It is no exaggeration to say that one lifetime is not enough to visit the wonderful yet daunting, fantastic yet crazy, and intoxicating yet chaotic country like India. The country is all this and much more. It has diversity in all its forms, be it culture, monuments, cuisines, landscapes, and so on. The country offers something new every time you come to explore it.
If you too are planning a tour to India, here are top 10 tips to visit India for first -timers:
Flexibility in expectations and plans
Since this is your first trip to India, you might be having huge expectations but it is advisable that you must be flexible in your plans and expectations. As you do not really know what you are going to experience here regarding culture or food etc., there is no surety of anything.
Certain things will happen as per your expectations while certain things will not. Things might happen as per your plans or even vice versa. Enjoy what the place has to offer, once you are here. However, whatever is the case, the memories are going to be wonderful.
Be careful about what you eat and drink
As far as food and drinks are concerned, the variety is endless. Every city has its own specialty and tasting it, is a must. You just need to be careful of what you eat. The trick is to consume only freshly peeled fruits and prepared foods. But, yes do not miss out on street food delicacies that are also served in some restaurants and eateries. You can avoid food that is displayed in open. For water, stick to mineral water bottle.
Avoid sticking to your personal space
Personal space is not really a concept in India. Thus, get ready for questions and staring. You are going to get special attention from people here. Do not get intimidated if people will ask questions from you, they are not pestering, they are just keen. Keep in mind that their culture is different than yours. So, they do not know that they are making you uncomfortable. They might wish to know about your social status, family, your home etc. Be ready to extend your privacy borders. Be prepared some noise. But, yes, always be aware of your surroundings.
Plan wisely to escape exhaustion
India is a huge country with countless memorable experiences and thus it is extremely important that you plan your holidays in India wisely to escape any kind of exhaustion and tiredness. Decide on the destinations that you want to visit. This can be done on the basis of activities that you like to indulge in or on the basis that you are travelling with your family or friends or are going solo.
Assistance can also be taken from a destination management company. Try to make the hotel bookings and air/rail ticket booking in advance to avoid any hassle. In this way, the burden on your pocket will also be less. You can also book tour packages which includes all your travel needs.
The dressing culture in India is relatively modest, especially for women. When you are visiting temples and countryside, wear clothes that cover your arms, legs and midriff. In this way, you are respecting their culture. Before entering temple, take your shoes off. These are simple things that can be followed easily. On beaches, shorts and open shoulders are of course no problems.
Learn the art of bargaining
Before visiting India, do not forget to learn the art of bargaining. Everyone bargains in India and you should also know how to do it. High prices are quoted generally for foreigners as it is always thought that a tourist is rich and thus can pay good money. You can take the help of locals to know about the correct pricing of a particular thing. Bargaining can be done at big shops. Use your negotiation skills here. Avoid it if you are buying goods from small artisans.
Know the basic words of Hindi language
Cultural holidays in India are the major allure for visitors in the country. Before coming to India or during the journey, if you will mug up some basic words of Hindi, it is going to be of huge help to you. You will also be able to impress the locals by using words from their mother tongue.
Some of such important words can be: Achcha (good), Namaste (Hello), Dhan-ya-wad or Shukriya (Thank you), Theek hai (OK/Right), Hanji (yes), Achcha Na-he (not good), Matlab (what do you mean?), Pani (water), Khana (food), Madad (help), Kitne ka hai (how much is it for?), Kripya (Please), counting numbers in Hindi and so on.
Do not get daunted because of the contrasts
India is a country of contrasts and is made up of different elements. You will not be able to imagine or see everything in the same framework. While on some roads you will see luxury cars waiting on the red lights, on the same road you will notice beggars seeking alms. When you will visit the countryside, you will notice cattle blocking road and men in simple clothes, riding a bullock cart.
There are local bustling markets filled with goods, and then there also are high-end air-conditioned shopping malls selling luxury brands. Social inequality can be slightly overwhelming but it is a way of life here.
Do not over pack stuff
Try to pack less number of clothes as you will not be able to stop yourself from shopping in India. The local bazaars as well as the posh shopping malls are overflowing with goods. There is also not going to be any need to pack medicines as there are good pharmacies here. Just pack the absolutely important ones. The case, however, can be different in villages. You can pack the basic toiletries and cosmetics. You are going to get everything in India.
There are some unwritten rules in India that everyone is expected to follow. One of them is respecting the elders. If you become friends with locals and are invited to their houses, you can show respect to their elders by joining your hands and saying ‘Namaste’. They are going to shower all their blessings on you. Ignoring them is considered to be rude.
Another thing is that if you are planning to visit some temple, be well informed about all its dresses. There are some temples who do not allow non-Hindus, while in some women are not allowed. You can ask the locals for the same. Also in India, there are some gender-specific spaces in some queues, religious places, transport, trial rooms etc. And, yes, even you are on honeymoon in India, public affection is a complete no- no here.
To know more about India, browse through our Beginner’s Guide to Travel in India.