Namaste! (Greetings in Hindi) Melvin and I had recently visited the Golden Triangle of India and our hearts are captivated by the beautiful country. Initially, we had our reservations on travelling to India, what is your worry about India was ours too. Nevertheless, we still went for it. We did a fair share of research before going and here’s a list of things we thought we should share to all who are also thinking of making a trip to Incredible India.
#1: VISA IS A MUST
Visitors are required to obtain a visa before travelling to India. There are several types of visas issued for travel to India, such as Tourist, Business and Medical visas, so make sure you apply for the right one for your travel purposes! The validity of the visas commence from the date of issue of the visa and not from the date of arrival in India.
In Singapore, there are two ways to apply for a Visa in India.
1). e-Tourist Visa (eTV)
Visitors who are planning to visit India solely for recreation and sightseeing purpose are eligible to apply for the eTV. To apply for the eTV, passports should have at least six months validity and applicants may apply online at least 4 days in advance of the date of arrival in India. Documents required for the application would be a recent front facing photograph (2 inch x 2 inch) against a white background and the photo page of your passport containing all your personal details. eTV application fee is USD$25/person. Visitors should carry a copy of their eTV at all time of their travel. Do note that India is very strict with all visa applications. Hence, should there be any error in the details of the visa, the immigration officer will deny your entry into the country.
To apply for the e-Tourist Visa (eTV), click here!
2). Regular/Paper Visa
Visitors may fill an online application form. Once the form is filled and submitted, applicant must print the completed application form, sign and submit the physical copy along with the supporting documents and the Passport to the Indian Visa Application Center (IVAC). The paper visa application fee is S$63/person.
The Indian Visa Application Centers in Singapore can be found at the following places:
10 Anson Road
#30 – 08
Sim Lim Tower
10 Jalan Basar
#14 – 02/04/05
For instructions on how to apply for a paper visa, click here!
#2: Don’t Cover Too Much Grounds
India has 28 states and Seven territories, and amongst these different states, they speak of different languages and have different traditions and customs. If you are planning to travel the entire India in a week or two, think twice because India is HUGE! Unless you have over a month to travel around the country, I suggest including a few stops/ cities in your itinerary and spending more time in each one rather than covering too much grounds in just one short trip. One of the popular itineraries would be travelling the Golden Triangle of India which consists of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur and it can be covered in a week. Other itineraries include Kashmir & Ladakh, and Mumbai & Goa, and many more!
Illustration from claudiapearson.com
To travel between cities, visitors can opt for train or private car hire. In our recent trip to the Golden Triangle, the duration of train and car rides between Delhi, Agra and Jaipur are almost the same. But the cost of travelling by train is a fraction of the price of hiring a private car to bring you to your destination. To buy an Indian railway train ticket, visit IRCTC! For private car hires, visitors can book on Klook, click here for the link!
#3: Bring Cash
As much as we all enjoy the convenience of going cash-less and being able to buy what we want with just a swipe/tap of our credit cards, you would not want to miss buying those beautiful cashmere scarfs, handmade shoes, or traditional Indian clothings because you do not have sufficient cash. Although some shops in the cities accept credit cards the primary currency across India is cash. To avoid the extra hassles, ensure that you have cash to pay for meals, cabs, tuk tuks and souvenirs! It would be useful to bring some notes of smaller denominations such as 20, 50 or 100 Rupees to avoid having to tip service staffs with a 500 Rupee note.
#4: Tipping and Taxes
Prices shown in most shops are inclusive of tax. For cafes, restaurants and hotels, the price that you have paid may not include government tax, so do take note! During our trip, we noticed that in nicer restaurants, our bills reflected a 10% VAT (government tax), so it is up to you if you would like to leave a small tip for the staff whom you feel has given you excellent service. For simpler restaurants who do not charge tax, we would often pay an additional of 10% of the total bill. For Drivers and/or hotel service staffs, we were advised by a local guide to give approximately 50 to 100 Rupees.
#5: Just Go For It
If you want to travel to India but you are also worried about your safety, the cleanliness of the place, the food, etc. Our advice is stop thinking too much and start your research and just go for it! If you do your research about travelling to India, you would know that India is generally safe but just like when we travel to a foreign land, we must always be aware of our surroundings and our belongings. We explored the places with either a local guide, or by Uber or Tuk Tuk. Another myth is having diarrhoea from the food and water in India. Well, we only drank bottled water and ate from restaurants or cafes recommended by our guides who have also been providing the same recommendations to other tourists from other parts of the world. We enjoyed the food we had very much and none of us experience any bad tummy! Be sure to hear many people telling you how dangerous and dirty India is but most of the time these are people that have not been to India themselves. Try hearing from others who have been to India and we are sure you have have no regrets for giving this beautiful country a chance.
Travelling in India was indeed tougher than travelling in other countries but no regrets as we still love India so much. At times we found ourselves overwhelmed by the beauty of the country, the spices in the food we eat and the mad jam of cows, goats, Tuk Tuks, motorbikes and cars or even tired by the walking and the climbing, but the experience that India has to offer is absolutely worth it! Two thumbs up from the both of us and will we visit India again? We say YES!