Recently, all of us sat down and discussed the most commonly asked questions by our guests travelling to India. Below is a detailed analysis of them.
Hope it helps.
You must be in possession of a valid passport, which will not expire for at least six months after your journey is due to end. It should have to clear pages for entry and exit stamps as well as your visa.
A wise precaution is to carry a photocopy of your passport kept separately, extremely useful in the event of loss or theft.
All visitors to India require a visa that must be obtained from an Indian High Commission or Consulate. You would need to use two addresses in India and do let us know for the same as it is normal to give our company’s (COMPASS INDIA) and our director’s address on the same.
For postal applications passports should be sent by registered post and include a registered post paid return addressed envelope. Applications should be on the official visa form available from a local travel agent. Alternatively in some countries the form can be downloaded from the Embassies’ official WEBSITE. All applications should include 3 passport-sized photographs. Your local travel agent or nearest Embassy will be able to inform you of the latest application fee.
Visas are required for British Passport Holders. Your passport must also be valid for 6 months from your date of arrival in India.
Indian High Commission London
London WC2B 4NA
There are also consulates in Edinburgh and Birmingham that issue visas.
In London, applications normally take less than an hour to be processed if you arrive early.
While travelling in India it is important that you obtain good personal travel insurance from an insurance agent in your country. A suitable policy will include an unlimited amount for medical, hospital and additional health associated costs.
Most policies cover loss of baggage, personal money (usually limited) delay and curtailment. Do make sure your policy covers you for unexpected cancellation of your trip in this unlikely event you will then be covered for financial cost.
You should carry your insurance policy with you at all time, preferably in your relevant details in a separate place, with your passport photocopy.
India has a very traditional and religious society. Its cultures and customs are very different to western cultural ideas. We ask you as guests in this amazing country to respond to these sometimes-bizarre differences with sensitivity and respect.
We do request you to dress conservatively - both men and women should wear clothing that covers knees and shoulders (when visiting mosques and temples). Nudity is totally taboo, when swimming please do wear a swimsuit.
Try to avoid any public display of affection. When entering mosques, temples and places of religious worship or private homes - please remove your shoes. Many Hindu temples are not open to non-Hindus. Always ask permission before entering. Mosques may have limited visiting times for non-Muslims.
We have a panel of guides with ranks and only use them, and in most cases they would be satisfactory. Government licensed guides are always preferred by Compass India Inc. There are training courses and exams for the same and chances are less that you will be unhappy if you go with one. Their daily rates and wages are Government fixed. Note that the guide usually is there during lunch and it is not an obligation to buy him/her lunch. If there are ever any problems 9The Guide cannot speak the language well, too fast while you would like to spend more time at the monuments, etc. do let us know so that we can change the guide.
The monument entrance fees are usually not included in the tour cost. It is not a problem when the same is included but when it is not, you need to keep small change for the same. Usually you need to take the tickets yourself but can request the guide who would be happy to oblige. We also have detailed lists of monuments with the entrance fees and camera charges. Do request us for the same if you want to have a good idea when the same is not included in your tour cost. At times we do not include the same as this might lead to misunderstandings when the tour is too tight on time.
Tipping is an inherent part of life in India. It is one of the most effective ways to communicate how you felt about the service provided. It is common practice to tip porters, drivers, wait staff, toilet attendants and guides. It is not necessary to tip rickshaw drivers. Please note that you are not obliged to tip and it is entirely to your discretion. Please refer to http://www.tipping.org/tips/TipsPageIndia.html
for tipping standards. Please let us know if you want some guidelines on the same but usually it is “what you feel is appropriate.”
A general idea would be as follows:
Bellboys: Rs. 10 - 20 (1/4th US$) per bag
Drivers: Rs. 200 (5 US$) per day & Rs.100 (2 US$) per half day
Day Guides: Rs. 250 to 400 (6 - 8 US$)
Restaurants: 5% of the bill amount could be left.
Room boys / Maid: It is not recommended
In India roads could appear to be pot-holed and traffic chaotic and hence our guests very frequently get very worried. We suggest that you catch up on some sleep or read a book or even better put on your in-flight eye shades and doze off. The drivers are well trained and they are used to these roads. Very seldom (I must hasten to add that almost none) are any accidents involving tourist vehicles. The cars that we use are safe, insured for and routinely checked. Trains however are much more comfortable ride-wise but could appear dirty and filthy. Do carry your dry hand wash and tissue always while taking train journeys. The flights are pleasant and service good.
The transport is broadly classified as:
Cars – In India, the mostly used car for tourists is, the Ambassador. This is one of the oldest models in the world still being manufactured and it is still hardy and spacious. We have always had guests specially requesting for this car. We have a couple of them in our fleet and they are almost a year old (2003 end model) and we use them discreetly as they wear and tear fast and could be slow and rickety if used without rest. Other than these two cars we also use TATA INDIGO which is a small sedan with good air-conditioning, TATA INDICA which is a small hatchback and is used for backpackers on a long trip, TOYOTA QUALIS & INNOVA & TATA SAFARI which are high SUV type vehicles seating 4 – 5 people normally but used for couples also as are very comfortable and MITSUBISHI LANCERS. On guest’s request, the premium cars that we use are CHEVY OPTRA & TOYOTA COROLLA. We also use TOYOTA CAMRY, HONDA ACCORD & MERCEDES (C, E & S) when requested for. We have recently launched our luxury limousine which we use only for top end tours as and when requested.
