India is one of the most fascinating travel destinations, but it can also be the most challenging and frustrating at times, especially if you are traveling to India for the first time, but once you get used to the country, things get a lot easier. Traveling in India is so much more than just vacation. India is not just an exotic land of fortresses and palaces, deities, temples, spices, cows and Taj Mahal. For many, this turns out to be a life altering travel. It is one of those places on Earth where you can still gain an authentic dose of culture, learn something new about yourself as well as the world, find yourself marveling at different landscapes, feel the liveliness of the festivals, the passion of religion, the color, food, people and rich history. This country can be a great teacher if you are open to learn & listen to its lessons.
Here are some of the pointers that you must know before traveling to India:
Understand Climate: India is a big country. India can be visited all year round. It depends on your interests. If you are traveling to India to discover culture, art, history, heritage and wildlife, you can travel between November and February. If you want to visit India because of its hill stations, then March through May are ideal for you. If you come to India to visit the northern city of Leh, then you must travel between July and September. Monsoons in India are very unpredictable. The standard monsoon season in India is between June & September. However, due to the recent global warming, rains have shortened in most regions, especially in the northern and central parts of India. A really interesting thing you will notice is that India is generally hot all year round, except for some northern and eastern regions.
What to pack in terms of clothing: A lot has been written on newspapers and magazines about the safety of solo travelers and women traveling to India. While it is agreeable that people needs to be cautious whenever they visit foreign countries but one should not be discouraged of exploring most amazing travel destination around them. It is quite understandable to get confused figuring out what to wear and what not to wear in India as it a traditionally conservative country. It is best to avoid unwanted attention that will make both the parties uncomfortable and be respectful to the local culture. One must avoid wearing too short dresses and too deep neck outfits during sightseeing, especially while visiting religious places such as temples, mosques etc. You must carry colorful and light weighted clothes that cover your elbows and knees completely.
Obtaining Visa & Travel Insurance: Visa and travel insurance is a must while traveling to India. You can apply for your visa online atleast 72 hours prior to your arrival in India. You can also apply for a regular visa before minimum 2 months of your travel dates so that you will obtain it before you leave your home country. Also, you must get travel insurance from a reputed insurance company that covers you from unforeseen situations such as loss of baggage, thefts, etc.
Health First: As far as the vaccines are concerned, please note that you need to be vaccinated against travelers’ diarrhea and malaria before traveling to India. These two are very much recommended. Also take medicines for typhoid with you. It is advisable to consult with your family doctor to inquire about certain medications you need to take with you on a trip to India. However, if you are very allergic to certain foods such as dairy products, meat, gluten, etc., always take the prescribed antibiotics with you. Most Indian foods contain dairy products and gluten.
Money Matters: The Indian currency is the Indian Rupee. One dollar equals about 67 – 70 Indian rupees. Indian banknotes are 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 2000, and Indian coins are available in denominations 1, 2, 5 and 10. 1000 rupees banknotes were permanently blocked. So, please make sure you do not accept Rs. 1000 notes. You are not allowed to carry an Indian currency when traveling to India. You can have it exchanged at the airport or in any hotel with currency exchange. Normally it is better to have it exchange at the airport, as you will find better prices there than in hotels. It’s a good idea to get a global credit / debit card from your bank before you travel as it will help you pay in restaurants, hotels or shopping malls. ATMs are very easy to find in Indian cities. However, in smaller cities, you will not find many ATMs, especially if you travel to remote areas. Therefore, it is best to redeem your dollars before traveling to rural areas of India. The most commonly used and accepted cards in India are Visa & Master Cards. Some places accept Amex. However, the Visa & Master Card service provider may charge a credit card fee of 2-4% and a 3-5% fee for Amex. If you have any remaining Indian rupees and would like to exchange them back into your currency, you will need the evidence of the previous exchange that indicates that you made the exchange here in India.
Charger points: You need to think about what you need to pack to make sure you can safely use your personal electronics abroad. This usually involves the use of a travel adapter that allows you to easily plug any electrical appliance into a foreign power outlet. It is important to note that the voltage or frequency is not converted. For India, there are three types of connectors, type C, D and M. Connector type C is the connector with two round pins, connector type D is the connector with three round pins in a triangular pattern and connector type M is the connector which too has three round pins. India operates with a supply voltage of 230 V and 50 Hz. It is recommended to check your devices before traveling to India.
It is impossible to see everything on your first visit to India as India is a unique paradise on earth and with a little bit of proper planning and right flexibility, you will be able to thoroughly enjoy traveling to India.
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