India is definitely one of those countries with the activity level similar to that of a beehive. This combined with the turtle-paced traffic, undying hubub, the mix of culture and religion and the massive size of the country, transforms India into a busy, exasperating and chaotic first impression. But if you look beyond that you will encounter the wonderful side that is worth every form of chaos. Read through our list of tips and keep them in mind to make the most out of your trip to India.
Be familiar with the entry requirements
When entering India you need to have a valid passport, a return ticket and a visa. Tourists who are visiting for no longer than 30 days should apply for ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization). To find out more about the visa procedure to India, read Arooha’s blog about Indian visa.
Choose a route
With deserts in the west, Himalayas in the north, coastal heaven in the east and meandering backwaters in the south, India is massive and you can never see everything in just one trip. While planning your trip, sit down and think about the sites and things that interest you. If you are travelling with family or friends, get them involved as well and map out the places you do not want to miss. Its best to explore bit-by-bit or focus on historical attractions or religious and architectural sites. A good place to start is the Golden triangle which showcase the classics in Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. But, if your list of attractions are scattered around the country, you can get a taste of all because the local airfare is inexpensive. If you are indecisive you can contact any tour provider or Arooha tours to whip up an itinerary for you.
Consider the weather
India has four main seasons; winter, summer, monsoon and post-monsoon. Every region experiences a different climate so india always has some place to visit. Hill stations can be visited during summer months and urban cities can be explored during the winter months.
Learn a bit of the native language
India has 22 official languages. Although English is widely spoken, its best to learn a bit of the native language. Hindi is known across the country so learn a few words like khaana (food), chai (tea), namaste (hello), dhanyawad (thank you), madat (help), etc.
Go out of the city limits
You might have heard this dialogue many a times, but when it comes to India, it stands true. The villages aren’t overpopulated like the cities and offer a better idea of what India truly is. Once you have enjoyed a bit of the best with a houseboat cruise along Kerala backwaters or a visit to Khajjiar Lake in the hills, you will be in a better mindset to experience the bustling urban cities of India.
Have an idea of transportation
There are many modes of transport in India – flights, trains, buses, taxis and auto rickshaws are the most commonly used by tourists. Home to one of the world’s largest railway networks, train travel in India is fairly cheap and promises spectacular sceneries. However, make bookings in advance and carry locks and chains to secure your luggage. Travelling through cities by AC bus is also possible. For trips within the city, use auto rickshaws or reputed taxi services or hail a taxi via Uber app. Wherever you’re going, make sure to leave early as the traffic in India is hectic.
Beware of what you eat and drink
First-time travellers to India will find a hard time adjusting to street food. But don’t entirely avoid them because Indian street food is utterly delicious. Just make sure to eat only peeled fresh fruit, boiled food or fried foods. Drink bottled water and avoid ice or salad.
Indian culture is fairly modest and following their dressing style is a way of respecting this. Atleast make an effort to dress conservatively and make it a point to remove your slippers before entering a local’s house or a temple. If you can see shoes outside a shop, remove your own before stepping in.
Use your feet and hands carefully
In india feet are regarded as unclean so if you touch something with your feet, apologize immediately. Eating with the left hand or passing objects with your left hand is considered irrespective. If you’re not sure of the local habits just observe the people around you and imitate accordingly.
“Don’t go down dark roads alone at night” is a common advice but there are other ways to stay safe. Since pickpocketing and theft is a common issue in India avoid carrying large sums of cash or wearing too much flashy jewellery. Carry a photocopy of your passport.
Get used to the noise
The hubbub of an Indian city can get overwhelming, especially during rush hour. If you want to tune out the chaos, carry a pair of noise cancelling headphones.
Don’t get fooled by scam deals
A price or deal that is too good to be true is definitely a red flag. To avoid being scammed and cheated stick to government-run or approved shops. Try your best to pay by cash instead of credit card to avoid being the subject of card-cloning scams and be wary of delivery services where you pay the cash upfront and get the item delivered afterwards.
Expect the unexpected
Since there is so much traffic and other interruptions in India, be prepared to wait 30 minutes rather than the promised 5 minutes. Allocate some extra time when travelling around or waiting for someone and make sure to avoid visiting government offices or shops during lunch time.