General Travel Tips
Many years of my work as a professional tourist taxi driver in India and Nepal I drove more than one million km. without accident, during all this time I always discover and collect information from other places which is useful for any western tourist during there India travel. Here below is the list which will help you lot if you care about all this:
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General Travel Tips for India & Nepal
- A proper VISA to enter and stay in India & Nepal is a must. There are reported cases when travelers are advised non-requirement of Indian/Nepal VISA by their travel agents. Practically every foreign national requires VISA to enter these countries.
- Do not encourage beggars.
- Don’t trust strangers with money. Trust your hotel, but not people you may bump into on the streets.
- Don’t offer bribes to get any job done. Bribe-taking and bribe-giving are a common practice in India but they are intended to speed up things or win a favor that you are not entitled to. Plan well in advance. Use consultants or trade and industry associations. If you expect favors, let them come free or not at all. Warn anyone (even in government) who asks you for a bribe that you would report him to the Anti-Corruption Bureau or the nearest police-station. If he persists, do it discreetly so that he can be caught red-handed.
Indian English has its own delights especially to foreigners of English nativity. Don’t show amusement at the different Indian accents and choice of words. This does not take away from the fact that many Indians speak and write better English than many native English speakers.
- It is advisable to cover yourself with travel insurance for thefts, loss and medi-claim.
Carry proper maps of the places proposed to visit in India/Nepal, as signboards are often absent. Try to reach a station during daytime if traveling on your own. In any case avoid persistent touts and taxi-drivers at airport/stations/bus stand to help you find your hotel. Always use tourist assistance desk for proper advice.
- Women traveling alone in certain deserted places should avoid walking at odd hours.
- Women traveling alone in certain deserted places should avoid walking at odd hours.
- Do not checkout of the hotel in hurry. While checking out it has been noticed in some hotels, the extras are unreasonably charged which the guest hurriedly pays without cross-checking.
- Do not leave your cash and valuables in your hotel rooms. Keep your cash divided in different pockets.
Take care of proper disposal of your rubbish always whether you are exploring desert, or Himalayas or beaches or anywhere else.
- Don’t accept offers of visiting anyone’s home unless you are confident of the person.
- Use licensed guides for sightseeing.
- Always use strong suitcases/baggage, as mishandling is common at airports/stations.
- Don’t tip unreasonably and unnecessarily in a hotel. The NEWS soon spreads in the hotel and by the time you checkout there will be a group of them saluting you to expect something.
- In Monsoon time avoid night stay in the desert while you do the camel safari.
- Most of the monuments give a very good discount for students from all over the world. They must carry there valid school identity card.
Traveling in Trains, Buses & Flights
- Often train’s and flights are
getdelayed and can be cancelledat the last moment without any prior notice. Yesterday (25.3.08) it happens with one of my clientfrom USAand they phone me about this situation from Jodhpur town at 9.00pm and there connecting flight to States was just after three hours, It was horriblesituation for both us. So it is always better to arrive one day before to your departure destination to catch your International flight.
- While traveling, don’t act confused. Keep a posture of a person known to the region.
If you are traveling
inthe trains then you may have to reserve your seats in advance, last time it will be not so easy to get confirm seat reservation.
- Buses are not as comfortable as trains.
- Trains and buses are the best and cheapest option if you are traveling for more then one month holidays.
- Be careful about your luggage while you travel in train or in
- Flight from Khajuraho to Varanasi is often
over bookedso try to get boarding pass as soon as possible otherwise they will provide you car for to go Varanasi.
- It is always better to arrive one hour before scheduled departure at the train station and one and
halfhour before any domestic flight.
- Always chain and lock your luggage under your berth in a train. Don’t keep anything valuable near the window. Always carry plenty of water, fruits in trains. Alone woman traveler may request to be accommodated near other women travelers.
- Don’t eat anything offered by fellow travelers on train or road travels. It might have sleeping pills. Always travel reserved class in trains.
Car – Private Transportation for Travel
- Cars are one of the best and safest way to travel in
India,if you are not traveling for months in India.
- Make sure that your driver is trained
fordefensive driving and speak basic English.
- As a
driveryou always have one person with you to help you and your luggage is always safe.
- Always avoid driving at night on Indian highways, It is not recommended.
self drivingin India unless you have been trained on Indian roads.
- If you feel not comfortable
bythe driving or he drives fast is always better to tell him to drive slow.
- Do not visit places which encourage orthodoxy, social injustice and inhuman practices (like visiting a
- Politics can be freely discussed in India and most people will have an opinion which they will not mind being contradicted. But avoid discussing religion.
- Avoid offers of spiritual salvation and magic remedies from saints,
god men andquacks. There may be some spiritually elevated people in India, but there is no way you can distinguish the genuine ones from the crooks. If you are seriously interested in these aspects of India, take help from someone you know or visit one of the respected spiritual organizations in India.
- Don’t ever enter a temple, mosque, tomb, dargah or Gurudwara ( Sikh Temple) with shoes on and/or scantily dressed. One should cover his/her head with a cloth while in a Gurudwara or Dargah. Parikrama or walking around the sanctum sanctorum should always be in clockwise direction. Also should use your full pantaloon.
Food & Water
- Take care of contamination of water and food problem. Always drink safe mineral water and take well-cooked food.
