India has something for all budgets. In terms of accommodation, you can choose from simple backpacker lodging to five star luxury hotels and midrange options in between. For dining, again, you don’t have to burst your pockets – there is a wide range of eateries from fast food joints to high-end eateries to midrange restaurants. The public transport network is comprehensive and so it is possible to travel around the country economically.
With this said, it is important to point out that the rates vary from one region to the other. The cost of accommodation, travel and dining are considerably higher in metro cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, especially during the peak tourist season. If you are willing to splash, India offers some of the world’s finest hotels where food, services and hospitality are impeccable.
Given the huge size of the country and vast differences nationwide, it is difficult to give one neat figure for accommodation, travel and dining.
As a yardstick, in Rajasthan you can expect to pay roughly between US$20 and US$25 per day if you stay in the cheaper hotels, travel on public buses, do limited sightseeing, and eat basic meals. For a more midrange experience, the rate could go up to US$40 and US$65 per day.
For sightseeing, foreigners are usually charged more than locals and so if you wish to see the TajMahal, be prepared to more. There may also be extra charges for still/video cameras.
Eating out in India is an experience in itself. In budget restaurants and basic street eateries, you can enjoy a good meal for as little as Rs 40. In midrange restaurants, the price usually hovers between Rs150 and Rs350 and usually there is a tax of 10% to 12.5%.
For long-distance travel, you can choose from a range of classes on trains and several bus types. Domestic air travel is another option and thanks to competition you can find good deals on the internet. Within a town or city, you can hire a taxi or a much cheaper auto.
MoneyThe local currency, the Indian rupee (Rs), is divided into 100 paise (p). Coins come in denominations ofRs 1, 2 and 5. Notes come in Rs5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000.
ATMsATMs linked to international networks are common in most towns and cities. However, it is advisable to carry cash or travellers cheques. Commonly accepted cards are Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, Maestro and Plus. To change currency, you wouldneed to present your passport. Commission for foreign exchange is rare-if it is charged, the fee is nominal.
Banks in India such as Citibank, HDFC, ICICI, UTI, HSBC, the Punjab National Bank and the State Bank of Indiaaccept foreign cards. Away from major towns, always carry cash or travellers cheques.
CashYou can exchange all major currencies at banks and with private moneychangers. However, Pakistani, Nepali and Bangladeshi currency can be harder to change away from the border.When changing money, be sure to check every note. Don’t accept ripped or damaged notes as these may not be accepted as payment. If you end up with these notes, you can get them exchanged for new bills at branches of the Reserve Bank of India in major cities.
Also it is advisable to carry small denomination currency that isRs 10, 20 and 50 notes. Officially, you cannot take rupees out India. However, you can change any leftover rupees back into foreign currency, most easily at the airport.
Credit cardsCredit cards are now accepted at growing numbers of shops, upmarket restaurants, and midrange and top-end hotels in major cities. MasterCard and Visa are the most widely accepted cards. However, while traveling in smaller towns, it is better to carry some cash or use the ATMs.
International transfersInternational money transfer services are available via moneychangers affiliated with Moneygram (www.moneygram.com) or Western Union (www.westernunion.com). A hefty fee is charged. Also you need to bring your passport and give the name and reference number of the person who sent the funds.
MoneychangersPrivate moneychangers are usually open for longer hours than banks. To get the best deal, compare rates offered by different agencies.Also, check you are given the correct amount.
Travellers chequesAll major brands are accepted in India, but some banks may only accept cheques from Amex and Thomas Cook. Pounds sterling and US dollars are the safest currencies, especially in smaller towns.