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India & Nepal on a shoestring

is it karma that you should take this trip? - Trip for singles

Book From   € 899,-
GROUP SIZE: 4-24 | 22 DAYS

Frequently asked questions

Index

1. What is the best time to travel?

Both the spring (February, March and April) and the autumn (middle of September until December) are the ideal times to travel to northern India. The best time to travel to southern India is from October to March.

2. What are the best festivals and when do they take place?

There are many festivals in India. Here are a few examples of the best festivals:
February: Shivaratri is the festival held in honour of Shivam during full moon in the month of phalgun.
February/March: Holi is a popular festival, especially amongst the lower castes. During Holi, everybody splashes each other with water and colourful powder paint. Holi marks the beginning of the spring.
August: Onam is celebrated with spectacular boat races in Allepey on the second Saturday in August. The long narrow boats carry dragonheads and are manned by hundreds of oarsmen.
End of October/beginning of November: Diwali, the Festival of Light, is celebrated. It is marked by the illumination of thousands of lights, fireworks, baking cakes and making sand patterns outside the front door of each home.

3. Can I pre-book transfers and extra nights?

Yes you can pre book transfers (arrival only) and extra nights with Shoestring.You can add these on to your booking form.

 

4. What about my passport?

You need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the date of departure. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel.

5. Do I need a visa?

Entry requirements will vary. For example for UK citizens a single entry visa is required for India. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel. Please check with your local Indian embassy to see if you need a visa for India. You can also check here for the current situation. Make sure you inquire at least a month before departure so that you do not run into time problems.

It is now also possible for nationals of a number of countries to apply online for their India visa, in advance of travel using the E-Visa facility. Please check the following website for further information and online visa application: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html


6. Do I need vaccinations or malaria tablets?

Please click here for questions regarding vaccinations or malaria tablets for this country and then contact your GP or a specialised health clinic to make an appointment to get your injections and pills. Please make sure that you arrange this at least six weeks before your tour departs. Two weeks should suffice for people who have already had a few injections. You are responsible for having the right protection when going on tour.

7. What is the recommended currency for India?

The currency in India is the Indian Rupee (INR), which is divided into 100 paise (singular paisa). Major currencies can be changed at banks and authorised bureaux de change. It is currently impossible to obtain rupees outside India but no matter what time you arrive in India there will be an exchange office open at the airport. Major credit cards are widely accepted, particularly in tourist orientated establishments. ATMs are widely available.

8. What kind of clothing and other stuff is practical to take?

In India men should wear long trousers and a shirt and women should wear tops with covered shoulders and a skirt that at the very least covers the knees. A coat and a good pair of shoes and flip flops, good hiking socks, underwear, a pair of long trousers, shirts, a windcheater, a rucksack, a waterproof jacket, a cap as protection from the sun, sunglasses, sun cream, toiletries, plasters, a hand towel, soap, toilet paper, a small emergency food supply, a first-aid kit, any prescription medicine, a (video) camera with enough film, spare batteries, a torch, a pen knife, a lighter, an alarm clock, writing equipment, books, your passport and visa, copies of your passport and visa, all necessary travel insurance documents and details, a set of passport photos, a diary with important contact numbers/addresses and the booking papers for this trip, binoculars and maps.

9. What kind of luggage should I take?

It is best that you carry your luggage in a smallish bag or backpack as opposed to a hard suitcase, as these are difficult to transport. In addition to this, a shoulder bag or another small backpack is useful for daily hand luggage. A thin money belt worn under your clothing is recommended for storage of valuables and important documents. Don’t bring too much luggage. In our experience, any more than 12 kg is an unnecessary hindrance.

10. What is the electricity situation?

Please click here to check what voltage and plugs are used in India. You may also consider taking a universal electric plug.

11. Which travel guides and maps?

If you want to take a travel guide or map, we suggest you click on Lonely Planet.

12. What is the accommodation like?

Accommodation will be provided in 2 star hotels in twin rooms with en-suite facilities .

 

13. How is accommodation arranged if I book alone?

If you book alone you will share your room with a fellow traveller ( from the same sex when possible ) unless you have booked a single room.

14. Do I need a sleeping mat or sleeping bag?

For most of our trips to India, it is not necessary to bring a sleeping bag, though a sleeping bag liner is very convenient. For the colder months, you can always purchase a blanket locally eg for overnights on the train (or you can pack some extra clothes instead).
The exception is the trip to Ladakh (SIB). On this trip a sleeping bag liner and a sleeping bag are absolutely necessary. Sleeping mats in Ladakh are provided by the local agent but please note that usually they are not of super quality. So you may prefer to take your own.

15. Do I need to take a mosquito net?

A mosquito net is not really necessary. Good-quality mosquito repellents are available in India.

16. Do they cater for vegetarians in India?

Vegetarians are well catered for in India. Thalis are served in many restaurants and there is always a choice between veg and non-veg dishes. Indians also prepare a good deal of delicious dishes using only vegetables (and sometimes eggs). Traditionally, both Hindus and Buddhists were vegetarian. Even now, a large part of the population is strictly vegetarian. Indeed, even in meat dishes the amount of meat used is minimal compared to what Europeans are used to.

