Pre Departure Guide To India

Thank you for choosing us as your travel partner in India. We are sure you will find India as beautiful, captivating and intriguing as we do. Every traveler needs more than just luggage before embarking on a journey. To ensure you have a delightful trip, we have prepared this handy information to help you prepare for it.


India is the second most-populous country with over 1.2 billion people. The country is bursting with an eclectic mix of ethnicity, a combination of tradition and innovation and an abundance of varied landscapes and scenery. Please read this carefully before you travel to India and be mindful of some of our suggestions while you are on the road.


In the event that you require information on any specific topics, please do not hesitate to write to us with your questions. We will be delighted to write back to you with details.

Traveling to India can be incredibly life-changing but it doesn’t come without its struggles.

We’re sure you will have an amazing holiday with us. Until then, happy reading!

Important things to know before flying to India


Passport should have at least six months validity from the date of arrival in India. The passport should have at least two blank pages for stamping by the Immigration Officer. It is a good idea to take a photocopy of your passport with you in case the original one gets lost. Please do check the dates on your visa to be sure that they coincide with your travel dates.



We don’t provide services to obtain a VISA. We request you to carry out the VISA procedures either using the online VISA option or contact a VISA service in your home country. However a brief about VISA is here:


Every foreign citizen is required to obtain a visa before entering into India.


According to the visa policy of India, for tourists and visitors there are two Indian visa types to apply for:


  • e-visa
  • Regular tourist visa

The e-visa is for a shorter period of stay and it’s also much easier to apply for an Indian visa online. The regular tourist visa is a pain and more expensive. We recommend to go for e-VISA



  • There are over 166 countries that are entitled to get a VISA on ARRIVAL in India. A prior Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is required to be applied online, to be eligible for Visa on arrival, by paying a Visa fee of maximum US$ 100 (applicable for each traveler). ETA is required to be applied a minimum of four days prior to travel, please refer to the below links for the latest list of eligible countries:
  • An ETA remains valid for a maximum of 1 year from the date of approval. Validity of visa remains for six months from the date of arrival. A maximum of 90 days is permitted for each visit except for citizens of USA, UK, Canada and Japan, for whom the maximum stay is 180 days.
  • Travelers are required to carry a printed copy of the ETA along with the original passport, which was used while applying for ETA; without which the airline will not allow you to check in to your flight to India. We do not recommend purchasing any non-refundable airline tickets for international travel prior to getting your visa approval. Once your visa is approved you would receive an Email from the India Visa online site with the status as “GRANTED”.
  • The actual visa will be stamped on arrival at the following airports in India: Ahmedabad, Amritsar,
  • Bagdogra, Bengaluru, Bhubaneshwar, Calicut, Chennai, Chandigarh, Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Madurai, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Portblair, Pune, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum, Varanasi & Vishakhapatnam.
  • If you are applying for any other category of VISA other than E-Tourist Visa, please contact a VISA service in your home country or Indian High Commission or Consulates in your region
  • As of now eVisa is admissible only under the following categories:

Type of e-VISA

E-tourist VISA

Duration: One year (365 days) from the date of grant of ETA.

Entries: Multiple

Stay:Continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 90 days for countries except USA, UK, Canada and Japan. For USA , UK, Canada and Japan continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days.


E-business VISA

Duration: One year (365 days) from the date of grant of ETA

Entries: Multiple

Stay: Continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days. If the intension is to stay for more than 180 days, shall get registered with FRRO/FRO concerned within two weeks after the expiry of 180 days.


E-conference VISA Duration: 30 days from the date of arrival into India.

Entries: Single

E-Medical VISADuration: 60 days from the date of arrival into India.

Entries: Triple


E-Medical Attendant VISA: Duration: 60 days from the date of arrival into India

Entries: Triple


The following links will help you obtain an e-VISA. Please understand that it is your sole responsibility to have a valid passport and visa prior to embarking on the tour.


