India Escorted Tours
Currency: Indian Rupee
Time Zone: IST/GMT+5
Tipping: In restaurants tipping is usually 5-10%, however it is not mandatory. Airport, train and hotel porters should be tipped around Rs20 per item of luggage. Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped, however tour guides and drivers should be tipped around 10%.
India - an Introduction
India is a colourful and chaotic mix of the senses. It is a place where sacred rivers and lantern-lit villages abide, and where cows cross the road in the middle of rush hour and entire families are squeezed onto the back of a motorbike.
The architectonic majesty of the Taj Mahal is enough alone to lure most visitors on an escorted tour to India, but beyond the white marble spectacle of one of the world's most admired masterpieces are frenetic street bazaars, National Parks laden with exotically rare wildlife and sandstone forts ready to be explored.
Escorted tours to India will cover the most soul-stirring experiences that the country has to offer, cherry-picking the very best bits. Return flights, transfers, travel in India and accommodation (usually half-board) is taken care of and local guides are on hand to share their knowledge and point out everything you need to know. Visitors can sip chai on an unforgettable Indian rail journey, admire the Taj Mahal at its most spine-tingling at sunset, take a rickshaw ride in Old Delhi, experience a cookery demonstration in Geejgarh, take a city tour of Agra or embark upon a camel or elephant safari, all as part of a touring holiday. Some trips are also combined with nearby Nepal.
A huge draw for many is Ranthambore National Park, the best game reserve in India and once the hunting ground of the Maharajas (princes) of Jaipur. The park is home to 272 species of birds and intriguing plethora of wild animals, but the most famous is the diurnal tiger. A couple of days in the park will provide a good chance of glimpsing the tigers and even more rare leopards.
The famous 'Pink City' Jaipur - painted pink for a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1853 - is also included on most itineraries. Other tours feature Shimla at the foothills of the Himalayas and Kerala in the south, where it's possible to stay on a famous houseboat.
Thinking of travelling to India? Check out the average temperatures for when you plan to visit courtesy of BBC Weather
Tips & Advice
The beauty of travelling in an escorted tour is that you'll be in the safest hands when it comes to holidaying in foreign lands. However, to help you have an enjoyable holiday in India, take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
Prior to leaving the UK, contact your GP to check whether you need vaccinations or medical preventative treatment. Many of the local medical facilities are not comparable to those found in the UK, especially in remote areas. In larger cities private medical care is available, however it is expensive. Most tours offer the chance to purchase one-trip travel insurance at the time of booking.
Should you need to contact the emergency services during your stay you can dial 102 to ask for an ambulance. If you attend a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance provider immediately.
Women visiting India should take extreme caution, with crimes targeting women rising in recent years. Never travel alone and always stay with your group even during the daytime. Women should respect local dress codes and dress appropriately.
As part of a group you should be safe, but if you do venture off alone never travel on public transport or in taxis, especially at night time. If you need to use a taxi catch it from the hotel or use pre-paid ones from the airport. Never hail a taxi on the street.
Take care of your valuables at all times, especially bank cards and passports. Always keep your luggage close and never leave it unattended at any time.
Take a photocopy of your passport, visa for India and flight ticket separately when travelling. If you lose your passport it is important to contact the police immediately to retain a police report.
Beware of con men in Jaipur and Agra who promise large sums of cash in return for delivering jewellery abroad in return for an initial deposit. The jewellery is worthless and the deposit amounting to thousands of pounds is lost.
Local Laws and Customs
Similar to the UK, India has varying sentences for drug use and possession. The judicial process in India is slow and can last for several years.
When elections are occurring in India there is often a ban on alcohol sales.
Never bring satellite phones into India without consent from Indian authorities and you may also need permission to bring in listening and recording devices, powerful cameras, binoculars and radio transmitters. You should seek advice from the Indian High Commission based in London prior to leaving the UK. Using cameras or binoculars for hobbies such as plane spotting and bird watching may not be seen as innocent in India, especially if you are based near airports, military sites, government buildings or railway stations.
British Citizens need to get a visa before travelling to India. You need to ensure you get the correct one for the purpose of your visit. You can visit India twice on the same trip, using one visa when you are a British Citizen. Some tour operators offer a visa service but may charge an administration fee. If unsure, check at the time of booking.
If you hold a dual British-Pakistani nationality you must apply for an Indian visa using your Pakistan passport. This process can take around 8 weeks or more, so ensure it is sorted plenty of time before travelling.
All passports must have at least 2 blank pages for the visa in addition to having 180 days left on the passport at the time of the visa application and actual entry into India.
Visitors arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever must have had the vaccine to enter.
If you plan to take prescribed medication with you into India you should take a copy of your prescription with you. Narcotic and psychotropic substances are banned.
Visitors to India from the UK can use ETD documents to enter and exit the country, however the same one cannot be used for both purpose. They can also be used for airside transit once inside the country.
Any other nationality looking to visit India must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
For more information about visiting India, see their tourist board website at incredibleindia.org