both quite inexpensive.
  • Women should dress conservatively. Avoid tank tops or short skirts / shorts. The best outfit, especially during the hot summers, is a T-shirt worn with loose cotton trousers. These are comfortable, cool and easily washable. You can purchase them anywhere in India, at very reasonable rates, at any of the street shops. If you are adventurous, wear the Indian 'salwar-kameez'. It is comfortable and free sized, and you will be amazed at the change of attitude among the shopkeepers, pedestrians and taxicab drivers!
  • Do not forget to remove your footwear when visiting a place of worship or mausoleum.

Food And Drink

  • Drink only bottled water. Buy it only from respectable or known outlets. While visiting restaurants, always insist that they bring a sealed bottle to your table.
  • Try Indian Beer - it is quite drinkable.
  • Beef is not served in India. Pork is also not easily available.
  • Eat non-vegetarian food only in good restaurants. The meat in cheaper and smaller places is generally of dubious quality.
  • Vegetarian food is easily available, cheap and of excellent quality.
  • Curd or yoghurt is served with most meals. It is a natural aid to digestion and helps temper the spicy food.

Health Precaution

  • For the first few days it might be advisable to clean your teeth in bottled water.
  • Eat fruit you can peel.
  • Always wash fruit well before eating it.
  • Wash your hands before and after eating.
  • Always keep a tube of mosquito repellent with you.
  • Always carry a kit of the basic emergency medicines you might need for diarrhoea, fever, etc. along with band aids and an antiseptic ointment.
  • If you do catch a bug, do not panic. It will go away in a few days - but try the following tips to keep it down:
    • Drink lassi - a yoghurt drink. It will help tone down the bacteria.
    • Eat plain rice or try a simple khichdi - an easily digestible mixture of rice and lentils.
    • Drink plenty of coconut water. It's cooling, and naturally sterilized!
    • Drink plenty of fluids and take some electrolyte salts if the bug persists.

Sightseeing

  • Dress codes for religious places can include covering your head, being barefoot etc. Ask, so that you don't unwillingly give offence.
  • Some temples do not permit any leather articles at all on their premises.
  • Certain areas of temples are not open to Non-Hindus.
  • Most museums in India are closed on Mondays and Site Museums, those near archaeological monuments, on Fridays.
  • The dry summer heat can drain you completely. Drink lots of water and fluids.
  • The sun is strong. Remember to use sunscreen on exposed parts of the body. Wear sunglasses to screen out harmful rays.
  • Photography is not always permissible, and at many places it is permitted only at a fee. There is usually a higher fee for using a video camera.
  • Smoking is not allowed at all public places.
  • English is spoken at almost all tourist centers, but you can also request Government-trained and approved guides who also speak German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Italian or Russian.

Social Interaction

  • If you are fair-complexioned, blonde or red-haired - and especially if you are female - chances are that you will be stared at continuously, especially in the smaller towns. Don't be offended - they mean no harm, it is just curiosity.
  • Avoid crowds, especially if you are female.
  • Try to avoid shaking hands. Greet people with a 'namaste' (hands pressed together at chest level as if in prayer). You will be appreciated for using the Indian style of greeting.

Shopping

  • Try to shop only in government approved handicraft shops. The prices in such outlets are fixed and the quality is certified. If that is not an option, check the prices at a few shops before making a choice. Bargaining is standard and is enjoyed by all.
  • Get used to the fact that you will probably be charged more than the locals. If possible, take a local along when you go shopping.

Time

  • Everything in India takes time - longer than in most places. So always give yourself extra time for whatever you may have to do - even if it is just a visit to the Post Office or changing money.
  • Indians joke about the concept of "Indian Stretchable Time" (IST). Certainly, if you're a super-punctual sort, India can be frustrating. Make allowances for this.

Toilets

  • In India, public toilet facilities are few and far between, and those that are there should not be ventured into. Take every opportunity you can to use a clean a toilet in places such as hotels and restaurants. Make this a habit wherever you go.

Tipping

  • In hotels and restaurants, tips are not normally included in the bill.
  • Some hotels include service charges on their bills. In such cases tipping is not necessary.
  • The standard tip is 10% but is not mandatory.
  • In hotels, porters and room service attendants are normally tipped at the end of the stay, though an early tip is likely to get you better service.
  • Tipping of taxi drivers is not customary.

Others

  • Keep extra photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport. This will be required for Indian permits.
  • When asking for directions, ask shopkeepers, not pedestrians. Cross-check with at least two people.
  • Taxi and auto-rickshaw fares keep changing and therefore do not always conform to readings on meters. Insist on seeing the latest rate card (available with the driver) and pay accordingly.
  • Insist on the taxi/auto meter being flagged down in your presence.
  • Do not let beggars and street urchins hassle you and do not encourage them by giving them too much money. A five-rupee coin is sufficient.