Passport and Visa
Except respected citizens of Nepal and Bhutan, all foreigners are required to travel with valid passport and visa. Visa must be obtained in advance from Indian consulate and embassies abroad. All India bound flights will deny you boarding if you failed to produce a valid Indian visa. If planning to visit Nepal and Bhutan and then re-entering India, a double or multiple entry visas should be obtained.
Requirement for Visa are original passport valid for at least six months, correct visa fee. Passport size photos, supporting documents, where necessary and duly completed application form.
There are no compulsory vaccinations for travel to India, although Alpine Eco Trek strongly recommends that you protect yourself against polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Cholera, Hepatitis A and Malaria, Which is taken in tablet form. Certain passengers may also be advised to have a Meningitis injection. Also ensure you have a good mosquito repellent. There are some places in India where malaria is still prevalent. Prior to your departure, get a prescription from your doctor for some anti malarial tablets.
We strongly advise that you contact your doctor or travel clinics allowing at least three weeks before the date of travel for all medical advice. Bring your own medicines for better quality or brand. If needed, Pharmacies or chemists are available in every small town and village and you can buy medication. In case you need to see a doctor for a specific condition then ask for help from your hotel or with us. The cost of visiting a doctor is fairly low compared to western countries.
India is a kaleidoscope of colors just waiting to be photographed, so wherever you travel be sure to carry your camera and as ample supply of color film or incase of digital camera, bring additional memory cards you may photograph to your heart's content. Photography is prohibited in places of military importance, railway stations, bridges, airports and military installations. If you are taking photographs of local people, always ask their permission before taking the pictures. Your guide will help you in this regards.
During winter months in the North and the highlands in the south do get cold at night, but at all other times light weight cotton is best. Respect their culture, discreet clothing for woman especially. For foot wear - comfortable sandals are highly recommended.
The majority of hired cars are chauffeur - driven in India. Hiring a taxi is no problem and quite reliable. To avoid any confusion over cost, settle the fare before you set off. Taxi and Auto Rickshaw are available from all hotels. You should negotiate the rate before commencing your journey. Use only authorized and properly identified taxis and cars. Avoid taxis that pick up additional passengers. Do not accept an offer to share a taxi to your hotel unless you know the individual.
Trained English speaking guides are available at fixed charges at all important tourist centers. They speak most of the languages.
Most of the hotels they include service charges on their bills. In such cases tipping is not necessary. In smaller places where a service charge has not been added to the bill, a tip of 8-10% is warmly appreciated. If you are in a big group and the food bill is high, the tip on the total can come down to 5%. The porter who takes your baggage to your room is usually tipped between Rs. 20-25 per person. These estimates are for 5 and 4 star hotels and are proportionately less in 1, 2 or 3 star hotels. Tips for guides can be approximately US$ 10-15 per day and approximately half of it to your driver. In smaller places, where a service charge has not been added to the bill, a tip is warmly appreciated.
The units of Indian currency are the Rupee and they come in the denomination of 5/10/20/50/100/1000. The rupee is divided into 100 paise. The paise comes in coin denominations of five, 10, and 20 ( all no longer being issued). There are also rare rupee coins in denominations of one, two and five. All major credit cards are accepted in most hotels, restaurants, government and hotel shops, and so are the travelers cheques as well. It is advisable to change your money through authorized banks and hotels. Always keep your receipts as you will need them at the end of your holiday if you wish to convert your rupees bank to your own currency.
Almost all Indian cities have 24 hour ATMs that may accept Cirrus, Maestro, Master Card, Plus and visa. Check the current rate of exchange at Google and Yahoo!
Presently, there is hardly any black market prevailing in India and it is always advisable to exchange your money thru authorized money changer or at the hotel reception desk to avoid any unwanted situation. If you try to change currency unofficially as the touts and brokers promise to give a better exchange rate and as soon as they get hold of your money they vanish into thin air.
Avoid eating spicy foods when you first arrive in India, however tempting. Indian food as everyone knows is full of species and herbs. Indian foods served in the west are adopted for the taste but not in India. Most travelers try one dish at a time and work their way up. It is advisable to stick to only cooked food and to eat fresh fruits whose skin you can peel off or remove. Avoid foods which have been laid out in the open, avoid sweets and candies from local markets. Indian beer is acceptable, along with Indian gin and vodka. The whiskey needs as acquired taste, and the imported scotch whiskey is very expensive and as is the wine.
India is a shopper's paradise with the promise of some excellent buys. For gift items shopping, we recommend the Govt. Emporiums to avoid bargaining. Bargain in all private and non Govt. Gift stores even if you do not like it.
