Pre-departure Information For The Tour To India.
Passport & Visa Requirements
Valid passport and Tourist Visas are required for all foreigners visiting India. You need to have a minimum of 6 months ( 180 days) validity on your passport beyond your planned return date of the tour, and a minimum 2 clear pages for stamps.
Visas are required in advance of travel for entry into India. Tourist Visas must be obtained by you. Special Inner Line permit is required for those travelling to the remote parts of India Himalayas such as Spiti valley, Ladakh and Sikkim. We will gladly assist you to the government office and we will arrange your Restricted Area Permits, in such case.
We believe that your safety and holiday enjoyment are very important and that the travel insurance is a must whenever you travel abroad. We also advise that all clients take out insurance in their country of origin, and this should include theft, loss of goods, medical emergency repatriation and cancellation of a holiday and carry the details of their coverage on tour. Your travel insurance must include sufficient cover for emergency medical evacuation, by air if necessary. Take time to confirm that all activities, excursions and destinations are included in your travel insurance regarding the term of coverage outside your home country. Be particularly careful of any altitude exclusions, if planning a tour to Indian Himalayas.
Before you travel anywhere it is advisable to have medical and accident insurance which covers you while you are away, as well as for emergency repatriation all the way back to your home town.
Medical information—Immunisation requirements
There are no compulsory vaccinations for travelling to India, but we recommend you to consult your medical adviser / doctor at least 4/ 6 weeks before travelling concerning necessary immunisations. You will also find advice on the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, and other appropriate government websites.
Before embarking on your India vacations, you should ensure that you are up to date with Hepatitis A (important), Typhoid, Tetanus and Polio; however, you should consult your doctor, before going for any vaccination or medicine. Here is a comprehensive list of all the diseases that are common to India and vaccinations for them.
Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for all travelers to India.
All travelers are recommended to take Typhoid vaccination.
In case of Polio, one-time booster is recommended for any adult traveler who completed the childhood series but never had polio vaccine as an adult.
Vaccination for yellow fever is required only for travelers arriving from or transiting through any yellow-fever-infected area like Africa.
Travelers who may have intimate contact with local residents should take this vaccination, especially if their period of stay is more than 6 months.
Any traveler who may have direct contact with animals should take this vaccination.
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
If any person born after 1956 has not previously taken this vaccination, he/she should take two doses of the same.
You need to take this revaccination every 10 years.
Major Diseases threat on the tour for you.
To make your India visit truly memorable, we are highlighting some of the major diseases that are common between the travellers and may occur due to poor quality of food, water or Indian climatic conditions in India.
The most common ailment of travelers is diarrhea. The main cause of it is unclean food and water. It is advised to carry an antibiotic and an anti diarrhea drug if significant diarrhea occurs. In case of diarrhea, good amount of fluid intake is required.
For the first couple of days (2-3 days) you are recommended to have light meals , as your stomach will take some time to get used to Indian food. It is useful to take electrolytes with you in case of diarrhea /dehydration.
Prophylaxis with mefloquine (Lariam), atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone) or doxycycline is recommended throughout India (including Delhi , Agra and Amritsar), except at places located at high altitudes 2000 m/6561 ft or above. The state of Himachal Pradesh , Ladakh and other Indian Himalayas are malaria free parts but still it is always advisable to bring mosquito repellant, which would be very helpful in the plain of India. Mosquito repellent or antiseptic creams, you can get them at local pharmacies shops all throughout in India.
Please Note-: We strongly recommend our travellers to carry mosquito repellent lotions / cream during holiday tour.
Arrival In India
On arrival at any international airport in India there might be normally quite a long queue for immigration. Baggage reclaim can be a further lengthy experience, however, baggage trolleys are readily available. Landing cards are handed out prior to landing and these should be completed prior to immigration, to save time. Also ensure you fill out the section for customs, on the same form.
Once you clear customs and immigration, you should walk through the barriers, where you will find a huge crowd of people and representatives awaiting. Our representative / or we will be waiting for you holding a sign with your name on it. If you do not see anyone waiting, please just stay with your bags and wait in this area for the crowd to clear and you will be met. Sometimes flights do not arrive on schedule, so if our representative is not there to meet you, they will be on their way! In the unlikely event of no one meeting you, please call the number on your contact sheet.
