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Insider’s Tips

  • Please make sure you have travel insurance
  • You will need a plug adaptor (electricity: 240 V, 50 Hz)
  • Currency: Indian Rupee
  • Time zone: Standard Time Zone UTC/GMT +5.30hrs
  • Visa required by Irish passport holders

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Exchanging Money in India:

Changing money in India can be a tedious and cumbersome process. So, it is advisable for you to change a substantial amount at one time. Travelers’ cheques are not accepted at each and every bank. It is even difficult to change currency other than dollars or pound sterling. However, make sure to change the money at accredited bureaus only, changing at any other place is illegal and also runs the risk of being counterfeit.

There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency or travelers’ cheques. A tourist may import any amount, provided he/she has filled a declaration form on arrival. This will help in exchanging your currency at the time of arrival as well as the taking back your unspent currency at the time of leaving.

You can get your currency exchanged at the airport itself also. The moneychangers at airports are open 24 hours. Also, moneychangers are available in some hotels too. In big cities, you will find several branches of International foreign exchange providers. However, in small towns however, only minor banks will be providing the service. You should save all exchange receipts (encashment certificates). You may require them for visa extensions and other formalities and at the time of going back, when you want to convert the rupees.

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Electricity in India

Electricity in India is 240 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. You will require a voltage converter if you are carrying a device that does not accept 240 Volts at 50 Hertz. To adjust your device according to the power and voltage in India, the following three types of Voltage converters may be used:
Resistor-network converters
This type of converter usually supports approximately 50 -1600 Watts. They are lightweight. You can easily use this converter for high-wattage electrical appliances like hair dryers and irons. But, you can use them for short periods only and they are not ideal for digital devices.
Transformers
Transformers support low watt rating, around 50 – 100 Watts. Generally, you can use them continuously. Also, they provide better electricity for low wattage appliances like battery chargers, radios, laptop computers, cameras, mp3 players and camcorders. Their drawback is the low wattage and heavy weight.
Combination converters
Combination converters are also manufactured by some companies. They are a combination of a resistor network and a transformer in the same package. You can easily switch between the two modes. If you need both types of converters, then it is better to buy this combination converter.
Outlets in India generally accept the following types of plug:

  • Two round pins
  • Three round pins arranged in a triangle

If your appliances plug has any other shape, you will need a plug adapter. If you plan to travel a lot in the future, it is better to get a combination voltage converter and a plug adapter.

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Indian Visa

To get a visa for India, you need to submit a number of documents to the Indian Embassy. Following is a list of important documents for Indian visa:

  • Visa application form.
  • Passport, having a minimum validity of six months on the date of application.
  • Two identical passport sized photographs, black and white or colored.
  • Supporting documents, depending upon the type of visa.
  • Visa fee.

There are a number of Indian visa types, suitable for different purposes of travel. Given below are the different types of Indian visas:
Tourist Visa:
If you are coming to India on a holiday to explore the country, then, tourist visa is for you. Valid for 15 days – single/double entry, Fee of  €24

Transit Visa:
It is meant for transit passengers only, to enable them to travel through India to reach the ultimate destination. Valid for 6 months- multiple entries fee of €50

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India Travel Vaccinations

To know about the major diseases and vaccinations for India travelers, read the following paragraphs:
Vaccinations for Indian Travel
Before embarking on your India vacations, you must make yourself familiar with different diseases that are common in Indian climatic conditions. In addition to that you should also consult your physician before going for any vaccination or medicine. Here is a comprehensive list of all the diseases that are common to India and vaccinations for them.
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for all travelers to India.
Typhoid
All travelers are recommended to take Typhoid vaccination.
Polio
In case of Polio, one-time booster is recommended for any adult traveler who completed the childhood series but never had polio vaccine as an adult.
Yellow Fever
Vaccination for yellow fever is required only for travelers arriving from or transiting through any yellow-fever-infected area like Africa.
Hepatitis B
Travelers who may have intimate contact with local residents should take this vaccination, especially if their period of stay is more than 6 months.
Rabies
Any traveler who may have direct contact with animals should take this vaccination.
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
If any person born after 1956 has not previously taken this vaccination, he/she should take two doses of the same.
Tetanus-Diphtheria
You need to take this revaccination every 10 years.
Major Diseases in India
Planning a trip to India and worried about common diseases in India? To make your India visit truly memorable, we are highlighting some of the major diseases that occur in India.
Diarrhea
The most common ailment of travelers is diarrhea. The main cause of it is unclean food and water. It is advised to carry an antibiotic and an anti diarrhea drug if significant diarrhea occurs. In case of diarrhea, good amount of fluid intake is required. However, if diarrhea gets severe you should immediately call a doctor.
Malaria
Prophylaxis with mefloquine (Lariam), atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone) or doxycycline is recommended throughout India (including Delhi and Bombay), except at places located at high altitudes (2000 m/6561 ft).Long-term travelers coming to India may not have access to medical care all the time; they should bring along medications for emergency self-treatment in case they develop symptoms indicative of malaria, such as fever, headaches, chills and muscle aches. It is importhant to note that symptoms of malaria sometimes may not occur for months or even years after exposure.
Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness may occur in travelers ascending altitudes greater than 2500m. This specifically includes the mountain areas of northern India. Those with a history of heart disease, lung disease, or sickle cell disease are advised to avoid high altitudes.

