Must know before India Tour – Travel To India
India has a rich cultural heritage history and it is a traveler’s paradise. India tours are a perfect blend of spirituality, modernity, age-old traditions, and customs. It is a vast country and it stretches from the snow-clad high mountain peaks to the glistening backwaters and from the salt marsh in the Thar Desert to the world’s largest delta in the world. India is a place for which is a heaven for every kind of traveler. It is home to nature’s bounty with great scenic beauty and it consists of unexplored biodiversity. India vacation are incomplete without the exploration tour of the national parks, ancient palaces, exquisite forts, enchanting lakes, golden dunes, snowy peaks, and several architectural wonders.
India tour takes you through the centuries-old ancient ruins, beautiful temples in India, white-sand beaches, and wildlife sanctuaries. India is a dreamland from where you will never wish to leave. The paradisiacal beauty of this country lures a large number of tourists from all over the world. India is a land of diverse culture and innumerable festivities. If you have not attended any festival of India on your visit then you will surely miss the intermingling of cultural, spiritual, and traditional vibes of this glorious country. India trip also includes some of the most cherished festivals and carnivals namely Rann Utsav, Hornbill festival, Ziro Festival of Music in Arunachal Pradesh, Pushkar Fair in India, and many more famous fiestas take place throughout the year.
To enjoy a happy holiday in India without incident, we offer some insider aspects of culture and practical advice on the country we hope you find very useful:
Capital: New Delhi
Area: 1,269,219 square miles
Population: 1,326,572,000 million
Location: India is bordered by Pakistan in the west. China, Nepal and Bhutan to the northeast. Myanmar and Bangladesh to the east. The southern tip of India is across the ocean from Sri Lanka.
Geography: India is situated in South Asia, and it occupies the most prominent amount of land mass area among its neighbors. Through the east and west, India is bordered by a majestic trail of mountains with the Himalayas dominant in the north. In total area, India ranks as the 7th largest country in the world. One-third of India is bordered by the coast, it has Arabian Sea to the west, and the Bay of Bengal to the east. The southernmost mainland is what divides these two major water bodies, forming the Indian peninsula. Nearly one fourth of the country is forested, with various species of tropical forests. To the west India is flanked by the Thar Desert, an extremely unforgiving terrain of miles and miles of dry desert. The Indian climate is governed by the presence of the Himalayas and the Thar Desert, both play a pivotal role to culture monsoons.
Languages: There are 22 main languages spoken across the different states in India. Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Telegu, Gujarati, Punjabi, Assamese, Malayalam, Kannada are some of the main languages spoken across major cities. English is widely spoken as well.
Religions: As one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world, with some of the most deeply religious societies and cultures playing central and definitive roles in many of its peoples’ day-to-day lives, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians live in harmony with each other.
|Others/Religion not specified||0.90%|
Time zone: Set your timepiece 13 hours and 30 minutes ahead of Pacific Time (using Daylight Savings). When it’s 8 p.m. in San Francisco, its 9:30 a.m. in India the following day.
Electricity: India uses 220 volts, compared with 110 volts in the U.S. Battery chargers, tablets, or computers can usually run off both 110 and 220 — but you should check the item or the owner’s guide first to confirm this before you plug it in. If you have an appliance that needs 110 volts — like a shaver or a hairdryer — you can bring a transformer to change the current.
Plugs: The shape of plugs will vary from country to country, and sometimes even within a country depending on the age of a building. Sockets usually take plugs with three round pins, similar to European usage. Many hotels in this region will have a few adapters and converters at housekeeping for guests to borrow, but may have limited supplies. We advise that you bring along adapters and converters for your North American appliances.
Availability: We cannot guarantee constant electrical supply during overnight stays. In some places, a generator may supply power and you may notice that lighting may not shine as bright as you prefer. Travelers dependent on electricity supply at night (as in the case of those with sleep apnea) should consider a different adventure or ensure their apparatus has back-up battery power.
Water: Tap water in India is not considered safe to drink. Despite the fact that water is commonly chlorinated and processed in that area, only drink bottled water or boiled water. Bottled water and soft drinks can be easily obtained at a reasonable price. Ensure that the bottles are sealed. Top India Trips does offer two bottles of water per traveler on your touring day (one bottle for arrival/departure/transfer days).
