201 India Travel Tips: The Ultimate Free Beginners Guide

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How to Survive Travel to India as a Beginner, What to Eat & Drink, Scams to Avoid & Everything Else You Need to Know

asher fergusson india travel expertHi!

My name is Asher Fergusson.

I’ve traveled to India 7 times over the past 7 years (that’s me pictured). It’s one of my favorite places on Earth – I absolutely love it!

Here’s the deal:

Many of my friends who visited India got terribly sick, ripped off and even scammed.

So I was compelled to create this website and corresponding free ebook.

Read these tips below and they’ll truly help you to experience the heart-opening and mind-blowing power of India in a safer and healthier way. Enjoy! :)


Click below or scroll to learn more


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SECTION 1

Tips for eating in India to avoid sickness:

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1) Only eat freshly cooked food. This is the best way to avoid getting sick due to bacteria or a parasite. Cooking kills everything.

2) Don’t eat salads, juices or anything raw. Uncooked food will inevitably be washed with contaminated water which will make you go running for the toilet. If you’re a raw foodist, I recommend you change your diet while in India.

3) Eat exclusively from respectable restaurants that are busy. Also try the 4 and 5 star hotels if you want to be certain of amazingly delicious, safe food.

eating-street-food-in-India4) Never eat street food. Some people brag about how they ate Indian street food and didn’t get sick but it’s simply not worth it. I even had a friend who died from an E. Coli infection due to eating unsafe Indian street food!

5) Probiotics and charcoal are amazing. Probiotics boost the good bacteria in your stomach, improve digestion and increase natural immunity. They are a must before traveling to India and especially during your travels. Charcoal tablets on the other hand are an incredibly effective way of stopping diarrhea and preventing dysentery. It quickly absorbs the toxins or pathogens that are causing the problem. As always, be sure to get advice form your doctor.

6) Avoid too much spicy food, especially chilli’s. Some spices are good but in my experience chilli’s act as a laxative which is probably something you don’t want.

7) Consider becoming a vegetarian while you’re there. India has the lowest meat consumption rates in the world (see graph below). The meat I’ve seen looks very unsafe, often hanging in the warm, open air with flies buzzing around. In fact, due to Hindu religious reasons, the state of Maharashtra has banned beef altogether. If you can, I recommend being a vegetarian while in India to reduce the chances of getting serious food poisoning.

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8) Don’t overeat. It will weaken your digestion and immunity which makes you an easy target for bacteria. To help with my digestion and overall health I also take Organic Amla Berry tablets and another immunity boosting, ayurvedic herb called Bio-Immune.

eating-with-hands-in-india9) Use your hands – it’s fun! Your hands are often the cleanest utensil since you know where they’ve been and the joy of using your hands is well worth trying. Although, remember to use hand sanitizer!

10) Local’s restaurants offer all-you-can-eat meals for $1! Be wary of hygiene and only go to the best, busy restaurants you can find. Get advice from the locals.

11) Family home dining is a pleasure but take precautions. I’ve had the best food of my life at peoples homes. Again, it is important to be cautious and don’t drink tap water, only have cooked food. Also don’t eat too fast because they will keep piling the food on your plate and expect you to eat it and even force-feed you if you’re not careful! :)

Below is a bonus tip from one of my India travel mentors:

doug-rexford12) “Most restaurants overwhelm their dishes with burning hot spices and oil. If you don’t want it flaming hot, insist: No hot spicing. Garam Masala Nahin! You can also try ordering “Jain Vegetarian” food, which is less spicy and more refined. Unfortunately, that won’t help if the food has been prepared in advance with red hot chili powder. You may need to order some side dishes of plain rice and boiled veggies, to cool down your meal.”

– Doug Rexford, India travel expert & Himalayan monk with the Maharishi Purusha Program.

Read my full article for more details: 9 Tips for Eating in India as a Tourist Who Avoids Getting SickBack to top
 
 

SECTION 2

How to deal with water while traveling in India:

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13) Only drink bottled water. All the tap water in India is contaminated with pollutants and amoebas. By only drinking good bottled mineral water you will help avoid getting sick. The only brands I recommend are Bisleri, Kinley & Aquafina. Other brands are not trustworthy.

14) Stay well hydrated. India is typically hot and dry. Drink at least 2 liters (1/2 gallon) per day to stay healthy and strong.

15) If you’re trekking, bring a water filter. In rare cases where bottled water isn’t available such as while trekking, you’ll need a Katadyn Pocket Water Filter or at least a SteriPEN so that you can get safe water from flowing rivers. Boil it as well if possible and you can also use Iodine tablets to be extra safe.

drinking-coconut-water16) Coconut water is amazing. Fresh coconuts are extremely good at hydrating you, boosting your electrolytes and making an upset stomach, happy. Although, don’t drink coconuts unless you’re satisfied with cleanliness of both the straw and knife that the vendor is using.

17) Chai is great in the early morning. Chai is good for digestion because it has ginger and cardamom added. It should be safe to drink as long as you see them boiling it and you’re certain the cup is clean. Price should be no more than 10 rupees.

18) Coca-Cola can be a godsend. There’s a popular folklore that Coke kills bacteria and aids a disturbed stomach. This may or may not be true but it sure is nice to have a cold Coke on a hot afternoon in India!

19) Electrolytes are a must. If you get dysentery, electrolytes are a must for staying hydrated. I recommend bringing one box from home because otherwise they can be low quality and taste a bit nasty if bought in India.

20) Avoid ice in drinks. Since the ice is most likely created from a poor quality water source I advise you to not have any drinks with ice in it. If the drink such as Coke has been chilled in the fridge, that is of course fine.

bathing-in-ganges-india21) Don’t brush your teeth with tap water. As annoying as it may seem, I advise you to only brush your teeth with bottled water. This is because your gums can be a direct path to the blood stream and therefore easier for infection to get in.

22) Shower with care. Don’t open your mouth or eyes in the shower to help avoid the water getting in any unwanted orifice.

23) Bathe in holy rivers at your own risk. Taking a dip in the Ganges can be a magical experience but again, close your eyes and mouth and block your nose and ears to avoid getting too much water in the wrong hole.

Below is a bonus tip from a fellow India travel expert:

matt-pelletier-24) “Definitely don’t ever drink tap water and generally avoid ice cubes in whatever you do drink. Bottled water is not always what it says on the bottle. Try to buy from reliable places like grocery stores or hotels. Remember that water isn’t the only thing you need to stay hydrated. Bring electrolyte salts in some form and dilute them in water. A UV filter is also really handy when you’re in a pinch and thirsty but don’t trust the water. We bought a steriPEN. You swirl it around for 90 seconds and voila! According to the manufacturer, it destroys 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.”

– Matt Pelletier, travel blogger at Traveling Monkeys.

Read my full article for more details: 9 Tips for Safe Drinking Water in India – A Tourists PerspectiveBack to top
 
 
 

SECTION 3

How to NOT get scammed or ripped off in India:

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25) Know that a “gift” can quickly turn into a sale. No matter what the “gift” is, be sure it is actually a gift before accepting it. Otherwise you can be quickly hit with a bill.

26) All shop keepers will try to rip you off. A simple way to minimize this is to only go to “fixed rate” shops, bring a local with you or you’ll need to quickly learn how to bargain like an Indian.

27) Don’t give money to beggars. This can attract an army of beggars after you and helps sustain their often drug-driven “profession”.

auto-rickshaw-india28) Be wary of all drivers especially auto rickshaw drivers. Drivers in India are renowned for their dishonesty and tricks to try to make more money from you. E.g they may take you to the wrong hotel or quote you a price that is five times the fair rate.

29) Learn to avoid fake “information offices”. The way to know is that everything looks dodgy, there are no computers (or not many), no proper desks and they tell you that all trains or hotels are fully booked out due to some “event”. This can be a front for the mafia so be careful and make sure it’s legit before following directions from them.

30) Children may want pens and beggars want milk. In both cases, they often have an arrangement with a shop to return the item for cash after you leave!

31) Trinket and gemstone scams. At any tourist location there are likely to be people touting trinkets and sometimes gemstones for sale. Unless you’re buying something as a souvenir don’t entertain their hype and always bargain them way down. The “gemstones” won’t have real value and can be a popular scam for unsuspecting tourists.

32) Watch out for people tampering with food or drink. Always check beverage bottle caps to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with and don’t accept food from strangers.

33) Be careful when exchanging money. ATM’s are the safest way to get cash because the machine won’t scam you. :)

indian_rupees134) Always count your change carefully! No matter who you are dealing with, always watch out for “miscalculations”. Use a calculator on your phone to help deter them from trying to scam you. This is especially important around large financial transactions.

35) Keep away from the mafia. If something is fishy then it probably is a scam or trap (sometimes organized by the mafia). Do your research and have your wits about you especially around train stations, popular tourist attractions (e.g Taj Mahal) and cheap hotels.

36) Get experience with true local pricing. To do this, you’ll need to know what the locals would pay for the same product or service and then you’ll know how low the shop keeper, driver or hotel etc is willing to go. An Indian friend (or stranger) or guide can help you with this.

37) Never pay upfront for a full service. If you do pay upfront then the driver (or whoever) can take your money without delivering you the agreed service.

38) Do your research before arriving at a particular place. Look up your destination on the Internet, study maps, get advice from other travelers and read the latest Lonely Planet guide book. This will help you get insider knowledge before you arrive, making you more prepared to deal with the possible onslaught of scams that await you.

Below is another perspective from a fellow India travel expert:

mariellen39) “Don’t worry too much about getting “ripped off” by small business people, merchants, guides and auto drivers. These are poor people trying to make a living, and if you overpay by a few rupees, consider it tourist tax and show some compassion.”
 
– Mariellen Ward, award-winning India travel blogger at Breathedreamgo.

Read my full article for more details: Biggest scams in India to watch out forBack to top
 
 
 

SECTION 4

Etiquette at Hindu temples:

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40) Bring temple “offerings”. Whenever you go to a Hindu temple, be sure to get some flowers before entering. You can then offer these at the main statue as a sign of respect or in prayer.

41) Always remove your shoes at the entrance. The safest place to leave them is at the shop where you buy flowers because they have a vested interest in making sure no one steals them. Otherwise there is always an off chance someone will fancy your shoes or sandals, especially if they look nice or expensive.

42) Wear ear plugs. The temples in India can be extremely chaotic and noisy with bells, people yelling, babies screaming and guards pushing you through the lines. Wearing ear plugs helps dampen the sound and make it easier for you to enjoy the inner spiritual power that seems to pervade all temples in India.

meditating-in-indian-temple43) Find a quiet spot for meditation or simply an “eyes closed chill out session”. Find a quiet corner away from the chaos and just sit. Feel the vibrations and see what happens. I’ve had some of my best glimpses into “enlightenment” at the temples and this is a major reason for me to visit India. It can truly be life changing.

44) Be inward and don’t get overwhelmed by the chaos. As I’ve mentioned, I recommend to be as inward as possible when visiting temples. Just be simple and quiet within yourself and you’ll have the best possible experience.

