Visit to Kerala – Travel Guide & Pre-Departure Tips
We have included few simple general tips for you to follow, to ease your trip to Kerala a memorable one. India is a land of diversities, quite different when compared to other nation. Every state in India has its own distinct language, culture, traditions and food habits quite different from the rest of the states of country – so we would recommend you to go through the below guidelines carefully to avoid any hurdles & unwanted issues while you undertake your travel.
Clothes & Accessories –
There are different weather zone across India as it vary from state to state. Frankly speaking you should include cotton outfits, sunglasses, hats, mosquito repellant cream/lotion, shoes/ light sandals,moisturizing lotion and sun-tan lotion mandatory, while planning your trip. While you travel to North India including the Himalayas do carry woolen outfits with you. Since we have certain customs & traditions, special attention to be given to make sure your clothes especially in public places to ensure your clothes are within the purview of decency to prevent any unwanted attention.
Always hold a bottle of drinking water with you at every time when you are out for sightseeing or any other shopping related activities. As written on the bottle, make sure that the seal is intact while purchasing the packaged drinking water bottles from any shop. We recommend not drinking or collecting water from taps seen in public places or from any road-side sellers. It’s always better to have a glass of juice whenever you feel so, have it from a neat & clean juice centre or else you can depend on branded juice tetra packs like Tropicana, real or anything similar. You may find lot of road side vendors who displays good fruits & readymade juice, do try to avoid the same.
Like any other country, public buses & trains are the cheapest mode of transport. Besides you can also have auto-rickshaws, taxi cabs come next in the line. While riding on a rickshaw or cab, it’s always better to confirm the rates before you board or else you could ask them to switch on the fare-meter to avoid any disputes while reaching the destination. Incase if you feel any difficulty, you could opt for a traffic police assistance cell prior or while you travel. It’s better to avoid sharing a cab or autorickshaw with strangers as this system is available in many states. Train tickets to be booked in advance for longer journeys to have confirmed berth overnight. It’s safe to reserve even if the journey is short so that seat number would be provided and to avoid heavy crowd in unreserved coaches. Tatkal facility is also available with Indian Railways incase tickets are not confirmed & this can be taken 2 days prior to the journey date by paying a difference amount towards tatkal charges. Availability of trains can be checked on www.indianrail.gov.in or www.irctc.co.in. Make sure to carry toilet rolls with you while you travel on rain for long distance journeys. All major railway stations have prepaid autorickshaw & taxi counter, which can be booked by giving destination so that receipt would be generated. This would help you to get rid of a talk with the chauffeur upon reaching the destination.
Public Places –
Stay cool & try not to get unwanted attention from the local people. Since India is a very orthodox nation which doesn’t accept any show of affection in public places like kissing, hugging etc.
Surprisingly, public smoking in many places including metropolitan cities are banned. This is treated as an offence which is against the law and punishable with certain amount of fine and other charges.
Forex including foreign currency, traveler’s cheque, demand drafts drawn on banks in India or credit letters can be brought to India where there are no limits. Eventhough, if the total amount brought to India in any form at one time exceeds US$ 10,000/- or its equivalent, it has to be declared on a currency declaration form to customs authorities. Forms are available with all airports/seaport under customs departments.
Banks & ATMs –
Business hours for all banks including nationalized banks are from 1000hrs – 1400hrs where as some of the new generation private banks work until 1700hrs. There is no scarcity of ATM kiosks which are spread all over in cities, towns or villages across India.
Incredible India is a place of festivals & celebrations. Deewali, Baisakhi, Pushkar Fair, Holi, Carnivals, Kumbh Mela are some of the most celebrated festivals in Northern India. Southern India celebrates different festivals like Karthika deepam, Sivarathri, Pongal etc. Apart from all these Kerala has a different set of festivals like Aranmula Boat race, unique Onam fesival, Vishu, Trichur Pooram, Christmas, Eid etc.
Suitable Time to Visit –
Kerala weather is classified into three season – Winter, Summer and Monsoon. Winter, from October to February, are mild and pleasant. Summer, from March to May, are hot and humid. Monsoon, heavy rains and strong winds between June and September.
Credit Cards –
Credit Cards (Master, Visa, Amex, Diner’s Club) are accepted at majority of the shops, hotels, restaurants etc. Most frequently used cards are Master & Visa which are accepted even in small retail outlets.
It is illegal to carry/use drugs which are considered a criminal offence & severe punishments are implied upon doing so including hefty fines & jail term of longer duration.
Food varies from state to state. Try to savor some of the typical Indian recipes/dishes as various spices & herbs would be mixed in most of the dishes. Cuisines of North India are totally different to South & EastIndia. Each state has different types of local cuisines available and different ways of cooking, much different from the other. Try local foods from neat & hygienic restaurants and avoid street foods.
Temple Rules & Codes of Conduct –
Before visiting any temple, please make sure you check the management rules & other guidelines in terms of costumes, visiting timings, wearing foot-wear, photography etc. Rules & code of conduct vary from temples & should strictly follow it. Only Hindus are allowed in most of the temples but there are some temples where this rule is not applicable.
Nudity is strictly not allowed in all the beaches & public places.
Ayurvedic rejuvenation therapies are available at many places in Kerala. Always approach a Govt. recognized ayurvedic centre for treatments or therapies, be it a general body massage. Most of the hotels in Kerala have an ayurvedic centre within the premises with a certified ayurvedic doctor. Always consult the doctor before getting any kind of ayurvedic treatments. A doctor can prescribe the possible treatments after a short consultation based on your body conditions.
First aid kids & doctor on call are available at most of the star category hotels & resorts. However keep a kit with enough medicines along with prescriptions for a more comfortable journey. Do make sure proper vaccinations & precautions have taken before you enter the country as medical checkups can be done at airports upon arrival.
220 – 240 V is the standard voltage available across India. Multi plugs & voltage converters are available even in small electrical shops. Voltage converters that are adaptable to the Indian voltage are Resistor Network Converters (50-1600 Watts), Transformers (50-1000 Watts) and Combination Converters.
Pre-departure tips –
A medical / optical / dental check up is highly recommended before your trip. Ensure if you have any suggested vaccines for India – a booster to Tetanus and TB are usually recommended if you don’t have it.
International Travel Insurance is highly advisable & keep a booklet handy where the list of hospitals are mentioned in case of any emergencies.
Always check your passport’s validity prior to your travel & sufficient pages for visa stamping.
IST (Indian Standard Time), Time zone is +05:30 GMT, Jet lag chances can’t be ignored. It is recommended that you get onto IST as soon as you leave your hometown and try to eat and sleep on Indian time. Also, try to stay awake, if you arrive India early morning – this would help the body to reset accordingly.