South African passport holders do require a visa for India. For details please contact our office.
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai (Bombay)
Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi
Chennai International Airport in Chennai
There is an electricity supply of 240 volts throughout India and 230 volts throughout Sri Lanka so 240-volt appliances will work safely with this supply. There is no universal power point but they generally use the three-pin socket, so you can use the round two-pin (Europe) plug or the round three-pin (India) plug.
You can buy adaptors, also known as conversion plugs, from hardware, department and duty free stores.
In remote areas of India, Sri Lanka & Nepal the electricity supply is uncertain. Many buildings will only have a few hours each day of electricity from either the town’s supply or a diesel generator.
Whenever there is limited electricity supply this will also mean limited hot water supply. Remote and village areas may experience power surges or outages, both of which can make re-charging electrical appliances very difficult. We advise you to bring a supply of batteries (bought in South Africa) with you to allow for days when you cannot recharge.
We recommend that you check the weather forecast prior to your departure so that you can pack accordingly.
The best times to visit India are at the beginning and end of the year in the beginning and end of the cool season. Daytime temperatures are still quite high, but evenings are dryer and cooler. If your tour visits mountains or hill stations, temperatures and humidity levels will be significantly lower so you will need to take warmer clothes with you.
If you are visiting Ladakh, Little Tibet:
The best months to visit are June, July, September, October and November. These times of year experience the most favourable weather in Ladakh, when there is minimal rainfall and the best road conditions possible. These months are also the start and end of the hot season in Delhi and Amritsar so temperatures and humidity levels are higher (see temperature chart for Delhi, Amritsar, Dharamsala, Leh and Manali).
If you are visiting the Himalayan Kingdoms:
North-eastern India and southern Bhutan have a sub-tropical climate. During the months of March, April and May it is their equivalent to spring before the monsoon season and during the months of September, October and November it is their equivalent to autumn after the monsoon season – during these months it is the coolest and driest time of year. The lower altitude coastal plains experience warm and humid weather with cooler evenings. The higher altitude hill stations of Sikkim and mountainous areas of Bhutan are also at their most pleasant, although temperatures are significantly lower and there are occasional heavy rains.
Remember that at higher altitude, no matter the time of year sudden and unpredictable drops in temperature, snow or storms can hit on the mountain passes. The sun is also much stronger so you can be sunburnt more quickly (see weather temperatures for Kolkata, Darjeeling, Gangtok, Thimpu and Wangduephodrang). Consider your packing carefully. Generally, casual clothes are recommended. Loose fitting, lightweight cotton materials are the most comfortable for humid weather, while layers of warmer clothes are advised for cooler evenings. A waterproof jacket will be required for the wetter conditions in April. The dress code throughout the tour is casual; however, it is important that all passengers dress conservatively. Smart casual clothes are highly recommended for evening banquets and shows.
Example packing list:
- Main luggage & luggage padlocks
- Day bag’ – a smaller bag to carry with you during the day
- Money belt to carry passport, cash, credit cards, airline tickets, etc
- Trousers (or long skirts for women)
- Shirts or long-sleeved tops of light cotton material
- Walking shoes and socks – it is important to have sturdy and comfortable shoes for sightseeing every day.
- Sun protection – hat, sunscreen and lip balm
- Personal medical kit including insect repellent
- Antibacterial wipes – wipes such as ‘Wet Ones Anti-bacterial’ to clean hands before eating
- Tracksuit/similar outfit of soft material is recommended for the overnight train journeys
- A water/windproof jacket
- Light jumpers/thermals are great for layering, including gloves and scarf
- A ‘modesty shawl’ or sarong to wear in Muslim or conservative areas (for women)
- Torch, conversion plug and spare batteries – batteries available to buy in India tend to be unreliable
- Scarf or bandana – useful to protect your face against dusty winds at high altitude
- Spare glasses – it is difficult to get any prescription lenses repaired or replaced in India
- Small bath towel is useful for overnight train journeys
- Toilet paper – not all public toilets will provide this
- Snacks – tea bags/coffee, milk powder or sachets, instant soups or noodles, or anything else you can’t live without!
