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© Kadaltheeram Beach Resort 2013 © photographs by Philip Stewart

Flights vary in price depending on the airline and which day of the week you travel. It is worth trying different days of the week.  Weekends tend to be dearer than weekdays when you can save up to £200.on the flight.

It is possible to find a flight as cheap as £450, but normally it is between £500 - £600 return, including all taxes.

The best airlines to fly with from my experience are: Qatar via Doha, Emirates via Dubai, Kuwait Airlines via Kuwait City.

Check how long the stop off is with the flight before booking.   Normally there is between 1 hr and 3 hrs but some can be as long as 8 hrs to get the connecting flight to Trivandrum.

Baggage allowance is normally 20-30kg but can be much higher....up to 40-60kg with some airlines. This is obviously useful if you want to do some serious shopping while in India and avoid having to pay excess baggage charges.

Flights to Trivandrum are available from all the major UK airports.  London Heathrow/Gatwick, Manchester & Birmingham have all been used by customers staying with us.

You will be given an immigration form to fill in an hour or so before landing in Trivandrum so it is a good idea to make sure you have a pen & passport, flight information and the address of the Hotel at hand to fill it in before you land so that you can get to the front part of the queue when arriving in India.  This will save you time as they can be very slow checking passengers' details in India and being at the back of the queue can be very tiring after such a long flight.

Trivandrum Airport

Flight Information

The main airport you fly into is Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram) Airline Code: TRV

It is approx 30-40 mins drive from the airport to the Hotel.

The visitor’s visa is for six months and the date starts from when you apply.  It is best to apply a couple of months before your departure date but not too long otherwise it will have run out before you come back.

Vaccinations needed for India are generally Typhoid, Hepatitis and TB.  Kerala is now regarded as a Malaria Free State so you will probably not have to take Malaria tablets unless you intend to go onto a different part of India where Malaria may be present.  Please check with your G.P. well in advance of your holiday to get the latest government advice on what vaccinations you need to take.

Make sure that you have good travel insurance before going on holiday.  There is no insurance included in the booking with Kadaltheeram Beach Resort.  Also remember that if you are intending to do any dangerous sports or hire a motorcycle or car then you will not be covered on the standard holiday insurance and will have to pay extra if you are intending to do this.

If you do think you are going to hire a motorcycle or car then you will need to bring your driving licence plus an International Driving Licence.  Driving in India is not for the faint hearted, there are rules, but not many drivers follow them, so it looks hectic and very often scary.  The best way to travel is with the taxi drivers or by public bus or train which are amazingly cheap and safer than driving yourself, plus it gives you a chance to watch the scenery rather than avoiding the traffic & pedestrians that sometimes appear to have a suicidal approach to life.

Visa,Vacinations & Travel Insurance.

You will need to get a Visitor's Visa before coming to India.   An application for a visa is available from the  Indian High Commission  on the Internet at in.vfsglobal.co.uk

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You can use credit cards to get cash from the A.T.M. machines in the next village but credit card companies usually charge an extra fee for using credit cards abroad to get foreign currency so is best avoided unless you need to use them in an emergency.

Kerala is one of the richest states in India and boasts 98% literacy.  Tourism is one of Kerala's biggest earners, along with coconuts which are everywhere.  The people are unbelievably friendly and it is perfectly safe for European people to walk around the streets alone and there is very little crime, although we obviously ask everyone to use their common sense as you would do when on holiday anywhere.

There are some beggars, but very few, and most people have a television and nearly all of them seem to have a mobile phone.  The children are happy and eager to talk to anyone that will let them.

Most of the local men wear the traditional Kerala lungi or dhoti ( a length of cotton wrapped round their waists like a sarong or tucked up and resembling an oversized nappy ).

The local ladies either wear the traditional Sari, Chuddera or Nightie around the village.  All the business men and a lot of the younger generation are now wearing western trousers and shoes/trainers but still wear the traditional lungi to the temples, festivals or around the home.  In the city western dress is much more evident than in the village.

Nudity and public showing of affection is frowned upon.  You will never see couples kissing or hugging in the street and at most festivals the ladies sit together on one side and the men on the other.  You will see a lot of men or ladies holding hands but this is a show of friendship and if you make friends with local people and shake their hand be aware you may not get it back for a while as they may keep hold of it while they talk to you.

