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Travel Tips: India

new-dehli-smallTraveling to India involves understanding and appreciation of local customs. Tourists must learn about table manners, personal safety, and the importance of conservative dress. When traveling to India for professional purposes, business etiquette in India is an important consideration. Conducting business in India demands understanding local rituals to avoid causing offense. Executive Class Travel has compiled comprehensive India travel tips to assist international executive travelers.

Emergencies and Safety

Many states in India utilize 108 as their emergency phone number. However, India does not have a nationwide emergency phone number that is comparable to the United States’ use of 911. When traveling throughout India, consult local information to learn the emergency number in place for your current location. Consider contacting local embassies for this information.

Managing Your Money

The Indian currency is the rupee. Rupees will usually be found as paper bills or bank notes. International travelers should check current currency conversion rates to learn the value compared to the dollar, as conversion rates fluctuate regularly. When traveling to India, tips may be expected during your stay, as globalization has contributed to the prevalent practice of tipping in India. Expect to tip approximately 10 percent at airports, train stations, hotels, and restaurants. Taxi drivers do not expect tips; however, if you engage driving service for more than one day, plan to tip the driver. You may find a tip box at hotels enabling you to tip all of the staff at once.

Local Cuisine

When Western corporate travelers visit India, stomach problems are common because of the strength of Indian spices in the local cuisine. You might avoid some of these issues by choosing fried or boiled foods and drinking bottled water. To help avoid stomach problems, do not buy food from local street vendors. Table manners are of paramount importance in India. Remember, when eating food, use just the right hand.

Business Etiquette in India

India is a diverse country filled with many people who observe different religions and speak different languages. The culture tends to be open and affirming; however, the business environment is hierarchical in nature. Before you travel to India, learn about the customs and cultural practices of the country as well as the specific region you will visit. For instance, Indians do not place a high priority on punctuality. Generally, arriving within 10 minutes of the scheduled time is acceptable within the Indian business world. When attending a dinner, plan to get there about 15 minutes late.

Begin meetings correctly by following proper business etiquette:

  • In India, one should always greet the most senior person in attendance first.
  • People do not usually shake hands, but Indians may indulge Westerners.
  • Only shake with your right hand and only with your own gender.
  • In northern India, the custom dictates placing hands together, bowing slightly, and saying “namaste.”
  • Present others with a business card upon meeting them.
  • Wait to discuss business until after a few moments of small talk.
  • After developing a professional relationship with someone, you might present a small gift.

Because hierarchy is so important in business, Indian negotiations can take time. Always approach the most senior person to negotiate. The process may require several visits. Business people in India rely heavily on trust and intuition when negotiating. People in India prefer not to tell each other “no.” Instead, they will answer with a “maybe.” Avoid shaking your head to say “no” in India because your movement may be misunderstood: Moving your head in a figure-eight pattern actually means “yes” in India.

When following proper business etiquette in India, take care to note these guidelines:

  • Never use the left hand to touch anyone or pass money: Indians consider the left hand unclean.
  • Always cover the feet because Indians consider them unclean. If you touch a person with your foot by accident, apologize immediately.
  • Do not wave to Indians: In India, a wave means “go away.”
  • Never point. Instead, use your thumb or entire hand to gesture.
  • Never touch someone else’s head.
  • Women in India should wear clothing that does not reveal much skin.
  • Do not refuse food or drink that is offered. Indians will usually refill an empty plate or glass automatically. If you don’t want more, leave some food or drink untouched.
  • Find an excuse if you must refuse a business invitation. If you accept, always arrive at a host’s home with a gift.
  • Never display frustration or anger toward others. Indians avoid confrontation whenever possible.

Getting a Visa

Tourists from the United States will need a visa to visit India. Executive travelers in India who arrive to negotiate contracts, make sales, or conduct other types of business may request a business visa. Visitors to India may only stay for six months. Our travel consultants can offer those traveling to India tips regarding business visas.

Popular Leisure Activities in India

Numerous entertainment and leisure activities are available for tourists in India. The Taj Mahal is located about three hours from New Delhi by vehicle. You could also visit Varanasi or the Virupaksha Temple. No matter where you decide to go, when you follow our India travel tips, you’re sure to have a smoother trip. And when you book discount first class tickets with us, you’ll have a more comfortable journey for less!