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Mark asks…

I am from the U.S., do I need visa or passport to travel to India? Where can I get one?

I intend to travel to India but I would like to know whether I need a passport or visa to travel. How long does it take to get one and where do I get it from? I am from the U.S. and I am coming back, it’s only for maybe a month or two that I want to stay in India. I do not have any relatives but I would like to know the country & it’s people. I have no idea where I’m going to stay meanwhile or what to do there. I hope to visit historic sites but I need to do some research. If anybody has any advise please feel free to give. Where is the cheapest place to stay & eat. I have a really low budget, maybe about a thousand dollars to work with for a whole month. Is that more than enough? I kind of plan to backpack it through India & maybe some local places. Do they frown on backpackers? Can I get by on english & spanish or do I have to learn the dialect? I am completely clueless but really wish to visit this beautiful place. Thanks in advance.

Best Answer:

Yes, you need a passport and visa to travel to India. I’m assuming you already have US passport (if not, apply at any local post office, it takes only 2-3 weeks). For Indian visa, go to the following site of Indian Embassy in US: . There you can download forms and send to the applicable Indian consulate (depending on the US state of your residence).

Consulate General of India – New York Homepage:
(Consular Jurisdiction: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virgin Islands)

Consulate General of India – San Francisco Homepage:
(Consular Jurisdiction: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming)

Consulate General of India – Chicago Homepage:
(Consular Jurisdiction: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin)

Consulate General of India – Houston Homepage:
(Consular Jurisdiction: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas)

“Applications received at the counter between 9.30 a.m. And 12.30 p.m. Are normally processed the same day and serviced documents can be collected from the counter between 4.30 p.m. And 5.30 p.m. Applications sent in mail will normally take about 5 working/business days to process from the date of receipt in the Embassy.”

Tourist visa is valid for 6 months to 10 years. Ten (10) year visa is available only to US citizens under a bilateral arrangement. Irrespective of the duration of validity of visa, on each visit maximum period of stay in India is limited to 6 months (180 days). Multiple entry visas are given.

The above website will also provide you the information regarding the documentation and fee that need to accompany your visa application.

Where you want to stay, depends on your interests and likings. Since you mentioned “historic sites”, the best place to visit will be Rajasthan (Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaiselmair, Udaipur, Bikaner). You can find some information on the following websites:

If you are interested in hiking/rafting etc, you may want to go to Rishikesh. Considered the Yoga capital of the world it is a quiet town surrounded by hills on three sides. Starting point for Badrinath, Kedarnath and Gangotri and for treks and white water rafting.

For scenic valleys in Himalayas, you may want to visit Simla, kullu, Manali (in Himachal Pradesh) or Nainital (in Uttar pradesh) or Darjeling, Sikkim (Northeast India). These are all very beautiful hill stations.

For visiting above places, best city to fly from US will be new Delhi. From New delhi, you can also visit Agra for Taj Mahal. It’s only 4 hours drive from new Delhi.

If you want to go to coastal area, Goa is the best place.:

For Goa, best place to fly from US will be Mumbai(Bombay).

US$1000-1200, should be OK for a month or so if you are going to be bakpacking. No, Indians don’t frown on backpackers and I feel it will be the best way to see Indian culture closely.

There is no problem with English. Most of the people understand/speak English. You may want to visit following website to learn some common Indian language words:


1) If you are fair-complexioned, blonde or red-haired – and especially if you are female – chances are that you will be stared at continuously, specially in the smaller towns. Don’t be offended – they mean no harm, it is just curiosity.

2) Avoid crowds, especially if you are female.

3) Try to avoid shaking hands. Greet people with a ‘namaste’ (hands pressed together at chest level as if in prayer). You will be appreciated for using the Indian style of greeting

4) Always drink bottled water. Buy it only from respectable or known outlets. In restaurants insist that they bring a sealed bottle to your table.

5) For the first few days it might be advisable to clean your teeth in bottled water.

6) Eat fruit you can peel.

7) Always wash fruit well before eating it.

8) Wash your hands before and after eating.

9) Always keep mosquito repellent with you.

10) Always carry a kit of the basic emergency medicines you might need for diarrhoea, fever, etc. Also, band aids and an antiseptic ointment.

11) Do not let beggers hassle you, and do not encourage them by giving them money. You can start by ignoring them completely and if they get too persistent give them a stern look. If you really want to give something, a one-rupee coin is sufficient. Beware that if you give money to one begger, in few moments you’ll be surrounded by ten others.

12) Dress codes for religious places can include covering your head, being barefoot etc. Ask, so that you don’t unwillingly give offence. Do not forget to remove your footwear when visiting a place of worship or mausoleum.

13) Some temples do not permit any leather articles at all on their premises.

14) Certain areas of temples are not open to Non-Hindus.

