India Travel Tips

India Travel Tips

  • A magnificent country with most picturesque locations, 29 politically divided states each boasting of its own distinct cultural identity, streets brimming with receptive and welcoming people, house to all the world religions which co-exist in perfect harmony, equally abundant in cultural and geographic diversity and yet defining one mainland; that is India.
  • India is both; a contemporary society which boasts of an impressive representation in silicon valley today and an ancient civilization which has survived the trial of time and rage of foreign invaders not once or twice but a number of times which she has lost count of.
  • Sprawling with endless beaches on its west, east and south, plains in the middle and crowned with majestic Himalayas on its north, India has been ruled by many dynasties each of which has left their footprints in the form and shape of vintage architecture that is why this country is a visitor’s paradise a perfect destination to satiate a traveler’s wanderlust.
  • Indians by nature are conformist and as with any traditionalist society there are certain Dos and Don’ts, sometimes more “do nots” than “dos”. It is always a good practice to gain some little knowledge of the destine country before you set off.
    Enlisted here are certain tips for the first time travelers to India
  • Learn some local / regional words. Though English is then preferred Business Language, it is always advisable to learn a few of the local / regional words and phrases most preferably of Hindi which is spoken by more than 60% of the population and in understood by almost all. This might comes handy in emergencies and while dealing with the masses. Learning a few regional salutations is also a good idea
  • Carry a photocopy of all your legal documents like Passport, Visa, Travel Insurance, Identity Card and Driving License where aware you go
  • Validity of Indian visas comes immediately on the day and date of their issue and not on the date of entry into the country. Types of visas offered by India and their validity are as follows:
    • Tourist Visas are valid for 6 months. At a maximum you can stay for 90 days on this visa. This however is subjected to the country of your origin. The time gap between two tourist visits should be a minimum of 2 months.
    • Business Visas are given for 6 months/ 1 year or more and also for multiple entries
    • Student visa – this is valid for 5 years
    • Special Visa valid for upto 10 years [for US citizens only] If planning to stay for more than 180 days or on student, missionary, research or employment visa, get yourself registered with the FRRO or Foreigners Regional Registration Office of the locality wherever you are stationed within 14 days of arriving in the country. If the area does not have a registration office, visit the local police station.
  • Credit and Debit Cards s well as travelers’ cheques are accepted at all big stores and malls; for local shops and bazaars keep enough local currency in your wallet
  • There is a plethora of options available for staying starting from budget hotels, 3 stars and 4 stars to 5 stars, lodges, government guest houses [these are very economic], heritage hotels and airbnbs, explore and ask for all the options from your travel assistant before planning you trip
  • Note down all the emergency helpline numbers beforehand
  • If possible always hire the taxis from pre-paid booths this will save you from paying twice or sometimes thrice the money the local taxi drivers might quote. In case a pre-paid booth is not in close proximity, insist on paying by meter
  • Another feature which is a permanent on Indian roads other than the crowd of people and stray dogs and cows are beggars, they are everywhere and follow you around weather travel on foot or taxi / auto-rickshaw. Though locals and foreigners are equally menaced by them, foreigners attract them like a magnet to iron nails. The best way to deal with them is by totally paying no heed. Do not under any circumstances offer any alms to them out of pity as this would mean inviting an entire army of the others wanting their share of your generosity
