If you're travelling to India, then seeing South India is probably easier than you might first imagine. To help get you started, take a look at our essential advice. You should also visit the government foreign travel advice pages for the most up to date information www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india
India has made a few changes to its entry requirements in the last few years, so recapping what's needed when travelling to India is a smart idea. Visas are required to enter India, and for most of us the e-Tourist Visa, or e-TV, is the way to go.
Citizens of the British Isles are eligible for the e-TV, and the good news is that the Indian government extended e-visa durations from 30 days to 60 days from April 2017 onwards. Double entry is also permitted under the e-TV, which means that you can leave and re-enter the country if required within that 60-day time frame without needing to reapply for a visa.
You can get an e-visa online relatively simply, but bear in mind that the visa is valid from the moment it's issued, rather than the moment you enter the country.
Passports, meanwhile, ought to be valid for another six months from the date you arrive in India, with no damage and with two pages free for staff to stamp. They should also be machine-readable.
Book an appointment with your local healthcare centre at least 8 weeks before you travel to seek advice on which vaccinations you'll need. Most likely, it will be some or all of the following:
We strongly advise you take out comprehensive travel insurance for your India Holiday, which as a minimum covers
If you're planning some more adventurous pursuits, such as diving or cycling ensure that your insurance policy covers this.
The whole of South India enjoys a gorgeous climate, with only the monsoon season between June and September to worry about. April to June sees temperatures across South India soaring to highs of 38°C, while mild winters see an average of 25°C.
If you're visiting a tropical state like Karnataka and Kerala, you'll enjoy a swarthy annual average, while a state like Tamil Nadu or Andrha Pradesh offers inland hills to escape the searing heat of the beaches.
Visitors to South India are advised to avoid tap water. Always stick to bottled mineral water, even if you're visiting someone's home, dining out or on the road. Avoid roadside vendors and definitely don't drink any water bought in polythene bags or in bottles whose seals are broken. When it's time to brush your teeth, mineral water bottles are the way to go.
India's population and electricity consumption sometimes outmatches its power plant capacity, so every so often you might experience blackouts, especially when exploring unseen India. Packing a torch is well advised.
You should only need a Type C, or European, plug adaptor to use your devices. Taking a Type D is also recommended though, as there's a little variety in the sockets here.
Getting help fast has recently been simplified in India, with 112 being the number to dial for all emergency services. There's a good spread of hospitals in the region's major cities, including Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bangalore and Christian Medical College Hospital, Vellore.
For consular services, South India also has decent coverage. Depending on where your independent travels take you, keep these embassy offices in mind:
British Deputy High Commission Chennai
20 Anderson Road
Chennai 600 006
+91 (44) 4219 2151
British Deputy High Commission Bengaluru
23 Kasturba Road Cross
Bengaluru 560 001
+91 (80) 2210 0200
British Deputy High Commission Kolkata
1A Ho Chi Minh Sarani
+91 (33) 2288 5172