Tips for Travel to India
India has a well established infrastructure for western travellers. You need just a little extra patience and consideration to have a wonderful experience. The transport and the range of hotels in some ways eclipse those you will find at home and you will comfortably get by with English in any established tourist town or city.
What to Wear (Clothes)
Winter months (October – February) in the North and the highlands in the South do get quite cold at night, but at all other times light weight cotton is best.
Email and internet is widely available in hospitals, hotels and internet cafes in major tourist cities and towns. A good tip is to duplicate records of Travellers Cheque numbers, passport, flight details, etc. to your Yahoo/Hotmail accounts.
General Visitors Tips
• It is advised to keep a copy of your passport, travel visas, airline tickets and travel documents. A list of any charge or credit cards you are carrying. Remember to keep the copies separate from the originals.
• Even if you are not planning to drive, bring your driver’s licence with photo for identification.
• Avoid drinking water from an unknown source. Always drink bottled water. When in doubt ask for “Bisleri, Kinley, Aqua Fina, or Himalaya” mineral water (and check that the seal is not broken).
• As in any location, there are those who steal from others, so follow the same rules of safety that you follow travelling anywhere else with respect to using hotel lock boxes, and keeping travel documents safe. When in public places, keep them in your hotel or with you all the time when moving about.
• Consider using an “interior wallet”, the kind that is fastened around your neck, draped from a belt loop, or worn with a Velcro fastener around the calf or ankle. All three kinds are concealed underneath clothing.
• If you are ever in trouble, contact your Embassy/Consulate and nearest Police Station.
• Taxis (cabs)/Auto Rickshaw (3 wheeler) are available from all hotels. If they are metered then you pay by meter or tariff card and if they are not metered be sure to negotiate the rate before commencing your journey. Use only authorised, properly identified taxis and buses. Avoid taxis that pick up additional passengers. Don’t accept an offer to share a taxi to your hotel unless you know the individual.
• Roads in Indian cities may not be so smooth and the traffic is usually very chaotic and noisy. Do not get alarmed by this.
• You may encounter many a variety of religious, cultural, political, etc. processions on the road which are usually fun to watch and nothing to worry about
• Be wary of impostor porters or guides. Ensure they are properly uniformed or identified. Never leave your luggage, briefcase or other items unattended.
• The voltage used is 220 volts (the U.S. uses 120 volts). You can purchase a converter at most hardware stores for appliances that do not switch to 220V.
• There are some areas in India where malaria is still prevalent. Prior to your departure, obtain a prescription from your doctor for some anti malarial tablets. You are recommended to take ant-malarial tablets.
• You are also recommended to take Hepatitis A & Hepatitis B vaccinations. Please speak to your local doctor or nurse for advice on vaccinations for India.
• Pharmacies or chemists are available in every little town and village where you can buy medication. In case you need to see a doctor for a specific condition, ask for help from your hotel (most have doctors on call) or your tour operator.
• Do remember to bring some insect repellent, mosquito coils or even an electronic repellent. Mosquitoes in India can be fierce.
• Avoid foods which have been laid out in the open, avoid sweets and candies from local markets.
• You can get many different varieties of foods in India. If you are not used to Indian curries, most of the hotels and hospitals will be able to cater for Western food.
• Wash fruits before eating them.
• Do carry sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat.
• Respect religious shrines and places of worship. Some places require visitors to observe a decent dress code. Take care not to violate any taboos in a mosque or a temple.
• Change currency only from official moneychangers. Remember to retain the currency Exchange receipts after each transaction. You will need them for re-exchange on departure. The currency in India is called “Rupee” (INR).
• Tipping is a matter of personal discretion. Although bills normally include a service charge, it is customary to tip in restaurants and other places that cater to tourists.
• Photography is prohibited in places of military importance, railway stations, bridges, airports and military installations.
Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club credit cards are generally accepted by large establishments including hotels, shops, and airlines.
ATMs are available in most cities where you can withdraw the required amount of cash. Keep a close watch when using ATM that no one is observing you.
GMT + 5 1/2 hours.
The standard time for India is calculated from Allahabad and is common to all cities i.e. only one time zone for India.
Below you will find a checklist of documents that you may need prior to departure.
Item to PackTips / InformationDonePassportPlease ensure that your passport is valid and will not expire within the next 6 months.VisasPlease ensure you have a valid visa for travel.Air TicketsIf you need to re-confirm your return flight, please do this in good time.
Any requests for a wheelchair or particular dietary requirement should be made at the time of booking your ticket.Travelers Cheques, Money, Credit CardsEnsure that you have enough cash for your trip and it is always a good idea to have access for extra funds in case of any emergency.Medical informationIf you have any medical information or reports please bring these along with you on the trip.
Copies of the above documentationIt is advisable to take copies of your passport, visa, air tickets, traveler’s cheques information and keep this information separate from the originals. Why not e-mail this information to a web account as well.
Dr. Vibha Shah Vibha is a medical graduate holding MBBS, DGO from the University of Bombay and has been a successful family physician having practised in Kenya for over 30 years. She is a director of The Medical Tourist Company Ltd., a UK based company specialising in organising world class affordable treatment abroad. The company started its operations in London in June, 2005 and have arranged treatment for patients from the UK, North America, Kenya, Nigeria, Australia and India itself. E mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Web www.medicaltourist.co.uk