Passport and Visa:
All travellers to India must be in possession of a valid signed passport that remains valid for at least six months beyond completion of their trip. Citizens of all countries need visas to visit India. There are no exceptions. Additionally if you are visiting a restricted area - Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar Islands etc., the visa must include permission to visit these places. Please check with your Travel Agent if your trip includes visits to restricted areas.
If your trip includes a visit to Nepal, Bhutan or Sri Lanka and requires you to return to India to take your international flight home, you would have to apply for a double/multiple entry Indian visa.
It is imperative that every traveller arrives on tour with the proper documentation. While TBi will advise you of our current information regarding passports and visas, please be aware that is the traveller's responsibility to obtain all correct documentation prior to arrival in India.
Arrival and Custom Information:
Please be advised that regulation at most international points of arrival do not permit passengers to be met inside secured passenger areas (such as the immigration and customs areas). The TBi representative will meet you on arrival immediately after you have passed through the passenger areas.
Security in Indian airports is very stringent and all hand baggage is x-rayed and sometimes physically searched prior to boarding flights. Domestic airlines do not permit any dry cell batteries, sharp implements and inflammable items to be carried in cabin baggage. Therefore please ensure that camera batteries, scissors, razors etc. are packed in your checked baggage.
There are several different sets of baggage allowance regulations in effect for international and regional flights. Baggage allowance varies depending on type of aircraft and class service. You should check the exact baggage regulations pertaining to your specific itinerary with either your travel agent or TBi.
Any baggage in excess of airline limitations may be subject to excess baggage charges. These charges are the responsibility of the traveler.
Every piece of checked baggage should be locked and contain identification both inside and well as outside. In addition do not pack valuable items, such as camera and jewelry in checked baggage. While every precaution will be taken with your baggage, TBi cannot be held responsible for any damaged, lost or stolen baggage or personal property and we strongly recommend the purchase of adequate baggage insurance by each traveler.
Departure Tax Information:
Indian departure taxes are now always included in the purchase price of international airline tickets. In the event the departure tax has not been included in the purchase price of your ticket, it must be paid at the airport prior to departure in local currency.
If you are traveling to Nepal from India then departure tax of Rs 150 has to be paid prior to checking in. Please check the exact amount for the tax, as these are liable to change at short notice.
Discuss health requirements for your travel itinerary with a qualified health professional at least six weeks prior to departure. In addition, a good source of health information is the U.S Centers for Disease Control (The CDC) in Atlanta, which operates a 24-hour recorded international travelers' information Line. Information is also available from your local public health department.
If you are arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic (Africa except South Africa and most parts of South America) you are required to have yellow fever vaccination which must be taken at least ten days before your arrival in the country. If your trip requires you take the vaccination, you must ask your doctor to provide you with an "International Certificate of Vaccination" which should be carried with you at all times. If proof of vaccination is required and you do not have it, entrance into the country will be denied.
It is recommended that you take anti malarial medication especially if visiting India during the months of July to September in Northern India, and November and December in Southern India. However, please consult the CDC or your own physician regarding preferred drugs and dosage.
In addition to anti-malarial medication, personal protection measures such as wearing long sleeves and long pants should be taken to avoid mosquito bites, especially between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. These measures include using an insect repellent containing 20% to 35% of the active ingredient "DEET".
It is also recommended that all international travelers ensure that their tetanus, Hepatitis A and polio vaccines are up-to-date.
Since health requirements can change at very short notice, it is important that you check with a qualified health professional for the most current information concerning your travel itinerary and personal health history. It is also suggested that you carry a traveler's medical kit appropriate to your destination, length of trip and general health. Your physician can advise you on specific items to include (such as remedies for minor stomach ailments, dehydration and motion sickness). You should include an adequate supply of any prescription medication you may require while traveling.
If you do have any known food restrictions, allergies or medical conditions or physical disabilities, which need special care, you should ensure that your travel agent and TBi are made aware of these. A copy of your health insurance should be available with your travel agent.
Although India has primarily a tropical climate, the weather varies widely all over the sub continent. There are roughly eight climatic zones, with the monsoons coming to different parts of the country at different times.
North and Central India:
Generally the plains of North India have three distinct seasons. November to March: Winter with daily highs of 20 degrees Celsius and evening lows of 5
April to July: Summer when it is hot and dry with daily highs of upto 40 degrees and Evening lows of 30 degrees Celsius in the evening. July to September: The monsoon season which brings relief from the heat but also brings high
October: autumn when the weather is pleasant with daily highs of 25 degrees and Evening lows of 18 degrees Celsius
South and Western India:
Southern and Western India do not have a "cool season". The summer is hot and humid with the rains coming in June and continuing through till September. Southern India also has winter rains from November onwards, although they are not as heavy as the monsoon rains. From October onwards, the weather becomes pleasant with highs around 30 degrees Celsius and lows of around 25 degrees with minimal humidity.
Snow is usually found from January through to March, only in the foothills of the Himalayas and higher reaches.
