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What should I know when traveling to India?
India - Travel Tips, Healthcare, Prices and Safety May 2021 *
What's the best way to explore India? How to plan a trip to IndiaEntry requirementsBy planeBy boatBy trainBy land
How to get in - Entry Requirements - Visa
The rules and validity of visas will differ depending on your citizenship. Check the website of the Indian Embassy, Consulate or High Commission in your country, which you can find on this list.
Citizens of Nepal and Bhutan can freely enter and live in India without a visa.
Depending on the purpose of the visit, most passports allow you to obtain a tourist visa (multiple entry for six months or one year, depending on nationality), a business visa (6 months, one year or more, multiple entries) or a student visa (up to 5 Years). A special 10-year visa is available for nationals of certain countries, including US citizens ($ 100). An Indian visa is valid from the date of its issue, not the date of entry. For example, a 6-month visa issued on January 1st will expire on June 30th, regardless of the date of entry. (This does not apply to e-Visa valid for 60 days "from the date of arrival in India" - see the "Instructions for Applicants" section on the e-Visa page).
From 2012, citizens of Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan and Bangladesh, foreigners of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin and stateless persons will have to wait at least sixty days between successive tourist visas or visits with tourist or visitor visas; for all other nationalities this rule was abolished in 2012. Tourist visas with a validity of 6 months can have a maximum stay of 90 days per visit, depending on nationality. Check with your local embassy about the maximum length of stay per visit.
India has an e-tourist visa (eTV). Electronic visas can be applied for between 4 and 120 days prior to arrival and are valid for double entry and stays of up to 60 days. Travelers cannot receive more than two eTVs in a calendar year. Entry with an eTV must take place at one of 25 designated airports (Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bagdogra, Bangalore, Calicut, Chennai, Chandigarh, Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Calcutta, Lucknow, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum, Varanasi, Vishakhapatnam - a current list can be found under the web link). The eTV is available to citizens from over 100 countries (you can also find an up-to-date list here under the web link; some EU countries and most of Africa and the Middle East are excluded). Individuals of Pakistani origin, regardless of their nationality, are not eligible. The fee for the eTV depends on the nationality. In 2019, the Government of India announced changes to the e-Visa program, which will be valid for one year (with the exception of US, UK, Canadian or Japanese nationals which will be valid for 90 days). Prices are also expected to go down, and there will be no limit to the number of e-visas you can apply for in a calendar year. The exact implementation date is not yet known.
The eTV facility replaced the restricted entry visa regime in January 2015; there are no longer any facilities for entry visas in India.
Regular visa applications for U.S. passport holders (for travelers not eligible for eTV) begin with Indian Visa Online before submitting either via FedEx or in person to a visa application center.
Nationals or ex-nationals of Pakistan, Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran must apply for a visa well in advance (at least 45 days for Pakistanis and at least four weeks for the others). Check with your local Indian diplomatic mission well before making any travel plans.
Many Indian embassies have outsourced all or part of the visa processing to third-party companies, so find out beforehand before contacting the embassy. For example, as of May 21, 2014, your visa application no longer has to be submitted to the embassy in the USA, but to Cox & Kings Global Services. Applications made through these agencies will also incur an application fee (to CKGS in the US, this fee is $ 20) higher than what is listed on most embassy websites and which you will pay prior to submitting your documents should check. In addition, many Indian embassies only offer visas for residents of that country: this means that you should get your visa before you leave instead of trying to get it in a neighboring country (although, as of August 2009, non-residents have the option To apply for visas through the embassy in Bangkok for an additional "referral fee" of 400 THB).
It's advisable to apply for a multiple-entry visa even if you don't intend to use it - they cost the same, are fairly generously distributed, and come in handy if you decide at the last minute to immerse yourself in one of the neighboring countries.
A business visa may be required if you intend to do any work-related activity in India. The eTV will allow "occasional business visits" and will be easier to obtain. If you need a business visa, you should be ready to provide plenty of documentation about your business in your home country as well as the business you are visiting in India. This includes (but is not limited to) a letter of invitation from the company you are visiting, as well as business registration documents and possibly tax returns and other sensitive documents. It may be worthwhile to apply for a short-term visa (e.g. for 6 months) as the criteria may be less strict in your case.
There are other categories for special purposes. The mission visa is compulsory for anyone visiting India "primarily to participate in religious activities". This rule is intended to combat religious conversion, especially of Hindus to Christianity. There have been cases where preachers have been deported for speaking in front of religious communities on a tourist visa. You don't need to be alarmed if you are currently on a religious tour of churches in India.
If you have a student, work, research or mission visa, you must register with the regional immigration office where you will be staying within 14 days of your arrival. If the place you are staying does not have one, you will need to register with the local police station. All visitors who intend to stay longer than 180 days must also be registered.
