Where to sleep?
Practical A to Z
Practical A to Z
- Eating out
- Embassies and consulates
- Getting around
- Public holidays
- Social etiquette
Opening hours – 12.30-3pm and 7.30-11pm (9pm in small towns and villages).
Snacks – Sweet shops in bazaars, snack bars and street vendors.
Alcohol consumption is not part of local culture and many hotels and restaurants do not sell alcohol.
The voltage is 220V and the sockets are compatible with standard European plugs. Power cuts are frequent but most hotels have generators.
Embassies and consulates
British High Commission in India – Chanakyapuri - New Delhi 110021 - t 011 2687 2161 - www.ukinindia.fco.gov.uk
Irish Embassy - 230 Jor Bagh - New Delhi 110003 - t 011 2462 6733 - www.embassyofireland.in
A car is the best way to explore India. In theory, Indians drive on the left-hand side of the road (beware of cows!).
An adventure in their own right, the trains are however also extremely slow and frequently late - www.indiarailinfo.com
The most flexible but also the slowest means of transport.
By collective taxi
Collective taxis operate much like mini buses and are only marginally more expensive. They follow fixed itineraries.
By auto rickshaw
These black and yellow motorised tricycles, a familiar feature in towns, are almost half the price of a taxi. In Delhi (green and yellow), they are equipped with a meter.
By bicycle rickshaw
Bicycles equipped with a rear seat, they cost 30 to 50% less than an auto-rickshaw.
The most common illness encountered by tourists is turista (diarrhoea).
Giardiasis, dysentery, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis A, due to eating or drinking infected food or water, can result in serious illnesses.
To avoid malaria, dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis, protect yourself from mosquitoes.
Food and water
Only drink “mineral” water (in fact this is purified water), on sale everywhere. Avoid ice cubes, homemade ice creams or fruit juice mixed with water. Wash fruit and vegetables carefully. Avoid eating raw or undercooked food.
All the large hotels can arrange for an English-speaking doctor. It is advisable to go to a private clinic rather than a public hospital, and in the case of a serious illness, to arrange to be repatriated.
Police – t 100
Fire brigade – t 101
Ambulance – t 102
The currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR or Rs), subdivided into paise.
Rupees can only be bought in India. It is quicker to change money in exchange offices, available in all the tourist towns, than in banks. Do not accept Rs500 or 1000 banknotes (of which there are numerous fakes, even in ATMs), or torn or damaged notes.
Banks are generally open Monday-Friday from 10am-2pm (7pm in large hotels) and Saturday 10am-12noon.
There is no shortage of Automatic Telling Machines. Mid-range and upmarket establishments accept credit card payments. In shops, an extra 5 to 20% is charged for credit card payments.
Only American Express or Thomas Cook cheques are accepted.
A double room in a comfortable hotel: Rs2500-6000.
A meal in a good restaurant: Rs350-500.
A rickshaw: around Rs50.
A bottle of water: Rs10-20.
Post offices are open Monday-Saturday 10am-12noon or 5pm. Allow one week for mail to reach Europe. It is advisable not to put your mail in letterboxes, but to have it stamped in post offices because stamps are regularly stolen.
26 January – Anniversary of the Constitution (1950).
15 August – Independence Day (1947).
2 October – Anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi.
Some public holidays change according to the lunar calendar.
Modern shops: 10am-6.30pm.
Traditional booths and stalls: 9am-8pm.
Closing day: often Sunday, Monday or Tuesday.
Shopping invariably entails interminable bartering.
Tips are always welcome and are quite commonplace. It is occasionally useful to tip beforehand to ensure good service or obtain a favour but this does encourage corruption.
Visitors to India are spoilt for choice in terms of souvenirs: carpets, fabric, leather goods, clothes, art, pottery, wood, pietra dura, perfume, etc.
Antiques – Copies of bronze sculpture and other works of art, sometimes very well imitated, are legion, but originals are scarce.
Jewellery – Only buy silver or gold coins and fine or precious stones from reputable shops.
Museums: open 10am-4.30 or 5.30pm, except Mondays and public holidays.
Monuments: open 9am-5pm (variable closing hours) and many sites are open from dawn to dusk.
When entering a holy place, remove your shoes and cover your head or legs, depending on the place. It is customary to make a small donation.
Be advised that shaking the head from one side to another in fact means “OK” or “alright”. Remove your shoes when entering someone’s home if your hosts have removed their footwear. Women should avoid bare shoulders, low necklines and clothing that does not cover the legs down to the ankles. Wear a tunic over trousers. Eat with your right hand if there isn’t any cutlery.
To call India from abroad
Dial 00 + 91 + area code without the first 0 + number of the person.
To call home from India
Dial 00 + country code (UK 44, Ireland 353) + number of the person without the first 0.
Within the same region – Dial the number of the person.
To another region – Dial the area code + number of the person.