Clothing and Accessories:
While traveling in India it is best to dress in layers, as even in winter the sun tends to be very hot. During the winter months in North India, especially from the end of November onwards, you will require sweaters, sweatshirts and a heavy jacket. While sightseeing it is best to dress in layers as the day gets warmer as the sun rises. It is advisable to also carry cotton clothing and other lightweight material of natural "breathable" fabric. Comfortable walking shoes are essential.
Skirts, long shorts and slacks are acceptable in India for women. When visiting temples it is advisable to wear either skirts or slacks. Although dress code at restaurants are relaxed and formal dress is not absolutely necessary, you may want to pack one formal set of clothing for the trip. Sunglasses, a sun hat, and sun block are recommended. If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses, we recommend that you bring an extra pair of glasses as well as a copy of the prescription. While visiting monuments you might have to take off your shoes, we recommend you keep an extra pair of socks in your handbag for the purpose.
You should carry along an adequate supply of any prescribed medication you may require while traveling. Prescription medicines should always be carried in your hand luggage, in the original, labeled containers.
Laundry service is available at most hotels. Please do remember to check the individual laundry return policy and pricing schedule. Please be sure to only request laundry service when you are in one location for a sufficient length of time to ensure that your laundry is returned to you before you depart.
Electrical current in India is 220 volts. If you are traveling with electrical appliances bring along an international converter kit complete with a set of adapter plugs. These are available from better electrical and hardware stores in the U.S. and Canada.
It is suggested that you take battery-operated appliance wherever possible and a supply of extra batteries.
Email and Faxes:
Most of the hotels used by TBi will have local and international dialing facilities available from the phone in your room. Most chain hotels also have in-house facilities for sending fax and emails. One can also find small ISD/STD pay phone booths in the busy market areas of virtually every city in India. Cyber cafes have also mushroomed in all major city market places, as well as in many smaller towns.
Food and Drink:
Most hotels used by TBi serve a variety of international cuisine, with some of them having an excellent reputation for fine dining. When traveling in some of the smaller cities, choices maybe restricted, and sometimes it is advisable to stay with local cuisine rather than requesting European menus, though these can be arranged. Food in all hotels is safe and hygienically stored and cooked; however, it is suggested that in the smaller towns and cities, you avoid raw pre peeled fruit and vegetables and yogurt.
Tap water in India is not safe to drink and we strongly recommend that you always drink bottled water. Bottled water is available in all hotels and always kept in the transport arranged by TBi. When buying bottled water, always ensure that the bottle is sealed when you receive it. Additionally, you will find a wide range of soft drinks, beer and coffee and tea, which are all safe to drink. A word of caution: Imported alcoholic beverages are expensive in comparison to the Indian alcoholic beverages. While traveling in India at any time of the year, it is important to keep yourself well hydrated.
Currency of over $2500 being brought into the country must be declared at customs on arrival. The Indian currency is called the "Rupee" and the coins are known as "paisa". 100 paisa make 1 Rupee Coins are issued in denominations of 25 and 50 paisa as well as one, two and five rupees Paper notes are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 Rupees Your currency exchange receipts must be saved as you may be asked to produce them upon your departure from India, or if you need to reconvert rupees into foreign currency upon departure. We suggest that money is only exchanged at authorized dealers and banks and hotel desks. Generally all cities, large and small, have facilities to change money. Please be aware that most game parks and reserves don't have currency exchange facilities.
Major credit cards and traveler's checks are generally accepted at all hotel and stores and all major cities and most small towns have ATM's
India is a shopper's delight, and the range of items is astonishing. Do not purchase antiques, carpets or jewellery unless you are absolutely sure of what you are buying. Price is not always an indication of value and authenticity. Bargaining is very much part of the Indian shopping experience especially when shopping in local markets. You should be aware that unless it is a government emporium where prices are fixed, you would always be quoted prices much higher than the value of the goods.
Always take time to read the charge slips for credit card purchases before you sign them. You should know that for any purchase returned against a credit card payment, refunds could take up to six months to process.
For purchases, which are, being hand carried all sales receipts must be retained with you to produce for customs on arrival at your destination.
We recommend that you bring all photographic equipment with you including an ample supply of film. International brands of film are widely available, though the quality cannot be guaranteed.
When photographing people, always ask permission and offer a small fee for taking their picture. Your tour guide or escort will advise you. The exception is when taking a general picture of crowds and scenes. Photography at airports is strictly forbidden. Valuables, Safety and Travel Insurance.
Exercise the same safety precautions throughout your travels as you would at home. Avoid walking around at night and keep all valuables in the hotel locker as far as possible. It is important to keep photocopies of you passport and other travel documents handy.
Tipping in India is not compulsory but generally expected. The amount is determined by your satisfaction of the services provided. The welcome letter given to you on arrival gives you guidelines about the amount to give should you wish to leave a tip.
There is only one time zone in India which is GMT+ 5:30. When the United States is operating under Standard Time, it is nine and half-hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Prior to departure for India, you will be given a complete list of contact numbers including telephone, fax and email addresses to assist you in the event you must be contacted while traveling. The information will also include after office contact numbers of all TBi personnel. Additionally you can be reached via the TBi office here in New Delhi.
English is widely understood and sometimes spoken, if not correctly, definitely passably. Your guide or escort will assist you to communicate with people who don't speak English at all.