Travelling in India

Some things to expect when travelling through India

BEGGING
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 children are purposely maimed to give them a ‘better’ begging life.
More commonly, poor families might feel compelled to keep their children out of school to make more money by having their children beg on the streets.
Giving money to beggars does nobody any good, least of all the beggars themselves, and we request that you DO NOT give money. You are better off giving them food (some bananas, a packet of biscuits, or even your leftovers from dinner, which the restaurant will be happy to pack for you) and donating your cash to one of the many wonderful projects set up to help the poor in India.
An ongoing national campaign to alleviate the problem of begging and to open more vocational schools, orphanages and workshops is in place in India, and there are many NGO’s (Non-Government Organisations) doing fantastic work to educate and provide a means for living to the poor and underprivileged. Begging is such an inbred tradition that it is a lengthy, ongoing task to change a way of life that goes back centuries.
Your tour manager can give you more information about various charities and other options.
Click here for more information on sustainable travel and the various organisations we support.

COMMUNICATIONS
Internet access
There is internet available almost everywhere in India. Most hotels and many cafes/restaurants, particularly in touristy areas offer wifi, although it may be very slow.
If you have your own laptop and wish to have unlimited and constant access to the internet, you can purchase Mobile Internet connections. The dongle’s usually sell for around $25-30 and then you purchase a pre-paid data package on top of that. Bring a photocopy of your passport photo and visa pages, and a passport size photo to apply for a connection. Alternatively, you can use your mobile/cell phone as a wifi hotspot by getting a local mobile sim connection (see below). There are some great deals out now on prepaid connections. Examples are 1gb of data per day for up to 3 months for a grand total of around $10.
Mobile coverage
Public phone booths and shops, once found on every street corner in India have all but vanished with the impact of Mobile Phones. If you do need to use the phone whilst travelling in India, there is excellent mobile/cell phone coverage and phones with global roaming work well.
If you have an unlocked mobile phone, bring an international calling Sim with you (much cheaper than international roaming rates from your home country), or if you are based in one place for more than a few days, you may find it far more cost effective to purchase a local Sim card to use whilst in India. Bring a photocopy of your passport photo and visa pages, and a passport size photo to apply for a local sim card connection. Connections can take up to 5 days to be processed.

CULTURE
As one of the oldest living civilisations in the world, India’s customs are based on an ancient cultural heritage. As contemporary India changes at a rapid pace, it stills clings to time worn traditions that have been in existence for centuries. Modern India is made up of a fascinating blend of ethnicities and religions, and as the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, any visit to India will undoubtedly be steeped in spirituality as it permeates most aspects of society, which also includes significant populations of Muslims and Christians.
Regardless of a person’s religious beliefs, the family unit is given paramount importance in life and society, with generations of family members living together under one roof, usually with the eldest male acting as head of the family. Indian weddings are elaborate affairs and arranged marriages are still the norm – being arranged according to caste, social standing and sometimes, favourable astrological alignments at birth. Giving the world everything from playing cards to prayer flags, yoga, cotton cultivation, ayurvedic medicine, Bollywood films, as well as many other important contributions in mathematics, science, literature and political theory, India’s evolution has impacted on the entire world.

CUSTOMS
India is a very confusing country, and with such a vast diversity of peoples, religions, history and culture, you will find customs vary from place to place and what is true in one sense can be the opposite somewhere else or for a different group of people. Anything you are told is the truth will likely have an equal and opposite truth that totally contradicts what you have been told. That said, there are some general customs that hold true for most of the country.
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, particularly money to anyone). Of course, if someone is lefthanded, it’s OK to use the left hand for eating. One of those great contradictions.
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 the family very well.

