Check out this post to learn everything you need to know about Traveling to India. Here you will learn exactly how to get started.
India really does have something for everyone and it is a small wonder why it’s on so many people’s bucket lists.
After all, if you Mention India to someone, there is a good chance their minds will fill with exotic thoughts. Visions of rich culture, spices and spirituality will all spring to mind.
I have had a strong passion for travelling my whole adult life, and I have been lucky enough to visit almost one-third of all the countries on this beautiful planet.
Yet, I am building a website for Indian travel? Well, that is because no other country has left such a mark on my soul as this one has. Honestly, there are so many epic tourist destinations that it is hard to know what to recommend first.
If you need any inspiration on where to spend your time check out my top 10 tourist destinations in India. If that is not enough, click this link for another of my top eleven best top-rated tourist attractions in India.
Each of India’s 29 states is so radically different from the next that it can feel like many countries are all wrapped up in one. The changes to the landscape and culture can be extreme in a single bus journey. I am pretty sceptical that any other country can simultaneously cater to so many tastes like this one.
Planning for Traveling to India
Carefully planning your Indian travelling experience is essential. Fortunately, It is not difficult once you work out what you actually want from it? India is massive and that means even if you have a whole year on your visa, you will still not get to see very much. Put some real thought into what excites you as I can not overstate India’s vastness.
Then you will have to work out how long you can dedicate to your adventure and, crucially, how much money you have to chuck at it. Obviously, the more money you have, the richer your experience is likely to be, but I think that’s the same for most things, right?
I have read some blogs that say you can travel in India for 10 dollars a day? That is just nonsense and you will give yourself unrealistic expectations. Maybe ten years ago, that was possible, but not in today’s modern India.
It is hard to suggest an accurate budget because it is unique to you and your needs. I can live moderately comfortably on 30 pounds a day, but then I don’t drink, which hikes your bill up quickly.
Travel Health in India
Travel health in India is a hot topic as there are a few extra considerations to make. For a start, healthcare is hugely varied. You can find everything from plush hospitals that can cost a fortune in the heart of Dehli to dirty, run-down garden sheds in rural areas.
If you need to seek medical advice, you can generally find something decent in the major cities. Even the government hospitals tend to be okay if all you need is a simple blood test.
For any serious illness, I would strongly recommend paying out. Dont get me wrong, I am no doctor. This is simply my opinion based on experience. However, I have been sick a lot of times. I know the strange thing to brag about, but it is never the less accurate. It puts me in a position where I can hand out some well researched and coherent travel advice.
Speak to A Travel Health Professional Before Visiting India
I strongly advise you to speak to a travel health professional before visiting India. Doctors are great at dealing with our problems in the UK, but their knowledge tends to be limited to the whole new brand of problems you will be facing on the road.
After all, why would he know that you should never take ibuprofen if you feel like you have the flu as it could be Dengue fever and may cause you to haemorrhage internally? Or that if you have any pre-existing medical conditions that involve your lungs or even care for them, it is a good idea to monitor air pollution levels as it can get severe indeed!
Travel Health Website
Here are two handy travel websites and well worth checking out. Firstly I want to recommend the NHS fit for a travel website. Here you can find out if you need malaria treatment for your trip or what vaccinations you should have.
Uk Government Website for Indian Travel
The second will be the Uk government website for Indian travel. Things can change here with very short notice. Thankfully this website is frequently updated and it contains any changes made to India’s COVID 19 policies.
It also covers any significant incidents and gives you a nice little map of where the FCO advises you to stay away from. It also means your insurance will not be valid should you visit any of these places, although your choice to do so is still optional. It is just worth remembering, is all.
Travel Insurance for India
You may be asking yourself whether I need comprehensive travel insurance for India. It is of course up to you but I would. What with the covid 19 global epidemic still raising its ugly head and all.
Even if it does not bother you, the country might still shut its borders without warning, causing severe disruptions to your travel plans. We never know how a government will react to advise from the world health organisation, do we?
