India Travel Safety Tips
So you intend to visit beautiful India, it's such an awesome place to go. Indeed a fabulous choice for the traveler who wishes to see sights that differ so much from the norm. Indeed this is a traveler's wonderland, with so many amazing temples to see, synagogues to explore, incense, intoxicating aromas, and indeed a cultural experience so different to the norm. Such a diverse country this is. What a wonderful experience it is to journey here.
India is actually the seventh largest country in the world, as well as being the largest democratic country on earth. With the size of the place in mind, you shall have your work cut out deciding which area of India you wish to travel. Such a land of natural beauty this is!
The call of "Namste" shall greet you wherever you go. "Welcome, welcome!"
Such a friendly country this is, as you will soon see. The smiles are genuine and the people are as laid back, and real as you can get. Unfortunately, they are a little too real in the crime rate category, so be warned. Pickpockets are numerous and so too are muggings. Keep all valuables within reach and do not trust anyone but yourself with passports and visas.
India is a very poor country, and unfortunately many have turned their hands to petty crime to survive, don't let yourself become a victim. Be alert and wise to what can occur. Lonely lanes and back-streets should be avoided at all costs. Be careful when hiring rickshaws, as it has been noted that a few of the drivers have set upon a lone traveler, robbing them of their wallets and valuables.
Ensure that you secure your passport, visa and all jewelry and valuables. I personally recommend that you leave your jewelry at home. Valuables entice would be robbers, so don't blatantly display any valuables unless you wish for problems. Cameras, watches, wallets, and video cams etc, should be kept beneath your clothing.
Be very aware when traveling on overcrowded buses. Ensure that you ask what your fare will be when hiring taxis, as these are so often a major source of scams.
First and foremost, ensure that all your immunization is up to date as well as your passport and visa. So many diseases are abundant in India, as this country unfortunately, has very low hygiene standards.
India often has outbreaks of assorted diseases which won't kill you, but will certainly make you ill and unable to enjoy your stay. Do a little research on-line and find out what over the counter drugs you are permitted to take while in India, ensure that you have an adequate supply. "Delhi belly" is a very nasty complaint, (food poisoning) which occurs through unhygienic food intake, this leads to sever bouts of diarrhea, dehydration, as well as excruciating stomach pains. There is medication you can take to assist in preventing this, have an ample supply. Only drink bottled water. Oh and don't forget your insect repellent as the mosquitoes are gigantic, even Godzilla would run if he saw them!
Remember also, that you are not permitted by law, to engage in any religious activities whatsoever unless of course you have a missionary visa for that particular reason. You can apply on-line at India visa page of FLY Backpackers with a minimum of fuss. You will need to send two passport photos, your passport, and a picture ID such as your license, with your application lodgment. Do this at least two months prior to your travels, as acknowledgment of these can take quite a while.
My next advise is that you try to learn a little of the language, which is mainly Hindi, I found this rather easy to learn. Many people do speak English, yet it won't hurt to know the basics. It will certainly be an asset, when you are attempting to haggle in the many market places. Don't forget to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra, this is the pride of India, definitely a must see!
Remember to visit the forts as well as the glamorous palaces of Rajasthan; these displays are filled with relics of India's wonderful rich and indeed cultural past. Take a trip to Nainital, Darjeeling and Ooty you will be glad you did.
You will indeed marvel at the magnificent display of India's amazing architectural brilliance when you visit the many temples. These are indeed "eye candy" to the budding photographer! The Sun Temple located in Konark is simply stunning; you surely will stare in awe. Another breath taking temple to visit is the Meenakshi temple which you will find in Madurae. (Make sure your camera is ready and aimed!)
When in India do as they do, and please ladies cover your legs, and shoulders, when in synagogues and temples. The Indian people find the showing of these highly offensive. Purchase a lovely soft, cool, colorful sari and enjoy the feeling of wearing the colorful, traditional dress of the Indians. Not only will you fit in more, but I'm sure your pictures will turn out wonderful. Your friends back at home shall be green with envy.
Pay attention to the seasons as the weather varies drastically from season to season. Keep up with their weather reports; look on the Internet for seasonal information. The best time to visit India is between September and February. The weather then is pleasant with temperatures averaging 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Besides, most of the popular festivals are this time of the year and cities are decorated with lights and decorations which add color and make your experience more beautiful.
The monsoon season can be extremely scary for the inexperienced traveler. (Particularly on the west coast regions from June) other areas experience this around mid October, through to December, avoid this time of year at all costs. If travel at this time is unavoidable, pack your raincoat and boots.
Even if the temperatures soar do not go barefooted, India's poor attention to sanitation is something you may need to think about, and in doing so, realize that bare feet beckons all types of diseases. Human feces unfortunately, can be seen in many areas of India. Gross, yet so true! Thus cover your feet at all times; sandals are not the best protection for you. A scarf for the ladies will keep the dust from their hair.
The Indian currency is rupee, comprehending the exchange value will be beneficial when dealing in market places and so forth. 40 rupees is equivalent to one US dollar. One euro is roughly the same as 50. On arrival at your destination, head to the nearest airport bank where you money will be exchanged. Hotels will also exchange your money/traveler's checks to the Indian currency. Take note that this can be a long process at the banks. Credit cards are accepted in most areas, but do have some rupees on you just in case.
There are wonderful sites to enjoy, temples to explore, as well as a cultural difference which may surprise, and at times, have you gob smacked. You will see religious festivals, street parades, snake charmers, Indian dancing, (just to mention a few of the amazing festivities to enjoy.) You will even find a Mc Donald's there! But be warned, you will be offered a curry burger and wow are they spicy! This is the home of the Tandoori spices, so be prepared for a culinary experience indeed.
The main language spoken in India is Hindi yet you will hear at least fourteen other languages on varied occasions. English is very prevalent as well. Religions are mainly Hindu, Buddhism, and Muslim. You will surely witness many religious festivals and while witnessing these, please pay attention to being respectful throughout them. Take note that the most popular festivals occur in September. These are rich in traditional dance, color, and indeed is an exciting time to be there. These are absolutely beautiful to watch, and the streets are colorfully decorated while the air is filled with much excitement. Ah what an adrenalin rush!
Major airports are: New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kalkatta. These cities actually connect to all other major cities. You can travel by domestic flights between these areas yet they are rather expensive.
Here a few words to assist you while you are in India!
Nama stay - hello
Haan - yes
Nahee - no
Ek - one
Do - two
Paysay - money
Pahaar - mountain
Bandar - monkey
Haatee - elephant
Mien bukha hun - I am hungry
Dhyana waadh - thank you
Su prabhat - good morning
Have a Wonderful Trip!
Read more in FAQ - Visa and Passport