FOOD – REGIONAL CUISINE / BEVERAGES
Beverages
Chai – Hindi for tea – is served everywhere all day long. Traditionally brewed with a specific blend of spices, including ginger and cardamom and often nutmeg, mace, black pepper and cinnamon, chai is served sweet and milky. You will find a chai-wallah (tea maker) on any street corner brewing up a fresh batch to be sipped from small glasses or cups. If you visit a family home, you will first be offered a welcome drink of chai, as you also will if you sit down in a store to look at their wares. You can ask for chai without milk and/or sugar.
In South India, you will find chai tends to be replaced more often with coffee – also served sweet and milky.
An afternoon or evening drink can be a great way to finish off a wonderful day of sightseeing and experiencing India. Beer is the most commonly available alcoholic beverage with Kingfisher being the most common, although there are now many other brands on the market. India also produces rum, gin, whisky and vodka as well as wine, some of which are very drinkable. Try Sula, Frateli or Grover vineyards varieties. Many restaurants and bars offer imported Beer, spirits and wines, but these are quite expensive due to foreign liquor import taxes.
Regional Cuisine
Rajasthan: Being the desert state with less access to water, Rajasthani cuisine uses a lot of milk or ghee (clarified butter) as a base, making it quite rich. As fresh vegetables can be hard to come by, legumes, pulses and breads feature heavily in the diet.
Kerala: Coconut is the basis for virtually all Keralan dishes. Spices are grown in the region, so the food is generally hot and spicy, and rice is the staple. Being on the coast and with a vast network of inland waterways, seafood is also a major feature of Keralan cuisine.
Tamil Nadu: Classic South Indian food is from Tamil Nadu, where traditional ‘curries’ and bread are hardly seen on a menu. The typical breakfast of a Masala Dosa, or Idly and Thali lunches with a selection of all-you-can-eat various vegetable dishes, chutneys, lentil soups and sauces served with a huge mound of rice are the norm here.
Delhi: Cuisine from the Punjab (which is what most foreigners would recognise as being Indian food) is the norm in Delhi and North India. Tandoori dishes, Butter Chicken, Vegetable Korma, Naan and Biryani Rice are so much better here in India than your local Indian takeaway.
Mumbai & Goa: Being on the coast, seafood is the speciality and spicy coconut curries are popular. Goan cuisine has the added flavours of the Portuguese influence with specialities such as Vindaloo and Xacuti traditional dishes.

HEALTH
Hygiene
Hygiene is a subject of great concern to everyone who travels to the Indian Subcontinent. While travelling with us we will ensure that the hotels we stay and restaurants we eat in will have very high levels of hygiene and cleanliness, but that does not guarantee you will remain healthy. There are however some simple rules that should keep you out of harms way most of the time. A little common-sense goes a very long way to staying healthy on the road.
First and foremost is PERSONAL hygiene. ALWAYS carry hand sanitiser or wipes and use them religiously, after handling money, going to the toilet and especially every single time you are going to eat anything. As a general rule, be mindful of anything you might put in your mouth, including postage stamps!
Food
Do not eat uncooked vegetables or fruits that cannot be peeled. Do not eat food from road-side eateries or stalls or at railway/bus stations that is not freshly cooked and still hot. DO eat confidently from street stalls that have freshly cooked food on offer and are well frequented.
Remain very well hydrated at all times.
Drinking Water
Do not brush your teeth with tap water. Do not accidentally inhale or swallow water in the shower. Do not drink tap water, or water from a jug or carafe left in your room, even though you may be told that it has been boiled and filtered. Stick to bottled water and soft drinks or water that you have treated yourself. India produces a wide variety of carbonated drinks including international brands such as Coke and Pepsi. Bottled water is available nearly everywhere and is very inexpensive, costing usually from 40c-60c per litre. It may not always be possible to get chilled water however. Even if the water is not ‘mineral’ water, it is usually referred to as such. It simply means that the water is filtered using reverse osmosis treatment (RO Water) and will be safe to drink. Check that the seal is intact while buying bottled water, especially at railway stations and in small towns.
Some hotels & restaurants have treated water fountains where you can pay a token amount to fill your water bottle. This is a great way to reduce plastic waste. Filtered water is served at good restaurants but is best avoided if you are not used to the water.
Precautions
Remain very well hydrated at all times. Drinking a lot of RO (bottled) water that is not actually mineral water can actually leach necessary minerals and salts from your body. Therefore it is a good idea to bring some rehydration salts or purchase them from any Indian pharmacy (much cheaper) and drink a glass daily.
A travel probiotic is most useful. Recommended is SB Floractiv (BioCeuticals), available in Australia from Health food stores. For other countries, check with your local health food store for a good quality probiotic that does not require refrigeration.Vitamin C, Echinacea & Olive Leaf Extract or similar may be useful in helping keep you immune from colds and flu.
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.
Carry a first aid kit with adhesive bandages, thermometer, water-purification tablets, antibiotics, antiseptic creams and mosquito repellents.
Regarding vaccinations, get recommendations from a travel doctor. Cholera, dengue fever, hepatitis, malaria, meningitis, and typhoid are the potential risks here. To avoid malaria and dengue, carry mosquito repellents and wear clothes that cover the legs and arms.
Overall, remember that common-sense and good hygiene practices whilst travelling in India generally keep most people healthy for the duration of their trip.
Toilets
Most public toilets outside of hotels and tourist restaurants will be Asian-style squat toilets. They will be in varying states of cleanliness! When travelling between towns and cities, it is sometimes more favourable to find a deserted stretch of road and ‘Go Bush’. It’s a good idea to carry a sarong that can be held up as a screen. 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 sanitizer gel is also a must.
You can often expect to pay for using public toilets – anywhere between Rs5 and Rs10 rupees is the norm.

