India is a treasure trove. Every year, millions of people travel to India to visit its mountains and beaches, take in its culture, and binge on the local cuisine.
The history of India is as rich as its culture. Here, contradictions abound, and a sense of community dominates.
This multicultural city does more than offer up unparalleled, scenic surroundings. It promises a visit of a lifetime while keeping travelers yearning for more.
India is the second most populated country in the world and the seventh-largest nation in terms of land area.
A country with such a size can be confusing. It will serve you well to look into things you should know before traveling to India.
Things You Should Know Before Traveling to India
#1. Do Your Research
Before you visit India or any place for that matter, do your research. It can spell the difference between a smooth, enjoyable trip and a panicked, stressful journey.
Do your research with a critical eye. Misinformation is real, and you need to be ready to tell facts from fiction by examining the source. It’s best to use recognized sources like Incredible India, Planetware, and the Ministry of Tourism.
The internet is a great way to find hotels to stay in and restaurants you’ll want to try.
Carefully examine reviews and multiple sources, if possible, to corroborate your impression of these places. Some parts of the country can be extremely warm during the summer months and almost impossible to enjoy for foreign tourists.
Other parts of the country get snowed in with closed roads for a couple of months each year.
And some other parts of India need special permits for you to visit, like Arunachal Pradesh in the far northeast part of the country.
#2. Carry Cash with You
India is not an expensive place to visit, in fact, it´s one of the cheapest countries in the world, at least for visitors from Europe, the USA, and Canada, even tho prices have increased over the recent years, so are India incredible cheap for most tourists.
You’ll want to carry notes in small denominations at all times since shopkeepers seldom have change for large banknotes.
Cash is readily accessible since a lot of places have ATMs. If you need to visit an ATM, make sure to do so during the daytime.
Like every other country, India has its fair share of pickpockets and robbers. As much as possible, look for ATMs that are located in busy areas and have armed guards outside to avoid getting scammed by rigged ATMs.
#3. Be Respectful of The Culture
India is one of the most diverse countries in the world in terms of religion and ethnicity. Taking in all these differences can be a daunting experience, but try to relax and be in the moment.
After all, no visit to this amazing country is complete without immersing yourself in its rich cultural diversity.
Dress modestly; it’s a conservative travel location.
The last thing you want to do is offend someone. If you’re not comfortable with removing your shoes or sandals before entering a holy place, carry a lot of socks.
#4. Don’t Forget Your Visa
You can’t travel to India without a visa. A last-minute trip may seem exciting, but it isn’t easy.
If you aren’t willing to shell out more money for an e-visa, you’ll need to apply for a visa at an embassy.
Getting a visa will take a month or two to complete. The process is fairly easy and can be done online.
#5. Safety First
India is generally a safe country, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If it is your first time traveling to India, see if you can travel with a companion or a group. Practice safe travel wherever you go.
If you’re a solo traveler and a woman, avoid unusual and remote areas. Crime rates against women are high in India. Cases of rape and other crimes have gotten worldwide attention in the media.
Book tours where you can travel with an experienced guide by your side, away from potential danger.
I’ve personally been to India 7 times, and I love the country, but I’ve had my phone stolen out of my hand in New Delhi, been pickpocketed on the metro, and had things stolen for my backpack on a local train, but shit happens, crime can happen in any country in the world.
But in general, India is a very safe country, but as always, it´s better to be safe than sorry.
#6. Avoid PDA At All Times
Indians are becoming more open-minded, but it is still a largely conservative culture.
PDA or public displays of affection is still considered rude and derogatory. Indian culture reinforces modesty, so save your gestures of affection for later away from the public eye.
#7. Watch What You Eat and Drink
If you have a sensitive stomach, you may have to miss out on food carts and local food vendors. They do not always follow strict sanitation protocols.
When deciding where to eat, look for places where a lot of locals are eating.
A busy place means good food, better health and hygiene, and faster turnover of food (where food is more likely to be fresh).
India is also famous for spices which can be harder for tourists to ingest. Delhi Belly is 100% real. Sample and experiment with cuisines, but know and respect your limits but don´t forget to try the local beer.
You don’t want to spend your stay holed up in a hotel recovering from stomach problems. If your stomach can’t handle the local food, stick with boiled food or fruits.
Avoid tap water and ice at all costs in India. Stick with bottled water.
#8. Hospitality Will Never Be an Issue
The people of India are a different breed when it comes to hospitality. They believe in “Atithi Devo Bhava” which translates as “Guests are equivalent to God.”
Their hospitality has been recognized time and again by travelers who have visited India.
They go out of their way to make you feel welcome, help you with whatever you’re struggling with, and even invite you to their own house!
Ask them questions, find out about their lives, and even get recommendations for your visit.
Their warmth and natural friendliness alone will make India an unforgettable visit.
#9. Prepare for Traffic
India is the second most populated country in the world. Maybe it is one of the reasons why traffic and noise abound.
People don’t generally follow traffic rules in India. If they want to overtake, they’ll honk. If they want to make a U-turn, they’ll honk.
There’s a lot of honking and weaving going on, so it’s best not to get a car for you to drive. Hire someone well-versed in Indian traffic regulations to drive for you instead.
As Nike says: Just Do It
Traveling to a new country can be a hit-or-miss experience. When it comes to India, the odds even out because there’s just so much to see, eat and experience. It can be an exhausting and overwhelming journey.
Make sure to take adequate care of yourself and avoid taking unnecessary risks.
As long as you take the time to learn things you should know before traveling to India, why not take the leap? India will repay you with a totally unique experience that you can’t get anywhere else.