Accommodation by yaoyufang

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									          Travelling in India – Hints and what to expect
                       Many hotel rooms may not have TV/Telephones/Internet access.
                       Some hotels may be multi-storied but will not have an elevator, or due to power cuts the
                        elevator may not be working. Usually there will be porters available to carry your
                        luggage.
                       Linen is always provided however, you may wish to bring a sleeping sheet for overnight
                        trains and for Camel Safaris.
Accommodation          Hotels are often centrally located and can be loud at night. It is recommended to bring
                        ear plugs if you are a light sleeper.
                       Unless staying in a 4/5 star hotel, rooms are not cleaned and beds are not made every
                        day. You will need to ask specifically should you require your room to be cleaned.
                       Some accommodation may be on multi-share sleeping arrangements (i.e. Overnight
                        Trains, Home Stays, Camel Safaris)

Additional             When available if notified enough in advance, additional accommodation is booked in
                        the starting or finishing point hotel listed on the Dossier. If unavailable, a similar
Accommodation           standard hotel in the same area will be provided.

                       India is a very conservative country and dressing appropriately is very important
                        (especially outside of the main cities). Women should wear comfortable, loose-fitting
                        cool clothing which covers legs, shoulders and cleavage. A great option is the local
                        „Punjabi‟ suits – loose fitting trousers with a long tunic over the top. Comes with a
                        matching scarf (dupatta).
Appropriate dress      Men should not wear shorts as it is looked upon as akin to wearing underwear in public.
                        If you prefer, long shorts (below the knee) can be worn, but not when visiting private
                        homes or places of worship.
                       Men also should wear loose (for comfort) conservative shirts covering the shoulders.
                       Comfortable shoes/sandals that can be easily slipped on and off are recommended as
                        this is often a requirement when visiting holy places/private homes/some shops.

Arrival and            Are included in your tour cost. As there are often large crowds in the arrivals halls, look
departure transfers     carefully for someone holding a sign with your name.

                       Hotel bathrooms rarely have hairdryers and provide only basic toiletries. It is
                        recommended that you bring all of your own toiletries. (Can be purchased easily and
                        inexpensively in India).
                       Towels can be small and discoloured, although clean. If you so prefer, bring your own
                        towel.
                       Many bathroom showers come without a screen or curtain. Bathroom floors tend to get
Bathrooms               very wet when showering.
                       Hot water can often be scarce. It may take several minutes to run hot, it may only be
                        available certain hours of the morning or evening, or sometimes not available due to
                        electricity issues.
                       Hot water is often heated by individual geysers in each room. These need to be
                        switched on before a shower to heat up the water.
                       Expect to see a lot of poverty whilst travelling in India. Yes it is disturbing and upsetting,
                        but should not put you off exploring this incredible country.
                       As highlighted in “Slumdog Millionaire” there are professional begging rings where
Beggars and             children are purposely maimed to give them a „better‟ begging life.
poverty                Giving money to beggars does nobody any good, least of all the beggars themselves.
                        You are better of giving them food and donating your cash to one of the many wonderful
                        projects set up to help the poor in India. Your leader can give you more information
                        about various charities and other options.

                       India can be very cheap. India can also be surprisingly expensive. General goods such
Cost of living          as water, soft drinks and cheap meals will probably cost around one third the price of

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          Travelling in India – Hints and what to expect
                       the same items in your home country. More up market restaurants can charge the same
                       as similar places in the west. If you eat at average restaurants (the type your tour
                       leader/guide will generally recommend) and avoid drinking alcohol, your daily food
                       budget should rarely exceed $15 per person. However, if you like to eat out at more up
                       market restaurants and like a beer or two with your meal, the price can easily triple or
                       quadruple. Due to high taxes on alcohol, one bottle of beer often costs more than your
                       meal.

                      India is a crowded place! There will be increased crowds at festivals and major Indian
Crowds                 pilgrimage and tourist sights. This is a great chance to meet the locals but can be a bit
                       daunting.

