India travel guide

Where to go and what to see in India

Why visit India?

India – a world of vivid colour, drenched in culture, and deeply rich history – is a difficult country to define. Known to be extremely diverse, India is the second-most populous country in the world. A convergence of varying beliefs, Western influences, languages, modern economy, and timeless traditions make India one of the most stimulating and evocative countries to visit. Perhaps one of the most unique features of India is how often you can encounter these customs at any time of day, on any street, and in the midst of everyday life among the locals. It’s a lot to take in and you may experience some culture shock at first, but before long the country’s fascinating way of life and its distinctive personality will draw you in. Between the fabulously flavourful cuisine, the vibrant people, and captivating scenery, visiting India will be a memorable and life-changing endeavour.

 

Weather and climate in India

When is the best time to visit India?

The best time to visit India depends on what you want to see and where you want to go. For the Golden Triangle (Agra, Delhi and Jaipur), the best period is between October and mid-April, when temperatures are at their mildest and rainfall is at its lowest. And during this period, there are two cultural highlights in the Hindu calendar that you might want to time your visit with:

 

Diwali in India, November

The Hindu ‘Festival of Lights’ is the international celebration of light over darkness and good over evil. Over five days, friends and families will get together for feasts, light their homes with earthen lamps (‘diyas’), swap presents, play games and watch local fireworks. It centres around the new moon (‘Amavasya’), which heralds New Year's Eve in the Hindu calendar. It’s believed the Goddess Lakshmi will visit each home and bless the inhabitants with wealth and happiness.


Holi day in India, March

This joyful ‘Festival of Love’ is one of the most widely photographed celebrations in the world, with its colourful paint powder. It begins on the night of the full moon (‘Holika Dahan’) with the lighting of bonfires to celebrate, like Diwali, the triumph of good over evil. This is the time when people traditionally forget all resentments towards each other, celebrating by throwing pots of paint powder at each other. It is a festival of love and respect – an unforgettable event to take part in.  


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Weather in India

India is large with diverse weather patterns. The Himalayas stop cold winds from reaching most of India, so winters remain warm and summers can get very hot.

  • November to March Pleasant with warm days. Southern India sees some rain in November and December.
  • April to June By far the hottest time of the year with rain picking up in June
  • July to October Some rain persists through September with temperatures cooling from the hot summer months.

To help you plan, below are average low and high temperatures.

 

 

 Chennai

 Agra

 Delhi

 January

 21/29°C

 6/23°C

 9/20°C

 February

 22/30°C

 8/26°C

 12/23°C

 March

 24/32°C

 13/32°C

 17/28°C

 April

 26/34°C

 19/38°C

 22/35°C

 May

 28/37°C

 25/42°C

 27/38°C

 June

 27/37°C

 28/41°C

 28/38°C

 July

 27/37°C

 28/41°C

 28/38°C

 August

 26/34°C

 26/33°C

 27/33°C

 September

 25/34°C

 24/34°C

 26/33°C

 October

 24/32°C

 17/34°C

 20/32°C

 November

 23/30°C

 9/29°C

 14/27°C

 December

 22/28°C

 7/24°C

 9/22°C

 

 

 


India food and fun facts

 

 

Food in India

India is vast in scale, and its culinary traditions are among the richest and most diverse in the world. Much of the continent is Hindu, particularly the south, which means no meat or fish. So you’ll be spoilt for choice with vegetarian dishes such as lentil dhals, banana-leaf thalis, steamed idlis and dosas. Head north for aromatic meat curries, made with the cream, almonds and dried fruit that have been inherited from 200 years of historical Mughal rule. The southern parts of India are also known for their fragrant fish and coconut curries, which should not be missed if you’re visiting Kerala.

Are the curries hot in India?

It depends on where you are! Northern India is home to tandoori ovens and mild, creamy kormas – but the south uses fresh ingredients such as chillies, so the heat is of a different type. Generally, there’s always at least one mild dish on a menu.

Will I get food poisoning in India?

Like any country, the quality of food and hygiene in India’s restaurants varies from place to place, but with a bit of common sense and following some basic rules then you can minimise the risk of becoming ill on your holiday.

Always sanitise your hands. This may sound really obvious, but it’s easy to slip into habits such as washing your hands with the local water without sanitising with alcohol.

Eat where the locals eat. If it’s busy with locals, it’s probably good food. If it’s empty, or purely serving tourists, think twice.

If in doubt, go vegetarian. You can minimise the risk of food poisoning by avoiding meat and seafood – and remember that some of the best food in India is vegetarian.

Can I drink the tap water in India?

No. For sightseeing and excursions, we recommend you purchase bottled water to bring with you or bring some from your hotel room. Bottled water is also common in restaurants.

How much does food cost in India?

The following budget guidelines are just approximate values or starting values for meals and are per person. Actual prices will vary widely by restaurant and city within a country but below are some averages as provided by our experienced personnel.

  • The approximate cost of a soft drink/mineral water/coffee is 50-60 Rupees.
  • An average lunch consisting of a salad or sandwich and a soda or water starts at around 200-250 Rupees.
  • Dinner at a mid-range restaurant with dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage starts at approximately 1,000-1,500 Rupees.

