Andaman Island FAQ’s – 29 things you need to know
1. Do I need a passport/visa to go to Andaman?
For Indians: No passport/visa/permission is required. They can stay in permitted areas for as long as they want.
For Foreigners: A passport is required with an Indian Visa to enter India. This is also applicable to foreigners entering Andamans directly from a charter/private yachts. Additionally, a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is also required which can be availed on arrival to Port Blair from the Immigration counter at the airport or, embarkation of ships at the sea-port. RAP is issued for a 30 day visit to the islands, and is extendable up to 15 more days. Tickets can be rescheduled in Port Blair itself from the respective airline offices.
2. How do I obtain a visa to Andaman?
Andaman is a part of India. Thus, a visa for India is valid for the Andaman and Nicobar islands as well and is required for most foreign nationals. The visas are obtainable at the Indian missions, consulates and high commissions overseas. They are valid for the period issued and range from a 15 day period to up to a six month period for tourists. They are valid from the date of issue and it is wise to start travel as soon as the visa is obtained to take advantage of the entire period of visa validity. Once obtained, visas can be extended in India.
3. What is a RAP?
Under the Foreigners (Restricted) Areas Order, 1963, the entire union territory of Andaman and Nicobar has been declared as a ‘restricted area’. Every foreigner, except a citizen of Bhutan, who desires to enter and stay in a Protected or Restricted Area, is required to obtain a special permit from a competent authority, known as RAP or Restricted area permit. The Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is easily obtained on arrival at Port Blair. The procedure usually takes 15 minutes, is free of cost and is available to all foreign nationals.
It has recently been brought to our notice that some Indian Visas issued carry a stamp that reads “Entry to restricted areas NOT permitted”. Should your Visa carry such a stamp, please contact the embassy and have the visa re-issued as you will not be allowed to enter the Andaman Islands.
4. How do I extend my visa in Andaman ?
Most foreigners arriving at Port Blair are given a 30 day permit. Closer to the time of expiry (about 3 days ahead) this permit can be extended by another 15 days. This extension can be done either at the police station on Havelock or at the Immigration Office in Port Blair, and you will need to show a confirmed return ticket (for the journey within the next 15 days) in order to get this extension. Please note that it may not always be possible to get this extension in a few hours and you may need to stay overnight to obtain the extension if you are applying in Port Blair.
It is rare that tourists are given less than 30 days on the permit. However it does happen to a few and it is recommended that you check the expiry of the RAP when the official hands it to you just in case it has been given only for a few days.Diplomats are usually not given the full 30 days and usually get between a week and 15 days.
5. Where are the Andaman and Nicobar Islands?
Andaman & Nicobar Islands are a group of 572 islands located in the Bay of Bengal. It is around 1000 miles away from the Indian subcontinent down South-East.
6. How do I get to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands?
7. How long does it take to reach Andamans?
A flight from Kolkata/Chennai takes two hours, while the one from Delhi takes about five hours. Ships take as long as 50 hours (3-4 days roughly).
8. What is the best time to holiday in the Andaman Islands?
We believe holidaying in the Andamans can be done throughout the year – in summers/monsoon (no winter season there). However, tourist inflow is maximum during October to May. More info on best time to visit andaman.
9. Can I visit any island of my choice?
There are only 32 inhabited islands in a total of 572 islands. Tourists are permitted only in a list of islands. You can see the list here.
10. It is an Indian territory. So do I use Indian Currency?
Yes. Indian Rupee is used in the Andaman Islands. You can exchange currency at the airport, from the banks or currency dealers. Also, you can withdraw Indian Rupees from the ATMs there.
11. Is is safe/secure to travel to Andamans?
The quantum of tourist inflow to the islands is a testimony of how safe tourists feel in the islands. These islands are one of the safest places to live/travel in the country.
12. Will I find vegetarian food in Andaman?
Andaman is not known for its vegetarian cuisine but with the inflow of tourists, vegetarian food has become easily available. So YES, if you are a vegetarian travelling to the island, you need not worry. In fact, there are a few vegetarian restaurants we recommend. You can see one of the most famous vegetarian restaurants in Port Blair here.
13. Can I make international calls and access the internet?
International dialing is available from most major hotels and ISTD booths in the markets. To make an international call, dial 00 followed by the Country Code followed by the Area Code followed by the Phone Number. Services tend to be reliable.
Internet is available, though not as widely as in many other tourist areas and the connection is reputed to be very slow, but there is hope that things will improve in the next season. Roaming mobile signal is available in Port Blair but may be erratic on other islands. If you are planning to buy a new SIM card, we suggest you opt for BSNL as it has the best connectivity on the islands.
14. What festivals do the local population celebrate?
Given the fact that the Andamans has a mix of different religions, almost all festivals celebrated in mainland India including but not limited to Christmas, New Year, Diwali, Eid and Easter are celebrated here. However, the biggest festival here is the ‘Durga Pooja’ due to the number of Bengalis on the islands.
