As someone who has lived and worked in India, I can offer you some valuable travel tips for India. To help you make the most of your trip, here are some of my travel tips for India.
Be prepared for the culture shock.
India is a country of diverse cultures and traditions, and you may encounter things that are very different from what you’re used to.
The first of my travel tips to India is to be prepared to see extreme poverty, crowded streets, and different customs and traditions. Keep an open, be respectful and patient, and try to learn as much as you can about the local customs and etiquette.
India is a deeply conservative nation. It’s important to dress modestly, particularly when you are visiting religious areas. For example, remove your shoes before entering a temple and avoid pointing your feet towards someone.
Cover your head when entering a temple or a mosque. Women should cover their shoulders and knees, and men should wear trousers or at least shorts that extend below the knees.
Wear loose-fitting clothes that cover your arms and legs. Temperatures often exceed 30 degrees.
Try the street food.
India is famous for its street food, and it’s an essential part of the local culture.
Don’t be afraid to try some of the delicious and affordable dishes available, but make sure you choose clean and reputable vendors.
I recently stumbled on a bizarre place. Ghani Autos on Jaipur’s MI Road transforms into a make shift restaurant at night and serves some of the best kebabs I’ve ever had.
As everywhere, food can be risky if it’s not cooked properly. Stick to busy stalls with a high turnover of food and avoid anything that looks questionable.
>> RELATED ARTICLE: 7 Rajasthan street foods to tickle your taste buds
One of the travel tips for India I can’t stress enough is to start with small portions to avoid potential health issues. Also, be aware of the level of spiciness before ordering.
India can get very hot, especially during summer. As I write this, Jaipur is a sweltering 39 degrees at 2pm! Make sure to drink sufficient amounts of water and carry a water bottle with you at all times.
Learn some basic Hindi.
While many people in India speak English, knowing some basic Hindi phrases can be helpful for communicating with locals and showing respect for their culture.
Try to learn a few simple phrases like “Namaste” (hello), “Shukriya” (thank you), and “Kitne ka hai?” (how much does it cost?).
Use public transport.
India has an extensive network of trains, buses, and rickshaws that are cheap and convenient for getting around. However, be prepared for long queues and crowded trains and buses.
Instead of always hiring a private car or taking a taxi, consider using local transport to get a more authentic experience and save money.
Explore beyond the tourist hotspots.
India has much more to offer beyond the popular tourist spots like the Taj Mahal and the beaches of Goa. Explore the lesser-known places to get a glimpse of the real India.
I like planning my own trips and often look for places off the beaten track. You’ll discover centuries old temples, ramparts of old forts, and some of the friendliest people on the planet. Or even the setting of a famous film!
Take care of your health.
India can be a challenging place for your health, with pollution, crowded conditions, and the risk of foodborne illness. Make sure to bring any necessary medications, use mosquito repellent, practice good hygiene, and carry hand sanitizer.
That said, you won’t find too much trouble finding a pharmacist who speaks good English. I’ve survived many bumps, grazes, and infections.
Respect the wildlife.
India is home to many amazing animals, but it’s important to respect their habitats and not disturb them. Avoid wildlife tours that involve riding elephants or tigers, as they can be harmful to the animals.
If you’re in Jaipur, try the Elefantastic elephant sanctuary. Rahul and his team offer an excellent way to interact with elephants.
In India, bargaining is a common practice, and you’ll often be quoted a higher price than what the item is actually worth. Don’t be afraid to negotiate, but also be respectful and polite.
Embrace the chaos.
India can be overwhelming, with its crowds, noise, and traffic. But it’s also a vibrant and fascinating country, full of colour, history, and culture.
Embrace the chaos and enjoy the ride! India is mega-loud and easily one of the most alive countries I have ever been to. People shout and even the cows and dogs reach higher pitches than elsewhere! Honking horns are the norm and indicators are optional extras on all forms of transport!
Indians love their mobile ‘phones. They watch their favourite films and listen to their favourite songs. Set mostly to full volume, you have little choice other than to share their passion with them!
