Best time to go: India is a large country, the best time to go depends on which area. Delhi, Agra, Rajasthan and Central India: October – March; Himalayas: year-round, but are cold in December and January and wet from June to September; Kolkata: hot from February – April and wet from June – September; Kerala: April – May is very hot and June – August has heavy rain; Goa: year-round, heavy rainfall is June – September; Mumbai: year-round, heavy rainfall in July and August.
Best for: Beaches, Bollywood, Ancient Architecture, Religious Sites
Local Name: Bharat
Official Name: Republic of India
Capital: New Delhi (DEL)
Currency: Indian Rupee (INR). It is illegal to take Indian currency out of the country.
Language: Hindi and English. 20 other languages are also spoken, including Urdu, Bengali and Punjabi.
Dialling code from SA: +91
Time Zone: UTC / GMT +5½ (3½ hours ahead of South Africa)
Side of the Road: Left
Plugs: 230-240 volts AC, 50Hz. Some areas have a DC supply. Plugs are of the round two- and three-pin type.
Drinking Water: All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Bottled water is available; ensure that the seal is closed.
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services. In rural towns, medical facilities may be more limited. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended. If you require any medication on your travels it is best to bring it with you, in the original packaging, with a signed and dated letter from your doctor detailing exactly what it is and why you need it. If visiting a rural area, it is advisable to carry basic medical supplies. Food poisoning is common, it is best to carry rehydration salts with you.
Customs: There are many cultural and religious customs, which differ between cultural groups. Shoes should be removed when entering places of worship. Many Hindus are vegetarian and do not drink alcohol. Women should dress modestly (no short skirts, tight or revealing clothing) and men should dress respectfully. Avoid using your left hand, especially when eating. Wasting food is frowned upon.
Local Offences / Laws: Smoking in public is prohibited. Topless bathing is illegal.
Travel Tips / Warnings: There have been terrorist attacks in the main cities – check the local political situation before travelling. Religious events can attract thousands of people, and stampedes are reported at these types of events. Women should take care not to travel alone after dark or to rural areas, as rape and assault is common.
Duty Free: The following items may be imported into India by non-resident travellers over 18 without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
• 2L of spirits or wine.
• Goods for personal use (only one laptop allowed per traveller).
• Gifts and souvenirs to the value of Rs8,000.
• Reasonable quantities of medicines. Import by non-residents is only permitted if the national has entered India for a stay of not less than 24 hours and not more than six months, provided they visit not more than once a month.
Prohibited Imports: Prohibited items include narcotics, pornography, counterfeit and pirated goods, and antiquities. Restricted items include firearms and ammunition, live birds and animals, endangered species, gold and silver (other than ornaments), and Indian currency. Indian residents only may import up to Rs7,500.
Prohibited Exports: Prohibited items include narcotics, pornography, counterfeit and pirated goods, and antiquities. Restricted items include firearms and ammunition, live birds and animals, endangered species, and Indian currency. Indian residents only may export up to Rs7,500.
For up to date Health & Visa information click here