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Everything You Need to Know Before Travelling to India

Travelling to India enables you to explore stunning landscapes, vibrant cultures, and rich traditions. It can be a thrilling adventure, but you need to be well-prepared. 

To have a smooth and enriching experience, you should consider certain factors and make some arrangements. India is a country of contrasts, where ancient traditions are intertwined with modernity, so you need to stay open-minded and embrace the diversity that this country offers.

Here you will find essential information on what you should know before beginning your adventures in India: from entry requirements to proper clothes and food.    

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Badami Caves: Everything is carved out of the rock

Required documents

Your Indian journey will start with the entry point, where you will need to show immigration officers the necessary documents to enter the country. 

Currently, the required documentation includes an India visa, a passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry into India, and a yellow fever vaccination certificate if you are traveling from a country with a high risk of yellow fever transmission. 

Travel insurance is also recommended when traveling to India. It will cover spending on medical treatment if you get ill or injured.  

Citizens from many countries can get a visa to India in a facilitated way – via an online application method. To apply for an India e-Visa, travelers should complete a form on visafly.com, upload the documents, and cover the processing fees. The approved electronic visa to India will be delivered to the email address – no visits to an embassy or consulate are required.

Transportation and traffic 

Consider the traffic when traveling to big cities like Dehli, Bangalore or Mumbai. The roads can be very crowded, so it is easy to get stuck in traffic. Always leave early when going to the airport, train station, or bus terminal – otherwise, the chance of getting late will be extremely high. 

However, many cities are developing underground Metro systems. Delhi Metro is especially well-developed and allows you to bypass the traffic, that too at a fraction of the cost!

Take into account that you are likely to experience delays a lot during your Indian trip. Trains delays may last even for up to 5 hours. Prepare for long trips – bring some snacks and think of ways to stay entertained. Note that trains are more comfortable than buses but require booking seats at least a month in advance.

Travelers on a budget typically take tuk-tuks (autorickshaws/autos) to get around a city. Try to agree on a price before getting in a tuk-tuk or taxi since drivers often hike up the fare, making you pay more than you would actually have to.

However, modern ride hailing apps like Uber also have strong presence in India, especially in the larger cities. Some apps also offer an option to hire a two-wheeler, which allows you to bypass the traffic by taking smaller routes.

Best time to visit India 

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Delights of Himalayas

India gets very hot and has a lot of Monsoon moisture in the summertime, so the best time for tourists to visit the southern part of the country is from October until March. Note that the further south you go, the more moisture you are going to experience.

If you travel to India in October or November, you will be able to enjoy the country during its festival season, so think about planning your vacation around this period.

However, the situation is completely different in the mountainous Himalayan regions in the Northern frontiers. These high altitude areas are much colder and they are the best during the warm summers when the plains reel under the sun. Also, in the winters you can experience snowfall here although some remote valleys get disconnected during this season.

Know Where to Go

This is actually a trickier question than most people realize. Except for the more adventurous and enterprising tourists, most visitors end up visiting the same cliched destinations, namely the Golden Triangle including Agra and Goa and Kerala. Even in these areas they only go to the most crowded and boring spots.

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Northeast India is a different world altogether

India is so vast and diverse that one lifetime isn’t enough to fully explore it. Apart from the famous destinations, I made a list of the most unexplored areas in India. Have a look at it 

Prepare for Local Food

To reduce the risk of getting sick, think about going vegetarian during your travel. The preparation also varies between different eating places, so opt for safe vegetarian food. 

India has a lot of delightful and healthy vegetarian options; therefore, it won’t be a problem to find a spot with tasty vegetarian meals. However, choose wisely – make sure it is a really busy place with quick turnover. Pay attention to who is eating there: avoid tourist spots and look for restaurants chosen by locals. You may also search online to find highly-rated places in your area or get recommendations from the staff at hotels.

Clothing in India

Clothing really differs from place to place. Beach resorts and highly touristy areas are not much different from the west. However, some interior areas are different while religious places always demand that you dress modestly. You can also wear UV-protected dry-fit clothes for hot sunny days. Do not dress up, as you may appear as an easy target for pickpockets. 

Don’t forget about being comfortable – wear loose-fitting and airy clothing. Your shoes must also be practical for walking around the city or climbing stone ruins. Consider wearing dark-colored sneakers or sturdy flip-flops.

SIM card

Getting a SIM card upon arrival in India must be one of your priorities because the internet will make your travel much easier: you can use online maps, check the latest updates in India, look up recommendations, etc. 

However, obtaining a local SIM card is not that simple, so it is better to buy an international SIM card that can be used in a range of countries. 

What to Pack?

When packing your bags for India, do not forget the essentials. Take your emergency medication: even though you can buy it in India without any difficulties, it is best to have it with you on hand. 

Pack the sunscreen and bug sprays – they will help to protect your skin from the intensity of sub and mosquitoes. Prepare the electronics: a portable charger, extra camera batteries, a plug adapter, and an extra phone charging cord.

Since there is a problem with water in India, it is extremely important to bring water bottles, sanitizers, and dry shampoo.

Travel Scams

For the most part, India is a safe country. However, you must take general precautions. For example, at many temples, visitors may be pressured into making donations – it is generally just a tourist money-making scheme rather than a genuine spiritual giving.

There are also many pickpockets in busy public places, so ensure your personal belongings like wallet or phone are safe.

Another popular scam is when a taxi driver pretends he does not know your hotel and takes you to another one. The truth is, he just gets a commission for bringing in business. For that reason, it is recommended that you write down the address and number of your hotel in advance to confirm the location. 

Jitaditya Narzary

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