You will be met and greeted by the company’s representative at an International airport in India, and will be transferred to the hotel with him. Your tour will start from the next day. You will have a short briefing meeting with the Tour Escort/ Your guide/ Senior Adviser or Managing Director then, and your account can be settled shortly before the tour starts. A copy of your tour itinerary and the list of the hotels and important phone numbers will be provided to you in your travel pouch.
Altitude sickness may occur in travelers ascending altitudes greater than 2700 meters. This specifically includes the mountain areas of northern India. Headaches, Lack of appetite, nausea or vomiting, Dizziness, Nosebleed, Drowsiness are the primary symptoms of Altitude sickness above 2700 meters. In any case of such symptoms tell your guide, he will take the necessary action.
Your tour programme is designed in such a way that we will gain height slowly and slowly and there are rare chances for us to have Altitude sickness. Still you are advised to carry sufficient Aspirin salt/ tablets with you, as it helps to thin the blood and is very helpful in the primary symptoms of Altitude sickness.
Hospitals and medical facilities
Local medical facilities may not comparable to those in your country, especially in more remote areas but still we have very good medical facilities in India. In the bigger cities we have a lot of government and private hospitals and clinics. In the small towns or villages we have government hospitals and primary health care centers. Even travelling through the Himalayas we have hospitals throughout these valleys with basic good facilities of treatment. For psychiatric illness, specialized treatment may not be available outside main cities.
Luggage; Travel Light.
There can be a luggage allowance of approximately 20kg to 40 kgs per person on most international flights. This all depends on the airline that you are travelling with. Please check your airlines how much they permit you. In internal flights in India, the luggage allowance is of approximately 15 kg to 40 kg per person , depending on the class you travel Economic / Premier. In case of any extra weight of luggage one can pay extra at the airport.
While travelling we recommend you to take the Minimum and light weight luggage that you require to take with you. For packing your luggage you can use the light weight suitcases / back packs or even the soft bag with trolley and tiers are recommended. These suit cases or bags are recommended one piece per person and the same one piece per person for the Hand bag ( luggage) is usually recommended and should not be larger .
Laundry services on your tour will be available at your hotels / guest houses / home stay/ local markets, at a minimal charge.
India is a vast country with complex seasonal and geographical variations in climate. Generally, the best time to spend your vacation in India is during the months of October through to April. The heat starts to build up on the northern plains in April and in May it becomes unbearable – around 35-45°C (95-113°F) at day, in most places. The night temprature is little less.
The Monsoon season starts in mid June and continues through to the end of August. Most of the game sanctuaries of India are closed during the Monsoon period. During the summer months of May and June, the lower plains of the South and the desert areas of the North India are very hot and either dry in the North or humid in the South, while the hills and mountain regions provide a cool , pleasant destinations for summertime holidays. June to October is the best time to visit the Indian Himalayas. The temprature in the hills is very pleasant from March to November.
The monsoon does not mean that it will rain regular every day but it rains for some time in a day or it rains every after 2-3 days in the two months of July/ August—and at this time many parts of the Himalayas are at its best to visit. More detailed weather information for the particular area you will be visiting would be provided to you at the time of planning your tour with us.
Clothing required for the tour.
We would recommend you to carry minimal clothing. We will suggest you to carry light luggage. The reason is that both clothing as well as laundry is quite cheap in India.
If you want to keep yourself cool in the Indian sun, a good supply of cotton clothing is essential along with a comfortable pair of open sandals during the summers. An effective pair of sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat will protect you against the strong sun rays, and it is advisable to use a high factor sun cream.
In the cooler months, you will require some warm clothes such as light sweaters, jackets or shawls for the evenings. If your tour takes you to the mountain regions of India, then you will require warmer clothes, as it can sometimes warm up during the days, layers are always a good option along with comfortable walking shoes.
For visits to the Game Parks, we recommend our travellers to wear cotton and light woolens as the early morning excursions can be quite chilly. Browns, olive green and khakis are recommended to wear while visiting the game parks. You will need heavier clothing during the winters.
One have to dress in a decent dress which should covers 75 % of the body. Women should dress conservatively. Short tops, short skirts / shorts, etc should be avoided while visiting the holy places likes temples/ mosques. Women can wear cotton shirts or T-shirts, with cotton trousers or knee length skirts / shorts on the trek / Himalayan part. Make sure that the clothes are not too tight or body revealing. These clothes can be easily purchased from the Indian markets at a reasonable price.
