India is easily one of the most diverse and culturally rich countries in the world. It’s home to numerous traditions, historical monuments, geographies, cuisines, and more. That’s also one of the main reasons why foreigners get drawn towards it on their own.
If you are a foreigner traveling to India for the first time, then the following are a few tips that can make your experience more pleasant and memorable.
Tips For Before Traveling to India
1. Plan Your Budget Carefully
India is one of the most pocket-friendly tourist destinations in the world. However, it’s not exactly free. So, it doesn’t matter what kind of budget you have set for yourself, you must take into account all the expenses that you will have to bear.
For instance, you should expect to shell out around 5-10 dollars for a decent room, although the better rooms can cost as much as 30-50 dollars.
In the same way, if you want good-quality food that doesn’t give you the Delhi belly, then you may need to spend 10-20 dollars a day for three meals.
Since you are new to the country and considering that there is a different currency here, you might be able to plan your budget by reading a guide or two on money and costs in India.
2. Do Your Research
Some of your best memories in India will be based on random events and oddities- unplanned trips in local trains, meeting the artists spearheading graffiti movement in India, etc.
We all know that India itself can be quite unpredictable and spontaneous which is why it’s understandable if you want to enjoy your stay in the non-touristy way i.e. without following any particular plan.
However, it’s advised that you do at least some research about the place that you are visiting. Lack of planning can also get you into unnecessary trouble and ruin your experience.
3. Learn the Basics of Hindi
Hindi is the primary language of north India (in southern states you can converse in English too). So, it’s a good idea to learn some of the basic words of the language so that you go about your regular life here without any major problems.
The following are some of the essentials that you need to remember:
- Namaste: Hello
- Haan/Naa: Yes/No
- Acha: Good
- Kitne ka h: what’s the price?
- Mutlub: what does it mean?
- Ek, do, teen, chaar, paanch: 1,2,3,4,5
4. Brace Yourself for a Culture Shock
Wherever you are living now, you might be used in a particular environment and lifestyle. However, India is quite different than most developed countries in the world and you must be ready to give up on some luxuries.
For instance, you won’t find casinos in most parts of India as the government doesn’t permit gambling activities.
However, you can visit https://www.leovegas.com/en-in/ to play your favorite games like poker, slots, baccarat, etc.
You may also expect running into cows on roads and streets as these bovine animals are treated with respect around the country and allowed to roam free without disturbances.
5. Pay Heed to Time and Location
Some of the most popular tourist hubs in India get thronged by millions of people every year during peak seasons.
For instance, if you are visiting Goa between December-February, then you can expect tons of people here which means that you may not even get a room in a hotel if you haven’t booked in advance.
Similarly, Shimla, which is a popular hill station, is most popular from March till June. So, if you are visiting during this period, then you must plan ahead.
6. Mind the Traffic
India is one of the most populous countries in the world. So, if you are used to emptying roads and highways, then you should brace yourself for a surprise. This is because, in all the major Indian cities like New Delhi and Mumbai, the traffic can get quite crazy.
In fact, you will often find local buses and trains packed with passengers in many places. This is why it’s highly recommended that you avoid public transportation. If you really want to or have no other option, then you should at least book seats in advance.
Another thing that you need to remember about the traffic in India is that the roads can get quite congested, especially during peak hours. So, if you have to cross a road, then be careful and try to cross with others to be safe.
7. Avoid Scamsters
Even though India is home to some of the most loving and caring people in the world, there are some people who engage in activities that give the country a bad name.
Like many other Asian countries, India has its share of scam artists who try to trick the tourists into buying overpriced items, taking longer routes when traveling to different spots in a city so that the taxi fare is higher, or buying counterfeit products at the price of originals.
If you are in India, you should try to avoid individuals who try to peddle goods on the road or provide special offers that seem too good to be true. It’s also recommended that you do some research on the area that you are visiting so that you are prepared in advance.
8. Learn to Bargain
Bargaining is pretty common in India, even for the locals. The shopkeepers here tend to inflate the prices as they know that most people bargain anyway. So, they maintain margins in the prices beforehand so that they have a wiggle room when bargaining with the customers.
Since you are a foreigner, you may be quoted at much higher prices than others. However, if you know even a smattering of Hindi, then you should not shy from bargaining yourself.
You can use your discretion for arriving at the right prices or you can ask a local if you are friends with one to get an estimate of the prices of different products.
It’s not uncommon for Indian shopkeepers to increase the prices by as much as 400% to 500%. So, they may very well try to sell you an Rs. 100 baseball cap for Rs. 500. In a situation like this, you should not be intimidated by the high price and bargain at what you think is right.
9. Stay Away from Stray Dogs
Dogs are man’s best friend. However, it’s advisable that you avoid contacting the stray dogs in India. This is because not all of them are clean and pet-friendly.
Since most of them are neglected, they acquire diseases like rabies and may not want to be contacted by anyone. In the worst-case scenario, they could easily attack you. So, it’s best that you avoid them in every manner possible.
10. Dress Appropriately
India is mostly a conservative country where people value modesty. So, women tourists are advised to avoid wearing revealing clothes in public.
You don’t have to cover yourself from head to toe, but you can surely dress appropriately so as to not invite unwanted attention. This is especially to be remembered when you are visiting a holy place like a temple or a gurudwara.
Also read: 7th Wonder of the World
11. Avoid PDA
Consider this point as a continuation of the previous one. Public displays of affection are generally a no-no in India.
While holding hands or hugging are considered ok in most parts of the country, you should avoid engaging in something more intimate like kissing or making out. Failing to do so will only raise eyebrows of the onlookers and give rise to uncomfortable situations.
12. Learn to Eat with Hands
Most foreigners are used to eating with a fork and a knife. However, Indians usually eat with their hands and even their meals are cooked in a way that hands are more suitable than cutlery. This doesn’t mean that there is no cutlery at all- you will find a fork and a spoon for appropriate food.
However, when you are eating naan (flatbread) which is one of the most common foods you will get here, then you are expected to break a piece of it with your hand and take some of the curry or whichever vegetable is cooked alongside with it.
Many people also eat rice with their hands rather than a spoon or a chopstick. So, you should be prepared for these changes in your eating habits.
13. Get Travel Insurance
When you are traveling to a foreign country, then it’s a good idea to travel insurance, and it’s no different from India. There is no telling if you will be fighting fit at all times here.
Plus, there are other potential problems- losing luggage at an airport, becoming a victim of theft, flight or hotel cancellations, etc. All of these problems are covered by the majority of travel insurance plans.
Different countries have different traditions and cultures and the same goes for India. If you want to have a pleasant and memorable experience here, then it’s a good idea to do your homework and learn some of the things that all foreigner tourists should know so as to avoid unnecessary complications and hassles.