Airport departure tax applies at different levels for neighboring countries and these may or may not be included in the cost of your air ticket. This can be rechecked before departure from your ticketing or travel agent. However, currently for neighboring countries it is Rs. 150 and for international departures it is Rs. 500. For domestic flights, there are only check - in and security formalities. At certain points, you may be asked to personally identify your baggage before boarding the aircraft.
Do some background reading before visiting India, so that your visit becomes a great experience that something you had never dream could happen to you. Following are some suggested readings.
Lonely planet guide
India Handbook by footprint
Travels through sacred India by Roger Housden.
The Rough guide.
India Travel Guide Paparback.
Five star and four star hotels are of international standards and the comforts and cuisine they provide compare with any in the world. The deluxe and palace hotels are a world apart and many have been accorded ' Leading hotels of the world' status. We use select hotels based on the location, good ambience and hospitality.
Your travel arrangements should be made well in advance, especially if you are traveling between October - March (high tourist season) and May - June. Travel facilities are limited in relation to demand so prior a booking is a must. All major airlines of Europe, Americas and Asia operate flights to Major Indian cites such as Delhi, Mumbai, Banglore, Kolkata, Cochin & Chennai.
There are different sets of baggage allowance regulations in effect for international and regional flights. Baggage allowances can vary depending on which airlines, class of service and routing is used. Despite the information given here, you are urged to check with your booking agent or airline for the exact baggage regulations pertaining to your specific itinerary.
Please be advised that baggage limits are adhered to very strictly on both international and domestic flights. Most domestic carriers have more restrictive baggage limitations than international carriers. On domestic flights, the baggage allowance is 30 kilograms per person for those traveling in economy class and 40 kilogram per person for those traveling in business class. In case of a small plane being used for travel within India or Nepal the baggage allowance varies between 15 to 20 kilograms per person.
Any baggage in excess of airline limitations may be subject to substantial freight charges by the airline. These charges are the entire responsibility of the traveler. Please be advised that some domestic airlines categorically refuse excess baggage. Also payment of excess baggage charges on domestic flights within India and Bhutan may not guarantee that the baggage is transported. Each and every piece of checked baggage should be locked and contain identification inside (as well as out side) stating your home address and phone number. In addition, do not pack valuable items (such as your camera and jewelry) in checked baggage. We strongly recommend the purchase of adequate baggage insurance by each traveler.
Canned foods, scissors, knives or other sharp object that may be considered potentially dangerous should not be packed in your hand luggage. If you are carrying items of this nature, be sure that they are packed in your checked baggage.
Railways is the largest employer in India moving mass every day and so travel by train is an experience in itself; witnessing the crowd, color and gaiety. We try and incorporate at least one train journey in your holiday for this experience, Click here to check the India train schedules and routes online.
Language and Dialects
India is as close as the world comes to babel. There's no 'Indian' Language per se, which is partly why English is still widely spoken almost half a century after the British left India. Eighteen languages are officially recognized by the constitution but over 1600 minor languages and dialects were listed in the 1991 census. Major efforts have been made to promote Hindi as the national language and to gradually phase out English. A stumbling block to this plan is that while Hindi is the predominant language in the north, it bears little relation to the Dravidian languages of the south. In the south, very few people speak Hindi. The Indian upper class clings to English as the shared language of the educated elite, championing it as both a badge of their status and as a passport to the world of international business. You will be pleasantly surprised that English is spoken and understood in the main cities and tourist places.
Guide speaking other foreign language are also available.
You can easily find few internet cafes near to your hotel. Some time connection or speed can be slow but it is manageable for sending email etc. Charges for using internet in cafes are based on hourly basis and quite reasonable.
As with any foreign destination, tourists are advised to drink bottled water, bottled drinks, coffee or tea. Most premier hotels have their own water filtration system. Bottled water should have a hard plastic seal that you have to break when you unscrew the top. Check the bottle carefully before drinking and do not drink the water if it smells bad.
Bring your bottle of water with you before going out on as adventure or even to visit people.
Most cities have Beggar homes to look after indigent persons and to teach them a trade but professional beggars find begging more lucrative. If you wish to help them then do so through a recognized charitable organization, not by giving them alms. Watch out for a scam-like old men riding crutches among themselves and beware of women who trade babies for the same reason. You can also carry candy to give to children, since children beggars may be giving the money to their parents.
Historical Sites & Monuments
Most museums in India are closed on Mondays and site Museums, those near archaeological monuments, on Fridays. Click here for information on monuments, museums and other architectures of India.
Most monuments of attractions sights charge admission fees to enter them. Some of them will also charge for you to take photos or videos.
The electric current in India is 220 volts and 15 cycles. It is AC practically everywhere. Do not forget to bring converters and round tip socket. Click here for information and illustrations of electricity, plus and sockets used in the world.