17. What kind of transportation is used?

We will provide transport in private (mini)buses and there will also be train journeys.

18. Is India dangerous?

In many ways, India is a safe country. Mugging and other forms of physical violence against tourists occur only sporadically. Still, in the eyes of the local population, each ‘white nose’ is a millionaire and those who come into contact with you will make numerous efforts to share in your infinite wealth in some way. In almost all cases this will take the form of begging. This relative security does not mean, however, that you can afford to be careless with money, valuables and luggage. Cash and travel documents are best worn underneath your clothing. Do not leave anything valuable in your hotel room: it is better not to invite theft. In each hotel, you can leave your valuables at reception in exchange for a token.
 

19. What local customs do I need to keep in mind?

Here you have some points to take into account:
- Yes or No: Maybe the most confusing cultural difference is the use of yes and no in India. No is a word Indians do not like to say too often.
- Courtesy rules: Indians traditionally greet with a namasté: palms pressed together and held upright in front of the face. The higher you hold your hands, the more respect you express.
- Left and right: The right hand is used to eat. Do not eat or touch anyone with your left hand.
- Dress: Adult men wearing shorts are seen as ridiculous by Indians, and women wearing shorts as outrageous. Swimming naked or topless is prohibited.
- Privacy: staring is not perceived as impolite and most Indians do not have a sense of personal space as we know it.
- Men and women: contact between the two sexes is governed by very different rules to what we are used to.
 

20. Are there opportunities to swim?

Yes. You can swim in Kovalam, the popular beach resort in India. Goa has many hotels and resorts with swimming pools and beaches. Kerala also has some of India's best coastal resorts.

21. What other activities and sports could I do?

Other activities include hiking, watersports, shopping, listening to the sounds of Indian music, watching the variety of dance forms and golf.

22. How are communications in India?

The international access code for India is +91. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code. Area codes are used for Delhi e.g. (0)11. International calls can be quite expensive and there are often high surcharges on calls made from hotels; it is cheaper to use a calling card. Alternatively, there are telephone agencies in most towns which are identifiable by the letters STD for long distance internal calls and ISD for international communication. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators. Internet cafes are available in the main cities and resorts.

 

23. What is the time difference?

Please check the world clock in order to find out the exact time difference.

Index

1. What is the best time to travel?

The best time to visit Nepal depends on what you wish to do there. The best months for walking in the mountains are April, May, October and November. The weather is good during the day and the temperatures do not drop as rapidly during the night. After the monsoon, the air is clear, leaving the spectacular snow-covered mountain tops clearly visible. The monsoon season (July and August) is not suitable for hiking in the mountains, as the paths become muddy and slippery and the mountains become almost impossible to see. From October until the middle of March, it is dry and sunny. It can be cold during the night, but as soon as the sun comes up it quickly becomes pleasantly warm again.

2. What is the best time to see wildlife?

Chitwan National Park in the centre of Nepal is the best place to see wildlife (it has rhinos, tigers, crocodiles, parrots, an elephant breeding centre and much more). The best time to visit the park is from October to May.

3. What are the best festivals and when do they take place?

April/May: Bisket is the Nepalese New Year. Statues of Hindu gods are paraded through the cities on trailers, and everyone is given the day off.
September/October: Durga Puja or Dasain is the largest festival in Nepal. It lasts for about 10 days and is celebrated everywhere. It honours the victory of the goddess Durga over the buffalo-demon Mahisha. Kite-flying competitions are held, as are parades and processions in the valley.
End of October/November: Diwali or Tihar, the Festival of Light, is celebrated. Thousands of lights are lit, fireworks are set off, sweet treats are prepared and sand patterns are made outside the front door. This festival is held to welcome the god Rama back from his long exile in the jungle. The festival in honour of the goddess Lakshmi is held simultaneously.

4. Can I pre-book transfers and extra nights?

Yes you can pre-book transfers (arrival only) and extra nights with Shoestring. You can add these to your booking form.

5. What about my passport?

You need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the date of departure. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel.

6. Do I need a visa?

You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel. Please check the embassy if you need a visa for Nepal and check out the current situation by clicking here. At present, a visa is required for European citizens. Make sure you inquire at least a month before departure if you need a visa so you do not run into time problems.

For some of the trekking trips, a permit is required. This will be arranged onsite.

7. Do I need vaccinations or malaria tablets?

Please click here for questions regarding vaccinations and malaria tablets for this country and then contact your GP or a specialised health centre to make an appointment to get your injections and pills. Please make sure that you arrange this at least six weeks beofre your departure to allow time for a full program of injections. Two weeks should suffice for people who have already had a few vaccinations. You are responsible for having the right protection when going on tour.

8. What is the recommended currency for Nepal?

The Nepalese Rupee is the local currency in Nepal.There are getting more ATM's every year but you can also change foreign money in hotels, banks or at the airport.