                      Changing travellers cheques can be a long and painful process and only available at
                       some banks. You may wish to obtain a small amount of Indian Rupees in cash prior to
                       arrival in India (approx Rs1000 / $30), although it is not necessary. Local currency can
                       be easily obtained at money changers on arrival at the airport. ATMs are easily
Currency/Money         accessible in main cities and towns. Having your funds accessible through a Cash
                       Passport Credit Card is highly recommended. See www.cashpassport.com.au.
                      A credit card is useful in India for high end restaurants and buying expensive items. The
                       major cards are Visa and MasterCard.
                      Tap water is NEVER safe to drink in India. Bottled water is available everywhere very
                       inexpensively – around .40-.50c a litre. (It may not always be cold however!)
                      Some hotels restaurants have water coolers where you can pay a token amount to fill
Drinking Water         your water bottle. This is a wonderful way of discouraging excess plastic waste.
                      Filtered water is served at restaurants but is best avoided if you are not used to the
                       water.

Early starts          There are sometimes very early starts and early arrivals on overnight trains on our trips.

                      All hotel rooms have electricity outlets. The standard plug in India is the European 2 pin
                       plug. If you have more than a couple of electrical items that required plugging in (for
                       example a camera battery charger and a phone charger, or laptop), you may wish to
Electricity            bring a power-board which can then be plugged into the one point and allows you go
                       attach multiple accessories with the one converter plug (make sure it is a good quality
                       one)
                      Food is usually one of the highlights of everyone‟s visit to India.
                      You will discover there is so much more to Indian food than Butter Chicken, Tandoori
Food                   and Naan, and it‟s not always as spicy as you might imagine.
                      Street food is a wonderful way to sample unusual treats not generally available outside
                       of India (always go to a place well frequented by locals).
                      Commonsense and good hygiene practices whilst travelling in India generally keep most
                       people healthy for the duration of their trip.
                      Always wash (or sanitise) your hands after going to the toilet or touching money and
                       before eating.
Health                Do not brush your teeth in tap water and avoid getting any shower water in your mouth
                       or up your nose when showering.
                      Should you require any medication whilst in India that you did not bring with you, most
                       medicines are readily available over the counter without a prescription.
                      Remain very well hydrated at all times.




Hotel Check-in and    Hotel check in and check out time is generally 12:00 midday.
check-out


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           Travelling in India – Hints and what to expect
                       There is internet available almost everywhere in India.
                       Internet use is generally cheap at around 1 rupee per minute which is about $1.50 - $2 per
Internet                hour. Internet can be very slow, although connection speeds are improving all the time. The
                        better quality hotels often have internet cafes/access, increasingly available as wi fi in guest
                        rooms. You can purchase a pre paid stick for personal internet access.
                       English is widely spoken in India, especially in areas frequented by tourists.
Language               You may however wish to learn a few words of Hindi or the local languages in South India if
                        travelling there to enhance your interactions with locals.
                       Most hotels we stay in will offer laundry services at a very reasonable cost (and are returned
                        beautifully pressed and folded). You may however wish to do your own laundry (particularly
Laundry facilities      underwear) from time to time, so bring some washing soap and portable peg-less
                        clotheslines.
                       Backpacks or soft travel bags with good shoulder straps for carrying are the most suitable for
                        travel in India – the smaller the better as there is not always much space available on public
                        transport. Wheelie suitcases can also be convenient if you are likely to be travelling mainly
Luggage                 by private transportation. Be warned, bags will get dusty and dirty.
                       A small day pack is suggested to carry your everyday needs.
                       When we are in train stations, bags will generally have to be lugged up and down long flights
                        of stairs. Porters can be hired to carry your bags for a nominal fee.

                       Luggage can normally be stored on departure but some hotels charge a small fee for this
Luggage storage         service. Never leave valuables in stored luggage.

                       Most breakfasts are included however they are often quite basic although there will
                        generally be a mix of western and Indian dishes available
                       Meals are always included in isolated places such as on camel safaris and when staying in
Meals                   Heritage Hotels in small towns/villages when there are few or no other options.
                       Where meals are not included, your leader will generally suggest a great place to eat,
                        whether it is a basic eatery or restaurant, a place that serves local specialties, or cold beers,
                        or a great place for an up market splurge. The choice is yours.

