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General travel tips for India, Nepal, and Thailand

  • Submitted by: Avner Haran
  • Website: None Available
  • Submission Date: 04th Feb 2005

The following travel tips were written after my trip to Thailand, Nepal and India, October '90 - February '91. This file contains the following :

Some tips about bus trips and train trips in India and Nepal, including "Security regulations" in Indian trains.
Tips about warm clothing and whether to take or not to take a sleeping bag with you.
Tips about health care - which medicine to take with you, and what you should and should not drink there.

Some Tips About Busses And Trains In India And Nepal

First of all, If you have a long bus ride (starting from 5-6 hours) take a deluxe or a tourist bus rather than a simple local bus. Busses in India and Nepal have seats of 2 or 3 persons. However, these seats are very narrow, so the best is to pay some extra rupees and ride a deluxe bus.
Keep your luggage with you, if you can. If you have to put it on top of the bus, get down each stop, to check that no one is taking it. If you travel with company, you can do it in turns and it is much easier.

Trains in India are a different story. Usually, your journey will be long. Prefer the night trains, where you can sleep and make the journey easier. When you take a train you have to fill a special reservation form. (Try to have a Trains' Schedule book. It is called "Trains at a Glance"). If you want to save money, take the 2nd class sleeper coaches. It is convenient enough.

If you take a long daily train, don't get on a general coach. I travelled on a general coach once, because it was not possible to make a reservation for a second class coach other than to the final destination. In such a case it is better to buy 1st class tickets, or to make a reservation for the final stop in that train route, even if it costs more. Having your own seat and not sharing a 4 seat bench with 6 other persons is well worth every single rupee.

"Security regulations" in Indian trains

I admit that when one reads these tips, it sounds frightening. It is a bit out of the right proportions when you don't know how it really is in India. However, it's better to read it before you go, than to learn from your own experience. India is a GREAT place, but loosing some of your belongings can really spoil your enjoyment.
Always carefully watch your luggage. Don't leave anything unwatched for a single millisecond ! Be sure that your bag is always closed (all zippers), better lock it with a lock. Watch the people around you carefully. Be suspicious ! Whenever you talk to someone, look around to see if no one tries to pickpocket you. It will be good if you can cover your back pack in a way that no one can access the zippers.

When you are inside the train, tie your luggage to the bench, or to the upper berth, if it is yours. If you need anything to be handy, put it between your feet in a way that you can feel it all the time, or else if you feel that you are falling asleep, hold it in your hands. (Tieing means with an iron or steel chain and a lock, not with a rope).

Watch your luggage very carefully when the train stops, especially when it starts moving again. Thieves usually take advantage of theses moments: they throw luggage thru the window to their friend and disappear. You are on a moving train and you can do nothing about it... Lighter bags are more likely to be taken. Put your heavy valuables (big camera, etc.) inside your big tied back pack. Watch that no one cuts it with a knife. Indian people are usually not violent ! But the thieves there, are smart and sneaky. No one will rob you, but they sure know how to pickpocket. When you enter a crowded train watch your luggage : they can cut the back pack from your shoulders, or pickpocket you. Try to avoid these situations.

Always carry your money and passport in your money belt, never in an accessible place. At night, sleep with your luggage as a pillow, if you can. If you have a lower berth, and you don't sleep too heavily, you can chain your bags on the floor.

You can probably imagine that travelling on the train with a friend is much more pleasant. One can watch the luggage, as the other walks around, etc. (a friend means someone you already know and trust).

After spending some time in train journeys, you feel a lot more confident, and better feels what is right and what is wrong. You have to be careful on your first trips. Smart thieves have more success with careless tourists (who don't pay attention to elementary precautions).

Warm Clothing And Sleeping Bags

Nepal can get really cold, but you never go trekking without buying or renting proper cloths. There are tons of neat sweaters there . I rented a coat, a sleeping bag and bought a sweater, gloves, a scarf, socks and shoes. No problem finding anything! A light sleeping bag of your own can always be of help when you want to put your head on clean surface and your bed does not seem so. Some people say it is not needed (usually the people who didn't take it) and some say it is very useful (usually those who did take it.) It is useful for train travelling in India, but It is useless in Thailand ( except for tribe treks). Make up your own mind whether you want to carry one or not.

Health Care

It is better that you take with you some of the drugs you are used to. It is very easy to buy drugs in Bangkok. There are pharmacies near Khao-San road ( You can ask any tourist there). Drugs are very cheap there, mainly because the purity standards are not as severe as in the western countries. Drugs in Nepal and India are Indian made. It is better that you write down the medical (generic) name or the chemical components of your favored medicine so you can easily explain the pharmacist what you want (Commercial names can be different in different countries).
Take a mosquito repellant with you. it sometimes helps. Malaria peels are extremely expensive in the western world and very cheap in Thailand.

Don't drink tap water. You can buy drinking water in Thailand and it is cheap. In India & Nepal you can buy mineral water (make sure the bottle is sealed and not refilled) or purify water with iodine tincture (you get used to the awful taste after a while). in India you can drink coke or other over sweetened Indian beverages (Thums-up and Mazza. Limca is said to contain asbestos which is carcinogenic !)

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Tourism and Travel in India.

Please send me your questions and comments.
Avner Haran.