Additional Information About Travel to India
TippingAt the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your tour guide and driver a gratuity. Your WEST tour coordinator will collect the gratuity at any point during the tour (many travelers like to pay ahead of time to get it out of the way). Although it is not required, your driver and tour guides rely on these tips, and work hard to ensure you an unforgettable experience. We recommend tipping the equivalence of $3 USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6 USD/CAD to $9 USD/CAD per person per day for your tour guide. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalency of $2 USD/CAD per local guide, payable following the local tour. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
In order to enter India, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry. We recommend having at least three blank passport pages for entry stamps. U.S. and Canadian passport holders must obtain a visa in advance in order to enter India. You may choose to apply directly to the Indian consulate or by using a visa provider, such as our partner company, VisaCentral. Obtaining an Indian visa will be an additional cost. If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact the Indian consulate for specific entry requirements.
The flights for tours beginning or ending in India will arrive or depart from Delhi or Mumbai, depending on your itinerary. On-tour transportation is provided primarily by private motor coach, but may include planes, trains, boats, ferries, or other modes. In your free time, you may wish to explore the main cities by public transportation. Your tour coordinator can provide local transportation information to you for each city visited.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you’ll have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage. Please note that any domestic Indian flights included on the tour may have baggage restrictions as low as 33 lbs. for checked bags and 15 lbs. for carry-on bags. You will be responsible for any costs associated with overweight baggage.
To ensure you’re comfortable while out exploring, we recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. For sightseeing, we suggest bringing a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers, as well as a lightweight jacket or rainwear. Waterproof shoes or sandals, a swimsuit, sunscreen and insect repellent are recommended for outdoor activities. Binoculars are handy for a closer look at local wildlife and scenery. If you’re planning a visit to a high-end restaurant or performance, you may also want to bring dressier attire. Also, please remember that it’s preferable to avoid showing bare legs or shoulders during visits to churches or other religious sites (entrance may be denied on this basis).
India operates on 230 volts and uses a type D plug with two small, round pins and one larger round pin. We recommend packing a universal adapter, as well as a voltage converter if you plan on using your own hairdryer or other device without a built-in converter. The strength of the air conditioning in Indian hotels is often not as strong or as cool as what you might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel. Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons, and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.
India is 13.5 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). When it’s 6 a.m. in Los Angeles, it’s 7:30 p.m. in Delhi. Because there is no daylight-saving time, India is only 12.5 hours ahead of California from March to November.
At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov. Local governments may require proof of a yellow fever vaccination (often referred to as a yellow card ) or a statement of medical exemption from the vaccine. This is only required of travelers arriving from a country with a risk of yellow fever virus transmission (Please note: This does not include the U.S. or Canada). Visit cdc.gov/yellowfever for more information.
In order for you to stay healthy throughout your tour, we recommend the following:
- Drink bottled water. Refrain from drinking tap water, including when brushing your teeth
- Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless they’re cooked or washed in clean water and peeled
- Take proper care with sun exposure, the sun can be especially strong in some of the regions on this tour
- Bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication and any prescription medications
- Public restrooms in India can be quite bare. We suggest carrying bathroom tissue and hand sanitizer with you
- If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour and any possible delays encountered
- If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify us at least 30 days prior to your departure
In the northern regions of India, you’ll encounter a great deal of tasty meat-based dishes, including rogan josh and korma, as well as kebabs and biryanis. Tandoor cooking, probably the most popular cuisine in this region, involves vegetables, paneer (Indian cheese), or meat that has been marinated in spiced yogurt, cooked over coals. These are then served in a spicy gravy or sauce or as a kebab. However, if you’re not a meat eater, rest assured that many Indians are vegetarians for religious reasons, so delectable and flavorful vegetarian dishes abound as well. Throughout India, you’ll find that your meals are almost always served with either rice or bread—from unleavened rotis and tandoor-baked breads to the deep-fried puris and bhaturas and pancake-style breads. Many of your included meals will be buffet style, which will allow you to try a variety of new dishes.
The Indian rupee is the currency you’ll be using on your tour. Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, though you may want to order some currency from your local bank or a foreign currency exchange retailer, such as Travelex, before you arrive. Travelers may carry up to 25,000 in Indian rupees into the country when entering through an airport. Travelers may bring up to 25,000 Indian rupees out of India unless continuing on to Bhutan or Nepal. If you wish, you can also obtain rupees through a currency exchange booth at the airport upon your arrival in India. Keep receipt of your exchange. Cash is the preferred method of payment across India. Some larger vendors may accept international debit and credit cards, such as MasterCard and Visa, though it is uncommon and a minimum payment is generally required. We suggest informing your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so they don’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges and freeze your account.
Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches. Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.