However, make sure you read the small print to see what you pay for. I have read one policy that does not cover you for hiking? I don’t understand? when do I stop walking and start hiking? Or acts of god? WTAF! How did that even become a condition and how would anyone know that? It all sounds like bull£$%^ to me.
India Tourist Visa
Now let us talk about your Indian tourist visa. As of November, 15th 2021, India is allowing foreign nationals into its borders again. The permitted stay is much shorter than before and British nationals are the only people that can not use the E-Visa service. Well, that’s just rude, isn’t it?
It is one of the mandatory entry requirements that international arrivals pass a negative PCR test before they can enter India. Travellers testing positive on their PCR tests will still not be denied entry. However, they can presume they will be put into quarantine or at least some kind of separate isolation facility for several days.
Uk and Indian Government’s Requirements
In addition, you must also pass the UK and Indian government’s requirements. Well, presuming you are from the UK, of course. It is also reasonable to assume there may be additional healthcare screening measures if anything gets even a little worse.
To find out the current guidelines, please check out the British government’s website in the link above and the Indian department of immigration.
Changes to the Validation of Your India Tourist Visa
There have been some significant changes to the Validation of your Indian Visa since the COVID19 pandemic. We used to be able to apply for six months or even a year, but it has been dramatically reduced for now. Visas are currently valid for 120 days, with a maximum stay in India of 30 days. It is not great but better than nothing.
India Travel Advisory
Now let me give you a little of Gary’s Indian travel advisory tips. I could talk to some more about Indian wildlife, but I am not going to do that here. There is, of course, fantastic nature, but travel here is not without its challenges and we should talk about this in detail.
let’s start with legal issues, shall we? As a rule, the local police tend to leave tourists alone. It’s best to keep it that way. Police corruption is rife due to poor wages, so you don’t want any problems.
If you face a legal issue, consult your embassy immediately. My advice would be to seek the best possible legal counsel you can afford. Being held on remand is common while a court date is set, which can take months. If the police stop, you do what they ask and remain calm.
The Indian Government and Drugs
Drugs are widely available in India but do bear in mind even a small amount of drugs can get you ten years inside. Weed in many parts of the country is simply just a weed and is wildly peddled to tourists. But it is only legal in Rajasthan and only from licenced places.
There have been numerous reports of stings in tourist hotspots like Goa and Manali. You can often see Sadus ( Hindu holy men ) who openly smoke Charas (cannabis pipes) and do not even think about joining in!
If stopped by the police, it is always good to have photocopies of your passport and visa and store them electronically. You will need copies to apply for permits anyway. If you are a victim of a crime, petty or otherwise, report it to the local authorities immediately and get a police report.
Things to Carry While Travelling in India
It is typical for tourists two to carry two bags. With the bulk of your luggage in and the other small day pack, you keep your valuables, such as your camera. I suggest you do the same and never let that bag out of your sight.
Due to India’s vast size, there are a lot of environmental hazards to consider. For the people of this country, dealing with the might of mother nature is just a way of life. The key here is to know what the weather is likely to be doing when you visit and avoid the worst times unless necessary.
Extreme Travel Conditions in India
Sometimes you have to go at the worst possible time of year depending on the purpose of your visit. For example, if you want to see Snow Leopards in the wild, the best time to go is in February when it’s coldest and the best place to do that is in the high Himalayas. Nights will regularly drop below minus twenty-five degrees Celcius.
Do not underestimate what that entails. Even the freakin snow leopards think it is too cold, so you must dress appropriately and not push yourself too hard. commercial mountain rescue services can cost a small fortune.
Water in India
Do not ever drink tap water in India, no matter how thirsty you are. As obvious as that sounds, many travellers seem to want to give it a try?
I always carry iodine tablets for when I am in remote areas, and if you can fit one in your backpack, a carbon filter is always handy.
The water on tables comes in large twenty-litre bottles treated with reverse osmosis and is generally safe to drink.
Another obvious problem is drinking too much. I often shock myself at how much I can drink when moving around in fifty-degree heat. Try not to go to the wild as to much water can be very dangerous.
Electricity in India
India is prone to power cuts, particularly in rural areas that are unlikely to have backup generators. It can become torturous when it’s baking out.
