Frequently Asked Questions

Use the country links below to find answers to common traveling questions.

Q: Do I need a visa for India?

A: Yes. India visas have to be obtained prior to departure from the US. They can only be obtained through third-party expeditors. We recommend Travisa Outsourcing:

https://www.indian-visa.com/homepage

Multiple entry visas can be obtained but a new law requires that there be a two-month gap between India visits.  Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months beyond your departure.


Q:  Do I need any immunizations?

A: Malaria is present in certain parts of India, and while immunization is not possible it is recommended that you take malaria medications while traveling and as prescribed by your doctor. There are several options.  Visit the Center for Disease Control’s website for more information:

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/india.aspx


Q: What about tips?

A: We send you a recommended tip amount for each trip. It is preferred that tips be in Indian Rupees.


Q: Can I use my ATM and credit card in India?

A: ATM’s are available in all big cities in India. You can use debit and credit cards in many places, but a 2-3% fee may be added by the vendor in India for credit card use. Additionally, your bank may assess an additional charge on the transaction. Ask your bank for fee details about their policy before traveling.


Q: Electricity?

A: Electricity supply is 220 volts, 50 cycles throughout India. If you want to bring electric appliances from home (razors, battery chargers) we recommend you bring an adapter, available at many stores in the US. Though sometimes hotels will have them available to borrow it is not guaranteed.


Q: What kind of luggage should I bring?

A: We recommend a large soft duffle bag, with wheels if you prefer. There are also several varieties on the market that include the option to convert to a backpack. (One model is by Eagle Creek.) Suitcases are acceptable but are a bit more inconvenient for our staff to transport.


Q: What should I wear?

A: Shorts, miniskirts and tank tops are unadvisable unless you’re on a tourist beach. In small towns and cities especially, it is not appropriate to expose too much skin. Safe clothing would be trousers, capris, knee-length (or longer) skirts, tops and shirts with at least short sleeves. India has some good cottons which are trendy, comfortable and affordable and are available for purchase. Women could try wearing what the local women wear, a salwar kameez which is cool and comfortable and is bound to improve the attitude of locals towards them.


Q: How should I handle beggars?

A: Well, you can start by ignoring them completely and if they get too persistent give them a stern look. If you must give them something, let it not be more than 1 to 2 rupees only. Often Westerners are targeted for begging because they “overgive”.


Q: In what form should I carry my money around?

A: Mostly Rupees, some US traveler’s checks for emergency backup. Remember, cash is available at ATM machines throughout India


Q: Can I exchange rupees for dollars when leaving India?

A: Yes, it is possible. However you will need an encashment certificate that proves that you purchased your rupees in India.  When you leave India, you can change money back at the airport with this certificate – so be sure to save it. If you don’t have a certificate, you cannot change rupees back to dollars in India, but could do it at home.


Q: How should I carry my money?

A: Best is in a money belt or passport pouch that is carried around your neck. We recommend the “two wallet” method so that not all of your cash is visible to vendors (or beggars) when you make purchases.  Keep a “back up wallet” with the majority of your cash and credit cards also on your body


Q: Best time of year to visit?

A: India is a big country. If you are visiting areas in North India (Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Jaipur, Udaipur) and South India (Chennai, Madurai, Kochi, Munnar etc.), best months to visit are October through February.

* Note: Refer to Nepal FAQ for trekking in the Sikkim and Darjeeling Himalaya.

Q: Do I need a visa for Bhutan?

A: Yes, but we will need to process the visa for you. You will be given a copy of the Bhutan Visa Confirmation Letter before you arrive in Bhutan which you must show to the Immigration official on arrival at the Paro airport.


Q: What does trekking involve?

A: Trekking is walking or hiking on a clearly marked trail covering a daily distance of 7 to 12 miles in approximately 5 to 8 hours. Trekking is NOT the same as backpacking in which you carry all your own gear. You will only carry a small day pack with your day’s essentials such as water, camera, an extra layer etc. Your other gear should be packed in a duffel bag which will be carried by your porter. Duffel bag weight limit is 33 lbs per trekker.


Q: What is trekking like in Bhutan?

A: In Bhutan, all treks are camping treks. On a camping trek, you sleep in tents and eat meals prepared by our kitchen staff. Since all camping equipment and food are carried by hand, the staff comprises several horse-men (for pack animals), kitchen staff, a cook and a guide.


Q: Do I need any immunizations?

A: The Center for Disease Control recommends a few immunizations, but none are required. Check the website for more information:

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/bhutan.aspx


Q: What currency should tip money be in?

A: We will send you a suggested tip amount for each staff person on your trip. Guides can be tipped in US$ (though not necessary), but porters/horse-men and other staff must be tipped in Ngultrum, the local currency.


Q: Where can I change currency?

A: The currency in Bhutan is called the Ngultrum. You cannot purchase Ngultrums prior to arriving in Bhutan, but you can easily buy them at the Paro airport, at Bhutan National Bank and Bank of Bhutan, and at major hotels in Thimpu and Paro, all of which accept travelers checks and/or dollars and various other currencies.


