Sunday, January 15, 2012

First Time Travel Tips for India

India induces a sense of adventure the moment one thinks of the country! A backpacking destination for the youngsters, a spiritual journey for others, or just a place brimming with intrigue, the country caters to a wide assortment of travelers. Even though it can be overwhelming for first timers, one must know that there exists an order of sorts in the chaos! The sights, smells and sounds may appear daunting at first, but one must know that there is going to be no dearth in excitement and introduction to a variety of culture!

Here are a few insights into subjects that seem to emerge as matter of concern –

1. Visas:

If you are going to be in India as a traveler, this is something which should be sorted out at the beginning of your travel. However, if you are extending your stay, the rules have been changing over the years. Have a look at the freshest details on

2. Delhi –Belly:

Tummy rumblings are something that most first timers suffer from! Not only the street food but fare from top restaurants can cause a mean Delhi-Belly! This is just the difference in composition of food – most Indian foods can be heavy.

Indian food and veggies
 Indian Food - Veggies

The tip you must keep in mind is not to eat raw food, especially from the streets! Also, help your stomach acclimatise for a few days. Try the Indian food gradually. Ask for lesser spices and chillies till you are a veteran. Pharmacies are available easily, so if you run out of your own medicines, a suitable substitute can be made available!

3. Water:

Water is certainly an easy carrier of germs, so stick to mineral water bottles or boiled water! Water purifying tablets are also a good idea, especially for trekkers who might to re-fill at streams!

4. Transportation:

Public transportation can be overwhelming for many as most international travelers are not accustomed to crowds that large in number. Also, the concept of queuing up in order is not something one should expect.

Public transport in India - Rickshaw
Rickshaw - Public transportation in India

Else, access to cabs and auto rickshaws is easy depending on the distance and your budget. Trains are a great way of seeing the Indian cultural and physical topography!

5. Single Women Travel:

The nervousness around single women travel seems to be ebbing away quickly! The foremost reason being, that locals are no more intrigued by the idea. You may still have to manoeuvre past intrusive questions but this also helps in striking a conversation. Use your discretion while interacting with people. Avoiding traveling by public transports or walking at night are rules that one would follow anywhere around the world – that applies in India as well. Try and stay at homestays in smaller towns, rather than hotels as your hosts can offer large amount of security and help!

6. Money Exchange:

With an exception to really small towns, access to ATMs and international banks is quite easy. Most places also accept MasterCard and Visa credit cards. Carry a reasonable amount of cash and then withdraw regularly. For long stay travelers, getting a bank account is close to impossible. Ensure that Indian friends can help you with online bookings etc so you can pay them in cash.

7. Ear Relief:

The noise on the streets is something that many travelers cannot seem to fathom.  Also, there is generally low regard for personal space and people are quite loud in public places. If traveling alone and you want some alone time, rely on a good set of ear-phones! This will also help to fall asleep in overnight trains and buses!

8. First Aid/ Medical Emergencies:

One must carry a non-bulky first aid kit but for more elaborate medical health, good hospitals are available easily in the large cities. If you are visiting a small town, make your way to the closest city and then seek medical help.

9. Travelling with Children:

Children, in most cases, adapt easily and are spontaneous and not cynical in having fun.

Jaipur elephants
Have Fun - Elephants in Jaipur

Do not fret about their safety or handling new food and culture! Stick to mineral water and non-spicy food and they should do well. They might be subjected to some amount of cheek-pulling and fascination in public places – be firm but polite to avert this!

10. Public Bathrooms:

A most distressing topic, this is something that India has not been able to cater well! If you are close to a coffee shop or a hotel, ask to be let in or grab a small bite to use the bathroom. Public loos can be in dismal conditions! Carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer at all times. If trekking or traveling on the road for long, using the bushes is highly recommended!


This guest post was written by Mahindra Homestays who have a range of homestay accommodations throughout India and run the popular India Travel Blog.

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  1. Thanks for sharing your views...
    Public Bathrooms are really most distressing topic when traveling in india...!!!

  2. What a terrific and informative post, Arti! I would love to visit India! Hope you have a wonderful week ahead!


  3. This is very valuable advice Arti - if i ever come to India, i'll get back to it! Have a lovely sunday!

  4. Arti, these are some tips which anyone who travels need to follow! You have summarized them in a very comprehensive manner! Thanks a ton:)

  5. Arti, I'm going to send the link to this post to my friend. She is leaving with another woman friend to tour India for 3 weeks - leaving this Wed. (She was there last year, too.)

  6. Great tips. I would love to travel to India and was actually thinking about that just today. Nice that I should read this post.

  7. Oh, really love the vegetarian food available everywhere.
    Auto-rickshaw's fun as I always stick my hand to the front to honk away like crazy!
    Aahh, toilet! Prefer the bush any time! :)

  8. Excellent information! Very useful. I would also like to mention that people should be careful about bottles of water being opened before they purchase them. I've had this happen (only once in the past year) and it's best not to drink from those bottles just to be safe. Thankfully it doesn't seem to happen much anymore but some people do still refill bottles with tap water and try to resell them.

  9. This post is very informative. I did not know I should bring toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and drink only bottled water and eat only cooked food. All valuable suggestions! Thanks!

  10. Many thanks Arti for publishing our travel tips article on your blog. We really enjoyed doing a post exchange with you.

  11. A great idea of putting down these helpful tips for our guests.

  12. There are great tips about the trip in India. I would like to let my children travel India someday It must be exciting and interesting for them. We need mineral water and careful plan for trip.

