varanasi Travel Guide

Nestled in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi is the holiest city in India. It is often believed that the one who visits the city, gets liberated from the cycle of reincarnation. It is also believed that the person who takes a dip in the Ganges River, gets absolved of all the sins. Moreover, the city is also popular for its history and traditions. People from all corners of the world throng the city to visit temples and ghats. The city holds historical as well as spiritual significance. Furthermore, the city is also well-suited for shopaholics and food junkies. In short, the city gives insights into the culture and history of the country to tourists. Here is all the tourist information that you may need about Varanasi.

Explore & Travel varanasi

varanasi Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

  BEST TIME TO VISIT

  • Q.Which is the ideal time to visit Varanasi?
    A.
    Winter months (November to February) are the peak season and the best time to visit.

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  CLOTHES

  • Q.Please mention the type of clothes I should carry to Varanasi
    A.
    Wear light clothing such as cotton dresses in summer. Choose walking shoes or flip-flops. Jackets and warm wear are essential in winter.

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  • Q.What should I wear to the temples?
    A.
    Throughout your trip, wear decent clothing. Some temples like Kashi Vishwanath Temple have a general ritual of wearing saree. You can get them in the temple. Cover their arms and legs before entering.

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  DOMESTIC FLIGHTS

  • Q.Are the domestic flights safe and reasonable?
    A.
    Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport is a public airport, which is closest to Varanasi. It follows the required safety measures. The airlines offer discounts during special occasion.

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  • Q.What is the baggage allowance in the domestic flights?
    A.
    The cabin baggage allowance in Economy Class is 15 kg and carry-on hand baggage is 7 kg. Refer to the airlines’ guideline for more.

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  • Q.Do the domestic airlines run punctually? Are they safe to fly?
    A.
    Yes. The domestic airlines are safe to travel in. They are mostly punctual unless otherwise specified.

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  • Q.Do the domestic airlines offer meals or snacks?
    A.
    Most of the domestic airlines are budget carriers. You can typically get complimentary food in premium economy classes.

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  • Q.How early should I reach the airport counter?
    A.
    The check-in counters close 45 minutes prior to departure. You can opt for web check-in facility. Find out more from the respective airline.

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  ELECTRICITY

  • Q.What power points/plugs/sockets are used in Varanasi?
    A.
    Carrying a universal travel adapter is always useful. Check the label; if it reads "125/250V | 50/60Hz", it can be used all across. Power plugs and sockets are of type C, D and M in India.

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  FAIRS AND FESTIVALS

  • Q.Common festivals to attend in Varanasi.
    A.
    • Makar Sankranti (January)
    • Mahashivratri (Feb or March based on lunar calendar)
    • Shravan Maah ( July and August based on lunar calendar)
    • Dev Diwali or Karthikai Deepam (15th day from Diwali)
    • Holi (March)
    • Buddha Mahotsav (April or May)
    • Ganga Dussehra (June or July)

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  FOOD

  • Q.Can I get specific dietary requirements according to my needs?
    A.
    Yes. Please mention your requirements to our representative at http://www.india-tours.com/.

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  • Q.Are raw fruits or vegetables available in the street?
    A.
    Yes. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are commonly available.

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  • Q.Can I get spicy food?
    A.
    From street foods to the restaurants, you will be spoilt for choices of spicy food.

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  • Q.What about vegetarian food or vegan food?
    A.
    Yes. Being the holy city of the Hindus, you have plenty of options for vegetarian shops. Pure vegan restaurants are less but are available.

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  • Q.Can I get non-veg food items?
    A.
    Yes. Varanasi has a lot to offer in terms of non-veg food to its tourists.

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  • Q.I want kosher food. Is it available?
    A.
    Yes. There are restaurants certified to sell kosher food.

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  • Q.Can I get halal food?
    A.
    Yes.

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  • Q.How about non-spicy European food?
    A.
    There are many international tourists coming in at Varanasi. You will get non-spicy European cuisine restaurants.

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  • Q.Can I find the leading food chains like Pizza Hut, KFC etc.?
    A.
    Yes. Varanasi has most of the leading food chain franchises.

