India

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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

India Money-Saving Tips

Seal the Deal

Though tourists know to buy bottled water overseas, plastic bottles in India are sometimes refilled and resold. Check the seal to make sure it’s intact before buying bottled water. Reputed brands include Bisleri and Aquafina.

Address, Please

Since we’re accustomed to numeric addresses and grid-like street patterns, navigating through the more windy alleys of India’s cities can be daunting and exhausting. Be sure to ask for neighboring landmarks and restaurants.

Bargain Hard

Whether negotiating a long distance cab ride or bargaining for kitschy street side wares, settle on less than half the original asking price. Don’t be afraid to walk away; most vendors will likely come running back to woo you.

Ride the Railways

Possibly the world’s most extensive rail system, built in the days of British rule, connects far corners of the country. However, low maintenance and theft is common, so travel in groups, never alone.

Local Grub

A gastronome’s dream come true, Indian food runs the gamut from savory snacks to syrupy sweets. Taste the local delicacies, but go for dishes that have been cooked at high heat – dosas (Indian style spicy crepes) and pav bhaji (seasoned vegetable stew eaten with pan-roasted bread) – rather than cold snacks.

Leave the Halter at Home

Women might feel self-conscious from all the stares of inquisitive locals, so try not to draw too much attention with skin-revealing ensembles. Pack flat shoes to walk around in and loose and comfortable cotton tunics and capris.

Cash and Carry

While you’ll need cash and travelers’ checks, most establishments in India’s big cities take credit cards and debit cards. In fact, HSBC offers no currency conversion fees if you use an account you’ve set up with them prior to travel.

Malaria

Though not rampant at all, malaria has been known to flare up from time to time in the country. Err on the side of caution and follow through with a full course of pills before traveling. Ask your doctor for specific dosage instructions.

Hospitality Central

A warm, friendly people, Indians are likely to welcome you with open arms into their homes and hearts, whether by insisting on one more spoon of curry or introducing you to the entire family clan. If you feel your privacy or personal space infringed upon, don’t take it personally.

Holi

Celebrating spring, this festival of colors, usually held in March or April, entails throwing vibrant hues of indigo, vermillion, canary yellow, and fuchsia into the air and at one another. The milky drink that accompanies the holiday – similar to eggnog – is a chilled, marijuana-based elixir called bhang.

Diwali

Typically falling in October or November, the festival of lights (India’s New Year) is a sight to be seen. Most waterfronts and plazas fittingly resemble Times Square on New Year’s Eve in terms of crowds, but the festivities are spread out across 5-7 days.

Dotted Foreheads

Though once indicating a woman’s marital status, the bindis women don on their foreheads are now more fashion-oriented. Singers like Gwen Stefani and Madonna have even popularized them in the West.

Henna-covered Hands

A deep reddish-brown henna imprint on a woman’s hands once implied she was a bride, though the custom has become a fashionable statement for both men and women.

Dhabas in the North

Some of the freshest and most authentic food can be found along India’s highways. Not quite diners, dhabas, prevalent in the North, send out chefs to buy the ingredients for your curries, kebabs, and biryanis only after you place your order. Don’t worry, you’ll still have your food in 30 minutes flat.

Respecting Elders

On par with many Eastern cultures, showing respect to elders is part and parcel of Indian tradition. Join your hands together in the national namaste greeting and you’ll win favor instantly. The gesture and word is used as both hello and goodbye.

Weddings Bright, Funerals White

Weddings, a very big deal for Indian families, are flashy, colorful affairs, while at funerals everyone wears white cotton as a show of purity and respect.

Stepping on Knowledge

Whether intentional or not, stepping on books or newspapers with your feet is considered sacrilegious, as words and text hold knowledge, which should never be desecrated.

Milking It

Buffalo milk is the most prevalent type of milk in the country, though cow milk is rising in popularity. Since milk is delivered daily, it’s usually boiled before being served, which might explain its taste.

Hotel Shops

Don’t be fooled into thinking that hotel gift shops might be a better bet than street stalls. These stores markup prices drastically, knowing that foreign travelers, will be likely to pay the asking price.

Airport Transfer

Several hotels include travel to-and-from airports in the cost of the room, so check with your hotel before making arrangements.

Check the Meter

Taxis and rickshaws are prevalent in the cities, making it easy to get around, but many cabdrivers will take tourists for a “ride,” so confirm the meter reading against a fare sheet.

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