  13. Hi,Arti.
    This post is a perfect start for your"2012". Thank you for those tips. It would be very helpful in case I travel your country someday! Indian food veggies are unfamiliay to me. That look like tomatos, cucumbers and pepo....?
    Have a great week ahead.


  14. What no queuing up? Being English I think this would be the hardest thing for me to cope with ...... she says laughing.

    A seriously good post, you make some valuable points.

    With regard to water - is still water readily available? We have travelled to several countries where carbonated water surprisingly seems to be the norm.

  15. Well compiled tips-very useful. I wish to add:
    1.Do not encourage beggars
    2.Avoid strangers
    3.Refuse food & drink offered by strangers
    4.Do do not stay in seedy hotels
    5.Hire a certified travel guide when required.

  16. This is like a one page FAQ and completely exhaustive information on how to visit India and what to expect from the country!! Great work Arti.. as always :)

  17. Auto rickshaws are my favorite :-)

  18. Definitely carry your own toilet paper!! And carry mosquito repellent until you can buy the local Odomos! :)

  19. these tips are invaluable Arti - thank you. I'll store these away for future reference. I love that photo of the Rickshaw! happy Monday to you.

  20. I have never seen painted elephants like this! Are they a couple? And the rickshaw, it is powered, like a little car? It is very cute!

  21. Good guidelines for foreign visitors to India, the best way to immunise oneself is to have first glass of hot water in each and every place in India and go for branded mineral water like Bisleri, Bailey, Kingfisher, Oxyrich etc. On Emergency toilets can be used in Banks, Good grade Hotels, Hospitals. etc.

  22. Hi, Arti,
    Thanks a lot for full and kind information! Each advice is so precious and easy to understand for me. The photo of Rickshaw is giving me itchy feet. The topic of public bathrooms is most needed one especially for women.

    Best wishes,

  23. wonderful post buddy...
    i used to go restrooms in hotel or restaurants by having a cup of tea...

    so true Arti...

  24. Thank you for nice information.
    painting on elephants in Japipur are very cute. Kids must be interested with them. But is paintings a kind of tattoo?
    I think a rickshaw is convenient for it can go into small lane.

  25. Thank you to everyone for your nice comments about our guest post.

    Just to answer a few questions, the elephants are painted for festivals. The Jaipur Elephant Festival is a good place to see them decorated for the celebrations, it takes place in March.

    With regards to water, still water is widely available but check the seal is intact before you buy and drink it. Before discarding empty bottles puncture the neck to avoid it being collected and refilled with tap water and then sold.

  26. Wish I were young enough to be able to take advantage of these travel tips. But I don't think such a long trip is in the cards for us. I will have to enjoy your beautiful country through your posts!

  27. Great post, wonderful information for travelers. So sad, public sanitation in India is primitive even now:( The veggies look fresh:)

  28. Delhi is just a tiny part of India. And this post helps as long as the traveler is in Delhi. Beyond that, its a whole new different story.
    You above everyone understand that better...
    Just a suggestion :)

  29. nice post !!
    hope i need to refer to it one day.
    happy 2012! and all the best
    ~laura xx

  30. Hi Apoyando

    The post does not refer specifically to Delhi but applies for visitors to India travelling to any new area. While much of the advice applies to cities and small towns, many of these tips also apply to the countryside. For example we recommend water purifying tablets for trekkers, whereas in cities there is better availability of sealed bottle water.

    Many thanks for your comment and happy travels, Mahindra Homestays

  31. Arti a very useful and informative r u ...Wish u have a wonderful weekend:)

  32. good info
    like the pics of auto and elephant
    about public bathroom condition is worst.

  33. Arti,
    Many thanks !!!
    Many greetings

  34. My brother in low joined some Buddhist monks group in Nara for a trip to India last year. Those monks visit India once a year for studying and for pleasure. His interests in history and culture in Nara that is closely related to Buddhism led him to the trip to India. I haven't had a chance to hear how was the trip yet but it must've been interesting.

    I have no plan to visit India right now but to know that any tip could be available from you is reassuring.

  35. A very informative post. I often wish I had gone when I was younger.

  36. Very informative for all the Foreign visitors.
    I read full post and wasn't sure whether its your writing or not and in the end got the answer : )

  37. I have presented The Versatile Blogger Award to you

  38. Very good tips.Foreigners may
    really take advantage of your

    I am happy to see you again.

  39. Welcome back, Arti! It’s so nice to see you on this blog. Thanks for this informative post full of matters of concern in travelling to India. I can be adventurous to many things, be careful about water, but public bathroom is my biggest concern. In Japan, public toilets are relatively clean, equipped with toilet rolls, and safe, though some are not Western seated style in some areas. I’ll visit you later to another post.


  40. India is such a marvellous place to visit. Your articles absolutely captured its distinct appeal.

  41. Hi,
    It is a so beautiful Post. India is a country of culture. It is a best place for travelling.

  42. Really very nice post.....I think one can use travel services provided by travel agencies if they come first time in India.

  43. An interesting read on travel preparation to India. One interesting thing about travel tip is related to money exchange. I personally feel money conversion should b done online as online currency conversion is very easy and hassle free. The online currency converter also provides the most accurate rates.

  44. India is a very large country There’s no denying that travelling to India can be a major culture shock, especially on your first visit but it's beautiful place for spending your vacations It is very important that you plan where you are going to stay at least for the first night at your destination.

    Himachal best holiday tours

  45. Very informative information especially about the transport and women safety is the major concern and you have covered it very well in the blog.The best way to travel in India i feel is by booking Bus Tickets.

  46. Thank you for your recommendations and great article.I absolutely love to travel the world so this blog post really helpful.


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