LANGUAGE
For most parts of India, you won’t really need to learn much of the local language, and if you are travelling around the country, you would be overcome trying to learn the various regional languages. There are over 18 recognized languages and over 1600 minor languages and dialects!
Fortunately for English speakers, basic English is commonly understood in cities and towns as it’s taught in most schools and colleges. English is also the language of government and business.
Did you know that the English language has taken on a lot of Hindi words – Eg verandah, pyjamas, jungle, loot.
You may however wish to learn a few words of Hindi, a good option as it is spoken in most of north India and understood in most major cities of the country, or the local languages in South India if travelling there to enhance your interactions with locals.

MONEY MATTERS
India can be very cheap. India can also be surprisingly expensive. General goods such as water, soft drinks and cheap meals will probably cost around one third to one quarter the price of 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 manager will generally recommend) and avoid drinking alcohol, your daily food budget should rarely exceed $20 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 as much or even more than your meal.
Credit card
A credit card is useful in India for high end restaurants and buying expensive items. The major cards are Visa and MasterCard.
Exchange rates
The unit of Indian currency is the Rupee, which is divided into 100 paise. There are coins in the denominations of 1, 2, 5 and 10 rupees. Currency notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 2000 rupees. As of April 2018, the exchange rate is approximately:
AUD $1 = INR 50
CAD $1 = INR 51
Euro €1 = INR 80
GBP £1 = INR 93
NZ $1 = INR 48
US $1 = INR 65
Money – ATMs etc
You may wish to obtain a small amount of Indian Rupees in cash prior to arrival in India (approx Rs6000 / $100), although it is not necessary. Local currency can be easily obtained at money changers and ATMs on arrival at the airport. Usually, the most convenient place to change money is your hotel, or money exchange offices. Try to get some small rupee notes (10’s and 50’s) for tips, items purchased in the markets, etc. ATMs are easily accessible in main cities and towns, but will only give you large notes – 2000’s and 500’s usually.
If you are going to be travelling for a few weeks, and out of the big cities, and there are a couple of you travelling together, it might be worth going into a bank and asking to exchange larger notes for wads of smaller ones. Try a couple of banks if the first one knocks you back. Get 1000 of 10’s, 5000 of 50s and 10,000 of 100’s.Having your funds accessible through an international travel Cash Passport Credit Card is highly recommended. See www.cashpassport.com.au if travelling from Australia.
Bring more than one debit/credit/cash card with you in the event one card does not work in the local atms or at hotels/restaurants. Make sure to tell your bank that you will be travelling in India and ensure you have international phone numbers to call in case you need to contact your bank.
Tipping
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, however it can be tricky and guidelines often vary from one place to the next.
If you are part of one or our organized group tours, hotel porters, drivers and guides tips will come out of the group tipping kitty that is included in the tour cost.*
Tips for hotel room attendants, and restaurant meals will need to be paid separately.
You will find it useful to keep lots of small denomination notes for tips.
If you are travelling on your own, here are some guidelines to help you decide what to tip.
Transfers:
To/from Airports and Railway Stations
Rs50-150 to the driver per transfer
Sightseeing:
Driver: Rs300-500 per day
Guide: Rs500-800 per day.
Long Drives (ie Delhi to Jaipur): Rs500-600 per day to the driver
Hotels:
Porters: Rs20-50 per bag for bag carriers – depending on the category of hotel
Room attendants (bringing laundry/bathroom supplies etc): Rs20
Room service: 10% of the bill
Doorman: Rs50-100 to the doorman upon your departure
Restaurants:
Restaurants may or may not include a service charge. A 5-10% tip is appropriate if there is no service charge added.
Taxis:
There’s generally no need to tip taxi or rickshaw drivers unless they’ve gone over and above the call of duty – they will probably be overcharging you anyway!
*Tips and gratuities are not included in the Incredible India tour 

