Traveling to India? What You Need to Know Before Your First Trip to India [Tips]
We're expert culinary travellers and we love helping you. BookCulinaryVacations is the largest culinary travel website with 1056 unique listings in 267 destinations around the world.
Discover Culinary Vacations now
Thinking of traveling to India sometime soon? Since India is the 7th largest country in the world, it definitely would take countless trips to be able to experience visit-worthy places in this vibrant travel destination. There is so much to see, to eat, and simply take in that it can be more than overwhelming.
That’s why on this post, I’m sharing some useful tips and recommendations that will help you to make the most of your first exciting trip to India. Here we go!
Do your research but don’t over do it
Despite the negative news you may have seen or read about India, overall, India is a safe place to visit.
This is, of course, provided that you take adequate precautions just like you would do when visiting any other country in the world. There are definitely some do’s & don'ts you need to pay attention to and respect.
Do your research and gather as much knowledge and insights as you need about India and the places you intend to visit, but be sure to keep an open mind. Also, be open to last-minute changes because delays and severe traffic jams are quite common in India.
Throughout your trip, it’s best to keep an optimistic mindset so that you can devise an alternative plan if your original plan does not work out. Lastly, if you plan to shop while in India or intend to bring some souvenirs back home, be sure to bargain.
Do haggle hard whenever you are interested in purchasing something from local markets. It is a custom to haggle in India because the sellers often quote a (much) higher price to tourists than they would to locals.
How to pack for India?
When it comes to packing, no matter what destination you’re traveling to, it’s best to pack practically.
This means packing only the essentials – don’t bring anything that is not absolutely necessary. You should also pack according to the different regions of India you’ll be visiting. Though the weather across India can vary depending on the time of year you’ll be traveling, for the most part, India is usually warm so chances are, you won’t have to pack any clothing that is bulky or takes up much space.
If you’re only staying in the metropolitan areas, note that it’ll be relatively easy for you to find basic clothing items as well as toiletries, though the brands may differ. If you require specific brands, be sure to bring them from home. If you’ll only be going for a short stay, don’t bring toiletries in their (large) original containers and bring the necessary amount in travel size containers instead.
Useful travel tips
Now that we’ve got the preparation out of the way, let’s take a look at what you can expect from your much-awaited Indian adventure. Here are a few basic guidelines that you must adhere to while traveling in India:
Speak & dress conservatively
While in India, listen and observe more than you speak. Remember that it is a pretty conservative country so as a guest, kindly speak and behave accordingly during throughout visit.
When it comes to clothing, women should always wear clothing that covers the body. Though the acceptable attire is more lenient for men, they should also pay attention to their attire while visiting (holy) temples.
In metropolitan cities such as Delhi and Hyderabad, you may be able to dress less conservatively but as a rule of thumb, observe what the locals wear and assimilate yourself. This will show that you respect their customs. This will also enable you to stick out less as a tourist.
Indulge in Indian cuisine
Unless you have certain allergies, I recommend trying all the options Indian cuisine has to offer – especially these scrumptious and popular dishes.
If you are not accustomed to eating food that is spice-infused or Indian food in general, I would suggest to always find a well-reputed and crowded restaurant to eat (a crowd is a telltale sign that the food will be delicious).
At these types of restaurants, they are likely to have better service and level of English. Don’t hesitate to ask your waiter for recommendations.
You must also note that since India is predominantly Hindu, most restaurants would serve non-beef and vegetarian dishes.
If you are a non-vegetarian and hankering for some meat, do check out Punjabi cuisines in Delhi, Chandigarh, and Punjab. I guarantee you’ll be hooked!
Though credit cards and electronic money are widely used in the more developed urban regions, you will definitely need to have cash on hand in order to purchase things and services in the smaller towns and villages.
Although ATMs are generally easy to find in India, it is highly recommended to always have at least a few thousand Indian rupees with you at all times.
Image credit: Tech Crunch
India is a well-connected country with various modes of transportation. Flights are probably your best bet when flying to metropolitan destinations, but railways are the best choice when you plan to visit a more remote village.
The most efficient way to get around within metropolitan cities are the metro trains as you don’t have to deal with the heavy traffic. That said, if you want to experience an authentic Indian transportation, opt for auto-rickshaws or manual rickshaws if you don’t have to go far.
If you feel particularly adventurous and would like to have a go at navigating the roads in India, you can hire a self-drive car. Alternatively, you can always hail a cab which is relatively easy to do in big cities across India.
Carrying yourself in public
Indians are a very friendly bunch, especially to tourists. This is because they firmly believe that a guest should be treated as ‘God’.
That said, as petty crimes like pickpocketing are rampant in India, I would advise to not ‘flash’ your cash, jewelry, and other expensive possessions while traveling in public transport or when in busy areas.
Places to visit in India
Image credit: (MCR) World
Each corner of India offers unique experiences which is why I would recommend to at least spend a full week in India to discover more of it!
Foreigners prefer to travel to the southern part of the country to begin their journey because states like Kerala represents India’s natural beauty at its best.
Kerala is rightly called the God’s own country as it never fails to delight tourists and locals alike. Here, you will find rich flora and fauna, breathtaking beaches, mouthwatering food, authentic Ayurvedic treatment, and various traditional events.
Additionally, you can also travel to the towns like Coorg, Kodaikanal, Thekkady, Wayanad, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gokarna, and many other places. To summarize, South India is a country within a country that deserves at least a few days of your time while in India.
Image credit: Thrillophilia.com
The northern region of India gives an impression of being a busy section of the country and it’s no wonder why.
Once you land in the Delhi airport, you’ll realize that though you may not find the peace and serenity, you’ll find that the entire national capital is abundant with rich experiences. You will find colorful hoardings all around the roads, which are, full of chaotic traffic.
If you’re looking to get away from all the hustle and bustle, I would recommend for you to go to Himachal Pradesh to view breathtaking sights of the mountains and spend some quiet time in the quaint hamlets.
Have you ever heard about Udaipur or Goa? There are countless gems in the states of Rajasthan, Goa, Gujrat, Maharashtra, along with the union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haweli, and Daman and Diu.
All these destinations offer exclusive (traditional) events, monuments, sights, wildlife, and various activities that you must simply experience.
I may be biased, but in my opinion, the Northeastern part of India wins the trophy for being the most gorgeous region in the country.
Places like Assam, Sikkim, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, and Meghalaya are just too mesmerizing to be described in words. If you are looking for the ultimate destination to get away and ‘renew’ your mind, body, and soul. Any of the places that I just mentioned would make a perfect choice.
Love Indian food? If one of the main reasons why you’re traveling to India is food, why not sign yourself up for an Indian cuisine culinary vacation? Your taste buds will thank you for it.