1. When is the best time to visit?
2. What will it cost?
3. What’s India got to offer?
4. Do I need a visa?
5. What about travel insurance?
6. Do I need vaccinations?
7. Can you arrange a guide to accompany me on my journey?
8. What’s the time difference?
9. How long is the flight?
10. Can I fly direct?
11. Will I be safe?
12. Any etiquette tips I should know about?
13. What about the currency?
14. Do they accept credit cards?
15. What do I wear?
16. Is the water safe to drink?
17. What about “Delhi – belly”?
18. How do I deal with beggars and what about tipping?
19. Do I need a travel adaptor?
20. Can I use my mobile?

The Indian peafowl or blue peafowl (Pavo Cristatus)
is the National bird of India

Q1. When is the best time to visit? [Back to Top]

A. Generally, between October and March. These dates are influenced by the pre- monsoon heat and humidity in April and May and then by the monsoon itself starting around June. In the North it can get very cold at night from December to February and fog can affect flights into Delhi in January and February.

Q2. What will it cost? [Back to Top]

A. This depends on the customised itinerary chosen by the client. A rough guide is from £1500 for 10 nights with your own private chauffeur driven air conditioned car and English speaking guide throughout, staying in 4 star hotels.

Q3. What’s India got to offer? [Back to Top]

A. Culture, history, adventure sports, yoga, meditation, mountains, beaches, deserts, vibrant cities, sleepy villages, glitzy shopping malls, exotic bazaars, technology, temples, tigers, rhinos, peacocks, sarus cranes, nightclubs, Kathakali, Toy Trains, cycle rickshaws, express air conditioned trains, colour, romance, crowds, solitude, sunshine, showers. What’s it got? It’s got the lot!

Q4. Do I need a visa? [Back to Top]

A. A tourist visa lasting 6 months from date of ISSUE (not departure) is essential prior to travelling. Recent outsourcing of visa applications to an online issue company has led to some delays so it is vital the client applies for the visa as soon as possible. Scottish clients apply in Edinburgh which has a quicker turnaround than England. Further details can be found on www.hcilondon.net or www.cgiedinburgh.org And to apply online http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk

Q5. What about travel insurance? [Back to Top]

A. Insurance is absolutely essential, especially if the client is participating in any active sports.
Photocopy all relevant documents like passport, travel documents and insurance policies before you travel.

Q6. Do I need vaccinations? [Back to Top]

A. No vaccinations are mandatory although it is advisable to be protected against TB, tetanus, polio, typhoid and hepatitis A, please seek medical advice on current recommendations. Malaria does exist in India so it is strongly recommended malaria prophylactics are taken. Consult a GP about your own requirements, especially regarding possible side effects of anti malarial tablets as soon as possible prior to departure.

Q7. Can you arrange a guide to accompany me on my journey? [Back to Top]

A. Yes, we can provide a fully qualified English speaking guide, driver and air conditioned car for all, or part, of your journey. The choice is yours.

Q8. What’s the time difference? [Back to Top]

A. GMT +5 Hours 30 minutes

Q9. How long is the flight? [Back to Top]

A. Around 8 hours 30 minutes from London.

Q10. Can I fly direct? [Back to Top]

A. Direct flights are available from London with B.A., Virgin, Jet Airways and Air India.
There are a number of indirect flights from Scotland avoiding London, for example KLM (Amsterdam) and Emirates (Dubai.)

Q11. Will I be safe? [Back to Top]

A. All travel involves an element of risk. Driving in India can be quite intimidating, self drive is NOT recommended. As a lone woman traveller I have never found any problems apart from staring and shy smiles. Most people are simply curious and keen to practise their English with rather direct questions!
Contact the Foreign Office for up to date information www.fco.gov.uk

Q12. Any etiquette tips I should know about? [Back to Top]

A. “Namaste” is the usual greeting and farewell, with hands pressed together in front of the chest and head bowed a little.
India is a very conservative country, so avoid any physical contact even with your partner! Most Indian ladies are naturally shy so it is best for a man to avoid shaking hands unless instigated by the lady.
Use only your right hand for eating, the left is deemed unclean. Don’t point the soles of your feet or finger as this is regarded as disrespectful.
It is very important to seek permission before taking photographs, especially of ladies.

Q13. What about the currency? [Back to Top]

A. The Indian Rupee cannot be purchased outside India before departure. Carry traveller cheques or cash (£ or $) and exchange either at the airport on arrival at the Thomas Cook booth or at major hotels.
£1 = 75 IR approx. at August 2008.

Q14. Do they accept credit cards? [Back to Top]

A. Visa and Mastercard are accepted by many of the major hotel chains and shops. But it is advisable to carry a mixture of cash and card.

Q15. What do I wear? [Back to Top]

A. During the summer wear light coloured cottons and linen. Ladies should avoid tight, revealing clothes or very short skirts and shorts. It is best to dress conservatively and this is essential if visiting religious sites. Shoes must be removed in temples and mosques (and homes) and in mosques arms and head should be covered and a long skirt or trousers worn. Wear sunglasses and a hat during the heat of the day.
An Indian winter is surprisingly cold at night between December and February and can be wet.
On safari , be neutral and take a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen for day and warm clothes for cold early morning game drives.

Q16. Is the water safe to drink? [Back to Top]

A. NO! Use bottled water only to drink and brush teeth. Before purchase check the seal is intact and refuse ice in drinks. Take plenty of fluids especially during hot days. It is generally safe to drink tea and coffee.

Q17. What about “Delhi – belly”? [Back to Top]

A. Treat your stomach gently for the first few days, sticking to less spicy dishes, ask the waiters to omit any chillies. Bananas have also been recommended for delicate tummies. Peel fruit, ensure vegetables are well cooked and avoid green salads. Only eat food that is piping hot. Wash hands thoroughly before eating. Check the site www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk for further advice.

It is good to pack a first aid kit which should include basics like anti- diarrhoea products (like Imodium,) oral rehydration salts (like Dioralyte) and perhaps antibiotics. Best consult your doctor.

Citronella is a lemon based oil which is used as a mosquito repellant. Wet wipes and waterless soap are also useful to pack.

Q18. How do I deal with beggars and what about tipping? [Back to Top]

A. The best way to cope with beggars is to adopt the same approach as the Indians, ignore them and avoid eye contact. It is better to donate to local reputable charities.

Tipping is a common practice in India but it can be tricky to offer advice since it is quite subjective. A rough rule of thumb is:
Hotel porters/railway porters: 30 IR per bag
Room service: 50 IR per stay although some hotels have a “tipping box” for the entire staff.
Drivers and guides: 100 IR per person per day, more if the service is good.

Q19. Do I need a travel adaptor? [Back to Top]

A. Yes for a UK plug. Voltage is 220V, 50Hz with usually 2 or 3 round pins.

Q20. Can I use my mobile? [Back to Top]

A. International networks can be picked up, although you should check your phone can roam internationally and the associated costs. For a longer stay, consider buying an Indian SIM card and top – up cards to reduce costs. Calls from mobiles are significantly lower in India than UK.