INDIA is like no other country. There is so much to see, so much culture and history and so much diversity if you compare different parts of the country. And then there is diversity in terms of the climate too. Planning a trip to INDIA can get a little overwhelming specially when you are short on time and want to cover a lot of ground but do not want to feel rushed during the entire trip.
Here are are recommendations for top 5 places that you should not miss.
REALITY CHECK: Travelling through INDIA is not for the faint hearted unless of course you want to live in 5 start hotels and go out in cabs only. But for everyone else, it is almost like an assault to the sense. With so much nose, pollution, traffic, aromas, it is hectic and almost INSANE. Over the last one year we have seen many people we know from Instagram, come to INDIA and some of them fell sick and just in general having a tough time in our home country. Be it not feeling safe during their stay, dealing with pollution and a lot of other things. So, we thought we will write a detailed blog post on some tips before you plan a trip to INDIA, so that you have a good experience. So here are top tips before planning a visit to INDIA:
WHEN to VISIT: This remains to be one of the most important and essential tip while planning a visit to INDIA. Choosing a wrong time will make or break your entire trip because the climate is extreme. The summers are extremely hot and heat strokes are very common with temperatures soaring to 50 degree celsius, which is no joke. So we’d suggest you avoid the summer months April-June.
Monsoons are again not for everyone and especially if you are coming to enjoy the sun and to explore the culture wandering in the by-lanes in old delhi, Monsoons are the worst time to plan a trip. Not only because the streets are usually flooded, but also because during this time there are higher risks of getting sick because of water contamination. So avoid July-Mid September.
And then you are left with ideal time frame to plan your trip to INDIA, which is “Mid September-March” . Again try and avoid visiting in January especially if you are planning to visit north INDIA because it gets extremely cold and the fog is too dense.
Note: However if you are planning to go to Leh Ladakh, spiti valley or the himalayan region, the summer months are perfect.
What PLACES to Visit: Most of the people who visit INDIA, come to see mainly these places: Rajasthan: for it’s colorful culture and history, Goa: for sun and beaches, Kerala: for Ayurveda and nature, Delhi: for an insight in history and of course to see Taj MAHAL, one of the seven wonders of the world. And that’s still a lot to see if you are in INDIA for 2-4 weeks. We would not recommend trying to include more than this. But if you are visiting for the second time or for a longer duration, You can consider including Leh- Ladakh and Himalayan region in your itinerary.
Here are are recommendations for top 5 places that you should not miss.
WHAT TO WEAR: OKAY! This one’s easy. We’d suggest dressing a bit conservatively while you are here specially if you are planning to visit parts of Old Delhi and while visiting temples and religious places. Other than that you are free to wear whatever you want to wear. But again avoid “short” shorts and skirts to avoid people staring at you. But be prepared because that’s still going to happen.
Pack a few trousers and full length skirts and dresses. Sleeveless dresses are absolutely fine. However if you are coming during these months, you would want to pack some layers because November-February are quite cold, even during the day.
TIPS BEFORE YOU COME TO INDIA:
- Drinking Water: We recommend you drink only bottled mineral water (kinley, bisleri etc.)while you are here and lookout for their variations like brislei and kinlei! Try and avoid local packaged drinking water. If you want to reduce the plastic waste, try and get water bottles filled from hotels that have RO water purifiers.
- Street Food: We understand that you want to try street food and Indian cuisine is unlike any other. Packed with flavours and varieties, it is something you should not miss, however the cases of people getting a Delhi-belly are not uncommon because of so many spices that are used in the Indian way to cooking that your digestive system might not be used to. One great tip is to have yogurt and bananas and to try street food at places that look hygienic and to always keep sanitiser handy.
- Pollution: Pollution is quite bad in cities like Delhi and we recommend that you get a Anti-pollution and anti-dust mask.
- Mosquito Situation: The mosquito situation gets really out of hand during the monsoon season, so avoid visiting during those months altogether. Also, carry a mosquito repellent spray or you can find mosquito repellent patches to out on your clothes to avoid getting Malaria or Dengue.
- Transfers: We highly recommend that you book flights for travelling long distances because the trains get booked fairly early on and flights are also quite cheap now with a lot of economy carriers.
- Getting Around: OLA and UBER are great options and if you want to book for an entire day they have those options too. We would not recommend a self drive car rental in India because the traffic is crazy. In cities like Delhi, the metro system is fairly good but other than that trying to get around using public transport is going to be hectic and time consuming.
- SAFETY: You must be careful and keep your belongings safe while in crowded places. Do not leave your stuff unattended and do not keep wallets in back pockets of your trousers. Other than that, just be cautious in general, specially if you do not have a male companion accompanying you. If you are out till late, book an UBER instead of random autos.
- Consider a Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is always a good idea and especially if you are coming to a country like India is is an absolute MUST. We have heard great things about World Nomads Travel Insurance, so you can check it out.
GOOD TO KNOW:
- Language: In the North, the most commonly understood language is Hindi, however in touristy parts of the country like Rajasthan, people understand and know ENGLISH well enough. In southern parts of INDIA, a vast majority of people understand English.
- Currency: The currency is INR which is Indian Rupee and although there are a number of forex services, we recommend that you use an international travel card. However we recommend keep cash handy when travelling in smaller cities in Rajasthan. USD are not accepted in most places,
- TIPS: When it comes to giving tips, tips are expected in a restaurant but not in services like taxis.
- Bargaining: Whenever you are shopping for souvenirs or clothing at street shops or Bazaars, do not get ripped off and expect to pay half of the quoted price. Of course you will have to put your haggling skills to a test. Same goes for while pitching an auto ride, everything is negotiable.
- Niceties: Although not mandatory, it is nice to cover your head with a scarf or a dupatta before entering any temple.
- Tripod rules: A number of monuments do not allow you to film or take photos using a tripod, while at others there is a separate fee for using a tripod. Some of the places will however allow you to carry it inside but tell you to not use it. But at places like TAJ Mahal, they will check your bag thoroughly and if they find a tripod they will ask you to go and deposit it at the locker, which is a 10 minute walk away. Keep that in mind when going to see the TAJ and leave your tripod at the hotel.
Here are a few blogs from India that you may find helpful: