Beyond the usual safety precautions, here are 09 Must-Know tips to facilitate an enjoyable India trip!
1. Visa Requirements
Prior to your departure, be sure to check visa requirements. You may do so at your local embassy.
For Singapore Nationals, we are entitled to Tourist Visa on Arrival at New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata airports (info as at Jan 2012 from High Commission of India – Singapore). Nonetheless, I would advise you to apply your visa prior to departure. Check Visa Fees and Processing Time here.
Also, do consider registering with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Your registration can allow MFA and Overseas Missions to contact and provide you with necessary consular assistance during an emergency or crisis.
2. Travel Season, Clothes & Accessories
Depending on season, please pack appropriate clothes and accessories. A cap and sun glasses will always come in very handy! The peak season for tourism in India starts from October to March (all other period will be too hot!). We visited during end September and weather was great (not to mention low season travel rates)!
3. Solution To A Happy Stomach
My travel buddies and I managed to AVOID a bowel disaster during our 2-week travel in curry land. This was NOT a miracle. Precautions and care were taken, and the solution to our happy stomachs lie in the small white tablets, otherwise known as – water purification pills.
ALL water in India must be purified with the pills. Also, do pack some drinking water from home. For your first day in India, you should mix water from home with the purified water so that your body can slowly adapt. Water for brushing teeth should also be purified. At restaurants, we usually request for hot boiling water.
(Water purification pills are available at the local pharmacies or if you are from Singapore – do check out Watsons.)
4. Necessities For Roadtrips
Travelling distances between each destinations vary and more often than not, journey are long. Despite the fascinating scenes beyond your car window, one tends to get bored after some time. For a comfortable “road trip”, do pack along a travel pillow, some snacks and perhaps a good book (or whatever that works for you).
5. Healthy Haggling Vs Being A Miser
The Indians love to haggle and they are very good at it! When haggling, always be sure of the bottom line price that you are willing to pay. Needless to say, do not haggle if you are not interested or if you only want to save a few cents. Time equates money after all (but this is purely my own opinion so you should do as you deem fit).
6. Don’t Forget To Tip
I’m afraid there’s NO all-in prices. Tipping is necessary and highly encouraged. Thus, please do not forget to tip. Coming from Singapore where all prices are inclusive for convenience sake, I do wish they could have all-in prices.
Based on 2011 tipping rates, this is what I figured (for reference only):
Tour guide >>> USD5 per day
Driver >>> USD5 per day
Bell boys/ Room service >>> USD1
Dining >>> 5% to10% of bill
7. Street Stalls & Pushy Touters
Avoid the street stalls. Even the guides stopped us from getting food or drinks from the streets, so there must be a reason! We did try food from local coffee shops which were very good. As for street vendors and touters, they are very mobile and can be extremely pushy! Be firm if you are not interested and walk away after making your intentions clear. Avoid eye contact thereafter. A friend of mine encountered a pushy touter near the India Gate and her arm was almost dislocated as the touter refused to let go.
8. Beggars, Vagrants & Charity
This is most prominent in major cities e.g. New Delhi. It is a social problem acknowledged by all. When encountering vagrants or beggars, the best approach is to avoid eye contact and move on fast. Whilst I encourage kind acts of charity, this is neither the place nor time to do so.
9. An Open Mind + Travel Insurance
Last but not least, always travel with an open mind but do not forget to buy travel insurance (just n case – touch wood!) 😀
From Me to You:
A Simple Reference Guide For Your Travel In India
- Northern India
- 05 Things That I Appreciate About India
- Experience North India in 13 Days (PDF Itinerary by KaZ)
(Involving 6 cities & 2 towns in 4 states by plane, rail, car and boat travel!)
- Personal List of Things to Bring When Travelling To India (PDF)
(Includes free space for you to add additional items!)