Want to go on a trip? Why not India?
In the imagination of the westerners this great country is associated with a whole lot of images often misleading, which makes it difficult to perfectly comprehend what one will find there. And who says ignorance of a country, says apprehension to go there. And yet, just a little information is needed to lift all the fears!
Before all, it is important to know that India is very diversified, the populations of the North are not the same as in the South, and there are many differences between the inhabitants according to their place of residence, their modes of life, traditions, etc. You may even feel like you are visiting different countries just by taking the train from one area to another. When popular images like these women with colorful saris or those views of the temples in the border of the vegetation or bordering the water, yes, they will see them well, so there is no hesitation, do not you do worries and flying to India, you will be welcome.
To go to India you will need a valid passport and a six-month tourist visa. The visa can be obtained directly at the Embassy of India in Paris or by mail. It will cost you Visa of tourism: 58,69 € (50 € visa + 6,96 € VFS + 2 € of tax) in 2015, two passport photos and a photocopy of an ID.Consular Service of the Embassy of India Visa Service 20-22, rue Albert Magnard 75016 Paris
Please note that this visa is valid from the date of issue and not from entry into the country. Some parts of India have restricted access and special authorization is required to get there.
No mandatory vaccinations. Application forms can be downloaded from the official websites and you can also arrange for your visa to be obtained by correspondence.
How to get there
The easiest solution is to choose an organized tour and let yourself be guided. Many tour operators offer destinations in India but often in North India, more rarely in South India. The other solution is the "backpacking" method, by far the most economical and the most pleasant if you like a little adventure and have health. Departure from France, the air ticket will cost between 560 and 1000 euros depending on the season. Do not hesitate to play the competition between the airlines.
Most flights from Paris arrive in Mumbai (Bombay) or Delhi. Domestic lines provide connections to many regional airports. Do not forget that some companies require a confirmation of the return flight at least 72 hours in advance.
Traveling in India
By air: there are two national airlines (Air India and Indian Airlines) which provide the most frequented domestic routes. Independent airlines (Jet Airways and Sahara Airlines) are developing and offering other routes. Do not hesitate to play the competition.
By train: The Indian rail network is one of the most developed in the world (more than 60,000 km of tracks) and also one of the most "folk". The train is the most economical way to travel long distances but not the fastest (rarely more than 60 km / h of average!). There are nevertheless fast luxury trains but their lines are few in number.
There are two classes, the first and the second, divided into several categories (air-conditioned, bunk, seat).
If you can, it is advisable to reserve your seat, especially for a bunk. The reservation system is quite complicated and it will sometimes take several days in advance. Fortunately, the railway employees know their business well and will put you on the right track. Note the train number and name because the signs rarely indicate its destination. It should be noted that a certain quota of places is reserved for the tourists. So do not hesitate to make it play.
If you do not feel the courage to make the reservation yourself, contact a local travel agency.
The list of passengers who got a seat is displayed a few hours before the train leaves and on the cars. You will then have confirmation of the place number indicated on your ticket.
By bus: Ideal for inter-urban connections of less than 200 km. Like the train, speed is not the main advantage of Indian buses (about 40 km / h average). Moreover, the state of the roads can make the journey somewhat uncomfortable but in terms of cost, the bus is unbeatable.
Most of the connections are aboard noisy, uncomfortable buses of a different age. There are lines with air-conditioned buses and a little more comfortable.
There is no real provision for luggage. So be especially careful if the bus is crowded. If the driver installs them on the roof make sure they are secure!
The first kilometers you will travel by bus (or by car) will seem the last of your life as the Indian highway code is totally anarchy. It would seem that there are tacit rules between the different vehicles that intersect and duplicate each other. The most obvious being: priority to the biggest! In addition, drivers use their horns for a "yes" or "no", which can quickly become painful.
By car: You will find few places to rent a car. In addition, road conditions and the absence of a highway code will discourage you from taking the road yourself. Prefer to rent a car with driver or a taxi. Even though it is much higher than public transport, the price remains quite affordable and you will move a little faster than by bus. The advantage of this mode of travel is that, unlike the bus, you can stop where you want.
In town: The best way to get around town is the rickshaw or the auto-rickshaw (the second is motorized). It is a small scooter of black and yellow color. You will not miss them! It can carry two or three passengers, or even more.
The rickshaws are normally equipped with a meter, require the driver to start it. If there is no counter, it will be necessary to negotiate the race. Set yourself on a score of rupees for an average trip and do not hesitate to play the competition.
As on the roads, the state of traffic in town will give you beautiful fears but you will probably admire the skill and control of rickshaws drivers.
Uses and customs
Needless to say, the rules of behavior in India have nothing to do with those of the West in general.
Many rules pertain to religion and, above all, to sacred places. When entering a temple, have a proper outfit and do not forget to take off your shoes at the entrance (usually places are provided for a few rupees). Once inside the temple, do not touch the statues and do not enter the holy of holies. Photographs are generally permitted but make sure you take them. In some large temples you will have to pay a tax on cameras (cameras, camcorders, cameras). Do not be deceived by the various "temple merchants" you meet inside, especially those who will offer to bless you and who will ask you for money afterwards. Refuse politely but firmly.
On the other hand, do not resist the pleasure of being "blessed" by the elephants that are sometimes at the entrance of the temples. Against a small ticket, this one will put his trunk on your head as a sign of protection.