15. What type of behaviour & etiquette can I expect from the locals on the main Islands?
The Andaman Islands is a very relaxed place so the rules are simple as well. Act with respect and decorum, dress appropriately (especially away from the beach), and as anywhere, always ask permission before taking photographs of the local population. A beach destination does not mean that the locals are used to seeing women in revealing
A beach destination does not mean that the locals are used to seeing women in revealing swimwear. Please be sensitive to the traditions of the locals and cover up when in areas where locals are present like jetty areas and village markets.
Having said that, we would like to stress that the Andamans is a remote place and although the people are casual, one should not expect the kind of comfort or the level of service that is expected of a hotel/resort in mainland India.
16. What is the electricity supply in the Andaman Islands?
All of India has standard 220 Volts with sockets mixed between 3 round pins. While some sockets also take the two round pin plugs, to avoid confusion or disappointment, we suggest guests bring at least one travel adapter.
17.What is the religious stance in the Andamans?
India has a very mixed religious history and a reputation for religious tolerance. Hinduism is by far the most popular religion in the islands followed by Christianity and then Islam. Other religions that make up the total include Sikhism and Buddhism.
Even in the Andaman Islands, there is quite a large mix, and while the Hindu festivals are the most celebrated ones, around Christmas time you will see small processions with Santa Claus’ and followers.
18. What should I carry?
The usual personal effects along with clothes. Make sure you have personal accessories suited to the appropriate voltage. It is 220V in India. Carry prescriptions of medications and spectacles.
Make sure you have the International drivers license if you wish to drive. Carry enough local currency equivalent to $100 worth at all times to pay for local services. Make sure your documents including cash, passport and credit cards and tickets are secure and keep a copy with you at all times.
19. How should I carry money?
Preferably carry travellers cheques and cash in Indian currency up to $100 at all times to pay for local services. Credit cards such as MasterCard, Visa, Amex are also widely accepted in Andaman.
20. Are credit cards safe and useful to carry ?
Yes. Using credit cards to withdraw cash is available at quite a few places in Andaman.
21. What is the position regarding use of drugs in Andaman?
Drugs are absolutely illegal in Andaman with severe penalties if caught in possession of even minute quantities.
22. What time zone do the Andaman Islands lie in?
The whole of India falls under the same time zone so the local time is GMT + 5Â½ hours throughout the country, all year round. The Andamans are much closer to Thailand than India which means life in the Andamans happens a little bit earlier in the day, to make use of the day light hours.
23. Is there a postal service?
Indian postal services, in general, have a very good reputation, domestically and internationally. However, in the Andaman Islands, the postal service is not reliable and there have been many instances of parcels and letters not reaching their destination. Hence, it is advised to use postal services on mainland India rather than the postal services on the Island.
24. What can I do in Port Blair?
Port Blair is the capital city of the Andamans and is of immense historical importance. There are many sights that are to be seen here and most do not require you to hire a guide. You can view a list of the places here (do in Port Blair). The ones we recommend have been marked.
25. Is there any nightlife in Andamans?
Although many hotels in Port Blair and other developed Islands have hotels and resorts that offer a bar, the night life concept has not really caught on in these islands. You will not encounter loud music, disco lights or parties here on a regular basis. Nights are usually quiet and most people get to bed soon to wake early and make maximum use of the day light hours.
An exception however is during Christmas and New Year on popular tourist islands like Havelock and Neil where you will find parties going late into the night, loud music and a lot of dancing.
26. Is imported alcohol available on the Islands?
Although alcohol is available on the islands, availability of imported alcohol is extremely limited. Except for a few IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor) bottles, the alcohol availability is restricted to mostly Indian brands. Black Label, Black & White, Bacardi, Smirnoff and Kingfisher beer are some of the brands that are available easily.
27. How expensive are meals in Andaman?
The price of a meal depends entirely on where you eat and what you order. A nice quaint restaurant will cost you between Rs.300 to Rs.500 per person depending on what is ordered. Eating at the local village market will be much cheaper and most islands have a number of small eateries run by locals that work out easy on the pocket.
Sea food is more expensive in the Andamans compared to the mainland due to heavy demand and less supply.
28. What do I do in case of a medical emergency?
Most Islands have a Primary Health Centre (PHC); However, services here can be limited and poor. It is advisable to go to the nearest PHC first for immediate assistance and as soon as possible, move to the G.B Pant hospital in Port Blair which is better equipped.
However at this hospital too, the treatment facilities are not what can be expected in mainland India and for any condition that could be serious, life threatening or needing special care, it is advised to fly to mainland India.
29. Are there any dangerous animals in the Andamans?
As such there are no dangerous predatory animals in the forests of the Andamans. So do not come here expecting to see tigers or lions. The forests here are inhabited by animals like wild boar, spotted deer, civet cat as well as numerous species of birds and butterflies. The vast forest canopy provides home to many different species of reptiles as well. Snakes both poisonous and harmless can be seen in the Andamans.
Monitor lizards too inhabit these islands and the mangrove creeks provide shelter to ‘salties’ or salt water crocodiles.
Tourists are advised to pay attention to sign boards posted on beaches as well as watch their step if walking through dense jungle or mangrove areas.