A former British colony, India is located in southern Asia bordering Pakistan to the northwest; China, Bhutan, and Nepal to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. The southern part of India is surrounded by the Indian Ocean and the south western part is surrounded by the Arabian Sea and the southeast tip is near the Island of Sri Lanka. India is the 7th largest country in land mass and is the 2nd most populous country with over 1 billion people in which 85% of them practice Hinduism. India is home to various cultures and practices, and is culturally, genetically and linguistically the 2nd most diverse geographical entity after Africa.
In recent years, India has seen a boom in its medical and technological sectors which in turn has created a burgeoning middle class and along with its advancing infrastructure has catapulted India out of its distinction as a underdeveloped nation and into the category of a developing nation along with Brazil, China, and Argentina.
Medical Tourism Fame
India is a popular destination for medical tourists because its infrastructure and technology is on par with the United States, and many doctors boast they were trained in the U.S. and/or England. The Joint Commission International (JCI) has accredited a whopping 13 hospitals in India which are scattered amongst the major cities in India (Kolkata, Chennai, Punjab, Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Hyderabad and Mohali). Among those with JCI accreditation, Apollo boasts four hospitals. They are the largest healthcare group in Asia and they frequently collaborate with Johns Hopkins Medicine International.
The most common procedures performed in India are orthopedics, cosmetic, cancer treatments, dental care and heart surgery, and aside from its superior credentials, India is a popular destination for medical tourists because prices for procedures in India tend to be a little cheaper compared to other destinations.
The official languages of India are Hindi and English.
India is typically very hot with the hottest and driest months being between March and June. The average temperature during this time is usually 89.6oF. However, in the western part of India the average temperature can be much higher. The coolest months are between December and February with the average daily temperature fluctuating between 50-59oF(10-15oC). The rainy (monsoon) season lasts from March until June. Because the boundaries of India span a large land area it does not fit into only one climatic zone. It is divided into 4 zones: Alpine which is near the Himalayas and is subject to climatic fluctuations; the subtropical zone which is in the northern part of India; the tropical zone which is divided into tropical wet (monsoon) and tropical dry depending on the season; and the arid zone which has high temperatures and low rainfall, and is prevalent in the western part of the country.
Visa / Entrance Requirements
All tourists traveling to India must have a valid passport and visa, and ´visas on arrival´ is not an option. India offers a variety of visas that are pertinent for medical tourism and must be obtained before traveling to India.
(1) A tourist visa is valid for six months from the date of issue.
(2) Medical (M) visa, which is valid for up to one year or the length of treatment (whichever is less). In order to apply for an M visa a person must provide letters/documents explaining the details of treatment that are signed and stamped by the concerned hospital or doctor.
(3) Medical escort visa is provided to those who are accompanying a patient traveling to India for medical care on a medical visa. A close relative or a friend of the patient can apply for this visa and included in the application packet along with documents signed and stamped by the doctor or hospital should be a letter of declaration from the patient or immediate family member confirming the name of the escort traveling with the patient.
In order to obtain a visa one must have an original passport valid for 6 months, pay the visa fee, have two passport size photographs, supply supporting documents when necessary, and complete the application form. The fees for a visa vary depended on the length of stay. Up to 6 months is about $60, 6 months to 1 year is $85, and more than one year is $150.
Airlines Servicing this Destination
The airport codes:
- Chennai (Madras): MAA
- Mumbai (Bombay): BOM
- Kolkata (Calcutta): CCU
- New Delhi: DEL
- Hyderabad: HYD
- Bangalore: BLR
- Punjab: ATQ, LUH
The following airlines have flights to India:
- Air France
- Air India
- British Airways
- Delta Airlines
- Indian Airlines
- Lufthansa Airways
- Malaysian Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- United Airlines
Overall India is an inexpensive country but depending on the region you are in (Bombay tends to be a bit more expensive) budget hotels and hostels can range from $10 USD per night to $40 USD per night for a private room. If one is concerned about quality, look for government of India approved habitations.
Mid-priced rooms range from $20-70 USD, while 5 star hotels which range from golf & spa resorts to hotels and beach resort can range from $150-300 USD per night and beach villas can range from $500 to $3000 per night.
The currency of India is the Rupee (INR).
The exchange rate is $1 USD to 48 INR (exchange rate subject to change)
The international access code for India is 91.
In order to call India from the U.S. or Canada you must dial 011 (exit code) then 91 (country code for India), then the area code, then the phone number.
To call the U.S. from India you must dial 001 + 1 + area code + phone number
To call a cell phone in India from the U.S. and Canada you must dial 011 + 91+ 9 + the nine digit phone number.
The following are area codes for the major cities in India:
Chennai (Madras): 44
Bombay (Mumbai): 22
Kolkata (Calcutta): 33
New Delhi: 11
Cyber-cafes are widely available in major cities and towns. Larger hotels throughout the country offer Broadband Internet connection.
Emergency Telephone Numbers
U.S. Embassy in Chennai (Madras): 44-2857-4000
U.S. Embassy in Kolkata (Calcutta): 33-3984 2400
U.S. Embassy in New Delhi: 11-2419-8000
U.S. Embassy in Mumbai (Bombay): 22-2363-3611
U.S. Embassy in Hyderabad: 40-4033-8300
*Note that the region bordering Pakistan is contentious, and it is advised that tourists not travel to that area.
From the Himalayas and deserts to the deep blue Indian Ocean and the sizzling city of Mumbai, India offers a range of sightseeing opportunities that can satisfy anyone’s leisurely tastes. For the naturalist, India has an abundance of virgin jungles and wildlife, and it is also home to the famous Keoladeo Ghana bird sanctuary located in Rajasthan. For the religious connoisseur there is an abundance of Hindu temples. One famous temple, located in Madurai, is the Meenakshi Temple. For the archaeologist and the historian, India has ruins of forts, picturesque large private homes, and mausoleums. For those seeking the hustle and bustle of urban life, Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Calcutta, Bangalore, Pune, and Hyderabad are a must see. Of course, what trip to India is complete without a tour of the world famous mausoleum, the Taj Mahal, located in Agra. The Taj Mahal has been considered the finest example of Mughal architecture which, conflate the architectural styles of Islam, India and Persia.
There are many purchasing options for those traveling to India. The Crawford market in Mumbai offers an array of flowers, meats, fish, and fruits. The Dilli Haat market sells a blend of food and crafts as well as offering cultural activities. The street behind the Taj Mahal Hotel (Mumbai) called Mereweather Road, sells colorful carpets. Beautiful silk saris are sold throughout India at varying prices, and one definitely cannot forget to buy what gastronomists and past empires craved: Indian spices.
Nightlife and the Arts
The booming urban centers of Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, etc. have many forms of entertainment to choose from, including trendy discos blaring the latest European and American hits, venues with live music, and casinos. India has strict curfew laws and thus many bars and nightclubs close at 11:30 to 1:30am depending on the region. Mumbai and Delhi have the latest curfew (1:30am) while Chennai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad has the earliest (11:00-11:30pm). Some places are forced to close by 10pm due to noise restrictions. The only places that are exempt from curfew restrictions are 5 star international hotels (with exorbitant entrance fees and drink prices) and clubs in Kolkata because there is no curfew in that city. If you live to dance then Bangalore must be avoided because dancing is illegal there.
There are at least 31 English language newspapers from local papers like the Kashmir Times to single genre papers such as The Economic Times, The Financial Express, and The Business Standard.