You're probably traveling to India for the first time and have a gazillion questions you want answers to. We've tried to answer some of those here. We'll also answer specific questions during online info-sessions we have with all participants before your travel.
Q. Do I need a Visa?
A . Citizens from some countries need visas in advance. Travelers from Maldives and Japan can get a visa on arrival. To get more details, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_India#Visa-free_entry . Citizens of most countries (including UK, USA and Singapore) can obtain an e-visa for their travel. The latest updated information is at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html .
Q. Okay, so I need a visa. How do I get it?
A. It’s actually pretty simple, as now you can get an e-visa. That means you don’t have to go anywhere in person or stand in Iine. You can apply online, and the visa will come to you in the email. Simply carry a printout of it with you. You can apply for the e-visa here. https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html
Q. When is the best time to buy my ticket?
A. The sooner you buy your ticket, the better the price you get. If you decide to buy a non-refundable ticket, do so once you have your visa in hand. Sometimes visa processing can take longer than anticipated. And you wouldn't want potential visa related delays messing up your travel budget. So to get the best fare, apply for the visa at the earliest.
Q. Are there any non-stop flights? Should I fly non-stop or take a stopover?
A. A non-stop flight can mean 15 hours on a plane. It’s a very personal call. We've always enjoyed a layover at a city like Frankfurt or Istanbul. Amsterdam is a personal favorite for the amazing cheese they sell. But that's us.
United, Air India and American offer non-stop flights from big cities like Chicago/New York. They're usually more expensive.
Q. Do I need travel insurance?
A. Yes, you need travel insurance. It is simplest to buy online. You can also use a trusted agent.
Q. What about food and water? Will I get sick?
A. You should only drink bottled water. Never drink tap water, or even brush your teeth with it. We provide for safe bottled water for all your travels. The food you eat should be freshly cooked and from the safest sources. Avoid anything raw or from the street. Avoid things like freshly cut fruit or salads. Travelers diarrhea can happen to tourists anywhere and the best way to avoid it is to eat and drink from safe places. In addition, maintain the highest standards of hygiene by frequently washing your hands and so on.
All the places where you will stay or eat with us are very sensitive to the needs of international tourists, and maintain the highest levels of hygiene.
Q. Do I need shots?
A. Yes. Visit your local doctor before your trip and get a round of shots. More detailed information is available here .
Q. What sort of weather should I expect?
A. India is a warm country. Your stay in the plains will be in Delhi. During spring and fall days Delhi is warm and sunny. sometimes hot. Evenings may be comfortable. You can see the climate chart for Delhi here.
The bulk of your time will be spent in the Himalayas in Satkhol village. Satkhol is not on the weather map but you can see weather forecasts for Mukteshwar which is six miles away (and 1000 feet higher). The climate chart for Mukteshwar is here..
The temperature in the Himalayas varies during these seasons. It can go from warm, sunny days to cool evenings and cold nights - colder if it rains. Although fall and spring are not the rainy season, showers can happen so it’s best to pack layers. Buildings here do not have heating so you'll wear warm layers indoors as well.
Q. How should I plan to dress for India?
A. Except for big cities like Delhi, Indians tends to dress conservatively. While men can wear whatever is comfortable for them, women face some challenges.
- Shorts, tank tops and tops that show cleavage - though comfortable for Delhi - are not appropriate for public places or religious monuments
- Short sleeve tops are fine everywhere (bare shoulders/sleeveless tops are okay for Delhi)
- Any lower that is mid calf or longer - tights worn with long tops, capris, trousers, skinny jeans, skirts, dresses - are fine for everywhere
- Most people find keeping a scarf or thin cotton shirt to wear over a top (if it’s sheer or figure hugging) and trousers or long dresses handy when travelling around.
It is also best to bring a wide brimmed hat, shades and lots of sunscreen. These will come in handy when dealing with the Delhi sun/heat as well as the bright sunshine of the mountains.
Q. How much money should I carry?
A. Your stay and transfers are all taken care of by us. Credit cards work in urban areas but not in Dilli Haat (where you may go shopping). In the rural Himalayas - where the retreat is - there won’t be too much to buy. Avoid carrying too much cash on you.
Q. What about electrical devices? Will my laptop / phone charger work?
A. The power supply in India is the same as UK and the Middle-east, although the plug points are different. India's power supply differs from the US. Indian power is 220 volts while the US is 110 volts. Avoid bringing high wattage things like hair dryers, etc. We’ve actually seen stuff like that go “poof” in a cloud of smoke. Electronic devices such as laptop and phone chargers mostly work with 220 volts. Please read the voltage range given on the devices you plan to carry. If the “input” reads 110-240 volts you’re good. But if the input says “110 volts” only then you may need to buy an adapter or charger for India.
Q. Will there be wi-fi?
A. The Delhi hotel “Tree of life” has internet connectivity in all rooms. The Himalayan Writing Retreat also has fairly decent broadband, but not in all rooms. We have broadband in most common areas.
Q. Can I get a local mobile phone connection? Will I need one?
A. Your phone company probably offers an international roaming package. They can be expensive but maybe the simplest choice. There are also some other services such as https://www.trabug.com/ but we don’t have any first-hand reports on these yet.
Will you really need one? Since you will mostly be in a group with people you know it is not essential, but it does help if you have one. It can be helpful for co-ordinating things, and certainly if you like to go exploring on your own.
Q. What should I do when I land in Delhi?
Most flights reach Delhi at a rather unearthly hour. When you exit the airport, someone will be waiting there holding a prominent placard with your name on it. After you link up with the person picking you up, we will request you to give a confirmatory call from the phone of the person receiving you. We will share India contact phone numbers, names and other details with you during the info session. If by any chance you cannot spot your name on the placards, call the contact number we give you.
Q. Do I need to carry any medicines?
If you take specific medicines on an occasional or regular basis, please carry enough to last your entire trip. Medicines are available in Delhi but the brands, salts and dosage might be different from what you are used to. The Himalayan Writing Retreat is located in a rural area. We have doctors at hand but we are 2 1/2 hours away from the nearest emergency room and well stocked medical store. So, it may be wise to carry a basic medical kit (the kind you would carry on a hike). You could include medicines for an upset tummy, travel/motion sickness (if you suffer from it), jet lag (optional), fever, common cold, allergies, aches and pains.
* Please also let us know if you suffer from any food related allergies, or have specific dietary requirements.
If you have further questions, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org .