  1. e-Visa Application Form:
  2. Sample e-Visa Application Form:

Advisory by Government

Services of e-Visa involves completely online application for which no facilitation is required by any intermediary / agents etc. It is advised not to believe or fall in trap of any such unscrupulous elements who claim speedy/express grant of e-Visa and charge money for it.

Protected/Restricted area permits for India

Foreigners need to obtain a PAP (Protected Area Permit) to visit certain areas in India. This requirement is in addition to getting an Indian visa.


Even Indian citizens who are not residents of those areas require an ILP (Inner Line Permit) to enter these places. These places are generally sensitive places near the international border of India. It helps in regulating the movement of people in these areas, protecting tribal cultures, minimizing the chances of any unsavory incident and for security purposes in general.


Protected/restricted areas: Certain parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, Rajasthan, Uttranchal

More information:

Best time to travel to India

Different parts of India experience different weather conditions. You can plan visiting this incredible country anytime round the year. The best time to visit India totally depends on the destination you are visiting. When most of the country gets drenched in rain, there still are regions that are hit by drought. The Indian Meteorological Service has divided the country into seven regions as per their climatic variations. However, the peak season and the best time to visit India is during the winter season when the hill-stations of Northern India gets carpeted with snow and regions of South India receives refreshing rainfalls.

High Season:      October to March (Winters, Expensive)

Peak Season:     December – January (Extreme winters, Most expensive)

Off Season:        April – June (Summers, Least expensive)

Season:                July – September (Monsson, Humid, Least expensive)


Health and Wellness

People always worry about the Delhi Belly, which to be fair, is a legit concern. It definitely has happened to some people. Most vaccine guidelines are only recommendations not requirements, please consult your personal physician for any travel medical advice



Most airlines in India allow only 15 kg per ticket for checked-in baggage on domestic flights. Therefore you will be able to carry 20 kg of checked-in baggage on all domestic flights within India, and 7 kg of cabin luggage.









15 KG


7 KG



15 KG


7 KG


30 KG

15 KG


7 KG


30 KG

15 KG


7 KG


30 KG

25 KG

10 KG

7 KG

As per the Government of India safety regulations only one carry-on bag per passenger will be allowed on domestic flights. The dimension of the carry-on bag should not exceed 55cms x 35cms x 25cms (length / width / height of the airplane’s overhead compartments). The weight of the carry on bag should not exceed 7 Kg. In addition a ladies purse or a laptop bag is allowed on board.


Extra Baggage

If you have excess baggage: you can request us to pre book excess baggage on particular flights which will be much cheaper than paying for extra baggage at the airport itself


Travel Insurance

We highly recommend getting an appropriate travel insurance, a very inexpensive way to cover for medical expenses, emergency evacuation, travel delay, loss of baggage etc. Most travel insurance will also cover for cancellation due to emergencies at home or due to a Travel Advisory


We recommend that all travelers obtain travel and medical insurance before they leave from their respective countries. Please contact your insurance agency or your travel agent for assistance.


What to wear

Differences in culture can become a roadblock in almost all kinds of things. If you are travelling to India, it is important that you take note of certain things. However, respecting the cultural preferences of any destination you are visiting is the right thing to do. India is slightly sensitive when it comes to its culture. Thus, the page enlists a list of do’s and don’ts as far as cultural etiquettes in India are concerned:


While you do not have to adapt to the local style of clothing, please note that sleeveless or low-cut shirts, shorts or short skirts not only attract more attention than you’d like but can sometimes be shocking for the local people, especially in non-urban areas. Smart-casuals are good for evening attire. You may carry a light cotton or linen jacket for the evening. A shawl or a wrap around will always be handy in an air-conditioned environment. Please consult us for specific clothing recommendations depending on the season in which you are travelling.


Try to avoid clothes that are too tight or dresses that are too revealing if you are visiting rural area. Try to be dress slightly conservative here as in covering limbs.


Cities and towns are tolerant towards modern dressing and people living here themselves into wearing what are referred to as western clothes.


