Travel in the Indian subcontinent is a mirror of Indian society and one should be aware that with over 400 languages and dialects and over 1 billion people, getting around is not the same as in your own country. We believe that the key to travel in India is knowledge of the environment that you are travelling to. We therefore recommend that you do some background reading in addition to the information given below. Bureaucracy, hectic roads, power cuts, flight delays and re-routings are part and parcel or everyday life in India and you must expect to encounter one if not all of these during your holiday. An awareness of what to expect will turn your holiday into an ungfogettable experience…one that will linger in your memory forever.
All participants must be in possession of a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the end of your holiday. Visa requirements for each country will be advised in detail at the time of booking. Your travel agent will provide visa applications and can process all visas needed for your tour at a nominal charge.
There are a number of international airlines operating into the various airports of India. Check with your travel agent for the best deal. While departing India, it will be necessary to leave very early for the airport several hours before your flight departs. This is on account of traffic congestion which can seriously delay your journey and also due to the fact that flights out of India are now heavily overbooked and offloading those passengers last to check-in is becoming fairly commonplace. It is necessary to check in 3 hours prior to departure time.
All flights are subject to government approval and may be withdrawn or amended at any time, without us incurring liability. All flight timings and days of operation are subject to change. We reserve the right to substitute alternative airlines and /or aircraft subject to availability or else use surface transport, if necessary.
While these are regrettable, delays unfortunately may occur through technical problems, inclement weather or air traffic control delays. Where long flight delays result in lost holiday times, no refunds are given by hotels, supplier for unused accommodation/services as these are held for delayed arrivals. Similarly airlines do not usually offer compensation for flight delays.
Accommodation standards vary dramatically throughout the Indian subcontinent. 5 star hotels are of international standard. The comforts they provide can be compared with anywhere in the world. The deluxe and Palace heritage hotels are a world apart and many have been accorded ‘Leading hotels of the world’ status. A medium budget traveller can opt for 3 and 4 star level of accommodation.
Hotels in India are continually trying to upgrade their services and many can suffer from building works going on throughout the year.
Hotels may be overbooked resulting in you being moved to another hotel. In such instances, we will provide either a substitute hotel of equal rating or an upgrade in accommodation. This should not be taken as a sign of poor organization but as a reaction to circumstances beyond the control of our representatives. General service and room services can be slow and limited in smaller towns so please bear this in mind while utilizing hotel services.
Unless otherwise stated, accommodation is in standard twin/double rooms though double beds cannot be guaranteed. A triple room is usually a twin/double room with an additional bed of folding, pull-out design, hence conditions may be cramped. In the basic accommodation, you may have to be prepared to encounter insects (e.g cockroaches, mosquitoes and ants etc) in your hotel rooms, where they are a natural occurrence due to the tropical heat and do not reflect the standard of hygiene and cleanliness.
The standards of meals and services varies immensely, usually in line with the standard of accommodation booked. In the main city hotels, this can incorporate Western as well as Indian and Oriental cuisine. In the more remote areas and smaller hotels and palaces, food is more basic and principally Indian. In some parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, menus are purely vegetarian, so this must be kept in mind while visiting these places. Meals are usually buffet style or set menus. The hotels are keenly aware of Western reaction to Indian spicy food and take great care in areas of hygiene. While health problems can occur, these are usually minor and are often a result of change of diet and over consumption of different rich foods.
Driving in India can seem hazardous to westerners due to the complicated codes of conduct that apply to road travel in India. All our drivers are however carefully trained in the field. Roads themselves in India bear no relation to roads in the west and in rural India are frequently narrow, bumpy, pot holed and have stretches which are not sealed or which are under reconstruction. Journeys are often long and dusty with infrequent breaks. Road conditions change throughout the year due to the heavy monsoon rains and weather patterns and journey times can vary enormously at all times of the year. This is beyond our control. Most cars used will be Ambassadors (based on the old Morris Oxford) and appear antique but are comfortable and ideally suited to local roads. Coaches are also locally custom made on truck chassis and can in no way be compared with American/European coach standards but they are comfortable and maintained to a high local standard.
