Travel as light as possible. Clothing and laundry are both quite inexpensive.
It is recommended for women to avoid tank tops / short skirts / shorts in religious places. The best outfit, especially during the hot summers, is a T-shirt worn with loose cotton trousers. You can purchase them anywhere in India, at very reasonable rates, at any of the shops. Adventurous ladies can try wearing the Indian “Salwar-Kameez”. It is comfortable and free-sized.
If you give the impression of being from a different country, chances are that you might be stared at – especially in the smaller towns. Do not be offended – they mean no harm. It is just curiosity!
In India, public toilet facilities are few and far between. Take every opportunity you can to use a clean toilet in places such as hotels and restaurants. Make this a habit wherever you go. In big cities, you may find toilets on streets which can be used on payment of a small sum. These are acceptable for use.
Do not let them hassle you, and do not encourage them by giving them money.
Food & Drink
Drink only bottled water. Many popular brands are available. In restaurants, insist that they bring a sealed bottle to your table. Beef is not served in many parts of India. Pork is also not easily available. Eat non-vegetarian food only in good restaurants. The meat is cheaper in smaller places, but can be of dubious quality. Good quality vegetarian food is easily available and best. Curd or Yogurt is served with most meals. It is a natural aid to digestion and helps temper the spicy food.
In India, the unit of currency is the Rupee (Re) divided into 100 Paise (p). Change money at Banks / Authorized Dealers only (Airports, Hotels etc). Avoid changing money on the streets.In most cities, you can change most major foreign currencies and brands of Travelers’ Cheques at local banks or hotels.Most big cities have ATMs which accept both Visa and MasterCard as well as American Express. The ATM network is ever expanding and in some states, you can find them even in some smaller towns. Credit Cards are accepted at most shops, hotels, restaurants, establishments etc.
India is a “shopper’s dream” From clothes to jewelry, there is something for everyone! The following places are mentioned for their specialty:
- DELHI – Small Artifacts, Kashmir Rugs, Woven & Silk Carpets.
- AGRA – Marble Inlay Work.
- JAIPUR – Jewelry, Precious Stones, Carpets and Textiles
- VARANASI – Silk
The guide would assist you with the shopping at shops that are reliable. These may be slightly more expensive but you can assured of quality products. Large shops will generally ship your products back home and can be trusted. Get used to the fact that you will probably be charged more than the locals. A little bargaining is fun and does not hurt!!
In India, Tipping is normal practice. Stack up on small denomination note bills for drivers , houseboys, staff at hotels, restaurants, airport, restaurants, spas etc.Some hotels include Service Charges on their bills. In such cases tipping is not necessary. In hotels and restaurants where Service Charges have not been included in your bill, tipping is normal practice. The standard tip is 10% of the bill amount in hotels, porters and room service attendants are normally tipped at the end of the stay. Tipping of taxi drivers is not customary.
Dress codes for religious places can include covering your head, being barefoot etc. Please ask, so that you don’t unwittingly give offence.Some Temples do not permit any leather articles at all on their premises.Certain Temples (very few) are not open to non-Hindus. Please check with the local Agent or our Driver who will advise you on this.Most Museums in India are closed on Mondays and Site Museums, those near archaeological monuments, are closed 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 on payment of a Fee. There is usually a higher Fee for using a video camera.
Smoking is not allowed at public places. All properties of the Indian Railways including trains and railway stations are strictly non smoking zones with stiff penalties for violations.
English is spoken at almost all tourist centers, but one can also request Government-trained and approved Guides who also speak German, French, Spanish, Italian etc.
- Always drink bottled water.
- Eat fruit which you can peel.
- Always wash fruit well before eating it.
- Always keep a tube of mosquito repellent with you.
- Always carry a kit of the basic emergency medicines you might need for diarrhea, fever, etc. Also, 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 yogurt drink. It will help tone down the bacteria.
- Eat plain rice, or try 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.
- Try and eat Psyllium husk (Isabgol) with water / coconut water.
Everything in India takes time – longer than in most 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.Indians joke about the concept of “Indian Stretchable Time” (I.S.T). Certainly, if you’re a super-punctual sort, India can be frustrating. Make allowances for this.
Keep extra photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport as well as a couple of extra photographs of yourselves. These will be required for filling up permits, forms etc. if required.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.