India's climate plays a hand in determining when to visit, as the country experiences seasonal variations, dominated by the monsoons which bring the rainy season. Additionally, the climate varies slightly between North and South India. The monsoon starts roughly between end May to June, along the southern coastline, gradually moving northwards
By end of August to early September, the rains have receded from the north, taking just a little longer to fully clear in the southern regions. Parts of this region in the south exeprience additional rainfall between October to December from the "receding" monsoon.November onwards generally see clearer skies and cooler weather.
For this reason, November to April is the best time to visit. Generally speaking however, whenever you do visit be prepared for humidity, especially in the south, and depending on when you come, the heat. Also, northern India does get faily chilly during December and January, India's verison of a mild winter.
Visitors may brave the summer months too, from late April to August, as hotels and transport is by and large air conditioned and the period does offer it's own appeal with clearer weather. During this time, the Himalayas are also at their most accesible and August and September is the peak trekking season in the northern mountain ranges.
Hill stations, small, scenic towns located in the highlands, at higher altitude than the main cities, are still relatively cool during the summer heat and are popular destinations for tourists and Indians as well.
Some of India’s tourist attractions have become so well known, such as the Taj Mahal, that much else gets little attention. However there is plenty of see in India, the only problem being that there is usually not enough time to see much of these sights in just one trip. Therefore the best itineraries are the simple ones, sthat take in only certain regions or holiday themes without covering too much – keeping a relaxed pace of travel is a good thing.
Some of the places worth seeing, in a nutshell, are Delhi, Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal, South India, including Kerala and Goa, and the North, to include Himachal Pradesh, parts of Jammu & Kashmir as well as the Ladakh region.
Flying is the only practical mode of international transport into India, due to the fact that most overland routes are closed or intermittently inaccesible due to the political situation, climate or lack of reliable transport. There are numerous international airlines serving India including Air India, Emirates, British Airways, Lufthansa, Qatar, Swiss, KLM, Northwest, Air France and many others.
Nationals of all countries except those of Nepal and Bhutan need a visa to enter India. Tourist Visas cost USD 60 and are usually valid 6 months from date of issue. Mulitple entry visas are also available at no extra cost.
It is suggested that Visas be obtained in your country of residence from the respective Indian High Commission, Embassy or consulate. Requirements include the following but you must confirm individual requirements of each Indian embassy/high commission or consulate office as requirements vary slightly from country to country.
Special Permits: These include Restricted permits and Inner Line permits, which are required by both Indian nationals and tourists intending to travel to certain locations in India such as Sikkim, parts of Ladakh and Rajashtan, among others.
Parts of Jammu and Kashmir state are completely out of bounds to tourists.
Vaccinations: Unless you are arriving into India from, or have recently travelled through a country infected with Yellow Fever, you will not need and an innoculation certificate. Yellow Fever zone countries include nations in Africa and parts of South America, but exclude Western Europe and North America. It is however recommended that travellers to India get vaccinations against typhoid, Hepatitis A and Meningitis.
India offers a huge number of luxury hotels spread all over the country, and including palace turned heritage hotels, colonial-era 5 star hotels and modern, state of the art new hotels, most of which offer a unique experience to the traveller while also providing the western style comforts of international hotels.
Prices match the international market with rooms at good hotels commonly ranging from Usd 250- 1500 a night. Hotels chains in India include Taj Hotels, Oberoi, Hilton, Intercontinental, Sheraton, Hyatt and Welcome Group.
5 star , Luxury and Heritage Hotels: Quality Indian itineraries draw on the character of the hotel to additionally inspire travellers, so it is suggested that one always select characterful hotels as this will significantly add to their holiday in India.
3 and 4 star Hotels: There are numerous 3 and 4 star hotels in the country and the top picks in this category offer excellent value for money. We offer clients a range of 3 and 4 star hotels and also book Government approved Guest Houses in various locations of India.
It is possible in India to fly on the latest airplane, experience a bycycle rickshaw in the middle of traffic or enjoy the ride like royalty on an elephant, all in the space of a few hours - in a single day. Unique excursions apart, the 3 most practical modes of transport for tourists in India are flights, trains and cars.
