Destination India

Why India?

There is simply no place like India.

It is a land of astonishing contrasts: both ancient and modern, frenzied and serene. It has inspired epics and erected great monuments; been the birthplace of religions and is home to one of the largest populations in the world. Perhaps the planet’s most economically, ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse country, India is a prismatic paradox that confounds and astounds those who visit.

As a traveler, you will see it immediately upon arriving: this country is a living tapestry, unfolding in bright, colorful ways right before your eyes. The jaw-dropping variety—in landscape, religion and culture—infuses each destination with unforgettable vibrancy. History. Culture. World-renowned cuisine and breathtaking cultural spectacles—it all combines to make India an unforgettable travel destination.

There are so many reasons to tour India. But once you decide to experience the magic of this ancient land, it helps to have an expert on your side.

India Trip Reviews

INDIA TOURS

INDIA ACCOMMODATIONS

Like virtually every other facet of this dizzyingly diverse country, the hotels of India are as remarkably varied. There are properties to fit virtually every style of travel in India: unique, intimate experience of homestays, architecturally beautiful heritage hotels, quaint boutique hotels, charming safari lodges, the five-star elegance of world-renowned upmarket hotels.

The erstwhile palaces of Rajasthani royalty. Far-flung, charming guesthouses in Kerala. Desert havelis and mountain escapes. For every region, every budget and every traveler, there are perfect hotel choices in India. And the experts at Geringer Global Travel have found them.

In a country swirling with cultural spectacles, where each turn of the corner seems to bring a dazzling new experience, the place you choose to stay in India is important. Your accommodations enhance your Indian experience, serving as both a launching point for your explorations and a refuge in which to recharge. This is your home away from home: a place to feel comfortable as you experience the wonders of this fascinating land.

Find Just the Right Accommodations for Your Trip to India

Great accommodations can make travel to India so much better which is why we have spent so much time and effort hand-selecting just the right properties for our clients.

Susan Geringer has traveled to the Indian subcontinent countless times, going out of her way to find off-the-beaten-path destinations and unique accommodations. Over time, she has discovered the properties that offer the finest experience and are the most distinctive places to stay in India, as well as Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Preparing For Your Trip to India

India Visas

You cannot apply for an India visa upon arrival. If you are visiting India for no more than 30 days and do not need a multiple entry visa, you can now apply on line for an e – visa at www.indianvisaonline.gov.in for US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, UK and many other nationalities. You must apply for this e – visa no more than 30 days before arrival into India and not less than 5 days before arrival into India. If you need a multiple entry visa, you need to apply online at www.in.ckgs.us. For a multiple entry visa, it is suggested you apply about two months ahead of time. If you are arriving into India, visiting Bhutan, Nepal or Sri Lanka and returning to India, you need to apply for a multiple entry visa.

Water In India

Do not drink water from the tap or a carafe unless you are told the water is filtered or boiled. Do not brush your teeth with tap water. Most hotels in India offer a complimentary bottle of mineral water per day per person. Check that the seal is intact when buying bottled water, especially at railway stations and in small towns.

Money In India

You can exchange cash and traveler’s checks at airports, hotels and banks. While traveling you need to be sure to have some small rupee notes for tips, items purchased in bazaars, etc. This is especially important if traveling to outlying areas (i.e. away from major cities) where getting change can be very difficult.

Change money only with authorized moneychangers and insist on a receipt, as this is required in order to reconvert unused rupees on departure. Do not exchange money on the streets as this is illegal. To change money at the hotel, strict foreign exchange rules require that you be registered as a guest of that hotel. If you are transiting through Delhi or other cities or staying somewhere other than a hotel, change your money at the airport or a bank.

ATM machines are the best way to get money. Be sure to call your bank and credit card company to tell them the dates you’ll be in India. Otherwise, your card may be blocked from use while there.

Begging

We request that you do not give money to beggars. This only encourages begging.

Tipping In India

Tipping in restaurants is customary but not required. If you are pleased with the service, tip 10% of the total billing. Some restaurants and bars charge a service fee in the final bill. This fee is not considered an inclusive gratuity. It is also customary to tip porters, guides, drivers, and transfer representatives as well as anyone who provides a direct service including spa therapists or a delivery service. For a certified driver and/or guide, we recommend Rs. 600- 900 per person for a full day of service. A transfer representative can receive Rs.100-200 per person, per transfer, and Rs. 30 – 50 per bag for the porter. It is appropriate to tip the person who watches your shoes at a temple or religious site, approximately Rs 20-30. Gratuities in Indian Rupees (INR) are preferred.

Luggage Allowance for Domestic Flights

You are only allowed 15 kgs /person. If you are over the allowance you will be charged extra.

Photography

Some monuments and sites charge a fee for taking photos. Camera fees range from Rs 10 to Rs 500 (depending on the location and type of camera used) and are charged at most monuments. These fees are NOT included in the land cost and are payable at the entrance gate. Please ensure you carry enough rupees to cover these charges.

