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General Tips for Travel

A proper VISA to enter and stay in India & Nepal is a must. There are reported cases when travelers are advised non-requirement of Indian/Nepal VISA by their travel agents. Practically every foreign national requires VISA to enter these countries.

Do not encourage beggars.

Don't trust strangers with money. Trust your hotel, but not people you may bump into on the streets.

Don't offer bribes to get any job done. Bribe-taking and bribe-giving are a common practice in India but they are intended to speed up things or win a favor that you are not entitled to. Plan well in advance. Use consultants or trade and industry associations. If you expect favors, let them come free or not at all. Warn anyone (even in government) who asks you for a bribe that you would report him to the Anti-Corruption Bureau or the nearest police-station. If he persists, do it discreetly so that he can be caught red-handed.

Indian English has its own delights especially to foreigners of English nativity. Don't show amusement at the different Indian accents and choice of words. This does not take away from the fact that many Indians speak and write better English than many native English speakers.

It is advisable to cover yourself with travel insurance for thefts, loss and medi-claim.

Carry proper maps of the places proposed to visit in India/Nepal, as signboards are often absent. Try to reach a station during daytime if traveling on your own. In any case avoid persistent touts and taxi-drivers at airport/stations/bus stand to help you find your hotel. Always use tourist assistance desk for proper advice.

Women traveling alone in certain deserted places should avoid walking at odd hours.

While changing money, insist on getting encashment certificate.

Do not checkout of the hotel in hurry. While checking out it has been noticed in some hotels, the extras are unreasonably charged which the guest hurriedly pays without cross-checking.

Do not leave your cash and valuables in your hotel rooms. Keep your cash dividend in different pockets.

Take care of proper disposal of your rubbish always whether you are exploring desert, or Himalayas or beaches or anywhere else.

Don't accept offers of visiting anyone's home unless you are confident of the person.

Use licensed guides for sightseeing.

Always use strong suitcases/baggage, as mishandling is common at airports/stations.

In Monsoon time avoid night stay in the desert while you do camel safari.

Most of the monuments give very good discount for students from all over the world. They must carry there valid school identity card.

TRAVELING IN TRAINS, BUSSES & FLIGHTS
Often train’s and flights are get delayed and can be cancelled at the last moment without any prior notice. So it is always better to arrive one day before to your departure destination to catch your International flight.

While traveling, don't act confused. Keep a posture of a person known to the region.

If you are traveling in the trains then you may have to reserve your seats in advance, last time it will be not so easy to get confirm seat reservation.

Buses are not as comfortable as trains.

Trains and buses are the best and cheapest option if you are traveling for more then one month holidays.

Be careful about your luggage while you travel in train or in bus.

Flight from Khajuraho to Waransi is often over booked so try to get boarding pass as soon as possible otherwise they will provide your car for to go Varanasi.

It is always better to arrive one hour before scheduled departure at the train station and one and half hour before any domestic flight.

Always chain and lock your luggage under your berth in a train. Don't keep anything valuable near the window. Always carry plenty of water, fruits in trains. Alone woman traveler may request to be accommodated near other women travelers.

Don't eat anything offered by fellow travelers on train or road travels. It might have sleeping pills. Always travel reserved class in trains.

CAR - PRIVATE TRANSPORTATION FOR TRAVEL
Cars are one of the best and safest way to travel in India, if you are not traveling for months in India.

Make sure that your driver is trained for defensive driving and speak Basic English.

As a driver you always have one person with you to help you and your luggage is always safe.

Always avoid driving at night on Indian highways, It is not recommended.

Avoid self-driving in India unless you have been trained on Indian roads.

If you feel not comfortable by the driving or he drives fast is always better to tell him to drive slow.

RELIGIONS
Do not visit places which encourage orthodoxy, social injustice and inhuman practices (like visiting a sati temple).

Politics can be freely discussed in India and most people will have an opinion which they will not mind being contradicted. But avoid discussing religion.

Avoid offers of spiritual salvation and magic remedies from saints, god men and quacks. There may be some spiritually elevated people in India, but there is no way you can distinguish the genuine ones from the crooks. If you are seriously interested in these aspects of India, take help from someone you know or visit one of the respected spiritual organizations in India.

Don't ever enter a temple, mosque, tomb, dargah or Gurudwara ( Sikh Temple) with shoes on and/or scantily dressed. One should cover his/her head with a cloth while in a Gurudwara or Dargah. Parikrama or walking around the sanctum sanctorum should always be in clockwise direction. Also should use your full pantaloons.

FOOD & WATER
Take care of contamination of water and food problem. Always drink safe mineral water and take well-cooked food.

Drink bottled water only. Even many Indians who have lived out of India for a few years sometimes suffer stomach upsets on drinking local tap water. If there is no alternative to tap water, ensure it is boiled. Most famous brand is Bislery, Aqua Fina and Himalaya.

