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Contact your local physician or Travel/Public Health Department for recommendations for vaccinations and malaria meds. (Bring prescriptions for any medicines, including any for contact lenses, eyeglasses.)
Don't give money to beggars. It's nice to buy a meal rather than give money especially for children whom may not likely benefit from money given. It is acceptable to take packed left-overs to hand out.
If you would like to bring supplies for local children, try and contact a school/organization before your trip. You may even want to contact a school/organization and buy things while in India.
Support local traders/businesses.
Remove shoes before entering temples, mosques, and homes. Dress appropriately.
Carry bottled water.
Carry mosquito repellant.
Check local holidays and other "days closed" of museums and sights. You’ll need to have other plans for the day.
Unless you are shopping in a fixed price or government shop, be prepared to bargain! In general you can start at 1/3 the asking price and come up to 50-70%. If you start to walk away, they'll call you back, almost guaranteed.
Wear cotton - it's hot! Dress appropriately - shorts, tight clothes, cleavage, etc. may draw unwanted attention.
Use dustbins, not the street!
When taking a rickshaw or taxi, agree to a price before getting in.
Watch out for stray dogs and monkeys.
Take extra copies of visa-size photos. You'll need them for Sim cards, special permits, etc.
Don't overpack. Almost everything is now available in India so if you forget it at home, don't worry!
Allow extra time. India runs on its own time and you will encounter delays from any number of sources from traffic jams in the cities to delayed flights.
Don't cram your itinerary. Allow for free time to relax and explore.
And most importantly, keep your sense of humor.
How Much to Tip
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Tipping is fairly common in India with the exception of rickshaw drivers or taxi drivers, unless you hire them for the day (although a few rupees or rounding up the fare is always appreciated). These amounts are meant as a guideline. Tip ONLY in rupees, not any other currency. Check to see if a service charge has already been added to any bill.
Waiters - generally 10-15 percent of the bill in upscale places, in smaller places (local/budget) tip Rs. 10-20.
Bellmen - Rs. 50 - 100 (depending on how much luggage).
Hotel Doorman - Rs. 50-100 when you checkout.
Hotel Maid - Rs. 100-200 for your stay (5+ days). Be sure to hand deliver.
Room Service - Rs. 20-50. (20 for smaller things, 50 for meal delivery).
Drivers/ Guides - half day/ Full day sightseeing trips Rs. 150 - 250.
Drivers/ Guides - long trips spread over many days Rs. 150 - 200 Per traveller/ day.
Porters (train stations/airports) - set the rate beforehand (around Rs. 10-20 per bag).
Favorite thing: The Tourist Office is conveniently located on 40 Goubert Ave (Beach Road). Stop in to pick up one of their comprehensive brochures on Pondicherry. Along with a Places of Interest listing, it has up-to-date Happenings (including festivals, exhibitions, etc.), a map, shopping info, Consulate info, restaurants, etc., etc. It also has many listings for accommodations including guest houses/budget hotels that start at Rs 300.
Inquire about their heritage walks as well. Several agents are avaiable to assist you and answer your questions.
Tel: 91 413 2339497
Charming litte town
Favorite thing: The best part is the French quarter of the town. Very calm, clean and beautiful unlike the more chaotic Indian part of the town.
Favorite thing: Any town or city with a beach has a history of people/sailors and invaders from far off places coming to its shores, Pondy has its own story, go take a walk and find out.
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