- Visiting India can be a wee bit unnerving for the first-time visitor. The lifestyle and culture is totally different from the West. We've 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 & is a must.
- 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.
- 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. Also check your Passport , Air Tickets & Hotel Vouchers of another Destination before checking out the room.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, CARS & FLIGHTS
- While traveling, don't act confused. Keep a posture of a person known to the region.
- If you are traveling 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.
- Be careful about your luggage while you travel in train or in bus.
- Trains and buses are the best and cheapest option if you are traveling for more then one month holidays.
- It is always better to arrive one hour before scheduled departure at the train station.
- 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, fluids in trains. A lone 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
- Avoid driving in India unless you have been trained on Indian roads.
- As a driver, you always have one person with you to help you and your luggage is always safe.
- Best time to Travel by Car is 9.00 A.M till 6.00 P.M Evening time.
- 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 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 drink taken by any western tourist.
- Lassi & water is one of the most general non alcoholic drink taken by any western tourist.
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 "NAMASTE" 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 "NAMASTE" , 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 "NAMASTE" , Even with men, the "NAMASTE" 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.
- 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.
- Drugs: In India Consuming or Possession of Drugs is a Non-Bail able offence.
- At the time of Trouble: It is always advisable to first let your Travel Planner know about the problem you are facing then discuss with others.
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