10 Must-know India travel tips
India is a wonderful, colorful country of beauty and contradictions. Rapidly developing, India is a vast array of different cultures, languages and religions, all rolled into one huge and exhilarating spectacle that will take any visitor’s breath away. If you’ve never been to India before, then it would be wise to do a bit of homework, before you go, so here are ten must-know tips for travelers to India:
1. Beware of the traffic
India is a busy and hectic place, and that is true of the roads too. While there are traffic laws, they are treated more like guidelines and the basic rule would seem to be: drive fast and trust that the other vehicles will get out of the way! The other surprise for visitors is the huge array of different types of vehicles on the road, all vying for the same bit of space. Trucks, buses, rickshaws and carts, all share the same manic roads, so be careful when crossing the road!
2. The ‘Delhi Belly’
While Indian food is extremely rich in flavour and very tasty, most Western visitors do get the famous Delhi Belly, or stomach upset, so be prepared for it. Here are some simple safety guidelines to follow: never drink the tap water, nor eat salads or have any ice in your drinks. Many people also stick to vegetarian food, when in India, because a piece of bad meat will do you a lot more harm, than a few badly cooked vegetables. But other than that, Indian food is wonderful, rich in spices, exciting and delicious, and in some restaurants they cook the food in front of you.
3. Enjoy India with all it has to offer, when you visit
When you come to India, you might be overwhelmed with how this country is different from your own; of course, India travel tips include some practical advices and safety guidelines, but the main goal of your trip is to enrich yourself with this new experience and enjoy the process. So, when you come to India, make sure to experience traditional food, savor the couture and enjoy Indian shopping.
4. Be flexible with your traveling plans
You might think you have your travelling meticulously planned, but that doesn’t mean that India’s travel system will cooperate with you! Always give yourself extra time for travelling, expect delays, and stay calm! Delays and detours are common and there is nothing you can do about it, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
5. You will be a foreigner
The Indian people do have a fascination with foreigners, and your clothes and the way you behave will probably soon identify you as a visitor. Don’t be surprised if people stare at you or even take your photograph.
6. Dress conservatively
Western clothes are not that unusual in India, but they do tend to be very modest. To avoid attracting too much attention, or offending someone, leave the short skirts and low cut tops at home and cover up.
7. Don’t let your left hand offend!
In India, it is the custom to use only your left hand to clean yourself in the toilet. This is why you will never see an Indian eating with their left hand and you should never pass anything like money or an object to an Indian with your left hand either and, when you see the public toilets, you’ll know why!
8. India can be a shock to the system!
Quite apart from the noise, the crowds and the traffic, there is also the huge contrast between cultures that will stun Western visitors. It is not unusual to find a modern shopping mall, selling luxury goods, to be sited alongside a grim slum. And the differences between the haves, and the have not’s, is a stark reminder that India is a wonderful, but still developing country.
9. Slow down and take your time
India is a hot, busy and very hectic country and many tourists simply try to do too much in too short a time. You will get far more out of your trip and come away a lot less stressed, if you take your time when you visit places. Also, include some trips away from the cities and the crowds in your itinerary, there are some other peaceful and beautiful places to visit in India too.
10. Don’t expect to know India in just one visit
The diversity in India is just mind blowing, so don’t expect to understand the country in a few short weeks. There is no one way to describe the country, it is fascinating, exciting and frustrating, all at the same time, and you will probably come away with more questions about what India really is all about, than when you arrived!