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India Travel Tips

Visa
According to bilateral treaty, tourists from Bhutan, Nepal and Maldives can enter India with no visa. In addition, people from other countries have to apply for a visa in advance. Tourists of more than 100 countries can conveniently apply for an electronic visa, such as America, Mexico, England, Russia, South Korea, Sweden and Spain.

Visitors with electronic visa can enter the country from following ports:
Delhi International Airport, Mumbai International Airport, Bangalore International Airport, Chennai International Airport and so on.

Money Issues
Rupee is the legal currency here. You can find the exchange shops in almost every tourist city. There are many booths with money change service in airports or downtown. You'd better exchange in the booths of downtown because you can bargain with shopkeeper for a reasonable rate.

Master and Visa are accepted in some high-class hotels and shopping malls. However, most hotels, markets and shops only accept cash.

The consumption levels vary from one place to another. All in all, the consumption level of south area is higher than the north; the big city is higher than the small city. For instance, in some tourist cities of north area, the cheapest hotel room only costs 200-300rupees a night, 1 liter of bottled water may cost 15rupees and one cup of milk tea may cost 5-15rupees. For a 10-day budget tour, it may cost around 65,000rupees.
Tip
There is no need to give tip in ordinary restaurants and hotels. In high class restaurants and hotels, tip is necessary if service fee is not charged; in that case the tip is about 10% of the total bill. It's not a tradition to give tip to taxi drivers. But when you hire a taxi for a day trip, it's better to give 5 rupees as the tip.

Food and Drinking Water
The food is generally spicy. Indians like eating spices and would add all kinds of spices when cooking, such as curry, ginger, garlic, cumin and fennel.

You'd better not drink the water from tap directly because the pollution is severe. Bottled water is safer. When having a meal in the restaurant, you can ask for bottled water, or they may give you raw water directly.
Shopping
There are many beautiful and cheap special local products such as silk, silver, jewelries, spices, antiques and handicrafts.

Jaipur is the most famous shopping city in the country. Goods are available in all varieties here, including the Cashmere shawl made from sheep's wool, various ornaments made of jewelry and silver, and beautiful tablecloth and sheets. What's more, all the things here are very cheap!

It's important to bargain with shopkeepers before paying. Almost all the stores accept bargain except some state-owned shops and bookstores.

Essential Travel Items to Bring
1. Sleeping Bag: If you choose to live in economy hotels, please do not forget sleeping bag. The quilts may be a bit dirty although these hotels are cheap. Some hotels may only provide a tent so sleeping bag is very necessary.
2. Electricity Converter: The voltage in the country is 230V/50Hz and the sockets are mainly Type D and Type C.
3. Mosquito Repellent: In most of time, it is very hot and there are many mosquitos in the hot days.
4. Flashlight: The power is off every now and then, so flashlight is necessary.
Dos and Don'ts
1. "Namaste" is the common greeting in the country. It's "Hello" in Hindi.
2. Indians also greet each other by crossing arms and nodding the head. You can response the same way.
3. Women always have bindi on their forehead which stands for joy and luck. It's a symbol of Indian nationality. Saree is the traditional clothes for women.
4. Women should not wear T-shirt without sleeves or exposing clothes and do not cross the legs.
5. Lovers should better not hold hands or hug in public.
6. Please do not eat with the left hand and do not stride over the food on the ground.
7. Take off your shoes before entering the room. Soles are forbidden facing the local people or buddha. This is important!
8. India is also called "Cattle Kingdom". Cattle are the holy animal in the country. You should not wear cattle products entering the temples or take photo of cattle.
9. Indians' heads, especially kids', are regarded as a place for gods. You should not touch them.
10. If you are invited for a meal, do not be modest. In locals' minds, they should share with others when eating. Having all the good things to oneself is parsimonious and impolite.
11. People in the country pay much more attention to social status. Therefore, do not eat with people who are in different classes.
12. There is a rule that people are forbidden to buy wine after 2am, or you will be fined by the police. In New Delhi, Tuesday, Friday, legal holidays and the first day of each month are forbidden to drink wine.
13. Do not take photo sitting on the back of Buddha statues.
Mobile Phone Card
The signal is different in every city. If you want to have a mobile phone card, you can go to special business halls or the shops with ISD/STD along the street.

Airtel is the best telecommunication provider in India. Its service fee is cheap and it has good signal. Aircel is much cheaper than Airtel in terms of international package but it has worse signal.

The charging standards are various. Before purchasing, you should pay attention to that whether the payment includes consumption duty and whether the card has a limited validity period. The best way to avoid the problem is to buy a "full talk time package".

Important Phone Numbers
Country Code: 91
Emergency: 102
Police: 100
Fire Police: 101
Internet
Most hotels in main cities provide free WIFI. Also, you can easily find a cyber bar to surf the internet in tourists gathering areas.

Medical Information
The private hospital is good in India. It's widely distributed and staff can speak English. Registration fee is from 80 to 100 rupees. There are many drugstores on the roadside as well.

Indraprastha Apollo Hospital is the biggest international chain hospital of India. Almost every main city in the coutnry has one.

Post Office
The post system here is a bit worse. Ordinary mail in the country is very slow. So you can choose speed post service to have a better service.
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