3 changes for the Online-Visa for India

 

The indian government has further liberalised its visa regime aimed at bringing more tourists and business travellers to the country. The new changes came to effect on 1st April 2017. No it is not an april fool 😉 Here are the 3 most important changes regarding the Online-Visa.

 

With the e-Visa it is even easier getting to see the Taj.

 

1. 2 new Visa-categories for travelers

With effect from April 1, e-visa has been sub-divided into 3 categories: e-tourist visa, e-business visa and e-medical visa. Till now, e-visa was only for tourists

 

2. More nationalities & more (air-)ports

E-visa facility has been extended to nationals of 161 countries for entry through 24 airports (Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bagdogra, Bengaluru, Calicut, Chennai, Chandigarh,Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum & Varanasi). and three ports: Cochin, Goa and Mangalore.

 

3. More time for application & longer duration

The window for application under e-visa scheme has been increased from 30 days to 120 days and duration of stay on e-visa has been increased from 30 days to 60 days with double entry on e-tourist and e-business visa and triple entry on e-medical visa.

 

So what’s keeping you from going to India? Now it is even easier. Go to application for your e-visa: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html




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“Are you going alone to India? But you’re a woman! That’s too dangerous!!” Too often have I heard these words – from best friends to work colleagues or even my own family doctor. In the meantime, I have already traveled seven times to India. Sometimes accompanied by friends, but very often alone. And I have had almost exclusively good experiences.

by Ulli Felber

 

Through India as a woman: dream destination or danger zone?

Since I have developed such a close relationship with India, the negative coverage of this unique country makes me quite sad. At the same time, it is good that all these terrible incidents were and are frequently and thoroughly reported in the media, because that has set things in motion – and there’s still a lot to be done. Rape is a horrible crime that must be punished – everywhere in the world.

The vast majority of my own personal experiences in India have been good or very good. Even more so: I have enjoyed many beautiful and surprising moments. Often, people helped me spontaneously – with honorable intentions, without someone being intrusive. The few dangerous situations in which I found myself in could have been avoided, if at the time I had been already following these tips:

My 10 Tips for women travelling alone in India

  1. Dress with moderation
    In India, shoulders, cleavage and knees are considered particularly erotic, as is any sort of tight clothing. There are some differences depending on the region, too. For example, touristy Goa is relatively relaxed in this aspect, while the opposite is true for the conservative and strict Muslim region of Kashmir. In principle, however, and this applies to all regions, a moderate dress is fashionable – something wide and airy that keeps your shoulders and knees covered. Tank tops, wide necklines, leggings (except when combined with dresses or skirts), shorts and hot pants are complete no-gos. Note: This also applies to yoga classes! (Even when the courageous instructor is used to it.)

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Dressing moderately prevents many awkward situations. Here pictured: Ulli Felber.

  1. Just in case: avoid eye contact
    Eye contact is a very big deal in India. Strangers can start behaving in an uncomfortably friendly way (or worse, a threatening or confrontational one) after locking eyes for just a second. Whoever wants to be left alone – by pushy taxi drivers, random strangers or inquisitive (if very dear) Indian extended families – must learn to look away quickly. This is specially recommended in areas where you do not feel comfortable, or in the evening hours. In any case, never lose sight of the situation!

 

  1. Girls only!
    In recent years a lot has been done to specifically improve the quality of life of women in India… or at least in its major cities. There are taxis that are only for women – and have also exclusively female drivers (for example, in Delhi: “Meru EVE”). At metro stations, there are sections that are reserved for women, and the trains themselves have cars and compartments destined only to women. The same applies to buses. Wherever you may have to go through a security control (Airport, Train Station, museums, shopping centers, etc.) there is always a separate line for women and a female security officer performing the check.

 

  1. Be smart
    Travelling alone as a woman, one is naturally more exposed to danger than when in a group – no matter where in the world. Common sense goes a long way in many situations:
    • Ideally, always research previously in which areas you will be travelling.
    • Do not wander alone in poor neighborhoods and rural areas, especially at night.
    • When riding taxis alone, try to do it during daytime.
    • When on the (night) train, best to be seated next to a local, nice family.
    • Do not fall for the lies of illegal traders, transport pirates and other opportunists that claim to offer supposedly better accommodation at train stations and airports.

