Useful Travel Tips
HI, My name is "Raju India" many years of my work as a professional tourist taxi driver in India and Nepal I drove more then 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 careful about all this:-
GENERAL TIPS FOR INDIA & NEPAL TRAVEL
Visiting India or Nepal can be a wee bit unnerving for the first-time visitor. The lifestyle and culture is totally different from the West. I made a list of some important dos and don'ts for hassle-free and enjoyable travel in these both countries.
A proper VISA to enter and stay in India & Nepal is a must. There are reported cases when travellers 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 favour that you are not entitled to. Plan well in advance. Use consultants or trade and industry associations. If you expect favours, 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 travelling 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 travelling alone in certain deserted places should avoid walking at odd hours.
While changing money, insist on getting encashment certificate.
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 camel safari.
Most of the monuments give very good discount for students from all over the world.
They must carry there valid school identity card.
Don't buy antiques more than 100 years old. Selling and buying "shahtoosh" shawls is a crime. The same goes for ivory and wildlife.
Buy at genuine shops only. Bargaining is a popular practice in India and necessary too. Don't ever believe in lucrative offers of antique dealers in which they offer you to carry a parcel of some other buyer back home with your own margin described. Entire transaction should be legal and transparent so that you may claim later if dissatisfied.
Almost every touristy town you will found some boys and they will introduce you as poor student with many different stories, finally there target is to sell you and get commission.
Indian Customs department at the airport stop some people from Spain in 2006, 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 you can carry or not to your home.
Guides & Taxi drivers often get commissions if you make any shopping. Percentage of commission is depends on your bargaining level, as more you bargain they get less commission.
TRAVELING IN TRAINS, BUSSES & FLIGHTS
Often trainâ��s and flights are get delayed and can be cancelled at the last moment without any prior notice. Yesterday (25.3.08) it happens with one of my client from USA and 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 horrible situation for both us. So it is always better to arrive one day before to your departure destination to catch your International flight.
While travelling, don't act confused. Keep a posture of a person known to the region.
If you are travelling in the 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 travelling for more then one month holidays.
Be careful about your luggage while you travel in train or in bus.
Flight from Khajuraho to Varanasi is often over booked so 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 half hour 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 travellers may request to be accommodated near other women travellers.
Don't eat anything offered by fellow travellers on train or road travels. It might have sleeping pills. Always travel reserved class in trains.
RENT A CAR â�� FOR INDIVIDUAL FAMILY TRAVEL
Cars are one of the best and safest way to travel in India, if you are not travelling for months in India.
Make sure that your driver is trained for defensive driving and speak basic English.
As a driver you 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.
Avoid self driving in India unless you have been trained on Indian roads.
If you feel not comfortable by the 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 sati temple).
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 and quacks. 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. Most famous brand is Bislery, Aqua Fina and Himalaya.
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 fisher Lager bear is one of the most general alcoholic drinks taken by any western tourist.
Lassi & water is one of the most general non alcoholic drinks 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 â��NAMASTAYâ�� is a local form of greeting. It involves the joining of your palms as during prayer in church â�� well, not exactly, but it can pass (in church, the two thumbs are crossed, in the Indian â��NAMASTAYâ�� , 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 â��NAMASTAYâ�� , Even with men, the â��NAMASTAYâ�� can be an excellent little PR gimmick! Follow it up with a â��AAP KAISE HAINâ�� (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 ceremonies liked by western people.
To go Varanasi to Kathmandu ( Nepal):- Often flights are full from Varanasi to Nepal so to find out new possibility I wend to Nepal by road from India.
I already been many times with my car but it was always from Varanasi, this time I start from Jaipur (Rajasthan). It was beautiful trip.
People can go by road to Nepal from Varanasi itâ��s quite easy.
Varanasi to Sanouli Border (Nepal) via Gorakhpur is around 300km 7hours drive.
To start early morning is recommended to avoid busy traffic hours.
Just after get in 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 on the Himalaya mountains.
Kathmandu is 300km from Nepal border by road.
TERRORISM & DRUGS â�� UNSAFE AREAS TO TRAVEL
Avoid visiting Kashmir in the extreme north as well as areas in the extreme north-east. Foreigners, especially West Europeans ands Americans, are at risk to hostage-taking by terrorists in those areas. The rest of India is safe haven 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 travelling. 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 & AIRPORTâ��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.
DREAM PLACES IN INDIA
Majority of the people think that to spend night in a house boat in 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 of India.
"" - At Agra is one of the most visiting place in India.
"GOLDEN TEMPLE" - Amritsar is one of the most impressive monuments after "Taj Mahal".
"KHAJURAHO" - The Kamasutra (Erotic) Temples, preserved by the world heritage monument.
VARANASI (Ganges) - is one of the towns which give you most strongest feeling.
RAJASTHAN, KERALA & GOA are one of the most organized states for tourism.