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Indian Food

There is no single cuisine in India. Just like the culture of India, the Indian cuisine is also very diverse. From Punjabi to South Indian to Gujarati, Indian food consists of a number of different regional cuisines. Read further to know about the traditional food of India.

Most of the Indian cuisines have a liberal usage of spices. Also, there is a wide usage of a variety of vegetables. Within these basic similarities, there is also diversity in the local styles.

North and West:
North Indian meals consist of basically chapatis or rotis, along with dals (pulses), vegetables and Curd (yoghurt). Use of rice is there but not too much. There are also side dishes chutney (preserves) and achars (pickle). In the North and West, there are also Kashmiri and Mughlai cuisines, reflecting the strong influence of central Asia. There is a heavy consumption of Milk based sweets also.

South and East:
In South and East India, there is a heavy consumption of rice, along with dals and curries. The dishes are mostly rice-based. Coconut is a very important and widely used ingredient in most of the South and East Indian dishes. Fish also consists of a part of this diet.

Desert Area:
In the desert area of Rajasthan and Gujarat, there is a usage of a wide variety of dals and achars. A reason for this is the relative lack of fresh vegetables.

However, the staple diet of India consists of rice, atta (whole wheat flour), a variety of pulses and vegetables. Besides the main dishes, there are a number of snacks that are quite popular in India. Some of them are samosa, pakodas, vadas, chillas, etc. Regarding drinks, the most popular is tea. Coffee is more popular in South India. Nimbu pani (lemonade), lassi, and coconut milk are also popular. Traditionally, meals are eaten while sitting on the floor. But with the modernization of India, this practice has diminished to great extent. Also, most of the Indian food is eaten with the fingers only.

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Indian Beggar Handling Tips

If you are traveling to India, you are bound to come across beggars. Mostly you will find them begging at the red lights. Following are some tips for handling Indian beggars. So, if you want to know some Indian beggar handling tips, read on:

  • If the beggar is a healthy person, don’t give him any money or anything else. Ignore such people. Just walk past them or pull up the windows if you are in a car.
  • In case of a physically handicapped person, you can give some money or even something to eat.
  • If you come across children begging on the street, don’t be surprised. Its better to give the children something to eat. If you give them money, it will most probably go into the pockets of their parents or some other person. They will hardly ever benefit from it.
  • Always give beggars money at the time of leaving a place, as you get in the car. Otherwise, there is a possibility of your getting mobbed.

Give a tip to beggars between Rs. 2 to Rs. 10. If you give more money than this, you will run the risk of getting mobbed by beggars.

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Tips for Women Travelers to India

Even after the modern influence of western countries, India still remains a conservative country. Some western habits are perceived as inappropriate and degrading if practiced by women here. Here are some travel tips for women in India:

