At the onset we would like to thank you for visiting our website for your travel to India. We all hope that you will enjoy India as and when you visit the country.
India is among the most colorful nations of the world and boasts of a rich history, culture and heritage. To get the most of your trip to India, it would be a good idea to equip yourself with useful information before you set out for a journey of a lifetime.
The different "FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS" on travel to India have been answered in the following document. Kindly go through the same and if there are other unanswered questions and clarifications, it would be our pleasure to address the same too.
Getting In and Out :
To explore India, you need a valid passport and visa to India. Carry them at all times while enjoying a vacation in India. Notify your country’s embassy or consulate in case your passport is stolen or lost.
One needs additional permits to go to certain destinations in India such as Andaman Islands, Gujarat, Ladakh, Kerala, and more. Check with your travel agent or embassy while planning your visit.
15-Day visa extensions are granted under exceptional circumstances. If you intend to stay longer than 3 months on non-tourist visas there is a registration requirement. This registration makes the bearer eligible for domestic ticket prices.
Getting Around and About :
Most cities have means of efficient local transportation such as taxis, auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, and buses. Private cabs can also be hired.
It is important to carry an International Driving License if you wish to drive on your own.
For inter-city and inter-state transport you can avail services of Indian Railways and domestic airlines. Buses, taxis and cabs also ferry people across cities and states.
With such a large landmass, India has a wide range of climates with effects of the altitude and the sea being very string in certain areas.
North India :
April - June : Hot, dry and dusty with temperature 35-42 DEG C
July - August : Hot, Humid and rainy
Sep - Mar : Pleasant days and could get cooler in the night
South India :
April/May & Aug/Sep : Hot and Humid with average temperature 38 DEG C
June/July/Oct/Nov : Hot and Heavy rains
Dec - Mar : Hot but less humid
Food and Health :
Indian cuisine is a tad too spicy for European and American taste buds. Indulge in the gastronomical delights only if you have the stomach for it. Also, there are plenty of non-spicy cuisines and delicacies to choose from.
You may occasionally need insect repellent cream. If you are allergic to dust, be sure to carry medication with you. Sunscreen is another must-have.
Medical concerns :
We suggest you contact your personal care physician who will assess your personal history and advise what you need to take with regard to preventative medication accordingly. No specific vaccinations are required to enter India unless you are entering within six days of having visited a yellow fever infected area. Most doctors recommend the following vaccinations:
The 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 Beer, or simply the change of lifestyle, most case 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.
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. Once on the trip please tell us any concerns you may have regarding health concerns, we can then ensure your specific needs are met.
We do reserve the right not to accept any traveler who is found to have withheld any information relating to their state of health that might affect the trip, even after a booking has been accepted.
If you are undergoing specific medical treatment please inform us. It is your responsibility to ensure you have an adequate supply of any medication they may be taking.
For more detailed information ask your local travelers health clinic or your doctor.
Tap water is not safe to drink. Bottled water is available everywhere and is cheap. However always check the seal.
Smart Shopping :
Bargaining is the norm in local bazaars selling products without a written price. Resist the urge to buy without comparing prices from shops selling similar stuff. Be wary of roadside peddlers trying to sell you semi-precious and precious gems and jewelry. Visit state emporia and the Central Cottage Industries Emporia (most major cities have one) for fixed prices and a fair idea of the cost with a regular dealer.
Trading in ivory, fur, animal skins, antiquities and the like is illegal. If you must have it, obtain a certificate of legitimate sale and permission for export before leaving the country.
Currency and Exchange Rate :
The local currency in India is a Rupee abbreviated as Re. or Rs. The Rupee is further divided into 100 paisa, but since the value of the paisa is so small, it is hardly ever used.
Internationally, within currency transactions, it is also abbreviated as INR. The exchange rates floats and has recently been varying between Rs. 40 and Rs. 50 to a US Dollar.
For sake of first approximation and ease of calculation, consider assuming that the rate is Rs. 50 to a US Dollar, and thus Rs. 10 is 20 US cents, and Rs. 100 is US $ 2.
The unit of currency is Rupee. (1 rupee is equal to 43US$ / 80GBP£ / 55€ approximately)
Travelers Cheques :
Thomas Cook or American Express in American Dollars, Euro or British Sterling are the only ones that are widely accepted.
While one may get the best rate from a bank, banks have limited opening hours and one will find the process time consuming and laborious. You will find that your hotel will encash your checks and the rate, which is government controlled, is within reasonable norms. Encashing the cheques in shops will yield the most unfavorable rate.