While visiting places of worship (Temples, Gurudwara or Mausoleum), you should be properly clothed. Do not wear sleeve less tops or shorts on these days. Either you can wear a extra cotton shirt on the sleeve less top while visiting these places. Also, don’t forget to remove your footwear before entering any religious place – a pair of light socks is useful if you prefer not to go barefoot. In many Jain and Hindu temples leather goods such as belts, shoes and bags could not be permitted inside.
Please Note-: Especially while visiting the Himalayas you will need some woolen clothes, minimum 1 sweater, 1 jacket , 1 water proofing and couple of inners with you. Cotton clothing shirts/ shorts/ cotton pants are the best and would be nice to wear in the Himalayas, at the day time with the combination of some woolen / warm clothes are recommended for the night time. We will provide you the exact details about the clothes to bring with you at the time of planning your tour, with us.
Foot wears to bring for the tour-:
It is customary to remove your footwear before entering all temples – a pair of light socks is useful if you prefer not to go barefoot.
While visiting the plains of India you need a light weight, cool open sandals for your feet and in the Himalayan tour these would be fine but a pair of good walking / trekking shoes are also recommended, so you can easily and comfortably hike / walk in the local villages and valleys of the Himalayas. Even your training Nike shoes would be fine but please check for the shoe grip on rough trails.
Gratuities & Tipping to the guides/ drivers.
Tipping is purely at our client discretion. Tipping is a normal practice in India, and is done to indicate to the person concerned that they have done a very good job and that what they have done is appreciated by the clients. It is always seen as an encouragement to the drivers and guide / escort as it is a bonus to them for a good job.
If you are travelling in a group we suggest you have a “tipping kitty”- in which each tourist contributes a certain amount at the start of the trip and gives the tour guide the authority to deal with all the tipping including the hotel people or drivers.
People travelling individually or in small groups may wish to tip guides/ drivers etc themselves. Now, most hotels encourage central tipping in a box or envelope and your guide will be able to let you know. Tip more money to special tour guides / escorts, drivers who work for you or you have for a few days escorting on the tour with you –especially if they are very good. Never tip your guide / driver with small Indian currency note as 10, 20, 50 . Tip them reasonable…!
In case you need any guideline about the tip amount, ask us, we are able to advise about the amount of a tip for driver, guide, escort, bellboys and waiters in the restaurant.
Please Note-: The following may be helpful. In the restaurants 10% of the bill is usually the accepted amount of the tip . In case the bill amount is less than 1000 Rupees, one can tip 100 Rupees or minimum 50 Indian rupees as a tip to the waiter. Hotel bell boys / potter will expect 50 rupees for one piece of luggage and railway porters will expect about 100 rupees for one piece of luggage and about 200 rupees for a full trolley. Sometimes they would like to make more money and even could be around 200/- per piece of luggage , specially on railway station of big cities like new Delhi etc.. At the end of your stay if you wish to tip your sightseeing guide and driver, an acceptable amount for the guide would be approximately between 500–1000 rupees per day; and for the driver, it would be approximately between 300 – 500 rupees per day.
Indian currency is known as rupee. The Indian money (rupee) is available in denominations of Re 1, Rs 2, Rs 5 , Rs 10 as coins, Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50, Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs 1000 as the notes.
Money conversion, Credit cards and ATM machines.
In India it is easy to change US dollars, pounds sterling, or Euros into rupees. At many places we may find difficult to change currency other than these. If you want Indian rupees, cash on arrival its best to get it at the airport. The money changers at the international airports are open 24 hours. Money exchange can be done easily in the hotels or in the banks. In big cities, you will find several branches of International/ national banks which provide money exchange service, however in small towns, only some nationalised banks will be providing the service .
There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency or travelers’ Cheque’s you may bring to India. Travellers Cheque’s are widely accepted and easily exchanged at small travel agencies, tourist cafes , hotels and all major banks.. A tourist may import any amount, provided he/she has filled a declaration form on arrival. This will help in exchanging your currency at the time of arrival as well as the taking back your unspent currency at the time of leaving India.
You can also use your credit cards and debit cards in ATM machines. ATM machines are available throughout the country except for some places in the Himalayas. While on your tour your tour escort / guide will assist in finding a bank or a cash machine if you need it.
