There are approximately 70 Indian Rupees (₹) to the US dollar and 85 to the British pound. Rupees are circulated in notes of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 2000.
Rupees are a protected currency. In theory, they’re not supposed to leave India, so you won’t be able to get hold of them before you arrive. You can exchange your local currency for rupees at the airport, or at your hotel.
It is quite common to pay for goods and services in cash, though ATMs are widely available and can easily be located with the help of your driver or guide. Some branches don’t work with international cards, so you might need to try one or two before having success. We recommend you call your bank before arriving in India and inform them that you’ll be travelling. Otherwise, they might freeze your card when you attempt to use it in India.
We recommend scheduling an appointment with your doctor at least six weeks in advance. He or she can offer qualified advice while also taking into account your medical history. Recommended boosters include Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid. Other vaccines to consult with your GP are Cholera, Diptheria, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies. Rajasthan and the surrounding area is considered “low-to-no-risk” for Malaria and not high enough to warrant antimalarial tablets for most travellers.
While in India, we recommend sticking to bottled water, and ensuring the seal is opened by you or in your presence. Aerated drinks such as soda and sparkling water are fine. If taking ice cubes in your glass, do check that they’ve been made with filtered or mineral water.
We recommend eating moderately for the first few days to allow your system to get used to the changes. More familiar western options are widely available in hotels and restaurants as well.
Indian beer, gin and rum are fine. You may not find some of the local whisky very good. Wine, if available, is generally expensive. Check the price before ordering and remember that sales taxes is extra.
We recommend carrying a small supply of medication from home (anti-diarrhoea tablets, insect repellent, sun cream and pain killers, etc.). Although these are available in India, the security provided by brands one is used to is reassuring.
We highly recommend taking out an appropriate travel insurance policy at the time of booking. You should ensure that it includes repatriation costs.
Most hotels, including the more exclusive ones, do not insist on formal wear in restaurants and smart casuals are acceptable. However, finer restaurants (such as those in the Oberoi and Taj hotels) ask that gentlemen avoid wearing shorts or open-toed shoes.
During the day it is best to wear light, comfortable cottons with a pair of good ventilated walking shoes (open-toed sandals let in dust and pebbles) and cotton socks. You’ll have to remove your shoes when visiting places of worship, so something that slips on and off easily is handy.
For sightseeing, you’ll want a good pair of sunglasses and a sun-hat.
At places of worship, it is advisable to avoid sleeveless tops and shorts, and you will have to remove your shoes. Wearing your hotel’s complimentary slippers instead is useful (and in most cases, acceptable) as the stone peripheries tend to get uncomfortably hot for bare feet by mid-afternoon.
During the winter months of December to February, early morning and night temperatures can be quite low in Rajasthan, hovering over the freezing point. Warm clothing is recommended for this time of year.
In Ranthambhore National Park and other wildlife reserves, neutral clothes are recommended, but there is no dress code as such to adhere to. Early morning game drives in open vehicles can be very cold – coats, gloves and other winter wear are recommended. As the day progresses, some layers can come off.
Most hotels and resorts offer same-day laundry service though it is generally quite expensive . A portable iron can be handy when pressed for time. In remote areas, laundry service can be temptingly cheap but is not reliable.
There is a fee for carrying cameras into monuments and wildlife parks; however, Indian Excursions are happy to pay for one camera per person, with compliments. Please let us know if you plan on carrying a tripod or taking photographs for commercial use as permissions need to be taken from the appropriate authorities.
At first glance, the driving system in India does seem completely bonkers! However, we assure you that there are logic and system in place.
All our drivers at Indian Excursions have a clean driving license and years of experience. They’re incredibly skilled on the road and know the routes like the back of their hand. However, India is a vast place and not well sign-posted, so it’s not uncommon for drivers to ask for directions along the way. Please do not be alarmed if your driver winds down the window and asks a local for directions at a fork road; this is common practice in India and not a sign of your driver’s skill. He’s doing this to ensure he’s taking you to your destination as quickly as possible.
Indians drive on the left side of the road. If there is space on the other side (right side) and it’s safe to drive, it’s very acceptable and typical for the driver to use this lane. Your driver would move back to the left lane in plenty of time, should there be any oncoming traffic.
You may at first be shocked by the constant horn honking. However, please know this is not a sign of aggression or road rage – it’s the opposite. Horn honking in India is a defensive move to alert other vehicles that they’re there. It’s saying “hey, I just want you to know that I’m here and I’m overtaking you”. When a car is overtaking a truck, it is the car’s job to alert the truck by honking. In India, it is each drivers responsibility to make sure that they are known to other drivers, rather than checking their mirrors (of course, they check their mirrors too, but generally it is common practice to honk). Your driver will try to limit his honking as much as safely possible, for your comfort. However, please note this is the norm in India, and your driver does need to honk. Honking is not a sign of aggression, in fact, you will find Indian drivers to be very patient.