- Camera and spare film/memory card – film available in India tends to be bad quality or sun damaged.
- If travelling to Ladakh – ‘Sleep sheet’ or sleeping bag – in remote areas linen is provided but possibly not up to South African standard. If you already have a compact and lightweight sleeping bag you could also bring that.
In India, the local currency is known as the ‘rupee’ and is written as INR or Rs. It is divided into coins called paise, where Rs1 = 100 paise. Rupee notes are available in denominations from Rs5 to Rs1000 but the Rs500 note is the highest note commonly available. In Sri Lanka, the local currency is known as the ‘rupee’ and is written as LKR. Coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents and Rs. 1, 2, 5 and 10. The higher value denominations are found as notes, namely Rs.10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000.
Customs & Duty Free
Each person can bring two bottles of alcohol and a carton of cigarettes into India, Sri Lanka & Nepal. Good quality foreign alcohol and cigarettes are likely to be cheaper in India and Sri Lanka compared to South Africa. If you carry over 10,000 Euros in cash (or equivalent in another currency) you need to declare it on entry and/or exit. Cultural relics, handicrafts, gold and silver ornaments and any jewellery purchased in India, Sri Lanka & Nepal must be declared at exit. All luggage is x-rayed and if any of the above is not declared, customs agents will seize them. You must also declare all food items on exit if carrying them in your luggage.
Keeping In Touch
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. International calls are expensive (from Rs200 per min) and usually incur an additional service charge. There are also telephone booths in most towns and cities displaying the letters ‘ISD’, which can place calls for cheaper rates and have meters so you can keep track of the call rate’s progress.
Mobile phones are very popular in India and Sri Lanka and you will find high quality coverage. India and Sri Lanka have active roaming agreements with most international phone carriers; however SMS and call rates can be expensive. We recommend that you contact your mobile supplier if you intend to use international roaming during your holiday and ensure you investigate all associated costs before you leave South Africa.
Internet & Email
There are internet cafes in cities and small towns alike, where you can access your email or place an internet phone call. Most hotel Business Centres have internet access at slightly higher rates. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to keep in touch.
India and Sri Lanka are 3.5 hours ahead of South Africa.
A health certificate is not required for entry into India and Sri Lanka.
Visit a doctor before travelling
We strongly recommend that you see a doctor at least six weeks before your holiday to allow time for any necessary vaccinations etc. Remember to take your itinerary with you to the appointment.
We recommend avoiding drinking tap water and exercising caution taking ice in drinks. There will usually be a kettle or flasks of boiled water in your hotel room and on-board trains. Boiled water is suitable for drinking and cleaning teeth. Safe, bottled drinking water is readily available for sale everywhere – from small shops, supermarkets, restaurants and hotels. It is not customary for hotels to provide complimentary bottled drinking water. Always ensure that the seal is unbroken.
Toilet facilities are very basic throughout Asia and it is rare that you will find a ‘western’ style toilet (except in hotels). ‘Squat’ toilets are very common in public places and toilet paper is never supplied. We suggest that you carry toilet paper in your day backpack as well as not turn down the opportunity to use a ‘nice’ toilet when you see one!
Personal Medical Kit
Take all pharmaceutical products that you may require on your tour; do not rely on being able to purchase these during your holiday. You will see pharmacies all over China, but they stock local traditional medicine and many unregulated brands of western medicine. You are also very unlikely to find anyone who can speak English, nor any products with English writing. Consider taking a ‘personal medical kit’ containing any medication or medical equipment you may need during your time in India:
- All prescribed medication (with a cover note from your doctor)/ copy of repeat prescription
- Headache tablets
- Anti-diarrhoea tablets
- Cold and flu tablets
- Travel sickness tablets
- Insect repellent and bite/sting relief
- Antibacterial hand wipes and/or hand wash
- Spare pair of glasses/contact lenses