Q: Electricity?

A: Electricity supply is 220 volts, 50 cycles throughout Bhutan. If you want to bring electric appliances from home (razors, battery chargers) we recommend you bring an adapter, available at many stores in the US. Though sometimes hotels will have them available to borrow it is not guaranteed. And you will have little to no access to electricity while trekking.


Q: Best time of year to visit?

A: Best seasons are Spring (March through May) and Autumn (October through early December).


Q: How do I purchase airline tickets to Bhutan?

A: Clients cannot do this on their own; we must do it for you. You are required to pay the full airfare either from Bangkok or Kathmandu to Paro (Bhutan) in advance when you book a Bhutan trip with us. The airline is Druk Air.


Q: Weight limit on Druk Air?

A: Very important. Druk Air allows only 44 lbs on economy and 66lbs on business. If you are carrying more weight than that you will be charged an additional fee.


Q: How should I dress?

A: Modest. No shorts, tank tops or miniskirts.  In order to enter a temple you must have knees and shoulders covered.


Q: Do I need to bring a sleeping bag or sleeping pad?

A: Yes, you must bring your own sleeping bag. We will provide sleeping pads on camping treks. We advise sleeping bags rated 0 to 10 degrees F – lower for winter treks.

Q: Do I need a visa for Nepal?

A: Nepal visas can be obtained either in the US or on arrival at the Kathmandu airport. If you are obtaining your visa on arrival, bring two passport photos and visa fee in US dollars. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 more months from date of entry.

Up to 3 days –No fee
15 day multiple entry visa – US$ 25
30 day multiple entry visa – US$ 40
100 day multiple entry visa – US$90


Q: What does trekking involve?

A: Trekking is walking on a clearly marked trail covering a daily distance of 7 to 12 miles in 5 to 8 hours. On treks in Nepal, you will mostly be walking through villages so you will not only experience the Himalayan landscape but also the culture. Trekking is NOT the same as backpacking. You will only carry a small day pack with your day’s essentials such as water, camera, an extra layer etc. Your gear should be packed in a duffel bag which will be carried by your porter. Duffel bag weight limit is 33 lbs per trekker. Any extra gear that you do not need to bring trekking can be left at the hotel in Kathmandu.


Q: What is a lodge trek?

A: On a lodge trek you will sleep and eat in local family-owned lodges. On lodge treks, you will be able to charge your camera batteries (allow US$ 2 to US$5 per charge) and take a hot shower (allow US$ 2 to US$5 per shower) in most places. Grand Asian Journeys offers lodge treks in the Everest region (Ultimate Everest Trek and Everest Base Camp Treks), Annapurna region (Annapurna Circuit Trek and Annapurna Sanctuary Trek) and the Langtang region of Nepal. On a lodge trek, trek staff is comprised of one porter for every two clients plus a guide. An assistant guide is provided for every four clients.


Q: What is a camping trek?

A: On a camping trek, you sleep in tents and eat meals prepared by our kitchen staff. Since camping equipment and food are all carried, staff comprises of several porters, kitchen staff, a cook and a guide.


Q: Do I need any immunizations?

A: No immunizations are required unless you are staying in Nepal for several months. The Ciwec clinic, authority for travel medicine for Nepal, RECOMMENDS shots for Hepatitis A and B and Meningococcal Meningitis. Visit their website for more information:
http://www.ciwec-clinic.com/articles/immunization_advice_for_nepal.php


Q: What currency should tip money be in?

A: We send you a suggested tip amount for each trip. Guides can be tipped in US$ (though not necessary) but porters and other staff must be tipped in Nepali Rupees.


Q: Can I use my ATM and credit card in Nepal?

A: Yes several ATMs are available in Kathmandu and Pokhara. You can use debit and credit cards in many places, but a 2-3% fee may be added by the vendor in Nepal for credit card use. Additionally, your local bank may assess an additional charge on the transaction. Ask your bank for details about their policy before traveling.


Q: Electricity?

A: Electricity supply is 220 volts, 50 cycles throughout Nepal.  If you want to bring electric appliances from home (razors, battery chargers) we recommend you bring an adapter, available at many stores in the US. Though sometimes hotels will have them available to borrow it is not guaranteed.


Q: Best time of year to trek in Nepal?

A: Depends where you wish to trek – in most trekking destinations (Everest, Annapurna and Langtang), best seasons are Spring (March through May) and Autumn (October through December). In rain-shadow regions such as Dolpo and Mustang, best months to trek are May through September.


Q: Do I need to bring a sleeping bag and sleeping pad?

A: Yes, do bring your sleeping bag. Grand Asian Journeys does have a limited supply of sleeping bags which are available to lend to our clients on a first-come first-served basis. We provide sleeping pads on camping treks, and they are not necessary on teahouse treks.