                       Suggestions for optional activities whilst on tour will always be recommended by your leader.
Optional activities     Most activities are generally inexpensive, and an indicative cost is mentioned in the dossiers.

                       There are often overnight trains on our itineraries and some trips may have up to three
                        journeys by overnight train.
                       We generally travel in Second class Air Conditioned carriages. There are usually four to six
                        people to a sleeping compartment which may be open to the aisle, or sometimes curtained
Overnight trains        off from the aisle. Unless travelling by First Class train in India (few and far between),
                        lockable compartments are not available. All bedding is provided and is clean.
                       There is usually catered food available on the train and often there will be hawkers selling
                        snacks and drinks. You may wish to bring your own food if unsure of the availability of food
                        on the train. Your leader will advise you what will be available.
                       With the advent of Digital photography, it is very easy to download your photos and burn
                        them onto CDs while in India.
                       If using film, work on one roll of film per day if you take a lot of photos. Most people will
Photos                  probably need less. Camera film is available to purchase, but better to bring with you to
                        guarantee the quality. The same can be said for Camera memory cards.
                       Developing photos in India is inexpensive but can be substandard. It is recommended to wait
                        until you get home.




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          Travelling in India – Hints and what to expect
                       The Metro train line in Delhi is very convenient and will take you to Old Delhi and
                        Connaught Place in air-conditioned luxury for a few cents.
Public transport in    Public buses in cities can be far more difficult to work out.
main cities            Suburban trains in Mumbai are more understandable but can be very crowded.
                       Taxis, Auto and cycle rickshaws are fast and convenient ways to get around, although
                        you may need to bring your bartering skills as they almost never use their meters.

                       Every region, city and town has its specialty – something it is famous for, whether it is
                        silk from Varanasi, wall-hangings from Jaisalmer or carpets from Agra. If it‟s gemstones
                        in Jaipur or miniature paintings in Udaipur that take your fancy, India is a shopper‟s
Shopping                delight! Leave plenty of space in your bag or it can posted home by air.
                       On our organized group tours, your leader will NEVER take you to shops for
                        commission. They will however always recommend great places to find the local wares
                        and give you basic pricing guidelines. Great bargains can be had with spirited haggling.
                       Indians generally eat with their hands, and as the LEFT hand is used for going to the
                        toilet, it is considered unclean and impure. Therefore only use the RIGHT hand for
                        eating (and indeed for passing anything to anyone),
                       Cows are considered sacred to Hindus and should always be respected.
                       When sitting on the ground (i.e. inside someone‟s home or in a temple), never point the
                        soles of your feet towards any religious deities.
                       Do not pat children on the top of their head as it is considered an insult unless you know
Social etiquette        the family very well.
and customs            Locals usually love having their photo taken and will really appreciate having a copy
                        returned to them, so make it a habit to collect addresses to do so. (However, don‟t do
                        this if you have no intention of sending the photos). Always ask first though, and if
                        someone does not want their photo taken please respect their wishes.
                       It is not recommended to pay money for taking someone‟s photo. This encourages a
                        „Begging Mentality‟ which turns normally self-sufficient human beings into beggars (even
                        if they do not realise it themselves). Exceptions to this are Holy men and Saddhus who
                        make a living out of having their photos taken in their exotic garb.
                       There is very good mobile/cell phone coverage in India and phones with global roaming
                        work well. Local phones stations are available at street PCO centres for a nominal fee.
                       You will find it more cost effective to purchase a local Sim card to use whilst in India.
Telephones              Bring a passport sized photo for ID as it will be required to purchase the card. Mobile
                        Sim cards can be obtained from many outlets in most places. Ask your hotel reception
                        or tour leader for locations.
                       Tipping is a way of life in India. It is usual to tip a little something to everyone and
                        anyone who provides you with some form of service.
                       If you are part of an organized group tour, Hotel porters, drivers and guides tips will
Tipping                 come out of the group tipping kitty that everyone donates to at the start of the trip.
                       Tips for hotel room attendants, and restaurant meals will need to be paid separately. As
                        a guideline, a suitable tip for a hotel room attendant would be Rs20 per service. You
                        will find it very useful to keep lots of small denomination notes for tips.
                       Most public toilets outside of hotels and tourist restaurants will be Asian-style squat
                        toilets. They will be in varying states of cleanliness!
                       There will usually be no toilet paper so you should always carry your own.
                       It is highly recommended to carry hand wipes to maximize hygiene and a bottle of hand
Toilets                 sanitizer gel is also useful.
                       You can often expect to pay for using public toilets – between Rs2 and Rs5 rupees is
                        the norm.
                       All accommodation we use will have western style toilets.