Inoculation & Medication
We stress that you should contact your doctor, a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel, since you may well require vaccinations for your trip. You can use a specialist vaccination clinic / travel clinic to ensure you receive any needed vaccinations, or know about the latest overseas travel health information and suggested medications, for the countries that you’ll be visiting.
While traveling to India does require certain precautions. Although no inoculations are needed for entry into India, most seasoned travelers get immunized for Hepatitis A&B, Malaria and tetanus. Please consult your doctor or travel clinic for further information.
Wash your hands frequently: Before meals, before snacks, before brushing your teeth, after visiting the lavatory. You won’t always find running water, so bring moist towelettes or anti-bacterial “water-free” hand cleanser. Avoid touching your face, biting your nails, and putting things in your mouth out of habit. Don’t share your water bottle with others.
If you take prescription medication, be sure to bring enough to last the entire trip. Keep these medications with you and do not pack them in checked baggage. Long-term travel overseas might cause tourists to develop an upset stomach; a change in water, food, sleeping habits and/or climate may all cause discomfort. Bring anti-diarrhea medications such as Imodium and Lomotil just in case.
Venturing Out Alone: If you are out and about by yourself, remember cars always have the right of way — a crosswalk, even with a walk sign, doesn’t mean the same thing as it does at home. Be very careful crossing the street — tourists do get hit by moving traffic, which is chaotic. When crossing the street on foot, move at a slow and steady pace. Fight the urge to weave and run. Walk slowly, looking up and meeting the driver’s eyes. Always carry a hotel card with you, available at the hotel’s front desk. In case you get lost, all you have to do is grab a cab or tuk-tuk and give him your hotel card; they’ll know where to bring you.
Toiletries: Your hotel room usually will have common grooming amenities such as tooth brush and toothpaste, soap, shower gel, shower cap, shampoo, conditioner, comb, hair dryer, iron, and even slippers. We highly suggest you bring hand wipes and sanitizer for before meals and after using the lavatory.
Also, bring a handkerchief or bandana as a substitute for a hand towel, another item not commonly available in Indian public washrooms. Always bring your own toilet paper as public washrooms often do not have any and do not compare-to western standards of cleanliness. India is still a developing country, and the conditions we encounter over the course of our adventure can be distressing to some travelers. In some small villages or at various tourist sites, we must make do with Asian-style toilets (squat-style rather than seats).
Valuables: You should carry your passport, money, Travel insurance policy, air tickets, and medication with you at all times. All hotels for your India trip offer safety deposit boxes either in your hotel room or at the front desk.
Cell Phone: You may want to buy a local pre-paid SIM card in India to use on your unlocked phone – $10-$15 will get you quite a bit of talk time and at lower cost than the hotel service. You may also buy a calling card so you can call home. Consult your tour guides for more information.
Roaming agreements exist with many international mobile phone companies. There is good coverage, especially around main towns in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Thailand. Please check with your mobile phone service provider for details and additional cost for roaming.
Internet: Internet access is available at most hotels (if not all). If you only want to check emails, you can use the computer in the business center at your hotel for a moderate fee. Some hotels offer free Internet access in your hotel room; but some do charge up to $15 per day. Wi-Fi is not commonly available to your hotel room; some hotels only offer Wi-Fi in a public area. A complete outline of what your hotels offer will come with your final documents. Wi-Fi is increasingly available in many Western orientated bars and cafes located in Indian Cities.
Indian Currency / Money Matters: The Indian rupee comes in denominations of: Notes, 5 (green), 10 (orange-violet), 20 (red-orange), 50 (violet), 100 (blue-green at center, brown-purple at two sides), 500 (olive and yellow), 2000 (pink) rupees and coins 1, 2, 5, 10 rupees. Most major hotels have money-changing facilities, though you should carry a combination of cash and credit cards. Banks open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. With your final documents, you will receive a list of the closest ATM to each of the hotels you are staying in. It is illegal to convert your money at home and bring Rupees into India.