 

  1. Fake wedding ring
    Those women who’d like to have peace and quiet to travel should purchase a false wedding ring. A smaller, cheap gold ring can be worth a lot! Once in India, you will be asked soon enough, and very frequently, by an endless list of suitors of all ages, eager to become husbands. To throw water on such unwanted propositions, just show your ring and tell briefly of your beloved husband at home… maybe add a few children to your story too, just in case ;-). Optionally, you can also say that your husband is already on the way “here”, etc. Especially when a woman has reached the 30-year-old-limit and is “still” travelling alone, a false wedding ring can do wonders in keeping unwanted attention away – like pityful looks at you or, on the other side, well intentioned Indian families who try to match you with a relative.

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Any woman travelling alone on the train is best suited next to a family. That can also be fun!

  1. Good Story
    For emergencies, a good story can always be a good deterrent. Depending on the situation: the husband is coming soon to…; the father has a high position in the government; etc. Sounds silly, but it can have a big impact.

 

  1. Always with you
    For anybody that doesn’t want to travel without her trustworthy pepper spray on the handbag: this great defense tool is cheap and easy to find in many Indian drugstores.

 

  1. Don’t touch me!
    From time to time one hears of travelling women that they were groped by anonymous men in the thick of a busy street. Just to embarrass this disgusting kind of man, you should scream loudly: “Do not touch me!” As my Indian friends recommend, the first step should be just verbal and without personal insults. For an Indian, this simple call to attention is incredibly embarrassing and they will usually disappear in the blink of an eye.

 

  1. Be calm, firm and explicit
    In extremes cases, when things go really bad, this has helped me: first, calmly but very firmly express your discomfort and anger – without being rude. Even better, follow up (always keeping calm and firm) with an oversized side-dish of lies (the best ones always include mentioning some important or famous character that we know personally!). It’s worth to try… In my case, it has always worked out.

 

  1. Shout it out loud
    When all else fails: leash out and defend yourself vociferously. Take it all out. Just don’t show any fear! Indian men don’t expect such a reaction and can be easily intimidated. But ATTENTION: Here I speak from personal experience. This is not a universal panacea and can also sometimes have the opposite reaction.

 

To summarize: Travel smart. I feel that India is not more dangerous than other places that I have visited. Naturally, something can always happen. But for me India was and remains as worthy destination! And whoever pays attention, respects the local ethos and generally travels with open eyes and an open heart, will without question enjoy an indescribably great country and many beautiful experiences.

 

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Ladakh is much safer for women than most other regions of India.

 

Alone as woman in Ladakh
Alone in Ladakh as a woman: Ladakh is culturally very different from the rest of India – here it is much safer for a woman to travel alone, and one hardly sees herself exposed to dangerous situations.

WITH US YOU ARE ALWAYS SAFE
Whoever doesn’t want to travel alone in India despite the advice from Ulli Felber, is in good hands with us. We know our drivers, guides and all other staff. And if you travel in a group, you are even safer: to our group tours!

 




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They pull at your shirt, look at you with big supplicant eyes, one open hand outstretched, the other pointing to their mouth while they repeat the words “Chapati! Chapati! Madam, please!”. It hurts when children who have not even reached school age stand on the street, filthy and half naked, and ask you for money with their large dark eyes and small empty stomachs. You don’t have to be a parent to feel the desire to help these poor little ones. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t automatically reach for your wallet and give them what they ask for. Here we will tell you why.

 

India is one of those states that in spite of a rapid economic growth still struggles with inequality, and hasn’t been able to find a solution to overspread poverty and the ancient tradition of begging. At the same time that a very small group of the population see their life quality soar along the official GDP number, there is a vast multitude of people who do not benefit from it at all.

 

What you should know about begging in India

We don’t want to dismiss the issue of poverty. It exists, it is bad, and it must be fought. But almsgiving is not the way to end poverty; in fact, it just makes clearer the difference between the rich and the poor.

Behind almost all beggars hide well organized gangs. To be allowed to beg in a given territory, beggars have to give a big part of their earnings to the gang leaders. Of course, you are hardly aware of this. Often the beggars are also crippled, blind or noticeably sick. There are even those who ask with open, festering wounds, and who clearly need the money for medical care. But too often are these wounds self-inflicted or caused by a gang leader to appeal to the tourist’s pity and collect a bigger booty.

 

(c) Josef Reifenauer

It is really hard not to give anything to the begging children. (c) Josef Reifenauer

It is also common to find women with (almost always sleeping) babies, begging for money so they can feed them. You should know that these babies are often “rented” and, even worse, sedated with drugs or alcohol. This keeps them quiet and still but evidently has harmful and irreversible consequences.