You’ll see a lot of daily life while being driven to your new destination. You’ll see local villages, busy towns and much more. At any time, you can ask your driver to stop so you can get out and stretch your legs, photograph an exciting scene, use the bathroom or have a refreshment. Your driver will be carrying complimentary mineral water bottles in the vehicle.
All our vehicles are carefully maintained and fitted with standard safety features (airbags, seat-belts etc.).
The free baggage allowance on most economy class flights within India is 15kg per person for checked=in luggage and 7kg per person for hand luggage. Air India flights are more generous at 25kg. For business class, it’s typically 30 or 35kg. If you think that you’ll be carrying more, you can purchase additional allowance at the time of check-in (it’s approximately ₹400 per additional kg). The allowance can be shared amongst those travelling on the same ticket together provided that no single piece exceeds 32kg.
The voltage in India is 220 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. If you wish to use any electronic devices from the United States or any country with 110 Volt currency, you’ll need a voltage converter and plug adapter. People coming from countries with 230 Volt currency (such as Australia, Europe, and the UK) only require a plug adapter for their appliances.
Tipping can be a sensitive subject. What is culturally acceptable in one country may be perceived quite differently in others. We understand that it can be confusing or even frustrating for those travelling from countries where tipping is uncommon. Equally, we appreciate that our guests are keen to strike a balance and be respectful of Indian cultural norms. On that basis, we offer some guidance below.
In India, tipping within the tourism and service industries is very much part of the culture. However, we do stress that gratuities to your guides and driver(s) are optional and at your discretion. We encourage you to tip only when and as much as you feel comfortable with, based on your experience of the service received. If you believe you’ve received exceptional service, you may wish to increase the amount of the tip to reflect this.
Should you prefer not to tip, please be assured that all our guides, drivers and representatives at Indian Excursions are paid comfortably. This is a reflection of their expertise and experience. Tips do go some way in generating their income, but they’re not entirely dependent on it.
From a cultural perspective, please note that your guides and driver(s) will interpret a very low tip as an insult – more so than not tipping anything at all. If you would like to tip but realise you only have a small amount of change, it’s better to not tip.
Offering tips for satisfying service
If you are happy with the services provided then as a general indication of cultural tipping norms, we recommend somewhere in the region of:
• Your guide(s): between ₹500 – ₹1,000 tip (per couple, not per person) per day of their service.
• Your driver(s): between ₹300 – ₹800 (per couple, not per person) per day. This tip is not given each day though. Instead, you’d offer the tip to the driver at the end of your tour. Depending on the nature of your itinerary, you may have two or more drivers particularly if you are taking internal flights and trains etc. When you are introduced to your driver, our representative will explain how long each driver will accompany you for. If you are in any doubt about this then please feel free to call us.
• If your visit includes a safari in Ranthambhore National Park, we recommend ₹500 per safari to your naturalist guide and ₹300 per safari to your driver.
• Optionally, you may wish to tip our local representative ₹100 who is there to assist you with check-in and check out after having greeted you on arrival. Once again, there are no expectations here and it is completely at your discretion.
Hotels, restaurants and temples
• At restaurants, 10% of the bill is the norm but please check whether it has already been added as a service charge.
• At hotels, when a member of the hotel staff first takes your luggage to your room, we recommend ₹50 – ₹100.
When you check out from the hotel, you may wish to tip ₹100 – ₹300 to each member of staff who assisted you the most during your stay. However, at some large luxury hotel chains such as the Oberoi, tips to individuals are not encouraged. Instead, guests are asked to leave one tip at the end of their stay which management then divides up amongst the staff. We recommend that you ask about the tipping policy when checking in.
• At temples, you may wish to give a small offering of ₹50, and ₹10 for the shoe handlers.
Ultimately, tipping is a personal gesture of appreciation and for that reason, we find that most of our guests are happy to tip as they go. However, if you prefer we include tips in advance to distribute on your behalf, or if you would like to offer one consolidated tip on your departure, please feel free to ask us.
As a female, during sightseeing and at hotels you might feel that you’re being ignored. In Indian culture, it is seen as rude to address a female when she is with a male. Even if the topic is directly concerning the female, it would often be addressed directly to the male who is with her. This can be difficult to get used to, but please keep in mind that it’s deeply ingrained in Indian culture. The person speaking to the male and ignoring the female will feel that they are polite, although in western cultures it can be perceived as very rude.
Indians don’t form lines very well. They often push to the front, which can be frustrating. Sometimes we have to take a deep breath!
Your guides or chauffeur may sometimes use words that you feel are a little rude or offensive. Although they speak English, their vocabulary is limited, and they can’t always find the right word to express what they want to say. They might choose the wrong word sometimes, and it can be a shock. Please try to keep in mind that their vocabulary in English is restricted, and it’s doubtful they were intentionally rude. India is not as politically correct as the west.
Indian Excursions, aka the experts in luxury tours of Rajasthan. Anything and everything you’d like to see and experience in Rajasthan, we can make it happen while delivering an impeccable level of service. All our tours are private and tailor-made to our guest’s individual requirements.
We're open Monday to Friday 10:00 - 18:00. India is 5.5+ UTC.