INDIA TRAVEL TIPS
Tipping can be irksome. You usually end up worrying whether you created the right impression of generosity or one of utter stinginess. But, the simple tips below will help you acquit yourself like a hero on your next India tour.
- When to Tip – Tip only if you are happy. Don’t feel compelled to tip for sub-standard services on account of appearances. Always tip in the local currency.
- Restaurants – Most restaurants include a 10 percent service charge in your bill that goes into a common tipping pool which is shared equally with all members of the service staff. So, there’s no need to tip further. Unless you enjoyed an exceptionally memorable dining experience.
- Taxi Drivers – They usually don’t ask. But, if you enjoyed the ride and feel generous, you could tip around 10-20 percent above the meter.
- Tourist Cab Drivers – Usually around ₹ 500 for the casual service extending to a day or two. Else, ₹ 500 per day, multiplied by the total number of days would be a good starting, or ending, point. Read our article titled: “Car Hire Tips”, for more advice on hiring of transport in India.
- Tourist Guides – The same dynamics as the foregoing. Though, you could calculate at around ₹ 500-700 per day.
- Bellboys/Hotel Porters – This is best paid once. Usually on check-out/departure from your hotel. You could calculate at ₹ 100 per piece of luggage, multiplied by the total number of bags/cases you are travelling with.
India is strong on religion and spiritual practice. You would usually visit various religious shrines and monuments on most India tour packages. Each faith usually has specific dress codes for visitors.
- Hindu Temples – Women are expected to be dressed modestly. Shoes need to be removed at the entrance. At some temples, you would also need to remove leather articles like bags, belts and wallets before being allowed to enter.
- Mosques – Women are expected to cover their heads at Islamic shrines. Bare legs are not permitted. So, you would need trousers or a long skirt. Skin-tight jeans and tights are not suitable.
- Sikh Temples – Both, women and men are expected to cover their heads at Sikh temples. Women could use scarves. While men usually get by with a handkerchief.
“Solo women travelers” are a bit of a rarity in India and so, they attract unusual attention. However, not all the attention is benign. Some tips below, will help you enjoy an event-free experience on your all India tours.
- Dressing – Dress sensibly and modestly at all times; especially if you are visiting religious monuments.
- Respect the Local Culture – Be sensitive to the customs and traditions of the local communities that you visit.
- Unwanted Attention – It’s OK to be polite. But do not be afraid to snub any annoying and persistent male attention on the streets or in public places, if it becomes too intrusive.
- Do Not Trust Lightly – Do not eat or drink anything offered by strangers or fellow travellers.
- Transportation – Avoid travelling in buses, train-compartments, autos, tuk-tuks and other forms of public transport when you see that there are no other women passengers on board. This holds true especially for night-time travel.
- Changing Money – Change your currency only at banks and authorised currency exchange counters. Always insist on a transaction receipt. It is usually required for when you need to convert any excess local money back into foreign currency when leaving the country.
The most common mishap to befall tourists in India is the loss or theft of passport, camera, mobile phone, or wallet. Here are some common-sense tips to help keep you safe.
- Carrying Money – Never carry your passport or large sums of money on your person when on a local sightseeing tour. Instead, carry enough money in local currency, to cover your day’s expenses and/or a little bit extra for any random shopping.
- Safe-keeping – Always use the hotel safe-deposit facility for storing your travel cocuments and extra money/valuables.
- Avoid Crowds – Be alert in crowded places. Pick-pockets work in roving gangs in crowded areas like monuments and bazars. They will herd you into the chaos of crowds, where they proceed to relieve you of your devices/valuables and then melt away in the melee.
- Reporting a Theft – Finally, if you do fall victim to theft, it is always best to report it immediately and obtain copies of the police document for legal or insurance purposes. These days, you can even file your report online, quickly and privately, on the official Indian police website/portal.