 

When you give money, you keep the system running

Beggars are always where the tourists are. They know how to appeal to your conscience and even if you manage not to give, you’ll somehow feel that there is something to be done. But what happens when every tourist gives every beggar something? Begging becomes an even more lucrative source of income, the big bosses behind the curtains get richer and bring more beggars into the scheme, to generate still greater profits.

So what to do?

  1. Never give money to the beggars. And look out for some really ingenious setups. For example, some “mothers” will ask you to buy formula or milk for their hungry babies at a nearby shop. What should one do, but to give them what they need? BUT the woman is actually working with the business owner: the money will be divided between them, and the milk will remain in the shop.
  2. Support local NGOs that try to keep the kids off the streets. This is sustainable and brings so much more than handing them 10 or 20 rupees. (At the end of this post you’ll find a few links to NGOs working with child beggars)
  3. If you still want to give something, then it should be food that you already bought, or even some of your time (this might sound ridiculous, but for a child who begs day after day, a few friendly words or a cool trick can make a world of difference).

 

Don’t make beggars out of children

In many places it’s also possible to find children who aren’t poor nor hungry and are begging just for fun. They have learned that tourists like to give candies or other small gifts (pens, etc.) indiscriminately. We understand that this is intended as a nice simple gesture, but it is also teaching the children that begging works. Many will turn their backs to school and instead run to the streets to follow the wealthy westerners, cheekily yelling “one pen”, “one chocolate”, “one bonbon” or even “one rupee”.

Gifts are ok, but take care of giving them only to people for whom you also show respect: when you are drinking tea with a peasant family, you can give a small present to the children of the house, as a gesture of gratitude. A planned visit to a school is also a good opportunity to do this.

 

 

Ladakh: Imported beggars

(c) Markus Brixle

Attractions draw in not just tourists, but also beggars. (c) Markus Brixle

At the beginning of every tourist season, and for many years now, several organized gangs of beggars are brought to Ladakh (sometimes even on an airplane!!!). These mostly establish their place of “work” in Leh or at the entrance to the most famous tourist sites. At the end of the season they are transported to some other lucrative place to continue their neverending begging. Ladakh itself has almost no local beggars; no one in Ladakh lives on the street. Please don’t give money to any beggars in Ladakh! As hard as it sounds, these poor people are not ladakhi and are usually brought here by greedy immoral gang leaders to profit on the good will and naivety of the tourists.

Sustainable help
The following NGOs have made it their goal to give begging children a better future:




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It soars 8586 meters high: the Kangchenjunga. The third highest mountain in the world, the highest peak of Sikkim and India, and, since part of it lies on its territory, the second highest mountain in Nepal. There are so many different ways to write its name: Khangchendzonga (with or without “h”) in the original, Kangchenjunga when translated to English, or simply Kantsch (in German), as it’s commonly known by the more regular mountaineers. But the mountain is much more than just numbers, rankings and different spellings.

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Mighty Khanchendzonga

Mountain of treasures

Kangchenjunga translates as something like “the 5 treasures of God” – and with its 5 symbolic peaks this mighty giant of the Himalayas is more than just a mountain. The inhabitants of Sikkim believe that in these peaks five treasures are hidden: gold, silver, gems, grain and sacred scriptures. The Sikkimese believe, like most Himalayan people, in guardian spirits and deities who roam the mountains. Dzonga is the most important mountain spirit of Sikkim, and his throne is precisely the Khanchendzonga, where he sits and looks down over Sikkim and its people. Others swear that the Dzonga were (or are?) really Yeti, and it is not hard to find local stories, third-hand testimonies and written documents about the existence of these snow creatures, especially in the region around the Khanchendzonga.

Expeditions to the sacred mountain

The Khangchendzonga was climbed for the first time by Joe Brown and George Band (both part of a British expedition) on May 25th, 1955. Following the request of the Chogyal (King of Sikkim), who didn’t want to see the honor of the mountain stolen and lose the protection of the god Dzonga, they stopped short of the actual summit. Since then, this tradition has become the norm, and all expeditions end just a bit before the mountain’s top. At the moment, the Khangchendzonga can be climbed only on the Nepalese side; the Indians allow no climbing expeditions.