PHOTOGRAPHY
Camera/video camera fees are charged at many sights and monuments.
These costs range from Rs 10-300 for a camera and can be up to Rs500 for a video.
In case you do not wish to pay a camera fee, you may not be allowed to take the camera inside the site. If that is the case, there is usually a locker or camera minding facility where you can leave your camera.
Sensitivities
Indian people generally LOVE having their photo taken and often more surprising, they will want to take photos of you. Indians are huge travellers within their own country, so the majority of people you meet out sightseeing at cultural sights will probably be Indians from another part of the country. Don’t be surprised if you spend more time having your photo taken with family groups than sightseeing. Your photo will be a bigger hit than the Taj Mahal back in their home town.
If you do take someone’s photo and they ask for you to send it to them, ensure you get their correct address written down in English (ask another Indian to translate if required).
Sometime however, you might get group of young men crowding around wanting to take a photo, particularly if you are a female. Don’t feel rude to say no to photos with the boys.
In some more rural or tribal areas of India, people still feel uncomfortable having their photos taken. Some even believe that the camera will steal their sole. Be sensitive to this and always ask first before taking photos and respect the answer.
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 can be the fake Holy men or Saddhus who make a living out of having their photos taken in their exotic garb. Whilst still beggars in one sense of the word, they do make a great photo op. (Genuine Saddhus will rarely be somewhere you’re likely to meet them, and will usually not want their photo taken).
Backing up your images
With the advent of Digital photography, it is very easy to download your photos and burn them onto Pendrives/External memory while in India.
Make sure you bring a spare camera battery as you’re sure to be using your camera far more than you’d imagine.

RELIGION
Religion in India is a big deal. Regardless of their religion, people are likely to be devout. Following some basic do’s and don’ts you can enjoy visiting the various temples, mosques, churches and other places of worship.
Always remove your shoes before entry
Some temples do not allow entry to those who don’t practice the faith, although this is fairly unusual.
Appropriate dress (shoulders/knees covered in all places of worship and head’s covered in Sikh Gurudwaras and some mosques).
No leather products like shoes, belts, handbags, camera cases, watch straps in Jain Temples.
Do not point the soles of your feet or turn your back towards the Idol / Altar / Holy Book. In a Hindu or Sikh temple, sit cross-legged or tuck your feet away.
Some places prohibit photography in the main hall and the inner sanctum. Usually, signboards announce this. Some temples and mosques levy a fee for photography.
In a Buddhist temple or monastery, remember to follow a clockwise direction while performing any sort of movement – from spinning prayer wheels to walking around the stupa or even the exteriors.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL
Responsible Travel is travel in a way that shows respect to the people, to their culture, economy and of course the environment. What may be acceptable in your own country, may not be suitable behaviour in India.
Do’s and Don’ts
Be considerate of India’s religions, customs, culture and traditions.
Dress respectfully and modestly.
Avoid where possible buying bottled water. If you have the opportunity to refill from a water filter or larger bottle, do so.
Always dispose of litter in bins, or carry with you to throw away later.
When bargaining in local markets and shops, keep it lighthearted and fun. Do not insult by offering a ridiculously low price. Remember that the extra Rs10 you’re trying so hard to knock off the cost is in reality only 20c. Conversely, don’t pay too much for goods and products, particularly that the locals use as over time, this can raise the cost for locals.
Learn some Hindi, or Tamil in the south and practice it. Locals love that you’re making an attempt and you’ll have fun picking up a few more words.
Shop in small, locally run stores and purchase locally made goods.
Always ask before taking photos of locals, particularly in villages and less touristy locales.
DO NOT hand out money or small items such as pens and chocolates to children, particularly in villages and tribal areas as this creates/perpetuates a begging mentality.

