General travel guidelines for India
Passports must be valid at least six months beyond the date of intended departure from India. Travellers are advised to carry a photocopy of their passport and Indian visa.
For visiting India, all foreigners are required to acquire their visa in their home country. No visa is granted upon arrival in India. For those traveling to Sikkim an additional permit is necessary. This will be obtained once in India.
The hotels are smart but not hugely formal and the smart casual label is the best description for suggested dress code. Do carry a warm coat/jersey for early morning starts and especially for any train journeys, as the onboard air-conditioning can be very severe.
Dress Code for National Parks
Please wear appropriate colours when in any National Park or Reserve - these should be muted earthy colours. You may also like to carry a sun hat and sunglasses with you.
Please note from mid November until end February, the early morning and evening games drives can be very cold - this is attributed largely to the wind factor of the 'open air' jeep. We highly recommend you to carry fleeces, jackets, hats, gloves and scarves. By about 8/9am, the sun is out and you will begin 'de-layering' and be comfortable in a t-shirt for the majority of the midday.
India's currency is 'Rupee', abbreviated as 'Rs'. One Rupee is equal to 100 paise. Coins are in various small denominations of 10, 25, 50 Paise (these are rarely in circulation these days) & 1, 2, & 5, Rupees. Notes (Bills) are in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 & 1000 Rupees.
Visiting foreigners can exchange money at international airports where 24-hour exchange facilities are available, through banks and approved moneychangers. Or, one may change money at the big city hotels.
One can also change money at national or international banks such as Standard Chartered, Citibank, Bank of America, Hong Kong Bank and others in the major metro cities. Most of these have 24-hour ATMs. American Express and Thomas Cook offices may be found in major metros and tourist cities.
Bank timings are usually from 1000 hrs to 1700 hrs on weekdays and 1000hrs to 1400 hrs on Saturdays. Please remember that not all banks will exchange foreign currency or travellers cheques particularly in small towns.
Exchange money only through authorized banks or Money Changers. Insist on a receipt/encashment certificate when changing money. Retain all receipts to facilitate re-conversion of unspent money on departure from India. The current exchange rate of the Australian Dollar to the Indian Rupee is 1 AUD = Rs 41.82.
Travellers Cheques/Credit Cards
travellers' Cheques should be of well-known brands like Thomas Cook, American Express and Visa. Large establishments generally accept Major Credit Cards like American Express, Master Cards, Diners Club, Visa, etc, including hotels, shops and airlines.
All foreign nationals must pay their hotel bills in foreign currency (cash, Traveler's Cheques or even by Credit Cards). This can be paid in Rupees if the visitor has a receipt to show as a proof of currency exchange.
It is usual to tip the waiters, porters, guides and drivers. Tips are not included in the bills, whether of hotels, transport companies or any other suppliers. At hotels and restaurants, about 10% of the bill is usually acceptable.
Though we give below the general guidelines, it is to be remembered that tipping is a sign of gratification for good service, and therefore please view the below guidelines as the middle ground, which can be adjusted depending on the level of service you feel you have received.
Please note the below amounts are per couple/ individual traveller.
In India voltage is 220 volts AC, 50 cycles, though some areas also have DC supplies. Visitors are advised to check the voltage before using electrical appliances. Socket sizes vary, so it is as well to take a set of plug adapters, available from most electrical stores.
The import of prohibited articles such as dangerous drugs, live plants, gold/silver bullion and coins, not in current use, is either totally prohibited or restricted. The law provides heavy penalties for the infringement of this restriction, and in some cases punishment can extend to the death sentence. Also, by law, visitors are banned from taking antiques and wildlife products out of the country - any infringement is punishable by fines and imprisonment.
The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act bans all forms of wildlife trade. Violations of the provisions of the Act are punishable with heavy fines and imprisonment up to 7 years. Foreigners are, therefore, advised not to buy any wildlife or wildlife products or derivatives especially ivory articles, fur and skin articles derived from wild animals such as Shahtoosh.
Visitors to India find varied subjects for photography including people, monuments, wildlife, festivities, and landscapes. Note, however, these formalities, in respect of photography:
Special permission of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi, is required for use of tripod and artificial light on monuments.
Special permission of Government of India is required for any photography for the purpose of publicity and commercial use.
Photography is prohibited in tribal areas.
Taking photographs of airports, railway stations, bridges, military installations, and from the air is prohibited.
Visiting Places of Worship
Removing one's shoes before entering temples, mosques or Gurudwaras (Sikh Temple) is essential. Avoid taking leather goods of any kinds (bag, belt etc) and cigarettes into places of worship, as these are often not permitted. Do not wear shorts or sleeveless tops in places of public worship.
It is always advisable to obtain good travel insurance to cover the worst possible scenario. Do keep a copy of your policy separately as a safeguard.
Before traveling to India it is advised that you get vaccinations for tetanus, hepatitis, rabies and typhoid. Consult your doctor before taking them / also take advice on other vaccinations for meningitis and tuberculosis. Most vaccination courses are completed within four weeks, best taken before the trip. Malaria preventive course may be taken before your trip, but again this should be consulted with your doctor.