I will come back to you soon with more information, in the mean time if you really think that my efforts to collect all these information helpful for people just leave your few words about it. It will encourage me to keep continue.
Thanks and wish you all the best for your next travel to my beautiful country.
Taj Mahal: - Good news for visitors that today High Court permits to visit Taj Mahal at night too.
Because of security reasons you are not allowed to take anything in side the Taj Mahal monument except camera, video camera, personal documents and currency.
You are not allowed to take inside with you like cigarettes, hand bags, any eatable things, matches box, liter, and many other things.
By mistake if you are having any of these items then they have the locker facility just out side the 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 in the hotel or in the car.
I hope this information will be useful for your next India travel.
Wish you all the best.
Dear Raju bhai,
Really a good useful hints for foreign tourists. Why don't you make a hub with this information?
How I can make Hub for such information,s?
Thanks for appreciation.
AIRPORT TRANSPORT HELPLINES
Cabs on call Avis Tel: 23906256/ 65012525
Free Shuttle Bus Service: the airport provides a complementary shuttle bus service for passengers, every 20 minutes between the domestic terminals and 30 minutes between domestic and international terminals of IGI Airport.
Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) runs regular bus services between the domestic and international terminals of IGI airport to ISBT.
I will come back soon with some Safety rules........
thanx for such a great information mr.raju...i was looking for something like this...i got you website so will surely contact you....wait for me....
Really great info here. I plan to visit these two countries in the summer (along with Cambodia). A hub would be better for you, as a hub would get more exposure rather than a forum posting.
I have a question though. What would you recommend visiting (apart from Kathmandu) in Nepal. I will have only 1 day at my disposal and don't know if I should visit Patan or Bhaktapur or something else.
Bhaktapur looks lovely, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site - www.visitbhaktapur.com while Patan which is more close to Kathmandu - www.nepalvista.com/travel/patan.html .
I will have only 3 days to spend in Nepal, 2 of them I have to spend in the capital Kathmandu. What is the best way in your opinion to spend the third? Thank you.
Peace be in all of your lives.
Very important news about Nepal, that most of shops, government offices and banks are close on Saturday instead of Sunday. Most of people don’t know about it because genealy in most of the countries holiday is on sunday but in Nepal it is on Saterday, it's strange but it is true.
Recently in this summer I came back after a long trip from off-beaten treks of North India.
This summer I decide to found some undiscovered million dollar places of North India.
These are some very beautiful places which are not very much discovered by travellers.
We can say non-touristy destinations as follows:-
Chatra Sagar – An ultimate place near Jodhpur, best time to stay after November
Dungarpur - Still non touristy destination of Rajasthan
Ahilya Fort – Central India in Madhya Predesh on the bank of
Narmada River at Maheshwar
Bhainswara Fort – Again beautiful place.
Shahpura Bagh – An Ultimate place to stay for few days and relax
Wish you all the best.
Ajanta Caves are closed on Monday and Ellora Caves are closed on Tuesday year round.
I was in India last year and man these Rickshaw guys they think we foreigners grow money at home, they charge you so much.
I just came back to say that many people are always confused about tipping system in India. I just want to give information regarding tipping practice in India as follows:-
Tipping in India is a common practice. There are basically two types of tips. In the first case, the tip is paid after the work is completed. In the second case, tip is given beforehand to ensure a good service. In hotels, porters and room service attendants are generally tipped at the end of the stay. However, the amount of tip varies depending on the type of services rendered and the type of establishment.
In restaurants, the tip to waiters is around 10-15 percent of the bill. In cases of restaurants of famous and prestigious hotels, generally a 10 percent service surcharge is added to the bill. Tipping at such a place is discretionary. In smaller places, the tip is not a percentage of the bill. Rather, few rupees are given as a tip, depending on the quality of service.
Tipping taxi and three-wheeler a driver is not too common but still they expect. It is up to your discretion. However if you want to give tip, then, 10 percent of the fare or leaving the change is enough. If you are hiring a car throughout your stay, then, tip the driver Rs. 100-200 per day, depending on the distance travelled. At railway stations, pay the porters around Rs. 10-20 per bag. But, make sure to set the rate beforehand. If you stay at somebody’s house, ask your host before giving tips to his/her domestic help.
All prices are in Rupees:-
driver/guide for long transfers (up to 5 hrs or a day) – 200 +
driver for short transfers Airport-hotel - 50 +
guide at National parks – 200 +
concierge at the hotel – 20 +
waiter – 10% of the bill
room maiden – 20 +
Touristy people photos 10 +
All above advise are if you staying in mid range hotels or restaurants but if you staying in high class hotels then it can be just twice or more.
This issue is completely personal and depend on your pocket and services you are getting.
I hope this will help you lot.
Dear “SV” I also want to thank you for your appreciation and beautiful words for my efforts. It really encourages me to help people more and more.
Thanks once again.
Peace be at your home and in life too.
thanks raju for your vital information, It will help travelers a lot.
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