Airports & Airlines
India is a big country so it makes sense to fly into the airport that’s nearest to the area you’ll be visiting. South India has three main gateways for international flights: Bengaluru (www.bengaluruairport.com), Chennai (www.aai.aero/chennai) and Mumbai (www.csia.in); however, there are a number of other cities servicing international carriers. Direct charter flights from the UK, Russia and certain parts of Europe land at Goa’s Dabolim Airport and, while you can get some cheap deals, you must also return via a charter flight.
India’s national carrier is Air India (www.airindia.com), which has had a relatively decent air-safety record in recent years.
- An onward or return air ticket is usually a condition of the Indian tourist visa, so few visitors buy international tickets inside India.
- Only designated travel agencies can book international flights, and fares may be the same if you book directly with the airlines.
- Departure tax and other charges are included in airline tickets.
- You are required to show a copy of your ticket or itinerary (paper or digital) in order to enter the airport, whether flying internationally or within India.
Departure tax is included in the price of a ticket.
It’s possible, of course, to get to South India overland via the long haul through North India. The classic hippy route from Europe to Goa involves travelling via Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. Other popular overland options are via Bangladesh or Nepal. If you enter India by bus or train you’ll be required to disembark at the border for standard immigration and customs checks.
You must acquire a valid Indian visa in advance, as no visas are available at the border.
For detailed information about crossing into India from neighbouring countries, consult Lonely Planet’s India.
Car & Motorcycle
Drivers of cars and motorbikes will need the vehicle’s registration papers, liability insurance and an international driving permit in addition to their domestic licence. You’ll also need a Carnet de passage en douane, which acts as a temporary waiver of import duty.
To find out the latest requirements for the paperwork and other important driving information, contact your local automobile association.
There are several sea routes between India and surrounding islands but none leave Indian sovereign territory. There has long been talk of a passenger ferry service between southern India and Colombo in Sri Lanka but this has yet to materialise. Enquire locally to see if there has been any progress.