If you are attending any business meeting or conference, you can wear business suites or shirts and trousers/knee-length skirts.



An International power adaptor will be needed for all devices

The voltage in India is 230 volts 50 Hz, so check compatibility beforehand

Plug types with 2 round pins, or 3 round pins, are the most common.

Most hotels will be able to provide you with a conversion adaptor.



Voltage: 230V, Frequency: 50Hz


Local time


India is:

  • 5 hours ahead of GMT
  • 5 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time
  • 5 hours behind New Zealand
  • 5 hours ahead of Canada Eastern Time
  • 5 hours ahead of Canada Pacific Time
  • 5 hours ahead of US Eastern Time
  • 5 hours ahead of US Pacific Time

There are 18 officially recognised Indian languages including Urdu, Tamil, Punjabi and Bengali. Hindi is the most widely spoken and is the official language of India. English is also widely spoken however and is often the language of choice for Indian people themselves, if they do not speak each other’s local languages. To help you get the most out of your contact with local people in the northern states where Hindi is widely used, try learning how to say these key phrases:





Hello (or hi)

Ap kaise hain?

How are you?


Thank you

Aapka naam kya hai?

What is your name?

Mera nam …. hai

My name is …

Kahan se aate hain?

Where do you come from?

Main … se aa rahaa/rahii hun

I come from … (male/female)

Iskaa daam kyaa hai?

How much is this?







Mujhe maaf kiijiiye

I’m sorry

Food & Drink

Indian cooking is one of the great cuisines of the world. Like the country itself, it varies from region to region and has distinct taste. All over the country, food is served with staple of rice or bread (chapatti). Rice is the most important staple and paramount food in the south. In the north, wheat is the mainstay that is eaten in the form of chapatti, poori, paratha, naan, roti etc. Roti is the generic term of bread.

It is advisable to eat in the good hotels or top restaurants for better hygiene and treated water. If you would like to try the street foods, eat only well cooked and fresh and always take help from our local guides. Only bottle water is recommendable for all travelers, not the tap water.


Chefs today are fusing Indiancuisine with Western and Oriental styles to create some interesting fusion food. With a widerange of dining out options, especially in the metro cities, you are welcome to ask us

for restaurant recommendations and reservations, during your trip.Though Indian food is often too spicy for the Western palates, most restaurants can tonedown the spices, if requested. Most fine-dining restaurants have a continental section on their menus.


Time to pack

Please note: Most domestic Indian flights now have a free baggage allowance of only 15 kilograms (33 pounds), and additional baggage weight is likely to be charged for at check-in. Air India has a higher baggage allowance. You may wish to check this in advance of travel if this is likely to be an issue. Excess baggage charges are your responsibility and while usually reasonable these can quickly add up.


We strongly recommend you pack your luggage in a lockable compact bag/case with wheels and a handle, or in a soft bag. Your baggage should be clearly labelled and kept to a reasonable minimum.


Luggage limits on airlines are strictly enforced and space on vehicles and trains is limited. You may be required to carry your own luggage at times where porters are not available – you should be capable of carrying your own bags on and off trains, and up and down stairs. If you are doing lots of shopping during your travels, it may be necessary for you to forward any excess to the city where your tour concludes, or ship purchases directly home.


Comfortable casual clothes made of cotton are best in tropical and semi tropical climates – packing one set of smart casual clothes is advisable. Please note that Indian climate conditions vary dramatically from region to region and season to season. The popular winter months of November/December to January/February can be much colder than many travellers expect across the north of the country and warm clothing is required – itineraries may include early morning activities such as a safari in an open topped jeep where even scarf, woollen hat/beanie and gloves can be useful. Laundry services are available throughout the country, although hotel laundry costs can be relatively expensive.


We suggest you include:


  • Flat walking shoes and sandals
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Swimming attire
  • Lightweight travel towel
  • Money belt
  • Lightweight waterproof coat or umbrella
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Alarm clock
  • Small torch (flashlight)
  • Travel plug/international adapter (remember to check the voltage in the ‘Electricity’ section)
  • Women’s sanitary products
  • Camera (plus any necessary camera equipment – memory cards, chargers etc)
  • Ear plugs/eye mask – calls to prayer, stray car horns and even trumpeting peacocks can be a problem in the quietest locations!
  • Day packand/or shoulder bag – for carrying items on touring days
  • Clothes for temples – long pants or long skirts, long sleeve tops, shoes which are easy to slip on/off. Women may find a light shawl useful though these are easily/cheaply purchased in India.
  • Jumper/jacket/thermals/gloves/woollen hat – if visiting in winter or mountainous high altitude areas

Please note that airlines insist all sharp items (knives, scissors, nail clippers etc.) are packed in your ‘check-in’ luggage. Alcohol is no longer permitted on board domestic flights and must also be stored in your check-in luggage.



After you arrive in India


The Indian rupee (sign: ₹; code: INR), is the official currency of the Republic of India. The currency has been derived from the silver coins issued by Sultan Sher Shah Suri and later continued by the Mughal Empire.


You are advised to carry a mix of cash (major Western currencies including AUD/USD/BRITICH POUND are easily exchanged at many hotels and foreign exchange booths) and credit cards.


INDIAN COINS: 1, 2, 5, 10, 100

INDIAN NOTE: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 2000


Money Exchange:

As you reach any international airport of India and leave the customs area you can find currency exchange booths. One thing to take note of is that you may not be allowed to enter again to exchange the currency once you stepped out of the airport. Jotted down are some important points to keep in mind when exchanging currency in India.


Airports give poor currency exchange rates. Use an ATM instead or if that’s not possible only get a few thousand rupees exchanged at the airport because their rates are usually the worst in the whole country. You can ask our representatives to help you getting a better rate from the local currency exchange dealers


Always collect your receipt for currency exchange as this shall help you in proving your source of funds in India. The receipt will also help in knowing the rate of exchange you were given. And when you will head back home you will be able to reconvert the left amount to your own currency by showing the receipt.


Approximate exchange rates at time of writing are:


  • 1 USD equals 80 INR
  • 1 GBP equals 89 INR
  • 1 EUR equals 80 INR
  • 1 AUD equals 51 INR
  • 1 CAD equals 53 INR
  • 1 NZD equals 46 INR

Current exchange rates can be found online on various websites that have a ‘Universal Currency Converter’ facility such as

Credit Cards:

Credit cards can be used in many of the hotels and in some shops and restaurants in major cities; however they are not widely accepted in rural areas, markets and many more local shops. Therefore you will always need to carry some cash so that you can pay for taxis, auto rickshaws, cheap hotels and your food etc. Visa and Mastercard are the most commonly accepted in cards.

Arrival Hall

You will need to book an arrival and departure transfer unless taking a tour which includes these. For those travellers with a transfer, on arrival in India, you will find our representative waiting to meet you at Arrival hall as you exit the customs area after collecting your luggage. Please look for a sign with your name on it (not a hotel sign). Airport arrival areas tend to be crowded with lots of people holding signs, although the new Delhi terminal is one of the better facilities for this. You may need to look carefully for your transfer. If you cannot find a sign with your name please call the relevant emergency contact numbers.


If you have no airport arrival transfer pre-arranged in India, it is possible to take a pre-paid taxi into the city. Most airports have pre-paid taxi counters. Passengers should book by providing the name of the hotel at which you are staying and pay in advance at the counter. Staff at the counter will provide you with a receipt. Average costs should not exceed 700 INR in Delhi and Kolkata, and slightly higher in Bangalore. 


Only registered/official taxis should be used. Share-ride services such as Uber are increasingly popular in the major metro cities of India.


Documentation and briefing

All your travel documents including essential contact information will be handed over by our Tour Manager upon arrival in India.You can write to us for any specific information related to your travels.