Please, check the day’s rate for conversion every time you exchange money. Keep the receipts of currency you exchange for converting unused Indian currency to U.S. dollars at the airport before your final departure.
Bring cash dollars as it’s easy to use. Many hotels in India cannot change travelers’ checks. Please always retain the money exchange slip, which is required to revert back to dollars when exiting. ATMs are becoming commonly available. Service fees may apply for cash advances depending on the credit/debit card you use. Merchants, banks and hotels often reject bills that have been damaged in any way. The smallest tear or missing corner will cause difficulty with street vendors and established businesses alike. So make sure your bills are near perfect.
Please call your credit card company to notify them of your trip to India so they won’t decline your overseas transactions.
Climate: For the most part, India’s tropical climate revolves around seasonal monsoons. Two main factors contribute to weather patterns here — the mountain ranges and the prevailing direction of rain-bearing winds.
Though India enjoys cool winters and hot summers, moderate monsoons are also seasonally common. In North India, one of the most climatically diverse regions on earth, summer temperatures often rise as high as 45 degrees Centigrade (113 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Thar Desert, Rajasthan. During winter, the lowest temperature on the plains dips to below 5 degrees Centigrade (41 degrees Fahrenheit), and below freezing in some states. Our tours do not travel during times of extreme weather highs and lows.
- Winter, occurring from December to March. The year’s coldest months are December and January, when temperatures average around 10°–15°C (50°–59 °F).
- Summer or pre-monsoon season, lasting from April to June (April to July in northwestern India). In western and southern regions, April is the hottest month; for northern regions, May is the hottest month. Temperatures average around 32°–40°C (90°–104°F) in most of the interior.
- Monsoon or rainy season, lasting from July to September. Humid southwest summer monsoons dominate this season, which slowly sweeps across the country beginning in late May or early June. Monsoon rains begin to recede from North India at the beginning of October. South India typically receives more rainfall.
- Post-monsoon or autumn season, lasting from October to November. In northwestern India, October and November enjoy usually cloudless skies.
Clothing: Everyone should dress appropriately when entering a place of worship. Mini-skirts or shorts are not permitted, and you must remove your shoes in most of the visited temples. Also, we advise you to cover your head with a cloth while entering a place of worship. After removing your shoes, you should wash your hands as well.
White gets dirty very fast in India. You should take a small amount of powdered detergent and wash out clothing and hang it up to dry, and bring clothing made of synthetics or cotton/synthetic blends that will dry overnight. Take a couple of pair of shoes/sandals in case of rain or blisters.
Comfortable walking shoes are essential for your journey. You’ll be on your feet and walking a lot, sometimes over rough and slippery surfaces, so choose your footwear carefully. The soles of your shoes should offer good traction. You can find especially supportive shoes designed for walking. Bring shoes that are broken in, not new.
December to February travel: If you are traveling during these months, please bring some warm clothing as it might get chilly during early mornings and evenings. A light jacket comes in handy during early morning game drives, even during hotter months.
Meals: Staples of Indian cuisine, which relies heavily on lentils and spices, consist of rice and wheat. The food may also seem very spicy to unfamiliar palates. To get the most enjoyment from your adventure, sample different dishes with an open mind, especially if meals arrive without utensils and you must eat with hands only.
Breakfast is usually an American buffet served in your hotel. The included lunch and dinners are usually arranged at local restaurants and are served in a buffet or family style. We provide complimentary and refillable tea and coffee with all included meals; all other drinks are NOT included with meals on your India tour.
For your convenience, your tour guide can suggest restaurants for meals that are not included on your adventure. You will also receive a Recommended Restaurants and Spas List with your final documents.
Afterwards, your feedback on our meal arrangements is very important. If you like or dislike any specific meal, please notify your tour guide so we can make improvements next time. We are aware that it is nearly impossible to please everyone in respect to food, but we hope you understand the great efforts we make to please as many as possible based on the feedback we get from our guests.
Arranged Shopping Stops: Jaipur, Agra, and Varanasi offer a wide range of fabrics, handicrafts, Jewelry and marble carvings, making India a shopper’s paradise. Your tour managers can assist with your shopping from their local insights. Top India Trips includes two shopping stops, one each in Jaipur (for textile, silk, and carpets) and Agra (for marble and leather goods).