Voltage In India

The usual voltage in India is 220 AC, 50 cycles. Wall plugs are round, with two or three prongs (European type). It is important to bring adapter plugs.

Time In India

India is 5½ hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, 10½ hours ahead of US Eastern Standard Time and 13½ hours ahead of US Pacific Standard Time (subtract one hour during Summer Daylight Savings Time).

Climate & Clothing In India

October to end of March is the best time to visit most of India. Summer clothing is sufficient for the daytime. During December and January, temperatures in northern India (Delhi, Varanasi and Rajasthan) drop considerably in the late evening and early morning hours, so we suggest bringing a light jacket or sweater for this time of year.

The south of India is generally warmer, and summer-like temperatures are routine along the southern shores. The mountain regions are extremely cold and adequate winter wear is necessary. May and June are very hot in the summer months. July, August and September are still hot, but are cooled by rains. The rain is not constant, however, July, August and September are actually good months to travel to India, and prices are less than in October 1 – March 31.

The Spiti valley of Himachal and Ladakh have sunny, dry and pleasant weather during the summer months. Light summer clothing is good during the day, but a light jacket may be necessary at night and in the early morning.

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Shoping In India

India is a shopper’s paradise, offering a wide choice of clothes, fabrics, jewelry, carpets and a wonderful variety of handicrafts.

Bargaining is part of the fun of shopping. If you do not wish to indulge in this, you can shop at the government-run or government-approved emporiums. Prices here are fixed and are usually slightly higher than in the privately owned shops. You should be aware that it is common practice for owners of private shops to give commissions to guides who bring you to their shops. These payments are included in the price you pay for your purchases and is all part of the Indian system of selling to tourists.

Packing For Your Trip To India

The lighter the bag the better! The good news is that laundry can be done at hotels, so there is no need to over pack.

Cottons or synthetic blends are most practical for Indian summers. Synthetics are not recommended.

The sun will usually be bright and hot during the day so a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses are a must. Winters can be chilly, so you will want to bring sweaters and a light jacket. (In situations where the temperature varies during the day/evening, you may want to layer). Do not forget an umbrella during the rainy season.

There are a number of other items that are helpful to have while you’re in India: sunscreen, Purell (or other hand sanitizer), a sewing kit, first aid kit, pre-moistened towelettes and a lock (with key) for each suitcase when flying.

Religion In India

When entering a religious site, you will need to remove your shoes. This is done to keep religious places clean. If you do not like walking barefoot, you can bring socks to put over your feet.

At some holy places, you might not be allowed in if you don’t practice the religion. If you are a woman, you may need to cover your shoulders and may need to wear pants, capri pants or a skirt that goes below your knees. Since most Hindus and Jains are vegetarians and are against animal slaughter, leather products like shoes, belts, handbags, camera cases, etc. are prohibited inside some temples.

Women Traveling To India

While traveling with Geringer Global Travel, you will have a driver who can take you to dinner or shopping after sightseeing for the day. Never accept a ride from a stranger and do not go in a rickshaw or taxi if there is another man besides the driver. In addition, don’t wear anything that attracts glances or invites catcalls. In cities like Delhi and Mumbai, it is ok to dress in western-style clothing; in smaller cities and towns, however, short skirts, tight pants or blouses can make you stand out in the crowd.

Vaccinations For Traveling To India

Check with your doctor regarding necessary vaccinations. Your doctor will usually recommend an immunization for hepatitis A and B, polio (if you are a certain age), tetanus and typhoid and will probably recommend taking malaria pills.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is highly recommended.

Recommended Reading

Books of Fiction

Adiga, Aravind – The White Tiger
Bhagat, Chetan – 2 States
Desai, Anita – Baumgartner’s Bombay
Forster, E. M. – A Passage to India
Kaye, M.M. – The Far Pavillions
Rudyard Kipling, Rudyard – Kim
Martel, Yann – Life of Pi
Mistry, Rohinton – A Fine Balance
Roberts, Gregory David – Shantaram
Roy, Arundhati – The God of Small Things
Seth, Vikram – A Suitable Boy
Singh, Khushwant – Train to Pakistan

Books Of Non-Fiction

Boo, Katherine – Behind the Beautiful Forevers
Collins, Larry and Lapierre, Dominique – Freedom At Midnight
Dalrymple, William – City of Djinns, Nine Lives, The Age of Kali, The Last Mughal,
White Mughals
Fernandes, Edna – The Last Jews of Kerala
McDonald, Sarah – Holy Cow
Mehta, Suketu – Maximum City
Nehru, Jawaharlal – The Discovery of India
Wood, Michael – The Story of India
Guide Books
Caulfield, Fiona – Love Delhi, Love Goa, Love Mumbai, Love Rajasthan
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: India
Fodors
Footprint India Handbook
Frommers
Lonely Planet India
Rough Guide