Sikkim (c) Roland Amon

(c) Roland Amon

Nevertheless, one can at least hike to the foot and/or the base camp of the mighty mountain giant. For this there are several access options:

  • Bakhim – Dzongri – Thangshing – Samuteng – Goechala
  • Thangsing – Lam Pokhari – Kasturi Orar – Lapdong – Tashiding
  • Yuksom – Tshoka – Dzongri
  • Dzongri Basislager – Rathong – Khangerteng
  • Lucanes Jakchen – Yabuk – Rest camp – Green lake
  • Lachen – Thangsu – Muguthang – Thay La – Khyoksa La – Rest Camp – Green Lake

But even those who just want to admire the mighty mountain from a distance can (and will) feel rewarded, because there are several places in Darjeeling, Pelling, Sandakhphu and Rinchenpong that offer fantastic views of the Khanchendzonga. Good photography equipment is here always a good investment!

Our Advice
Anyone who wants to enjoy a good mountain view should definitely arrive in autumn/winter, the season of clear skies. In spring, the view is not so good.

Check out our tour Sikkim in Wanderschuhen – this route focuses strongly on the Khanchendzonga.

 

This tour could be also interesting for you

Sikkim & Dzongri-Trek: In the shadow of the mountaingod
Dzongri-Trek to Goeche La; impressive trekking in the shadow of the Khanchendzonga; max. 10 participants

Date: 11.-27. November 2016
Price: 1.930 EUR




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Many tourists travel with a bad conscience and think that travel, in general, brings more harm than good. It destroys the environment, the traditions and the culture of the host…  And yet they travel, hoping to be the exception.

Every traveler leaves traces. Every step does, even at home. It is the nature of a step to leave a footprint. But it is up to us to decide what shoes to wear and how to act. If we put the shoes with spikes on, and trample carelessly through the neighborhood, the footprints will be very different to those we would leave while walking softly with leather slippers. The choice is yours!

There are several arguments for staying home. Let’s take a closer look to some of them:

Argument 1: Tourists destroy traditions

Tourism is hastily blamed when mobile phones, televisions and Co. suddenly appear in formerly idyllic places, changing or downright replacing old traditions and outdated ways of communication. Let’s take Ladakh: How easily is the tourist made responsible for the way in which, nowadays, the local girls and boys prefer to don jeans instead their traditional Gonchas, or the monks ride colorful mopeds, take selfies with their smartphones, and would rather look at the world through trendy Ray Bans than from a Buddhist perspective. It is quite obvious that things have changed, and that today’s Ladakh is very different from that of the 70s. But isn’t that true for the whole world? Many cultures have also changed, sometimes radically so, without the intervention of tourists. In Austria, with the exception of special holidays and festivals, people no longer wear Lederhosen and Dirndl or go around yodeling. Therefore, we claim here that Ladakh would have changed even without tourism, because no region of the world is completely secluded from the rest. Even centuries ago, during the apogee of the Silk Road trading routes, it was practically impossible to remain completely isolated and avoid intercultural exchange. And so it is now that every corner of the Global Village is just a mouse click or a touch-screen tap away.

On the contrary, we say: Tourists are strongly interested in ancient cultures and traditions, and so their interest promotes and revives old customs and rituals, bringing new life to what would otherwise, maybe, be lost to the local youth.

Gochak – a buddhist ritual

 

Argument 2: Tourism destroys the environment

Yes, they do exist: the littering-prone tourists who leave garbage everywhere and do more harm than good. That is undeniable. Let’s use Ladakh again as an example. Leh has become a “big” city thanks to tourism, hotels and guest houses sprouting all around like mushrooms, with barely a thought given to sustainability and environmental impact.

And yes, the solar energy hot water system has taken roots, plastic bags are banned, and the sewage network is growing steadily, but there are still many shortcomings and a general disregard (mostly ignorance-fueled) for environmental protection. But let’s see more closely! Who throws carelessly his garbage away? Most waste is naturally caused by the Ladakhi and the Indian guests themselves, and cutting tourism completely would have a negligible effect on the problem. In societies such as India, in which just a few years ago non-biodegradable trash was basically unknown and then, suddenly, faced a sudden invasion of plastic packaged goods, you have to start at school… just as we did back in the 80s. Subject: Environmental awareness. Those who don’t see the problem, will continue to throw plastic bottles carelessly out of the car window, or leave chips bags everywhere for the wind to lift up and carry away. Also on the trekking routes, seldom are the European and American tourists the ones leaving their trash behind – rather, it is the accompanying trekking crew that is to blame, always reluctant to bother to collect the garbage and bring it back to Leh.