Sim Cards

There are kiosks at the airports that sell you pre-paid SIM cards (+ talk-time credit) against an identity proof (a photocopy of your passport would be ideal) and 2 passport-sized photos. Recharge facilities are easily available across the country. Upon request, we can also provide cell phones loaded with pre-paid sim cards.


Most airport arrival halls offer free wi-fi for few hours. Most hotels provide wi-fi internet connectivity which may be complimentary or at an additional charge. Please do check with the front desk staff at the time of check-in.


General Etiquette

Indians are known to be hospitable and friendly people. However, there may be some social habits that seem uncomfortable and intrusive. In a land with a population of over a billion, the concept of personal space is ill-understood. While it is possible to request space when queuing up at certain locations, crowds at festivals and other cultural gatherings will seem like a tight squeeze. Perhaps knowing that this is a cultural difference and is not necessarily threatening would help you relax and accept it as part of the experience.


In most parts of the country especially in rural areas, locals are very fascinated by foreign visitors. You may attract a fair deal of attention and sometimes, you may also be approached for photographs. If you are comfortable, it could be as much a story for you to carry home with you, as it would be a souvenir for the locals. If not, feel free to say NO.


It is completely acceptable to ask for directions on the street, as people are warm, friendly and eager to help (often, so helpful that they will point you in a direction whether they understand what you’re looking for or know its exact location). You could hedge your bets by asking two or three people to confirm the directions.


Public toilet, facilities in monuments and sites are not always up to western standards and expectations. Take advantage of facilities in your hotel and the nicer restaurants along your trip, as and when you can.


Taxis and ride-sharing services

Taxis are found in most towns and all cities, and many are classics of Indian design, both externally and internally. As with rickshaws, you must bargain and agree on a fare prior to your journey and meters are often antiquated and the driver may have a conversion sheet which converts the displayed fare to a much higher amount on completion of the trip. Late night surcharges may also apply. Ask your guide or hotel/restaurant doorman for assistance and always carry a hotel card as communication problems can occur. Uber and similar rideshare services are now operating in major Indian cities, and are widely available in cities such as Delhi and Mumbai and increasing in size and coverage.


Rickshaws & auto-rickshaws

An Indian favourite, the rickshaw is a common means of transport in many Indian towns and cities. The basic cycle rickshaw is the common option in smaller towns, while in the cities and increasingly many country areas the auto-rickshaw is the covered motorised version – similar to the Thai tuk-tuk. You must bargain and agree on a fare prior to your journey, although some auto rickshaws do have meters these are often antiquated and the driver may have a conversion sheet which converts the displayed fare to a much higher amount on completion of the trip.


Safety & theft caution

India is generally a safe country; however petty street crime does occur especially in some cities. There is common saying “Trust the All mighty but lock your belongings”


  • In larger cities we recommend you wear as little jewellery as possible
  • Be aware of pick pockets/beggars/touts/auto rickshaw drivers – especially in busy markets.
  • Conceal your money & passport under clothing. It’s advisable to keep all valuables on your chest, concealed under your clothing or in a passport pouch/money belt, also and carry some cash in a different place so you don’t have to show your money belt in public.
  • Don’t leave your valuable at monuments while taking picture, while talking to people.
  • Only take essentials out with you on the streets. Leave valuables (passport, credit cards, excess cash and jewellery) in hotel safe deposit boxes where available.
  • Be extra vigilant about your baggage at airports, railway stations, or at other means of transport that you might take.
  • Do not wander around back alleys at night.        
  • Street touts/ con artists operate under the guises of initial friendship wanting to learn English or offering or help of find a place. Firmly decline any offer to get you cheaper, better or quality.
  • Use your common sense and courtesy to get everything correct
  • Refrain from kissing and cuddling in the public places
  • Do not touch locals on their heads
  • Do not direct your feet at a person, religious shrine or image of a deity
  • Do not share food or drinks which are already used by you.

Visiting religious sites &monuments:

Religion is a serious thing in India. There are strict rules in some of the temples in India and should be followed. As the sightseeing circuits in India would include religious monuments, there are a few points to note: most religious sites prefer that you dress modestly.


