Visa for India. To go on holiday to India, you need a visa. Indian nationals may have to follow a slightly different procedure, depending on their heritage. VFS Global handle all Indian visa applications: www.vsfglobal.co.uk
What medication/jabs will I need when travelling abroad?
Please note that some countries require certificates for mandatory vaccinations. In addition the World Health Organisation and UK authorities have their own recommendations. As a tour operator, we are not qualified to provide recommendations on health or vaccinations beyond advising the mandatory requirements of the countries that you will be visiting. Therefore please contact your doctor, or the Medical Advisory Service for Travellers Abroad (MASTA 0870 606 2782) who provide a very detailed report on each country you may visit, but they do charge for this service. Please note that some vaccinations and prophylaxis courses must be started up to 4 weeks before travel, so familiarise yourselves well before departure with the precautions recommended by health authorities.
Malaria tablets are recommended when visiting areas 2,000 ft. below sea level. There are various types – some people prefer one to another. The side effects can be a bit unpleasant – nausea, headache, generally feeling unwell but some people report no symptoms at all. Typically, you take a booster a week before you go and then take a tablet each day while you are there. Generally, malaria tablets are not available free of charge. Malaria is a very nasty disease and can be fatal; the advice is to take the tablets if recommended for the area you plan to visit. Useful information about the various options may be found at: http://www.doctorfox.co.uk
What food/drink should I or shouldn’t I avoid?
The following guidelines may help you avoid illness caused by the change in diet, but do remember that food prepared in modern hotels is usually prepared to a very high standard of hygiene and is perfectly safe to eat:
- Do not launch straight into hot/spicy local food. Pace yourself with more mild dishes
- Avoid eating salads or food that could have been washed in local water
- Avoid eating raw vegetables, unpeeled fruit and fish away from coastal areas
- Where possible, ensure the food is hot and has been recently prepared. Drink only bottled water and ensure the seal is intact before opening
- Avoid ice (in drinks) and ice cream
What clothes should I wear on safari?
The type of clothing you take on holiday will differ depending on your destinations. However, there are some basic guidelines. India is a modest country and, although the cities are changing quickly, we do recommend for all excursions and sightseeing to wear conservative clothing and shoulders and knees should be covered. It is also a good idea to carry a scarf or pashmina as often in mosques and gurudwaras, your head will need to be covered. Another useful tip for sightseeing is to have shoes which are easy to slip on and off as most religious places do not allow shoes to be worn.
For safaris and the more active holiday we recommend the following:
- Neutral colours e.g. khaki, brown, green or beige. Avoid white/bright colours
- Light, natural materials such as cotton and linen are cooler and easily washed
- Long sleeved shirts and trousers for game drives and treks will protect you from the sun, mosquitoes and other jungle insects.
- Remember that in winter, it will be cold particularly for the morning safaris and so bring layers and a warm jacket/fleece.
- A hat, sunglasses and sun screen
- Comfortable walking shoes. Light, compact raincoat
- Quick drying swimwear
- Sturdy boots if climbing
Can I use my mobile phone in India?
It depends. First, your cell phone must have GSM technology in order to tap into the local network. If you plan on bringing the phone that you use on a daily basis at home, CHECK WITH YOUR PROVIDER to determine what they will charge for both calls and texts – both outgoing and incoming – and for calls within India and for international calls. These calls can be exorbitant.
Consider carrying an old phone that is “unlocked” – one that you’re currently not using and doesn’t have a call plan attached to it. Remember that it has to have GSM technology in order to tap into the India network(s). When you arrive in India, you should be able to purchase a SIM card (note that the laws around this change frequently and sometimes it is difficult for a foreign to obtain a local SIM card) for that phone and then be able to tap into the local network. Domestic and international calls will likely be far cheaper than using your own phone on your current plan. When you add the new SIM card, this phone will be assigned a phone number that you can then share with your family at home and they can call you directly (sometimes you’re not charged for incoming calls).
Upon arrival in India, you’ll need to find a mobile store, bring your passport and a couple of passport photos and fill out some paperwork in order to get a SIM card for your phone. It will still be far cheaper than trying to use your regular phone.
The above also applies to iPads with 3G. If you are under contract to an internet provider at home you will probably not be able to change out the SIM card in your iPad. The iPad must be “unlocked” in order to use the 3G capabilities without paying huge roaming fees. Please check with your provider before leaving home. You might also consider signing up for Skype and putting money on your account so that you can call home using this technology.
Electricity – What plugs are used in India?
The voltage supply at most of the hotels across India is 230-240 volts. Most of the plug-in pins in India are different from western made plug-in pins. It makes sense to carry an adaptor and dry cells.
Equipment – What else do I need?
We also recommend carrying a torch, padlocks for your bags, sun cream, a small sewing kit, safety pins and spare glasses or contact lenses if you wear them.
What insects will I encounter whilst abroad?
If visiting a tropical climate, it is likely that you will encounter a profusion of small insects and mosquitoes. It’s a good idea to keep arms and legs covered in the early mornings and evenings when mosquitoes are present, and use plenty of repellent. Do turn off room lights at night, as insects are attracted to light. It is important to be particularly vigilant in malarial areas.
What money shall I take?
We suggest that you only take enough cash (In US dollars or pounds sterling) for your immediate use, and rely upon a widely accepted credit card for shopping and settling any additional hotel bills. It is also worth noting that ATM’s are easily available in cities and small towns, they will not be available in national parks. It is wise to also carry another card and/or travellers cheques which should be kept in a safe place in case of an emergency.
How much should I tip?
This is a difficult question to answer, and varies from person to person and how well you have been looked after. In general, we recommend that you leave a pooled tip for all the hotel staff with the manager or in the tipping box, so as not to forget those behind the scenes, of about £5 per person, per day. If you feel one person looked after you particularly well, you can always tip them individually however, please do check the hotel policy on this beforehand.
Throughout your trip, you will have an accompanying driver and we recommend approx INR500.00 per day to be given at the end of the trip. For guides we recommend INR500.00 per half day. This is of course at your discretion and will depend on how you felt their service to be.