Travel to India from Canada
Things that Canadians need to know before visiting India
If you are planning to take a tour from Canada to India for the first time, you need to know a few things. It is really important to plan out everything smartly and carefully when visiting another country for the first time and India is no different. India is a vast country, home to billions of people. It’s another universe – complete with own identity, own features, and own charm. India feels like an amalgam of several small countries rather than a unified whole. India is a diversified country, inhabiting all right from deserts to beaches, lakes to mountains, and cities to villages.
No matter how much you read, hear or fantasize about India, it will be the most spectacular and extraordinary experience for you. However, it is imperative to be prepared before embarking on a journey to the mystical land. The following discussed points cover almost everything that you might need during the tour. Check out the entire piece to enjoy a hassle-free tour of India.
1. Check on the travel documents
If you are traveling to India from Canada, you must be in possession of essential travel documents. At the minimum, you require a valid passport and a visa to visit India. The visa is mandatory for all except visa-free nationals. Make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival in India. Visitors to India need at least two empty pages in their passport. It is also important to carry a passport all the time as almost every major tourist attraction in India requires you to show it as a proof of identity. Also, note that the visa is valid from the time it is processed rather than the time you actually arrive in the country.
2. Be prepared for the weather
It is a well-known fact that India is a seasonal destination. There are different seasons and different regions are hit by them at different times. That’s why it is necessary to get familiarized with weather conditions before visiting India. Though India is generally perceived as a hot dry country, it observes multiple seasons for 3-4 months every year. The summer months from April to June are unbearably hot; hence they are not suitable for traveling. On the other hand, India observes heavy rains and thunderstorms from July to September. Therefore, the situations are quite unfavorable for traveling. During the winter months (October to March), the weather remains pleasant. That’s why these months are quite suitable for taking a tour to India. Moreover, it gets quite chillier in the mountainous regions during this time period.
3. Indian time is different from Canadian Time
In case you are traveling from Canada to India for the first time, you must understand the varying time zones of both countries. India is 9 hours and 30 minutes ahead of Canada, which means that initially, you will face problems in adjusting to the current time zone. But, you will find it normal in a few days. So, plan your entire itinerary taking into account the time difference.
4. You need to get vaccinated before visiting India
Though there is no compulsion for Canadians to get vaccinated before visiting India, you can take some vaccines to be on a safer side. WHO recommends that a tourist visiting India must get vaccinated by Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. It is also advised to take extra care where mosquitoes are present to prevent dengue and other similar diseases.
5. Get acquainted with Indian culture
India features 29 states, each of which has something peculiar about it. Goa and north-eastern states are quite liberal while states like Haryana and Rajasthan still function on traditional values and may seem conservative. Similarly, you will be able to witness a mix of all types of people in metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai. The dressing style and lifestyle are perceived differently from one state to another. That’s why it is recommended to gather a bit of information about the region that you are planning to visit. It will not only make you feel comfortable but will also let you enjoy more in the company of the locals. Respect religious and social traditions. As India is a conservative society, avoid public displays of affection.
6. Check out how the Indian currency works
Indian currency is the Indian Rupee (INR). There are ₹ 1, ₹5, ₹10, ₹20, ₹50, ₹100, ₹200, ₹500 and ₹2000 Indian notes (paper money) and ₹1, ₹2, ₹5 and ₹10 coins.
You must know the current exchange rate, which fluctuates on a daily basis. Just like in other countries, the images on the paper notes and coins are of great significance to the country. For instance, on the front side of every Indian note is the image of Mahatma Gandhi, who is said to be the father of the nation. The only exception to this is ₹ 1 note, which features ₹1 coin on the obverse side.
Though ATMs are widespread all across the country, you need to carry cash in hand as small vendors and auto-rickshaws accept payments in cash only. Keep your money properly guarded everywhere. Make sure you get your money converted into Indian rupees from a reliable source. Debit and credit cards can be used for several purposes within the country. That’s why it is advised to convert less money to Indian currency.