  • Menstruating women are not allowed inside some religious places in India.
  • Try not to wear cut sleeves or shorts while visiting a Hindu temple & avoid skin show.
  • When you enter a Sikh Gurudwara or a Mosque, make sure your head is covered.
  • You may need to remove your footwear, leather items/belts or pouches and sometimes will be advised to cover exposed legs or shoulders depending on your attire.
  • Women are not allowed inside mosques and inner sanctums of South Indian temples.
  • Do not click photos in temples or during cremation ceremonies.
  • Some religious sites such as temples prohibit the use of cameras for photography / filming. Please remember that these are just cultural norms and are not meant to offend travelers in any way.   Some monuments charge a fee for using still or video cameras. Your guide will help you with procuring tickets for using cameras.
  • Carrying tripods require prior permission and additional fee. Hence it is not recommended to carry tripods into monuments such as Taj Mahal, Red Fort or any other monuments under the regulation of Archeological Survey of India.

India’s handicrafts, spices and other unique goods have made this country a shopping haven.There’s a wide range of options, from state emporiums that offer quality-ensured goods toprivately owned boutiques and stores for one-of-a-kind artefacts. Shopping suggestions forindividual cities are available upon request.


Clothing, paintings, leather shoes, carpets, jewellery, textiles, ceramics, marble, antiques and a huge selection of souvenirs are favourite buys for visitors. While most opportunities are in markets and small local shops, there are increasing numbers of large shopping malls in the major cities. Also emerging is an increasing number of boutique-style shops selling unique designs and stylish handicrafts.


A few guidelines to follow when shopping:


  • Except in department stores, or more expensive boutique style shops, bargaining is the norm. To get the best price you will have to haggle hard – but with good humour!
  • Export of certain antiques is not permitted. Make sure you are aware of relevant regulations before purchasing
  • Please beware of buying souvenirs or other goods containing animal products and support efforts to stamp out trade in wildlife. These may be regarded as illegal products in your country, and if found to contain fur, feathers or other parts from endangered species heavy penalties apply both in country of origin and import. Insider Journeys does not support the trafficking of wildlife products or rainforest timber products.
  • Fake reproductions are common. Make sure you know what you are buying – especially in the case of antiques, jade and gems. Any recourse after buying is very unlikely, no matter what receipts etc may state
  • Larger items, such as carpets and furniture, can usually be shipped to your home country, but the items will be subject to any applicable import duties or VAT. Please ask for estimatesbefore buying.
  • If you do not want to shop, you are welcome to inform your local host accordingly. For any further help and information, your guide will always be at your disposal. The guide can alsotailor your shopping experience based on your preferences.

Tipping Guidelines        

In India tipping is expected, but voluntary and not compulsory and it motivates the people. Tips always supplement incomes in any industry, particularly in the service industry in India, where people are ready to serve with a smile. Tipping is not included in your trip costs nor is it included in your hotel room costs, at restaurants or for your chauffeurs, local guides or trip leaders. Though tipping is always at your discretion and is based on your satisfaction levels of the service, we are outlining the following information simply as a guideline.


For Bell boys at hotels: 100 INR per suitcase is fine

For Drivers: 1000-1500 INR per day (only if you like their services)

For Local guides: 2500 – 3000 INR per day (only if you like their services)

For Tour Escorts: 2500 – 3000 INR per day (only if you like their services)

For Waiters at restaurants: 10% of the bill is justified (if you are happy with the meal and waiter service)


The above could be used as a guideline by individual travelers. For individuals travelling in a group, your host escorts will brief you on the tipping guidelines prior to commencement of the trip.



Information herein was correct at the time of preparation; however, the rapid development of tourism in Asia has the potential to make some of the information in this guide irrelevant. This information is intended as a guide only and we are not responsible for any inaccuracies. This document does not, in any way, alter our booking conditions. Please contact us with your comments if, during the course of your travels, you find that the information in this guide is incorrect or out of date.