I like to think of myself as an experienced traveller when it comes to India – having been everywhere from the mountain tops to the amazing beaches on the coast of the Indian Ocean. I’ve been to India three times in the past 10 years and each time I learn things the hard way. So, I felt obliged to provide you with my top 5 essential things to keep in mind when travelling around India.
- B.Y.O.T.P. (Bring Your Own Toilet Paper): I learned this the hard way. It’s not uncommon for some hotels and restaurants to not have toilet paper or even a “western” toilet.
- Sightseeing is Seasonal: If you plan on going to India in the summer, think about hiking up the mountains where the weather stays in the mid-20s. However, if you plan to hit the beaches, do not go in July. That’s when monsoon season starts. On the other hand, if you plan to visit India in the winter, then the beaches are the place to go, along with the breath-taking palaces in the state of Rajasthan.
- Food and Water: Only drink bottled water or, if you can, boil tap water before you drink it. Also, this may be common sense, but I feel the need to mention it: when finding places to eat, it may be tempting to try street food in India (in my experiences, it often tastes better), but be mindful of the cleanliness of the place before you buy the food.
- Shopping: All prices in India are marked up – especially if you are a foreigner. There are two types of places to shop. First, in a bazaar (shopping area), where you can bargain for lower prices on all goods unless the shop has a sign that explicitly states it has fixed prices. It’s common for shopkeepers to bring you soft drinks and free food while they bring you items to buy. You can also go to malls which have familiar brands, but you don’t get the same perks (i.e. lower prices and free food) as you would in a bazaar.
- Explore: Don’t just go to tourist destinations. Of course, you should see the famous sights of India like the Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple, but you should try to visit as many states as possible. They each have their own culture and offer unique experiences. Where else can you ride a camel through a desert one week and a donkey up a mountain the next? Well, in India of course!