India Travel Tips
- Getting a Local Mobile Phone Sim card
If you are planning to travel in India before/after the conference, and are concerned about high roaming costs using your own sim card, you can get a local sim card which would offer cheap voice and data connectivity. But with some effort/hassle, including getting your phone unlocked if it is locked, and some effort to get a new sim card activated in India. If you plan to get a local sim card in India, read the following sites first:
- Tips for India first-timers
From Lonely Planet:
From Rough Guides:
- Tips for visits to historical monuments
If you are visiting historical monuments, a good guide can give you valuable insights and protect you from touts. You will find people claiming to be guides at the monuments, but such people are often clueless about actual history, and may try to cheat you. Avoid them; instead, book a guide ahead of your travel, through the conference partner or other recognized travel agencies. Also, guides will often take you to handicraft shops where you will encounter pushy salespersons (and the guides will get a commission). You are best off avoiding such shops, and instead going to one of the recognized handicrafts shops.
- Tips for purchasing handicrafts
India is famous for its handicrafts, and New Delhi is a great place to find handicrafts from all over India.
You can find out about some of the well known centers for handicrafts in New Delhi at this site:
If you visit Agra and have time to shop there, you take tripadvisor's help to find the best local shops:
If you dislike bargaining, government owned handicraft emporiums offer handicrafts at a fixed rate, and you know you won't be cheated on quality or price. If you enjoy bargaining, you have lots of options!
India has rules regulating export of antiques (items more than 100 years old). If you plan to buy any antiques, check the rules.
- Tips for cash/credit card transactions
Credit cards widely used in all hotels, restaurants and major shops. Credit card usage in India is by and large safe, but outside of hotels and major shops it is best to keep the card in sight while it is being processed.
Online transactions using credit cards on Indian websites requires a one-time password sent to your registered mobile number/email (depending on your card provider). However, this is not required for in-person use of credit cards, and non-Indian credit cards may be exempted from this requirement in some cases for online transactions.
Don’t forget cash. Credit cards /Debit cards / travelers cheques are the safe modes of payment in India, but in many situations (e.g. taxis, buses, small shops) cash would be required. Try to keep some local currency in hand.
ATMs are widely available in urban India, although rare in rural India. Note that they dispense only Indian Rupees. Your ATM card should work in most of the ATMs. If you have problems with ATMs operated by Indian banks, look for ATMs from international banks, such as Citibank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, among others, which are available in most business districts.
If you need to convert between Indian currency and other currencies, you can do so at Forex dealers located at business districts as well as at the airport, and at a few bank branches. Hotels will also convert currency but usually at a bad exchange rate. It is advisable to keep receipts of currency conversion to rupees, as well as ATM receipts, as proof of how you acquired the currency, in case of questions when you convert from Indian Rupees back to other currencies.
- Tips for local travel
Hiring taxis from prepaid booths or availing of services of registered cabs/Radio cabs/Uber/Ola is always safer.
If you do travel by local transport, insist on going by the meter or fix the fare in advance to avoid being fleeced.
Download offline versions of maps, so you can track where you are going without the need for a data connection, and are not taken for a ride.
If you are unsure about booking local transport yourself, ask your tour operator to do it for you.
- General tips
The Indian bureaucracy is very particular about documents. Having photocopies, as well as scanned copies online, of all the important documents like passport, visas, travel insurance, and driving license etc is a good idea, in case you lose any of these documents.
Keep important emergency numbers with you. Print emergency numbers in Delhi.