Flights are best for covering large distances of over 800kms, a variety of connections to virtually all tourist locations are available at fairly good prices. There are numerous domestic airlines in India- the major ones all have excellent safety records and offer good service. At Into India we usually include domestic flights into your travel package and also book stand alone domestic flights - please contact us for information on these.
Trains are the largest people mover in India - India's railway is probably the largest in terms of human movement in the world. Travelling by train in India is an experience all on its own - be it luxury trains or narrow gauge steam engines, India has them, running on a day to day basis.
Most regular trains have 3 basic classes of travel - first, second and third - there are more sub classes too offering various sleeping berth arrangements and air conditioning. However only certain trains and train journeys would be recommended for an truly enjoyable experience.
There are also classic, luxury trains available for those willing to pay the extra price - air conditioned carriages, lavishly decorated, excellent service and delighful cuisine are standard on these trains.
The trains include the Palace of Wheels which traverses Rajashtan, ex Delhi, for a one week tour , and the Fairy Queen, pulled by the oldest working steam engine in the world, which tours Rajashtan and takes in the Sariska Tiger Reserve. There is also the Royal Orient which departs from Delhi and travels southwards through Rajashtan onwards to Gujarat.
The best and most cost effective way of getting around conveniently, cars are also comfortable and allow a greater degree of privacy and flexiblility in your tour. Self drive is not an advisable option as traffic in India is different from what most tourists will be used to, and considering that the price of the driver / chauffer is usually included in the cost of hiring a car[ and is quite low anyway], it makes sense to hire a car with a driver and not to worry about countless things like directions or navigating through the crowds in towns and cities.
India is well connected country wide in terms of telephone, email and ordinary mail. Even smaller towns, and in some cases villages, now boast of internet cafes. Calling internationally is relatively cheap and easy - Mobiles / cellphones are widely available though getting one requires proof of identity.
Virtually all 4 and 5 star hotels provide email and internet access and most have business centers available to hotel guests.
India's country code is +91
Common city codes are given below:
Delhi : 011
Mumbai : 022
Kolkata / Calcutta : 033
Hydrebad : 040
Madras / Chennai : 044
Jaipur-Rajashtan : 141
India is the birthplace of two of the world's major relgions, Hinduism and Budhism. Virtually all the major faiths are represented in India and indians are by nature generally very spiritual - they show respect to all symbols of religions such as places of worship, shrines, images, and even religious gatherings.
Most temples allow people of any faith to enter, some even welcome visitors - however one remove their shoes before entry and be dressed appropriately. In some cases, such as in the case of a mosque, one must also wash their hands, and in the case of a Gurudwara, cover their heads with a scarf (both men and women).
Mosque as a rule do not allow entry to non muslims – there are exceptions though. Most temples are open for visitors with the exception of some - many temples will not allow leather articles such as shoes, belts and even clothing, into the temple. As a rule assume that photography is not allowed at places of worship or religious gatherings and only consider taking pictures after clarifying with your tour guide or with the person in charge at the site.
Taking photographs of government buildings, security installations or offices, and other such places connected to the Government, Police or Army, is Not allowed.
Indians are generally conservative in their dress particularly that of women. There are ofcourse great variations in a country, parts of which are both very modern and very traditional. One could walk into a night club in a hotel and find it most of the crowd dressed like they would be in a night club in London or New York - however dress codes vary singnificantly depending on the situation, places being visited or even the part of India in which you are travelling.
Meeting Indians in their homes would require at least smart casual. The same would apply for dinner in most quality hotels and restaurants as a rule.
India is famous for it's traditional, folded hands greeting- the "Namaskar" - a symbol of offering respect to the other person. However this is not necessarily the usual form of greeting and as is that case with other things in India, it really depends on many factors. Shaking hands is commonly accepted as the mode of greeting.English is widely spoken in most cities in India and virtually all hotel staff, drivers and guides speak English fluently.
Hindi is India's national language. There are over 200 unique languages speoken in India, varying in writing and dialect across the country.As a foreigner, you may well be stared at rather frequently – however this generally purely out of curiosity.
1. Smoking is not allowed in public places, including airports, railway stations and other such places.
2. You should keep photocopies of important documents such as passports, as a back up in case of loss of your passport. A good way of ensuring access to copies without carrying them around is to scan and send them to your own email for storage for access from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.