India Travel Guide: Travel tips for foreigners & backpackers, New Delhi tourist information, India food average prices, eating on a budget, accommodation in New Delhi Find discount hotels, cheap accommodation, vacation deals, holiday packages.
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Full country name: Republic of India
Area: 3,287,263 sq km
Population: 1,17 billion (July 2010 est.)
Capital City: New Delhi
Language: Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu, Telugu, Marathi, Malayalam, Kashmiri, Bengali, Tamil, English
Religion: Hindu 80.5%, Muslim 13.4%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.1%
Government: Federal Republic
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +5.5 (Indian Standard Time)
Dialling Code: 91
Electricity: 240V, 50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric

Money & Costs:
Currency: Indian Rupee
Average yearly salary: USD 3,100

Budget: Rs45
Mid-range: Rs45-120
High: Rs120-230
Top: Rs230+
Budget: Rs140-460
Mid-range: Rs460-4600
High: Rs4600-9000
Top: Rs9000+

If you stay in cheap hotels, travel 2nd class on trains and can survive on a diet of dhal and rice, you could see India on just $10 a day. A private room with a bathroom, a varied diet, and occasional 1st class rail travel on long journeys, will cost $20-25 a day. Staying in mid-range hotels, eating in more expensive restaurants, and occasionally hiring a car and driver will cost around $30-40/day.

Indian currency notes circulate far longer than in the West and the small notes in particular become very worn. You may occasionally find that when you try to pay for something with a ripped or tatty note that your money is refused. You can change old notes for new ones at most banks or save them and use them creatively as tips.

Tipping is virtually unknown in India, except in higher class establishments in the major cities. Baksheesh on the other hand, is widespread, and is a term which encompasses tipping and a lot more besides. You 'tip' in India not so much for good service but in order to get things done. Judicious baksheesh will open closed doors, find missing letters and perform other small miracles. In tourist restaurants or hotels a 10% service charge is often added to bills. In smaller places, where tipping is optional, you need only tip a few rupees, not a percentage of your bill.

Geography: India is located in Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and Pakistan and also borders Bangladesh, Bhutan, China & Nepal. India has the second largest population on earth, just behind China. It represents just over 15% of the world's population. Major cities and their populations include: New Delhi (12 million), Delhi (7 million), Mumbai (Bombay-13 million), Calcutta (11 million), Madras (6 million), Bangalore and Kanpur.

India is basically a peninsula, with the Arabian Sea on the west, the Bay of Bengal on the east, and the Indian Ocean to the south. The Himalayan Mountains separate India from much of the rest of Asia and China. The Himalayas have many of the tallest mountains in the world. On the north-western end of India is the Thar desert. Most of southern India is the Deccan Plateau, which is mostly rolling hills with many rivers. The plateau is separated from the northern plain by the Vindhya mountains. The Eastern and Western Ghats are coastal mountains on either side of the plateau.

Note: Several Indian regions are prone to flashes of conflict. Spats over Jammu and Kashmir in particular periodically push India and Pakistan to the brink of war. Travel to these two troubled regions should not be undertaken without consular advice, and also for any area bordering Pakistan.

Climate: India extends from the soaring Himalayas to the Indian Ocean coast, encompassing half a dozen climatic regions. Generally, though, the country has a tropical climate, dominated by monsoons, heat and humidity. Tropical hurricanes and cyclones are also part of the general weather outlook in the middle and end of the year, especially on the coast. The best time to travel to the south of India is between January and September, but the north-eastern regions are most pleasant weather-wise between March and August. The mountains are best during the summer, between May and September.

Recommended clothing: It is important to cover up your legs and shoulders when in India, or else you may have unwanted attention from the local men. Loose clothing is recommended not only to be modest, but to feel more comfortable in the tropical heat as well. When entering someones home, or a place of religious worship shoes should be taken off.

Social conventions: Hand folding and a tilt of the head is a traditional Indian Hindu greeting. Handshaking is not common. Many Hindus do not drink alcohol and are vegetarians. Parsees and Sikhs do not smoke.

Health: It is recommended to take the necessary vaccination before traveling to India, since there is a high incidence of food-borne, water-borne and other infectious diseases in India. Tap water should be boiled before drinking, or otherwise, you should stick to bottled water. Avoid ice cubes and raw or undercooked food. New Delhi is currently experiencing its most significant seasonal outbreak of dengue fever recorded in recent years, and since there is no vaccination or specific treatment available for dengue, you should be very careful.

Food & Drink: Indian food differs from the rest of the world and reflects a perfect blend of various ages and cultures. Just like Indian culture, Indian food has also been influenced by various civilizations. Indian dishes are well known for their spiciness, the usage of herbs and vegetables. Vegetarianism is widely spread in Indian society. The most popular foods of Indian cuisine are rice, atta (whole wheat flour), and a variety of pulses. Indian sweets are usually made with sugar, milk and condensed milk, and cooked by frying. Indian tea (Chai) is probably the most favorite drink throughout the country. Coffee is less popular, and it is considered to be a drink of upper middle classes. Lassi is a smoothie/milkshake type of drink made of yogurt.

Public Holidays:
Jan 21
Idu'z Zuha/Bakrid (Feast of the Sacrifice)
Jan 26 Republic Day
Feb 10 Muharram (Islamic New Year)
Mar 20 Sri Rama Navami (Birthday of Sri Rama)
Mar 24 Mahavir Jayanthi
Varies between Mar 22 & Apr 25 Good Friday
Apr 24 Buddha Purnima
May 23 Milad-Un-Nabi (Birth of the Prophet)
Aug 15 Independence Day
Oct 2 Mahatma Gandhi's Birthday
Oct 12 Vijaya Dasami/Dussera
Nov 2 Diwali
Nov 3-5 Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
Nov 26 Guru Nanak's Birthday
Dec 25 Christmas Day

Note: (a) Public holidays in India tend to be observed on a strictly regional basis. Only the secular holidays of Republic Day, Independence Day and Mahatma Gandhi's Birthday are universally observed. The above dates are Government of India holidays, when government offices will be closed nationwide. In addition, there are numerous festivals and fairs which are also observed in some States as holidays, the dates of which change from year to year.

Disclaimer: The above information is for reference purposes only. The content of this page is not intended to substitute for advice given by the user's own government travel departments or a licensed travel health advisor. The viewer/user of this web page should always contact the user's own government representatives in that area for the most up-to-date information at that time, before making a final decision to travel to that country or destination.

Study in India: Below are the latest English language schools, art & design schools, business schools, colleges & universities to join our directory.

Schools & colleges listing on Learn4Good:Location
Stanford English Academy, Navi MumbaiNavi Mumbai, India
Indian Board of Alternative MedicinesKolkata, India
Rose Mount's Institute of English Language, DehradunDehradun, India
Online English Level TestDelhi (New Delhi), India
Rose Mount's Institute of English Language, DehradunDehradun, India
Stanford English Academy, Navi MumbaiMumbai, India
Indian Board of Alternative Medicines (Department of Distance and Continuing Education)Kolkata, India
Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, BangaloreBangalore, India
Indian Board of Alternative Medicine (Department of Distance and Continuing Education)Kolkata, India
Syntax Academy, BangaloreBangalore, India
VOIP AcademyBangalore, India
Rachnoutsav Events Academy, HyderabadHyderabad, India
Singapore International School, MumbaiMumbai, India

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