Travel Tips

wazoo-at-fatehpuri mosque in Old Delhi India Travel for foreigners can be a thrilling experience, but they also need to be well prepared for it. It is advisable not to get beset with fears of living conditions in India. Hotels, especially 5-star ones, are of international standard. The deluxe and Palaces hotels are a world apart, each unique. The hotel below 5 –stare are also available for budget travelers. We would like to inform you that there are enough small budget hotels, Guesthouses, Lodges, Tourist Bungalows and Holiday Resorts available in India, which are neat, clean and safe, and within the desired budget. It is to be mentioned that the rating system for hotels in India is reliable only in the case of five –stars. The quality below this rating fluctuates a great deal and it is often difficult to fathom the standard of a hotel, which is not a five star, from its star rating. It is advisable to make all tour arrangements in advance, especially between the months of October and March (the high tourist season) and in May-June, the Indian tourist season. Here are some travel tips to keep in mind.

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Visa in India

Foreign Nationals desirous of coming into India are required to possess a valid passport of their country and a valid Indian Visa. There is no provision of ‘Visa on Arrival’ in India and no fee is charged for immigration facilities at the airports. Foreign passengers should ensure that they are in possession of valid Indian Visa before they start their journey to India except nationals of Nepal and Bhutan who do not require visa to enter India and nationals of Maldives who do not require visa for entry in India for a period up to 90 days (a separate Visa regime exists for diplomatic/official passport holders). A Tourist Visa is valid for 6 months from the date of issue and is usually a 90-day visa. A Tourist Visa does not permit the holder to do business or academic or research work in India. The Foreign Registration Officer may grant extension of tourist visa.

As per the new visa rules “It has been decided that foreigners holding tourist visas, who after initial entry into India plan to visit another country and re-enter India before finally exiting, may be permitted two or three entries, as the case may be, subject to their submission of a detailed itinerary and supporting documentation (ticket bookings),” . Under the new rules, the visitors have to obtain special permission from the head of the Indian mission in their country and provide certain documents to establish the legitimacy of their return visit. They are also required to register within 14 days with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) if they return within two months of their departure. As per the new visa rules, foreigners visiting India will have to provide an undertaking that they will use the visa for visiting specific places. Moreover, the visa applicant are suppose to tell the Indian visa officer that he will also be traveling to other countries in the region, using India as a hub. The visa will reflect the itinerary of the tourist, affording him more flexibility.

Money Matters in India

Foreign currency above US$ 10000 brought into the country needs to be declared in a Currency Declaration Form. Currency should be changed only at the authorized dealers. Airports, most banks and many hotels fall under this category. They will issue an encashment certificate, which is later required to reconvert local currency into foreign currency. Local currency cannot be legally taken out of the country due to exchange regulations. Banks at International Airports, as well as some authorized moneychangers, are open 24 hours a day. Travellers Cheques in the local currency are a safer option than cash. Credit cards like Visa Card, Master card and American Express card are accepted in many establishments in the major towns and cities. All foreign nationals have to pay their hotel bills in foreign currency or lndian National Rupees in cash, credit card or traveler’s cheques.

Business Hour in India

In the cities, offices are generally open from about 9.30am to 5.30pm on weekdays. Saturdays May be off, half-day or full working days. Banks are open to the public from 10:00a.m. To 2:00p.m. On weekdays and On Saturdays 10:00a.m. To 12:00p.m. Shops open generally at 10.00 A.M. Closing time is usually 7.00 P.M. unlike offices, shops do not invariably close on Sundays. Different areas are closed on different days of the week. The banks in these areas also observe the same day off.

Clothing in India

It is recommended to travel as light as possible. It is advisable to avoid tank tops or short skirts / shorts. In summers T-shirt with loose cotton trousers is the best outfit. These can be purchased from anywhere in India at street shops at reasonable rates. Another good option is to wear the Indian ‘Salwar-Kameez’; these are free sized, comfortable, cool and easily washable. Having worn this traditional Indian wear you will be amazed at the change of attitude among the shopkeepers, pedestrians and taxi drivers!

Food and Drink in India

Use only sealed bottled water for drinking even in restaurants. These are easily available; buy it only from reputed outlets. Indian Beer has earned reputation for its great quality worldwide; try it to observe the same. Beef is not served in India. Pork is also not easily available. It is recommended to eat non-vegetarian food only in good restaurants chicken and mutton is the popular option. The taste of Tandoori Chicken is exotic with Indian spices. Vegetarian food is easily available, cheap, and of excellent quality. India food is generally spicy but to be ordered non-spicy as a choice.