45) Get “special darshan” arranged at the temple office. Darshan means “receiving blessings from the divine”. Often the lines are so long at temples that you can be standing in the hot sun for hours before seeing the statue and then you’re quickly pushed out. If you go to the temple office and pay for “VIP” entry then you can skip the line and spend more time in front of the statue. It’s well worth it and won’t cost more than a few $5 to $10.

46) Have small change ready for donations. Many people will want your money at temples and it can be a bit overwhelming. If you feel to give something then have a wad of 10 rupee notes ready so that you don’t hurt your budget too quickly. :)

aarti-and-indian-temple47) Hire a temple guide who won’t rip you off (that much). For me, the temples of India are often the highlight of my trip. They are usually an ancient architectural marvel, but more importantly, a place of spiritual wonder. The etiquette can be hard to know without help from a local so I recommend you go to the “temple office” and see if there is a good English speaking guide available. Although, agree on the price upfront and watch out for the “up sells”.

48) Stay at a hotel near the temple if you’re digging the vibes. I find that a hotel right outside the temple can be amazing because you’ll be in that “spiritual aura” 24/7 while you’re there and so the experience will be deeper and more long lasting. It also means you may be able to leave your valuables and shoes etc in your room which can be very convenient.

Below is a bonus tip from my amazing wife:

lyric-benson49) “Authentic Indian temples gave me some of the most spiritual and heart opening experiences I’ve ever had. Yes, it’s probably going to be loud, and people might squish up against you, pushing your comfort zone a wee bit, but if you can just be easy with the whole experience, the spiritual power of the temples will be a highlight of your trip. Asher took me to the most amazing temples for our honeymoon and now I can’t wait to go back!”

– Lyric Fergusson, singer-songwriter & author of French Kissing God.

Read my full article for more details: 11 Tips For Enjoying The Indian TemplesBack to top
 
 
 

SECTION 5

How To Navigate Indian Airports:

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50) Allow plenty of time to get to the airport. Things can often change at the last minute such as sudden traffic delays. Therefore, leave early and make sure you get multiple opinions of how long it takes to get to the airport.

plane-ticket-check-point-indian-airport51) Print or download your e-tickets or you WON’T get into the airport. The military guards at the entrance to the airport will not allow you to enter unless you have valid ID and itinerary.

52) Security screen your bags before going up to the check-in desk. If you don’t do this, you’ll be sent back and delay getting through security. Be sure to line up at the correct screening machine for your airline.

53) Make sure your bags don’t weigh too much! Domestic Indian flights have weight limits of 15kgs for checked bags and 7kgs for carry-on bags. All bags are strictly weighed and excess baggage fees are around $5 (300rs) per kilogram.

54) Get carry-on bag tags at check-in. Your bags will not be given the “stamp of approval” unless you have the tags attached to each carry-on item when going through security.

ladies-frisking-area-indian-airports55) Security can be as annoying as heck! Remove absolutely all your electronic items including cameras and batteries. Know that women have their own line. Keep your boarding pass in hand so that the security guard can stamp it and watch out for people pushing in line.

56) Don’t trust the airport food. In my opinion, most airports have food that isn’t safe to eat because it’s been sitting for too long. Instead, bring your food or only buy packaged food that you feel is okay.

57) You’ll probably have to ride on a bus to your plane. Find your gate and wait for your flight to be called and then you’ll line up to catch a bus over to your plane.

58) Have your ticket ready for getting off the plane. If your flight continues on after your destination, you’ll need to show your boarding pass to get off the plane.

59) Hire a pre-paid taxi for getting to your hotel from the airport. Inside the airport there are always pre-paid taxi stands available which will give you a fair price from a reputable driver. If you don’t do this you’ll swamped by a group of untrustworthy drivers screaming for you to help their start up business and asking too much for their service.

Below is a bonus tip from an Indian travel blogger:

shivya-nath60) “Researching India as a solo travel destination can feel pretty darn scary. I’ve met many travelers who have formed their opinions of the country even before they arrive – and that’s half the battle lost. By all means, do and overdo your research, but when you set foot in India, make way for your own experiences. Embrace the colors, give the people a chance, be amazed by the little things, and if the chaos and inequality overwhelm you, so be it.”

– Shivya Nath, award-winning Indian travel blogger at The Shooting Star.

Read my full article for more details: Navigating Indian airports – it’s harder than you think!Back to top
 
 
 

SECTION 6

Handling money in India:

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61) You will need to carry cash. Credit cards are only accepted at larger businesses or hotels. Therefore you will always need to carry some cash so that you can pay for taxis, auto rickshaws, cheap hotels and your food etc. I keep all my large bills concealed under my clothing in my passport pouch.

62) Airports give poor currency exchange rates. Use an ATM instead or if that’s not possible only get a few thousand rupees exchanged at the airport because their rates are usually the worst in the whole country.

63) Use a Citibank ATM to withdraw more than 10,000rs at one time. As far as I know, all other ATMs across India will not let you withdraw more than $150 (10,000rs). With all the fees you may have in your home country this can be quite annoying and costly. Citibank allows you to withdraw whatever your daily maximum in your home country is e.g $500.

counting-Indian-rupee-money64) Get a fresh wad of 10 rupee notes. Go to the bank and get a crispy wad of 10 rupee notes because firstly, the 10rs notes are often disgustingly used and dirty. Secondly, it’s one of the smallest denominations of money in a note, so it will be handy for everyday purchases. Thirdly, it’s the perfect amount for tipping. Lastly, it also helps with bargaining so that you can have exact change.

65) Conceal your money & passport under clothing: I have had pickpockets and beggars put their hand in my pocket looking for money. Since I keep my valuables on my chest, concealed under my clothing in a passport pouch, I’ve never had anything stolen.

66) Use PayPal or Western Union to send money to India. If for some reason you need to send money to an Indian from your home country, I recommend PayPal and if that doesn’t work then try Western Union.

Below is a bonus tip from a fellow travel blogger:

anjuli-ayer67) “Carry cash on you under your clothes in a pouch. If you’re nervous, spread it around between wallet, passport, and luggage. In general, just don’t give people an incentive to steal. Don’t walk around with expensive things hanging out of pockets or purses. Don’t rely solely on the safe in the hotel room. It’s a good idea to have a TSA approved lock on luggage. Pay extra attention to your belongings in airports, train stations, markets, and major tourists sites. Keep digital copies of important items such as credit cards and ID etc. Otherwise, try not to stress too much.”

– Anjuli Ayer, travel blogger at Traveling Monkeys.

Read my full article for more details: Handling, Exchanging & Sending Money in IndiaBack to top
 
 
 

SECTION 7

Communication advice for tourists in India:

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68) Learn to understand the famous “head wobble”. This subtle gesture conveys a lot of meaning depending on the context and degree to which the head is wobbled. It can take sometime to learn but when mastered it’s actually a very natural and enjoyable form of human communication.

69) Know that “yes” can mean, “I don’t understand”. Sometimes a driver or shopkeeper may want to please you or simply won’t understand what you’re saying and so they say, “yes”. My friend whose been working in India for 10 years says that he doesn’t take “yes” for an answer!

communicating-in-india70) Be open to understanding the many different accents. India has 17 main languages and a huge range of English accents. This can lead to some difficulty comprehending someone’s words but if you’re open you should do fine. Sometimes you may need to simply ask the person to repeat themselves or say “I don’t understand” to gain clarity.

71) Memorize a few key phrases. I recommend learning a few words of the local language because it shows you have an interest in the culture. It will almost always be very well received and help you quickly make friends with the locals.

72) Have plenty of patience. It can be very frustrating when for example, someone says, “yes” to every question you ask. Try to find someone who speaks better English and calmly sort through the miscommunication that may be occurring.

73) Be amused by funny communication rather than angered. You’ll have a much more enjoyable trip if you see the humor in it rather than getting angered and annoyed. These people are doing their best with a second or third language and so give them some compassion.

Below is another tip from Mariellen, a fellow India travel blogger:

mariellen74) “India forces you to say yes, or no. Travel to India with an open, trusting, non-judgmental attitude … or not at all. India has an amazing way of mirroring back at you whatever attitude you’re carrying. Be cautious, but not fearful. “
 
– Mariellen Ward, award-winning India travel blogger at Breathedreamgo.

Read my full article for more details: Communication in India – learn the head wobble!Back to top
 
 
 

SECTION 8

Transportation throughout India:

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75) Indians drive on the left side of the road. Since the British influenced the first Indian cars they follow suit with driving on the left. Although, crazy driving often may lead to seeing people on the wrong side of the road. :)

76) Ride a train at least once in your trip. Only travel in 2AC or first class and make sure you book your tickets early enough that they’re not sold out. Trains are the best way to travel long distances if you’re on a budget. Avoid the food they provide except if it’s packaged.

77) Air travel is the most luxurious by far. If you can afford it, the most comfortable and obviously fastest way to get around is by plane. My favorite website for booking domestic Indian flights and trains is Cleartrip.com.

indian-bus-station78) Buses can be good if the journey isn’t too long. They are super cheap and usually don’t have AC so they’re going to be hot. If the ride is more than a few hours I recommend you go via train instead because it’s much more comfortable.

79) Traveling via an AC taxi is nice for shorter journeys if you can afford it. The car provides comfort with the windows up and the cool AC air but the zig-zagging can get a bit much if the trip is more than a couple of hours. If you value your life I recommend that you demand a working seat belt before you get in the car. Be persistent and they should be able to hook you up.

80) Auto rickshaw journeys are memorable to say the least! Auto rickshaw’s are great for short rides but I recommend ear plugs, sun glasses and a bandana or dust mask to avoid to much bombardment on the senses. Also it’s best to not ride one for more than 20 to 30 minutes or you’ll be exhausted.

81) As mentioned, try to avoid long journeys by road. The roads in India are wildly dangerous and often uncomfortably bumpy. If there is an option to get a plane, train or bus then I would take it instead. Otherwise you might get car sick or just really tired from all the insanity of weaving between head on traffic.

Below is a bonus tip from a fellow India travel blogger:

rachel-jones82) “India can be overwhelming at first, but the slower you travel the easier things will be and the more you’ll come to understand the culture. Transportation on local buses and sleeper trains can add to stress levels if you change location every 2 days, so start slow and get to know each town you visit for at least a week before moving on to another. To love India, you have to accept even it’s flaws. Be open minded.”

– Rachel Jones, popular India travel blogger at Hippie in Heels.

Read my full article for more details: Travel on Indian Trains, Planes, Buses, Cars & Auto RickshawsBack to top
 
 
 

SECTION 9

Tips for better hotel experiences while traveling in India:

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83) It’s possible to stay at $2 “el cheapo” hotels. If you’re on a real tight budget and don’t mind about basic conditions: no pillow, no bed sheets, squat toilet and cold showers, then it’s totally possible to find a $2/night “hotel”. You may have to ask around but in every town outside of big cities you will be able find such accommodation.

84) It’s also possible to stay at $500, 5 star palaces. If you’re wanting a luxury vacation then India also offers some of the best hotel experiences in the world.