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  GENERAL

  • Q.What are the packing essentials when travelling to India?
    A.
    You can find almost everything in the local stores unless you are looking for a specific brand.
    • Quality spinner suitcase, locks and cable
    • Comfortable sturdy walking shoes
    • Layered clothes (cotton/woollen)
    • Sunscreen, mosquito repellent, power bank,
    • Prescription drugs

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  • Q.Tell me some of the basic etiquettes for visitors to India.
    A.
    Religious Etiquettes: Menstruating women are usually not allowed inside religious places. Covering head is must for Gurudwara or a Mosque. Leather items are not allowed in Jain temples. Don't photograph cremation ceremonies.
    Table Etiquettes: Food is generally eaten with hands. Hindus usually avoid beef. 5%-10% tipping is common in restaurants.
    Greeting: Bow head and fold hands to greet elderly people
    Business Etiquettes: Business meetings in India are slightly less formal than the occidental.

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  • Q.Are the monuments handicapped friendly in Varanasi?
    A.
    Physically challenged people might find it difficult to visit the monuments/ temples of Varanasi. Mostly, they will find it difficult climbing the flight of stairs on the Ghats. Some places, however, offer wheelchairs, disabled-friendly toilets, Braille signage, tactile floors and more.

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  • Q.Is it okay to visit the local villages and schools in and around Varanasi?
    A.
    There are many options of rural tourism that allows going around the local schools and colleges.

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  • Q.Are tourists allowed to give money to beggars or children on the streets in Varanasi?
    A.
    It is not illegal to pay the beggars or children on the street but its best to avoid the panhandlers.

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  • Q.What basic words in Hindi should I know before coming to Varanasi?
    A.
    • Hello – Namaste or Pranam
    • Thank you – Dhanyawad
    • What is your name – Aap ka naam kya hai
    • What’s this – Ye kya hai
    • Can you help me – Kya aap meri madaad karenge

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  • Q.What religions are commonly found in India?
    A.
    Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, and Sikhism are the main religions. But, being a secular country, you may find people of various other religious beliefs.

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  • Q.What kind of toilets can I find here?
    A.
    The traditional squatting pan and the western commode, both the styles are available.

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  • Q.Is India LGBT friendly?
    A.
    LGBT was decriminalised in 2018 but India is a socially traditional country, so http://www.indiatours.com/ can help you choose hotel accommodations accordingly. Also, try not to indulge in physical intimacy publicly.

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  • Q.Can you suggest some of the lesser explored places?
    A.
    In Varanasi, the following are lesser explore:
    • Ramnagar Fort
    • Dhamek Stupa
    • Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum
    • Alamgir Mosque
    • Banaras Hindu University
    In India, you can try unique destinations such as:
    • Gurez Valley, Kashmir
    • Phugtal Gompa, Jammu & Kashmir
    • Mawlynnong, Meghalaya
    • Sandakphu, Darjeeling
    • Chopta, Uttarakhand
    • Kanatal, Uttarakhand
    • Damro, Arunachal Pradesh
    • Kila Raipur, Punjab

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  • Q.Is India safe as a family destination?
    A.
    India is a safe place to travel with your kids and family members. Ask http://www.india-tours.com/ to help make your arrangements accordingly.

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  • Q.How bad is the pollution in Varanasi and India by large?
    A.
    For some, the constant sound pollution might be a troublesome experience while others may find difficulty in the densely populated regions. Air Pollution is about 84.78 (very high) in Varanasi.

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  • Q.Do the locals stare at foreigners?
    A.
    Varanasi and India by large receive the footfall of millions of international tourists. So, it is not a rare experience for the local folks. Unless you are scantily dressed, there will not be many uncomfortable stares.

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  • Q.What are the chances of seeing snake charmers, cows, camels, elephants, bears, in the streets the holy city?
    A.
    Varanasi still holds on a part of the vintage Indian traditions. Generally, they are found in the suburbs or rural areas.

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  • Q.Are there stray animals on the roads?
    A.
    Yes. Dogs, cats, cows, ox are most commonly found in Varanasi.

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  • Q.Can I find tourist police in Varanasi?
    A.
    You can spot the tourist police wearing sky-blue uniforms. But, keep the telephone number of the local police station handy.

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  GUIDES

  • Q.Is there English/ Spanish / French/Italian/ Japanese or Chinese speaking guide in Varanasi?
    A.
    You can contact http://www.india-tours.com/ if you are looking for special linguistic guides. English speaking guides are readily available.

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  • Q.Can I get women guides to travel?
    A.
    Yes. India Tours can arrange women guide as per your requirement.

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  • Q.Does Varanasi have audio guides in its monuments?
    A.
    There are plans to start audio guides in Varanasi for Sarnath museum and in the various Ghats.

