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Responsible Travel (India, Nepal & Bhutan)

Wendy Wu Tours takes Responsible Tourism seriously. We are aware that tourism can impact the natural, economic and social environment and are committed to addressing these wherever possible without compromising our customers’ experience.

Taking photos

“Tourists stick their cameras in our faces and promise they’ll send photos back, but they never do.” We encourage you to think about how you would like to be treated by camera-wielding tourists – always check that it is ok before taking a photograph of a local person. Simply indicate to your camera to ask and never take the photograph if someone gestures or says that they do not want you to. Most of our tours of India visit sites where it is not recommended to take photographs. In some cases this may be for security reasons, or it can cause offence for example, burning gnats. Your guide will advise you where it is not appropriate to take photographs and please adhere to this advice.

Dress appropriately

Local people in India, Nepal and Bhutan dress conservatively. Full length cotton trousers or shorts that cover the knees are acceptable for men and for women, skirts or trousers that reach below the knee are ideal, worn with tops that cover the shoulders. When visiting temples or mosques, both men and women should dress in non-revealing clothes. Women might also consider carrying a modesty shawl in their daypack – this could be a sarong or light scarf – which they can wear over their shoulders and heads to feel more comfortable while sightseeing at mosques. When visiting Jain temples, you must not wear or take in any leather items such as belts, watches, camera straps, purses and shoes.
In religious sites and homes throughout India, Nepal and Bhutan – for Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Muslims or Buddhists to name a few - all visitors are required to remove their shoes to enter. Even if you then need to walk outdoors, over hot or rough ground, you will not be allowed to wear shoes. You will often find shoe storage rooms near the entrance of a site where it is customary to leave your shoes near the entrance. Occasionally there are ‘shoe minders’ who will offer to keep your shoes safe for a ‘tip’ – this is not compulsory so each customer can choose to tip for this service or not. If you do not want to remove them, you will have to remain outside. Bring some shoes that easily slip on and off and carry a pair of thick, old socks in your daypack, which you can wear to protect your feet from any rough or hot surfaces. When visiting cathedrals and churches in Goa, it is advisable to dress respectfully. The Basilica of Bom Jesus has made it mandatory for tourists to avoid wearing shorts, mini-skirts or baring midriffs. The authorities at the Jama Masjid of Delhi have made it mandatory for all non-Muslim women entering the mosque to cover themselves with a long dress gown (caftano) provided by the mosque authorities.

Observe local rules

In most cases, your National Escort/Local Guide will brief you on etiquette. You can read more on customs and etiquette here:

Animals in India

Animals in India are not kept the same way as they are in western countries. Stray dogs, cats and cows can be found out and about in the smaller cities but there is no danger to tourists. In most cases stray dogs and cats are harmless, but please refrain from touching, feeding or patting them. Monkeys can be seen in many cities as well. They are harmless if you stay clear; because they are used to living in large cities they are not wary of people. Refrain from feeding stray animals at all times. Cows are sacred in the Hindu faith. They are allowed to roam unharmed and they are familiar with the traffic and the rhythm of the city. Again, sometimes staying out of the way is the best thing to do.

Begging & Gift Giving

Begging is also a way of life in India and Nepal and donations are ultimately a travellers personal choice, however in line with initiatives and government policy, our recommendation is NOT to give money, pens, gifts or sweets as this encourages a begging mentality and is largely ineffective. If you do want to help it is probably better to give to a recognised charity. 

The Bhutanese are beginning to frown on gifts for local people and children, as they are believed to encourage begging which the Bhutanese Government is determined to avoid at all cost.

If you'd like to provide a gift to your Guide or Driver, long Argyle socks are an excellent gift as this is part of their national dress!

Satellite phones and drones

Please be aware that carrying satellite phones and/or drones is not permitted in Bhutan. Please do not bring these items with you.