Carry a travel adaptor with surge protection as there is some pretty dodgy wiring going on in parts. It is also wise to carry a touch in your day pack just in case.
Be Environmentally Friendly
Something to consider is the plastic waste from months on the road if it is possible to keep it to a minimum.
You can do this by using reusable water bottles where appropriate. I know it is not always possible, granted, but I am pretty sure if I could show a backpacker how many plastic bottles they accumulate in a year-long trip, they would be both shocked and ashamed.
The Risk of Political and Rebel Violence
The UK government currently states its likely terrorists will carry out attacks in India. That may seem a little over the top to scare tourists like that.
A Word of Caution
However, that is not to say such things don’t happen. While most of this violence is politicly or religiously motivated, attacks may be focused on places tourists frequent, such as religious places and public transport. Please monitor the information on the UK and Indian government’s websites.
Monitor Local Media
It is essential to monitor local media continuously. Keep an eye out for things like planned public demonstrations because, like anywhere else, they can get out of hand quickly. It is also wise to keep an eye on the weather as this can pose an almighty issue.
For a detailed insight into the best Indian websites please click the link provided. This post will take a few minutes of your time to read and the information could prove to be very useful indeed.
Is Kashmir Safe for Tourists
The FCO advise against all non-essential travel to Jammu and Kashmir, and there are certainly lots of tensions close to the Pakistan and Indian border. I have been myself, so I can say there is an air of uncertainty here with a robust military presence.
In all honesty, I didn’t feel like I was ever in danger, but your travel insurance will not be valid if you decide to put these parts into your itinerary. Contact local authorities immediately if there is an issue.
Northeast India Travel Advise
There have been sporadic terrorist attacks in Assam. Most of these were carried out by the Aboriginal rebels. While the insurgents have been quiet for a while, it does not mean they will stay that way. There are also sporadic clashes between Indians and Bangladeshis along their shared border.
The FCO also advises against all travel outside the capital Imphal and the Meiti valley in Manipur. That includes Loktak lake and Keibul national park. Well, that’s handy as these are the only areas the Indian government allows you to travel anyhow.
Manipur shares a border with Myanmar (Burma), and despite being in a very hostile area, some tourists are still making this journey. Crime is undoubtedly rife here, and there is a heavy Indian military presence. There is honestly no reason to make this your chosen route.
East India Travel Advice.
The last area where terrorism is associated is East India. Naxalite uprisings are relatively common, and while the target is the Indian authorities, attacks are indiscriminate. Skirmishes are most likely to occur in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha. It is not wise to wander off the tourist track in these parts.
Take caution when swimming as there is a danger of strong undertows along India’s extensive coastline. There are scarcely any flags set out for where is safe to swim and where isn’t. What’s more, rescue services are often very limited.
Trekking in India
When it comes to trekking in India, the first piece of advice is never never trek alone! India is a trekkers wonderland with various a mind-bending number of routes to choose from for all fitness levels.
Remember that there are no commercial rescue services above 3000m. Above this altitude, the military does carry out air rescues but are in no way obliged to.
Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back, even if it is the guesthouse owner you left your luggage in. Accidents in the mountains are widespread, so you should take a guide if it is possible. Although I have seen some pretty poor guides lead tourists into foul conditions on more than one occasion.
Common Scams in India.
India has a terrible yet, unfortunately, well-deserved reputation for being one of the countries you are most likely to get scammed in. While the threat of physical violence is remarkably low across the subcontinent outside of Kashmir and Manipur, the chances of you becoming a victim of one kind of scam or another are incredibly high.
I have been a victim of countless scams through the years myself, so I would like to share with my readers what to look out for to avoid falling into the same pitfalls I have. After all, it is always best to learn from some else’s mistakes, right?
Apply Some Common Sense
It sounds simple, but we all have to apply common sense when travelling. As a rule, I have found anyone who stops you in the street and wants to talk about the weather or shout, hey, my brother tends not to have the purest of intentions. It is best to stop that conversation in its tracks to save either of you from wasting your time.