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  HEALTH, WELLNESS AND HOSPITALS

  • Q.Can I find good hospitals in Varanasi?
    A.
    There are some excellent multi speciality hospitals in Varanasi.

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  • Q.Can I find Dentistry, Cosmetic Surgery, Oncology, Cardiology, MAS-Laparoscopy, Hair Transplant in Varanasi?
    A.
    The multi-speciality hospitals offer safe, effective and high-class medical treatment. You can get a doctor appointment online.

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  • Q.Can I get medicines for rabies, fever, migrane, diabetes aspirin, dispirin over the counter in Varanasi?
    A.
    Yes. Most of the common medicines are available without a prescription. If you need some specific ones, it is better to carry.

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  • Q.Shall I find any Ayurveda Treatment Centers in Varanasi?
    A.
    You can search for Ayurvedic Treatment Centres in the holy city. They provide pure Ayurvedic therapies and treatments. Book for your slots online if possible.

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  HOTELS

  • Q.Are there international brand hotels in Varanasi?
    A.
    You can find the major international hotel chains in Varanasi. Depending on your choice of amenities, location and budget, http://www.india-tours.com/ can help you book them.

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  • Q.Does Varanasi only have expensive hotels?
    A.
    There are various ranges of hotels, guest houses and hostels available in Varanasi. Find the one that suits your need the most.

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  • Q.What is the standard cost for accommodation?
    A.
    http://www.india-tours.com/ can help you find out the standard rates in the hotels.

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  • Q.Can I stay in old palace, heritage hotels in Varanasi?
    A.
    Yes, you can.

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  • Q.Will I find hygiene and modern amenities in Varanasi?
    A.
    In general, this is a lesser tidy city but the hotels and other accommodations offer bespoke facilities.

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  • Q.How safe are the hotels in Varanasi?
    A.
    Five-star hotels have a surveillance camera for the safety and security of the hotel and the guests. Valid ID proof is required to stay and most of the hotels accept international paying standards. Even the Airbnbs and mid-budget hotels have basic safety in place.

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  • Q.Can a women traveller be safe in Varanasi?
    A.
    Yes, it is safe to travel to Varanasi as a solo female traveller but make sure to take the right precautions as you would take in any other unknown place. It is better to avoid going out alone at night.

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  • Q.Can I find disable-friendly hotels Varanasi?
    A.
    Ask http://www.india-tours.com/ to get the best disabled-friendly Varanasi hotels.

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  • Q.Are there handicapped friendly toilets in hotels?
    A.
    Yes. The hotels with disabled-friendly rooms have the toilets suited for them.

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  • Q.Can I find western toilets in the hotels, restaurants and monuments in Varanasi?
    A.
    Yes.

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  • Q.Till when can I find alcohol in bars?
    A.
    The bars in Varanasi are opened till 11pm.

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  • Q.How to book a hotel in Varanasi?
    A.
    Contact http://www.india-tours.com/ for all your enquiries.

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  INSURANCE

  • Q.Is medical and travel insurance required?
    A.
    There is always a risk of contracting rabies, influenza, malaria, and tuberculosis if you have never been here before. It is wise to get travel insurance.

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  LANGUAGE

  • Q.Can I find local people talking in English?
    A.
    Yes. Otherwise, you can use the Google translator.

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  MONEY AND CREDIT CARDS

  • Q.Can I withdraw foreign currencies from ATM machines?
    A.
    Most of the ATMs in the country accept international debit and credit cards but you can only withdraw Indian rupees.

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  • Q.Where can I exchange the international currencies?
    A.
    You can get it done in airport or sometimes there are provision for the same in the hotels. Bookmyforex has nationwide tie-up with Axis Bank that provides money exchange and remittance service in Delhi and all other major cities of India. Ask4Forex, Thomas Cook, Extravelmoney, CurrencyKart are some of the common places to exchange your currency.

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  • Q.Can I exchange the foreign currencies in banks or hotels in Varanasi?
    A.
    Yes, you can exchange the foreign currencies. You need to present proper Id and other required documents.

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  • Q.Are credit cards accepted in hotels, shops and restaurants?
    A.
    Yes. You can use them but do not disclose the personal details.