Flights – There are presently four domestic airlines in India other than Air India which also operates some domestic routes. The local airlines in the order of service and punctuality are Jet Airways, Sahara Airlines, Indian Airlines and Deccan Air. Out of all the four Deccan is to be avoided as they are still facing teething problems.
Trains – As described above train journeys could be enjoyable if you have an open mind and just want to enjoy and experience true India. The middle class and upper middle class (cliché) use Indian Railways and it is a way of life in India. The best trains that could be booked and we use them where possible are SHATABDI & RAJDHANI EXPRESS. You could check the various classes in the following site:
Thomas Cook or American Express in American Dollars, Euro or British Sterling are the only ones that are widely accepted.
US dollars, Euro and British Sterling are the best currency to take. The notes need to be clean, undamaged and if possible the latest issue.
In major cities Visa, Master and American Express cards can be used. Please do not rely on your credit card as a source of finance in small cities though most of the tourist cities have a large number of ATMs.
Please see www.oanda.com
for updated currency exchange rate
With such a large landmass, India has a wide range of climates with effects of the altitude and the sea being very string in certain areas.
April – June: Hot, dry and dusty with temperature 35-42 DEG C
July – August: Hot, Humid and rainy
Sep – Mar: Pleasant days and could get cooler in the night
April/May & Aug/Sep: Hot and Humid with average temperature 38 DEG C
June/July/Oct/Nov: Hot and Heavy rains
Dec – Mar: Hot but less humid
India is an area of great linguistic diversity with over 1500 languages and dialect. People associated with tourism speak English throughout the country. The official language is however Hindi.
India is 5.5 hours ahead of GMT, 6.5 hours behind New Zealand Standard Time, 4.5 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time and 11.5 hours ahead of Canadian Eastern Standard Time.
For the most of areas, cotton casual clothing that is light and loose fitting is recommended for daywear. For trips during Nov-Jan do carry warm clothes as it is cold during early mornings and evenings. (Only in Northern India) Carry a hat during sightseeing to keep off the mid-day sun and for the evenings a couple of elegant dresses would be nice to be worn for dinner at the lovely hotels. You could also wear trousers and jeans during the day. There is no problem. Carry a stole or a scarf to cover your head or feet while at the religious places.
No specific vaccinations are required to enter India unless you are entering within six days of having visited a yellow fever infected area. Most doctors recommend the following vaccinations:
The majority of visitors to India return home with perfect health having had no problems at all. The most common complaint is a stomach upset for a day or two-usually the result of a change of diet, different Beer, or simply the change of lifestyle, most case are rarely serious and recovery is swift.
Dust can be a problem to travellers who wear contact lenses. If you are taking prescribed medicines, split your supplies between your hand baggage and your main baggage. Make a list of the generic properties of the drug and keep with you.
If you are prone to coughs, colds and sore throats, we advice you to take preventive medicines with you as larger cities suffer from smog pollution. This is particularly important if you suffer from bronchial complaints.
If you are over 60 or you think you have any physical disabilities, then you should talk to your doctor about the trip to ensure it is suitable for you. Once on the trip please tell us any concerns you may have regarding health concerns, we can then ensure your specific needs are met.
We do reserve the right not to accept any traveller who is found to have withheld any information relating to their state of health that might affect the trip, even after a booking has been accepted.
If you are undergoing specific medical treatment please inform us. It is your responsibility to ensure you have an adequate supply of any medication they may be taking.
For more detailed information ask your local travellers health clinic or your doctor.
Tap water is not safe to drink. Bottled water is available everywhere and is cheap. However always check the seal.
India can be described as a shopper’s paradise with products such as hand-woven rugs, inlaid marble, semi-precious stone jewellery, silk fabrics, brassware, etc. India’s diversity is expressed though the creation of master craftspeople. Each state has a unique handicraft to proudly reflect the inherited and improved skills to near perfection. Souvenir shops and art & craft emporiums are to be found everywhere.
Consult your guidebook or the local guides and people. Usually the “pavement markets” do not guarantee the products and they do not accept credit / debit cards. Genuine products can only be guaranteed at a government showroom or branded showroom, i.e. Cottage Industries, etc.
Shopping can be one of the ways to interact with a local. For people who like to bargain, shopping is a true pleasure. For others, fixed priced stores are a relief. Whatever transaction you prefer, we hope your purchase that was made in India, will remind you of your trip.
Yes, the guides do take you to shops and showrooms, while you are on tour. You can say “no” when you don’t want to visit the shops or not interested in shopping with a guide. But when you do visit the store with the guide, you do not necessarily pay a higher price for a substandard product. As this is a worldwide phenomenon, we accept it too with its “blues.” What we have done for our travellers who want to shop with the guides and at the same time want to be sure of the price and quality of the product, we have selected a few stores both privately owned & government owned (but in both cases Government recognized) at important destinations, where we are sure of three things;
Quality of the product
The product if too heavy should be delivered at your doorstep without any extra cost even if the extra cost needs to be added to the price of the product.
The product is insured before sending to you so in case of damages while on transit you are reimbursed appropriately.
As for price, some are fixed price & some are bargain shops. So go ahead and have FUN!!! For lists of authorized shops do let us know.
We’re sure there are some more, like the ones our experts are dealing with right now, don’t worry, we’ll answer those too shortly.
When To Go?
||Ideal For Touring And Beaches / No Rainfall
||Touring Possible / Showers May Occur
||Peak Monsoon Rainfall Period
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