It would be wrong to compare Bangalore with Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad, cities that have long preserved their history. So if you come in expecting monuments that blow your mind, then you will only be disappointed. Instead, you can expect Bangalore’s pleasant climate, friendly people, English speaking population (much more than most other big cities in India), easy drinking and dining spots, great shopping, and fascinating curated cultural experiences.
Answering common questions and offering advice that can be very useful. If you don’t find the answer to your question, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. If you plan to move to the city, you should seriously consider joining FIVE OCEANS (www.fiveoceans.club), which is a lifestyle and social community that regularly organises events and gets its members invited to the best do’s in the city.
Do not expect world-class tourist attractions, as it is more of a business/tech city which nonetheless has retained some of the British Raj cultures in charming little pockets, along with some green spaces, parks and interesting colonial architecture.
Getting an Indian visa is relatively straightforward, with standard immigration and customs procedures. Like most countries, all you need is a valid passport and an onward/return ticket. You’ll also need a visa, which some nationalities can now obtain on arrival. Other nationalities or those wishing to stay more than 30 days need to get their visa beforehand. Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in India. If your passport is lost or stolen, immediately contact your country’s representative. Keep photocopies of your airline ticket and the identity and visa pages of your passport in case of an emergency. Even better, scan and email copies to yourself. Check with the Indian embassy in your home country for any special conditions that may exist for your nationality. A single entry visa valid for one month (VOA) is available at Bengaluru, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Trivandrum airports. However, to avail this facility, you need to apply online at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 30 days before you are due to travel.
The fee is the US $60, and you have to upload a photograph as well as a copy of your passport. Travellers have reported being asked for documentation showing their hotel confirmation at the airport, though this is not specified on the VOA website. The VOA is valid from the date of arrival.
VISAS & PERMITS
Most visitors can move freely between India and its neighbouring countries. However, citizens of China, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sudan, are barred from re-entering India within two months of their previous exit.
Technically, you must declare any amount of cash over the US $5000, or a total amount of currency over the US $10,000 on arrival. Officials occasionally ask tourists to enter expensive items such as large amounts of jewelry, expensive watches, or expensive electronic gadgets on a ‘Tourist Baggage Re-export’ form to ensure they’re taken out of India at the time of departure.
India has traditionally been stringent with visa extensions. If you do need to extend your visa due to an emergency of some sort, you should contact the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office in Delhi. This is also the place to come for a replacement visa, and if you need your lost/stolen passport replaced (required before you can leave the country). Regional FRROs are less likely to grant an extension. Assuming you meet the stringent criteria, the FRRO is permitted to issue an extension of 14 days (free for nationals of most countries; enquire on application). You must bring your confirmed air ticket, one passport photo (take two, just in case) and a photocopy of your passport identity and visa pages. Note that this system is designed to get you out of the country promptly with the correct official stamps, not to give you two extra weeks of travel and leisure.
Access to certain parts of India is controlled by a complicated permit system. A permit is known as an Inner-Line Permit (ILP) or a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is required to visit Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and certain parts of Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, and Uttarakhand that lie close to the disputed border with China/Tibet. Nagaland and Mizoram have reintroduced Restricted Area Permits (RAP) for foreign travelers, and Meghalaya and Manipur are considering doing so. Permits are also necessary for travel to the Andaman and Lakshadweep Islands, and some parts of Kutch in Gujarat.
Obtaining the ILP/RAP is usually a formality, but travel agents must apply on your behalf for certain areas, including many trekking routes passing close to Indian borders.
Double-check with tourism officials to see if permit requirements have undergone any changes before you head out to these areas.
WHAT TO PACK
A standard suitcase is quite sufficient. Comfortable walking shoes are a must, a couple of dressy outfits for after-dark outings (Bangalore is the fashion capital of the south, after all), and a light sweater or windbreaker as evenings can get a tad chilly.
Men usually wear long trousers and shirts, although shorts are quite acceptable in most places during the day. Women wear long dresses or long pants. It’s advisable not to wear short skirts/revealing clothing. Don’t pack more than a week’s worth of clothes. Laundry is readily available and is cheap.
Carry mosquito repellent, hand sanitiser, sunglasses, a packable hat, sunscreen and bottled water while you are out and about during the day. And don’t forget your camera.
Instead of giving begging children cash which gathers a crowd, bring along mini candy bars or pens to give to them. They are inexpensive and small to pack. Kids appreciate them.
Most hotels provide a robe, slippers, hairdryer, small soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Bring your own if you need more.
Carry a power converter, especially if you bring your own hair dryer or chargers.
Although it is advisable to carry your own prescriptions and medications, local pharmacies are well equipped.
Enjoy the food, but don’t eat it too spicy if you’re already having stomach problems or if you just don’t like it that spicy. Restaurants don’t mind at all if you check that the spice levels are not too hot to handle.
And don’t worry if you forget anything – you can buy everything you need in Bangalore!
Bangalore’s weather is mostly temperate throughout the year, barring about a month in the summer, when it becomes exceptionally hot (over 35 degrees Centigrade). But even during the course of a day, you sometimes experience unpredictable fluctuations, especially if there is a sudden spell of rain. Dressing in layers is advised: a light cotton shirt, a cardigan, and even a handy stole. Jeans can be worn comfortably throughout the year in Bangalore, but if your legs tend to get hot, then shorts should be fine; however, carry a pair of full-length pants in case of club code, temple stops, or sudden chilly weather, and a full-length sarong for women, for temple stops.