India is generally a safe country, but it’s important to take some precautions. Avoid going out alone at night, and always keep your belongings close to you.
Also, be aware of scams and touts (and monkeys!), especially in tourist areas. It’s also a good idea to carry a copy of your passport and important documents.
Plan your itinerary wisely.
India is a vast country with a lot to see and do, but it’s important not to try to cram too much into your trip. Choose a few key destinations and take your time to explore them thoroughly, rather than rushing from place to place.
The quality of many roads in India leave a lot to be desired. You’ll often need to adjust your expectations as distances by road will often require twice as long as you may be used to.
Ignore the locals who are certain to stare at you.
The last of my travel tips for India is not to get upset when locals stare at you or want to talk with you. Tourism is still relatively new in many parts of India, especially outside the main cities and tourist hotspots. Most of the time, people are simply curious and just want to practice their English.
Visit India and experience the country’s rich culture and traditions. By following these travel tips for India, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip there.
Thank you for sharing your insightful tips on traveling to India. As someone who has always been fascinated by India’s colorful heritage, I found your article to be very informative and useful.
I completely agree with you that India can be overwhelming for first-time visitors, but with a little bit of planning and research, one can have a truly unforgettable experience. Your advice on dressing conservatively and being cautious of scams are very important and practical tips that every traveler to India should keep in mind.
Additionally, I appreciate your suggestions on trying street food, and immersing oneself in the local culture. These are the experiences that truly make a trip to India memorable and allow visitors to get a glimpse of the real India.
Overall, your article has inspired me to start planning my next trip to India and I will definitely keep your tips in mind. Thank you once again for sharing your valuable insights and I look forward to reading more of your travel-related content in the future.
Thank you Wendy. Safe travels when you do you go. Look out for some more articles and travel tips for India soon!
your article provides a comprehensive and informative guide for anyone planning to visit India. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and experiences, and I look forward to putting your tips into practice on my upcoming trip
Thanks Kirsty. Safe travels. Look out for some more articles and travel tips for India soon!
Hi Mark. There are so many travel blogs out there but I enjoy your blog because you’ve actually lived there. I’ve thought about going away and appreciate the travel tips for India here, especially from a former resident. I do have a question about pointing your feet at people. What is a polite way to avoid doing this? I’m a bit confused. If I’m standing and talking with a person, should I put my feet at an angle? I know it’s silly but it sounds important. Thanks!
Thanks Mallory. Our feet are considered unclean and showing the souls of them is a big no-no in India. I found out the hard way! I remember being scolded in a Sikh Temple in Gwalior because I sat straight legged and bared the soles of my feet! Now I sit with them at an angle as I’m not supple enough to sit cross-legged!
I always hear people talking about taking a trip to India. For me, it’s intimidating because of the language and temperature. Your travel tips for India are a bit of an ice-breaker. You mention the usual advice that’s good anywhere (don’t go out alone at night or in remote areas) but you also give some specific tips like eat the spicy food in moderation, watch out for monkeys, and be prepared for people staring at you.
You bring up an important and ethical point in your list of travel tips for India. That’s the recommendation to avoid tourist activities like riding elephants and tigers. I never heard of riding tigers but it sounds so cruel. I wish more people were respectful of animal rights when they go on vacation. Thanks again for bringing this up.
I never thought much about traveling to India but your different travel blogs make me think it could be a great adventure. I just have to find someone who thinks the same.
If you plan to travel to India, I have an unusual travel tip for you – avoid shaking your head when you mean yes! In India, a side-to-side head movement actually means yes, while a nod up and down means no. It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s an important cultural difference to be aware of to avoid any misunderstandings. So, if you want to avoid any confusion and make a good impression with locals, remember to shake your head side-to-side when you mean yes!
Hope to see you in India again! Namaste.
Thank you Gayatri. I had forgotten about that one! In my early days of travelling to India, it caught me out. I think I have mastered it now though!