Overpricing in India
From the moment you arrive in the country, the risk of being overcharged is exceptionally high. It is hard for a traveller to understand how much things actually cost without experience. Always negotiate a price before taking any service. While this can become tiresome, it is essential.
When you ask how much something is, you will invariably get a price that is far too high. Whatever price you get, offer half. While that is probably too low, eventually, you will meet in the middle somewhere. It can be awkward for some of us as bartering is not in our culture. Remember, no vendor will sell their products at a loss, so try to be firm.
Many products you get from shops have a recommended retail price on the side. Please look at it and don’t spend more than it states as this is the price set by the government.
You will be given a padlock for your door in many hotels, so I would advise purchasing your own lock. Some hotels are not happy with this plan, but if they had nothing to hide, this would not be an issue as if you lose the key, you will have to pay for any repairs automatically.
Don’t keep valuables inside the room and on display through a window to avoid any temptation to break in. Like anywhere else in the world, petty theft is a real problem, but these risks can easily be minimalised using good judgement and common sense.
I always keep my money in a money belt that I tuck into my trousers. Maintain a minimum amount in your wallet. Or if you do lose it, the damage is not massive. Wrap the money in plastic airtight, Sealy bags on long trips as the sweat from your body will turn your funds mouldy.
Indian Train Travel
Put your luggage under the seats on long-haul trains and wrap the waist straps around the metal clips attached. When I sleep at night on the train, I keep my money belt on and take my small daypack on the bed with me. The top bunk is best as it makes it harder for people to wander off with your possessions.
There have been numerous cases of solo tourists being drugged and robbed at night. The obvious answer is not to accept anything from a friendly stranger. It’s a shame, but stay safe and don’t take the risk! For more on Indian train travel check out my in-depth post.
Bus Travel in India
When travelling on buses, try bringing your bags onboard and not on the luggage rack or boot as it’s hard to monitor what is going on when it is in motion.
On overnight public buses, sit near the driver if I can as it is an extra set of eyes. since most Indian people are very kind anyway, locals tend to watch out for foreign tourists and just want to keep you safe.
I had often experienced help from local people even when I didn’t ask for it, So I make a point of helping Indian tourists who ask for help while visiting London, as I have been grateful for their guidance so often. Here is, of cause always a tiny minority of people who are not so lovely but, try not to let that spoil your experience.
Taxi Scams in India
There are so many taxi scams in India I would strongly recommend downloading the uber app to save yourself the headache.
When getting from a bus or railway station to your chosen destination, you will probably need some form of transport. Unfortunately, many drivers work with other hotels and will want you to go and see their choice of accommodation that they will of cause tell you is much better.
The drivers get a good commission from these businesses, and if you choose to stay in one of these places, there is a good chance the cost of your room will increase to accommodate the commission needed to pay the driver.
To avoid this issue, tell the driver you have a booking or ask to get out at a landmark close to where you want to be. It will probably push the initial price up of the journey, so negotiate the cost before you start and clarify that you are not interested.
Many hotels offer a free pickup so double-check with any place you book to see if this is a service they will provide.
It is a good way of saving yourself the pain of negotiating the cost of transport and saving yourself money into the bargain.
When working out a reasonable price for a journey, look at the map and see how far it is to your destination. It should never be more than 20 rupees a kilometre.
Travel Agent Scams
When booking train tickets in India, try and use the government offices if possible as they have access to the tourist quota and won’t charge a commission for booking it for you. They will also help you plan your route.
When you get the busses and if it is possible to make sure you get a printed ticket to make sure you have paid the correct cost. If you can’t get one ask the other passengers if the price sounds correct.
Natural Disasters in India
Some factors can be complicated to protect yourself against, such as natural disasters. For example, Geographical surveys show that almost 54% of the land is vulnerable to earthquakes.
However, that is a very improbable outcome that you would be involved in one, given the timescale, they happen on, so there is little point worrying too much about issues like that. A much more likely outcome would be you eat a lousy curry and get an upset stomach.
Checking out my post on getting the travel experience you actually want is a must. It is packed with my personal tricks and tips I have accumulated over the years. Enjoy guys and happy travels.