In contact with the population, be attentive to some of your gestures. Do not reach out to greet an Indian. Prefer the traditional salvation that consists of joining hands in front of the chest. Avoid using the left hand as Hindus consider it impure. This restriction is of course valid at the table (most people eat with your fingers) but also when you stretch something (money, various objects ...). Wash your hands before eating. There is always a sink in the restaurants, even the most modest ones.
If you are invited to enter the home of an Indian, consider removing your shoes and enter the rooms only after you have been invited.
At the beginning of your stay you will probably be intrigued by the nods of the Indians when they nod. It looks like our "no" but it means "yes" or "I understood."
If you are traveling in India, you should familiarize yourself with the use of bakchich. As a tip, the bakchich will serve to thank a service rendered or to ensure that it is made as quickly as possible! It is often difficult to appreciate the amount of bakchich, it is up to you to see according to what you expect or what you want (average between 5 and 15 rupees).
Consider keeping a few coins for the many beggars who will come to ask you for almsgiving even if you will not be able to give them all. Do not forget that "social protection" is a non-existent term in India and that the caste system reinforces social inequalities.
Cost of life
The cost of living is particularly low for a westerner. Eating will cost you only a few tens of rupees ($1 = 90 rupees). Even the restaurants of the big hotels are quite affordable. As for accommodation, many hotels are just waiting for you. Their quality goes from the slum to the western luxury. In medium-sized cities you will find double rooms for 200 to 400 rupees. In equal quality the price of the rooms generally increase with the size of the city. The palm coming back to Mumbai.
It is almost always possible to negotiate the cost of a room or ask to have a triple room for the price of a double.
If you can not do without your favorite steak-fries for over a week, do not go to India. Nothing is more disconcerting and original than Indian cuisine. Indian food is mainly vegetarian in the south, a little less in the north. There are no breakfasts in the western sense. The Indians eat salted in the morning. To find toast and jam, you will have to go to breakfast in the restaurants of the big hotels but do not expect anything miraculous.
The dietary habits are quite different between the north and the south of India. In the south, rice serves as a food base. The dishes are often raised but rarely to the point of being inedible. By way of bread, you will be served cakes (chapati or naan) cooked in the tandoori oven. In most restaurants frequented by the population, you will mostly eat thalis. These are rice to which are added various sauces, more or less raised.
They will be served on banana leaves or on metal dishes accompanied by dhal (lentil soup). If you are tired of this popular but very inexpensive food, treat yourself to good restaurants where the dishes are more varied and where you can eat with cutlery and on a plate for a very affordable price.
In the north the Indians eat more meat and cereals in general, especially wheat, are more used than rice. The north has become a specialty of tandoori cuisine. It takes its name from the oven used for cooking (the tandoor). You will also find plenty of biryani dishes where the meat is mixed with fragrant rice. Whether south or north, there is a wide variety of desserts. These are usually sweets and sweets more or less sweet.
The Indians like to finish their meal by chewing a paan. It is a mixture of condiments, spices, various products wrapped in a leaf of betel. The paan is supposed to facilitate digestion but rare Western stomachs support such treatment.
You will have no trouble drinking in India. Numerous stalls selling all kinds of drinks, hot and cold. The Indians drink a lot of tea and coffee but they drink them systematically sweetened and milk. Succulent! If you want a coffee or a black tea, do not forget to mention it when you order.
The drink you will consume the most is mineral water. Beware of drinking tap water otherwise you will not know the joys of the tourista. A bottle of 2 liters costs about fifteen rupees. You will also find soft drinks like Pepsi (Coca Cola has long been the subject of a boycott by the Indian government) or local drinks.
Numerous stalls will offer you pressed fruit juices. Ask for them without water or with mineral water. In the south, be tempted by the juice of a fresh coconut or sugar cane juice. Do not forget to taste the delicious lassis, a kind of liquid yogurt that you can drink salty, sweet or mixed with a crushed fruit. Really delicious.
Be scrupulous about your hygiene in India. Wash your hands as often as possible and especially before eating. Avoid drinking tap water. A small pharmacy kit will be useful for small troubles (aspirin, dressings, antidiarrheal, antiseptic, sterile needles, water purifying pellets ...) Once on the spot think to protect yourself against the attacks of mosquitoes. Indeed, India is in an endemic area of malaria. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor for an antimalarial. Sleep under a mosquito net you bought and treated before you leave.
If you wear glasses or contact lenses, consider taking a double.
There are no compulsory vaccines to enter India but some will not be superfluous: diphtheria, tetanus, polio, hepatitis A and B, typhoid. For more information, contact a vaccination center. If you travel during the warm season, take care to drink often and eat balanced. If you're afraid not to go to Indian cuisine, take vitamin supplements.
Have a roll of toilet paper and soap (you will find this kind of items almost everywhere). Do not think traveling to India will jeopardize your health. Just follow some simple hygiene rules for everything to go smoothly.
- Jet lag :
- +3h30 in summer, +4h30 in winter
- 220-230 V; 50 Hz. No need for adapter for your electrical appliances
- Rupee (Rs)
Note : 1 rupee = 100 paisas (P). 1 dollars = environ 90 rupees. (in 2016)
Important: Homosexuality is repressed by Indian law.