Staying excessively long on a visa is to be avoided at all costs as you will be prevented from leaving the country until you have paid some fairly hefty fines and presented a large amount of paperwork to either the local immigration service or the police. This whole process is likely to take no less than 3 days and can take much longer if you factor in the weekends, numerous state holidays, and the inevitable bizarre bureaucratic requirements.
How to get to India by plane. Which airlines fly India?
The main entry points are Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta, Hyderabad and Chennai. The airports in these cities are either new or under construction. Hyderabad Airport is ranked as one of the top five airports in the 10-15 million passenger category. There are many non-stop, direct and transfer options to these cities from Europe, North America, the Middle East, Africa and Australia.
Secondary entry points into India are Goa, Calcutta or the Malabar coast. There are many connections to the Malabar coastal region to cities like Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram from the Middle East. Most of the major Middle Eastern airlines offer one-stop connections to the coast from their Gulf hubs. Goa is a popular European travel destination and is therefore served by many European charter airlines such as Condor, Edelweiss, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways. Calcutta is served by Emirates, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways.
The national airline of India is Air India. Other Indian airlines that operate international flights are Indigo and SpiceJet. These airlines offer daily flights to the world's major hubs. Many domestic flights require you to have a printed ticket with you.
From the United States, United Airlines offers daily non-stop connections from Newark to Delhi and Mumbai; Air India offers daily non-stop connections to Delhi from New York-JFK, Newark, Washington-Dulles, San Francisco and Chicago O'Hare and to Mumbai from Newark (and soon to be JFK). Various European airlines have connecting flights from most major US cities through their European hubs, and various Asian airlines have connecting flights from cities on the west coast through their Asian hubs.
Entry from Europe and North America is possible via many European airlines such as Lufthansa, Finnair, British Airways, KLM, Air France and Virgin Atlantic. For long-term visitors (3-12 months), Swiss Airlines often have good offers from Switzerland with connecting flights from major European and some American cities.
To save on flight tickets, consider connecting via the Gulf States with Air Arabia (a Sharjah-based low-cost airline with some connections to Europe), Etihad (especially if you need a one-way ticket or from another Asian country Fly back Europe) via Abu Dhabi, Emirates via Dubai or Qatar Airways via Doha. These airlines are also the easiest way to get in from the Gulf States along with Indian airlines, Air India, Air India Express, Indigo and SpiceJet.
From East Asia and Australia, Singapore (served by Air India, its low-cost subsidiary Air India Express, Singapore Airlines, its subsidiary Silk Air and its low-cost subsidiary Scoot) has excellent connections to all major cities and many smaller cities. As for the cheap route from Southeast Asia, the Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia is often the best choice (if booked in time, the price of a one-way ticket is usually less than $ 100, sometimes less than $ 50, they have connections from China, Australia and most of Southeast Asian countries). They fly from Kuala Lumpur to New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Calcutta, Kochi and Tiruchirapalli. If you are flying from Thailand, Air India Express flies to Bangkok from Chennai and Kolkata. Air India and Thai Airways also fly to a number of Indian cities from there. Silk Air also flies from Singapore to Hyderabad. IndiGo, an Indian low-cost carrier, also offers attractive tariffs to Singapore and Bangkok.
How do you get to India by boat or ferry?
India has several international ports on its peninsula. Kochi, Mumbai, Goa and Chennai are the main ports for passenger traffic, while the other ports mainly handle cargo. However, due to the oversupply of cheap flights, there seem to be no more scheduled ferry connections from India to the Middle East. The southern island of Minicoy on the Lakshadweep Islands is now a permitted entry point.
Some cruise lines that travel to India are Indian Oceans Eden II and Grand Voyage Seychelles-Dubai.
How do you get to India by train?
There are two links from Pakistan. The Samjhauta Express runs from Lahore to Attari near Amritsar in the Punjab. The Thar Express, which was put back into operation in February 2006 after 40 years of inactivity, runs from Munabao in the Indian state of Rajasthan to Khokrapar in the Pakistani province of Sindh; however, this crossing is not open to foreign tourists. Neither train is the fastest, safest, or most convenient way to travel between India and Pakistan, as customs and immigration formalities are long delayed (although the trains are sights in themselves and make for a fascinating journey). The Samjhauta Express was the victim of a terrorist attack in February 2007 that detonated bombs that killed many people. If you want to get from one country to another as quickly as possible, walk over to Attari / Wagah.
Trains run from Nepal between Khajuri in the Dhanusa district in Nepal and Jaynagar in Bihar operated by Nepal Railways. Neither is particularly interesting for travelers, and there are no connections to Nepal, so most travelers choose to take the bus or the plane instead.
The train service from Bangladesh was suspended for 42 years, but the Moitree Express operated again between Dhaka and Kolkata in April 2008. The train runs every two weeks: every Saturday a Bangledeshi train leaves Dhaka and returns on Sunday, while an Indian train leaves Calcutta on Saturdays and returns the next day.