  • Indians are a curious lot, sometimes they get overwhelmed when they see a foreigner particularly in small towns so do not be alarmed if they come to you to shake hands or offer to get photographed with you. It is just their way of making you feel welcomed in their land
  • Touching while greeting someone is not the norm here, people here greet each other with a ‘Namaste’ joining both the palms together. Men do however shake hands with or sometimes embrace each other when they meet but any kind of physical touch with the opposite sex is totally dissuaded. Also Public display of affection is considered offensive
  • If you are a man visiting India you are not supposed to offer your hand for a handshake to a woman during salutations unless of course the lady in question offers her first. Likewise a peck on the cheek is a strict no no
  • If you are woman telling a man that you are not interested in having a conversation with him when it makes you uncomfortable is not considered impolite or being disgracious, the louder the better. Infact this is an indication that you possess a good moral character, also it might saves you from further undesired advances
  • Indians are not very liberal when it comes to dressing especially for women. Refrain from showing any skin in public, cover yourself up while going out in small cities and towns
  • Similarly when visiting a religious temple or shrine it is a norm to remove your shoes and cover your head before entering the sanctum sanatorium
  • If your visit correspond with some festivities like Ganpati Puja in West, Durga Puja and Jaggannath Rath Yatra in east, Holi, Diwali or Christmas Eve try staying at your hotel or retire to the isolation of Tibetan valleys or back waters of Kerala as the crowd turns rowdy during these festive processions
  • While shopping you can and you should bargain for the goods you want to buy. Remember negotiation is the key and there in India there is always room or more for a noncitizens
  • Tips are totally acceptable and looked forward to particularly during your hotel stay but do not be fooled to pay after every service just at the end of your stay
  • Many areas are marked sensitive and or controversial even some religious sites too. Photography there is strictly prohibited, seek permission before taking pictures
  • For Hindus eating Beef is blasphemous; similarly for Muslims eating Pork is sinful, learn about the eating habits of the local populace
  • There are no aid or relief service available [other than the Indian Airforce, if whereabouts are known on the mountain treks above 3000 fts. Be very careful when going for trekking
  • Don’t do drugs, they are illegal in India
  • Homosexuality is not a crime as per law but is also not socially welcomed either other than metros and big cities
  • Religion is a sensitive issue here, do not try to convert or you will end up inviting big trouble for yourself
  • Indian summers are very trying try wearing cottons more and more and always carry a bottle of water with you when going out
  • Indian cuisine is a treat in itself. Like the culture and traditions each region has its own specialty which passes from generation to generation and is very well guarded. Not every dish is too hot or too spicy to handle. Rest assured culinary experience will be one of the most cherished part of your journey
  • A word of caution though, avoid drinking water from the taps and eating street food
  • Apart from the four universal seasons India has one over and above which comes twice a year “Monsoons” or the rainy season. Monsoons are generally pleasant and romantic but depending on the intensity of rain and winds they also be the bells of doomsday
  • Southwest monsoon which knocks the western coastal belt lasts from June to September. Northeast monsoon which effects the eastern lasts from October to February. The latter is more devastating and almost every year manifests itself in the form of cyclones causing much damage and destruction
FAQ
What is India known for?