On the beach it is perfectly OK to sunbathe and wear swimming costumes/bikinis etc but advisable to wrap a sarong or lungi around you to go to and from the beach and to cover up if you go to the temples or festivals directly from the beach.  I mention all the above so that you are aware of the dress code in India rather than making a faux pas and wishing you had known about it when you arrived.

It is the custom in Kerala to remove your shoes and leave them outside the house before entering.  Also if you visit any temples you must remove your shoes and leave them outside the entrance before going in.  Many local shops and some places in the city also have the same rule and the best way to know if you have to remove them is to look outside the entrance and if there are lots of shoes on the ground then you know you have to remove them.  At some of the larger temples and museums there is a booth where you have to pay to leave your shoes and you are given a ticket so that you can collect them when you have finished looking around. They will be perfectly safe outside the house or shop, just remember where you left them so that you put on the correct pair of shoes when you leave.

If you are offered food or sweets etc. always accept and eat it with the right hand.  Indians do not use knives and forks but eat with their right hand.  Their left hand is used when they go to the toilet, so accepting and eating food with the left hand is considered most unhygienic.  If you are going out for the day it is always useful to have a few tissues in your pocket or bag in case you need to use a public toilet, as it will may only have a tap and a jug to use, no toilet roll. Nearly all the hotel restaurants and public tourist places have both Indian squat loos and Western Loos with toilet roll so that you can choose which one to use.

Things To Bring With You.

Bring along a torch.  It is a necessity in India.  There is an emergency light/torch in each room in case of a power cut but it is rather bulky to take out of the room.  Remember it goes dark at 6.30pm throughout the year so the chances are that you will be coming back most evenings in the dark, whether you have been out shopping, for a walk or for a meal.

A small torch that can easily be carried or fit in your pocket will prove to be the best thing you remembered to bring with you.

Sunscreen can be bought in India but it can be hard to find.  A lot of places sell duplicate/fake sun screen which could mean that you think you are using factor 50 but it is useless and therefore dangerous.  If you have no sunscreen then go to a local doctor to check where you can purchase the correct sun screen.  Preferably, of course bring plenty with you on holiday.

Simple medical remedies ie: Asprin, Lemsip etc. can be hard to locate so best to bring them with you.

Useful Information

The currency in India is the Indian Rupee.  You cannot get Indian Rupees in the UK before travelling, so you can either bring travellers' cheque's in Pounds Sterling or U.S. Dollars.

You can also bring cash UK pounds or euros which can easily be changed into rupees at either the local money changing place in the village or at the local bank and you normally get a better rate for cash. Avoid changing too much money at the airport as they do not give a good rate of exchange.

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Things you may want to buy in India

Everyone wants to buy clothes in India.  The vibrant colours of the silk & cotton give an unbelievable choice and material is very cheap compared to the UK.  There are different qualities of silk and cotton so check it before committing yourself and if it is unbelievably cheap then it probably is not going to last very long once you get home.

The Indian tailors are brilliant at copying a garment but not good at designing one, so if you have a favourite garment, bring it along with you to be copied.  Shoes and underwear are also very cheap in India.

If you need new glasses then bring along your prescription and buy some glasses whilst in India as they are much cheaper than the UK.  You can get an eye test done in India but it is more basic than the UK and they don’t do the pressure test etc.

I also have my Dental Practice in Trivandrum and know a lot of European visitors go to them when they are in India.  The prices are considerably cheaper than in the UK.

There are four or five dentists in the practice and each one has his or her own specialist field in which they deal.  It is very clean and sterile and they have always explained exactly what needs doing, why and how much it is going to cost etc. before proceeding with the work.  I am extremely impressed with both the dentists & opticians I have used and have every confidence in recommending them.

If you are ill for any reason there is the doctors' practice which I use, about twenty minutes taxi drive away.  There are two doctors there who are both extremely good.  They will prescribe the treatment you need and request to see you every two or three days to check on how the treatment is going.  When they are happy that you are well again, they will give you a course of tablets to re-introduce the good bacteria that the antibiotics have destroyed so don't be surprised when you are issued more tablets once you are better.

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