85) Mid range hotels are a balanced blend of comfort and price. The hotels in the $40 to $70 range offer mostly Western standards e.g clean sheets, hot water and a normal toilet. For these kind of hotels and the 5 star palaces, I recommend doing research on TripAdvisor to get real opinions from other travelers.

indian-lock86) Lock your room with an extra padlock if needed. If you’re staying in a cheap hotel it is wise to use an extra padlock to add security. I use a combination lock so that I can’t lose the key.

87) Wear flip flops in the shower. The bathroom floors may not be the cleanest place and so I recommend you use flip flops to keep you feet hygenic. This is especially true in low budget hotels that usually don’t get cleaned properly.

88) Remember, only brush your teeth with bottled water. It’s easy to forget, especially if you stay at a fancy hotel but the water everywhere in India is questionable and brushing your teeth is no exception.

89) Cheaper hotels don’t provide towels. The $2 hotels definitely won’t give you a towel and the mid range hotels will probably give you an old towel that you won’t want to use. For this reason I bring a light weight travel towel just in case.

hotel-view-in-varanasi90) Be aware of your hotels location. As with any kind of real estate, the location and proximity to the tourist attraction, temple or town can make a big difference with your experience. When I visit a temple town I like my hotel to be as close to the temple as possible.

91) Tip your staff appropriately. Whenever you get room service of any kind at a hotel I recommend you tip between 10 and 20 rupees. If you’re staying at a more fancy hotel you may want to tip between 30 and 50 rupees. This should will help you get better service and more alert staff.

92) Squat toilets are common at budget hotels. These toilets are fine once you get used to squatting but it’s good to be aware of if you’d prefer not to use them. All mid-range and above hotels have normal Western toilets.

93) Watch out for smoking DDT at mid to high end hotels!! Unfortunately many mid to high end ($50 to $90/ night) hotels have a “mosquito management” practice where they have a pot of burning DDT that they carry through the corridors on a daily basis. The fumes of course get into your room and it can be unbearable. If you’re sensitive to this like me, you may want to call ahead before booking a hotel to see what they do for “mosquito management”. This practice probably won’t happen at cheap or 5 star hotels.

Below is another tip from Doug, my friend and India travel expert:

doug-rexford94) “Sanitize the environment whenever you move into a new hotel room. A simple sanitary wipe will protect you from most germs left by several weeks of previous occupants. Especially remote controls and light switches and faucets collect germs. Also, the sheet on the hotel bed is rarely cleaned, so a light piece of silk between you and the mattress is helpful protection.”
 

– Doug Rexford, India travel expert & Himalayan monk with the Maharishi Purusha Program.

Read my full article for more details: 10 tips to have the best hotel experience in IndiaBack to top
 
 
 

SECTION 10

How to bargain like an Indian:

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95) Learn how to bargain like an Indian: I would say that Indian’s are the best negotiators or bargainers I have ever encountered. They are incredibly good at going for your emotions, very comfortable with numbers and know how to up sell until the cows come home. If you want good deals, this is an essential skill and in fact may help you with negotiation once you return to your home country.

96) Quickly learn how the bargaining process works. The main thing is start out real low and then immediately offer a little higher so that they know you want to bargain.

Here is a sample sequence:

I was in a clothing shop in a town called Bhopal.
When I asked how much a certain sweater was, the owner said, “2000rs” (US $40).
I instantly replied, “50rs”.
He laughs and says, “no way”.
I reply, “100rs”.
He says, “1000rs”.
I reply, “200rs”.
He says, “800rs”.
I reply, “300rs”.
He says, “700rs”.
At this point I say, “too much” and start to leave the shop.
He freaks out and says, “500rs sir! this is best price, I have wife and baby at home”.
While standing at the door of the shop I say “400rs is my best price” and start to move away.
He comes running and says “okay, deal” with a slight grin on his face.

gandhi-khadi-cloth-store97) Look for fixed rate shops if you don’t want to bargain. These shops have the prices already set and are generally fair.

98) Know that “maximum retail price” is not the price tag. Most items that are packaged will have MRP written on it. This is the maximum retail price but it is always possible to bargain that price down but you definitely shouldn’t pay more than that price.

99) Shop around and compare prices. Before making large purchases and if you have the energy you can get better deals by comparing prices. Usually certain shops (such as jewelry) are grouped together making it easier to shop around.

100) Ask help from some local friends. If you befriend a local, they will likely get great joy helping you bargain down to rock bottom prices. Although, you may have to be out of sight so the shop owner doesn’t know what’s going on.

101) Have fun with it. The main thing is to not take things too seriously (especially since your savings may only be few dollars) and enjoy the process. Otherwise it can quickly get very emotionally and physically draining.

Below is a bonus tip from a fellow blogger and author:

tim-ferriss102) “The entrepreneurial abilities of Indians in general has amazed me for years. It seems that Indian culture produces an uncommon blend of innovative thinking, business-minded aggression, and comfort with numbers. And, no matter what price you pay — if the sales guy is smiling when you leave — guess who won…”

– Tim Ferriss, bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek.

Read my full article for more details: How to bargain like an IndianBack to top
 
 
 

SECTION 11

Pollution in India is the worst in the world:

pollution-in-indian-street

103) Piles of burning plastic are everywhere. As far as I can tell, there are no real waste management programs offered for household waste. Instead what happens is the plastic items are swept into a pile and then set on fire!

smoke-fire-burning-plastic104) Smoke from cooking fires is bad. A lot of impoverished families use dried cow dung as a fuel for their cooking fires which can lead to excessive smoke.

105) Exhaust fumes are asphyxiating. The large cities have an absurdly large number of vehicles all releasing toxic exhaust fumes.

106) Wear a gas mask or at least a bandana. If you have sensitive lungs, I highly recommend you bring a quality gas mask to overcome the asphyxiating pollution problem. A bandana will work somewhat but won’t be able to stop the fine particles such as exhaust fumes and burning plastic pollution.

107) Avoid the big cities like the plague. According to the World Health Organization, New Delhi is now the world’s most polluted city and is 2.5x more polluted than Beijing and a whopping 15x more polluted than Washington D.C. (as shown below). Therefore, I highly recommend you avoid big cities when traveling in India and be aware of this problem which is country wide.

air-pollution-levels-india
 

Sonja-Riemenschneider108) “For pollution, I’d suggest alternating between big cities and countryside so you can recover a bit, if possible. Getting from A to B in India can be a nightmare-inducing epic. Bring a scarf to tie tight around your nose & mouth to filter smoky exhaust, earplugs to muffle the incessant symphony of honking on the streets.”

– Sonja Riemenschneider, travel blogger at Breadcrumbs Guide.

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SECTION 12

A sample packing list for India travel:

packing-list-for-india-travel
passport-pouch-for-india  
109) Passport pouch. I keep my money and credit cards in this pouch under my shirt so that I don’t have to have a wallet in my pocket. I have had beggars put their hand in my pocket and have found this small concealed passport pouch invaluable.

charcoal-for-dysentery110) Charcoal tablets. They’re an incredibly effective way of stopping diarrhea and preventing dysentery (Delhi Belly). It quickly absorbs the toxins or pathogens that are causing the problem and keeps you strong. As always, be sure to get advice from your doctor.
 
india-power-adaptor111) Power adapter. The Indian power plugs are different from anywhere else in the world but very similar to what they use in Europe. Bring a couple of these plugs to avoid headache.

112) Female Urination Device: Okay, don’t get weirded out by this one. India is a place with limited toilets female-urination-deviceand when you do find a toilet they are often absolutely disgusting. For guys this is not a problem because we can stand at the side of the road to pee but for women that’s not possible. This little device enables women to stand and pee with no mess and no embarrassment. My wife uses it and says it’s great.

probiotics-primal-defense113) Probiotics. They boost the good bacteria in your stomach, improve digestion and increase natural immunity. They are a must before traveling to India, especially during your travels and afterwards when you get home. They’re also generally good for all round digestive health, even when you’re not planning a trip to India.
 
electrolytes114) Electrolytes. Electrolytes save lives on a daily basis. When someone has dysentery they get very dehydrated and these will save you. Even if you don’t get sick it is important to stay well hydrated in the hot, dry weather of India and these satchels can easily be added to your bottled water for an extra boost of hydration.

first-aid-kit115) First aid kit. It’s inevitable that you’ll get a cut or scrape or some little thing that would need a first aid kit. The item I use most are band aids to help prevent infection in a wound.

 
steripen116) SteriPEN (Water Purifier): I generally only drink bottled water while traveling in India but occasionally it’s not available. In that case I bust out my travel SteriPEN which uses ultraviolet light to kill all bacteria and other amoebas in the water. It’s fairly pricey but totally worth it to prevent getting sick from waterborne illnesses.

world-nomads117) Travel Insurance from World Nomads: World Nomads is the best travel insurance provider I’ve used because it’s designed by travelers for travelers and covers everything you’ll ever need. In India you need to expect the unexpected. This travel insurance plan gives me the peace of mind to go forth on the adventure while knowing I have support if I get into an emergency or have all my belongings stolen! (This unfortunately happened to a close friend. He had no insurance and so had to replace his belongings out of pocket).
View their plans at WorldNomads.com ->
lonely-planet-india
118) Lonely Planet guide book. I highly recommend getting the latest India guide book before you go because it’s like a bible that gives all the insider tips of the most popular (and not so popular) locations around India.

complete-guide-to-india-travel-small
119) FREE Step-By-Step Guide to India Travel: I have written a 39 page ebook with all my best tips for India Travel which you can download for free. I was compelled to write this ebook to help people learn how to survive, thrive and have a more enjoyable trip to India. Download the ebook ->


Other items to bring to India

120) Below are the rest of the India packing list items I don’t travel without. :) For your convenience, I have linked all items to the product I use on Amazon.com.

 
anjuli-ayer121) “For women pack hats, cotton scarves, clothing that’s loose, light, and covers shoulders and knees. For men a few loose, cotton or linen button downs or collared shirts are good. Or don’t bring much and find a Fabindia. They have wonderful, loose natural cottons. If you’re carrying a backpack and traveling overland a lot, it’s a good idea to carry an extra duffel to pack it in for transport, and maybe invest in a steel cable with a lock for local train stations. Also, for those staying in cheap hotels, we got a lot of use out of our Sea to Summit cotton liner. They’re typically for sleeping bags, but we just used them in the hotel rooms that didn’t have the cleanest of sheets.”

– Anjuli Ayer, travel blogger at Traveling Monkeys.

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SECTION 13

Advice specifically for women traveling in India:

woman-traveling-in-india

These tips were provided by my friend, Rohini Grace.

122) Speak up and just say, “no!” Usually, it’s not in our female nature to be aggressive or assertive, but when you show strength and confidence this tends to show people that you know what you are doing and you have less chance of being taken advantage of.

women-clothing-in-india123) Dress appropriately and cover up. India is still a very conservative country. Despite the heat and perpetual sweating, make sure to always carry a shawl to cover your shoulders, wear knee length or longer pants along with tops long enough to cover your bottom. Tight fitting clothing will solicit unwanted attention and is considered disrespectful at sacred sites and temples.

124) Plan ahead, and know exactly where you’re going. I cannot emphasize this enough. Talk to your friends who have been there, consult tour guides or groups, read Lonely Planet and research your destinations on the Internet beforehand.