When and how much to tip in India

Tipping ('Baksheesh') is widespread in India. Often, you tip not so much for the good service, but in order to get things done. It is customary to tip table staff at local restaurants the equivalent of 10% of your bill.

Some cab drivers may automatically round up your fare as a tip.

Other services such as bar or room service are at your discretion but we recommend no more than 50 rupees.

 

 

Fun facts

  • The capital of India is New Delhi
  • There are 22 different languages spoken in India, but the most common are Hindustani... and English! 
  • The population of India is 1.4billion
  • All of India is in one time zone.
  • The time zone in India is EST plus 9:30 hours
  • The currency of India is the Indian Rupee
  • India's electrical outlets take 220V/50Hz
  • The oldest European church and synagogue in India are in the city of Cochin. They were built in 1503 and 1568 respectively.
  • Chess was first played in India.
  • India is the world’s largest producer of beans (kidney and chickpeas), and bananas.

Things to consider before visiting India

Visas and passports

A visa for your visit to India is necessary for UK Citizens. If you hold a passport from another country, check with your local consulate about requirements for travel to India.

Our trusted visa partner CIBT has more than 50 years' experience and is the global leader in visa services. It provides fast, easy and secure processing of travel visas and passports to ensure that whether you're travelling alone or in a group, you'll be ready to travel in time for your departure date. You can see full details along with the significant discounts in CIBT handling fees our customers enjoy when you apply.

Apply for a visa through CIBT

 

You are responsible for obtaining and paying for all entry documents (visas, etc.) and for meeting all health requirements (inoculations, etc.) as required by the laws, regulations, or orders of the countries you will visit. We cannot accept liability if you are refused entry onto any transport or into any country for failure to carry correct documentation.

Please check your itinerary carefully and make sure that multi-entry visas have the correct entry dates and destinations before you leave on your vacation. If your nationality (passport) differs from the country in which you reside, you must consult with the appropriate consulates to determine if any visas are needed. CIBT may be able to assist you with this process.

All passengers travelling internationally are required to have a passport. Most countries require that the passport be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the conclusion of your trip, so please check the expiration date carefully. It is also recommended you have a minimum of three blank pages in your passport when travelling, as many countries require blank pages. Please carry proper identification (your passport) on you and do not leave it in your suitcase or hotel room. Most countries have laws that require you to carry your passport with you at all times.

How to call India: Country code

The country code for India is 91. When calling to India from overseas, dial your international access code (00 from the US/Canada), followed by the country code, area code, and phone number. Phone numbers in India are 10 digits in length. Dialling from the UK: 00 91### ### ####.

India’s currency

In India the local currency is the Indian Rupee.

  • Banknote denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 Rupee
  • Coin denominations: 10, 20, 25, 50 Paise; 1, 2, 5 Rupee

As a general guideline, bring a variety of payment means, particularly in the event that you have difficulties with your preferred method of payment.

Cash

ATMs are the most convenient way to obtain money in India as they are readily available. Money exchange services are also available at the airport on arrival and at some hotels.

For the most current exchange rates, please go to our website at globusfamily.com/currency.

 

Credit Cards

Major credit cards are widely accepted (Visa and MasterCard are most common) but some shops and restaurants require a minimum purchase amount when using them (so they are not appropriate for incidentals such as ice creams, snacks etc). You might consider bringing more than one card, as some outlets may not accept all types. Due to increasing credit card fraud worldwide, be prepared to show identification (i.e. your passport or driver's license) when making a transaction with your credit card. If you use a credit card for your purchase, you will be debited in the local currency, and your bank will establish the rate of exchange on the debit.

 

Traveller's cheques

Although a secure means of carrying money, traveller's cheques are unfortunately becoming very hard to use.

Due to this we recommend you plan on using cash and credit cards only.

 

Bank Hours:

Mon-Fri: 10am - 4pm

Sat: 10am - 1pm (Closed 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month)

Sun: Closed

Shopping in India

Unless you're in a department store or shop, it is customary to barter in India. Start negotiating with an offer at one-third or half the vendor's initial price.

What should I buy in India?

Tea Southern India is known for its tea plantations, so this is your chance to buy it at its best.

Spices Indian food is among the most flavoursome in the world, so try haggling for some in a market and bring home a souvenir you’ll never forget.

Jewellery Indian jewellery is instantly recognisable for its intricate delicacy and yellow colour.

Fabric Be the envy of your yoga class with some authentic harem pants, deftly haggled in Delhi’s old market.

 


Useful phrases in Hindi

Good morning/day: Namaste

Good evening: Namaste

Hi: Namaste

Please: Kripya

Thank you: Dhanyawad

You're welcome: Aap ka swagat hai

Yes: Haan

No: Nahi

Do you speak English?: Aap English bolte hain?

I don't understand: Main samajha nahi

How much?: Kitna ?

Where is … ?

Kahan hai yeh?

Telephone: Telephone

Bathroom: Toilet

Tea: Chai

Coffee: Coffee

Bottled water: Mineral water (carbonated = Soda)

Cheers!: Cheers!

Have a nice day!: Shubh din.

Numbers

1 (one): Ek

2 (two): Do

3 (three): Teen

4 (four): Char

5 (five): Paanch

6 (six): Chey

7 (seven): Saat

8 (eight): Aath

9 (nine): Naun

10 (ten): Dus