Country Guide for Kerala, India

Kerala or as the locals like to refer to it, God’s own country is a world away from the frenzy of elsewhere, with its more laid-back attitude. Having said that, there are some key travel advice that needs to be followed:

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Travel Guide to Kerala, India - Everything you need to know
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Etiquette

Indian culture is quite conservative by many world standards; tradition and social norms are usually strictly followed.

  • When greeting someone always shake hands and eat with your right hand (the left is reserved for far more unsavoury activities).
  • With the current media highlight on sexual attacks and rape, try to avoid wearing a tight dress or revealing clothing as it is likely to attract unwanted attention even if it in a public or crowded place.
  • Women will be required to cover their heads (and sometimes men)  at some places of worship ? especially at temples and mosques.
  • It’s best not to touch someone with your feet as it is a considered to be sign of disrespect.
  • It’s considered bad manners to enter someone’s home without removing your shoes, and shoes are also prohibited in many temples and shrines.

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What to pack

You can get some of these items in many parts of India, but prices are often at a premium and brands may not be those you recognise.

  • For babies or toddlers: disposable or washable diapers, diaper rash cream, extra bottles, a good stock of wet wipes, infant formula and canned, bottled or rehydratable food.
  • A fold-up baby bed or the lightest possible travel cot you can find (some companies make pop-up tent-style beds), as hotel cots may prove precarious.
  • Don’t take a pushchair/stroller, as this will be impractical to use and pavements are often scarce. For smaller kids, a much better option is a backpack so they’re lifted up and out of the daunting throng.
  • A few less-precious toys that won?t be mourned if lost or damaged.
  • A swimming jacket, life jacket or water wings for the sea or pool.
  • Good sturdy footwear.
  • Audiobooks or tablets loaded with games, films and music for long journeys ? and headphones!
  • Child-friendly insect repellent, hats and sun lotion

Eating

Eating in restaurants is a big risk for contracting diarrhea. Ways to avoid it include the following:

  • eating only freshly cooked food
  • avoiding shellfish and buffets
  • peeling fruit
  • cooking vegetables
  • soaking salads in iodine water for at least 20 minutes
  • eating in busy restaurants with a high turnover of customers

On the Road

Travel in India, be it by taxi, local bus, train or air, can be arduous for the whole family. Concepts such as clean public toilets, changing rooms, safe playgrounds etc are rare in much of the country. Public transport is often extremely overcrowded. Plan fun, easy days to follow longer bus or train rides.

Money

ATMs widely available; credit/debit cards are accepted in midrange hotels, shops and restaurants, but much of India remains a cash-based economy.

Currency…

The Indian rupee (?) is divided into 100 paise (p), but only 50 paise coins are legal tender and these are rarely seen. Coins come in denominations of ?1, ?2, ?5 and ?10 (the ?1s and ?2s look almost identical); notes come in ?5, ?10, ?20, ?50, ?100, and the newly introduced ?500 and ?2000 (this last is handy for paying large bills but can pose problems when getting change for small purchases). The Indian rupee is linked to a basket of currencies and has been subject to fluctuations in recent years.

Black Market…

  • Black-market money changers exist, but legal money changers are so common there?s no reason to use illegal services.
  • If someone approaches you on the street and offers to change money, you?re probably being set up for a scam.
 

Cash…

  • Major currencies such as US dollars, pounds sterling and euros are easy to change throughout India, although some bank branches insist on travelers cheques only.
  • Whenever changing money, check every note. Don?t accept any filthy, ripped or disintegrating notes, as these may be difficult to use.
  • It can be tough getting change in India so keep a stock of smaller currency; ?10, ?20 and ?50 notes are helpful.

Credit Cards…

  • Credit cards are accepted at many shops, better restaurants and midrange and top-end hotels, and they can usually be used to pay for flights and train tickets.
  • Cash advances on major credit cards are possible at some banks.
  • MasterCard and Visa are the most widely accepted cards.
  • Always keep the emergency lost-and-stolen numbers for your credit cards in a safe place, separate from your cards, and report any loss or theft immediately.

Health Insurance

Don?t travel without health insurance. Emergency evacuation is expensive ? bills of over US$100,000 are not uncommon. You can get a quote from our Worldnomads.com widget on this page.

Self-treatment may be appropriate if your problem is minor (eg traveller?s diarrhea), you are carrying the relevant medication and you cannot attend a recommended clinic. If you suspect a serious disease, especially malaria, travel to the nearest quality facility.

Before buying medication over the counter, check the use-by date, and ensure the packet is sealed and properly stored

Required & Recommended Vaccinations…

The only vaccine required by international regulations is yellow fever.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following vaccinations for travelers going to India (as well as being up to date with measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations):

  • Adult diphtheria & tetanus
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Polio
  • Typhoid
  • Varicella
  • Meningitis
  • Rabies
  • Tuberculosis (TB)

Medical Checklist…

Recommended items for a personal medical kit:

Tap Water…

  • Never drink tap water.
  • Bottled water is generally safe ? check the seal is intact at purchase.
  • Avoid ice unless you know it has been safely made.
  • Be careful of fresh juices served at street stalls in particular ? they may have been watered down or may be served in unhygienic jugs/glasses.
  • Boiling water is usually the most efficient method of purifying it.
  • The best chemical purifier is iodine. It should not be used by pregnant women or those with thyroid problems.
  • Water filters should also filter out viruses. Ensure your filter has a chemical barrier such as iodine and a small pore size (less than four microns).
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2 thoughts on “Country Guide for Kerala, India”

  1. I like details….. it’s always good to know each countries traditions and rules before visiting. Thank you so much. I have visited Kerala and the food is amazing.

    Reply

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