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          Travelling in India – Hints and what to expect
                       We may use a variety of public buses which can range from air-conditioned coach style
                        to dusty, rough bench-seat buses with very little leg room. These journeys are always a
Transport- Buses        good chance to meet the locals.
                       Luggage storage on buses can sometimes be on the roof of the bus and sometimes on
                        the bus under your seat or in overhead racks.

                       Dependant upon the group size, we may use 9 seater minibuses, or a combination of
Transport - private     one, two or three cars/4WD‟s. The most commonly used 4WD‟s are Toyota Innova‟s
                        which comfortably seat 5 passengers plus driver. Luggage is secured on roof racks.
                       Trains are comfortable with toilets of varying cleanliness available in each carriage.
                       Some trains have meals included, but more often than not, food is available for
                        purchase from food trolleys or snack food vendors.
Transport- Trains      Day trains are usually open plan (express varieties have aircraft type seating), but
                        overnight trains will have compartments which are open to the aisle (i.e., no doors). The
                        seats adjust for sleeping at night.
                       All trains are non smoking (as are all public places in India - officially anyway!)
                       Due to large distances covered, or bad road conditions, there are some long travel
                        days, up to 6 hour bus rides can be experienced and sometimes even longer private
Travel times            vehicle drives. Local buses usually only stop once or twice for toilet/food breaks,
                        however when taking private transportation, we have the flexibility to stop whenever we
                        like.
                       India is a Vegetarian‟s paradise! As approximately 80% of Indians are vegetarians, you
Vegetarians             will never have a problem finding something appropriate to eat. In fact many
                        restaurants and even some whole towns are purely vegetarian.
                       When travelling between overnight stops, we always take taxis or rickshaws from the
                        hotel to train or bus stations if travelling by local transport. Porters are nearly always
                        available to carry your bags at train stations.
                       The hotels generally always provide staff to carry your luggage to your room, although
                        you will find you usually need to carry it out yourself on departure.
Walking                Day walks do not tend to cover large distances, unless on a city market walk – even
                        then, it is usually never for more than a couple of hours at a slow pace.
                       Expect to see the good, bad and ugly side of life in India when we are out on foot. You
                        WILL walk past beggars, open sewers, Holy Cows, holy cow-shit and a billion peoples‟
                        refuse.
                       There is no one perfect time to travel in India.
                       Winter (December, January and February) is beautiful in the South but can be close to
                        FREEZING in the north with thick fog delaying flights and trains.
                       Spring/Summer is VERY hot with weather in Rajasthan hitting the 40+ degree mark in
                        late April and May.
                       The Monsoon starts from the south in June and heads north reaching Delhi around mid-
                        July. It starts to recede back to the south in August. By September, the rains have
                        mainly ceased, although there is a second smaller Monsoon that consumes South India
Weather                 in October/November.
                       The Himalayas are beautiful in winter but of course extremely cold and roads are often
                        blocked by snow. Best months are April, May and June. When the monsoon arrives in
                        the mountains in July/August the torrential downpours can lead to road collapses and
                        mudslides.
                       February - March, September – mid-December are perfect seasons for travelling in
                        North India.
                       Apart from during the Monsoon (and sometime even for days at a time then), the sun
                        beats down mercilessly on India, so don‟t forget good sunscreen and a hat.




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