An unparalleled tourist destination, India is known for its cultural, religious and geographical diversity, resonant heritage, spirituality, a delectable cuisine relished universally, a most receptive populace and every element of a perfect tourist destination in one mass of land. There are beaches crowded and lonely, coral and stony, golden and isolated in east, south and west. Himalayas crowning the North and Western Ghats protected under UNESCO, spreading from south to west, ingenious and prodigious architecture, tropical, green, densest forests, stark yet beautiful desert, history, adventure, art and luxury brewed together composing a rare and remarkable blend.

How many Cultures are there in India?

A people’s culture is their way of life, quality of their life, their belief system, their language, their values ab their customs and traditions and their griefs and joys manifested through their festivals. Based on country’s many religions and ethnicities Ministry of Culture however, has broadly identified seven cultural zones in India: - South Culture [Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep]; South Central Culture[Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Goa]; North Culture [Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand]; North Central Culture [Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Uttarakhand], East Culture [Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Manipur, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar Islands], North East Culture [Assam, Tripura, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim] and West Culture [Goa, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli]

What to expect when travelling in India?

India is the one of most fascinating, vibrant and bustling [second most populous] countries in the world. It’s full of surprises for an outsider. Be ready to expect crowds of most welcoming and hospitable people everywhere. Be ready to embrace heterogeneity, India is nothing if its not diverse, it is orthodox and bohemian, chaotic and calm, modern and conservative, traditional and cosmopolitan, prosperous and needy all at the same time. One element that is constant here is, a frenetic energy prevailing everywhere.

What to know before travelling in India?

Before travelling to India every foreigner must register that they are not visiting a country but a subcontinent that covers a land mass of 3 million kilometers on this planet. There is no way you can thoroughly cover a region, leave alone the entire land in just one trip. Plan your tour accordingly. October to March is the best time to travel here especially for westerners since Indian summers are scorching and unbearable when mercury soars up to 45o C. Carry loose fitting cotton or linen clothes, ladies pack a lot of knee length dresses and scarves and comfortable shoes. Not every visitor gets sick here however, it is advisable to carry your medicine kit with you.

What is India famous for producing?

India is an agrarian society and is the topmost producer and worldwide exporter of wheat, rice, pulses, cotton, sugarcane, tea, coffee, oilseeds, lemons, bananas, papayas, peanuts. India has the largest herds of cattle and is biggest producer of milk and dairy products. Processed Petroleum Products, Diamonds, Jewelry, Precious Gems, Medication Mixes, Organic Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Iron/Steel, Cars, Automobile Parts, Machinery including computers, Yarn, Crustaceans [including lobsters], Clothing Accessories are among the biggest exports of India.

Is it easy to travel around India?

Travelling is completely hassle free and pocket friendly in India. There are a number of good state-run public transport services for moving inside the cities like buses, metros and local trains however, if you wish to travel more comfortable you can easily ride in private taxis or luxury Volvo buses, autos or rickshaws for less than $15 a day. For intercity commuting there are domestic flights, buses and trains. There are also a couple of luxury trains being operated by the Govt. of India like Palace on wheels and Deccan Odyssey. However, as they for visitors in India, if you wish to get a feel of real India travel at least once in Indian trains or your trip is half-done.

Is it safe to travel to India?

India is as safe to visit as any other destination in the world. It is in fact a very ideal destination for solo female travelers as per the testimony of many foreign female travellers. All a traveller has to do is to be careful about a few little details as probably they do in the environs of their own homeland like: - copying and carrying along with them a copy of necessary legal documents, taking a note of all important phone numbers, not venturing out on roads during festivities like Ganesh Chaturthi, Jagannath Rath Yatra, Durga Puja or Holi when the roads are play grounds of hooligans, hire taxis and autos from pre-paid booths for as far as possible otherwise take a picture of vehicle’s number plate in front of the driver so that he should know he is under scrutiny and send it to any or some your contacts.

How to not get sick when travelling in India?

Hydrate yourself well, drink a lot of water, but not from the taps. Tap water may be contaminated, carry your bottled water every where you go and before buying a water bottle check if the seals are intact. Indian curry food is delectable it is also at the same time very spicy, not necessarily hot yet go easy on your stomach and mind your diet; refrain from eating the street foods that are not cooked and not peeled & cut before you; eat from eateries flocked by locals. It is not unheard of for foreigners to contract ‘Delhi Belly’ carry your travellers diarrhea as well as other prescription medicines with you before you leave your country. Wash and sanitize your hands regularly.

What to pack when travelling to India?

Before leaving for India pack as many loose-fitting cotton and linen dresses as possible, as these two fabrics are the safest bet against Indian heat and humidity. For ladies it is advised to carry long or knee length dresses like capris, tunics and long skirts and at least half sleeves t-shirts [no trunk tops] that do not expose much of your skin as this is against Indian standards of decency and 2-3 scarves to cover your head when entering a religious shrine. Carry your medical kit, extra pair of batteries for cameras, mosquito replants, extra charging chords, toiletries and last but not the least a pair of comfortable shoes

How much would a trip to India cost?

This one you will have to fill yourself.

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