125) Avoid going out after dark. I don’t recommend heading out on your own after dark unless you have a buddy or group to explore with. You will notice there are not many local women out after the early evening.

women-group-india-travel126) Travel with a group. If it’s your first trip then definitely consider traveling to India with a group. My India tour company, Goddess Travels, specializes in tours designed for women and couples. Get a “$100 OFF” coupon to be used with any of my tours HERE.

128) Seriously, put a ring on it. When locals find out you aren’t married, be prepared for a lot of (usually disapproving) feedback. I often wear a simple band around my finger just to keep unwanted questions and interest at bay. If you are already married then you’ve got it made. :)

rohini-grace-small129) “India will cut to the core of your soul and overwhelm your senses in a way like no other place on earth. It may not be the easiest country to navigate alone, but it will certainly be one of the most life transforming experiences you ever have. If you can keep your heart and mind open and have a good sense of humor, then this is a destination you won’t want to miss.”

– Rohini Grace, owner of a boutique India tour company, Goddess Travels.

Read my full article for more details: A woman’s perspective on solo India travelBack to top
 
 
 

SECTION 14

Understanding the cultural differences between India & the Western world:

standing-in-line-in-India
 

Interesting facts about India

130) India has the second largest population in the world. According to the 2011 census it is now over 1.2 billion and growing incredibly fast. It is the 31st most densely populated nation with 991 people per square mile. Some sources say it’s the oldest and continuous civilization on the planet.

131) India is the world’s largest democracy. It became independant of the British occupation in 1947 and is considered a “Federal parliamentary constitutional republic”.

132) There are over 17 languages. Sanskrit is the most ancient known language and is the mother of all the European languages. Luckily for us, English is spoken almost everywhere (making it the largest English speaking country in the world). The number of distinctly different languages highlights the fact that India is extremely culturally diverse and in many ways like a collection of countries rather than one country. Where ever you visit, it’s helpful to learn a few phrases of the local language.

133) The predominant religion is Hinduism at over 78%. Below is pie chart based off the 2011 census showing the spread of popular religions in India. Even though Christianity is only 2.5% there are over 30 million Christians in India!

religions-of-india-(2011)
 

134) India is home to the world’s largest religious pilgrimage site. Approximately 30,000 people visit Venkateshwar (The Vishnu Temple) in Tirupati everyday and there are 12,000 temple staff. What’s more is that annual donations exceed $100 million dollars!

indian-train-station135) The railway system is vast. One of the best ways to get around India (apart from flying) is on their trains. They were setup originally by the British in 1853. The Indian Railways employs about 1.5 million people making it one of the largest employers in the world. And, 18 million people per day travel on these trains.

136) Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and per capita income. According to the International Money Fund the Indian GDP is $2.3 trillion which is the 7th largest worldwide, whereas per capita income is $1,800 annually which is the 141st in the world.

137) 100’s of millions of Indians live on less than $2/ day. 27% of the Indian population live below the poverty line while at the same time India also has the 4th highest number of billionaires at 90.

138) Cricket is by far the most popular sport. For those who don’t know, it’s similar to baseball and in almost every field you pass in India you’ll see kids (and adults) playing the sport.

Good cultural differences

family-home-dining-india139) Guest is God. In India it is an honor to have a guest, doubly so if it’s a foreigner. This is because they have a beautiful proverb that says “Atithidevo Bhava (अतिथिदेवो भव)” which means “the guest is equivalent to God”. For this reason there’s a good chance you’ll be invited to someone’s home.

140) The people are so genuine & friendly. I have met some of the most kind hearted and generous people I’ve ever known during my travels to India. Even though these people didn’t have much money, they welcomed me into their homes and spoiled me with the most delicious food ever.

141) Spirituality and religion thrives. Upon every street corner is some statue or place of worship. The history and power of the land is so strong and sometimes over powering and it is the mecca for mass yoga and meditation.

142) Indian’s try to offer amazing service. India is known for being a “service oriented culture” and everyone works hard to please. India has a lot of people and time on it’s hands making it possible to hire someone to do practically anything. Sometimes the quality of the service may not be ideal but the effort is almost always there.

colored-turbin-indian-saint143) Exquisite color creates eye candy everywhere. Indian’s love color. Whether it’s the clothing, the food or the houses, everywhere you look, you will be overwhelmed by beautiful arrays of color.

144) The resourcefulness and ingenuity is mind blowing. While driving the streets you will find the most eye opening resourcefulness. From people carrying a bed frame or sheet of glass on the bake of a motorcycle to a truck so over laden with goods that the driver can barely see out the front window. This no doubt stems from the poverty and need to survive.

145) India is a mostly peaceful nation. In fact, India has never invaded another country in at least 1000 years. Although India itself has been invaded countless times by other countries. Crime rate is lower than in the U.S and if you avoid big cities you will feel very safe.

146) Some of the best food in the world. It of course depends on your taste but the unbelievable diversity of flavors and textures, colors and presentation of the food can be a divine experience. Many dishes take hours upon hours to prepare and if you have a sweet tooth you won’t be disappointed.

Possibly uncomfortable cultural differences

Note: All of these cultural points below are from my experience as a Western observer. None of them are intended to offend anyone in any way. I have written them purely so that Westerners are more prepared and to help reduce the possible culture shock.

147) Chaos is everywhere. Almost all road rules including red lights will be ignored. The streets are bustling with people, livestock and every kind of vehicle you can think of all tooting their horns. This can be quite a contrast from the quiet streets of the West.

crowds-in-india148) Personal space is rarely respected. Whether you’re looking at photos on your camera, lining up to catch a bus or just standing on the street there’s a high possibility someone (or group of people) will approach you or come a bit too close for comfort. With over a billion people in a relatively small space this isn’t surprising and it isn’t culturally rude.

149) The caste system still exists. It’s composed of “priests” (Brahmins), “warriors” (Kshatriyas), “merchants” (Vaishyas) & “workers” (Shudras). Unfortunately this division seems to cause discrimination between the castes and can get confusing without knowing the ins and outs.

150) Most animals get abused, except for cows. Be it a dog, cat, chicken (meant for consumption) or an ox (drawing a cart), animal abuse in India can be shocking and seems to be everywhere. It is a conundrum as to why this happens especially since India is the birthplace of the concept of Ahimsa or “non-violence”. The one animal that is largely exempt from this abuse is the cow because it holds particular importance in the Hindu religion.

151) Almost everyone will try to get your money. Since hundreds of millions of Indians are living on less than $2/day the struggle for survival is a real issue. The main thing is to have your wits about yourself and be compassionate.

incessant-staring-in-india152) Incessant staring. It doesn’t seem to be rude to stare in India. You will find it can be overwhelming at times but the main thing is to ignore it. Sometimes I pretend I’m a celebrity and then it’s more of a novelty than a problem.

153) Lying or bending the truth. It may be due to communication difficulties, but it seems that often Indians don’t have a problem with lying. Whether it’s a taxi driver or a shop owner – there’s a good chance they will bend the truth or lie if it helps them make a sale.

154) Expect to see spitting. A lot of men use chewing tobacco (known as “paan”) which means there can be a lot of spitting on the street.

155) Littering and trash are ubiquitous across India. It is yet to be understood that littering is a bad thing and so the streets act as open trash cans. The trash then piles up and the solution is normally to set it (mostly plastic) on fire.


Cultural Do’s & Don’ts

Below I’ve listed some of the most important points to remember to avoid cultural awkwardness.
 
156) DO be patient & have a sense of humor.
158) DO have an open heart & mind.
160) DO make friends with the locals.
162) DO wear Indian clothes at special occasions.
164) DO remove your shoes at peoples homes.
166) DO wash your hands & use hand sanitizer.
168) DO only use your right hand while eating.
170) DO learn to understand the “head wobble”.
172) DO try to pay if at restaurants with Indians.
174) DO know that 1 min means 5 to 10 mins.
176) DO be prepared to have your photo taken.
178) DO bring a small gift if you stay at a home.
180) DO touch the feet of someone you respect.

157) DON’T wear shorts or skirts.
159) DON’T get angry in public.
161) DON’T give money to beggars or children.
163) DON’T smell flowers in a shop or a temple.
165) DON’T touch the opposite sex.
167) DON’T point your feet at a person.
169) DON’T give someone an expensive gift.
171) DON’T show frustration or anger in public.
173) DON’T be shy when asking a question.
175) DON’T drink alcohol in public.
177) DON’T take pictures in temples.
179) DON’T use your left hand to pass food.
181) DON’T shake hands unless they do first.
 
jd-viharini182) “It’s essential to respect the culture wherever you go in India, as a disrespectful attitude will leave the most delight­ful doors so firmly closed that you probably won’t even know they are there — which means that you will be missing the best that India has to offer. Respecting the culture includes dressing and behaving as much in accord with local standards as possible. It really makes a huge difference in how you are received.”

– J.D Viharini, author of guidebook: Enjoying India.

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SECTION 15

Why should you go to India?

indian-man-with-goats

183) Have the experience of a lifetime. India will blow your mind. You’ll see some of the most crazy sights of your life. It’ll be a sensory overload (mostly in a good way). If you’re open you’ll meet some of the nicest people on Earth and your heart will expand. Every time I go to India which is now 7 times, my life improves for the better and my mind gets broadened from the experience.

184) The history is mind blowing. India is quite possibly the oldest civilization in the world. Many of the famous monuments are ancient yet so beautiful. You can just feel the history in the land.

185) Indulge in the best food you’ve ever had. I have had by far some of the best food ever while traveling in India. The exquisite flavors and care with preparation are to die for. :)

inside-indian-temple186) Enjoy the immense spiritual power. India is known for being the capital of yoga & meditation. It is from the many illustrious saints of that this knowledge comes from and is still very lively in many parts of the sub-continent. Some notable examples of saints include: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (my guru), Buddha, Amma, Krishna, Brahmananda Saraswait, Anandamayi ma, Raam, and Shankara.

187) Discover wonderful cultural diversity. There is an incredible mosaic of cultural differences that exist in peaceful unity in India. It’s a delightful experience to travel from far north India through central Maharashtra state down to the southern tip at Kanyakumari. The diversity of food, dress, customs, language and landscapes are limitless.

188) There are endless things to see. India is jam packed with sights and experiences that exist nowhere else. From the Himalayas around Uttar Kashi to the beaches of Kerala and from the Taj Mahal to the tiger reserve at Bandhavgarh you won’t be let down.

holi-festival-of-colors-india189) Celebrate India style with one of their many festivals. It seems like there is a major festival almost every month in India. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • 190) DiwaliFestival of lights. The biggest and most important holiday in the Hindu calendar. Watch out for loud fireworks, extra pollution and wild parties.
  • 191) HoliFestival of colors or festival of love. This one is where everyone throws colored powder on each other. Wear clothes you don’t mind ruining and enjoy the fun!
  • 192) Durga PujaFestival of Durga. The celebration of the victory of “good” over “evil”. It can be a great spiritual experience.
  • 193) OnamThe harvest festival. Celebrated in the state of Kerala. Wear new clothes and admire the beautiful flower arrangements outside peoples homes.
  • 194) Raksha BandhanFestival of love & protection between brothers and sisters. Tie a string around your sister or brothers wrist to show your love.
  • 195) Maha ShivaratriThe great night of Lord Shiva. Celebrating the convergence or marriage of Shiva (silence) and Shakti (dynamism) which are two fundamental energies in the universe. It can be an incredibly powerful spiritual experience.
  • 196) Christmas, Kerala styleCelebrating the birth of Jesus. In Kerala there are a lot of Christians and they have their own style of Christmas which can be quite fun to witness!

