India can sometimes be a 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 do’s and don'ts for hassle-free and enjoyable travel in India.

 

A proper VISA to enter and stay in India is a must. There have been cases reported of travellers advised to the contrary by their travel agents. Practically every foreign national requires a VISA to enter India.

 

Travellers should also be properly inoculated against Yellow Fever if coming through infected regions.

 

It is advisable to cover yourself with travel insurance for theft, loss and medical assistance.

 

Carry proper maps of the places proposed to visit in India, as signboards are often absent. Try to reach a station during daytime if travelling on your own. In any case, try to avoid persistent touts and taxi-wallahs at airport/stations/bus stand to that ‘help’ you find your hotel. Always use tourist assistance desk for proper advice.

 

Women travelling alone should take extra care and not walk in deserted places or after dark without a trustworthy escort.

 

Don't ever enter a temple, tomb, dargah or Gurudwara 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.

 

Do not wear black clothes while visiting a Jain temple. Leather articles are forbidden to be carried in Hindu and Jain temples. Taking photograph of the deity in a temple is normally not permitted.

 

Participating in a social occasion or visiting a home requires conservative dress codes. Do not shake hands with ladies. Always pick up food and eat using your right hand. Take only as much as you can eat, do not leave anything uneaten on the plate.

 

Do not point your finger at any person. It is taken as a sign of annoyance.

 

While changing money, insist on getting encashment certificate, these may be asked for on your departure from the country.

  

Try not checkout of your hotel in hurry, always leave time to carefully check your bill.

 

Do not leave your cash and valuables in your hotel rooms. Keep your cash divided in different pockets. Money belts are a good idea.

 

Take care of proper disposal of your rubbish always whether you are exploring the desert, or Himalayas or beaches or anywhere else.

 

Try to be aware of cultural and social sensitivities of the regions you visit. There is no single rule, the best way is to observe and follow.

 

Take care of contamination in water and food. Always drink safe, sealed mineral water and take well-cooked food.

 

Don't buy antiques more than 100 years old. Selling and buying "shahtooh" 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 ask you to carry a parcel of some other buyer back home with your own price reduced. The entire transaction should be legal and transparent so that you may claim later if dissatisfied.

 

Don't eat anything offered by fellow travellers on train or road travels, it might have sleeping pills in it. Always travel reserved class in trains.

 

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 traveller may request to be accommodated near other women travellers.

 

Do not visit places which encourage orthodoxy, social injustice and inhuman practices (like visiting a sati temple).

 

Don't photograph women without permission.

 

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.

 

While travelling, don't act confused. Keep the posture of a person known to the region.

 

Avoid eating buffet meals, even in expensive hotels. The food may become contaminated due to over-exposure.

 

Maintain silence whilst visiting any place of religious interest. Footwear is not allowed in Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Jain religious places / temples.

 

Dress code must be followed whilst visiting the religious places, cities, hotels etc.

Exchange your foreign currency with authorised moneychangers only. Retain the exchange receipts to enable you to reconvert your unspent money on your final departure from India.

 

There is no prohibition on liquor consumption but abuse of alcohol in public areas is punishable under the local laws.

 

Stay away from drugs and drug sellers. Possession or consumption of drugs attracts 10 years rigorous imprisonment as per Indian Law.

 

Do not purchase rail/air/bus or other travel tickets through strangers or unauthorised travel agents/tour operators.

 

Do not encourage beggars by giving them money or any other articles.

 

Do not shop through touts or brokers of the shopkeepers.

 

Prior to taking any photographs, check with the office governing the monument.

 

Taxi and Autorickshaw fares change from time to time. Meters may be used sometimes and it is advisable to fix the tarriff/rates with the driver before start of journey.

 

Carrying of fire arms is banned, without a licence and permission from the Police Department.

Voltage in most places is 220VAC/50 cycles. Check the voltage before using any electric appliance(s).

 

Unapproved guides are not permitted to enter protected monuments. Check before you engage a guide.

 

Always confirm your onward air/bus/rail/sea journey tickets at least 72 hours in advance.

Purchase or sale of fur or animal products is illegal without the necessary license and is punishable under Indian Law.