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Travel Guide > Asia > India

India Money & Shopping

  
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Currency

The currency in India is the Indian rupee (rupaya in Hindi and similarly named in most Indian languages, but taka in Maithili and Taakaa in Bengali and Toka in Assamese). It trades around 46 rupees to the US dollar, 67 to pound sterling and 61 rupees to the Euro. The rupee is subdivided into 100 paise (singular: paisa). 5 rupees 75 paise would normally be written as Rs. 5.75 and one rupee as Re.1.

Common bills come in denominations of Rs. 5 (green), Rs. 10 (orange), Rs. 20 (red), Rs. 50 (purple), Rs. 100 (blue), Rs. 500 (yellow) and Rs. 1,000 (pink). It is always good to have a number of small bills on hand, as merchants and drivers sometimes have no change. A useful technique is to keep small bills (Rs. 10-50) in your wallet or in a pocket, and to keep larger bills separate. Then, it will not be obvious how much money you have. Many merchants will claim that they don't have change for a Rs. 100 or Rs. 500 note. This is often a lie so that they are not stuck with a large bill. It is best not to buy unless you have exact change.

The coins in circulation are 50 paise, Re. 1, Rs. 2, Rs. 5, and Rs. 10 (recently introduced). Coins are useful for buying tea (Rs. 5), for bus fare (Rs. 2 to Rs. 10), and for giving exact change for an auto-rickshaw.

Indians commonly use lakh and crore for 100,000 and 10,000,000 respectively. Though these terms come from Sanskrit, they have been adopted so deeply into Indian English that most people are not aware that it is not standard in other English dialects. You may also find non-standard placement of commas while writing numerals. One crore rupees would be written as Rs. 1,00,00,000. This format may puzzle you till you start thinking in terms of lakhs and crores, after which it will seem natural.

Changing money

The Indian rupee is not officially convertible, and a few government-run shops will still insist on seeing official exchange receipts if you are visibly a foreigner and attempt to pay in rupees instead of hard currency. Rates for exchanging rupees overseas are often poor and importing rupees is theoretically illegal, although places with significant Indian populations (eg. Dubai, Singapore) can give decent rates. Try to get rid of any spare rupees before you leave the country.

Outside airports, you can change your currency at any one of the numerous foreign exchange conversion units including banks. Some of the more common foreign exchange merchants are Travelex and Thomas Cook

Most ATMs will pay out only 10,000 rupees in each transaction. State Bank of India (SBI) is the biggest bank in India and has the most ATM's. ICICI bank has the second largest network of ATMs and accepts most of the international cards at a nominal charge. International banks like Citibank, HSBC, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, ABN Amro, and Standard Chartered have a significant presence in major Indian cities. It is always worthwhile to have bank cards or credit cards from at least two different providers to ensure that you have a backup available in case one card is suspended by your bank or simply does not work work at a particular ATM.

In many cities and towns, credit cards are accepted at retail chain stores and other restaurants and stores. Small businesses and family-run stores almost never accept credit cards, so it is useful to keep a moderate amount of cash on hand.

Costs

In short, India is quite cheap

 

Mid-range to high-range travellers

Rs. 2500, at least, needed for a decent room in a good hotel offering cable, air conditioning and a direct telephone; however, this price doesn't include a refrigerator. Food will cost at least Rs. 150 for a decent meal at a stall, not at a hotel), but the sky is the limit. While bus transportation will cost approximately Rs. 5 for a short distance of about 1 km, a taxi or rickshaw wlll cost Rs. 22 for the same distance without air conditioning. There are radio taxis that are available at 20—25 rupees a kilometre in key Indian cities which have GPS navigation, air conditioned and accept debit/credit cards for payments. They are a very safe mode of travel. So the total for one day would be about as below:

  • Hotel: $60 for a good place per day
  • Food: $10 for a good meal per day
  • Travel: $10 taxi and bus together

Total: $80 for a couple, $70 for a person alone

Budget travellers

Budget travel around India is surprisingly easy, with the savvy backpacker able to get by (relatively comfortably) on as little as $25 to $35 a day. It is generally cheaper than South East Asia with a night in a hotel costing as little as 200-1000 rupees (though there will be probably no air conditioning or room service for this price). Beach huts in the cheaper places of Goa can cost around 800 rupees a night. A meal can be bought from a street trader for as little as 30 rupees, though, in a restaurant expect, to pay around 200-300 rupees for a beer or two. Overnight buses and trains can cost anywhere from 600-1000 rupees dependent on distance and locations, though an ncomfortable government bus (benches only) may be cheaper.