SHOPPING
Every region, city and town in India 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 delight offering a wide choice of clothes, fabrics, jewellery, carpets and a stupendous variety of handicrafts.
It is common practice for owners of private shops to give commissions to guides, taxi drivers and rickshaw drivers who bring you to their shops; these payments are included in the price you pay for your purchases. On our organised group tours, your tour manager 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.
Bargaining is part of the fun of shopping. If, on the other hand, you do not wish to indulge in this, you can shop at the government run or government approved emporia. Prices here are fixed and are usually higher than in the privately owned shops. But generally speaking, private run shops offer a better range than the ones run by the government.
These are some of the main goods on offer in the markets and shops in India.
Jewellery: From ornate tribal silver earrings to colourful blingy bangles and bold chunky rings, there is a huge selection to choose from.
Wraps, Scarves and Shawls: From genuine Pashmina shawls to wool, silk, cotton or the budget viscose varieties, there are more shawls and scarves than you could possibly imagine.
Tea & Spices: Most countries, including Australia, allow Indian tea and spices to be imported, if they are sealed and labelled. This is a great way to obtain high quality spices that are not readily available at home. A huge variety of teas are also on sale, so you can make your own Masala Chai back home.
Home Decor: Cotton sheets, embroidered bed spreads, vibrant table cloths and colourful cushion covers can be picked up in shops and markets at very reasonable prices.
Specific goods available at some of the main tourist destinations are as follows:
AGRA: Marble inlay work, Persian-style Carpets
COCHIN: Coir products, rosewood carvings, and antiques.
DELHI: Designer clothes, fabrics, soft furnishings, home decor items, shawls, leather goods, essential oils, handicrafts, books, jewellery and handicrafts from all over India.
GOA: Cashew nuts, pottery, copper goods and shell carvings.
JAIPUR: Gemstones, precious and semi-precious gold and silver jewellery, Miniature paintings, blue pottery, tie-dye fabric, and block print fabrics.
JAISALMER: Mirror-work embroidered wall hangings, bed spreads and cushion covers and leather goods.
JODHPUR: Hand-painted furniture, hand-printed and embroidered fabrics, Dhurrie rugs, block printed fabrics, faux-antique furniture
MUMBAI: Saris, clothes, jewellery, brassware, and handicrafts from all over India.
MYSORE: Sandalwood products (oil, incense, soaps), rosewood carvings, and silk fabrics
UDAIPUR: Miniature Paintings, stonework, silver jewellery, leather goods
VARANASI: Brocade Silk, Musical Instruments
It’s a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have very strict quarantine laws.

SMART SHOPPING
The average Indian market is stuffed with bright and beautiful things – handicrafts, silks, ethnic clothes and jewellery and many other wonders.
Many upmarket stores, and those selling manufactured goods and items (such as foodstuffs, electronic items etc) will have fixed prices and goods should come with a MRP (Maximum Retail Price) stamp. Other places, the rule of thumb is to get the price right and bargain. This applies to clothes, fabric, jewellery, leather goods, carpets, paintings etc. Always look around, compare prices and then buy.
If you don’t see what you’re looking for in a store, ask. There’s usually more than meets the eye! Most stores have little display space; so much of the stock is above the ceiling or in a separate room.
Visit the various State Emporiums and Central Cottage Industries Emporiums (most major cities and tourist towns have them) first. The prices here are fixed and will give you a fair idea of the going price.
Never, ever believe touts (they hang around the touristy spots and cities) who promise to take you to the best shops around and get you the best bargains. They usually have their handsome commissions (up to 40%) built into the cost.

