Travelling to India: Essential Information
If you are travelling to India or planning to travel India for the first time, it is essential to plan and prepare few things first. As we all know that India is a place where imperfection is a form of perfection, chaos is cool and you may find people few people who are ready to give you anything overpriced. In general, India is a place of rich history, heritage, culture, generous hearts and knowledge. So, all you need to do is plan well; even we being Indian face lots of problem and escape them by planning well. So, here is a small guide for you, if you are travelling first time to India.
Indian e-Tourist Visa
Indian government came up with e-Tourist Visa facility for tourists few years back. It is different from Visa on arrival. Applicant needs to apply online and complete process is online, no agent or middleman is required. Here are some of the highlights of this facility:
- Valid for 30 days after the date of arrival and you need to select arrival date at the time of making the application.
- You may apply online minimum 4 days in advance of the date to arrival with a window of 30 days.
- 150 countries are covered under the e-Tourist Visa scheme, with fees ranging from $0 - $60.
- eTV is valid for entry through 16 designated Airports i.e. Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Cochin,
Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum & Varanasi. However, the foreigner can take exit from any of the authorized Immigration Check Posts (ICPs) in India.
- You can apply from the official website, here is the link: Indian e-Tourist Visa
Rest of all the details are available on the website. It is a really fast and simple process and all you need to do is plan your 30 days well in advance. It is obvious that you can't visit complete India in 30 days, so you need to plan for a specific region of the country. You can also apply for normal visa or regular visa from this official link: Regular Visa
Getting an India SIM Card
I met several international travellers, who suffer a lot as they don't have a local Indian SIM card for calls. They always ask "How to get a local SIM card in India? They can't make a local call to friends, hotels, tour operators or know. There is a simple solution to this problem. All you need to do is book a hotel or tour from a travel company. Ask for the payment receipt from the company online. Keep yourself handy with a copy of your passport's required pages, visa, payment receipt of hotel or tour and passport size picture, before boarding the flight. When you will land on airports in India, you will find the booth of telecom companies of India, where you can ask for the local SIM, by providing the above documents. You will get the card instantly and it will be ready for calls within few hours.
If you are not interested in booking a hotel or really big and expensive tour, you can book a useful and small tour of 'Gyan Yatra'. The tours name is 'Walk-n-Talk', where you will walk with a team member in New Delhi. The tour is really cheap and gives answers to all your questions regarding India, making your journey safe and memorable.
Planning for Accommodation
It depends completely on who you are? Are you a Traveller or Tourist; or you are a leisure seeker or backpacker? It is suggested to book accommodation for first few days, depending on your city of arrival. It will give to time to rest and think ahead. If you will land unplanned, chances are high that you may end up in some bad serviced hostel or hotel. Strongly suggested to book accommodation for at least book for first few days and then land. Here is a list of some of my favourite places to stay.
Most of the hotels and hostels like Zostel have their branches in other cities also. You can check it anytime. Apart from that, my few favourite hostels are The Bonfire in Agra, Sonder in Mysore and Happy Camper in Kochi.
Few days back on my trip to Himachal, I met a group of young girls from the USA. They booked their bus ticket from some travel agent and instead of booking the tickets with really comfortable government bus service, he booked the tickets with a private bus company to earn more commission. Most of the state have their own comfortable bus services and now with latest updates you can book your train tickets yourself online. Everything is in your hand, you need not to fell in the trap of anyone. Just type the state name followed by road transport/ bus transport corporation and most probably you will get the name. Here is list of some of the major state's bus systems:
But if you find all this really typical and confusing all you can do is to use some simple mobile app and website like RedBus. To book your train tickets you can log in to IRCTC and can book yourself with your international cards. In cities like New Delhi you have metro systems and most of the major cities have taxi apps like Uber and Ola. So, go on travel safe, because key to safe experience in India is in safe transport.