197) Relax and rejuvenate. India is an incredible place to be pampered, relax and just chill-out. The ancient Indian healthcare system known as Ayurveda offers amazing treatments including massage and other rejuvenation techniques. Find a health spa you like and you’ll unwind like never before.

198) Bargain until the cows come home. India naturally has amazing shopping opportunities not just because of the great prices but also because of the unique items that are available. There is good reason why the Dutch East India Trading Company made so many trips to India and this holds true to this day.

199) You’ll help their economy. Last but not least, going to India will help boost their economy of which tourism is a major part. Since there are so many people in India living below the poverty line it feels good to be able to help even if in a small way.

arun-bhat200) “If you are a first timer in India, never arrive on a short visit of one or two weeks and expect to assimilate the essence of the country. If you are looking to travel across India, give it at least a month. If you can’t devote so much time, stick to any one region of your choice to make the best of your visit instead of hopping around the country.”
 
– Arun Bhat, award-winning Indian travel photographer and blogger at PaintedStork Photography.
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So, What’s The Bottom Line?

India truly is a remarkable place, but in order to enjoy it fully, you must be prepared.

I believe my tips will give you all you need. And, my free ebook is a handy way to bring all these tips with you on your trip.

Here’s one last dose of inspiration, from the wise words of Mark Twain. Even though it was written in 1899, he captures the essence of India perfectly!

Mark_Twain201) “This is indeed India; the land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a thousand nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition, whose yesterdays bear date with the moldering antiquities of the rest of the nations—the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.”Twain, Mark. Following The Equator; A Journey Around the World. Page 26. New York, 1899. Print.
 
– Mark Twain, famous adventurer and author of the classic novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Enjoy your India travel!

All the best,
asher-signature-small

Last updated: November 30th, 2015

 


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136 Comments on “201 India Travel Tips: The Ultimate Free Beginners Guide

  1. Nice blog thanks for sharing. This blog is much helpful to the travelers and pilgrims from other countries.

  2. Thank you Asher ! I am travelling to India soon and this blog is incredible – convenient to read and very very helpful !

    Jai Guru Dev

      • Sir
        I think what you have mentioned is 1980 s India.
        I strongly disagree with your point regarding hotel.
        I am travelling in indin since last ten years & according to me all the tourist placing & major cities having good hotels with cleaniness & hygein.but how can you aspects hygein & cleaniness from the hotel if you want to pay just $2 per day.Even you can not buy budget lunch in $2 doller!
        If want good service you have go hotel which have 3 star more rating.
        In $2 you get only rooms not hotels like dharmshala(which is used for night stay by needy poor people )
        According to my data about 75 hotels in any Indian cities are above 3 star.
        The rate are front $30 to 70 $ depends on city.

        • Hi Kristopher,

          Thanks for taking the time to express your opinion.

          In my experience as a Westerner in India, most hotels that cost less than US $50/ night are often not very clean. And especially $30/ night or less. My points about hygiene are definitely valid in 2015 and are not from the 1980s.

          Hotels that range from $2 to $20/ night are a good choice for someone who is on a super low budget when traveling. I have stayed at many of these hotels and with my tips you can have a fine stay.

          All the best,

          Asher.

  3. Pingback: How To Pack a Suitcase Like a Ninja – Tips From a Seasoned Traveler | Asher Fergusson

    • Dear brother Asher
      I was moved to tears on seeing pictures and reading on Maharishi’s passing on.
      Thank you so much for the wealth of info you are sharing with the world and your experiences with Maharishi.
      May God Bless us all.
      JGD

  4. Wonderful and interesting resource on India. Thank you so much for all your effort on this blog. I really appreciate it. While searching on India travel I found your site.

    • hi. .I am belong to Himalaya part of India.. (uttarkashi ) which above mantion here…if you will come to visit this part and you will need a guide so please let me know. ..would be my pleasure to assist you..

      and blog written amazingly. ..thanks Asher u r great.. n.. ur welcome to my place Gangotri (source of Ganges )

    • Thanks Dileep,

      I’ve had a lot of fun writing it and it’s nice being able to help people who want to travel to India.

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  5. Hi Asher

    I went to India this year for 2 weeks. Prior to going, I read the articles in your blog, and I found them very helpful – especially the one with remember to take dental floss! I had a great trip and as I read your future articles, it brings back memories of my trip!

  6. Yes it is rightly said that all the tap water in India is contaminated with pollutants and amoebas. Buy only drinking good bottled mineral water, but A recent test proves that bottled water too in the country is unsafe. 18 brands of bottled water were tested out of which 27% of them had high bromate content. Such toxic water can cause cancer and other health problems.Ensure you don’t fall prey to such toxic water. Know more on this topic at http://www.waterconsumer.org/water-news.php

  7. I’m glad I came across your article before I leave on my trip. I love the 6th point. I’ve been in a lot of countries where people don’t willingly admit that they don’t understand you. Communication is key when you’re trying to understand something about a certain place or town. Thanks for the article!

  8. The cover picture can be a little more ugly , a garbage pile from Mumbay Slum

  9. http://balajiviswanathan.quora.com/Different-View-of-India-Pictures-of-Indian-cities-you-dont-see-in-overseas-media

    1.3 billion people don’t drink bottled water everyday , and most are healthy and intelligent and not permanently under diarrhea medication.
    India is not Delhi or seeing or understanding india completes with Lonley Planets “Golden Triangle ” tour.
    Before taking opinions from a non Indian blogger , ask where he stayed or visited
    All ( not just majority) sleeps at 2 dollar shacks and eat cheap street food and roam 2 -3 weeks at north and tell the world india is that this bla,bla,blah.
    I haven never seen a blog of a non Indian tourist who stayed at at least a 3 star Indian hotel on the full tour span., or travelled in 1st AC in Indian railways or know about or dined at midrange Indian restaurants .if anybody founds please put a link .

    Also ask them where they gone , have they went to Shimla , Kullu,Manali , Munnar , Mysore , kochi,Bangalore,Ooty, Sringeri ,Trivandrum , kangra valley , dharamsala,palampur, khajjiar,chamba,dehradun,Missourians , nainital ?? The answer will be a big NO

    These are small selection of amazing places in india

    India is diverse with amazing places and beautiful people, have wonderful airports and good transport network. Don’t believe these shoestring budget bloggers …they don’t know anything about india ….

    You get stomach upset in any place , not only the bacteria also different food types may also induce.
    Me and my family recovering from a massive diarrhea attack after eating a home made pizza from a Italian mama.

    Here is my tip for india visit

    1- follow Indian bloggers , they will show amazing pictures and places of india
    2- get info directly from india tourism website
    3- no country is safe for lonely female travelers , refer rape statistics we are at bottom
    4-come after September , if before go to hill stations , as generally india is hot and humid , no 6 months dark winter , but bright always

    Welcome to india

    • Hi Hemanth-ji,

      Thanks for your input and tips.

      I love India and have been there 7 times, lived in India for over 1.5 years and traveled all over the country. Here are a few of the places I’ve been: Kochi, Allahabad, Jabalpur, Brahmasthan of India, Trivandrum, Chennai, Delhi, Uttar Kashi, Kanyakumari, Madurai, Lucknow, Varanasi, Ayodhya, Bhopal, Ujjain, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Bhubaneshwar, Rameshwaram, Ahmednagar, Ellora, Mumbai, Tirupati, Sri Kalahasti and many, many more amazing places. I have also been in a lot of remote villages and other off the beaten trail locations (such as the high Himalayas) away from cities. I have stayed in every possible accommodation from 5 star palaces to mud brick huts.

      I have been weddings, vedic yagyas, stayed in many family homes, attended Mahashivratri, Holi, Christmas in Kerala, and many other festivals. I know Sanskrit (including many stotrams by heart and Vishnusahasranam etc) and can speak some Hindi. I even majored in Maharishi Vedic Science at university for 4 years so I also know about Jyotish, Sthapatya Ved, Ayurveda, Yoga, Transcendental Meditation, Gandharva Veda, Ramayan, Mahabharat (Bhagavad Gita), Rik Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, Atharva Ved and all the other vedas.

      My tips here are written for the Western tourist based on all my experience and many other Western friends who have lived in India for over 10 years. As I explained many of my friends who went there without preparation got terribly sick and into all kinds of other trouble including a run in with the mafia etc.

      It may be hard to understand how these tips make sense if you’ve grown up in India but for us Westerners it’s important to take a lot of precautions to have a safe and enjoyable pilgrimage to India.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,

      Asher.

      • You are right! Your observations and experiences is really valuable for people like us who were not born or lived there. It would of course different if someone who is a native of India will be the one to write a review. I thank you for this great effort- very informative.

    • Hey Hemanth,
      Can you point me in the direction of an Indian blogger, that writes about Bangalore? I’m going there to study next week :)
      Best regards Caroline

  10. Thank you AsherJi .
    I am a 46 year old south Indian lived in India for 28 years continuously, now visiting India every year once.
    I thank you for your interest on India and visiting my beautiful country, and your effort to encourage others to visit my country.

    For others “Ji ” or “G” is a salutation, adding to end of your name is a way of showing respect, only in NORTH INDIA !
    south Indians don’t use the term ,in fact we don’t like Hindi language ! , some of south Indian states waged war to central government against imposing Hindi as a must study language for students, thats INDIA !

    We don’t speak a single language or there is one unified food type as can be called as Indian food.
    India does not speak Hindi as a typical westerner thinks, you can go around India with English rather Hindi.

    All the food ,language, the customs you hear outside generally as “Indian” is of NORTH INDIA, so All “Indian Restaurants” outside India is in fact “NORTH INDIAN RESTAURANTS, nothing to do with my kind of south Indian food or of the people from north eastern, west or eastern part of India .

    So a visitors perspective on India will always be area specific, it is like visiting Istanbul and making comments on whole of Europe.

    Indians are some of the warmest, most genuine, humorous peoples ,India, that you see today is after thousands of years of slavery, looting ,rising and restructuring ,Like any other country, it has its plus and minuses ,we are coming up , kindly bear with us .

    So after fixing Indian destination, research area specific information, like for my place KERALA we don’t have water scarcity, not much pollution there is plenty of water and water bodies in my home state.
    After re reading your advice to India I would like to add the following which I think would be of use for prospective Indian tourists.