Health Precaution in India

It is strongly recommended to drink sealed bottled water always. 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 antiseptic ointment. If you do catch a bug, do not panic. It is easily curable; consult any local MBBS doctor available at tourist cities easily.

Social Interaction in India

If you are fair complexioned or blonde and female you will be stared at continuously in the smaller towns. Don’t be offended – they mean no harm, it is just curiosity. Female tourists should avoid crowds and shaking hands. It is advisable to greet people with a ‘namaste’ (hands pressed together at chest level as if in prayer). Locals will appreciate it. Couples should avoid kissing, hugging, cuddling and fondling in public. Do not forget to remove your footwear when visiting a place of worship.

Shopping in India

The traveler should shop in government handicraft shops for fixed price and certified quality. In case shopping elsewhere check the prices at few shops before making a choice. In India 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 in India

In India everything takes time, longer than other places. So always give yourself extra time for whatever you may have to do – even it is just a visit to the Post Office or changing money. In case you are super-punctual sort, India can be frustrating. Make allowances for this.

Toilets in India

In India, public toilet facilities are few and difficult to trace. It is recommended to 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 India

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% of the bill total. 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 if hired for short duration.

Beggars in India

Bagging in India has been shaped up as an organized racket as the professional baggers cropped up at religious places, tourist spots and metropolitan cities over the period of time. The government of India has been trying hard to get rid of this menace. Do not show pity to see small kids indicating that they are hungry, fake pregnant women praying to help them and baggers with fake wounds. They all are the part of bagging racket governed by bagging mafias. If you are interested in charity do it at proper place, there are so many NGOs working at several levels to serve the humanity. Do not let the baggers harass you and do not encourage them by giving them money. If need be a one-rupee coin is sufficient.

Sightseeing in India

Dress codes for religious places can include covering your head, being barefoot etc. You should ask or follow the locals to avoid any unwilling offence. Some temples do not permit any leather articles at all on their premises. There are certain areas of temples that are not open to Non-Hindus. 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. Most museums in India are closed on Mondays and Site Museums, those near archaeological monuments, on Fridays.

Adventure & Holiday Tourism in India

India is the ultimate destination of the tourist in search of adventure such as trekking mountaineering; rock climbing, camel safari, elephant safari, desert safaris and white-water rafting are some of the exciting possibilities. For the tourist in search of fun or sports holiday, there is skiing, scuba diving and underwater coral viewing, angling, wild life and bird viewing. For the sportsman there are golf, tennis, badminton, riding, polo, swimming and motor rallies etc. Tourist who are in search of Sun, sea and surf, there are Beaches on the western & eastern coasts. The larger ones provide water sports and an unforgettable holiday.

Prohibited Articles in India

The import of certain articles such as dangerous drugs, live plants, gold coins, gold and silver bullion and silver coins not in current use. The law provides heavy penalties for infringement of this restriction. The export of antiquities and art objects more than 100 years old from India is banned. Skins of all animals, snakes etc. and the articles made thereof used or unused, as personal baggage, whether accompanied or unaccompanied are banned.

Export of Articles in India

Re-export of all articles, in full, brought into India temporarily with the permission of custom authorities. The following articles can be exported without any export trade control restrictions:

a) All articles including travel souvenirs brought in from outside the country by the tourist.

b) Souvenirs including Indian silk, wool and art ware etc.

c) Arms & ammunition for personal use.

d) Articles made of peacock feathers in reasonable quantities.

e) Gold Jewellery: Any person not ordinarily resident in India may take out from India Jewellery made mainly or wholly of gold without limit provided that the Jewellery was previously brought by him into India from abroad, with the permission of the Customs authorities.

Income Tax Clearance in India

All visitors who are not domiciled in India are exempted from income-tax clearance certificates at the time of leaving the country provided that the total period spent in India does not exceed 90 days and that they were not engaged in gainful employment. All other visitors are required to obtain an income-tax clearance exemption certificate from the Foreign Section of the Income Tax Department in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai.

Others precautions in India

It is advisable to keep the extra photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport and visa always, as you might need it at different destinations for various purposes such as by hotels and for local mobile connection. This is also required for Indian permits. Carry original with you while traveling around. When asking for directions, ask shopkeepers, not pedestrians. Crosscheck 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. Mugging is not a common crime in India, but tourist should guard against pick pocketing, bag-snatching and eve-teasing. A few precautions should be sufficient to ensure your safety. In case you need to make a report to the police, obtain a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) and keep it with you. Foreigners can always get in touch with their respected Embassy or High Commission in New Delhi, if needed.

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