- Drink bottled water only. Even many Indians who have lived out of India for a few years sometimes suffer stomach upsets on drinking local tap water. If there is no alternative to tap water, ensure it is boiled.
Mostfamous brand is Bislery, Aqua Fina andHimalaya.
- Avoid eating buffet meals, even in expensive hotels. The food may become contaminated due to over-exposure
- If you are buying from roadside stalls or hawkers, bargain you must. Start by offering half the price they ask for and settle for 70 – 80
per cent. Don’t bargain in proper shops especially those that display “Fixed Price” signs: that will be seen as bad manners.
- Never buy food from roadside stalls or mobile canteens. Not that they are bad, but your system may not be accustomed to such delicacies and you might end up spending more time in the loo than normal.
Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka, Chicken Curry, Malai Kofta and Naan these are the most famous dishes eaten by western people and they like them very much.
King fisherLager bear is one of the most general alcoholic drinks taken by any western tourist.
Lassi & water is one of the most general
non alcoholicdrinks taken by any western tourist.
Not only drink bottled water also brush teeth with it.
- If driving between
cities,have your hotel pack a lunch for the road.
Society & Trends
- Participating in a social occasion or visiting a home requires conservative dress codes. Do not shake hands with ladies. Always pick up a thing and eat with your right hand. Take only as much as you can eat, do not leave anything uneaten over the dish.
- Do not point your finger at any person. It is taken as a sign of annoyance.
- Be careful of cultural and social sensitivities of the regions. There is no single rule for that, the best way is to observe and follow.
- The “NAMASTAY” is a local form of greeting. It involves the joining of your palms as during prayer in church – well, not exactly, but it can pass (in church, the two thumbs are crossed, in the Indian “NAMASTAY
” ,the thumbs join but remain parallel to each other: this is only for information as the difference is not visible to the person in front of you).
- If you find the lady is not extending a
hand shake, go for the “NAMASTAY” , Even with men, the “NAMASTAY” can be an excellent little PR gimmick! Follow it up with a “AAP KAISE HAIN” (how are you?) and you have broken the first block of ice if one there was!
- If somebody has invited you home for dinner, carry with you a box of sweets or at least a chocolate bar for the kid.
- Many Indians are in the habit of shaking their head in the course of conversation or taking instructions.
- Don’t show amusement if you witness this.
- Don’t photograph women without permission.
- Indian weddings are one of the most famous social ceremony liked by western people.
Terrorism & Unsafe Areas to Travel
- Avoid visiting Kashmir in the extreme north as well as areas in the extreme north-east. Foreigners, especially West Europeans
andsAmericans, are at risk to hostage-taking by terrorists in those areas. The rest of India is safehaven for everybody.
- Never argue strongly with anybody.
- You should not become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for possession of narcotic substances can be severe. There is a minimum sentence of six months for possession of small amounts for personal consumption only.
Visa, Insurance & other Documents
- You should keep a photocopy of your passport, Indian visa and flight ticket separate from the originals when
travelling. This will save you much inconvenience and time if your documents are lost or stolen.
- We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before
- You should check any exclusion, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance for more details.
Customs & Airport’s Authority of India
- Indian Customs department at the airport stop one client of mine from Spain, Her name was Lionor Mendoza, because they were carrying some Auer Vedic Medicines ( Herbal), which they bought from one of the Aurveda Message resort from South of India. So if anyone buy such kind of things must ask and be sure if they can carry with them or not to their home.
- You are not allowed to take following things while visiting “TAJ MAHAL”
because ossecurity reasons, like cigarettes, hand bags, any eatable things, matches box, litre, Mobile phones, torch, knife, gun and many other related small things which can harmful for Taj, people or environment.
mistakeif you are having any of these items then they have the locker facility just out sidethe gate you have to deposit those things in the locker before to get in but often it is inconvenient for western people so better to leave all the things in the hotel or in the car with our driver.
Dream Places in India
- Majority of the people think that to spend
nightin a house boatin Karela Back Waters is one of the most memorable moments of their India Travel.
- Jaisalmer ( The Thar desert) is considered as one of the most beautiful and peaceful places
- “Taj Mahal” at Agra is one of the most visiting
- “Golden Temple” Amritsar is one of the most impressive monuments after “Taj Mahal”.
- Varanasi (Ganges) is one of the towns which give you
- Rajasthan, Kerala & Goa are one of the most organized states for tourism.
- To go Varanasi to Kathmandu ( Nepal):- Often flights are full from Varanasi to Nepal so to find out
newpossibility I wendto Nepal by road from India. Ialready been many times with my car but it was always from Varanasi, this time I start from Jaipur (Rajasthan). It was beautifultrip.
- People can go by road to Nepal from Varanasi it’s quite easy.
- Varanasi to Sanouli Border (Nepal) via Gorakhpur is around 300km 7 hours drive.
- To start
earlymorning is recommended to avoid busy traffic hours.
- Just after
getin Nepal you can sleep in Lumbini or Chitvan National park or if you have enough energy then be continue till Pokhara, just 160 km more through the Himalaya Mountains 4-5hours drive.
- This drive between Nepal Border to Pokhara is one of the most beautiful
drive onthe Himalaya mountains.
Kathmandu is 300km from Nepal border by road.