Fast, overwhelming, dirty, hot, noisy, spicy, frightening and beautiful – it is all India, one of the oldest countries in the world. What should you expect going there? What should you be ready for? How should you choose the destination? Here are some tips and precautions for those who decide to visit India for the first time.
Choose your route wisely
Seriously think of what you want to see – white beaches or mysterious temples; what you want to do – shop or ride elephants, etc. Read all the information about the tourists’ attractions in India and start planning your route. If you look for something specific, here are some special places:
- Best shopping place – Deli;
- Beaches – Goa;
- Yoga – Rishikesh;
- Watching tigers – Madhya Pradesh;
- Religious spots – Varanasi;
- Relaxing – Kerala;
- Diving – Nicobar Islands;
- Parties – Mumbai and North Goa.
So many tourists try to fit all the beauties of India into one trip – monuments, museums, beaches and natural sightseeing. Don’t be one of such tourists. Visiting one or two interesting places in a relaxing pace will bring you much more joy that rushing through 10-15 cities. You’ll have more time to appreciate new places, to get the better knowledge of the country and to communicate with the locals.
Watch your hygiene
Avoid tap water and all the fruits and vegetables washed in it. Don’t use ice and don’t eat salads and fruits that were not cooked, washed or peeled by you personally.
Many tourists traveling by India become vegetarians for this time and this is actually not a bad idea. A questionable piece of meat can cause you much more troubles than vegetables. Besides, many people in India are vegetarians, so there is a big choice of meals with no meat. If you cannot refuse a good smelling piece of meat, make sure it is well cooked. If you have doubts, go eat in a restaurant in some good hotel, it is safer.
Avoid the crowds
India has more than 1, 22 billion of people. For some tourists it may seem too many. However, you can always find cozy deserted places in this country. If you get sick of big cities with lots of people, go to Kerala, Tibet or Thane, where it is nice, peaceful and quiet. Who knows, maybe you’ll even want to get a place there for you, as the prices there are quite cheap and the nature is just marvelous.
Unfortunately, India is well known for its frauds, touts and pickpockets. There are some ways to avoid an obvious robbery, but you can hardly get rid of them all at all. Try to keep it calm and don’t act like an obvious tourist. You can also shout “police” if you notice something strange, it can scare them away. Actually, you should better keep your valuable things in safes in your hotel. Take only the necessary things with you.
Here are some more useful tips for the first-time India visitors:
- Change your money only in legal banks or exchange offices.
- Insist on getting receipts when you exchange money. Keep those receipts by your side; you won’t be able to exchange rupees for your country’s money back without them.
- Don’t ever buy plane, train or bus tickets from private persons or unauthorized travel-agents.
- Keep in mind, that you cannot legally rent a car without a driver in India.
- Make sure you know all the products you cannot import or export.
- In some cities there are a lot of monkeys. They are not afraid of people and some of them are even trained to steel. Be careful and don’t leave your windows open.
- Remember that it is quite hot in India. So take appropriate clothes for it. You can buy some inexpensive Indian clothes as well. Women in India tend to cover their legs (not with tight clothes, though), so you should also do that unless you want to get disrespectful or angry looks. Keep in mind that you may have to take your shoes off before entering some religious places, so have a couple of socks with you if you don’t want to walk there barefoot.
- If you want to buy something from a street market, get ready for bargaining. Salesmen always offer much higher prices for tourists, but you can lower it by haggling.
- Tips in restaurants are expected to be around 10-11% of you check.