Years later, you can still hear the morning calls of the chai wallahs and the silence of the desert, see smoke curling over the Ganges and a pale gold Varanasi sunrise. A lot of India tours rush from highlight to highlight, ticking them off in a blur of temples and tikka. But not us. Our India trips are more about spotting Bengal tigers in Ranthambhore or Panna National Park, hanging with nomads in Jaisalmer, meeting the holy men of Pushkar or camping under the stars in the desert. This isn’t just the India you see on postcards. This is India as it is. Raw, bizarre and totally addictive.
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you're on while in India, you may find yourself travelling by:
Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
When travelling with us in India you may find yourself staying in a:
From ex-royal palaces to historic hill stations and converted forts, India is full of heritage properties that have been turned into comfortable accommodation with an old-world touch.
India’s climate varies from place to place but the best time to visit, generally speaking, is in the winter, from December until early March. The whole country tends to get very hot from April onwards and most regions experience the summer monsoon in at least June, July, August and September.
India can be overwhelming sometimes but most travellers enjoy their time in India without any problems. That said, some regions experience ongoing issues, and there are several things a traveller should keep in mind when travelling through India to minimise their chances of running into any trouble.
Yes, all foreigners entering India will need a visa. Whether you can apply for an e-visa is dependent on your nationality, the duration of your India tour and how you plan on entering the country.
While travelling through India, on a tour or otherwise, it’s expected one would tip porters, drivers, restaurant staff and other service workers given the low wages they earn.
Internet access is generally very good in India, with most cafes, restaurants and accommodations offering free wi-fi, even in the more rural areas. There is also good phone coverage for data use if you choose to purchase a local SIM card to stay connected for the duration of your India tour.
If you do wish to purchase a local SIM in India, make sure your phone has been unlocked before your tour begins. There are quite a number of carriers that are all very competitive, but Airtel is probably the best option for travellers. You’ll need to a copy of your passport and visa to pick up a SIM, and the process can sometimes be a hassle, but rates in India are very affordable given the competition.
Yes, you’ll be able to use your mobile/cell phone while on an India tour, but only if you have activated global roaming or purchased a local SIM card.
Squat toilets are the most common toilets in India. Always carry your own toilet paper and soap or hand sanitizer, as they are usually not provided. Flushable, Western-style toilets can be found in up-market restaurants, some higher-end hotels and in some tourist areas.
India’s unit of currency is the rupee. Prices here are approximate and shown in US dollars for ease of comparison.
India is notorious among travellers for sickness – we’ve all heard horror stories about Delhi belly. We do not recommend ever drinking the tap water in India, and travellers should avoid drinks with ice and foods that haven’t been cooked or peeled. Salad is off the menu for now – let your inner-child rejoice!
Credit cards are being accepted an increasing number of cafes, shops, restaurants and accommodations in India, with Mastercard and Visa being the most common. That said, cash is still king, especially outside of cities like Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai.
ATMs are widespread across India in both cities and smaller towns. Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus and Maestro are the most commonly accepted cards, but of those Visa and Mastercard are more likely to have success. The daily withdrawal limit differs from bank to bank.
The weather in India varies from region to region, but it’s generally safe to say that December–February sees dry, cooler weather before the heat intensifies from March–May. June, July and August are the monsoon months, though the amount of rain differs across the country, while October, September and November see rainfall ease once more.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their tour. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
India has different classifications of holidays because of the multitude of faiths in the country. There are compulsory holidays and then various others chosen by government offices within each state. The following are the compulsory ‘gazetted holidays’ taken by government offices across India:
The dates of some of these holidays change each year, often across a number of months, as they are celebrated according to the Indian lunar calendar or the Islamic calendar.
For a current list of public holidays in India, including the movable dates noted above, go to:
Discretion is still advised for LGBTQIA+ travellers in India, as it is for couples of any sexual orientation, as public displays of affection are frowned upon in India. Though homosexuality was decriminalised in 2009, it was again made illegal in 2013, then decriminalised once more in 2018.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and, where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
As a general rule, knowing some common words in the local language, carrying a written itinerary with you and taking to the streets in a group, rather than solo, can help make your travel experience the best it can be.
What you decide to pack and wear in India will depend on where you are and what time of year it is. The weather across India usually follows the monsoon cycle, so it’s quite easy to plan what to pack when it comes to rain, but temperatures will vary quite a bit from the north to the south.
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
In India, we stay in locally run accommodation including guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally-run restaurants and markets where travellers will have opportunities to support local businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans.