India has a thrilling blend of luxury, boutique, heritage and affordable hotels and luxury tents. We usually book 5 or 4-star hotels however, in some remote areas, it may simply be the best available. Either way, our properties always have character and style.
As a female, you can often feel ignored. In Indian culture, it is seen as rude to address a female when she is with a male. Even if the topic is directly concerning the female, it is still often addressed directly to the male who is with her. This can be difficult to get used to, but the person speaking will feel that it is a matter of politeness.
Your guides or chauffeur may sometimes use words that you feel are a little rude or offensive. Although they speak English, they are not fluent. They might sometimes choose the wrong word or be rather too straight talking and it can be a shock. Please try to keep in mind that their vocabulary in English is quite limited and it is very unlikely that they were being intentionally rude.
The units of Indian currency are the rupee and the paise. There are 100 paise in the rupee. There are approximately 90 Indian Rupees (鈧) to a British Pound and 65 to a US Dollar. Paper money comes in the denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 2,000. Coins are available in 50 paise and in rupee coins of 1, 2 and 5. Rupees are a protected currency. They are not supposed to leave India which means you can’t obtain rupees before arrival. You can exchange your money for rupees at the airport and/or your hotels. Larger notes can be difficult to change outside of big cities so request smaller denominations.
All major credit cards are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and government shops. That said, it’s still important to have cash as India is still very much a cash-led economy. ATMs are widely available and can easily be found with the help of your driver or guide. Some branches do not work with international cards, so you may need to attempt one or two before having success. Call your bank before arriving in India and share your travel plans to ensure your card isn’t blocked when you attempt to use it.
The free baggage allowance on domestic flights in India is usually 15kg per person for hold luggage and 7kg per person for hand luggage. If your baggage is going to weigh more, you can purchase additional allowance at check-in (approximately 鈧250 per additional kg). The allowance can be shared among those travelling on the same ticket, providing that no single piece exceeds 32kg.
At first, the roads can seem a bit hair-raising. However, there is method to the madness.
We have our very own experienced drivers at Rajasthan Tours. Many have worked for us for more than 30 years. They are reliable and knowledgeable with full clean driving licenses and know the roads inside out. That said, India is vast and sign-posts (particularly in remote areas) are rare so it is not unusual for drivers to ask for directions along the way. Please do not be alarmed if your driver rolls down the window or gets out of the car to ask for directions. This is common practice in India and not a reflection of your driver. He is doing so to ensure you reach your destination as swiftly as possible.
In India, we drive on the left-hand side of the road. However, if there is an empty stretch of road on the right, your driver may use this lane. He would then return to the left lane in plenty of time, should there be any oncoming traffic.
You will hear lots of honking on the roads in India. Don’t be shocked. It is not a sign of aggression or road rage. In fact, Indian drivers are very patient. It’s just alerting other cars to the fact that you are there. When overtaking, people tend to honk rather than using their mirrors (although they do, of course, use their mirrors, too). Your driver will try to minimize his honking as much as possible but please note that it is part of the driving culture in the subcontinent.
The best part about being driven in India is the scenes of daily life you will pass on your journey. At any time, you can ask your driver to stop should you want to take a picture, stretch your legs, have a wander, use the bathroom or stop for a drink.
All our vehicles are meticulously maintained and fitted with standard safety features (airbags, seatbelts, etc).
Let your stomach acclimatize for the first few days. Should you be hunkering after some home food, western cuisine is often available in hotels and restaurants.
It is really important to keep hydrated. Never drink tap water (even when brushing your teeth). Stick to bottled water in India and ensure that the seal is either opened by you or in your presence. Aerated drinks such as soda and sparkling water are fine. Avoid taking ice in your drink unless made with filtered or mineral water.
Wine is available but tends to be expensive as is imported liquor. Indian beer, gin and rum are fine. The local whiskey is not very good.
All GSM mobile telephones except North American dual-band phones work throughout India. It is advisable to check roaming charges with your phone provider before you leave. Complimentary WiFi access is widely available in hotels. Many restaurants and cafes offer WiFi, too. Please note that in more remote areas, the speed can be variable and may require a bit of patience.
There are 22 major languages in India, written in 13 different scripts, with over 720 dialects. The official Indian languages are Hindi (with approximately 420 million speakers) and English, which is also widely spoken. In tourist areas, most Indians will speak two or more languages.
Most hotels and resorts offer same-day laundry services however it tends to be expensive. You can request an iron to be delivered to your room if you are short on time. In remote areas, laundry service may not be available or that reliable.
Visit your doctor at least 6-8 weeks before the date of travel for all medical advice, including vaccines. The only vaccine required by international regulations is yellow fever. Proof of vaccination will only be needed if you have visited any infected areas within 5 days prior to your arrival in India. Other vaccines to look into are: Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Cholera, Diphtheria, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies. Rajasthan and the surrounding area is considered to be a “low-to-no-risk” area for Malaria and tablets aren’t required for most travelers. Only North East India is considered a ‘high risk’ area and antimalarials are advised.