  • Don’t wear revealing clothes while in India. They do not appeal to Indian sensibilities. You will attract unwanted attraction and advances if you are wearing skimpy outfits.
  • Apart from the big cities, touching between people of the opposite sex in public is very unusual. Even married couples avoid any display of affection publicly. It will be better if you do not shake hands with a person of the opposite sex unless the other person extends his/her hand first. Among Hindus, the way to greet is by bring your palms together in front of your chest, or simply saying ‘Namaste’. You can say Hello or Hi also. But some old people may not appreciate it.
  • Smoking by a woman is not acceptable anywhere in India, except for the metro cities. A woman who smokes/drinks is thought to be having a loose moral character, especially amongst the middle class.
  • Discos, dance clubs, pubs, 5-star hotels are areas with a modern touch. You can easily head there for some entertainment or for drinks. However, having a male companion or at least another female with you is quite a good idea.
  • Even at beaches, the people here are fully clothed. First find out what kind of attire is appropriate for the beach you are heading to. In some places like Goa, the visitors to beach mainly consist of foreigners. There, you may wear swimsuits on the beach. However, even there it is inappropriate to roam about dressed in swimwear away from the beach.
  • In local trains, some cars reserved only for women. It is advised for you to travel in those.
  • It is better not to venture outside in a street party. Street parties on holidays generally don’t consist of women. Inebriated men are seen partying at such occasions. Women, in these parties, can be subjected to groping and sexually aggressive behavior from the inebriated males. It is very unsafe for women to attend these festivities alone.
  • Avoid talking in a friendly manner with men you meet in buses, trains, restaurants, shopping places, etc. It may be viewed as a flirtation. It may also lead to unwanted and unexpected sexual advances. However, befriending Indian women can be a wonderful experience for female travelers. But, you may have to start the conversation.
  • A way to get more respect from Indians is to wear traditional Indian clothes, such as salwaar kameez or sari.
  • Do not venture in isolated places alone. It is also advised not to go outside alone after it is very late and dark.

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Drinking Water Safety for Traveling in India

There is no big problem of clean drinking water in India. However, you need to take certain precautions to ensure that you are drinking clean and pure water. Some of these water precautions for India are listed below:

  • These days bottled (mineral) water is available almost everywhere. However, sometimes, cheap fake bottled water is also given. To avoid this, make sure to check that that the seal of the bottle is intact. Also, see if there is anything floating in it before buying.
  • Even when you are visiting restaurants or hotels, insist on bottled (mineral) water. You will not face much trouble as almost all the restaurants and hotels keep bottled water.
  • Never ever drink water from roadside vendors selling water pumped up from the vend’s tank. That water is not at all safe.
  • You may also come across water being sold in polythene bags. Don’t drink it at all. Even this water is not safe.
  • If you are staying at someone’s place, don’t drink the tap water. If they have aquagaurds or RO systems or other purifiers, then it’s ok. Otherwise, insist on either boiled or bottled (mineral) water.

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Shopping

Our tours provide the opportunity to see some of the local crafts and industries of India.  These visits form part of the tour but you should not feel obliged to purchase unless you want to.  Items such as hand-knotted carpets provide a lovely reminder of a clourful visit to India as well as supporting the people that make them.  Try to accept the somewhat pressurised sales techniques employed in some shopd with good humour and wherever possible put your bargaining skills to the test for the best reults.  May we also suggest you consider the following points.

  • Check your credit card receipt carefully before you leave the shop to ensure there are no errors.
  • If you are buying articles that you will import yourself, goods purchased in India attract Irish tax and duty as soon as your total imports exceed the regular duty free allowances (alcohol, cigarettes etc.) plus €150 of other gifts and souvenirs.  If  you bring in something worth more than the limit of €150, you must pay charges on the full value, not just the value above €150.
  • Shopkeepers will offer to have larger purchases such as rugs shipped back to Ireland for you.  Please remember that an over enthusiastic salesman is not an expert on Irish Customs and Excise and that his/her estimate of costs cannot be considered to be reliable.  Customs and Excise charges are very complex to calculate and are likely to be more than you are quoted in India.  For more information on how Customs and Excise calculate charges we suggest that you check the Customs and Excise section of the government website www.revenue.ie
  • Obtain an assurance from the shopkeeper in writing that all shipping charges are included in the cost of purchase, or to confirm what they will be.
  • Credit card fraud is on the increase world wide.  Keep your cards safe and use them only in reputable outlets.

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Transportation

Coaches used on tours should be clean and well maintained.  Air conditioning is provided for your comfort during the hot summer season.  Despite their dated appearance vehicles are not more than 5 years old.  However the uneven, well-used roads can result in quite bumpy journeys over long distances and on occasion breakdowns do occur.  We would highlight that in Inia the lenght of time it takes to cover a relatively short distance can be extensive, and the concept of time and distance are not necessarily relative.  Comfort stops are made on long  journeys although facilities can be basic so it is advisable to carry a supply of toilet paper or tissues.

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