Avoid eating buffet meals, even in expensive hotels. The food may become contaminated due to over-exposure

If you are buying from roadside stalls or hawkers, bargain you must. Start by offering half the price they ask for and settle for 70 - 80 per cent. Don't bargain in proper shops especially those that display "Fixed Price" signs: that will be seen as bad manners.

Never buy food from roadside stalls or mobile canteens. Not that they are bad, but your system may not be accustomed to such delicacies and you might end up spending more time in the loo than normal.
Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka, Chicken Curry, Malai Kofta and Naan these are the most famous dishes eaten by western people and they like them very much.

King fisher Lager bear is one of the most general alcoholic drinks taken by any western tourist.

Lassi & water is one of the most general nonalcoholic drinks taken by any western tourist.

Not only drink bottled water also brush teeth with it.

If driving between cities, have your hotel pack a lunch for the road.

SOCIETY & TRENDS
Participating in a social occasion or visiting a home requires conservative dress codes. Do not shake hands with ladies. Always pick up a thing and eat with your right hand. Take only as much as you can eat, do not leave anything uneaten over the dish.

Do not point your finger at any person. It is taken as a sign of annoyance.

Be careful of cultural and social sensitivities of the regions. There is no single rule for that, the best way is to observe and follow.

The “NAMASTAY” is a local form of greeting. It involves the joining of your palms as during prayer in church – well, not exactly, but it can pass (in church, the two thumbs are crossed, in the Indian “NAMASTAY” , the thumbs join but remain parallel to each other: this is only for information as the difference is not visible to the person in front of you).

If you find the lady is not extending a hand shake, go for the “NAMASTAY” , Even with men, the “NAMASTAY” can be an excellent little PR gimmick! Follow it up with a “AAP KAISE HAIN” (how are you?) and you have broken the first block of ice if one there was!

If somebody has invited you home for dinner, carry with you a box of sweets or at least a chocolate bar for the kid.

Many Indians are in the habit of shaking their head in the course of conversation or taking instructions. Don't show amusement if you witness this.

Don't photograph women without permission.

Indian weddings are one of the most famous social ceremony liked by western people.

TERRORISM & UNSAFE AREAS TO TRAVEL
Avoid visiting Kashmir, in the extreme north as well as areas in the extreme north-east. Foreigners, especially West Europeans and Americans, are at risk to hostage-taking by terrorists in those areas. The rest of India is safe haven for everybody.

Never argue strongly with anybody.

You should not become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for possession of narcotic substances can be severe. There is a minimum sentence of six months for possession of small amounts for personal consumption only.

Currency:
There are approximately 82 Indian rupees to a pound and 45 to a US Dollar. Being a partially controlled currency rupees are not reality available outside India. All ports of entry in the country have a 24-hours bank exchange counter immediately after customs and immigration. Keep the encashment certificate that are given by hotels / banks when your convert foreign currency into rupees. Rupees so converted, as evidence by the encashment certificates, are deemed to be foreign exchange when paying local bills. ( Some hotels and restaurants accept payment only in foreign exchange from tourists ). These are also necessary for converting the Rupees into foreign currency when you return.
Cash withdrawals on credit from dispensing machines should not be relied on for funds.

Healthcare:
Avoid drinking tap water and taking ice in drinks. Stick to bottled water (or boiled / UV treated water available at the hotels) and ensures that the seal is opened by you / in your presence. Aerated water (bottled soft drinks) is fine. Eat moderately for the first few days. Allow your system to get used to the changes. Yogurt (Locally called “Curd “ ) is advisable for weak constitutions or after a hot curry. Indian beer, gin and rum are fine. You may not find some of the local whiskey very good. Wine, if available , would generally be expensive. Check the price before ordering. Imported liquor is available but very expensive.

We recommend you to carry with you a small supply of basic health care medication such as a travel sickness tablets, anti-diarrhea tablets, insect repellent, sun creams and general purpose antibiotic. Although most of these items are available in India, the security provided by brands one is used to, reassuring. We strongly recommend that all travelers are properly insured for the holiday. If you have taken your own travel insurance, please check that it includes repatriation costs

Clothing:
During the day it is best to wear light , comfortable cottons with a pair of good ventilated walking shoes( Open-toed sandals let in dust and pebbles and cottons socks ). For the sightseeing session you may find a good pair of sunglasses and sun-hat handy. At some of the Monuments/ temples. mosques, It is advisable to avoid sleeveless tops and shorts skirts. You may also be asked to remove your shoes: in such cases airline stocks are useful.

Laundry:
Most hotels and resort offer same days laundry service. A portable iron can be handy when pressed for time. In remote areas laundry service may not be available.

