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India Travel Tips


Visa

Travelers from over 100 countries can apply for an e-Tourist Visa to enter India. These countries include the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, South Africa, France, Germany, Singapore and Thailand. The validity and the length of stay for an e-Visa are both around one month. The visa fee is USD 60. People applying for an e-Visa can only enter via 16 airports including that in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata, while they can exit via all airports. If you want to enter via other ports, you need to apply for a visa in advance from nearby embassy. When entering, travelers should hold a passport with at least 6-month validity left and 2 empty pages.

India has granted visa exemption for tourists from 3 countries: Bhutan, Nepal and Maldives. For people from Maldives, the length of stay is 90 days at most. It should be noted that people from these 3 countries shall not enter via China; otherwise a visa will be required.


Currency and Cost

The official currency of India is Rupee (INR). A medium-level trip to the country for a week generally costs 60,000 rupees. The cost of a simple meal in the restaurant is about 1,000 rupees and a liter of bottle water is about 15 rupees.

In high-scale shopping malls and restaurants, credit cards are acceptable, but in most places, you are supposed to pay in cash. In the country, ATMs are not so common, especially in some remote areas. Therefore, it is recommended taking more cash. Besides, taking USD with you is convenient because of the better exchange rate.


Tipping

Tips are expected in the country. For servers in restaurants, a tip of 10-20 rupees is enough. For normal services, 20-50 rupees is reasonable. For bellmen in star hotels, 50-100 rupees are expected. There is no need to give tips to taxi and Tuk-tuk drivers.


Hotel

The hotels in the country are mostly clean and with local characteristics. As for a room in a hostel for one night, the cost is 200-300 rupees. If you want to live in a hotel room with an air conditioner and individual bath room, the cost ranges from 1,500 to 5,000 rupees for one night, on average 2,000 rupees. In most guesthouses and hotels, hot water is available to take a shower.


Food and Drinking Water

Indians don't eat beef or pork. The major religion of the country is Hinduism, according to which it is forbidden to eat beef. In the country, there are also a lot of Muslims. They don't eat pork due to their religion's requirements. When eating, do not use your left hand because it is regarded as dirty. Indians like to grab the rice directly to eat with their right hand at home.

Running water in the country cannot be drunk. The quality of running water is so poor that even when taking a shower, you'd better close your eyes to block the water. It is suggested to drink, wash face and brush teeth with bottle water. When ordering a drink, do not add ice because ices are made from running water.


Shopping

There are a lot of souvenirs to choose from: wood carvings, marbles in Agra, diamonds in Kashmir, sandalwood products, black tea in Asaam, scarves... For shopping, Connaught Place and Chandni Chowk in Delhi are top places to go. Standing in the center of Delhi, Connaught Place is a middle and high-scale shopping mall, gathering both world-famous brands and local products. Many luxury brands are offered great discounts, attracting lots of tourists. Different from Connaught Place, Chandni Chowk is a crowded bazaar with snacks, handicrafts and decorations with low price. Near Chandni Chowk, there are some temples like Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir and Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib where you can pay a visit to.


Festivals

Holi Festival is the grandest festival celebrated by the nation. It is the lunar New Year in the country. The time changes each year, generally falling in February or March. It is the most important festival in Hinduism, marking the spring's coming. Generally the celebration lasts for 2 days, with the first day for worship and prayer, and the second day for carnival. People will throw red powders and water balls at each other to express their blessings and good wishes. The day before Holi Festival, an Elephant Festival will usually be held in Jaipur. Elephants will be well dressed and decorated to attend the "beauty contest" as a celebration program.


Etiquette and Manners

1. In general, for Indians, "5 minutes" means half an hour even 40 minutes. They are not serious about time, so have awareness and do not expect high on their punctuality.
2. Do not touch Indians' head, especially the kids'. Head is their most holy part of the body. Touching one’s head means great disrespect.
3. Do not use your left hand to hand things to Indians because left hand is regarded as dirty in their custom.
4. Bull is the holiest animal in Hinduism, so avoid knocking into a bull, wearing bull leather products or even taking photos of bulls.
5. Respect the religions of the country. Take off your shoes if required when entering some places like Taj Mahal.


Power Supply

Power Outlet: Type D and Type C
Voltage: 230V
Frequency: 50Hz


Telephone and Internet

Free wifi is not common in the country presently. It is recommended buying a local SIM card like Vodafone, airtel and IDEA. The signal of 4G Internet is good and the cost is cheap with about 300 rupees for 1 gigabyte of data.


Further Reading: 
Things to Do in India   India Transportation
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