Cultural Aspects: India, predominantly a Hindu country, considers Hindu and other religious gods and images sacred. The authorities also consider any sacrilegious act punishable, even if foreigners commit them. Local people are friendly and do not mind taking their pictures, but seek permission before taking pictures in temples and of women and children directly.
Women: Usually, women in India present a very conservative and traditional lifestyle. Please do not touch them for any reason without their consent. A lot of younger women seem quite modern in thinking and other manners, but still we advise that you consider them conservative in a very Indian way.
Male-Female Relationships: Do not display physical human affection publicly — Indian culture frowns on such displays of emotion.
How to Address an Indian Person: In India, we address each other using first names. For an elderly person, we use Mr. /Mrs. in English — which is widely understood in India.
Smile: The Indian people smile to express joy or happiness, give thanks for small services, and even excuse small inconveniences.
Feet: You should avoid placing your feet on the table and never use your foot to point things out or to touch any part of the body of another person, as Indian culture considers this extremely rude.
Indian Houses: Before entering an Indian home, you would normally remove your shoes. Please consult with your trip leader when entering Indian homes to see if this custom applies.
Public Transport: Taxis: Most taxis in India have taxi meters and you can recognize them by the leading sign at the top: “taxi – meter.”
The minimum fare is about INR 200–350 ($4 to $6) for a distance of no more than 2 kilometers (1.2 miles), and gradually increases as with distance.
Auto rickshaws (tuk-tuks): Three-wheeled auto rickshaws come with a meter but the drivers seldom use it and drivers decide the fare beforehand. Use this kind of vehicle for local shopping or short distance travel, as the price compares quite favorably to that of taxi service. However, tuk-tuks are open on all sides, noisy, and an adventure all their own.
Beggars: Beggars are a reality in India and have been for eons, and even more so on tourist circuits, so it can be unpleasant and upsetting to witness at times. You will also find hawkers at all tourist sites in India. They sell small, cheap items and tend to pester our guests. Avoid beggars and hawkers, and even though it may feel rude or unnatural, do not make any eye contact with them, as some belong to larger syndicates.
Bargaining: India’s people love to bargain. Don’t feel shy and you may surprise yourself at the bargains you can get if you try. However, avoid bargaining at branded retail stores. The maximum retail prices listed include taxes.
Politics: India tolerates public political discussion and most people will have an opinion they don’t mind sharing. Everyone in India has a political view and it can make for interesting small talk.
Strangers: Although most Indians will be quite hospitable, it is common sense to avoid making friends with strangers too quickly. We advise that you not make any financial commitments with strangers or venture out with them.
Street Food: Every nook and cranny of India has some sort of street food for sale. Indians love this cuisine and generally it is safe to eat for them. For Westerners, street food can cause health issues which can seriously affect your vacation and general health. We recommend you avoid all kinds of street food.
Cricket: Though field hockey is India’s national sport, you may see groups of young boys and adult men using every free inch of open space in India for games of street cricket. Cricket shares many similarities with American baseball.
Useful Phrases: Please use caution when trying to communicate in Hindi because the slightest change in pronunciation can mean something totally different, and possibly embarrassing.
|Good morning!||Su prabhaat|
|Good evening!||Shubh sandhyaa|
|Welcome! (to greet someone)||Aapka swaagat hai|
|How are you?||Aap kaisey hain?|
|I’m fine, thanks!||Mein theek hoon, shukriya!|
|And you?||Aur aap?|
|Good/ so-so.||Accha / Theek-thaak|
|Thank you||Dhanyavaad or Shukriyaa|
|Thank you (very much)!||Bahut Dhanyavaad or Bahut Shukriaa|
|Good night!||Shubh raatri|
|See you later!||Phir milen-gay.!|
|I’m lost||Hum khogaye hain.|
|One moment please!||Ek minute|
|How much is this?||Yeh kaisey diyaa?|
|Excuse me||Maaf keejiye or Kshamaa keejiye|
|Come with me!||Mere saath aaeeyé!|
|Nice to meet you!||Aapsey milkar khushi hui!|
|No problem!||Koi baat nahi|