You’ve probably heard that India is a fascinating and challenging experience, and it’s true. A lot of people have second doubts about traveling to India, but it’s an incredible experience and I would recommend it a million times! After all, Leticia went there for what was supposed to be 8 months, and ended up staying for 4 years!
However, India is not easy on first timers (or experienced travelers either), and there are some travel hacks which can help you to have an easier experience in the country.
Without further delay, here is our list with the best 8 advice you should know before traveling to India:
THE BEST 9 TRAVEL ADVICE TO INDIA:
Hot weather? Not always!
It is NOT hot all year round! India is known to be a hot country. Especially in May and June, the temperature can easily reach 47 degrees Celsius in Delhi, and that too BEFORE monsoon season. The air is extremely dry, and you could easily drink 5 liters of water in a day (no joke). A lot of people don’t know it, but between November and February, it’s winter time in the country. In the South, it isn’t as hot, and in the North, it’s actually cold, with snow at the Himalayan states and even some ski stations. That being said…
2. The best months to visit India
The best months to visit India are in October and March. It’s low season, so you can get cheaper flight tickets, the weather is not too hot or too cold, it doesn’t rain a lot AND you can experience the two biggest festivals in the country: Diwali, in October, known as the festival of lights, and Holi, in March, the festival of colors. They are both worth the experience!
3. Getting a train ticket in India
It’s very common to want to travel by train, and equally common to get frustrated once you try to navigate the Indian Railways website. There are several classes, names, and information you’ll not understand, and quite often the tickets end up not being available. Trains in India are often full, but there is a type of ticket called Tatkal, which is an emergency ticket released for sale 1 or 2 days before departure. The tickets are very limited, and most hotels (even small ones) have a travel agent inside or around it. So once your departure date approaches, contact the travel agent as ask him to book it for you. Since availability is limited, travel agents need to book it as soon as the system releases it, usually at 9 or 10 am every day.
4. The Planet India
Welcome to planet India! I’ve heard it and felt it several times. India is just so different, that it really does feel like arriving on a different planet. And to add up to this feeling is the fact that any white, yellow or black person stands out in the crowd, so you’ll find pretty much everyone staring at you everywhere you go. It’s not a malicious stare, just a curious one, and people will often ask to click pictures with you, or you holding their baby, etc.
5. Bargaining? Not always!
You probably know that everyone bargains in India pretty much everywhere. It can be fun and exhausting at the same time, and sometimes you just won’t feel like it. Well, there is a wonderful thing called MRP, which stands for “maximum retail price”. At clothing shops inside malls or small grocery shops at the nearest neighborhood, every product comes with a stamp MRP, which stands for the maximum price that product can be sold for on retail. This also applies to water bottles, which is possibly the thing you’ll buy the most during your stay there. Restaurants tend to put their own margin on water bottles, but at normal shops in the city, the price is ALWAYS mentioned in the bottle, and it doesn’t usually cost more than 1 or 20 rupees, unless it’s a fancy water brand, like the Himalayas. MRP is a big relief when you just don’t know if you’re being charged the right price for things. Look for it and use it.
6. Transportation made easy
Uber, please. When you arrive in the country, you can use 30 minutes of free internet provided by the airport to book an Uber or other apps. It works with international credit cards, and it’s really really helpful. Hotels and taxis always overcharge for the transfer, especially knowing that as soon as you arrive, you have no idea how much transportation is supposed to cost. It’s common for people to, later on, figure out they overpaid for their transfer. Apps like Uber are free, convenient and safe. It might also save you from haggling with autorickshaw drivers, which may often insist on bargaining (to your disadvantage, as you don’t know the real distance between places, and quite often Uber is the same price or cheaper than what you would get for an auto rickshaw) and sometimes will not even know the location of your destination. Auto rickshaws can be fun as an experience, but once you live there, haggling every day won’t be your choice, I guarantee.
7. Finding local restaurants
Since we’re talking about apps, just download Zomato. It’s a wonderful app that gives reviews of restaurants, pictures and – the best part, in my opinion – the full menu of the restaurants, with prices. This is extremely convenient when you’re looking for a place to eat, but don’t know whether the place is open, over your budget or has good food. You can also order through the app if you just don’t feel like eating out some day.
8. Apps, apps and more apps!
Still, on the topic about apps, most of the Indian population does not have a laptop, but smartphones are widely available. This means you will find very good apps for just about anything in the country. From grocery shopping to finding someone to do your laundry, finding bus tickets, movie tickets, buying clothes online…there is an app for everything. They are easy to use and very practical!
9. A break from spices
Talking about food, getting to know the names of Indian dishes will help you out a lot. Some days you might want to take a break from all the spiciness, so here is the golden tip: the red sauce is spicy, white sauce is usually not. I’ve made this mistake several times, of ordering red sauce pasta to get a break from spicy food, only to find out it is extremely spicy! Unless you’re at a proper Italian restaurant, red sauce pasta is usually spicy, and white sauce pasta is safe. At Mc Donalds, Chicken Nuggets and Mc Chicken are not spicy (because fast food chains also have spicy food in India!) and Subway is not only totally safe regarding spiciness, as they have 10 options of vegetarian sandwiches, and 10 of sandwiches with some type of meat (never beef, though). If you’d like to try less spicy Indian curries, you can go with malai kofta or other dishes with “malai” on the name. Malai means cream, and these sauces are lighter in color and flavor, although not totally spice-free.
These are some pretty useful tips that can make your stay in India a lot easier. Do you have any other tips we forgot about? Tell us and we’ll add to the list 😉