US dollars, Euro and British Sterling are the best currency to take. The notes need to be cleaning, undamaged and if possible the latest issue.
Credit Card :
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 touristic cities have a large number of ATMs.
If you are planning to wear full length clothes during your walking tours, then make sure that they do not drag on the floor since streets can be dirty and wet. You should not wear clothes that are very loose because they can get caught in protruding stones and surrounding bushes. Bring light rain gear. Consider bringing, as a minimum, one "Tee" shirt, one "heavy" flannel type shirt and one light jacket. This will allow you to wear layered clothing for a variety of ambient temperatures.
For the most of areas, cotton casual clothing that is light and loose fitting is recommended for daywear. For trips during Nov-Jan do carry warm clothes as it is cold during early mornings and evenings. (Only in Northern India) 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. There is no problem. Carry a stole or a scarf to cover your head or feet while at the religious places.
When you visit places of worship, you will need to take off your shoes prior to entry. You are free to wear your socks, but may find that the floor is wet, thus it may be prudent to take off your socks also. Make sure that you bring comfortable and well supporting walking shoes. You will be walking a lot in the ruins of old temples and forts, and they normally do not have a clean and clear path with upturned stones, and steep narrow and broken steps.
There are some Hindu temples that demand that you do not take any leather goods such as belts, wallets and leather bags inside the temple. Therefore it is customary to take off ones belt and certainly not wear a leather jacket. Both men and women will need to cover their heads prior to entering a Sikh place of worship.
Consider bringing your swimming trunks, air brush to clean the dust from your cameras and lens, a telephoto lens if your camera supports one, lots of clean wipes for your face and hands because of the dust. Traditional 35 mm film is available in plentiful, however the new Advantix type is not freely available.
Food and Drink :
Street food should NOT be consumed. Do not eat any cold (unprepared food) which has been prepared previously, such as salads, cut fruit, cut vegetables. Also do not eat any yogurts or cold milk products unless they are from an established and good quality restaurant. Feel free to eat fruit and vegetables which you peel yourself. Do not drink water from any source unless it is from a sealed water bottle purchased from a reputable shop (and NOT from a street vendor). It is common for street vendors to re-fill discarded water bottles with normal water. Do not consume any ice
Document safety :
Prior to start of your journey; send yourself an e-mail with all important passport and other numbers. Thus should you lose any documentation, then you can retrieve your mail and have all necessary information.
Domestic flight luggage :
Prior to boarding your domestic flights in India as you leave the main terminal, please ensure that you "identify your checked baggage". To do so, ask the airline representative where you need to actually identify the baggage that you have checked for your specific flight.
Failure may mean that your checked baggage will not be put on the flight. Unfortunately, this process is not followed by all airlines and at all departure points, so make it a good and safe practice to ask for where you should identify your checked luggage just prior to boarding any flight.
Camera Fee :
You will have to pay a fee for using a still and/or a video camera in most monuments, national parks and game sanctuaries. This fee, which ranges from Rs 10 to Rs 500, depending on the place and the type of camera used, is payable at the entrance gate. Please ensure you carry sufficient funds with you to cover this charge, as this is NOT included in the tour price.
Special Permits :
Even with a visa foreign nationals are not allowed everywhere in India. Check with us if you are planning to journey on your own.
Indian Standard Time (IST) is 5 ½ hours ahead of GMT/UTC, 4 ½ hours behind Australian EST and 10 ½ hours ahead of American EST.
Tipping and Gratuities :
Tipping is an important part of travel in India. Unless specifically stated, your tour does not include tipping as we feel that such a personalized reward is benefactor to you, the traveler.
First the easy part : You do not need to tip regular taxi drivers. However, you will have a number of other opportunities of tipping: To your waiters in restaurants, to your car driver, to your guide and to the bell-hops at the hotels. For the waiters, leave anything from Rs. 20 to Rs. 100 unless you are a part of a very large group, in which case the total amount you may wish to leave behind is Rs. 500 or so. Consider Rs. 100 or so per day for your car driver.
Again if you are in a bus with a number of other people, this could be increased to Rs. 200 or so. Bell-hops could be given Rs. 50 (in a small hotel) to Rs. 100 (in a more grand hotel) per trip.
A general idea would be as follows :
Bellboys: Rs. 10 - 20 (1/4th US$) per bag
Drivers: Rs. 250 (5 US$) per day & Rs.150 (2 US$) per half day
Day Guides: Rs. 250 to 400 (6 - 8 US$)
Restaurants: 5% of the bill amount could be left.