9. What kind of clothing and other stuff is practical to take?

The clothing/equipment you need will of course depend on whether you are trekking or not. If you are, then the evening before the trek we suggest you fill a backpack (up to 7 kilos per person, including sleeping bag). This backpack will be carried by the porter during the trek (included in the price). You can then also take a small daypack each for small items such as camera, water bottle, jumper etc. The remainder of your baggage must be stored in the hotel in Kathmandu/Pokhara for your collection after the trek.

Important: For the Nepal Everest Basecamp tour (SNV), a baggage restriction applies on the domestic flight to Lukla: 10 kg of hold luggage is allowed + 5 kg of hand luggage (cabin).

The list below shows what you will need for the trek, and whether the necessary equipment is for sale or for hire in Kathmandu/Pokhara. This is indicated by a S(for sale), and/or H(for hire):

Good, worn in, water-repellent or waterproof boots; Good hiking socks; Underwear; Long underwear / thermal underwear; long pants S; Shorts S; blouses or T-shirts S; Warm sweater (fleece) S; Windbreaker; Poncho / rainwear S/H; cap or hat against the sun S; hat/scarf /gloves against the cold S; Sunglasses; walking sticks S (in the mountains you can obtain for very little money bamboo canes to walk with. Sometimes you can find 'real' canes in Kathmandu/Pokhara for a bargain but they are generally very expensive); sleeping bag with a -5 warmth factor (for the Adventurous Nepal tour / code SNK) S/H; For the trekking tours to Everest basecamp (SNV), Annapurna basecamp (SNP) and Annapurna circuit (SNC) you should have sleeping bag that is comfortable up to -20 degrees. Such a sleeping bag can also be rented in Kathmandu however please note that you need to organise this immediately after arrival (you can ask the tour leader for help); Small backpack for daily needs S; Water bottle S; Flashlight with spare batteries and bulb S; Small first aid kit; Toiletries S; Towel S; Biodegradable soap/shampoo; Earplugs; Toilet paper S; padlock S; Pen and paper; passport; a good book; possibly a pair of binoculars; altimeter; photographic equipment; games; enough Nepalese rupees in denominations of 100 and smaller.


10. What kind of luggage should I take?

Pack everything into a weekend bag or backpack, but do not use a hard suitcase, as this will prove difficult to transport. In addition, you should also bring a small backpack or shoulder bag for daily hand luggage. For storing valuables and important documents, we advise that you buy a thin money belt to be worn under your clothing. Do not bring too much baggage with you. Clothing in particular can be bought for next to nothing, so it is much better to bring too little than too much. More than 12 kg of luggage is rarely necessary and only hinders travel in Nepal.

11. What is the situation regarding electricity?

Please click here to check what voltage and plugs are in use in Nepal. You could also consider taking a universal electric plug adaptor.

12. Which travel guides and maps?

If you want to take a travel guide or map, we suggest you click on Lonely Planet.

13. What is the accommodation like?

We stay in hotels with en-suite facilities except during the trek when there will not be ensuite facilities.

14. How is accommodation arranged if I book alone?

If you book alone you will share your room with a fellow traveller ( same sex when possible ) unless you have booked a single room.

15. Do I need to take a mosquito net?

You may consider bringing a mosquito net but insect repellent is usually sufficient.

16. Do they cater for vegetarians in Nepal?

Vegetarians will find that they are catered for adequately as the local cuisine is mainly made up of rice, porridge and a wide range of vegetable dishes. Much of the Nepalese population is Hindu and does not eat meat anyway.

17. What kind of transportation is used?

Transportation is in minibuses 

18. Is Nepal dangerous?

Nepal is a relatively safe country, where people are friendly and honest. However, tourists in the cities are being increasingly targeted by pickpockets and thieves. Do not leave valuable items in your hotel rooms: either bring them with you or leave them in the hotel safe.

19. What local customs do I need to keep in mind?

There are many local customs in Nepal which can appear quite strange to Westerners.
For example: When visiting sacred sites, you must be bare-headed and barefoot, even if the site is little more than ruins. As long as you adhere to this rule, the faithful worshippers will not bother you, even during ceremonies. Women must be covered up to a certain degree. The bare minimum that women can wear is a blouse with short sleeves and a dress/skirt that covers the knees. The Nepalese greet each other simply with a namaste, which involves placing the palms of the hand together in front of the face and saying ‘Namastay’. Physical greetings, such as hugging or kissing are unusual to the Nepalese and are not appreciated by the locals.

20. What other activities and sports could I do?

You can visit the stupas and temples in Kathmandu, swim, row or walk around the beautiful mountain lake in Pokhara, climb the peaks of Annapurna South or search for rhinos and tigers in the Chitwan National Park.

21. How are communications in Nepal?

Mobile coverage in Nepal is variable. Internet facilities are available in hotels and in cafes in Kathmandu and Pokhara.

22. What is the time difference?

Please check the world clock in order to find out the exact time difference 

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