15) Try Indian Beer – it is quite drinkable.

16) Beef is not served in India. Pork is also not easily available.

17) Eat non-vegetarian food only in good restaurants. The meat in cheaper and smaller places is generally of dubious quality.

18) Vegetarian food is easily available, cheap, and of excellent quality.

19) Keep extra photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport. This will be required for Indian permits.

20) When asking for directions, ask shopkeepers, not pedestrians. Cross-check with at least two people.

21) Taxi and auto-rickshaw fares keep changing, and therefore do not always conform to readings on meters. Insist on seeing the latest rate card (available with the driver) and pay accordingly.

22) Insist on the taxi/auto meter being flagged down in your presence.

23) In hotels and restaurants, tips are not normally included in the bill.

24) Some hotels include service charges on their bills. In such cases tipping is not necessary.

25) The standard tip is 10%.

26) In hotels, porters and room service attendants are normally tipped at the end of the stay, though an early tip is likely to get you better service.

27) Tipping of taxi drivers is not customary.

28) Everything in India takes time – longer than in most places. So always give yourself extra time for whatever you may have to do – even it is just a visit to the Post Office or changing money.

29) Indians joke about the concept of “Indian Stretchable Time” (IST). Certainly, if you’re a super-punctual sort, India can be frustrating. Make allowances for this.

30) Beware of touts at airports/railway stations/tourist places and use your common-sense.

31) Bargaining is standard and is enjoyed by all. So BARGAIN… (you being a non-indian, will always be asked to pay much more than the actual price). Get used to the fact that you will probably be charged more than the locals. At some tourist places, like Taj Mahal etc, the charge for entry tickets for non-citizens are more than what is charged for Indian citizens. That’s a Government rule and you cannot bargain there.

32) Most Important: In India, public toilet facilities are few and far between, and those that are there should not be ventured into. Take every opportunity you can to use a clean a toilet in places such as hotels and restaurants. Make this a habit wherever you go.

33) Best time to visit will be October-November (March-August are very hot)

34) Visit US embassy (New delhi) website: Keep their phone numbers/contact information with you, in case of emergency.

35) Keep your belongings secure with yourself (especially money and passport etc)

36) Carry your money in traveller’s checks

37) Credit cards (Master and Visa) are widely accepeted these days.

Following websites will give you some idea regarding cheap accomodations:

If you are going to travel by trains in India, look for Retiring Rooms/Dormitory etc at railway stations. Most of Railway stations in India offer `Retiring rooms’ (both dormitory and rooms). You have to have a ticket for either arriving or leaving at odd hours like Midnight or very early morning. Rooms (if available) are relatively cleaner but not air-conditioned and not mosquito proof. But very cheap and cleaner than the hotels.
Some useful websites:

Travelling in India:

Just about every Indian city, town and village is connected by train and it is one of the best ways to get into the interiors of the country. Train travel is also relatively less expensive and one can choose between second class or air-conditioned comfort. Since a majority of Indians travel by train, it’s best to make bookings well in advance. This is particularly important if you plan to travel during the many festivals or during the summer holidays.
The Indian Railways also have a special service called Indrail, that is only available to foreign travellers. Indrail passes permit unlimited travel on Indian trains for the period of their validity. These passes can be bought overseas or through some travel agencies in India but payment can be made only in forex – US dollars or pounds.

Travelling by bus in the country is another inexpensive way of getting around. All state tourism departments run inter-city and inter-state bus services and these connect virtually the entire country. Several private travel companies also run bus services. One can choose between semi-luxury buses and luxury buses. For travelling short distances and to the hills, buses are the ideal way to get around.

India is a big country and every state has its own culture/food etc. With limited time and money, I’d advise you to cover one side like either North/West/South/East. I’ve mainly provided you information regarding some tourist attractions in Northern India. There are lot more interesting places in Northern india as well as other parts of India and may be if you enjoy your first visit, you can plan on visiting other spots in your next trip.

There are so many beautiful coastal cities and religious/cultural places in South India.If you want to research about tourist spots in South India, visit:

For an overview of Indian Culture, go to :

You may also contact India tourism offices in US:

Regional Director
1270, Avenue of the Americas,
Suite 1808, 18th Floor,
New York 10020-1700 USA.
Phone : +1-212-586-4901/4902/4903,
Fax : +1-212-582-3274,

Assistant Director, Indiatourism
3550 Wilshire Boulevard, Room 204,
Los Angeles, California 90010 2485 USA.
Phone : +1-213-380-8855.
Fax : +1-213-380-6111,

I hope this helps at least to kick-off your research. There is lot of information on internet. If you still have further questions, don’t hesitate to post your questions.

Good luck

Posted From Yahoo! Answers (for informational purposes only)

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