7. Learn some basic words of Hindi
Though Hindi is widely spoken in India, there are 22 languages recognized by the Indian Constitution and several others spoken in different parts of the country. Canadians traveling to India can get along with English, but if you know a little bit of Hindi, it won’t do any harm. It will help you to navigate and negotiate as well as you will be able to interact with the locals and befriend them. Some of the basic phrases that you may learn are:
- Namaste – Hello.
- Dhanyawad/Shukriya – Thank You.
- Ye kitne ka hai – How much does this cost.
- Aap kaise hai – How are you.
- Aapka naam kya hai – What is your name.
8. Get familiarized with some basic laws of India
- Non-residents are strictly prohibited to import/export the Indian currency.
- Only female officers have a right to escort women to the police station.
- A woman can’t be escorted to the police station by a male officer. Moreover, a woman can be taken to the police station only between 6 am to 6 pm.
- Women are entitled to file a complaint even through an email or a post.
- Refrain from capturing photos and videos in prohibited areas.
- The legal age for drinking varies from state to state from 18 – 25.
- Consumption of beef is banned in several parts of the country.
9. Make sure you book the flights as per your tour itinerary
- Air Canada will operate a daily flight from Toronto & Vancouver to Delhi from 01 October 2019.
- Air India will operate three flights a week from Delhi to Toronto from 27 September 2019.
There is a direct flight from Toronto and Vancouver to Delhi, operated by Air Canada. In case your tour itinerary doesn’t include Delhi, you can take any of the flights coming from Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal to Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and several other major cities of the country. It is important to note that these flights operate via destinations like Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, China, USA, UK, etc.
10. Feast your taste buds with multiple Indian dishes
Indian cuisine is as diverse as the topography of the country. The dishes and recipes vary from region to region. No matter how good does it look; make sure that the food is freshly cooked. Indians usually like having spicy and tangy food. That’s why dishes are generally prepared using a lot of spices and condiments. In case you are not habitual to consuming such food, make it clear that you want less spicy food or opt for Jain food, which is easily digestible and less spicy. Avoid having street hood, irrespective of its looks. It may harm your health due to being prepared in the unhygienic surroundings. Don’t get swayed by the taste and refrain from overeating as it might be dangerous to your stomach. Drink only packaged water and avoid drinking tap water.
11. Make a list of the places that you wish to explore
India is a large country, consisting of 7 union territories and 29 states. It is the seventh largest country by area and the second most populous country in the world. So, you just can’t expect to cover it all in the time span of a few days/weeks. If you are short on time and still willing to explore India, opt for the tour itinerary, which lets you travel across only a few destinations as traveling within India takes a lot of time, especially via road due to traffic. Opt for a destination taking into consideration your preferences and tastes. Moreover, some of the best tourist destinations of India include:
- Golden Triangle: This is the most famous tourist circuit of India, including three major cities – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. These three cities are quite equidistant to each other and almost form a shape of an equilateral triangle. All three cities are equally magnificent. That’s why they are together known as the Golden Triangle. By opting for the Golden Triangle Tour, you will be able to visit the major attractions of all the three cities. Besides, you can taste the local dishes in every city. In all, the tour is the best one and serves as a perfect introduction to diverse India.
- Rajasthan: Rajasthan can be aptly perceived as a synonym of royalty. The reason behind the same is the presence of numerous forts, palaces, and castles in Rajasthan. Once upon a time, the princely state used to be reigned by mighty rulers, known as maharajas and the influence of their lifestyles is still evident in the state through the historic edifices and palaces. They were highly passionate about arts, which are well manifested in the architecture of palaces, forts, castles, and temples. The temples and forts can be seen all across the state. Besides these, folk dance and music attract tourists from all over the world. Tourists flock the imperial state to acknowledge the history and experience the culture of India. Some of the best cities of Rajasthan include Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, etc. Rajasthan can please each and every tourist with its bright hues and liveliness.
