India is an unpredictable country of complex beauty. It is so different from what we are used to, that when someone asks me how my trip has been, I answer the following: «a whole life experience».
Traveling to India for free is like going to the station and having to get on a running train. It does not stop for anyone, it does not change for anyone and above all, it does not wrinkle before anyone.
Thanks to its smells, its people, its landscapes and traditions, it is capable of totally transforming the vision we have of our world. For this reason, I wanted to compile the 50 most important tips for traveling to India on your own.
So that you only have to worry about changing the chip and savor second by the second one of the most incredible countries in the world. There they go
What is the best time to travel to India?
To answer this question, first of all, we should be very clear about what we consider to be the “best time”. From my point of view, that I like to travel to places for free, the best time to do it is when there is less mass tourism.
If you agree with me, the best time to travel to India is undoubtedly July-August. It is true that there are some drawbacks, such as the monsoon season. But except that in Varanasi half the city was flooded – with what you can forget to see crematoriums or take boat trips – the rest of the trip we did it without problems and without stress.
Now, if you want to avoid the monsoons and travel in a time without so much heat, the high season runs from November to January.
Of course, prepare to deal with many other tourists who, like you, are also looking to take the best photo from every corner.
Tips for traveling to India: preparing for the trip
This trip has to be prepared with time and conscience, so we start with the practical recommendations that will have to be taken before visiting India :
- One of the basic tips for traveling to India is to have our visa in order. If you want to know how to do it step by step, here is the article ” How to get an online visa to India “. Remember that you can manage it from 120 days before your arrival in India to 4 days before. In the post, we explain the step by step to get it easily.
- Going through the international traveler service area ( AVI ) of your city, more than a recommendation is an obligation. Make an appointment early, especially in high season (in Barcelona they are 40 euros the scheduled visit if they give you a vaccine. Without a vaccine, they are only € 25).
- If you are traveling to India on your own, it is important that you book the trains in advance on the Indian government website or they will fly.
- To carry important documents (such as a passport) or cash, a good recommendation is to get a travel bum bag. It is thin and sticks to the body, and although at first, it is uncomfortable, you get used to it quickly.
- Always wear good plugs, since there is usually a lot of movement and noise on trains. Especially if you sleep on the train!
- Another recommendation before the trip is that you remember to book at least the first night of the hotel since the Indian authorities ask you for a lodging address to enter the country.
In this article, we show you the accommodations we slept in during our trip to India. (with pros and cons of each one and recommendations to get good prices)
- Before booking, check if the accommodation offers an airport pick-up service. I assure you that you will appreciate it on the first day.
- Important, in addition to cash, have a credit or debit card on hand in case you need to withdraw cash.
- A good tip before traveling to India is to scan all the documents (especially the passport) and save it in the email. In case of loss during the trip, you will always have them at hand.
- Take an electric adapter just in case, although as a general rule in hotels in India you will have no problem plugging in your electronic devices.
- The traditional Hindu greeting is Namaste. If in addition to saying that word you put your hands together in a prayer plan at the height of your chest. You will be well received wherever you go.
- The kit is essential to travel to India. Here I leave you a post on what to bring in the travel kit. And where you can find the essential medicines, creams and accessories to travel safely to India.
- Remember from the first moment you step on Indian soil that the tap water is not good to drink or to brush your teeth. As a personal recommendation, I would tell you to use bottled water at all times (no need to shower).
- Toilet paper is scarce in hotels in India, so another tip to prepare the trip is to take a couple of rolls. They will save you from the trouble!
- Mosquitoes are dangerous, but then you get used to it and lose your panic. In any case, carrying a powerful mosquito on hand is always necessary. (you should always put sunscreen on top and mosquito repellent on top of it to take effect.)
- IMPORTANT: If you are going to travel to India on your own, you must first take out travel insurance that covers any type of setback that may arise. For my trips around the world, I trust the Iati backpacker insurance (if you are interested, access from this link you will get a 5% discount for being a blog reader ).
- Another tip for traveling to India is to buy proper footwear. Although many backpackers walk with sandals, I think it is more comfortable and safe to wear closed slippers.
- Having a sweater on hand for journeys never hurts, even if we go to India!
Recommendations during the trip to India
I want to dedicate the second part of this article to list all the precautions and advice that we should have during our trip to India. In this list, you will find recommendations to haggle a good price in the markets to a fully translated Indian menu. Here we go:
- A basic travel tip is to always set the price to pay before getting on any transport , be it tuc-tuc, taxi or bicycle.
- For those who cannot book trains, there is always the possibility of hiring a private driver to do all the transfers for you.
- In the event that you choose this last option, be sure to compare prices between different agencies (the best option is to ask at the hotels themselves, since they organize this type of route). It is important that the price includes meals, accommodation, gasoline and taxes for the driver . You will only have to add a tip at the end.
- A personal recommendation is that if you want to take the reserved driver from Spain, please contact Mahendra , who was my driver for the first 10 days of the trip. I can only speak highly of him. His email is this: firstname.lastname@example.org
- You shouldn’t pay more than Rs 900-1200 for a hotel night with minimal conditions (air conditioning and wifi).
