Dos and Don'ts for India Travel
Planning and packing
All foreign nationals need a valid passport and visa to enter India. Visit the Indian embassy in your country for visa and other travel related documents required to enter India.
Ensure you have all the relevant documents necessary for the duration of your India-vacation plan before you leave home. Take time out to 'know' the tour plan details and additional activities that are included or can be accommodated upon request: pack garments, footwear and accessories appropriate for these. Getting some background information on India and the particular place that you are planning to visit is quite a good idea.
Pack clothes that are made of natural fibers to allow a certain level of 'breathability' for your skin; India being a tropical country is never short of sunshine and sweat in most regions except the hills. Nylon fabrics are best avoided unless visiting cold regions in India or planning a winter visit. Plan your itinerary properly before packing things for the trip. Cotton for summer, woolens for winter and rain gear for the monsoon travels. It is always handy to carry a cap, a thin shawl, rubber slippers and umbrella.
Documents and important phone numbers
Take care of your documents. Take a note of all the important phone numbers of places you might plan to visit. Important phone numbers like ambulance, local police station, embassy's number etc should always be with you. Always keep copies of your passport, visa paper and other important documents with you. It is also handy to have a set of passport photos with you.
There are some areas in the North and North-East that are restricted to foreign tourists. Please check with the nearest India government office for more information and entry - permit regulations. Avoid visiting Kashmir in the extreme north as well as areas in the extreme north-east.
Exchange money through authorized banks or money changers. Insist on receipts while exchanging money. All foreign nationals can use credit cards, traveler’s cheques or foreign currency for the payment of all their bills. However, they may use Indian rupees in case they can furnish proof of having exchanged money legally.
In India, the wall-outlet has electricity at 220 volts AC @50 Hz, it is the same as Great Britain. The voltage might fluctuate a lot, and especially so during the summer. Carry voltage converters if you have some electric equipment, which requires DC or different voltages than 220 V AC.
Change of travel plan
If you desire to make any changes in your itinerary or to domestic tickets in India, consult your travel agent for the best advice. Never ever purchase air/ rail/ bus tickets through strangers or unauthorized travel agents/ tour operators, also known as touts. They are not at all reliable. Buy tickets from the authorized centers only. It is advisable not to hire any type of transportation from unlicensed operators.
Export of wild life and products are strictly regulated and many items are banned. Insist on proper documents during purchase transaction of such products to avoid inconvenience during departure. Don't buy antiques more than 100 years old. Selling and buying "shahtoosh" shawls is a crime. The same goes for ivory and wildlife.
Medication, Precaution and Food
Do take care to get properly immunized against diseases like hepatitis, malaria, dengue, typhoid and tetanus. If you are under medication, carry your own medicines and also a copy of your doctor’s prescription. It is highly recommended to drink bottled water. Tap water should always be avoided. If bottled water is not available, make sure that water is properly boiled in sterilized containers. To quench thirst, coconut water is the safest drink when water is not available. Avoid eating from roadside shops. They might be tasty and tempting but they might not suit the western appetite. Avoid eating pre-cut fruits and vegetables unless it is cut in front of you immediately before consumption.
Social and cultural etiquette
The namaste, the greeting with folded hands, is the Indian form of salutation and its use will be appreciated, though men, especially in the cities, will not hesitate to shake hands with you if you are a man. If somebody has invited you home for dinner, carry with you a box of sweets or at least a chocolate bar for the kid. According to Indian tradition, things are given and taken with the right hand, be it money or food. In India, public display of affection is not considered appropriate. Hence it is advisable to avoid hugging and kissing in public.
Most of the religious sites don’t allow footwear inside the premises. Some temples don’t even allow leather goods. For visits to places of worship, modest clothing is essential. In Sikh temples, your head should be covered. In mosques, women should cover their head and arms and wear long skirts. A small contribution to the donation box is customary. There are also restrictions on certain religious temples where non-Hindus are not allowed.
Most of the historical monuments in India are under the control of Archaeological Survey of India and there might be a variable fee for photography or videography. And some places it might be completely prohibited to photograph. Please ask around if you can indeed photograph at a historical monument. This is not uniform. Many of these sites, tripods and monopods are not allowed. In temples and religious places, ask before you take photos. In many practicing temples (temples where the worship of deities are conducted), it might be forbidden to photograph the idol completely, yet at some other temple, it might not be a taboo. Hence double checking the customs at each location is a good idea. We will help you with this kind of information whenever it is required.