For All Foreigners Visiting India For The First Time, Here Are A Couple Of Travel Tips You’ll Need

By Radhika Puar

If you’re visiting India for the first time, here are a few tips that you may find handy.

1. Do you need a Visa?

First, find out if you need a visa.

By and large, the requirement for a visa and the documentation etc. required to acquire one are reciprocal. Meaning that if an Indian citizen requires a visa to enter your country, it is almost certain that you will require a visa to enter India.

Follow the visa application guidelines carefully and apply well in time with all the required documentation.

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Mt Kanchanjenga as seen from Gangtok

2. Food and Water

For some strange reasons people from abroad often get sick with stomach and other infections in India. Thus keep the following in mind:

– Always drink bottled water

– Avoid street food

– Avoid salads or foods that aren’t thoroughly cooked

– Avoid un-pasteurized dairy

– Always eat thoroughly cooked food.

3. Medical / First aid

Before you leave for India, talk to your Doctor and get your self a first aid kit which must include some basic antibiotics for stomach infections, band aids, etc.  

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Another look at the majestic Mt Kanchanjanga, Gangtok.

4. Dress code for business

If you are travelling for work,  here is the commonly followed dress code.

For Men: Formal suit and tie. Dress conservatively on all days, we don’t do casual Fridays, mostly.

For women: Business suit, and salwar kameez, are acceptable. However,  stay away from very body hugging, or very revealing clothing.

5. Dress code for tourist sites

As a rule of thumb, you should dress modestly (both men and women). Check the temperature of the place you are visiting in India before hand. India can have extreme temperatures especially summer. Carry light, breathy, cotton clothes with atleast 2 changes for each day.

Most places of worship require you to take off your shoes when entering. All temples/ mosques have a place where you deposit your shoes. They will either give you a token (to identify your shoes when you come out), or you just point out your shoes to the man attending to the shoe counter at the temple. There is usually no charge for this service.

golden temple amritsar
The famous Golden Temple at Amritsar

Please note that Sikhs are particular about what men and women wear in the temple complex. The following rules apply whether you are a man or a woman entering a Gurudwara (a Sikh temple).

– You cannot wear shorts, short skirts, and no short tops.

– Both men and women have to have their heads covered when entering the Gurdwara. So, if you have a gentleman’s handkerchief, a scarf or a stole that’s fine. Anchor it behind your ears and use that to cover you. If you don’t have anything of the sort, that’s ok. There is usually a stand outside the temple where you can rent or borrow a handkerchief to put on your head. You must return it when you leave the temple. A baseball cap or a cap of any kind will not do for men or women. Ignore this rule for Hindu, Buddhist and for Jain temples.

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The Taj Mahal, or the one monument that foreigners know of apart from the Red Fort

6. How to prepare financially for the trip

– Before you leave for India, check with your bank if your credit card/ debit card needs will work in India and if they need to be activated for use here.

– Find out what your credit/ debit card’s daily spend limit is.

– Find out what your credit / debit card’s daily cash withdrawal limit is.

– Demonetisation: As of November 2016, the Indian govt demonetized the Rs. 500 note and the Rs. 1000 note. That is to say there is no Rs. 1000 note any more, and the Rs 500. note has been replaced by a new Rs. 500 note (which is legal tender). In addition, there is also a new Rs. 2000 note.

Travel insurance is a must, do get it before travelling. (Travel insurance is insurance that is intended to cover medical expenses, trip cancellation, lost luggage, flight accident and other losses incurred while traveling, either internationally or domestically {source Wikipedia})

– There is still a shortage of currency notes at times and ATMs do run dry, so it would be best to hold on to physical cash for taxis or where cards are not accepted, and pay by card wherever you can.

These are very basic, generalized tips for some one coming to India on business or holiday for the first time. I hope these tips are of some use to you. For more detailed information, please contact me on [email protected]

Images: Author’s own & Google


Author Bio:

Radhika Puar is an alumnus of London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

After graduating from the LSE she worked in India and the UK for leading companies and later joined Le Cordon Bleu’s Wine and Management Program (Paris) with the objective of starting an entrepreneurial venture in India. She is the first Indian graduate from the program.

Thanks to the brilliant tutelage of her faculty at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, she gained a broad perspective on the world of food, wine and their pairings and in May 2015, after much research, she successfully launched her website and maiden venture called The Grape Vine  (www.the-grape-vine.net) where she discusses food and wine pairings and her travels throughout the world, especially along the wine route.


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