    1- What to bring,
    Not necessary to bring toilet paper and paper mask to India, all the listed items can be easily purchased in India, go to nearest “Medical Shop “which is pharmacy and buy all medications and first aids, nobody will cheat you, all the packaged products in India comes with a printed price “M.R.P” (maximum retail price) large supermarkets sells below the printed rates.
    Keep several passport size photos and passport copies with you, which will be useful during your India travel.
    Don’t wear a mask when you roam around, people look at you as non blending hypocrite, also don’t roam with your lonely planet guide book which make you an easy target for scamsters
    All Indian states have their own tourisum development corporation website with plenty of authentic reliable informations

    i recommend to bring an iPad loaded with offline India maps , there are several maps available free online ,you can also keep google map offline , in that mark the toilets , and important place you wish to visit , these maps are when will show your current position and without any data roaming charge you can find placed easily
    Install India specific applications like IXIGO , Indian railway app etc

    2-Mobiles phones in india
    India has the cheapest mobile call and data rates in the world, use it wisely , you can buy a sim card almost anywhere in India , the shop keeper require a photograph and a passport copy .
    The major private provider is “IDEA MOBILE “and the government one is “BSNL”
    My understanding is that if you do not use a prepaid Sim for more than 3 months everywhere in the world it will be de activated.
    Do not give your Sim card to anybody when you leave, you will be in trouble when you are back some time after,
    The person you trust may lose the sim card and may fall in to the hands of some anti social elements.

    3-Money Exchange
    Don’t exchange money exchanger who comes to your hotel room, the rate may be very good but who knows a couple of 100 rupee notes are fake??? You will be in jail for the rest of your life, always exchange from BANKS only and keep receipt , yes State Bank Of India , it is everywhere even in Himalayas.

    4-Travel
    We have super clean and efficient Metro train in major cities, make use of it search “Delhi Metro “ “Bangalore Metro” etc .
    And there is Hop on Hop off bus in Delhi, Auto (3 wheelers) are best and cheapest for short travel, and always travel in 2nd AC in trains .
    Purchase tickets online, there will be chaos at ticket counter in train stations (we are 1.3 billion people =160 times the population Of Switzerland or 4 Times US population)

    5-Eating in India,
    Normally if you visited anywhere and fall sick or robbed, you immediately make a website and narrate it or put in lonely planet or tripadvisior, if it is otherwise that your journey is fine and wonderful you will share it with your immediate friends only, So don’t be scared with the online negative reports of any country it is just 5% of the fact.
    I went to Pisa (Italy ) very very scared, after reading the negative comments online and in travel blogs , stories like Africans waiting to snatch your purse and pick pocketers and shady characters waiting at train station etc , but my trip went wonderful and smooth ( yes I put it in Tripadvsor )
    So most non native tourist comments on a country or a place will be 99% negative , just take it that way
    That’s why I am advising to read native Indian travel bloggers , there are plenty, search “top 10 Indian travel bloggers”.
    It is quite safe to eat generally in India very less die of food poison in India, not all foods are made with e-coli laden water, eateries make sure to provide good hygienic food or else they know they will be featured in Trip advisor with 100 negative comments, you must try Indian street food it is fantastic.

    6- Water
    All restaurants will give you “hot water” free, or use bottled ones
    Perfectly ok to brush with tap water in KERALA

    7-Hotels
    Please stay in 3 star hotels at least or in one who charge you at least 50 Euros per head per day, which will solve 90 percent of India travel related problems, like toilet paper, European toilet, towels, travel service, taxi , clean water , safe locker etc , no need to bring Pad lock or door stopper mosquito net etc
    All province \state governments run affordable and neat Motels or Hotels – for Kerala search for “KTDC hotels “
    You are ready to pay for a smelly bunk bed in 12 bed hall in a Norway Hostel 50 Euros without any sheet or towel is isn’t it? Why you are not ready to pay here for a big spacious room 50 Euros?
    For long term affordable stay take spiritual route , India have plenty of “ Ashrama “ run by Hindu gurus , you will get cheap accommodation and food if you research and plan ahead of time .(try Art Of Living Foundation or amritapuri.org , all in south India )

    8-Shopping
    Please don’t bargain that much, let them also make some money
    For nice cotton handmade dress and clothes look for “KHADI” centers
    The shops are called “Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan” search in google to see nearest locations
    You will get stitched Indian dress, no bargain all fixed price, salesmen are monthly salaried paid by government ,so may not be keen to sell you things .

    9-Temples
    You will not be allowed very inside of most of Indian temples, You can enter temples managed by Archeological Society Of India or in Temples managed by some Prominent Gurus, you are allowed to up to a certain periphery only ,the inner sanctum is only for Hindus , the temple architecture is mesmerizing , in south it is with granite and in north it is mostly with Marble and sandstone

    10-Communication
    Learn Indian head wobbling, there are plenty of you tube videos
    Everybody understands Basic English all over India,
    There will be fewer pleasantries like ‘please’ “sorry” “Thank you” etc; everything is in tone and gesture
    You can’t hear a rude “sorry”or loud “please” as in west, people are polite and mild
    Ask direction to students and teens they speak excellent English
    9-Photography
    I don’t know, but please don’t take garbage and dirty toilets photos and put online (there is plenty already)
    Take beautiful pictures, Indian is colorful and vibrant.
    We have a public garbage and garbage processing issue, we are working on it

    I hope I touched all the sections Asher G
    An undergraduate course in Ayurveda Medicine is a 5 year full time course; my uncle a ayurveda practitioner says in college you learn only 10%
    And to learn Vedas you must know Sanskrit, as 75% will be lost in translation, as we have 5 different “You”s
    to use in different kind of situation and age groups .
    Come back to India and learn more .
    Thank you

    • Thanks Hemanth ji :)

      You have many good tips and great that you also have some Western perspective to share. Here are my replies to your points:

      1) There are plenty of South Indian restaurants outside of India. I’ve incredible dosa, idly & uttapam etc in Australia and the UK.

      2) Kerala has less pollution than other parts but in Trivandrum or other cities like Kochi it still can be strong for someone with sensitive lungs or who isn’t used to it.

      3) Yes, you can buy toilet paper in India but depending on where you stay you may need it before you get a chance to find it at a shop. Some medications may not be available or will not be as high quality e.g the electrolytes I’ve bought in India taste horrible.

      4) iPad is okay to bring but be very careful with the electricity while charging it. The Indian power supply can fluctuate from 50 volts to 300 volts and then go off all within a few minutes. I’ve had many electronics get fried.

      5) Simcards are harder to get than you might think for a Westerner. In my last trip in February 2015 I wasn’t able to get one because they said it would take 10 days but I wasn’t in any one location for more than 4 days.

      6) State Bank of India is good but will only let you take 10,000rs at a time. Citibank will let you take the limit of you local country.

      7) Your points about the metro and buses within a city are good – thank you.

      8) I agree most places you’ll be fine eating in India as long as you only eat cooked food and nothing raw. Although street food is just not worth the higher risks in my opinion.

      9) Certain places I’m sure are fine for brushing teeth with tap water but how do we know? We’re not going to do a scientific analysis at each hotel we visit so it’s safer and simpler to just use bottled water and then not worry about it.

      10) Agreed, 3 star hotels and up a good choice for many people but some travelers, especially young travelers like to stay at cheap places so that they can travel for a longer time without spending all their money. The tips I’ve given above for the cheap hotels are very important to make the stay more comfortable.

      11) Agreed, it’s nice for locals to make some money but it’s also important that the prices don’t get too crazy. Also with large transactions such as a long taxi ride – it may be necessary to bargain so that you don’t get ripped off by a few thousand rupees.

      The khadi stores are amazing. I’ve had some wonderful custom kurta’s made there that have lasted 6 years without a problem.

      12) Most temples have allowed me into the inner sanctum. It’s only in some places in South India that you may not be allowed to even see the inner shrine such as at the Meenakshi temple in Madurai.

      13) Definitely learn the “head wobble” – it’s a great communication help in India.

      14) I know Sanskrit only for it’s sound value. It’s the primordial “language of nature” which has a lot of health benefits purely from recitation.

      Thanks again for spending the time to give you input, Hemanth!

      Cheers,

      Asher.

      • hi..ma’am. …whatever you wrote in your blog somehow that is reality of India.. but what to do.. corruption poverty and population is the big challenge of the country… let’s see what happened further, now we have good prime minister at this time but it’ll take some time. … but for visitors it’s interesting part of India. ..thats the real fun of India. .

        thanks.

    • Dear friends.
      Nice and inspirational knowledge for foreign tourists…i think to much…And of course it’s good. ..
      Keep righting…thanks to mr Asher Fergusson and many thanks to HEMANT…BLESSINGS..Tripathi

    • I lived outside India for nearly 25 years and living in India for the last 12 years and…… travelling here. I couldn’t agree more on your comprehensive- list, if I may – well thought out !

      I guess Asher’s is more like this, I lived in New York city for 20 years and loved it, yet telling people travelling from here not to get shot or mugged in Central park or on the streets. So long the tips aren’t too ‘discouraging’, guess it’s ok.

    • Hello Hemanth- JI,

      After attempting to comprehend your barely understandable grammar, I have several things to say when I see you trying to attack a Western Blogger who has been nothing but cordial and patient in his replies to the absurd disrespect you have posted on the website he has created in order to show the world what a fantastic place your home, India, is. In fact, I am married to an Indian, specifically an Indian from Kerala. Trivandrum to be exact. Before blasting your opinions and being as close minded as you have made yourself to be, remember there are three sides to every story. Yours, mine and the TRUTH. Mr. Fergusson has created his side, from a non-Indian point of view. Therefore, non-biased. Reading a blog from an “Indian Blogger” will show others India from a bias point of view, since they will most likely not be familiar with Western customs and what we may consider a “Culture Shock” however are “normal” for Indians. Therefore next time you want to insult using your narrow minded, insecure, and defensive comments, think twice. The internet allows the world to read comments such as yours and don’t be surprised if your opinion becomes the reason people start to dislike India rather than the contaminated water or pollution.

      Sincerely,
      MDP

      • hi,
        Asher-Ji ,
        I am so impressed with your detailed and to the point realistic assessment about India .
        Please keep writing …your outlook is what i like .Because many of us do possess :)

        thanks for loving Sanskrit and India

        regards,

  11. First off, I want to say that overall this advice is awesome, but after having just spent 4 months in India and left yesterday, I’d like to add some perspective. I realize I do not have the same amount of experience as the author, but it’s always nice to have different perspectives.

    1. While I agree that many people with a motive to make money from you will try to make as much as possible or rip you off (taxis, rickshaw drivers, some shop owners, guides/fake guides, etc), you shouldn’t be afraid or be closed off to everyone. Here’s why: most scams in india amount to nothing more than 1) being ask to pay too much for something or 2) being ask to pay for something that was given to you for free (advice/directions). For scam #1, the author provides great tips but in general, know what the price should be by asking an independent source and don’t be afraid to shop around as there are usually hordes of providers for any basic product or service. To avoid the 2nd type of scam, when someone approaches you and offers you something, make it clear to them that you won’t be paying them. Then when/if they ask you for money, it won’t be hard to blow them off. (Unless they genuinely deserve it for helping you out. Though most genuine, helpful people won’t ask for money unless they are desperate.)

    In this way, you can still remain friendly and open towards people (which will give you the opportunity to meet great people and have special experiences), while avoiding scams.

