Visas are required for India so you’ll want to plan ahead to secure yours. Here’s the approved agency for issuing Indian Visas in the USA: Travista
An International Health Certificate is usually asked for by Immigration Officials. We HIGHLY recommend that you consult information at the Center For Disease Control, US State Department’s Consular Information, and with your physician and/or a medical practice specializing in travel medicine before venturing off to India. You’ll need to update your vaccinations, medications, and become aware of possible diseases you may be exposed to.
Even though the weather is hot and humid, don’t wear shorts in India unless you want to be stared at and considered ‘indecent’. It is customary to dress modestly with shoulders and legs covered. A light long full skirt for women seems to work out the best.
Wear shoes that can be slipped off easily as you’ll be required to remove your shoes often when entering places of worship or a home.
The Hindu population considers cows to be sacred beings, so they don’t like seeing you clad in leather goods. Best to go for canvas shoes and cloth belts and bags.
It’s a custom at many shops to offer shoppers a cup of tea and biscuit. Be polite and at least nibble the biscuit and take a sip or two of tea. If you’re hesitant about the water, just fake a sipping motion.
Bartering is the norm. Begin by offering half the original price and go from there. Bargain only if you’re really interested in purchasing that item as the process can be exhausting. After a few rounds you’ll be tempted to shout out – “just tell me the real price”.
Taxis and Rickshaws
Negotiate the price in advance and write the price down in a notebook so the driver knows you have made a record of the promised price.
Never accept a ride in a cab or any vehicle when there is someone other than the driver inside.
Lifestyles and Customs
A shake of the head can be confusing. The motion of moving your head from left to right means YES, not ‘no’ as we are accustomed to, so don’t rely on head shakes for confirmations.
When meeting an older person, greet them by saying “Namaste” with a quick head bow and clasping your hands together upright in front of you. This shows the person you are meeting is worthy of respect.
Be cautious with your picture taking. Photography is not allowed in areas that could be considered of military importance – such as train stations, bridges, airports, etc. You should also ask permission before taking a picture of a person – especially true of an individual woman. Look for posters at major sites indicating if photography is allowed. And some monuments levy a fee for taking photos.
Occasionally you will be forbidden from entering a place of worship if you do not practice that faith. Sorry – just the way it is.
To avoid stomach problems, abstain from eating salads and uncooked fruits/vegetables that cannot be peeled. Drink only bottled water, hot coffee or tea, beer & wine, and skip the fried food and pork. Also it’s wise to ease into the spicy cuisine unless you’re used to eating highly spiced foods at home.
Pickpockets abound. Your passport, money, charge cards etc. need to be INSIDE your clothes next to your skin in a hidden travel pouch. Fanny packs and zippered shoulder bags just advertise you’ve got goods to be gotten! Beware when in crowded areas – which is to say, everywhere.
Always lock your hotel room door after you enter the room. Valuables should be locked away in a safe. Always take your passport and important documents with you.
Do you have other tips for India everyone should know about? Please share them by leaving a comment to this post.