All vehicles used for transfers and tours in India are air-conditioned where necessary and available as determined by the nature of the terrain and as described in the notes of each programme. Please note that on all tours, you will not usually be escorted by a representative/guide from point of interest to point of interest but will be under the care of a driver during these transfers. However at specific points of interest and on arrival at, or departure from cities and airports etc., our representatives and guides will be available to assist you to your hotel or sites to be visited in that city.
All entrance fees to sights are usually included in the cost. Should you request to partake of any additional excursions or visit the sights a second time, you will be obliged to pay the entrance fees applicable. When visiting places of worship, tombs etc., you may be obliged to pay to remove your shoes, be appropriately dressed and you may be refused permission to take photographs or use video recording equipments or be charged a fee. Also some hindu temples restrict entrance to persons of other faiths. Please respect these local customs.
Trained English speaking guides are available at fixed charges at all important tourist centres. The Govt. of India Tourist Offices have a list of approved guides. French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian and Japanese speaking guides are available at some cities. Unapproved guides are not permitted to enter protected monuments, and tourists are, therefore, advised to ask the guides for the identity card issued by the Department of Tourism, Govt. of India.
Rail journeys are an incredible experience, however expect basic accommodation and facilities when aboard as all our featured rail journeys are in second class cabins where the standard to be expected are lower than those normally found in comparable Western rail services.
Health, Safety and Security
Always consult your doctor before travelling to Indian Subcontinent. Do consult for personal advice reqarding inoculations and precautions that may be needed including protection against malaria, cholera, hepatitis. Always ensure you have adequate and comprehensive travel insurance. It is advisable to bring specific medicines. There are state operated facilities in all towns and cities and private consultants and specialists in urban areas.
Sensible precautions need to be taken especially in regard to raw vegetables, unpeeled fruit, uncooked seafood, food sold by street vendors and restaurants that might have suspect refrigeration and sanitary practices. Drink only mineral water and check that the seal is intact. Bottled water is available and usually provided in flasks in hotel rooms. For people with delicate digestive systems. It is advisable to use bottled mineral water, this is widely available. Avoid ice in drinks.
You have the same responsibility for your personal safety and possessions abroad as you do at home. Avoid drawing attention to yourself by wearing expensive jewellery, carrying expensive camera equipment, publicly displaying large amounts of money etc. Do not leave valuables unattended and where possible, store them in a safe. Always respect local customs, dress codes, standards and sensibilities especially in areas of cultural and religious importance, as failure to do so may offend local inhabitants.
Electricity and Water Supply
At times, the demands of tourists on the local supplies of electricity and water may exceed the supply with resultant power cuts and or problems with plumbing and drainage. Items usually affected include air-conditioning, running water (hot and cold), lighting and mini bars.
Alcohol bans, known as ‘dry days’ may be called at little or not notice in India, generally coinciding with religious or political events. Certain states like Gujarat and Lakshadweep are “dry” states and liquor permits may be obtained from the nearest Government of India tourist office in your country of origin
Public and Religious Holiday
Please note that services may be curtailed or limited during public holidays and during certain religious holidays. Please also note that such holidays may be called at very little or no prior notice
Money and Credit Cards
We advise you to take the majority of your money in USD travelers cheques for security purposes. These are easily exchanged in the major hotels and banks. Please not that it is imperative that you retain evidence of your transaction as this is required when changing your local currency back. It is unwise and unnecessary to change money at the airport on arrival since they have a significantly lower exchange rates and you will not need money before arriving at your hotel. Most hotels, restaurants and some shops accept major credit cards such are Visa, Master Card, American express and Diners Club. Please note that if you are visiting more rural areas, its may be wise to change currency at your hotel in the bigger cities since changing money in more remote areas may be difficult. Please also bear in mind that once your have passed through Immigrations on your departure from India, you will no longer be able to use Indian rupees.
It is usual to tip waiters, porters, guides, and drivers (except taxi drivers). Most service peoples run their lives on tips more than salaries. Tip, if you are happy with the service. It will not go unrewarded