For visiting India, all foreigners are required to acquire their VISA in their home country. The Government of India has recently launched the Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVoA) enabled with Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) Scheme for a number of countries. Please check with Indian mission in your country if you come under this scheme. Once your E-VISA is confirmed, please remember to carry a paper print out of the E-VISA which you would require to present on arrival. Showing E-VISAs on phones or tablets is not accepted by the visa/immigration authorities.
India’s currency is 'Rupee', abbreviated as ‘Rs’. Coins are in various denominations of 1, 2, 5 & 10 Rupees. Notes (Bills) are in denominations of 5 (these are rarely in circulation these days) and 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 2000 Rupees.
Foreign Currency Regulations
A person or a couple or a family coming into India from abroad can bring with him/her/them foreign exchange without any limit provided if the value of foreign currency exceeds US$ 5,000 or its equivalent, it should be declared to the Customs Authorities at the Airport on arrival in India.
Any money in the form of travellers' checks, drafts, bills, checks, etc. in convertible currencies, which tourists wish to convert into Indian currency, should be exchanged only through authorized money changers and banks who will issue an encashment certificate that is required at the time of reconversion of any unspent money into foreign currency. Before leaving the country, the left over Indian currency should be exchanged back into your currency; legally, you are not permitted to carry back home large amount of Indian currency.
Visiting foreigners can exchange money at international airports where 24-hour exchange facilities are available, through banks and approved moneychangers. Or, one may change money at the big city hotels. In larger cities and towns a number of ATMs have cropped up everywhere, you can withdraw money using your credit cards at these ATMs.
Bank timings are usually from 1000 hrs to 1700 hrs on weekdays and 1000hrs to 1400 hrs on Saturdays. Please remember that not all banks will exchange foreign currency or travellers cheques particularly in small towns.
Travellers Cheques/Credit Cards
Travellers' Cheques should be of well-known brands like Thomas Cook, American Express and Visa. Large establishments generally accept Major Credit Cards like American Express, Master Cards and Visa, including hotels, shops and airlines.
In India voltage is 220 volts AC, 50 cycles, though some areas also have DC supplies. Visitors are advised to check the voltage before using electrical appliances. Socket sizes vary, so it is as well to take a set of plug adapters, available from most electrical stores
The import of prohibited articles such as dangerous drugs, live plants, is either totally prohibited or restricted. The law provides heavy penalties for the infringement of this restriction, and in some cases punishment can extend to the death sentence. Also, by law, visitors are banned from taking antiques and wildlife products out of the country – any infringement is punishable by fines and imprisonment.
The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act bans all forms of wildlife trade. Violations of the provisions of the Act are punishable with heavy fines and imprisonment up to 7 years. Foreigners are, therefore, advised not to buy any wildlife or wildlife products or derivatives especially ivory articles, fur and skin articles derived from wild animals such as Shahtoosh.
Visitors to India find varied subjects for photography including people, monuments, wildlife, festivities, and landscapes. Note, however, these formalities, in respect of photography:
- Special permission of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi, is required for use of tripod and artificial light on monuments.
- Special permission of Government of India is required for any photography for the purpose of publicity and commercial use.
- Photography is prohibited in tribal areas.
- Taking photographs of airports, railway stations, bridges, military installations, and from the air is prohibited.
Visiting Places of Worship
Removing one's shoes before entering temples, mosques or Gurudwaras (Sikh Temple) is essential. Avoid taking leather goods of any kinds (bag, belt etc) and cigarettes into places of worship, as these are often not permitted. Do not wear shorts or sleeveless tops in places of public worship.
For cycling gear, lycra shorts and top are absolutely fine in India. We suggest you to carry track pant or ¾ length shorts for days when you would be visiting a religious place. You may consult with the cycling guide about days religious places are scheduled in itinerary.
Peak winter (December to mid-February) can get very cold in North India. The temperatures fall to as low as 3 to 4º C and the day temperatures range between 15-25º C. Woollens, thermal wear, sweaters, shawls are essential. The weather in South India is pleasant round the year and you may require warm clothing only during early mornings and evenings in game parks and countryside.
The hotels are smart but not hugely formal and the smart casual label is the best description for suggested dress code.
Dress Code for National Parks
Please wear appropriate colours when in any National Park or Tiger Reserve – these should be muted earthy colours. You may also like to carry a sun hat and sunglasses with you. Please note from mid November until end February, the early morning and evening games drives can be very cold – this is attributed largely to the wind factor of the 'open air' jeep. We highly recommend you to carry fleeces, jackets, hats, gloves and scarves. By about 8/9am, the sun is out and you will begin 'de-layering' and be comfortable in a t-shirt for the majority of the midday.
It is always advisable to obtain good travel insurance to cover the worst possible scenario. Do keep a copy of your policy separately as a safeguard.
As per the Health Regulations for entering India, the only compulsory vaccination required is for Yellow Fever if any person arrives in India within 6 days of departure/transit from a yellow fever endemic area. There is no other compulsory inoculation requirement for entering in India though some people take precautionary vaccinations after consulting their doctor. Some of the precautionary vaccinations and preventive courses people consider are for tetanus, hepatitis, rabies, typhoid and malaria.
When boarding flight anywhere in the country (whether domestic or international), please remember to carry your e-ticket print out with you. At most Indian airports, passengers are not allowed to enter without a print out of the flight tickets.