All Major credit cards are increasingly acceptable in main city centers, major hotels and restaurants , though smaller cities and towns most of the time you have to pay cash at the shops and at small restaurants. If you plan to use a credit or debit card in India, it is suggested please to inform your bank that you are planning to travel abroad and will be using your cards. Some people have trouble using their cards abroad for security reasons but if you inform your bank they will lift any restrictions. We make the suggestion that travellers do not carry large amounts of cash on them, but can bring travellers’ cheques or bank cards instead, and we are able to provide advice about safe places to change money.
Please Note-: At most of the ATM machine it is only possible to withdraw 10,000/- Indian rupees at one time, in need of withdrawals of Rupees 20,000/- or more in one day you have to do more than one transactions which might cost you extra transaction charges.
Safe Banking hours to exchange money/ traveller cheques in the banks.
Monday – Friday: 10:00 a.m – 4:00 p.m and on Saturdays: 10:00 a.m – 12:00 p.m .
Banks are closed on national holidays and Sunday , as Sunday is an off day from work in India at all the places including all government offices, banks, educational institutes, many shopping areas etc.
Modes of Communication in India
Communicating while in India / Himalayas is no problem. There are various modes of communication in India. There is an availability of all the modern communication forms in India.
Public Phone Booths (PCOs)
One of the main modes of communication in India are the Public phone booths. They are generally known as PCOs in India. They provide the facility for local (within the city) calls, STD (Inter – State) calls, ISD (International) calls. You will find these PCOs in every nook and corner.
Mobile (Cell) Phones
Another way to communicate in India is through Mobile or Cell phones. Whilst most networks are supported within India, and many parts of the Indian Himalayas, do check with your network provider that your mobile telephone will work ,Otherwise a Cell phone with a local mobile number ( Indian pre paid sim) would be provided by us ( Summit safari India) to you at the time of your travel which is supported in the areas you are visiting. Get it recharged and enjoy mobility on your tour at the end of your tour you have to deposit the mobile and the local sim back to your travel company.
Airtel and BSNL mobile phone network is the best if somebody is travelling in India and specially the Himalayas. Please let us know well in advance if you need a local Indian mobile phone network sim
You can use the services of cyber cafes in India and the Himalayas. These cyber cafes provide all the Internet facilities. Some parts in the Himalayas have quite a slow internet speed and you may find it difficult to use internet over there, but rest of your tour would be having good speed internet connections / Wifi connection and you can use the facilities from public cyber cafes at a cheap cost or from your hotel desk at their price.
You will find the cyber café in the limited parts of your Himalayan journey.
In hotels also sometimes there could be poor connectivity of Wi-Fi. And many times the Indian sims with data network coverage also do not work good while you are travelling from one state to another. So it is recommended to use the internet / Wi-Fi service at your hotel or in a public cyber café.
Last, but not the least, you can even use postal services as a means of communication in India. You can make send of postcards, letters, etc. to your friends and loved ones easily from all different parts of India including the Indian Himalayas.
Road conditions on your tour.
It is mandatory that driver and passenger sitting on the front seat wear seat belts while driving. Roads are flat and excellent in most of the parts of plains of India, In the hill parts all the mountains roads in Himalayas have curves but are a combination of good paved roads and some rough patches at various places. Roads are narrow than the plain of India . Traffic is less in the hills and in the Himalayas the road work of broadening the road is under progress and many places, so some road parts are still rough with a couple of water streams on the way.
The roads are quite safe and our drivers are very experienced and careful and are well able to maintain vehicles and to deal with any mechanical problem should it arise. They are particularly experienced at driving on Indian/ Himalayan roads, while taking care of your comfort and safety. Our clients have remarked in the past on their great skill.
Please Note-: In any case of road blockage through Himalayan journey, the roads are cleared within a few hrs., but in any circumstances beyond control, your guide & driver can always suggest you “Plan B” and changes can be done accordingly to your tour itinerary, only after your approval.
The electric current in India is 230-240V and electricity is widely available in the main towns, cities and tourist destinations. Sockets are the three round-pinned variety, similar (but not identical) to European sockets. European round pin plugs will go into the sockets, but as the pins on Indian plugs are somewhat thicker, the fit is loose and a connection not always guaranteed.
Expert and Knowledgeable Guides
Your guides / escort are knowledgeable about the region, and will be able to discuss the history of the region, culture and traditions of this beautiful country with you.