- Varanasi: Another amusing city in Uttar Pradesh is Varanasi. Located on the banks of holy River Ganges, Varanasi is a holy town. Exemplifying the diversity of India, Varanasi holds great significance in Hinduism as well as in other religions. It is not merely a spiritual city but is also a great part of the country’s history. It can be perceived as the melting point where life and death meet. In Hinduism, it is believed that the one who visits it, gets washed away from all sins. The city has several temples and ghats, which attract a lot of people from all across the world. The evening ceremony of Ganga Aarti on ghats is the major highlight. People visit the city to seek spirituality and attain peace of mind.
- Kerala: Kerala in South India has all that you can ever imagine for having perfect vacations. It is one of the best tropical destinations in India. Kerala can amaze you with languid backwaters, sprawling tea gardens, spectacular art forms, exquisite handicrafts, etc. You can enjoy amidst the best of nature in Kerala. Some of the best tourist destinations of Kerala include Alleppey, Kovalam, Kumarakom, etc. stroll around the palm-lined beaches or enjoy a stay in a houseboat. Moreover, Kerala is the best destination to refresh the mind, body, and soul.
Tours for Ismaili community
If you are a Canadian having faith in Isma’ilism, you can take up the India tour package for Ismaili community. This tour will let you explore jamatkhanas, mosques, shrines, and tombs all across the westernmost Indian state of Gujarat. Moreover, you can interact with people of other sects and get to know about their lifestyle. If Isma’ilism interests you, opt for the specially designed India tour for Ismailis and get enlightened by paying a visit to the religious places.
12. Pack wisely for the India tour
Though you are supposed to pack on the basis of the climate of the destination and the month in which you are traveling, you must not forget to carry some essentials. It is advised to not carry too much but only a few loose-fitted clothes and comfortable bottoms. Make sure your footwear is comfortable as you will be required to walk a lot in India. Always carry a small medical kit having all basic items like insect repellent, sunscreen, adhesive bandage, etc. Also carry a hat, sunglasses, camera, mobile, etc.
13. Take up accommodation as per your wants
Being a huge country, India has all types of accommodations available. You can make a choice depending on your budget and the type of services you wish to avail. In India, you can find low budget hotels as well as five-star hotels and resorts. Always bear in mind that the services provided in the hotel will be dependent on the class of hotel. If you opt for a low-key hotel, you may not get satisfactory service while in five-star properties, you will surely get the best of each and everything. It will be one of the exotic hotel experiences. It is also important to choose a hotel near to the tourist attractions so that you can commute easily.
14. Get acquainted with the modes of transport available in India
Though India possesses the second largest road network, the fourth largest railway network in the world and a big aviation network, traveling within India is an arduous task and the reason behind this is an ever-growing population of the country. You can commute from one place to another by using a bus or taxi via road. The traffic on the Indian roads usually acts as the reason for delays. However, an autorickshaw ride is a must-try thing during the India tour. The auto rickshaw is like a local taxi, which is used for short rides around the city. Prefer trains or flights to road journeys for longer distances.
15. Bear in mind some essential points related to India
- Keep calm and don’t panic at crowded places
- Get a local SIM card with internet access so that you can communicate easily.
- Beware of fraudulent people like unofficial tour guides, etc.
- In case of an emergency, reach out to police at 100, ambulance at 102 and fire at 101.
- Don’t hop around too much in order to visit more destinations. It is better to visit fewer destinations and explore and enjoy more.
- Brush up your negotiation skills as you will need it a lot in Indian markets
- Tip the service providers as per the satisfaction with the service.
- If you desire to drive on the Indian roads, make sure you have an international driving permit.
- Guard your money and valuables properly to avoid pickpocketing.
India is an absolutely spectacular destination and a tour to India will surely be a journey full of wisdom, vision, and insights. Brace up and get ready to undertake the most exciting trip of a lifetime.