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  MONUMENTS

  • Q.Timings of some famous temples in Varanasi.
    A.
    • Kashi Vishwanath Temple (4:00 AM to 11:00 AM) (1:00 PM to 10:00 PM)
    • Annapurna Temple (5:30 AM to 11:00 AM) (1:00 PM to 9:00 PM)
    • Tulsi Manas Mandir Varanasi (5:30 AM to 12:00 AM) (03:30 PM to 9:00 PM)
    • Sankatha Temple (04:00 AM to 11:00 PM)
    • Bharat Mata Mandir (09:30 AM to 08:00 PM)
    • Birla Temple (04:00 AM to 12:00 PM) (01:00 PM to 09:00 PM)
    • Archeological Museum - Closed on Friday

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  • Q.Can I get public conveniences at the monuments?
    A.
    Yes, there are plenty of autos and rickshaws at the temples and monuments.

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  • Q.Can I get wheel chairs at the monuments in Varanasi?
    A.
    Get detailed information about the various monuments through http://www.india-tours.com/.

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  MOVING AROUND

  • Q.Which is the best way to travel in Varanasi?
    A.
    Autos and rickshaws are the most economical ways to travel. App-based cabs and private cars are expensive but comfortable option.

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  • Q.Shall I rent a self drive car in Varanasi?
    A.
    You can opt for car rentals in Varanasi with a trained chauffeur. Varanasi is a much-huddled city, it is better to leave the tension of driving to an experienced driver.

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  NIGHT LIFE

  • Q.Is there any nightlife in Varanasi?
    A.
    Being a non-metro city, there is not much provision for nightlife. Sometimes, however, the city hosts international classical or theatre programmes.

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  PHOTOGRAPHY

  • Q.Is photography allowed in public places?
    A.
    Mostly yes. There are clear signs of restriction/prohibition of photography in certain places, which if not obeyed are subjected to a penalty. Also, do not photograph the process of cremation.

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  RELIGIOUS PLACES

  • Q.Suggest some famous churches, mosques and temples in Varanasi.
    A.
    Churches:
    • St. Mary's Church
    • St. Thomas Church, Godowlia
    • Roman Catholic Diocese
    • St. Francis of Assisi
    • St. John the Baptist
    Mosques:
    • Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi
    • Alamgir Mosque in Varanasi
    • Adhai Kangra Masjid
    • Ganje Shahida Mosque
    Temples
    • Kashi Vishwanath Mandir
    • Kaal Bhairav Mandir
    • Durga Kund Mandir
    • Maa Annapurna Mandir
    • Sankat Mochan Hanuman Mandir
    • Nepali Hindu Temple
    • Vishalakshi Mandir

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  • Q.Is there any dress code to maintain in religious places?
    A.
    When visiting religious sites, avoid dresses with short sleeves and shorts and wear dresses that cover your arms and knees. It is better to carry a scarf/ stole in case you need to cover your head for an unplanned temple / masjid visit.

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  • Q.Can foreign tourists visit the religious places?
    A.
    Yes. It will be otherwise mentioned if there are any restrictions.

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  SAFETY

  • Q.Is Varanasi safe for single women or a girl or a family to travel?
    A.
    Yes. But, it is better to remain alert when roaming in the local areas or at the night time to avoid any undue mishaps.

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  • Q.Is it okay to snap selfie with strangers, specially for women traveller?
    A.
    For anywhere in the world, it is unwise to be snapped with strangers. Even if the person seems amicable, a polite no always works.

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  • Q.Shall I go out at night with the strangers?
    A.
    Unless you are completely aware of the place and situation, avoid going out with unknown people. Even if you are in a group, try to avoid going out at night.

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  SHOPPING

  • Q.What is the best thing to buy in Varanasi?
    A.
    The Holy Water of Ganga, Banarasi Silk Saris, Crystal and Stone Shivalinga, Gulabi Minakari, Glass Beads, Rudraksha Mala, Wooden Toys and Flutes are some of the common items to buy.

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  • Q.Is haggling allowed?
    A.
    Yes. It’s fun to bargain and get things half the price. But make sure you do not compromise the quality too much in the run for saving a couple of bucks.

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  • Q.Can I get cigarettes or cigars or tobacco easily here?
    A.
    Smoking in public places was prohibited all across the nation in 2008. However, you can find shops selling tobacco at almost all grocery and roadside stalls.

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  • Q.Is it okay to visit the tourist shop suggested by the driver?
    A.
    Yes, but you can also have a look at the other stores to find out other varieties and prices.

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  • Q.Can you give us some suggestion what to buy?
    A.
    Absolutely. Get in touch with the representatives of http://www.india-tours.com/ to help you out with any queries you might have.