    I’m really stressing this because when you read advice like that given in the article, the tendency is to be closed off and suspicious of every person you meet. It’s easy to be angry and unhappy when you assume everyone is trying to rip you off and it will happen often enough that it will be easy to support those negative beliefs. But, if you have this attitude, you won’t have much fun and you won’t be able to trust people enough to have amazing experiences that only come when you let your guard down a little and give people a chance. There are some amazing shop owners, rickshaw drivers, and other Indians out there who will take care of you, treat you with respect, and sometimes go above and beyond what you expect from them. It’s these people and experiences that will make India special for you.

    2. I have to disagree with the author’s advice on accommodation. Yes, if you want to only spend $2/night, you will be roughing it a bit. And yes, there are a wide range of options, all the way up to 5 star luxury. But, you don’t need to spend $40-$70/night to find a really nice, comfortable place to stay that has everything you might want (hot shower, western toilet, comfortable/clean bed, air con, balcony, view, safe location, etc). For about $8-15/night, you can find beautiful accommodation in many places. In most places, $5-8 will be enough money to get a comfortable, clean, safe place. We stayed in an amazing place in Dharamsala for $11 that rivaled the comfort level of our Canadian friends who were paying $75/night.

    3. On temples. The author had a completely different experience with temples than I did. If you are coming to India for a spiritual experience, it is very possible to have one. I deepened both my yoga and meditation practice during my time in India. I had great experiences in ashrams, classes, and at meditation retreats, and when talking with individual people. In general, there are many opportunities to develop your spirituality.

    That said, I found very little to be spiritual about the temples in India. In fact, I found them, especially the popular ones, to be anti-spiritual. When you arrive in a crowded temple you will most likely see crowds of people pushing at each other, yelling at each other, and engaging in all sorts of selfish/rude behavior just so they can perform a ritual. There may be some spiritual value to them in going through these rituals, but it doesn’t show by their actions. Not only that, but you can expect as a foreigner, that people will try to scam you out of money (even those holy men working at the temple). Also, if you go to a Kali temple, you can expect to watch hordes of people gather around as the holy men cut the heads off of baby goats. For me, this type of environment is not conducive to anything spiritual, which I view as an inward journey.

    I’ll admit thought that while I did meditate a lot during my time in India, I never attempted to meditate at a hindu temple. I will try in the future based on the author’s recommendations, but I view meditation as an inward journey and most hindu temples are not good environments to withdraw and go inward.

    Despite my generally negative opinion about the spiritual sanctity of the temples in India, I still think it’s worthwhile to visit them and I continued to do so throughout my time. They make for great opportunities to see important aspects of Hindu/Indian culture.

    As with anything spiritual, I don’t discredit the author’s personal experiences. The fact that he had them means it may be possible for you You should go into your temple experiences with an open mind to find out for yourself. All I’m trying to say is lower your expectations about temples and if you want spiritual growth and don’t find it at the temples, seek it out elsewhere.

    Thanks for your tips and the time you took to put this together. Many would have been helpful to me before my trip :) No disrespect

    • Hi Scott,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your perspective. I agree it’s really good getting multiple points of view since everyone experiences the world differently.

      Here are my responses:

      1) Your “ripoff/ scam” points are great. I agree with you 100%. I have had wonderful experiences with some auto rickshaw drivers, such as Anil in Ellora (he looked after my wife one afternoon and took her to all these amazing temples and was so sweet and let us choose our price for his services) and from other shop owners like Lal in Kovalam (he made me amazing custom underwear for fair prices).

      I guess my article is attempting to educate people on what is possible to experience and to know what the different types of scams are so that you can avoid falling into the trap. At the same time I agree it is important to be open and like you say not “closed off” because there are so many Indians who are fair and don’t want to rip you off. I will add this point into that section.

      Many of my friends who went to India unprepared were shocked by how much they got scammed and tricked and this turned them off from ever returning to India which I think is sad. So it’s good to be aware so you can avoid trouble but open at the same time to give people a chance.

      2) I would love to know about these places you speak of. In my experience, it will be hard to find such accommodation in most cities and tourist towns but I’m sure it is possible if you look hard enough. What was the name of the place you stayed in Dharamsala? Can you give other examples?

      3) With regard to the temples I agree they are crazy places that on the surface appear to be “anti-spiritual”. If you can go beyond that external chaos and settle down to the internal silence and peace then that’s when the magic happens. It really helps to have ear plugs and then you have to find a quiet corner where no one will bug you. Sit there with eyes closed for at least 20 to 30 minutes and meditate (I personally do Transcendental Meditation – TM). I sometimes end up being in temples for 2 to 3 hours at a time – it’s like going to another universe and so transformative.

      My wife and I were just in India for the month of February this year and it was her first trip. She had more amazing spiritual experiences in the temples than me and can’t wait to go back. She also does TM.

      Of course this may not happen for everyone and visiting the less crowded temples may help and like you say going to a meditation or yoga retreat can be an amazing way to tap into the spiritual power of India.

      I’m glad you found the guide helpful and thanks again for adding your India tips.

      Cheers,

      Asher.

      • Asher,

        Thanks for the reply.

        As far as hotels are concerned, my girlfriend and I never paid more than $15 in our entire 4 months in India. In a few cases, we ended up with semi uncomfortable places, but most of the time, it was fine. Here are examples of what we received and for how much:

        -Dharamsala: We actually stayed in Dharamkot, just up the hill from McCleod-Ganj, in a place called Raj Residency for 700 rupees. This was the best place we had in all of India and we stayed there after our 10 days in Vipassana. It was a huge, clean, well decorated room with a big comfy bed and a well-appointed private bath. The room had a balcony that looked over the valley (perfect view), and since the property was in the hills, we woke up to birds every morning instead of rickshaws :)

        -Arambol, Goa: We stayed at the Zen Garden for 400 rupees (~$6.50) which was a 20 minute walk down the beach from the main town. We had our own private beach bungalow with private bath and porch. The bungalow was in a grove of palm trees and with the fan, was at the perfect temperature in the evenings for sleeping. We had a western style toilet, shower, mosquito net over the bed, fantastic restaurant with beach view (meals prices: 80-250 rupees), and were 1 minute walk to the beach.

        -Hampi: We stayed at Goan Corner for 300 rupees (~$5). We had a basic private room with shared bath. Everything was clean and the place had a great vibe because it’s a popular spot for backpackers. We had hammocks, nice restaurant on site, motorcycle rental on site, and it was run by a really friendly family.

        -Jaipur: We stayed at Chirtakatha for 800 rupees. http://www.chitrakatha.co.in/ This was an actual western style hotel. Super clean and safe. Nice staff. Rooftop restaurant. Price listed on the website is 1000 rupees but we were able to bargain when we arrived.

        -Jodhpur: Cosy Guest House (550 rupees). We originally booked the room for 350, but upgraded to a nicer room and got a special price with some bargaining. http://www.cosyguesthouse.com/ http://www.booking.com/hotel/in/cosy-guest-house.html

        I could continue, but this should give you a general idea of the types of places we stayed at.

        In general, you don’t need to pay more than 300-1000 rupees ($5-16) to find something safe and comfortable. In this price range, you don’t often get A/C, but we traveled in the beginning of the Indian summer (Feb-May) and not having A/C was a problem just a handful of times. Usually the rooms are cool enough in the evenings for sleeping, especially with a good fan.

        As far as temples, I get what you are saying. Your experience is interesting to me and I’m looking forward to exploring it next time. But, for most people (especially those inexperienced with meditation), I can’t see the temples being optimal for a spiritual experience.

        • Thanks Scott!

          Awesome tips on hotels – I’d like to try some of these! :)

          The Dharamsala place sounds amazing. I’m guessing the pollution isn’t bad up there, right? That’s often a problem for me… I can’t breathe in places like Delhi or Chennai and I end up coughing all night! :(

          Thanks again for your perspective on the temples. I forget that I’ve been meditating since I was 10 years (I’m now 29) and so I guess I’m quite experienced. I agree for a newbie, the busy temples may not be the best place to gain a spiritual experience but you never know. Still worth a visit regardless…

          Cheers,

          Asher.

  12. Asherji,

    I have some more comments –

    1- Restaurants
    I disagree with you ,outside India if the restaurant name is “XXXXX Indian Restaurant ” it is a north Indian restaurant , a restaurant selling south Indian dishes will be named clearly “South Indian Restaurant” not just “Indian”
    compare to “Indian” restaurants there are very few, say 1 in 500 south Indian restaurants out side India ……one such south Indian chain you may see outside India is “SHARAVANABHAVAN” which always serve only south Indian “Pure Vegetarian” dishes .

    Summary-Outside India : “Indian restaurant” = Serves North Indian Chicken,Mutton,Veg Dishes sometimes few south Indian dishes .
    “South Indian Restaurant ” Serve South Indian Veg Dishes ONLY

    2-Sim Cards
    It should not take 10 days ! , check the shops who are authorized to sell simcards ,the guy at the shop may be giving wrong info , all mobile shops you see on street sells just “recharge coupons ”
    get & pass authentic info , check the location of shops sells new sim cards here .

    http://www.ideacellular.com/customer-care/need-help/locate-idea-store?cid=delhi-ncr

    3-Electrolytes

    The pharmacists at “Medical Shop” may not be familiar with the term ” Electrolytes “, ask for “ORS packet ” he will show you at least 10 brands with different flavors , Electral,Enerzal etc .
    in India the best thing is that all things comes in tiny packaging also , you can by 10 gram coconut oil in small plastic bottle , 5 gram Colgate tooth paste in a small sache, a one time use shampo sache, 20 Gram bath soap etc ,very convenient for travelers ,and all dirt cheap!

    4-Electricity
    Please don’t generalize ,since the target audience of your blog is a non Indians who never been to any part of India.
    it all depend on the place one stay ,a 2$ a night shack taps electricity from nearby power line by throwing and hooking cables to it , so there will be heavy fluctuations if there is wind !, my brother’s 1st generation iPad is working fine till now in India, Apple sells 500K iPhones in India in every 4 months ( Economic times report )
    yes electricity is not as consistent as in a developed nations , but it is quite safe to charge all your gadgets .

    5- Temples
    I will not allow you in any of my temples :-) in south India ….. ha ha ha
    Generally Hindu temples does not allow non Hindu tourists
    strictly followed in South and in high profile temples in North.
    Mrs.Indira Gandhi (late Indian prime minister ) was not allowed to enter the temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri because she had married a Parsi (those who follows Zoroastrian Religion )
    The non Hindu restriction is because the inner Sanctrum is supposed to be the holiest place in the temple architecture. There are certain rituals which a Hindu generally follows when he visits a temple, like not eating meat, taking bath etc. Probably, these things cannot be expected from a non-believer that is why he/she is restricted from entering the Sanctum.
    There are temple privately owned/on private ground, or publicly owned (ie, by the government). If it’s privately owned ( by Gurus Or God-man) then the owner has full jurisdiction , normally an orthodox Hindu like me will not go such noisy touristy temples .
    See some temples inside here
    http://www.dinamalar.com/360_view_detail.asp?id=272#top

    thank you for reading

    Hemanth

    • Hi Hemanth ji,

      Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts. :)

      Here are my responses:

      1) I’m not disagreeing with you on the point about North vs South Indian restaurants – clearly there are not as many South Indian restaurants outside of India. My point is that it’s possible to find good authentic South Indian food all over the world. For example, there’s a great chain of South Indian restaurants in London, the US and around the world called “Woodlands”. Here is the London one’s website http://www.woodlandsrestaurant.co.uk/

      2) Simcard access varies widely across the country and the government regularly changes the regulations. Even if you go to an official place that says they “sells new simcards here” and you follow their procedure giving your address & photo etc they may take sometime before approving it and then they can cancel the service without warning. People have told me that this tightness is to help counter terrorist activity but it seems a bit silly making it so difficult for tourists.

