India is the land of the ancient, sure, but it is also where you can find the latest in trends and technologies. If you expect to see elephants roam the streets and snake charmers around every corner, you’ll be in for disappointment. If you, on the other hand, want to buy an aux cable, a battery charger, flip flops, or a pair of denims, you’ll probably find just what you need.
Travelling to India for the first time comes with its share of pleasant and not-so-pleasant surprises, so it’s best that you go as prepared as you can.
Plan Your Itinerary in Advance
There’s a lot to see in India. If you plan to select places after your arrival into the country, you might find the task rather daunting. Select an itinerary based on your interests ahead of time. For instance, if you wish to enjoy a laid-back beach lifestyle, consider heading to Goa and the beaches that line the Western Ghats, or head to Pondicherry on the east coast. If you’re into exploring the glory of the yore, consider including Rajasthan into your trip. The southern states, on the other hand, are treasure troves of ancient temples.
Take it Easy
If you try to cover as much as you can, you’ll probably end up missing much of what you should see. To make the most of your visit, try to fully explore a handful of places instead of trying to cover maximum ground. Take time to appreciate the changing landscape, culture, and food that surrounds you. Don’t hesitate to interact with locals.
Think Weather Wise
Different parts of India experience varied climatic conditions, even at the same time. While November through February are winter months, visiting the coastal regions might require no more than a light jacket. These months are also the best to escape extremely hot temperatures that states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra experience during the summers. If you plan to visit the Himalayas, the summers are your best bet.
Familiarize Yourself With Modes of Transport
If you plan to use trains in the country, bear in mind that you might have to book your tickets months in advance. Another option is to use the ‘tatkal’ system a day prior to your travel, although this costs considerably more. Cab sharing apps such as Uber and Ola simplify intra-city travelling. When taking an auto rickshaw ride, it is best to establish the fare ahead of time. Most prominent cities are connected via flights.
Pay Attention to Your Health
Steer clear of drinking tap water anywhere. Refrain from buying precut fruit and fruit juice from roadside vendors. Avoid eating food from street vendors. Give your stomach some time to get used to the liberal use of spices before you decide to go all out in experiencing local delicacies. If eating meat, ensure that it is cooked well, and stick to establishments that draw big crowds.
In areas with high pollution levels, consider wearing a mask when outdoors. Carry medications for headaches, diarrhea, and other common medical problems. Take necessary vaccinations before you leave your home country.
Watch Out for Touts and Scams
Several popular tourist areas in India are breeding grounds for touts and scamsters who target local and foreign tourists. If you come across a deal that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Fake products in India are sold in many places. Overpricing is not uncommon, so use your bargaining skills to good effect. Taxi and auto drivers might insist on taking you to particular hotels or shops, only because they stand to get commissions in return.
Handle Your Money Well
The use of debit and credit cards issued by Visa and Mastercard is common in India. American Express finds acceptance in several big establishments. Most cities and towns give you easy access to ATMs. If you wish to save a little money, consider paying for some of your expenses in advance through a service provider such as TransferWise, OFX, WorldFirst, or InstaReM. If you need money sent to you while in the country, you may turn to the likes of Ria, Azimo, Western Union, or MoneyGram.
India has something to offer for everyone, from people seeking luxury to backpackers who’re on shoestring budgets. All you need to do to make your trip memorable is plan ahead of time, and take one day at the time. Don’t keep too many expectations from your trip, because some of your best moments will probably arrive unexpected.
Jon works as a researcher with iCompareFX. This website gives its users easy means to compare the world’s leading overseas money transfer companies based on different parameters. When he’s not working, Jon likes to explore music from across genres.