Carry with you a small supply of pharmaceuticals from home, including pain killers, anti-diarrhea tablets, insect repellent and sun cream. These are available in India but medication is not always branded or in their original, labeled containers so best to bring your own
We strongly recommend that you purchase adequate travel insurance at the time of booking. This should include repatriation costs. Please note it is imperative to carry the details of your insurance coverage with you on the tour.
India is one of the most colourful places on earth so make sure you carry your camera wherever you go.
Many popular sites will charge a fee for the use of your camera, or video camera which may cost a little more. Please do not take pictures of people without asking permission. Photography within airports, of military installations, bridges and at “sensitive” border areas is not permitted.
Please let us know if you are planning to bring a tripod as we will need to request permission from the appropriate authorities
The voltage in India is 220 volts, with two-pin plugs, occasionally three-pin. The majority of travelers will require plug adaptors. If coming from the US, you will also need a voltage converter.
India is among the most religiously diverse countries in the world. Nearly 80% of Indians are Hindus. Muslims make up nearly 14% and there are about 2% Christians, 2% Sikhs. Buddhists and Jains together make up around 1%, while Zoroastrians, Jews and others make up around 1%.
India Standard Time (IST) is GMT +5.5 hours. Consequently, India is usually 5.5 hours ahead of the UK, 10.5 hours ahead of EST, and 13.5 hours ahead of PST.
Tipping is entirely at your discretion. However, it is a big part of Indian culture and contributes significantly to a driver/guide’s income. At first, it can be hard to know how much is expected and when. The following may be helpful. These are only suggested amounts, however, which can certainly be increased if you appreciate the service. On the other hand, if you were very disappointed then please do not feel obliged to tip – and also do let us know so we can put things right.
For hotel and railway porters, we recommend a 鈧50 to 鈧100 tip. When you check out from the hotel, you may choose to tip 鈧100 to 鈧300 to each member of staff who assisted you the most during your stay.
For your guide(s), we recommend a 鈧500 – 鈧1000 tip per day. However, if you’re very pleased with their services, do up the amount. You can tip your chauffeur at the end of your tour. We recommend 鈧300 – 500 per day.
In national parks: naturalist 鈧200-鈧500 per game drive, driver 鈧150 per drive, government guide 鈧100 and a mahout 鈧200-鈧400 for a 30-minute elephant ride.
In a restaurant, go for 10% of the bill.
At temples, you may wish to give a small offering of 鈧50, and 鈧10 for the shoe handlers.
All suggestions are per couple.
Please note that a very low tip will be seen as an insult, much more so than not tipping at all. If you would like to tip but realize that you don’t have enough change, it’s best to leave it.
Our tours require a reasonable amount of walking. Many ancient monuments have, at least, one flight of stairs – and the ground can be uneven. A full-day sightseeing also involves quite a lot walking albeit fairly easy-going. Please advise us if you have any mobility concerns.
Most luxury hotels don’t insist on formal wear. Smart casual is fine. In haute cuisine restaurants (such as those in the Oberoi and Taj hotels), men may be asked to avoid wearing shorts and open-toed sandals.
During the day, it is best to wear light, loose cottons with a comfortable pair of ventilated walking shoes (open-toed sandals let in the dust). For sightseeing, bring a wide-brimmed sun hat that will protect you from the strong rays plus a good pair of sunglasses.
When visiting places of worship and mausoleums, there are certain Indian religious customs that need to be observed. Dress should be fairly conservative accent, tight clothing will draw unwanted attention and could offend. Therefore, avoid short skirts, shorts and sleeveless and low-cut tops. Women should bring a scarf as some sites require you to cover your head. As a token of respect, it is customary to remove your shoes so it’s a good idea to carry a pair of socks to wear on hot stone floors.
Early morning and night temperatures in Northern India, especially from December to February, can be quite low, often touching freezing point, so bring warm clothing.
In game parks, wear lightweight, neutral and breathable pieces of clothing that you can layer and work for sitting in a safari vehicle for long periods of time. Khakis, browns or olive greens are best for blending into the environment. Activities in the bush invariably include a dawn or pre-dawn start which can be pretty chilly so bring some warm clothes such as light woolens, a windcheater and a shawl or two. Comfortable walking shoes are a must.
These ideas are just a few helpful suggestions for what your trip to India. To start planning your luxury tailor-made holiday to India, please contact us. Each trip designed by Rajasthan Tours is created uniquely for you, working to your budget, style and interests with an absolute commitment to quality. We take the work off you to allow you to enjoy the most memorable holiday experience.
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