Overview about India

Travel in India can be challenging and exciting! Get to know a little more about the planet's second-most populous country before you go.

Official Name: Republic of India

Location: South Asia

Time: UTC + 05:30 (9.5 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time; Daylight Savings Time is not observed)

Country Phone Code: +91

Population: 1.21 billion (per 2011 census)

Capital City: New Delhi (population: 22 million per 2011 census)

Primary Religions: Hinduism and Islam

Official Currency: Indian rupee (INR)

ATMs: Easily found in tourist areas

Credit Cards: Only accepted at large hotels and for online bookings

Tipping: Service charges are added in some hotels and restaurants.

Receipts in India can be a bewildering breakdown of various service charges and taxes levied -- at different rates -- for food, drinks, and services. Prices in shops should be inclusive of tax, however, hotels, bars, and restaurants will most likely tack on additional charges. Always ask for an itemized receipt in case you are entitled to a VAT (government tax) refund in the airport upon departure.

ATMs in India are fairly reliable, although machines located in small towns may often run out of cash or have queues an hour long at times.

Tip: Large banknotes (the 1,000-rupee note) can be difficult to break; many people simply don't have enough cash to provide change. Enter amounts into ATMs strategically to receive smaller denominations, horde your small change when possible, and use large banknotes for covering accommodation.

Electricity in India

Power: 230 volts / 50 Hz

Outlets: EuroPlug (round with two prongs); BS 546 (round with three prongs)

Despite a history of British rule, outlets in India don't follow the same configuration used in the United Kingdom (square with three prongs). Outlets vary from place to place, with newer tourist establishments offering universal outlets that accept all the popular types of plugs.

Unless your electronic device was purchased in Europe, you'll probably need a plug adapter to connect to power. Most electronics with a charging transformer (e.g., laptops and mobile phone chargers) will already work at 230 volts, otherwise you'll need a power converter to step down the voltage.

Power in India can be 'unclean,' meaning that sags and surges may travel the lines and damage sensitive devices. Be mindful of the frequent power outages and try not to charge your electronic devices unattended.

Getting Around India

India isn't just big, it's huge! Changing regions means taking either a domestic flight, train (the most popular option), or a bone-rattling bus ride.

Once in a new town or city, you'll have an unlimited number of options -- and offers -- from taxi drivers and auto-rickshaws, the Indian equivalent of atuk-tuk. Driving in India can be a real challenge; hiring a private car with driver is a better option than renting a car.

Tourists are most likely to get scammed while on transportation in India. Always refuse to go inside any shops even if your driver stops at one. Don't believe your driver when he pretends there was an earlier miscommunication and asks you to pay more.