U.S. citizens need a valid passport and an Indian visa to enter and exit India for any purpose. Your passport must remain valid for at least 6 months beyond the completion of your trip. Visas are not available upon arrival for U.S. citizens. If you travel on a tourist visa, you are generally given 6 months of legal stay upon entering India; extensions are rarely granted. Make sure that you have enough empty pages for entry and exit stamps in your passport to ensure your entry and exit. Travelers should be careful not to stay beyond the date permitted on their visas in order to avoid difficulties when departing the country.
Indian visa regulations change frequently, often with little advance notice, and changes may be poorly advertised and inconsistently enforced. Travelers are urged to check the website of the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C. before any travel to India to review the most current information: https://www.indianembassy.org
Indian visas may be obtained in the U.S. through Cox & King Global Service International Services: https://www.in.ckgs.us/ , the Government of India’s visa contractor.
U.S. citizens seeking to enter India solely for tourist purposes, and who plan to stay no longer than 30 days, may apply for an electronic travel authorization at least four days prior to their arrival in lieu of applying for a tourist visa at an Indian embassy or consulate. Please visit the Indian government’s website for electronic travel authorization at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html for additional information regarding the eligibilities and requirements for this type of visa.
For more updated and other information please visit:
Please note: Each traveler is fully responsible for bringing and acquiring travel documents (e-tickets, hotel and travel vouchers, etc.) necessary for his or her itinerary. If you are not a citizen of the United States, your entry requirements may vary— please contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the country or countries to be visited and obtain the specific requirements for entry.
Please refer to the instructions given in your itinerary confirmation. If in the event that you are unable to locate our representative, please call the local contact number as specified on your voucher or confirmation itinerary for immediate assistance.
Capital: New Delhi
Population: 1.22 billion
Location: Southern Asia
Largest Cities: Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad
Religion: Hindu 80%, Bengali 8.1%, Telugu 7.2%
System of Government: Federal republic
India operates on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), plus 5.5 hours.
At 9:00 am anywhere in India, it is:
• 10:30 pm the previous day in New York – Eastern Standard Time (EST)
• 9:30 pm the previous day in Chicago and Houston – Central Standard Time (CST)
• 7:30 pm the previous day in Los Angeles and San Francisco – Pacific Standard Time (PST)
• 5:30 pm the previous day in Hawaii – Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (HAST)
*Note: Add one hour to local time during Daylight Savings Time.
A good source of health information for travelers is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.
You should be up to date on routine vaccinations while traveling to any destination. Please be advised that high-standard medical care is not available in the more remote areas of India. Sightseeing may require, at minimum, the ability to walk at a moderate pace for a mile or two, and the balance and agility necessary to climb stairs, enter and exit buses and boats, and navigate uneven or cobble-stoned streets. Some sightseeing stops do not have elevators or wheelchair access. Bring medications in their original, clearly labeled containers. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea. If carrying syringes or needles be sure to have a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity. Carry a simple travelers’ first-aid kit containing any basic items that you feel may be needed, including anti-diarrhea tablets. When on vacation, it is always wise to watch what you eat and drink, but please do not drink the tap water while traveling in India. Most hotels will provide complimentary bottled water and additional bottled waters can be purchased throughout your trip.
India’s unit of currency is the Indian Rupee, divided into 100 paise. It is available in the following denominations: Banknotes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000 Rupee; Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 75, 100, 150, 1,000 Rupee. Traveler’s checks and foreign currencies can be exchanged in larger cities and only at authorized agencies such as banks, exchange offices, and hotels. Large banks may offer the best exchange rates. Hotels and some stores in large cities accept all major credit cards, but in small towns cash or traveler’s checks may be required. ATM access is limited and available only in large cities such as Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay). Cash is the best (generally the only) option in street markets. Save all receipts from any currency exchange transactions. You may be asked to present them when you exit the country, and they are required if you intend to reconvert local currency. The exchange rate is constantly fluctuating, but it can be found to be approximately 1 USD = 60 INR. For the most updated exchange rate, please check www.xe.com.
Electrical service in India is supplied at 220 volts, 50 hertz. Bringing an adaptor is a good idea if you are planning on using electronics (i.e. cell phones, laptops, cameras, etc.) during your trip.
India’s food is famously spicy, but not always spicy-hot. Due to differences in climate, soil type, occupations, and regions, Indian cuisines vary considerably from one another depending on which area of the country you are in. There are marked regional, religious, and traditional influences in cuisine that also create differences in their foods, but most meals are based on rice or another grain, served with meat and/or vegetables cooked in a spiced sauce. India has a well-developed vegetarian cuisine and many traditional (very rich and sweet) desserts. When dining on your own, reservations for dinner are essential in India, even in hotel restaurants. Regardless of precautions, changes in water and diet can result in mild abdominal upsets and nausea. It is advisable to bring antacids or abdominal pain medicines. To prevent serious illness, avoid suspect foods such as uncooked vegetables, peeled fruit, unpasteurized milk, and milk products. Beware of any food or drink sold by street vendors. Do not use tap water for drinking. Even “purified” water in open containers should be avoided. It is always preferable and safer to use only bottled or canned water.
In India, the official language is Hindi and English. Each state, however, has its own official regional language as well: 14 in all. Conflict over making Hindi the sole official language of India has resulted in English being retained in official usage and is now used widely in business and politics.
Due to its large geographical area, India’s climate is quite diverse and varies from one region to another. The country mostly experiences different variations of a tropical climate, which means it remains relatively hot and humid throughout the year, with the exception of the Himalayas where it can get quite cold. Winters usually occur from November to December and summers fall between April to June. Northern India remains dry, dusty, and unpleasant during the summer months. Monsoon season usually occurs between the months of June through September where the climate can be erratic because some areas may experience heavy rains, while others experience drought, and some get flooded.
This will be contingent on your own personal preference and the time of year you are traveling. Generally, we suggest that travelers pack lightly and to bring comfortable, casual clothes in natural, “breathable” fabrics because of the humidity. Choose versatile styles that can be layered. A lightweight (preferably non-plastic) raincoat or poncho is a good idea, as well as a sweater or lightweight jacket for early morning/evenings and air-conditioned buildings. A sturdy, comfortable pair of walking shoes is a must, as sandals may not be comfortable for some sightseeing activities. Some hotels have pools, so you may want to pack your swimming suit. Do not forget to bring sun block, sunglasses, insect repellent, pocket packs of tissues, a sunhat, an umbrella (for both the sun and rain), and any medications you may need. Most hotels offer reliable laundry and dry cleaning services.
Always wear what you are most comfortable traveling in, but a reasonable amount of modesty ought to be exercised. In most areas, comfortable, casual clothes such as short sleeved shirts, polo shorts, long skirts, etc., are great for sightseeing. Remember that temperatures are likely to be hot and humid so wearing light, loose fitting fabrics is a good idea.
When visiting mosques, temples, or other religious sites, wear modest, conservative clothing. No shorts or sleeveless shirts on either men or women. Plan to cover most of your body, including your shoulders, upper arms, and legs.
Women: Women should have all skin covered; ankle-length skirts or pants are required. Sleeves should reach each wrist and hair should be covered by a headscarf. Pants or skirts that are too revealing, clingy, or tight should not be worn.
Men: Men should wear long pants and plain shirts without messages or slogans when visiting mosques. Short-sleeved shirts are acceptable as long as the sleeves are not shorter than average. If in doubt, wear long sleeves.
Socks are also a good idea since you will have to remove your shoes before entering mosques as part of the Muslim tradition. Usually a robe or shawl will be provided for those with inappropriate clothing attire, but it may be a good idea to bring your own as they are always being reused.
Hotels may impose a hefty charge on international calls. Check your hotel’s policy before placing any calls. To avoid hotel markups you can use a calling card from your local long-distance carrier. A number of United States cell phones manufactured today have the ability to operate overseas on the GSM (Global System for Mobile) standard. We recommend that you contact your cell phone service provider to determine if your phone operates on the GSM and what, if any, activation may be required. In India, reception on any cell phone can be unreliable and unpredictable. In some locations, transmission is not possible at all. If access to e-mail is of critical importance during your trip, please check availability in advanced. Most hotels have business centers or in room WI-FI service, surcharges may apply.
The nationwide emergency phone numbers are:
Ambulance: 102, 112
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: India by DK
Enjoying India: The Essential Handbook by J D Viharini
Fodor’s Essential India: with Delhi, Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal & Mumbai (Full-color Travel Guide) by Fodor’s
Lonely Planet India (Country Travel Guide) by Sarina Singh, Michael Benanav, Daniel McCrohan, and John Noble