I have just found some information which states that the import of Indian currency by foreigners is prohibited so that answers part of my question.
Where should I go to exchange money - bearing in mind that I am a first time visitor to India and do not know my way around? Should I just exchange at the hotel as a safe option?
What is the best denomination of currency to have - for shopping, tipping etc? Any amount of INR that I should avoid as its value is too hard to change? Thanks for any assistance.
There are plenty of ATMs where you can withdraw cash but you should check beforehand that what are the charges levied by your bank for each withdrawal. You can get rupees before arriving India also but I think you will get far better prices with the money exchangers in the city (in your case Hyderabad). The money exchangers at the airport will also be expensive!!
I think bringing Indian currency is absolutely prohibited:
There will be many money exchangers in the main markets of big cities. Hotel rates will also be a bit on the expensive side!! Can't say much about Hyderabad though.
If you are going to visit the country side (villages and small towns), 1000 rupee note might be an issue to get change and at times 500 one also. Keep a lot of 10 and 20 rupee notes for tipping etc.
Thanks for all the advice. I had heard that 10 rupee notes were handy so that is good to know as well.
I have very recently returned from my one week first time trip to India. What I did was changed my dollars at the airport. The rate was just fine no problems there. I suggest you change your money at the airport since you are a first timer and the rates are not that bad if you add the cost of taking taxi in search for a money changer without Indian money in your pocket! Just change a couple of 100 bucks so you can pass a day or so and get to know the place around until you get to a proper exchanger. Lastly when you are returning make sure you change all indian currency back to your native currency before security and after getting your boarding pass. There are no money exchangers beyond immigration. Hope that helps.
Thanks so much that is very helpful. Our trip got deferred from last week so I won't be going until late February. Thanks again.
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