In addition to packing to suit the weather, it is sensible to be prepared for certain cultural situations or specific activities. Modest clothes (covering shoulders and knees and with no deeper than 6-inch necklines) are appropriate in small towns and villages. Visits to places of religious significance to require the same guidelines to be followed. However, in large Indian cities, feel free to don trendy clothes for clubbing and partying, and formal clothes for certain hotels or restaurants.
• A long scarf/cotton shrug to cover bare shoulders for mosque and temple visits. Can be purchased locally.
• A long tunic over long trousers or skirt, for mosque/temple visits. Can be purchased locally.
• If you plan to visit nearby forests or bird-watch in Bangalore, carry dull-colored clothing in brown, green, grey or blue.
• Party-wear and formal clothes and footwear for clubs, bars, lounges and fine-dining restaurants.
Shoes and Headgear
• Sensible walking shoes (like crocs – washable) are advisable, as exploring most markets and traditional areas involves walking.
• Parks and private campuses have running opportunity, so you could carry running shoes.
• Easy to slip off and inexpensive footwear for visits to temples (where they could get mixed up) and local homes. Can be purchased locally.
• Flip-flops/bathroom slippers – for shared bathrooms. Can be purchased locally.
• A hat or a cap. Can be purchased locally.
• Helmets, if you intend to ride bicycles or motorbikes.
• Helmets for your kids (bike rental companies don’t equip all riding members of a family by default)
Toiletries, Cosmetics and Medicines:
Most renowned brands are sold in Bangalore. However, some brands available here may be different from those you are comfortable with, so carry brands you cannot do without.
• Mosquito repellent
• Tampons with applicators or menstrual cups: these aren’t available off-the-shelf and need to be preordered, a luxury a visitor doesn’t have.
• Photography equipment
• Binoculars – for wildlife trips and bird-watching.
• A Smartphone – useful for maps, browsing, and using apps like Uber.
• Power adapter
• Torch or headlamp – Bangalore experiences power cuts, and budget accommodation options may not have backup power.
• Ear plugs and eye patches – some of the budget accommodation options may be located in noisy areas, and also may not have blinds which keep the sun out. These are also useful during overnight travel on buses or trains.
• Locks for room doors in cheap accommodation, or for your luggage.
• A chain for tying your luggage, in overnight trains or buses, or in hostels and dorms.
• Credit card and ATM card – Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, while Amex is not easily accepted.
• Ziploc bags – to ant-proof food.
• A day backpack
• Neck pillow – for overnight travel in buses or trains.
• A dry bag – useful if celebrating the festival Holi, or for any water-based activity.
• Toilet paper
• Hand sanitizer
• Dry tissue
• Mosquito repellent
• Lip balm/lip moisturizer (like Chap Stick)
• Skin moisturizer
• Emergency and prescription medication, including antihistamines.
• Breath freshener or chewing gum
• Power adapter
• Torch or headlamp
• Ear plugs and sleep eye masks
VISAS & PERMITS
Bangalore’s recent building boom means that good housing options are available even if you are here for a short stint: serviced apartments, Airbnb, homestays, and furnished rentals, depending on your preferred location and budget. Even if you are getting your own place, a short-term rental may be better than staying in a hotel for a few weeks while your place is finalised and set up, preferably a rental with a cooking gas connection and a functioning kitchen.
There are plenty of agents who will take you around the city, sometimes on a wild goose chase, but it’s worth doing some research before taking on anything at face value. The rental process is usually straightforward. Houses are rented to companies or individuals on an 11-month basis (avoids legalities) with a lease agreement. A rental deposit (11 months) is standard and is unusually high by global standards. The quality of housing varies from independent houses that require a lot of staff to maintain to newly constructed apartment blocks and gated communities with lifestyle enhancing facilities like gyms, clubhouses, and recreation areas. Standard features usually include western-style toilets, showers, ceiling fans, and water heaters. Bedrooms usually have bathrooms attached. The floors are usually stone or tile, not carpeted, which works better in Indian climates.
WHERE TO LIVE *LONG TERM
Moving to a city like Bangalore comes with a lot of decisions. Choosing where to live is only one of them, but it can define your entire experience!
Flats and Apartments
High-rise city living it need not be! You might think that living in the center of the city inevitably means living in a huge apartment complex, but there are some beautiful flats available with just 3 or 4 neighbors.
• Secure – eliminates the need to worry about hiring a security guard just for your house, and is cheaper too, as they work in shifts. Some complexes even have intercom systems to check if visitors are who they say they are.
• Close neighbors that can take care of your cats and house while you’re away, and sometimes even share a maid with.
• Big apartment complexes often have organized activities and lots of children, so if you’re a family, you will find lots of friends quickly.
• The bigger the complex, the greater the noise.
• Power and water shortages can occur.
• More neighbours can mean less privacy.
HousesHaving your own little house can be a blissful escape. More space, a little garden, and only seeing your neighbors when you want to can be perfect Bangalore living, but there are also some disadvantages to being
quite so independent.
• Bangalore’s contemporary architecture means that you can find some unbelievably well-designed houses.
• Having your own terrace or balconies to choose from means that you can find an oasis of green in the city.