Airports:
For reasons of security you may asked to remove batteries from your camera.

Shopping:
India provides splendid opportunities for the shopper especially for skill and cotton, gemstones, carpets, bed linen, handicrafts in all types of medium, miniature paintings and much more. If asked our local agents will advise on where best to buy particular items. When purchasing an expensive item, always check the level of duty payable in the UK on your import. Please remember VAT is payable on all goods above the value of $145 per person, even if an item is exempt from other import duties. Most hand woven carpets used to be exempt from duty: this is no longer the case.

Be prepared for the occasional pressure selling from some guides/ drivers. Although they will generally take you to respectable establishment offering reasonable quality likely that they have vested interest. If you are not interested, and if the guide/ driver is particularly insistent, do not hesitate to refuse and bring it to the attention of our associate offices/ agents in India. However, please note that we, or any of the associate offices and agents in India, are not responsible for any shopping and related problems, although we assure you of any help that we can provide.

Voltage:
The electric voltage in India is 220 volts. Most English Appliances work well in India but a universal adapter is needed. Many deluxe hotels provide hair dryers but it is advisable to carry your own, if you use one regularly.

Tipping & Gifts:
Tipping is common, particularly if you are happy with the service. Please note that tips are in addition to (and not the same) porter age, which unless otherwise specified, is included in your holiday price. Some suggested amounts for tipping are:

Drivers/ Reps who help you with the transfers Rs. 100 - 150
Bell boy who carry your baggage to your room Rs. 50 - 75
Drivers/ Guides for half day/ Full day sightseeing trips Rs. 200 - 250
Drivers/ Guides for long trips spread over many days Rs. 150 - 200 Per traveler/ day
(The above amounts are mainly indicative. It is often customary to pay higher sums depending upon the quality of service.)

Waiters in restaurants (If service charge not included ) 5 - 10% of billed amount .
IF visiting a village a supply of pens or sweet come in handy to distribute among the curious children who may follow you but you need to be careful in case the children out number pens/ Sweets

IF you wish to do something to charity in India, we support a couple of charitable organization/ orphanages who accepts both financial and material support (like clothes both new and old) if you are interested to do something & you have some extra luggage Spaces you may bring some clothes for this needy people., we would like be happy to take any of these organization to distribute the same yourselves . we believe this humble step towards charity.

Others:
If you feel there is a problem, do have faith in our local associates bring it to their attention . It is not good idea to harbor a complaint for redress later rather than seek remedy locally. Above all, retain your sense of humors.

VISA, INSURANCE & OTHER DOCUMENTS
You should keep a photocopy of your passport, Indian visa and flight ticket separate from the originals when travelling. This will save you much inconvenience and time if your documents are lost or stolen. We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusion, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance for more details.

CUSTOMS & AIRPORT’S AUTHORITY OF INDIA
Indian Customs department at the airport stopped one tourist from Spain because they were carrying some Auer Vedic Medicines (Herbal), which they bought from one of the Aurveda Message resort from South of India. So if anyone buys such kind of things must ask and be sure if they can carry with them or not to their home.

TAJ MAHAL
You are not allowed to take following things while visiting “TAJ MAHAL” because os security reasons, like cigarettes, hand bags, any eatable things, matches box, litre, Mobile phones, torch, knife, gun and many other related small things which can harmful for Taj, people or environment.

By mistake if you are having any of these items then they have the locker facility just outside the gate you have to deposit those things in the locker before to get in but often it is inconvenient for western people so better to leave all the things in the hotel or in the car with our driver.

DREAM PLACES IN INDIA
Majority of the people think that to spend night in a house boat in Karela Back Waters is one of the most memorable moments of their India Travel.

Jaisalmer (The Thar Desert) is considered as one of the most beautiful and peaceful places of India.

"Taj Mahal" at Agra is one of the most visiting place in India.

"Golden Temple" Amritsar is one of the most impressive monuments after "Taj Mahal".

Varanasi (Ganges) is one of the towns which give you most strongest feeling.

Rajasthan, Kerala & Goa are one of the most organized states for tourism.

NEPAL
To go Varanasi to Kathmandu  ( Nepal):- Often flights are full from Varanasi to Nepal so to find out new possibility I wend to Nepal by road from India.

People can go by road to Nepal from Varanasi it’s quite easy.

Varanasi to Sanouli Border (Nepal) via Gorakhpur is around 300km 7hours drive.

To start early morning is recommended to avoid busy traffic hours.

Just after get in Nepal you can sleep in Lumbini or Chitvan National park or if you have enough energy then be continue till Pokhara, just 160 km more through the Himalaya Mountains 4-5hours drive.

This drive between Nepal Border to Pokhara is one of the most beautiful drive on the Himalaya mountains.
Kathmandu is 300km from Nepal border by road.