TRANSPORT
India is a huge country, and there are countless way to travel.
Book your tickets well in advance if possible. Train tickets often sell out soon after tickets go on sale, which in most cases is around 90-120 days prior to the date of travel. Ask for an upper berth in the 2nd class, 3-tier sleepers. The lower berths are used as seats during the day and your berth is your reserved sleeping space only after 9pm.
Be prepared for delays, especially while travelling in north India during winters when smog envelops cities and flights and trains can be delayed for hours.
Never buy railway/air tickets or book hotel rooms through touts. These could be invalid. Save yourself all those logistical hassles and book directly, online or through a travel agent.
Beware of pickpockets, especially at crowded haunts like airports, railway station or even some popular markets and tourist spots. Wear an inner money belt.
Fares for taxis and auto-rickshaws change frequently and do not always conform to the meter reading. Ask for the latest official fare-conversion tariff-card. If you are told that the meter doesn’t work, fix a fare before getting in. You can ask the hotel desk, your guide or a local for an approximate fare to your destination. Fleecing is common so just keep your cool and act smart!
Some of the various modes of transport in India are:
Boats
There are many opportunities to travel by boat in India. A sunset boat ride on Lake Pichola, Udaipur, a speedboat journey down the mighty Chambal River near Kota in Rajasthan, a leisurely cruise on a Keralan Houseboat or a dawn rowboat down the Ganges. Don’t miss the opportunity to get out on the water.
Domestic Flights
Domestic air travel in India has also soared to new heights in recent years. As new airlines have taken to the skies, ticket prices have decreased, making air travel attractive to more people. There was a 20% increase in air travel passengers in 2016 over 2015 thanks to a boom in low cost carriers, convenient schedules, attractive ticket deals, and ease in the booking system. It is easy to compare and purchase airline tickets now online, and with many payment options, anyone with a bank account and smart phone can now book a ticket.
India has several domestic airlines in operation. Air India, Jet Airways and Vistara offer full service domestic flights. Other national airlines are Indigo, Spicejet, GoAir and AirAsia India. These airlines are budget/low-cost carriers.
Jeep
When on safari through tribal villages, jungles and national parks you will usually be in a jeep, good for rough terrain and with open sides for wildlife spotting.
Private Transport
If you hire a car and driver (trust me, you do not want to rent a car in India and drive yourself, unless you learnt to drive in India!) you will generally find yourself in one of several type of vehicles. Most common are Toyota Innovas – which comfortably seat 5 passengers plus driver, Tata Indigo or Indica (smaller cars seating 3 plus driver) or less commonly these days, the classic Ambassador.
More luxurious models are available from some travel agents at a premium.
For small groups, the vehicle of choice is a Tempo Traveller. These mini buses come in varying seating capacities to seat from 7 plus driver to 17 plus driver.
Public Transport
Auto Rickshaw
These 3 wheelers, increasingly being referred to by tourists as Tuk Tuks are the most convenient and inexpensive option from getting from A to B in just about any town or city in India. Although many come with metres, like a taxi, most won’t use them, so a fare needs to be negotiated before any journey.
In the last few years, electric auto rickshaws have been introduced and are now becoming increasingly commonplace in many towns and cities throughout the country.
Bus
Public buses can range from air-conditioned coach style to dusty, rough bench-seat buses with very little leg room. These journeys are always a good chance to meet the locals. Luggage storage on buses can sometimes be on the roof of the bus, in the boot and sometimes on the bus under your seat or in overhead racks.
Cycle Rickshaw
The classic rickshaw of India – where you sit up on a small bench behind the cycle-wallah – are a more budget form of the Auto Rickshaw. These guys do it tough, and if you feel awkward about making them physically work to convey you from A to B, remind yourself that you’re giving the man work and money and probably at a much better price than a local would pay.
Suburban Transport
The Metro train line in Delhi is very convenient and will take you across the city in air-conditioned luxury for a few cents. Public buses in cities can be far more difficult to work out. Suburban trains in Mumbai are great, although peak hours can be challenging due to the insane crowds. The Delhi Metro and Mumbai trains have women-only carriages.
Taxi
A good option in larger cities if you are travelling some distances, particularly in Mumbai, where the taxis all have metres (and the drivers use them, with the exception of some drivers around the touristy centre of Colaba).
Taxi/Rickshaw Aggregators
In many towns and cities in India, you can now find Uber and Ola cabs. Jugnoo is a rickshaw aggregator and Ola also have rickshaws on their app. All you need is to download the app and start booking, paying the driver with cash at the end of the trip. As with elsewhere in the world, the rates are generally far cheaper than you’ll find for regular taxis and rickshaws.
Train
Travelling by train is one of the great experiences of India. Although chaotic, it works. For overnight train journeys, there are various different classes of sleeper carriage. Sleeper provides 3 tiers of berths in unairconditioned and crowded carriages. For although you should have a reservation to travel on this carriage, on crowded routes, many more people can cram into the carriage and pay a bribe to the ticket collector to stay. The upmarket carriages are 3AC, 2AC and 1AC. 1AC is only available on some trains and comprises of lockable compartments of 2 or 4 berths. 2AC (two tier) and 3AC (3 tier) are open plan, like the sleeper carriages, however they have curtains separating the compartments from the aisles, bed linen and blankets are provided and no-one without a valid reserved berth is allowed in the carriage. Luggage storage on sleeper trainsis under the berths, which are not particularly high, so ensure your bag is no thicker than 35cm or it may not fit in the allocated luggage space.
Day trains are usually open plan, and day-time express trains have roomy aircraft type pushback seating. Luggage is stored in overhead shelves, so heavy luggage may be a problem.
There is often catered food available on the train and usually you will have hawkers selling snacks and drinks. You may wish to bring your own food if unsure of the availability of food on the train.