- When you go to a hotel to look at its facilities you have to follow these haggling steps:
Look at the room and always ask for the correct operation of the air conditioner and the wifi .
Remove a defect from the room (there always are) and ask for the price. A price that I already assure you will be exorbitant.
You go down to reception having already started haggling (previously having thought of a ceiling of money that we want to pay) and at reception you have just finalized the agreement.
If you do not get off the donkey, include in the price that both tourist rates and breakfast ask you and the deal will be closed.
- Always carry your passports by hand because in some temples and especially in hotels they will be asked for them regularly.
- I recommend you try the local restaurants , since the food is good and with a very low price. Now, it is possible that after a week you start to have intestinal problems, but nothing worrying.
- Another travel advice to India about food is not to be alarmed by the expiration date of the products . Coca-cola, Fantas and many packaged products sold in stores and restaurants are.
- As I mentioned before, the peak time to travel to India is from November to January , when there are no monsoons. Despite everything, the raincoat is not superfluous.
- The banks open at approximately 11 am and on Sundays they are closed . If you can, it is better to avoid taking money, lest the card stay inside.
- You can control currency exchange daily through the Internet or get an idea at any exchange office. It is good to know at all times how much you spend on your itinerary through India.
- To get rupees, you can do it either at the airport (the change is worse) or at some exchange office in the city (they usually have a much more favorable change).
- There is also no spare scarf, which you can carry by hand to cover your shoulders when entering the Indian temples.
- And speaking of temples, if you are apprehensive and plan to visit the temple of the Bikaner rats, wear socks because you must go barefoot . In any case, there is no problem with going barefoot. I know this from my own experience.
Many priests will call you and perform a ritual for you. There is nothing wrong, and it is even funnier because they give you a bracelet for karma. But you have to pay, and when you go for the fifth time it is better to say that you do not want a ritual beforehand.
- In hotels you have to take advantage of Wi-Fi to download city maps on Google Maps , since once you have them they work offline. This is one of the many travel tips I wrote in another post long ago. Take a look and you will find more!
- Always prepare between 300 and 500 rupees per person in the temples , since in many of them the entrance of the chamber is paid separately .
- A good option for traveling by train in India is to book category 3AC . It is air conditioned and the conditions are good, the only difference is that it sleeps 6 people per compartment (it is the preferred option for most western travelers).
When you finish reading the article, we recommend you take a look at the comments: there you will find questions from other travelers and our answers . If you have any questions, go ahead!
- If during your free trip to India you take any internal flight that takes you to Delhi, know that there is a prepaid taxi service at the departure terminal.
In this way, you will save yourself having to haggle and you will win with the price closed since at the airport there is a lot of scammers.
- If you are in a hotel and request a taxi to take you to the airport (at least in Delhi it was like that), you will have to pay double. In other words, the airport-hotel route to come to pick you up and the hotel-airport route.
- For all those who do not have a good command of English – or in case you come across a local who does not know how to speak it – good advice is to take a calculator to negotiate the price of everything you want to buy with local people.
- You will see that it is very normal for local people to ask you for photos. Do not take it badly or be suspicious, since it is part of their culture. Take it in a good mood and feel like a movie star for a few seconds.
- The Taj Mahal, which is one of the main attractions in India, is closed on Fridays. Be careful with that information!
- The entrance price to the Taj Mahal is the highest of all the temples in India. It is currently in the 1000 rupees .
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- Be very careful with pickpockets inside the Taj Mahal compound. Unlike what happens in other places in India. If inside the Taj enclosure they ask you for photos or come too close, be careful with your belongings.
- Another good tip to visit the Taj Mahal is to avoid scheduling the visit on the weekends. As up to 100,000 tourists pass by on those two days alone.
- If you want to see a spectacular sunset with the Taj Mahal in the background. It is better to go to the gardens next to the Yamuna river, which bathes the feet of the Taj. With the entrance to the Taj Mahal, the price will be 200 rupees, a considerable discount.
- To give you an idea, a good price for a small women’s leather purse is around 250 rupees. The typical baggy women’s pants, 150. If you ask for more, dribble.
- If you don’t like spicy, ask for “no spicy” when you take command. Repeat if necessary because they don’t always listen to you!
- It is quite obvious advice to travel to India, but it will be better to repeat it. Do n’t even think about driving, since they have an absolutely different way of doing it than ours!
- And finally, a very personal recommendation: enjoy your trip to the fullest. Because it is different from everything else you have experienced before.
Don’t go thinking that you’re going to “see things.” You have to think that you are going to know a different culture. A way of seeing life radically opposed to ours. And that, dear readers, you don’t have a chance to see every day.
These are some of the practical tips for traveling to India. That I have been able to gather after returning from my trip. If you have any more that you think should appear on the list. I encourage you to participate by commenting on the blog. Nothing else. You enjoy a wonderful country!