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Trekking in Ladakh (c) Roland Amon

And again, just like we said about the local traditions: it is usually the (Western) tourist that demands an ecologically gentler way of life, and thus, many local agencies and administrations are forced to make a change.

 

Argument 3: tourists have no respect for the hosts of their travel destination

Constantly putting their monstrous camera lenses in the face of their photo subjects, sitting on the tables of the praying monks, speaking disparagingly of their hosts, repeatingly disrespecting the values ​​and traditions of the country they are visiting: this is the 3rd category of tourists in our prejudice-list. We have seen (and silently condemned) many. And we have also dealt with people expelled of their staying place, because they have simply gone too far. Often, the transgressor isn’t even aware of what rule or norm he or she has broken. That’s why it is so important to inform yourself beforehand. We always recommend to put yourself in place of the people visited. What wouldn’t I like if it happened in my own home? Would I enjoy someone entering my garden and taking a close-up picture of me? Would I feel happy if a horde of loud, fast-clicking people would disturb my herd, drive my clients away or interrupt the Morning Prayer while scurrying from one corner to another?
For more about respecting localtraditions in Ladakh, read: 10 rules forLadakh

Leh (c) Roland Amon

 

There are many arguments against it, but like so many things in life, tourism has two sides. It is important that all parts of the golden triangle (the guest/traveler, the host/local, and the tour operator/organizer), find a common solution as balanced as possible, giving everyone what they want, while respecting what they need.

 

So put your light shoes on and watch your step – we’re together in this!




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News: India declares 500 and 1000 rupee notes worthless
The Indian government withdrew all 500 and 1,000 rupee notes on 09th november 2016, essentially leaving millions of people with invalid cash in their wallets. The move is designed to combat corruption and the black money economy. The old notes can be exchanged for cash or deposited into accounts at banks and some post offices in India until Friday December 30. Customers can exchange any number of notes but will only receive up to 4,000 rupees in cash. Any value above this won’t be issued in cash – it’ll be paid into a bank account.

Instead of the old notes Indian government issued brand new bank notes of 500 and 2,000 rupee denominations.

neu-wertlos-rupie-eng

For your planned travel this will be of not much effect. The new notes will be soon available. But please be aware and check the notes you are getting to avoid getting invalid old ones. If you still have old notes at home you better travel quickly to india or check within your country if there is a possibility to change it there. Elsewise you can burn them as they will be worth nothing. As at 11.11.2016

 

Whoever goes on a trip also needs money. Even as the most frugal backpacker you still have to pay for various things, from food and accommodation to souvenirs and tips. But how much is appropriate? How much money should you plan on spending? How much should you take in cash? When and where can you pay with credit or debit card? Many of the questions you should ask yourself before traveling to India.

The first thing to consider is the manner in which you will travel. Are you on your own, focusing on one issue at a time, taking care of things on site as they happen? Or do you have a trip already booked and planned from home? Both ways have its advantages: the backpacker can often (but not always) arrange cheaper accommodation – rooms are generally cheaper if you negotiate locally and point out to the owner that a cheap room is better than an empty one. On the other hand, the tourist who has booked in advance, if at a higher cost, doesn’t have to waste time wandering from hostel to hostel looking for a room to spend the night. At the same time, arranging things locally usually means spending a little more money with small things, because booked tours usually include everything from airport transfers to hotel breakfasts (please always read thoroughly the services provided!).

 

Cash or card?

We would advise you to rely on both. Take some cash with you for emergency cases or spontaneous purchases, but don’t leave your credit card at home, because now most businesses in big cities accept payments with it, and also there are ATMs everywhere. Attention however when retrieving money from an ATM, especially with a debit (instead of a credit) card: normally it will be accepted in any bank, including India and other non-member countries, but there can be extra fees and withdrawal limits. The daily limit for withdrawals amounts generally to 20,000 rupees, but some banks allow a maximum of 10,000 rupees per ATM use … so you’d have to make two withdrawals of 10,000 each. In any case, like in every place on Earth, machines sometimes fail, so a little cash is always good.

Rupees can’t be changed abroad, so you must always enter the country with foreign currency. However, it is no longer necessary to carry US dollars: the Euro is often taken anywhere. Of course the British Pound and even the Swiss franc are popular currencies!