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  • Q.Are the shops genuine?
    A.
    Government and cooperative shops are the most genuine. If you are buying from the local weavers and artisans, you can get items at cheaper prices. Be careful while buying from the roadside stalls.

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  TELEPHONE AND MOBILE/SIM CARDS

  • Q.Can I get SIM cards easily?
    A.
    Yes. There are many cellular connections available and you can choose from the prepaid/postpaid plans.

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  THINGS TO DO

  • Q.Are tourists allowed in the local market?
    A.
    Yes. During the normal hours, you can get the pulse of this amazingly huddled city at its local market.

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  • Q.Are there culinary classes in Varanasi that tourists can attend?
    A.
    http://www.india-tours.com/ can arrange for such special provisions should you have any.

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  • Q.Are there Yoga classes or naturopathy/wellness/ayurveda therapies in Varanasi?
    A.
    Yes. You can find them online or India tours is always there to help you.

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  • Q.Main things to do in Varanasi.
    A.
    There’s plenty of scope for religious tours, heritage sight seeing, cultural tours, medical tourism, ayurvedic tourism and even adventure travel. Find your favourite niche and get in touch with India Tours at https://www.india-tours.com/ to arrange the perfect package.

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  • Q.We want to visit some old age homes and NGOs. Is it possible?
    A.
    Yes. Charity or aid tourism and voluntourism can be arranged by https://www.india-tours.com/.

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  • Q.Are there classes for classical dance in Varanasi?
    A.
    Yes.

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  TIPPING

  • Q.How much shall we tip the waiter or driver or guide or the airport representative?
    A.
    5 – 10% of tipping is common in the city. There are no said rules as such.

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  VACCINATIONS

  • Q.Major vaccinations I must take before travelling to Varanasi.
    A.
    The common courses or boosters usually advised for visitors travelling to Varanasi includes Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, and Typhoid. Selective vaccines of Cholera and Japanese Encephalitis is advised for individuals.

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  • Q.Which vaccinations are not necessary but recommended before reaching Varanasi?
    A.
    Oral polio vaccines (OPV), Typhoid vaccine, Varicella vaccine, Yellow fever (YF) vaccine are some of the recommended vaccines.

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  • Q.Which medicines are necessary to carry when travelling to Varanasi?
    A.
    Analgesic tablets, Antihistamine tablets, Cold and flu tablets, Cough Medicine, Motion sickness tablets, Diarrhoea Medicine, Antacid, Antiseptic Solution and Ointment are some of the common tablets you can carry.

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  VISA

  • Q.Is E visa accepted?
    A.
    Yes. India accepts E visa from 167 countries and territories such as the US, UK, European Union, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Philippines and more.

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  • Q.What is the validity of E-Visa here?
    A.
    A month from the date of issue.

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  WATER AND DRINKS

  • Q.Is the bottled water safe to drink?
    A.
    Mineral water bottles are safe to drink. Most tourists have them.

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  • Q.Is it safe to drink the tap water here?
    A.
    Try to find the taps marked as ‘drinking water’.

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  • Q.Are bottled waters available?
    A.
    Yes, you can find distilled bottle water.

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  • Q.Is tap water used to brush teeth?
    A.
    Yes. Most commonly, tap water is used to freshen up.

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  • Q.Is alcohol available?
    A.
    Wine and beer shops are available discreetly around the city. Midrange and top-end hotels serve alcohol.

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  • Q.Are beverages like tea and coffee safe to drink here?
    A.
    Yes. Being one of the most popular tourist spots in India, there are many tea – coffee stalls across the city. You can also find cafes that serve tea and coffee.

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  • Q.Can we get fresh milk in Varanasi?
    A.
    Yes, you can get fresh milk. Lassi is a very common street food delicacy and you can get it everywhere around the city. They are safe to drink.

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  WEATHER

  • Q.When is the peak season in Varanasi?
    A.
    November to February is the best months to visit this holy city.

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  • Q.General information on weather in Varanasi.
    A.
    Varanasi enjoys a mild and generally warm and temperate climate. The average annual temperature is 26.1 °C with 998 mm of average rainfall. It gets fairly cold during the winters when the average low temperature is around 5°C.

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  • Q.Which are the monsoon months in Varanasi?
    A.
    As in the rest of India, Varanasi receives rainfall from July to September.

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  • Q.How is the monsoon in Varanasi?
    A.
    July to September is the official time for the monsoons. Being located on a riverbank, Varanasi sometimes receives more than the national average amount of rainfall.

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