A mesmerising whirlwind of colour, sound and smell, India is a land in perpetual motion. There’s something intriguing, eye-catching or just plain funny wherever you look, from long-limbed langur monkeys stealing mangos from a fruit seller’s cart to a high-spirited wedding procession led by a bridegroom on a richly festooned horse. Not that you won’t also have moments of glorious stillness. It might be the breathless hush when you see your first tiger in the wild or are ushered into the sandalwood-scented inner shrine of an ancient temple. Or it could be as simple as watching a glowing sunset from a beach or a palace-turned-hotel rooftop terrace.
Of course, there are sights that deserve a place on everyone’s ‘must visit’ list – and we guarantee you will be wowed by your first glimpse of the Taj Mahal. But it’s the open-hearted people you’ll come across on your travels who will make your trip unique: the village women teaching you between laughs to spin rope from coconut fibres, the family on the train who insist you share their lunch, the tea-shop owner showing off by lifting a bicycle with his teeth, and a hundred more.
It would take several lifetimes to experience all that India has to offer. Let our destination experts and local guides provide you with the essential shortcuts to its most inspiring places, moments and encounters.
Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Malcolm, who's travelled extensively in India. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember.
Freephone an expert 08082583340
Time difference: GMT+5:30 (all year)
Flight time: 9-10 hours (direct flight from London)
Currency: Indian rupee (INR/₹)
Language: Hindi, English
Electricity: 230 V, 50 Hz (round two-pin plugs; occasionally round three-pin plugs)
Telephone code: +91
Tipping: rewarding good service is expected, so it’s helpful to keep a stash of local coins and small notes on you. Many upmarket restaurants include a service charge on the bill; elsewhere it’s usual to leave up to 10% or at least round up the total. Many hotels have a central tip box – 200 rupees per person per night is fair – and it’s also customary to tip your guide and driver in the range of 300-700 rupees and 400-600 rupees a day respectively. Aim for 20-50 rupees a bag for porters.
Etiquette: your experience of India will be significantly enhanced by sticking to a few basic, if sometimes irksome, rules. The most important of these are: dress conservatively, men as well as women – bare shoulders and legs are considered very racy; avoid public displays of affection; remove your shoes when entering temples and people’s homes; don’t touch your food or mouth with your left hand (it’s considered unclean, for good reason); wash your hands before and after meals; and be sensitive about where you point your camera, particularly in places of worship. Expect to be asked all sorts of questions about yourself by complete strangers, and feel free to reciprocate – it’s not considered nosey.
Religion: Religion is an integral part of India’s culture. Almost 80% of the population are Hindus and throughout India you will see intricately carved temples where offerings are made on a daily basis. Muslims worship at Jama Masjid, a huge mosque in the centre of Delhi and The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum with scriptures from the Koran etched into its marble walls. The Golden Temple at Amritsar is a pilgrimage site for Sikhs, whilst Buddhists head to the Himalayas where fluttering prayer flags line the route to the colourful monasteries.
Visas: You can look up the latest advice on https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india/entry-requirements. Please be aware that this information can change at short notice.
Vaccinations: Health facilities, hygiene and disease vary world-wide and you may choose to take the necessary vaccinations before you depart. You can find out more about India on the NHS’s Fit For Travel website.
India offers unlimited adventure, whether you’re touring palaces in Rajasthan, hiking among Himalayan peaks or tiger-spotting in national ...