You can see which trains are available between the stations on the following pages: http://www.indianrail.gov.in. However, to book train tickets over the Internet, go to the Government of India website at http://www.irctc.co.in. To book through this website you need to register (which is free) and need a credit / debit card. You can also use the services of many travel agencies who charge a small service fee for booking train tickets.
How to get in - By Land - Nepal
Buses run daily from Nepal across the border, usually with connections to New Delhi, Lucknow, Patna and Varanasi. However, it is cheaper and more reliable to take one bus to the border crossing and another from there. The border crossings are (on the Indian-Nepalese side) Sunauli / Bhairawa from Varanasi, Raxaul / Birganj from Patna, Kolkata, Kakarbhitta from Darjeeling and Mahendrenagar-Banbassa from Delhi.
How to get in - By Land - Bhutan
The Royal Bhutanese Government operates a service to / from Phuentsholing. These buses depart from Kolkata Esplanade Bus Terminal on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. and from Phuentsholing Bhutan's Post Office on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 3:00 p.m. The trip takes about 18 hours and costs ₹ 300. The buses are comfortable, but since much of the highway to Kolkata looks like the surface of the moon, don't expect to get a lot of sleep along the way.
There are frequent connections between Siliguri and Phuentsholing.
How to get in - By Land - Myanmar
Entry from Myanmar is apparently possible, see article Moreh / Tamu- see Myanmar for more details.
How to get in - By Land - Pakistan
From Pakistan, the only land crossing from Lahore to Amritsar is via the Attari / Wagah border crossing. Despite the tension between the two countries, there is a constant trickle of travelers passing this route. Immigration procedures are fairly straightforward, but neither Pakistan nor India issue visas at the border. It can be assumed that the journey by local buses between Lahore and Amritsar will take up most of the day. It is usually possible to take a direct bus from Amritsar to the border, go to the other side and take a direct bus to Lahore, although you may have to change at some point along the way. Amritsar and Lahore are both pretty close to the border (about a 30-40 minute drive), so taxis are a faster and easier option.
Direct service between Delhi and Lahore has resumed, although far more expensive than local buses / trains, not faster and would mean you would miss Amritsar. Plus, you'll be stuck at the border for much longer while the bus is searched and all passengers go through immigration.
There is now a bus connection over the "control line" between Indian and Pakistani Kashmir; however, it is not open to foreign tourists.
If you go by car, you will also travel overland from Istanbul to New Delhi. You need a Carnet de Passage to travel with your own vehicle.The process is not particularly lengthy - the crossing with your own vehicle to / from Pakistan should take a maximum of 3 hours to cross both borders for you and your vehicle.
How to get in - By Land - From Bangladesh
There are a number of land approaches to India from Bangladesh. The most common route is the regular, air-conditioned and comfortable bus service from Dhaka to Kolkata via the Haridaspur (India) / Benapole (Bangladesh) border post. Shyamoli, Shohag, Green Line and others bus companies operate daily bus services under the name of the state-owned West Bengal Surface Transport Service Corporation (WBSTSC) and the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC). Buses depart from Calcutta 2 every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and from Dhaka they depart on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The trip typically takes about 12 hours with a one-way fare of ₹ 400-450 or BDT600-800, around $ 8-10.
Another daily bus service by 'Shyamoli' and others under the BRTC label from Dhaka connects Siliguri, but the buses on this route do not cross the Changrabanda / Burimari or Burungamari border post. Rather, the passengers who reach the border have to pass through customs, walk a few hundred meters across the border and get on the waiting connecting buses for the final destination at the other end. The ticket for the route Dhaka-Siliguri-Dhaka costs 1,600 BDT, depending on the exchange rate around 20-25 US dollars. Tickets are bought either in Dhaka or in Siliguri.
There is also a regular bus service between Dhaka and Agartala, the capital of Tripura. Two BRTC buses daily from Dhaka and the Tripura Road Transport Corporation, which use their vehicles six days a week with a round fare of 10 US dollars, connect the two cities. During the trip there is only one stop in Ashuganj, Bangladesh.
Further entry points from Bangladesh are Hili, Chilahati / Haldibari, border post in Banglaband for entry into West Bengal; Border post in Tamabil for a route to Shillong in Meghalaya and a few others with lesser known routes to northeast Indian regions.
Are you planning a trip to India? Here is how to find out how to move around India.By planeBy trainBy taxiBy busBy carBy motorbikeHitchhikingBy auto-rickshawaddressesPassing for inner line
India is big and there are many interesting ways to get around the country, most of which cannot be described as efficient or on time very well. Plan a considerable amount of time for every trip with a fixed date (e.g. your return flight) and try to remember that the journey should only be half as fun.
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