Our guides are very experienced in dealing with the effects of high altitude as they come from this region, and they can therefore take better care of their clients. They are also trained in basic first aid treatments.
We do not suggest you to tip beggars, specially the children’s. If you find some physically challenged person as a beggar, it is your choice to tip him. Everyone makes his/her own decisions about beggars. You can tip such physically challenged person a note of 10, Indian rupees. If you want to make some charity it can be done for an orphanage at Kalpa village on your Indian Himalayan tour.
It is suggested to bring some candies/ pencils /pens/ small cheap gifts with you , as it is recommended to give small gifts to the children’s in the Himalayan villages while our visit. Even these candies/ pencils / pens could be bought in India at a cheap price and you write us, we would be glad to arrange these things at the time of your tour in India, and you can pay this small extra amount latter on to your guide / company at the time of final payments.
India is a shopper’s paradise with some of the excellent art, craft, Jems, Jewellery, Handicrafts, carpets etc. to buy! However, as a measure of precaution, always check on the levels of import duty levied for items that you wish to purchase. Many local shopkeepers may claim that there is no duty levied, but this could be incorrect information. Please try and carry back all the goods that you purchase with you to avoid storage charges. If you are planning major shopping, please seek information and advice from customs authorities before departing on your tour. When shopping for expensive items such as precious stones, carpets etc, the shopkeepers may guarantee the authenticity of the item, but expert knowledge is essential to ascertain their true value. You will find a huge choice of goods, from fashion bags and shoes, to Indian silks and handicrafts. Do not forget that any item that is more than 100 years old is banned from export out of the country, as is ivory, crocodile skin and other wildlife products. We pride ourselves on the quality of our sightseeing guides. However, if at any time you feel pressured by the guides to purchase any goods, we would be grateful if you would bring it to the attention of our local representatives or to us immediately by phone or by mail. Please note that bargaining 5% to10% is common in India at most of the establishments except at the Government Emporiums where prices are generally fixed.
you can take help of your tour guide/ escort while shopping or in case of any confusion about the cost / quality of the product.
Only if you are interested to stay with a local Indian family—- As part of the Home stays you will be staying in village homes with the local families, which in itself is a very unique Himalayan experience.
Your guide will be there with you at all times to translate. You will spend a couple of nights in some of the villages that we visit, with your hosts who are incredibly friendly and hospitable Indian family who live in the Foothills Of Himalayas. We will visit different communities and you will see at first hand the way in which the villagers live. Your guide will explain to you their beliefs and their customs, including the role of women in their society, their superstitions, their religion and caste system and the problems that they face, and you will be able to ask questions through him.
Your living arrangements are not going to be 5 star, but we do believe that we cater to people requiring different levels of comfort, and most importantly where you stay is CLEAN. Live with the local people and if interested learn how to make home-made noodles, traditional food, cheese etc. During your stay with the local family, you won’t just observe and learn about life in the village as we encourage you to take part in activities of their daily life such as ploughing, sowing, harvesting, collection of firewood and fodder, cow herding, goat care, and cooking. Play games with the children, and perhaps teach them some of your stories, songs or rhymes.
Toilets would be basic neat and clean Indian local toilets, with English seats, shower and may at some places in the homestay get a chance for bucket hot water bath rather than having a shower.
Trekking usually consists of ascents, descents and level walking—5-7 hrs (8-12 kms.) per day, accompanied by an experienced mountain guide, cook, ponies or porters. Our clients only need to carry a small day-sack with drinking water, and requirements for the day, such as camera and sunscreen. You walk at a moderate pace observing nature, rural communities and spectular mountain panoramas. We also arrange for sleeping bags and tents / mattress, but even you can bring your sleeping bags/ mattress that would be more comfortable than the Indian sleeping bags and specially the mattress.
Sometimes there are unpredictable water streams on the way to cross every day, and the water could be less or more depending on the weather and season. There could be some rain shower / heavy rain also on a couple of days on the trek. Due to the circumstances beyond our control we might have to make sudden changes into the trekking tour / jeep safari tour after discussing all things with you.
Special Note-: Our job is to ensure your comfort and safety as we take you where you want to go, at your own pace. We show you what you have come to see and help you to discover the things you had no idea about!
The above information is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief. We regret we cannot accept any responsibility for any changes on advice or information given. The advice given is a genuine effort on our part to provide you basic information about your travel and make your stay as pleasant as possible in India !