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Tips For Traveling In India

Drink only bottled water. Buy it only from respectable or known outlets. In restaurants insist that they bring a sealed bottle to your table.

Beef is not served in India. Pork is also not easily available.

Eat non-vegetarian food only in good restaurants. The meat in cheaper and smaller places is generally of dubious quality.

Vegetarian food is easily available, cheap, and of excellent quality.

Curd or yoghurt is served with most meals. It is a natural aid to digestion and helps temper the spicy food.

Avoid keeping valuables in a purse, which can be easily snatched off your shoulder.

For the first few days it might be advisable to clean your teeth in bottled water.

Eat fruit you can peel.

Always wash fruit well before eating it.

Wash your hands before and after eating.

Always keep a tube of mosquito repellent with you.

Always carry a kit of the basic emergency medicines you might need for diarrhoea, fever, etc. Also, band aids and an antiseptic ointment.

If you do catch a bug, do not panic. It will go away in a few days - but try the following tips to keep it down:

Drink lassi - a yoghurt drink. It will help tone down the bacteria.

Eat plain rice, or try a simple khichdi - an easily digestible mixture of rice and lentils.

Drink plenty of coconut water. It's cooling, and naturally sterilized!

Drink plenty of fluids and take some electrolyte salts if the bug persists.

If you are fair-complexioned, blonde or red-haired - and especially if you are female - chances are that you will be stared at continuously, specially in the smaller towns. Don't be offended - they mean no harm, it is just curiosity.

Avoid crowds, especially if you are female.

Try to avoid shaking hands. Greet people with a 'namaste' (hands pressed together at chest level as if in prayer). You will be appreciated for using the Indian style of greeting.

Everything in India takes time - longer than in most places. So always give yourself extra time for whatever you may have to do - even it is just a visit to the Post Office or changing money.

Indians joke about the concept of "Indian Stretchable Time" (IST). Certainly, if you're a super-punctual sort, India can be frustrating. Make allowances for this.

In India, public toilet facilities are few and far between, and those that are there should not be ventured into. Take every opportunity you can to use a clean toilet in places such as hotels and restaurants. Make this a habit wherever you go.

Keep extra photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport. This will be required for Indian permits.

When asking for directions, ask shopkeepers, not pedestrians. Cross-check with at least two people.

Taxi and auto-rickshaw fares keep changing, and therefore do not always conform to readings on meters. Insist on seeing the latest rate card (available with the driver) and pay accordingly.

Insist on the taxi/auto meter being flagged down in your presence.

Dress codes for religious places can include covering your head, being barefoot etc. Ask, so that you don't unwillingly give offence.

Some temples do not permit any leather articles at all on their premises.

Certain areas of temples are not open to Non-Hindus.

Most museums in India are closed on Mondays and Site Museums, those near archaeological monuments, on Fridays.

The dry summer heat can drain you completely. Drink lots of water and fluids.

The sun is strong. Remember to use sunscreen on exposed parts of the body. Wear sunglasses to screen out harmful rays.

Photography is not always permissible, and at many places it is permitted only at a fee. There is usually a higher fee for using a video camera.

Smoking is not allowed at all public places.

English is spoken at almost all tourist centers, but you can also request Government-trained and approved guides who also speak German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Italian or Russian.

Travel as light as possible. Clothing and laundry are both quite inexpensive.

Women should dress conservatively. Avoid tank tops or short skirts / shorts. The best outfit, especially during the hot summers, is a T-shirt worn with loose cotton trousers. These are comfortable, cool and easily washable. You can purchase them anywhere in India, at very reasonable rates, at any of the street shops. If you are adventurous, wear the Indian 'salwar-kameez'. It is comfortable and free sized, and you will be amazed at the change of attitude among the shopkeepers, pedestrians and taxicab drivers!

On arrival in India, foreign nationals are required to fill up a Currency Declaration Form along and a Disembarkation Card besides making an oral declaration of the luggage they’re carrying.

Tourists traveling to India with a visa permit for 180 days need to obtain a Registration certificate and residential permit and submit four passport size photographs for the same. The registration certificate has to be returned to the issuing authority while leaving the country.

Foreign tourists can make payments through traveler’s cheques, credit cards or foreign currency. Indian rupees can be used in case of proof of legal currency exchange.

Air / rail or travel tickets should only be bought from an authorized travel agent only.