Traveler’s checks have the advantage that you have a certain degree of security in case you lose your wallet, so this is an option to be considered.

A note on credit cards: in the larger cities you can often also pay directly with credit card – but for traveling to Ladakh or other remote regions of India one may very well leave the plastic currency at home.

IMG_7139 (1280x853)

 

Daily expenses: 100, 1000, 10,000? How much money do I need?

We are often asked by our guests how much extra money they should bring, per day. Our travels usually consider, for the big cities, just breakfast or half pension; but anywhere else (small towns, rural areas, etc) a full pension is expected. So how much money should be calculated for food, when some important meals are not included in the reservation? This is a difficult question, because it is highly variable.

Do you eat meat, or are you a vegetarian? Do you usually drink alcohol when you eat? Do you enjoy eating at a local Dhaba, or do you prefer a chic restaurant in Hauz Khas in Delhi? If you eat locally and simple vegetarian, even 100 rupees are enough. But for those who prefer to go to restaurants that “promise a more hygienic” preparation, 100 rupees will be too short. Whoever wants to eat meat in such restaurants should expect to spend at least 250 rupees. You want a beer with that? Then the bill quickly raises to 500 rupees (alcohol is generally very expensive in India!). If the plan is letting oneself go and enjoy the experience at a trendy restaurant in Delhi or any other big city, the budget, including drinks, shouldn’t be less than about 1,000 rupees. As you can see, there is a wide range: 100-1,000 rupees / meal / person. But we just want you to get a taste (pun intended) of what to expect when paying for food in India. Likely, you will also have a coffee with a piece of cake at the end, so add some rupees to the sum. As a tip you should give as much (relatively) as you are used to do at home (for example, if the bill makes 370 rupees, leave 400 rupees).

 

Souvenirs, Souvenirs

Well, that’s the other thing. And even more difficult than the food question! So, what do you want to bring home? A silk carpet? A real Pashmina? Or just a few prayer flags or a small wooden elephant? Sure, you can find enough cheap souvenirs, but also at least as many luxury items that (sometimes) are also worth the money. And one thing to remember: bargaining is almost always a must – because the price can quickly drop to a half (or even less) of the originally stated. But I said “almost always” for a reason – Ladakhi sellers for example often do not listen to reason and stay with their fixed prices, no matter how high they could be.

Tipping etiquette

And the question of all questions concerning the money is: the tip. How much should you give? What is appropriate? What’s too little? What too much? Our experience over the years has led us to recommend, for trekking / tour packages (mostly in Ladakh), a tip of 4-6 Eur per guest per day (4-6€/guest/day). This is an average and can (and should) of course vary, because ultimately the amount to tip depends on the performance of the team. That is also the reason why we did not include tip expenditure in the tour price. Where else is the incentive for a particularly good performance?

The tip should be given to the team members at the end of the travel / trekking journey – don’t give it all to the guide and hope that he distributes the tip fairly (which he would probably do, we are not insinuating the opposite). If everybody in the group had a similarly good performance, the tip is to be divided according to the team hierarchy – the guide is always at the highest, followed by the cook, then the helpers and the porters/horse men.

For examples of how to distribute the tip, you can check the entry “What about the tip? Does anybody expect anything? How much?” in our FAQ section.

In many hotels, many employees expect a tip for every service. To avoid a daily endless whipping out of 10-rupee notes, you can also point out friendly that you will leave the tip at the end of your stay, in the tip box on the front desk (in this way the money will also reach all those who work “behind the curtains”, eg. the kitchen staff).

 

IMG_0183

 

How, when and where to change?

The best exchange rate is always found in banks, but the opening times are often very unfavorable (from 10:00 to 16:00, minus lunchbreak) – exactly when you’re most probably traveling. Therefore you won’t visit them often. It is worth to compare a few money exchange offices before taking a decision, as prices often vary greatly. Be aware of moneychangers that promise a good rate at first glance, but then pile charge after charge until the end result is ridiculously high. A tip: do not change your money at the airport in Delhi, or do so with only very small amounts – the exchange rates are terrible there and several exchange offices earn a fortune with their fees. It’s much better to get a few rupees with your card directly from the ATM.

And when changing money, remember always to ask for a few notes of small denomination – especially if you intend to spend a long time away from larger cities – because a rural shop owner on the countryside may not have change for your 1,000-rupee note when you just want to buy a small bottle of water!

Last but not least: 1 EUR = about 70 rupees (as of November 2016)