Shopping

Bargaining

In India, you are expected to negotiate the price' with street hawkers but not in department stores and the like. If not, you risk overpaying many times, which can be okay if you think that it is cheaper than at home. In most of the big cities and even smaller towns retail chain stores are popping up where the shopping experience is essentially identical to similar stores in the West. There are also some government-run stores like the Cottage Emporium in New Delhi, where you can sample wares from all across the country in air-conditioned comfort. Although you will pay a little more at these stores, you can be sure that what you are getting is not a cheap knockoff. The harder you bargain, the more you save money. A few tries later, you will realise that it is fun.

Often, the more time you spend in a store, the better deals you will get. It is worth spending time getting to know the owner, asking questions, and getting him to show you other products (if are interested). Once the owner feels that he is making a sufficient profit from you, he will often give you additional goods at a rate close to his cost, rather than the common "foreigner rate". You will get better prices and service by buying many items in one store than by bargaining in multiple stores individually. If you see local people buying in a store, probably. you can get the real Indian prices. Ask someone around you quietly, "How much would you pay for this?"

Scams and bribes

Also, very often you will meet a "friend" in the street inviting you to visit their family's shop. That almost always meansthat you pay twice as much as when you had been in the shop without your newly found friend.

Baksheesh--small bribes--is a very common phenomenon. While it is a big problem in India, doing it can ease certain problems and clear some hurdles. Baksheesh is also the term used by beggars if they want money from you and may refer to tips given those who provide you a service. Baksheesh is as ancient a part of Middle Eastern and Asian culture as anywhere else. It derives from the Arabic meaning a small gift. It refers as much to charity as to bribes.

Maximum Retail Price

Packaged goods show the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) right on the package. This includes taxes. Retailers are not supposed to charge more than this. Though this rule is adhered to at most places, at tourist destinations or remote places, you may be charged more. This is especially true for cold drinks like coke or pepsi, where a bottle (300 mL) is priced around 11-12 rupees when the actual price is 10 rupees. Also, keep in mind that a surprising number of things do not come in packaged form. Do check for the authentiacity of the MRP, as shopkeepers may put up a sticker of his own to charge more from you.

Shops & Stores in India

Souvenir Store Cauvery Emporium, Bengaluru
Buying souvenirs and gifts is a vital part of a trip, and Karnataka has a vast array of items to choose from. When you are in Bangalore, make sure to visit the Karnataka government handicrafts emporium—Cauvery, and p... more
Mid Range, in Karnataka
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store Fabindia Mysore
Fabindia offers Indian handloom, vegetable dyed, ready-to-wear apparel, fabrics and furnishings. It also offers organic food items and cosmetics, handicrafts, tableware, pottery and ceramics. Elegant, understated and authe... more
Mid Range, in Mysore
 
General/Other Store Marina Packaged Drinking Water
Students in the Yoga District, who are on a longer stay in Mysore, can procure triple UV sterilized, ozonated and microfiltered water in 20 litre cans from Marina Packaged Drinking Water. This establishment charges an initial deposit of $4 for the 20 litre can, ... more
08-10-2011, in Mysore
General/Other Store Rupa Enterprises (Kinley Mineral Water)
in Mysore
 
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store Cauvery Emporium @ Sayyaji Rao Road
This is the place which stocks the A-Z of Handicrafts, from silks to Ganjifa Paintings and from Sandalwood panels to incense sticks. This is also the place to pick up the authentic Mysore Peta or the Mysore Turban. You are assured of the price and quality and th... more
in Mysore
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store Cauvery Emporium @ Amba Vilas Palace
This is the place which stocks the A-Z of Handicrafts, from silks to Ganjifa Paintings and from Sandalwood panels to incense sticks. This is also the place to pick up the authentic Mysore Peta or the Mysore Turban. You are assured of the price and quality and th... more
in Mysore
 
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store KSIC Showroom @ KR Circle
Mysore silk is best bought from the showrooms of the Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation, as the authenticity of the silk is indicated by a number that is woven into every product produced by the silk weavers. All KSIC s... more
in Mysore
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store KSIC New Zoo Showroom
Mysore silk is best bought from the showrooms of the Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation, as the authenticity of the silk is indicated by a number that is woven into every product produced by the silk weavers. All KSIC s... more
in Mysore
 
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store KSIC Showroom @ Chamarajapuram
Mysore silk is best bought from the showrooms of the Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation, as the authenticity of the silk is indicated by a number that is woven into every product produced by the silk weavers. All KSIC silk comes with a guarantee and the price... more
in Mysore
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store KSIC Factory Showroom
Mysore silk is best bought from the showrooms of the Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation, as the authenticity of the silk is indicated by a number that is woven into every product produced by the silk weavers. All KSIC silk comes with a guarantee and the price... more
in Mysore
 
These are just 10 of 23 Shops & Stores in India. Show more.




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