Travel Tips for India

Quick Facts

  • : 1.21 Billion (2011 Census)
  • : New Delhi
  • : 72% Indo-Aryan, 25% Dravidian, 3% Mongoloid & other
  • : Hindi (official) plus 12 other official languages and over 1600 dialects
  • : 79.8% Hindu, 14.2% Muslim, 2.3% Christian, 1.7% Sikh, 0.7% Buddhismm, 0.4% Jainism, 0.9%% others
  • : Indian rupee (₹) (INR)
  • : GMT plus 5 hours & 30 minutes
  • : Left
  • : +91
  • : 220-240V, 50 Hz

What to Take
As little as possible, you can buy just about everything when you are out there. Perhaps the only area in which buying in India is neither cheaper nor easily available is technical equipment (i.e. found in camping/trekking shops, although in Nepal, these abound).
What to Wear
Bare minimum - if you buy out there, you blend in better anyway. During winter months in the North and the highlands in the South do get cold at night, but at all other times light weight cotton is best. Respect their culture, discreet clothing for women especially. For foot wear - comfortable sandals are all you need.
Best Time to Go/Climate
India's climate varies enormously from region to region and from season to season. While southern India basks in a reasonably constant tropical climate, the temperatures in the Rajasthan desert can vary from 50 degrees Celsius in May and June to 0 degrees Celsius at night in January. Monsoons bring torrential rain to most areas between June and August.
India offers a range of delectable cuisine. Traditional Indian food is normally too spicy for the western palate. However, many restaurants and hotels all over the country provide buffet meals, which are a combination of Indian and Continental, food. At a la Carte restaurants, you may also ask for a less spicy platter to suit your taste.
India is known all over the world for its arts, handicrafts, cotton & silk fabrics, carpets, ethnic jewelry, Object D'art etc. Also, a wide variety of international branded products are available in selected showrooms, priced at approximately 30 to 40% less than the European market.
All over the country (including the smaller towns) phone booths are available. All these booths carry a signboard with ISD / STD / PCO written on them. Here you may make metered calls to any part of the world. However, these calls are to be paid for in cash (no credit cards). All hotels have direct international dial facilities, which cost about double the price of a normal metered call.
E-Mail/ Internet
Now huge in India, particularly on all well trodden travelers paths. Connection can be slow but you will rarely fail to find a selection of Internet cafes. Good tip is to duplicate records of Travellers Cheque numbers, passport and plane details, etc. on your email accounts
Credit Cards
American Express, Master Card, Visa and Diners Club credit cards are generally accepted by large establishments including hotels, shops, and airlines.
Indian Customs
Bringing in large quantities of gold, currency, electronic items, animal products and drugs are banned by Indian customs. Before you enter India, you will be given an Immigration Form to fill in details on dutiable items being carried by you.
Reporting time for Domestic and International flights
For domestic flights, reporting time is 1 hour before departure. For all international flights reporting time is 3 hours before departure. Many International Airlines require a reconfirmation of the flight 72 hours before departure. No reconfirmation is required for domestic flights.
If ever you land in trouble, contact Embassy and nearest Police Station. In an Indian Police Station always speak with the Senior Inspector in Charge even if you have to wait couple of hours. ln case of complaints against taxi or auto rickshaw for overcharging or cheating, note down the number of the vehicle and lodge a report with Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic). You can get the Contact Phone Nos in Telephone Directory.

Do's and Don'ts

  • Besides the originals, a copy of your passport, travel visas, airline tickets and travel documents. A list of any charge or credit cards you are carrying. Remember to keep the copies separate from the originals.
  • An International Driving License, which can be obtained through the Automobile Association. Even if you are not planning to drive, bring your driver's license with photo for identification.
  • Consider purchasing special Travel insurance and medical evaluation plan programmes.
  • Avoid drinking water from an unknown source. When in doubt ask for "Bisleri, Kinley, Aqua Fina, Himalaya, etc" mineral water (check the seal). As a further precaution bring water purifying tablets.
    Overnight stay at the Resort.
  • As in any location, there are those who steal from others, so follow the same rules of safety that you follow traveling anywhere else with respect to using hotel lock boxes, and keeping travel documents safe. When in public places, keep them in your hotel or with you all the time when moving about.
  • Men: Don't carry a traditional wallet with you, the kind you put in your (front or back). Women: Avoid keeping valuables in a purse, which can be easily snatched off your shoulder. Consider using an "interior wallet", the kind that is fastened around your neck, draped from a belt loop or worn, with a Velcro fastener, around the calf or ankle. All three kinds are concealed underneath clothing.
  • Taxis (cabs)/Auto Rickshaw (3 wheeler) are available from all hotels, and you negotiate the rate before commencing your journey. Use only authorized, properly identified taxis and buses. Avoid taxis that pick up additional passengers. Don't accept an offer to share a taxi to your hotel unless you know the individual.
  • Beware of imposter porters or guides. Assure they are properly uniformed or identified. Never leave your luggage, briefcase or other items unattended.
  • Train Journey: The image of the Indian Railways is rated poor with common complaints being making reservations is difficult or that the signage is only in Hindi. But the screaming need is for cleaning up the place or that it is just too dirty for comfort. Avoid traveling in the Second Class. The voltage used is 220 volts (the U.S. uses 120 volts). You can purchase a converter at most hardware stores for appliances that do not switch to 220V.Current Spikes are common in India so use a spike buster.
  • There are some areas in India where malaria is still prevalent. Prior to your departure, get a prescription from your doctor for some anti malarial tablets. Pharmacies or chemists are available in every little town and village and you can buy medication. In case you need to see a doctor for a specific condition, ask for help from your hotel (most have doctors on call) or your tour operator. The cost of visiting a doctor is fairly low(less than a dollar) compared to western countries. Do remember to bring some insect repellent, mosquito coils or even an electronic repellent. Mosquitoes in India can be fierce.
  • Avoid foods which have been laid out in the open, avoid sweets and candies from local markets. Wash fruits before eating them.
  • Do carry sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat.
  • Always respect religious shrines and places of worship, Some places require visitors to observe a decent dress code. Take care not to violate any taboos in a mosque or a temple.
  • Change currency only from official moneychangers. Remember to retain the currency Exchange receipts after each transaction. You will need them for re-exchange on departure.
  • Tipping is a matter of personal discretion. Although bills normally include a service charge, it is customary to tip in restaurants and other places that cater to tourists.
  • Photography is prohibited in places of military importance, railway stations, bridges, airports and military installations.


To allow yourselves the opportunity to meet people from all the different echelons of Indian society use a variety of train classes. On the faster day trains there are air-conditioned chair cars which have reclining, padded individual seats. For most train journeys use second class reserved carriages, normally fan cooled though not always air-conditioned. Each partitioned unit has padded sleeping berths for 6 people, which become seating during the day.

Have you ever wondered where the old buses of the world go when they are no longer needed? Traveling on the remote back roads of India is the answer. The windows may not close, the suspension may be on its last legs and the seats missing much of their stuffing but this is how the locals travel and what a wonderful way to meet them. On the major routes buses are more modern and in some cases it is even possible to reserve seats.

Auto Rickshaws
These three-wheeled vehicles are by far the best way to get around the larger cities. Noisy, Suspension free and driven by frustrated formula one driver who screams around the city like a swarm of angry hornets.

Cycle Rickshaws
The same as for autos but they move slower.