Room boys / Maid : It is not recommended
Social Decorum :
Public display of affection is not appreciated and neither is public nudity unless perhaps one is at a beach. One is expected to cover the head before entering a religious place such as a temple or mosque. Ask for permission before clicking pictures of women and religious complexes. Some places charge for taking pictures while it is prohibited at a few places as well.
We Care :
In India roads could appear to be pot-holed and traffic chaotic and hence our guests very 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) are any accidents involving tourist vehicles. The cars that we use are safe, insured for and routinely checked. Trains however are much more comfortable ride-wise but could appear dirty and filthy. Do carry your dry hand wash and tissue always while taking train journeys. The flights are pleasant and service good.
The transport is broadly classified as :
Cars - In India, the mostly used car for tourists is, the Ambassador. This is one of the oldest models in the world still being manufactured and it is still hardy and spacious. We have always had guests specially requesting for this car. We have a couple of them in our fleet and they are almost a year old (2008 end model) and we use them discreetly as they wear and tear fast and could be slow and rickety if used without rest. Other than these two cars we also use 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 are very comfortable and MITSUBISHI LANCERS. On guest's request, the premium cars that we use are CHEVY OPTRA & TOYOTA COROLLA. We also use TOYOTA CAMRY, HONDA ACCORD & MERCEDES (C, E & S) when requested for. We have recently launched our luxury limousine which we use only for top end tours as and when requested.
Flights : There are presently four domestic airlines in India other than Air India which also operates some domestic routes. The local airlines in the order of service and punctuality are Jet Airways, Sahara Airlines, Indian Airlines and Deccan Air. Out of all the four Deccan is to be avoided as they are still facing teething problems.
Train Journeys :
Your itinerary may include either a day or an overnight train journey. As you enter the railroad station, you will be faced (literally!) with the masses of the Indian populace which will reflect the entire social status, from the very poor to the very rich. Study, appreciate and memorialize this experience, as this is true India, and not what you encounter at expensive hotels. Your day journey will be in a class titled "Sitting Chair, AC" which are upright chairs, where depending on duration of the journey, you might be served food. Your overnight journey will be in a class titled: “Two-Tier AC”, which means that you will have reserved accommodation of your seat within an air-conditioned bogie (rolling stock). Our representative will show you to your seat. The arrangement of your Two-Tier AC compartment will be such that there will be four seats, and these, together with a second tier mattress, will convert to four beds at night. Keep your valuables in your largest case and then keep this case such that it is difficult to remove without waking you up. Do not show high value equipment to your fellow passengers. Under no circumstances, accept any food or drink from your fellow passengers and equally do not offer your food to any other. This is normal practice, and no offence will be taken if you decide to eat or drink without offering to others. Use of a clean pillow, pillow cover, two sheets and a blanket for each of you for your overnight journey is included in your ticket. Use these, and leave them when you disembark. Feel free to drink water which you buy in sealed bottles from the on-board train staff. Eat hot food only.
Do’s and Don’ts :
- Do carry attested photocopies of your travel documents and keep the originals in a safely locked baggage.
- Do fill up a Currency Declaration Form along and a Disembarkation Card besides making an oral declaration of the luggage you are carrying.
- Do not smoke in public places.
- Do not give money to beggars.
- It is advisable not to buy air / rail or travel tickets from unauthorized persons who present themselves as travel agents.
- Foreign nationals must pay all their bills through credit cards, traveler’s cheques or foreign currency. Indian rupees will only be accepted if you can furnish proof of having exchanged money at an authorized currency exchange center.
- It is advisable not to hire cars or vehicles from unauthorized personnel or travel operators. The best thing to do if need of transport would be to ask your Tourism-of-India tour operator to arrange for the vehicle(s).
Ask us :
There could be a lot of other questions that you might have, once you are already in the process of booking the tour. For instance; payment methods, cancellation conditions, meet and assist at the airport, company bank details, previous reference, etc. and you are welcome to ask them. It would be our pleasure.
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. YOU CAN ALSO GIVE YOUR SUGGESTIONS AS TO HOW WE CAN IMPROVE THIS.
Castle and King Team
CASTLE & KING INDIA INC
CASTLE & KING INDIA INC - Hassle free India.
Suite T-305, Sector 5, Plot no. 7.
Dwarka- New Delhi - 110075
Tel : (+ 91) 011 - 45572470 / 64501150
T/Fax : (+ 91) 011 - 25084950
after office Hours. (20:00 Pm – 09:00 Am)
Mobile No:-91-9868712102 (24 Hrs.)
ASTA, WWF & ADTOI recognized by Government of India Ministry of Tourism
US Office address:
201, Indiana ave.
Apt # 212 E
Lubbock, TX 79415