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Guidelines to Traveling

India is a vast sub-continent with a climate and customs all of its own. So before you embark on your holiday it is as well to check out a few facts to make your stay there as comfortable as possible.

CLIMATE: The temperatures in India vary greatly, depending on the time of year and area. During the summer months of May and June the lower plains of the South, and the desert areas of the North are very hot and either dry in the north or humid in the south with temperatures around 40c(1OOF), while the hills and mountain areas provide a cool sanctuary. After the monsoons between June and October, the climate is extremely pleasant right through the autumn, winter and into early spring. North India is extremely cold in winter, but quite lovely in autumn and spring.

WHAT TO WEAR: If you want to keep your cool in the Indian sun, a good supply of cotton clothing is essential along with a comfortable pair of open sandals. An effective pair of sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat will protect you against the deceptively strong rays. Do remember to pack winter clothing if your trip takes you to the mountain regions.

MEDICAL ADVICE: There are no compulsory vaccinations for travel to India, although we strongly recommend that you protect yourself against Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Cholera, Hepatitis A and Malaria, which is taken in tablet form. Certain passengers may also be advised to have a Meningitis injection. Also ensure you have a good mosquito repellent. We strongly advise that you contact your doctor or Travel Clinics allowing at least three weeks before the date of travel, for all medical advice.

THE CITIES: Indian cities are bustling and exiting, and in most areas, quite safe. There is little danger of being mugged on the streets here, but don't be offended if the locals stare at you - the Indians are friendly and hospitable people and just curious. Almost all city-dwellers speak and understand English, and you will find all the street and shop signs in English as well. Should you get lost, the local people are so obliging that often you'll find they will not only give you directions, but walk you all the way to your destination!

VISITING TEMPLES: When visiting places of worship and mausoleums there are certain religious customs to be observed. As a token of respect, it is customary to remove your footwear before entering all temples.

PHOTOGRAPHY: India is a kaleidoscope of color just waiting to be photographed, so wherever you travel be sure to carry your camera and an ample supply of color film. With the exception of inside the Taj Mahal, the airports, and other restricted areas, you may photograph to your heart's content.

CABS AND CAR HIRE: The majority of hired cars are chauffeured - driven in India. Hiring a taxi is no problem and quite reliable. To avoid any confusion over cost, settle the fare before you set off.

DINING: Avoid eating spicy foods when you first arrive in India, however tempting. Allow your system at least a day or two to get used to them, introducing one Indian dish with each meal for the first couple of days. After that it is best to stick with cooked foods, and remember to peel fruit before eating it. The best drinks to enjoy with your meals or to quench your thirst are the bottled mineral waters, other bottled drinks, coffee and tea. Indian beer is very good, along with Indian gin and vodka. The whisky needs an acquired taste, and the imported Scotch whisky is very expensive as is the wine.

TIPPING: If service is not included in the bill, 10% is usually the accepted amount. Hotel porters expect about 50 rupees for one piece of luggage and about 100 rupees for a trolley full. At the end of your stay if you wish to tip your sightseeing guide and driver, an acceptable amount would be approximately 300 rupees.

CHANGING MONEY: It is advisable to change your money through authorized banks and hotels. Always keep your receipts as you will need them at the end of your trip if you wish to convert your rupees back to your own currency. The units of Indian currency are the rupee and the paise. There are 100 paise in the rupee. Paper money comes in the denominations of 1,2,5,10,20,50, 100, and 500 rupees and coins are available in 5,10,20,25,50 paise and in rupee coins of 1 and 2. All major credit cards are accepted in most hotels and restaurants and government and hotel shops, as are travelers checks.

SHOPPING: India is a shopper's paradise with the promise of some excellent buys. For general shopping we recommend the Government Emporiums, and the shops in the hotels. You will find a huge choice of goods, from fashion bags and shoes in every color, to Indian silks and handicrafts. Finally do not forget that any item that is more than 100 years old is banned from export out of the country, as is ivory, crocodile skin and other wildlife products.

DEPARTURE TAX: When you leave India, there is currently a statutory departure tax of 500 rupees. This has to be paid in Indian currency at the airport. In view of this, it is wise to keep this amount handy when you leave for the airport. In some cases this may be included in the Cost of your booking so please check your invoice for confirmation of this.

PASSPORT AND VISITS: All non-Indian Passport holders require visas for India and Nepal.

TRAVEL INSURANCE: We strongly recommend that you take purchase insurance to cover all eventualities while you are traveling abroad, including cancellation for medical or any other reasons, as significant penalties will apply.

NOTES: The above information is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief. It is current at the time of going to press. We regret we cannot accept any responsibility for any changes on advice or information given. The advice given is a genuine effort on our part to make your stay as pleasant as possible.

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