What medical concerns should one keep in mind before & during travel in India?
No specific vaccinations are required to enter India unless you are entering within six days of having visited a yellow fever infected area. However, most doctors recommend the following vaccinations:
Majority of visitors to India return home with perfect health having had no problems at all. The most common complaint is a stomach upset for a day or two-usually the result of a change of diet, different dairy products or simply the change of lifestyle. Most cases are rarely serious and recovery is swift.
Dust can be a problem to travelers who wear contact lenses. If you are taking prescribed medicines, split your supplies between your hand baggage and your main baggage. Make a list of the generic properties of the drug and keep with you. Carrying mosquito repellant spray and sunscreen is recommended.
If you are prone to coughs, colds and sore throats, we advise you to take preventive medicines with you as larger cities suffer from smog pollution. This is particularly important if you suffer from bronchial complaints.
If you are over 60 or you think you have any physical disabilities, then you should talk to your doctor about the trip to ensure it is suitable for you.
For more detailed information ask your local travel health clinic or your doctor.
Tap water is not safe to drink. Bottled/ Mineral water is available everywhere and is cheap. However always check that the seal is intact. Purchase bottled water from grocery shops – never from roadside vendors.
What cultural considerations should one take care of while touring in India?
India is a very traditional and religious society. Its cultures and customs are very different from western cultural ideas. We ask you as guests in this amazing country to respond to these sometimes bizarre differences with sensitivity and respect.
We do request you to dress conservatively – both men and women should wear clothing that covers knees and shoulders (when visiting mosques and temples). Nudity is totally taboo. When swimming, please do wear a swimsuit.
Try to avoid any public display of affection. When entering mosques, temples and places of religious worship or private homes – please remove your shoes. Many Hindu temples are not open to non-Hindus. Always ask for permission before entering. Mosques may have limited visiting times for non-Muslims.
Some detailed information about passports & visas:
You must be in possession of a valid passport which will not expire for at least six months after your journey is due to end. It should have two clear pages for entry and exit stamps as well as your visa.
A wise precaution is to carry a photocopy of your passport kept separately – extremely useful in the event of loss or theft.
All visitors to India require a visa that must be obtained from an Indian High Commission or Consulate.
Your local travel agent or nearest Embassy will be able to inform you of the latest requirements for obtaining the visa.
Where to shop and how to be sure of the product & the price? Should we be confident of going with the guide?
India can be described as a shopper’s paradise with products such as hand-woven rugs, inlaid marble, semi-precious stone jewelry, silk fabrics, brassware, etc. India’s diversity is expressed though the creation of master craftspeople. Each state has a unique handicraft to proudly reflect the inherited and improved skills to near perfection. Souvenir shops and art & craft emporiums are to be found everywhere.
Consult your guidebook or the local guides and people. Usually the “pavement markets” do not guarantee the products and they do not accept credit / debit cards. Genuine products can only be guaranteed at a government showroom or branded showroom, i.e. Cottage Industries, etc.
Shopping can be one of the ways to interact with a local. For people who like to bargain, shopping is a true pleasure. For others, fixed priced stores are a relief. Whatever transaction you prefer, we hope your purchase that was made in India, will remind you of your trip.
Yes, the guides do take you to shops and showrooms while you are on tour and it is possible that those shops offer them a commission on the sale. However, you can firmly and politely say “no” when you don’t want to visit those shops or are not interested in shopping with a guide. But when you do visit the store with the guide, you do not necessarily pay a higher price for a substandard product.
While traveling in India it is important that you obtain good personal travel insurance from an insurance agent in your country. A suitable policy will include an unlimited amount for medical, hospital and additional health associated costs.
Most policies cover loss of baggage, personal money (usually limited) delay and curtailment. Do make sure your policy covers you for unexpected cancellation of your trip so that in this unlikely event you will be covered for financial loss.
You should carry your insurance policy with you at all times, preferably in a separate place, with your passport photocopy.
Tipping is an inherent part of life in India. It is one of the most effective ways to communicate how you felt about the service provided. It is common practice to tip porters, drivers, wait staff, toilet attendants and guides. It is not necessary to tip rickshaw drivers. Please note that you are not obliged to tip and it is entirely to your discretion. A general idea would be as follows:
Bellboys : Rs. 50 per bag
Drivers : Rs. 300 per day
Day Guides : Rs. 250 half day and Rs. 500 full day
Restaurants : 5-10% of the bill amount could be left.
Room boys / Maid : Rs.50 per service
In India roads could appear to be pot-holed and traffic chaotic and hence guests frequently get very worried. We suggest that you catch up on some sleep or read a book or even better, put on your in-flight eye shades and doze off. The drivers are well trained and they are used to these roads. Very seldom (I must hasten to add that almost none) have there been any accidents involving tourist vehicles. . Trains however are much more comfortable ride-wise but could appear dirty and filthy. Do carry your dry hand wash and tissue while taking train journeys. The flights are pleasant and service good.
The transport is broadly classified as:
Cars The cars most frequently used for Tourists are the TATA INDIGO which is a small sedan with good air-conditioning, TATA INDICA which is a small hatchback and is used for backpackers on a long trip, TOYOTA QUALIS & INNOVA & TATA SAFARI which are high SUV type vehicles seating 4 – 5 people normally but used for couples also as they are very comfortable.
Flights – There are presently several domestic airlines in India other than Air India which also operate domestic routes. Some of the other local airlines are Jet Airways, Indigo Airlines, Vistara, Go Air and Spice Jet .
Trains – As described above train journeys could be enjoyable if you have an open mind and just want to enjoy and experience true India. The middle class and upper middle class use Indian Railways and it is a way of life in India. The best trains that could be booked are the SHATABDI & RAJDHANI EXPRESS.
Thomas Cook or American Express in American Dollars, Euro or British Sterling are the only ones that are widely accepted.
US dollars, Euro and British Sterling are the best currency to take. The notes need to be clean, undamaged and if possible the latest issue.
In major cities Visa, Master and American Express cards can be used. Please do not rely on your credit card as a source of finance in small cities though most of the tourist cities have a large number of ATMs.
The unit of currency is Rupee. (currently 1 US$ = 68 Rupees approx.)
With such a large landmass, India has a wide range of climates with effects of the altitude and the sea being very strong in certain areas.
April – June : Hot, dry and dusty with temperature 35-42 DEG C
July – August : Hot, Humid and rainy
Sep – Mar : Pleasant days but could get cooler in the night
July – Sep : Pleasant but a bit humid
April / May / June : Hot and sometimes rainy
Oct – Mar : Pleasant
India is an area of great linguistic diversity with over 1500 languages and dialects. People associated with tourism speak English throughout the country. The official language is however Hindi.
India is 5.5 hours ahead of GMT, 10.5 hours ahead of US Eastern Standard Time.
7.5 hours behind New Zealand Standard Time and 5.5 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time .
For most areas cotton casual clothing that is light and loose fitting is recommended for daywear. For trips in Northern India during Nov-Jan do carry warm clothes as it is cold during early mornings and evenings. Carry a hat during sightseeing to keep off the mid-day sun and for the evenings a couple of elegant dresses would be nice to be worn for dinner at the lovely hotels. You could also wear trousers and jeans during the day. Carry a stole or a scarf to cover your head while at the religious places.
THE ABOVE HAS BEEN COMPILED TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE. FOR ANY LATEST DEVELOPMENTS OR DETAILED CLARIFICATIONS, DO FEEL FREE TO GET IN TOUCH WITH US.