India Itinerary: Thoughts and Tips
We spent three weeks in India with following routes:
Fly from Amsterdam via London..
Mumbay – back to Amsterdam via Brussels
I got my Indian tourist visa in one day at the Indian Embassy in the Hague. It was quick, not many paperworks and efficient. The visa allowed me to stay in India for six months. Most nationals including Dutch nationals should apply for visa to enter India. I told Dutchie that finally we were even – both of us had to apply visa 🙂 Having an Indonesian passport is not easy for traveling to certain countries. Most of the time I had to apply visa to enter certain countries while Dutchie as a Dutch national does not have to. Such countries, like Australia and United States of America, to get their visas are expensive and requiring lots of time and paper works preparation.
Recently the Indian government granted tourist visa on arrival for specific nationals: Cambodia, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Luxembourg, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Indian currency is Indian rupee. You can get it in the airport via ATM machines. They have ATM machines for maestro and cirrus debit cards.
In the city, you can take auto-rickshaw or taxis to bring you around. Of course you can take public buses, but sincerely the cost of auto-rickshaw is not expensive and if you met a friendly auto-rickshaw driver, he might bring you to interesting places that not mentioned in tourist books.
India has developed sufficient and good railways and airways to connect their cities. Their trains has several classes, the higher tickets cost, the more comfortable the seats. Additionally they have numerous domestic airlines with brand new planes.
India is a big country with many ethnicity so the types of their cuisine are actually varied from region to region. I will not explain about each region’s type of food. But if you are not familiar with spicy food, then it is better to be modest for the first few days until your stomach adjust to Indian’s spicy food. Some type of curries could be very spicy, even for me who always eat spicy food.
Indian culinary is heaven for vegetarian and vegans. It offers numerous variety of vegan dishes. My favorite vegan food are: Papad Masala and Palak Paneer. My favorite non vegan food is Tandoori chicken and Vindaloo.
Coffee may be not the strong point of Indian beverages. However, India offers delicious tea such as Chai (Masala Tea). The tea is perfect to start your day replacing Indian coffee.
1. Never buy train tickets or tour package from someone that you just met in the street or suspicious travel/tourist office. I suggest to buy train tickets directly in train station, always. And for flight ticket, it could be arranged via hotel or buying the ticket directly at the airport.
2. Wear an Indian’s product. For woman, it could be shawl and for man, it could be Hindu’s bracelet. This is to show that you have been in India for a while. Additionally, it will help you in bargaining Indian products with the locals vendors.
3. Unfortunately, there were quite number of children beggars in touristy places. We refused to give them money but they kept following us. Tourists are their targets, therefore please keep strong and don’t give them money. Perhaps it is better to give them pens, pencils or educative small toys like this one. A thoughtful article related to Indian children beggars written by Jillian Keenan. He mentioned some reasons for not giving money to children beggars and how you can help them.
4. Be sure about where to go during Indian monsoon season (June to September). You don’t want to have my experience while in Goa 😉
5. Don’t bring too many clothes to India. India has excellent laundry service, especially in touristy area. The service is cheap, fast and clean. Besides of that, their textile products are really nice with good quality.
Lastly, if possible, please do not carry around your Lonely Planet or travel guide books, this is to avoid become a scamming target. Bring a small notebook of list of places that you’d like to visit.
Most likely, but it is not in my priority list yet. I would like to visit Kerala, Varanasi and Shimla-Manali-Leh (these places have amazingly beautiful nature and unique culture).