India is a gigantic, multi-cultural, and a diverse continent. With snowy mountains, expansive deserts, glittering cities, and pristine beaches, India is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Wait, there is more!
If you are planning to visit India for the first time, be prepared to handle a big culture shock. With several religions, languages, food and tremendous friction, you will be always on your toes.
It is important to keep a few things in mind before stepping on the India soil. Ultimately, you wish to enjoy your trip to India and carry loads of good memories, don’t you! Here are the top 10 travel tips for first-timers travelling to India.
1. Get a Tourist Visa
All visitors to India require a visa and most of them come on a 3-6 months tourist visa. You can either obtain a visa from your home country or get your passport stamped from cities like Bangkok.
Applying for a longer visa can take up your time and can be quite a hassle. New visas like E-Visa have been introduced for citizens from 161 countries such as UK, USA, Ireland, Australia and many other countries. This E-Visa is valid up to 60 days with a minimal charge of £39.
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2. Pack Light
As you travel to India, of course, you will not be snoring all day in your hotel room. Well, India will not allow you to be a lazy bone. If you’ll be moving around, surely you will not like carrying your stuff around. The most important thing is, you need to figure out in which month will you be visiting India.
It’s hot as hell and cold as the poles. However, you can enjoy shopping at several iconic markets and malls. You would just wish you had carried an empty suitcase to take back a few wonderful things for your family and friends back home.
Especially, when you are sightseeing, you just need your wallet, camera, sunscreen, and a bottle of water. Be careful not to leave valuables scattered on your hotel bed. Use the hotel safe or request the hotel staff for a locker.
Bear in mind that you might encounter a lot of security – on the metro, at the Taj Mahal, at shopping malls and more. Do not load yourself with extra baggage. You will love to move around freely.
3. Land in India with ‘no expectations’
As an international tourist, this is one of the India travel tips that will ease the other. You will not be able to anticipate what India has for you. You will either love it or hate it. You will definitely experience something opposite of what you have been accustomed to. First, the hustle and bustle will astound you.
Do not board your flight with a self-imagined India; instead, make up your mind to enjoy every moment in this massive land. You could probably do some research on the places you would like to explore. In short, India will stun you with all that it has.
Read Also: Colourful Fairs and Festivals of Leh Ladakh
4. Do not fret if you get sick
A common term that goes around in India, particularly with tourists is – Delhi-belly. It’s quite common that you might have to face it. However, don’t worry, it’s definitely not an Indian bacteria. You are not used to the new air, food or water.
Our travel advice to India is – Be calm, you will just be fine. Do not gulp down antibiotics every time you are sick. You will feel drowsy. Just visit a local chemist and you will get all the solution to your problems. We Indian’s also face the same issue. Carry a small medical handbag, lift your chin, and enjoy a new world waiting out there for you.
5. Dress conservatively & Stay Safe
You need to bear in mind that India has a modest culture. Therefore, dressing modestly is highly advised. You can start by covering your arms and legs that will eventually create an impression that will help you mix well.
We are not being pushy, suppose you enter a temple or any holy place, or even an Indian home; every eye will first run through your dress. It’s not all about being well-dressed. There are places you might need to take your shoes off. Well, as the saying goes – do as the Romans do.
On the same note, do not explore places at night, or do not go out alone at night. With just common sense and easy ways, you can avoid dangers in India. Never carry a large amount of cash, expensive jewellery, or expensive electronics such as cell phone, camera, or laptop. One of the important tips for travelling to India – Be safe while bargaining at certain marketplaces. Conversations can become heated and unpleasant.
6. Getting Used to the Indian Time
Now, this might get frustrating, but the crux is – never lose your cool. You might find yourself waiting for half an hour when your transport is supposed to be here in 10 minutes. This is the relative Indian time. In India, traffic is one of the main issues to make you late. Things can take a lot longer than anticipated.
Therefore, things have to start with you. Apart from paying heed to India travel tips, create ample space for unexpected things and longer waits. Check the opening timings of shops and main attractions before hunting them down.
7. Consider the ‘When to Travel’ Factor
Being a huge continent, weather changes are quite common and before planning your trip to India, decide which season would suit you. Generally, the best time to visit India is during the winter season from October to March. The climate in North India is amazing and at other places, it is enjoyable.
From March to June, the heat starts to creep in along with the summer humidity. Avoid visiting during this time, unless you wish to be in the mountains.
From June to September, the rains start pouring in. Nevertheless, if you wish to travel towards the Himalayan foothills, winters are really very cold, but thrilling. Summers are the best time to visit Leh and Ladakh.
8. Get Your Vaccinations
This is one of the top travel tips for first-timers in India. Falling sick is the biggest concern a visitor can have while travelling to India. As you are preparing yourself to obtain a visa and other documents, do not forget to visit a doctor and get some health advice. Visit a doctor much in advance, some vaccinations can take their own time to treat your body.
Most visitors make sure all their usual jabs are up to date and are vaccinated for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus and Typhoid. Vaccines for Cholera, Diphtheria, Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies are also recommended. While you are in India, buy insect repellent, Odomos cream to avoid mosquito bites.
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9. Know basic words in Hindi
Consider this among the important tips for your first time travelling in India. Get your shopkeepers and the people around you to be amused. A few words of Hindi will surely win big hearts:
- Namaste – Hello
- Aap kaise ho? – How are you?
- Acha – Good
- Acha nahi – Not good
- Theek hai – Right, yeah or say ha/ haji -yes
- Bas/Ruko – Stop (for a rickshaw driver is handy. You can add yaha – here)
- Kitna rupia – How much?
- Kripya – Please
- Shukriyah/Dhanyavaad – Thank you
- Matlab – Meaning?
- Apka kya matlab hai? – What do you mean?
- Ek bottle pani dedo – give me 1 bottle water (krupiyah- please!) or if you want a hot shower ask, “garam pani?” when checking in, they’ll know what you mean. Want to know if the water is clean, ask “kya pani saaf hai?”
- Madat – Help
- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – ek, do, teen, char, panch
10. Be Ready to Face New Things
New things in India can be anything. It can be a metro ride, a train or bus ride; it can be a welcome gesture, poverty or anything intimidating. As mentioned earlier, you can face the chaotic traffic and the heartbreaking poverty.
You might see women and children begging, which might compel you to give them money. If you decide to give, try to offer food. Be polite and firm at the same time. If you have a helping heart, you can do things for them out of charity and it will surely be considered as a service on your part of the trip.
If this is your first time to India, do not try out everything. India is a place you might not see elsewhere. A little bit of planning, research and following 10 Travel tips for your first trip to India will make your trip fantastic and unforgettable.