Getting there

British Airways fly direct from London Heathrow to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. Virgin Atlantic have daily flights to Delhi and Vistara fly direct to Delhi. Emirates, Oman Air, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways also have excellent connections via their respected hubs to Kolkata, Kochi, Trivandrum, Kozhikode, Goa, Jaipur and Lucknow and fly from airports all over the UK.

Flying times from UK

Direct flights from the UK take between 8 and 10 hours depending on the destination. Flights with stops en-route take between 12 and 14 hours.

Time zone

India is +5½ hours ahead of GMT.

Visa requirements

Holders of British Citizen passports are able to apply for an e-Tourist Visa (eTV). There are three different eTVs - a one month eTV (valid for 30 days), a one year eTV (valid for 365 days) and a five year eTV (valid for 5 years). Applications for the one month eTV can only be made within 30 days of travel to India. Applications for the one year eTV and five year eTV can only be made within 120 days of travel to India. Please note that the very latest an Indian eTV application can be made is 4 days prior to travel to India. The eTV becomes active from the date of entry into India. It is not valid for Protected or Restricted areas.

Do’s and don’ts

Smoking and drinking in public places is prohibited in India – with smoking this includes public areas in hotels, restaurants and bars.

E-cigarettes and related products are banned in India. You will be unable to buy e-cigarettes or bring them into the country.

Always ask permission before entering a temple and remember to remove your shoes and any leather objects such as bags, belts or wallets. It is fine to wear socks.

When in a Buddhist temple you should always walk in a clockwise direction with the main building to your right.

Modest, loose-fitting clothing is preferable and is essential when visiting religious places. When visiting a Sikh Gurudwara the head needs to be covered.

Permission should always be asked before taking a person’s picture.

When eating, only the right hand should be used. Indian culture considers the left hand to be unclean.


The currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR) and comes in notes and coins. Exchanging money is easy and can be done at international airports, most hotels or banks and it is always a good idea to ask for some small denomination Rupee notes. ATMs are now common and reliable in all main cities and credit cards are widely accepted by most hotels, shops and restaurants. In rural areas or wildlife reserves ATMs and money exchange facilities are limited so having cash is essential.

Please note that there are restrictions on bringing Indian rupees into India. Visitors, including tourists, are not permitted to bring any amount of Indian currency into the country. Pounds sterling and other foreign currencies are allowed to be brought into India. For more information please visit the FCO’s Foreign Travel Advice for India.


This is left to your discretion and should, of course, be based on the satisfaction of the services you receive. In restaurants and for room service (if a service charge is not included) a 10% tip is appreciated. The following are some guidelines for tipping based in Indian Rupees (INR):

Tour driver                                        INR 750 to INR 1000 per person per day
Tour guide                                        INR 500 to INR 750 per person per day
Naturalist (national parks)               INR 500 to INR 750 per person per game drive
Jeep Driver (national parks)             INR 500 per person per game drive
Hotels (communal tip for all staff)   INR 500 to INR 750 per person per day

Most hotels and homestays in India now have communal tip boxes where money given for tips is distributed equally to all the staff. This includes porters, kitchen staff and housekeeping. If a tip box is not provided then any tips can be given to your host or reception to be passed on fairly to the staff.

Food and drink

India is known the world over for its food and especially its vegetarian cuisine. Spice plays an important role in dishes throughout the country as do breads, rice, pickles and chutneys. Although nearly every region has its own speciality, there is a divide between the cuisine of northern India and southern India – the north with its meat dishes influenced by the Mughals and the lighter, fruitier, coconut based dishes of the south. Desserts are common in India with kulfi ice cream and gulab jamun two of the best known and most popular. Nearly all tend to be very sweet, milk based or fried.

The most common drink in India is chai tea which can be bought on nearly every street corner. The yoghurt drink lassi – whether sweet, salty or fruity – is also easy to find. The popularity of coffee has spread from the south whilst Indian beer is well-respected. There is also a fledgling wine industry centred on Nashik in Maharashtra.

Holidays, festivals and celebrations

Secular holidays including Republic Day, Independence Day and Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday are observed throughout India and fall on set dates. Dates for religious festivals change each year and tend to be the most colourful, vibrant and reflective. Holi, with its dancing, singing and colour marks the coming of spring, whilst Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrates the victory of good over evil and is usually observed in November. The Kumbh Mela is celebrated four times over the course of twelve years with the Great Kumbh Mela of 2001 attracting over 60 million worshippers with another popular mela being the Pushkar livestock fair in Rajasthan. Local celebrations include the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland and the Rajasthan International Folk Festival held in Jodhpur.


With wholesale markets and bazaars, innumerable shops and stores, India is a shopper’s paradise. The country is best known for carpets and dhurries with Rajasthan, Kashmir and Leh best for these. There is also a bewildering range of clothing, fabric and leatherwear found not only in the smallest of villages but also the largest cities. Gems, silver and jewellery (valuable or costume) are popular throughout the country but especially in Jaipur and Hyderabad whilst Kochi is noted for its antiques. Spices can be bought all over India but purchased straight from plantations in the south. Darjeeling, Assam and the Western Ghats in south India are all known for tea.

Suggested reading

For India travel advice, Footprint, Rough Guides, Lonely Planet and Bradt have excellent guide books whilst Nelles Maps have comprehensive and up to date maps of the Indian subcontinent. There is also a wide range of literature including from famed authors such as RK Narayan, Vikram Seth, Paul Scott, VS Naipaul, Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie. Vivek Shanbhag's more recently translated book 'Ghachar Ghochar' also comes highly recommended. Other good books on India include:

‘India: A History’ by John Keay

‘The Great Arc’ by John Keay

‘No Full Stops in India’ by Mark Tully

‘India in Slow Motion’ by Mark Tully and Gillian Wright

‘City of Djinns’ by William Dalrymple

‘White Mughals’ by William Dalrymple

‘Chasing the Monsoon’ by Alexander Frater

‘The Tears of the Rajas’ by Ferdinand Mount

‘Plain Tales from the Raj’ by Charles Allen

‘Mughal Architecture and Gardens’ by George Michell

'Tea, Love and War: Searching for English Roots in Assam' by David Mitchell


Your doctor is the best person to advise you on staying healthy whilst abroad but current recommended vaccinations are Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus and Diphtheria. Yellow Fever is compulsory, but only if you have visited an affected Yellow Fever area within 5 days prior to your arrival. In some instances anti-malarial tablets may also be needed. For current information on health advice you may wish to visit the Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad (MASTA) Web Site on The NHS ‘Fit for Travel’ website ( is also a useful resource.

Travel advice

For current information on India the best resource is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office ( which is a comprehensive resource and updated regularly. We would also recommend visiting the Safer Tourism Foundation website ( before you travel and will be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.


If you are interested in a cultural trip to India, Pettitts Travel are India travel specialists experienced in creating tailor-made holidays to India. Explore our range of India holidays or contact us to speak to one of our travel experts for travel advice and guidance.