Visas, Vaccinations & other Valuable info

A visa is essential for India - a tourist visa is generally valid for 6 months (from date of issue). Information is available from https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/.   I do not recommend Visa on Arrival unless your trip is a last-minute one and you have no other option.   And don’t forget that your own Embassy/High Commission in India likes to know that you are there so that they can look after you if required – most have registration forms that you can download.

Vaccinations, etc Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Cholera should be considered. Anti-malaria tablets may also be advisable (Doxycycline is an option). Your GP or a Travel Medicine Specialist can provide up-to-date advice.

Insurance check any exclusions, particularly if your Govt is advising against travel to any parts of India

Medicines Anti-malaria pills, anti-diarrhoea pills, a broad spectrum antibiotic. Any medicines you are currently taking: take sufficient for the trip, evidence that you require them (prescription or letter from your doctor) and make sure they are in the original packaging. General first aid supplies – Pain relief, plasters, antihistamine (dust and strange pollens can cause allergic reactions), disinfectant wipes or cream.    If you are ill it is often wisest to seek local medical advice as they know the best solutions for local ailments.

Water  
Purification tablets and/or filter systems are now not essential as good clean bottled water is generally available. If you do want something, Iodine tablets are an option. Straws can be useful – for drinking from unknown bottles and/or glasses.   Be sure to use bottled water for cleaning your teeth - this is the easiest thing to forget and is the cause of most problems.

Toiletries You can buy most things! Carry toilet paper with you as it probably will not be available at roadside stops or on trains. Take a toilet bag you can hang up: essential for any train travel. Wet wipes are useful for all sorts of things from washing your hands and face to cleaning the train windows so that you can see out! Alcohol based preparations allow you to clean your hands without soap and water, and without the need to dispose of a paper towel/Wet wipe. Sink plug often missing on trains – and even in hotels

Small knife for peeling fruit. Indeed a compact knife, fork and spoon set can be useful – but remember not to have it in your hand luggage!

Sunhat, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent (this readily available in India)


Spare glasses
and/or prescription. If you need prescription glasses/lenses and have a current prescription these can be made up quite quickly and cheaply in India

Electrics Power cuts are a way of life in India so a torch is useful, Adaptor for any electrical appliances as the sockets are different. An excellent website for information on power points, etc - http://www.indiaquickfacts.com/content/india-electricity-electrical-plugs-converters-electric-sockets-electric-adapters

Camera, film, batteries Film is much cheaper in India and of just as good quality – as is processing of the film. Check the expiry date on film – and the price printed on the package!    However, digital photography has now just about replaced film.

Clothes In smaller places it is unwise for ladies to wear shorts and/or sleeveless blouses and dresses – it contravenes religious codes and can prevent access to places you may want to see. Nowadays this does not apply so much in the main tourist centres, but can do off the beaten track. A sarong can be a useful item – it can be a sheet, towel, folded as a pillow, a shawl for decorum or warmth, an extra skirt, etc. (This last item is for ladies only – men do not need assistance like this, though some have found it a cool and comfortable alternative to trousers on occasions!). You will be required to take your shoes off in many places and may prefer to wear socks rather than go barefoot – white socks are therefore not a good option!!! It can be chilly in the north in winter (particularly inland and in desert areas) and in air-conditioned trains, so layers that can be added and removed are a good idea and a lightweight cardigan or jacket can be useful. Clothing is cheap to buy and/or have made – and the styles and fabrics are generally more suitable to the climate than items we might take with us! A great website on packing only the essentials – www.onebag.com

Beggars will accost you from time to time and it is best to ignore them and make donations to recognised charities.   If you feel you want to give something it is better to give food and/or water than money.   Small packs of 2 biscuits are available, fruit, small bottles of water....   Small gifts are great to hand out to kids, eg pencils and pens with logos on them, especially sporting ones. 

Keeping in touch with home Phone calls from India are comparatively cheap, especially if you make them from an ISD/STD booth. It is a good idea to bring a mobile with you if you have one, but check with your provider about roaming facilities and costs - a better alternative may be to buy an Indian SIM card and use that.   I have a couple of phones/sim cards available .

Money matters

Currency – Rupee (INR, Rs).

Tipping Tips are generally expected by porters, waiters, guides, drivers – anyone who provides you with a service! Naturally how much you wish to tip depends on the service you receive.! It is important to remember that wages are low and it is expected that these will be supplemented by tips – essential to provide more than basic living expenses, such as education for their children…. Local agents and their reps do not need to be tipped – but a small gift or souvenir fro your home is always welcome.

Here are some suggested minimums and more will always be appreciated…..

Porters – Rs50 per bag / Waiters – 10% of bill – but check whether service is included  (this is different from service tax, which goes to the Govt.)/ Housekeeping – Rs50 per day / Guides – Rs200 per half day / Driver – Rs300 per person per day

Shopping Anyone taking you to a particular shop (or restaurant) is likely to get commission from them - so you may need to be firm if you don’t want to shop – on the other hand shops are most willing to show you their wares and there is no compulsion to buy! But, again, remember that these commissions are an integral and important part of the earnings of these people.

Bargaining is a way of life in India – see Shopping 

(Revised 10.14)