      3) Yes, the medical shops or chemists carry all kinds of medicines and toiletries. My point is that the quality may not be the same as similar items bought in one’s home country and so if you’re particular about a brand then bring it from home. With that said it’s nice to be able to fall back on the medical shops in an emergency.

      4) It is definitely not “quite safe to charge all your gadgets” in India, even at more classy hotels and homes the electricity can be very unreliable. As I’ve explained earlier, I have had an iPod, iMac and many Canon batteries get fried and the same has happened to friends. Even 5 star hotels occasionally can have power outages where they have to switch to generators.

      5) In my experience, most Hindu temples do allow us tourists in if we are dressed correctly. Here is a list of some of the Hindu temples I’ve been in the inner sanctum without any questions (some of which are in South India):

      Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, Tirupati,
      Padmavathi Ammavari Temple, Tirupati
      Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, Ujjain
      Harsiddhi Temple, Ujjain
      Grishneshwar Temple, Ellora
      Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, Thiruvananthapuram
      Srikalahasti Temple, Srikalahasti
      Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi
      Maa Vindhyavasini Devi Temple, Vindhyachal
      Hanumangarhi, Ayodhya
      Vishwanath Temple, Uttar Kashi
      Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameshwaram
      Devi Kanya Kumari Temple, Kanyakumari
      and many, many more

      The only place where I wasn’t allowed in the inner sanctum (unless I had “documents proving I was a Hindu”) was at the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai.

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  13. Asher! You da pro! Brilliant, perceptive insights, clearly written, and highlighted with beautiful photos. You’ve covered practically everything with concise, essential advice worth many $1000s for any adventuresome pilgrims. Your love of India is obvious. Well done!

  14. Dear Asher,
    I live in Bangalore near INFOSYS campus for the last 4 years , I never experienced any major power related issues ,nor my gadgets damaged due to power spike , only precaution I take is unplug the gadgets when there is thunder storm and lighting .
    And your info about entry to Indian temples may mislead the first time visitors.
    Advised to check Lonely Planet or Trip Advisor forum, for entry related info in south Indian temples.
    Every temple in Kerala is off-limits for non Hindus, there are generally signs up saying non-Hindus are not allowed in (mostly in Malayalam Script), Kerala seems to be the state in India where they are least open to having foreigners inside the Hindu temples, if you are non Hindu and enter the temple you are violating applicable rules, there won’t be much policing in most temple as it is a sacred place, no armed bouncers , so if nobody stops you at entrance don’t believe that you have the right for entry. Please respect the rules.
    Here is the Trivandrum Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple Web Site
    http://www.sreepadmanabhaswamytemple.org/terms-and-conditoins.htm
    It clearly says “Entry is restricted to those who profess the Hindu religion”
    This temple treasury hold sacks of diamonds and gold coins as well as golden idols, Estimation of its worth is not yet finished, but it thought to be around US$20 billion.
    Due to unearthing of treasure now there is heavy security now in this temple.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/05/india-temple-treasure-video_n_890572.html

    • Hi Hariya ji,

      Thank you for sharing your experience.

      That’s great to hear about the Bangalore power supply. I’m sure it’s improving everywhere in India all the time. As a tourist visiting many places (often remote places) all in one trip, I think it’s important to be careful everywhere because it’s hard to know what the electricity will be like. And, like I’ve explained I’ve lost $1000’s of equipment before I learned how to take precautions. I now only bring a cheap PC laptop when I travel to India rather than my expensive Macbook and then I charge my other devices via USB through the laptop. I haven’t had a problem since doing this but I also never leave it plugged in when I’m away from my room or I see the light flickering.

      Yeah, I agree Kerala seems to be the most strict with foreign tourists entering temples. Thanks for the added info.

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  15. This list is just so comprehensive, and clearly informed by years of experience travelling through India, which I have to say looks like a pretty daunting place to be! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Hi Shailendra,

      I can see your point but for Westerners going to India on their first trip I think “survival” is an accurate word for the title of the guide.

      No offense is meant by it.

      All the best,

      Asher.

  16. – for drinking coconut water, you do not need a straw… ask the vendor to cut a deep groove on the side and drink straight out of the shell… I do that all the time … its nicer and a fun way to drink the water

    – do not ever ever give money to beggars and children. the babies are kidnapped, drugged and made to go to sleep. there is a mafia behind the begging. all of that money goes to gangs. its hard … but you will get used to it.

    – i strongly disagree with street food recommendations. all said and done the street food is not only cheap but guaranteed to be freshly cooked often in front of you. in contrast you know nothing about the food in four star and five star restaurants. the cooking kills the bacteria and germs. also, don’t be quick/harsh to judge hygiene by the environs of the stall/food carts. a personal judgement for approaching a right stall will develop in about a few days . some street carts are more crowded than others. in places like khao gallis(food streets) the food turnover is high and always fresh at the very least. acclimatise your taste buds and stomachs. do it steps if possible. spicy foods outright will affect you and hurt you especially if you never had spicy food before. give yourself atleast a couple of weeks with safer and blander varieties of Indian foods before jumping into traditional foods. Indian dal rice/dal kitchidi is safest and easily available foods to start out. you can start off bland and gradually grow to accept hot spiciness. stick to vegetarian and avoid meats. its not the food but water that can make you sick. be careful with water you drink, go for coke or pepsi if available. when in a new place the common rule is always head for the ones which are relatively crowded. miss out the street foods and you will miss out on a huge part of the cultural experience.

    luv it, hate it … but you can never ignore India … :) but why do some people luv and it and others hate it. if you dig in a bit deeper that’s because of expectations of the travellers themselves.

    India is not an ideal place for short relaxing two week trips . in two weeks you will be in a cultural shock, mentally and emotionally drained and you are going to go back with feelings of frustration and negativity. backpackers on the other hand come in with fairly low expectations and mentally prepared to rough it out over a longer period of time. these people often go back with positives and light up the torch of their luv for India online.

    India is best experienced at a very slow and an easy pace and very unsuitable for travellers with rushed itineraries. i will recommended it for backpackers and travellers with a longer and relaxed itineraries.

    i’m an Indian by the way … and these are my personal opinions ….and i know my conclusions are broad and sweeping ones …. u may want to take it with a pinch of red chilli powder … or salt … whichever is available … :)

    • Hi Sandeep,

      Thank you for the taking the time to add your thoughts! :)

      1) Your method of drinking coconuts in India sounds interesting – the only thing I would be concerned with is the sanitization of the outside of the coconut?…

      2) I agree for sure you should never ever give money to beggars – it fuels their “business”.

      3) You make some great points about street food which make sense to me. Some people will never have trouble with Indian street food especially if they are smart about it like you’ve explained. I’ve personally made a conscious choice to simply avoid the street food (except for chai) for many reasons based on years of experience. The other thing that is often very difficult for a Westerner to digest is deep fried food which seems to be a common form of street food.

      4) I agree, you should try to go to India for 1 month at a time minimum in order to fully get used to the culture and enjoy a more relaxing itinerary.

      Thanks again for your contribution to my blog.

      Cheers,

      Asher.

      • :) … hmmm asher… with regards to the coconut water … ask the vendor to cut a groove on the edge of rim opening … not on the side … and then tip the contents into ur mouth … well … just like u were to drink wine or beer … the shell is ur glass … well actually u don’t even need a groove… jus use the shell as ur glass and be done …. now this may seem a bit less erudite to the sophisticated western tourist … but it is my way of drinking the water …the cave man style … and its more fun … 😀

        these days the vendors are more tourist savvy and i have often seen them draw out a fresh straw from a sealed pack. but yea … coconut water is nature’s own packed electrolyte and there is plenty available in India so go ahead have more coconut water.

        there are three kinds of coconuts that the vendor sells pani wala (water coconut), halka malai (light coconut cream) and malai wala (coconut cream)

        the water coconuts have more water and water is a bit salty and acts as a rejuvenating electrolyte. this is what i usually go for when i’m thirsty and need energy. the halka malai(light cream) is good too. the water is sweeter. after ur done drinking the water u hand over the shell back to the vendor who fashions out a small scrapper out of a piece of coconut shell and then uses that to scrape the cream sticking to the inner part of the shell. that is very nice and tasty. if the vendor forgets remind him to do that. the malai wala(thick cream) coconut has the sweetest tasting water and nice bits of coconut. i personally avoid this variety. the coconuts chunks are best enjoyed with jaggery which is available cheap in grocery stores. and another point to note is that these varieties are usually known differently in different parts of India … for eg Kerala down in south probably has different terms for the coconut varieties. Kerala grows some of the best coconuts in the country.

        ok … i’m finally done here. never thought i would end up writing an exposition on coconuts … i never even knew i knew so much … 😀 😀

  17. Namaste Asher Jee..

    I agree with you. Just saw your tips for the people traveling to India are commendable and there is nothing wrong. Being an Indian, i firmly believe these thing persist.

    Best regards for future…

  18. Hello Asher,

    I agree with you that you should set your expectations from the start. Be prepared. This way you will enjoy India while taking care of yourself at the same time.

    Great Tips you have collected here, thanks for sharing.

    Cheers,
    Pankaj

  19. Vey nice useful post, India is amazing if you are ready to admit it as it is. I was little bit afraid to visit India as it is absolutely diferrs from other countries I have been to before, but now I could say that if you are still in doubt, just go there!

    • Hi July,

      Yes, I agree. It’s good to be prepared but then the only way to know what’s really like is to go there and experience it for yourself :)

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  20. This article is just amazing!! I’m travelling to India in December and after reading your post, I can’t help but wish its December already! will share with you my experience once I come back.

  21. Great Site! So many excellent tips! I’ve taken a pilgrimage to Mother India almost every year since 1970. Please check out our Pilgrims Guide at http://www.vanamaliashram.org . Mataji Vanamali is a Sagittarius… always on the go…always sharing her blessings in her writings…If you are not familiar with her writing, Please check out Sri Krishna Lila, Sri Hanuma Lila, Sri Devi Lila…. Also check out The Transformational Therapy/ Energy As Medicine Workshop That I will be offering in Tiru this January at http://www.weare1.us, Blessings, Arvind

  22. I’m so happy to find your article. I have read it a few times and I love it all! I’m traveling to India with my daughter next week. We are excited and nerveuos at the same time but with all your recommendations, I feel more prepared.
    Thank you so much for such a great tool and please, keep writing!

    • Thanks Yrama!

      Your encouragement keeps me going! My writing is definitely a labor of love and feels so good to help fellow travelers :)

      Enjoy your trip!

      Asher.

  23. My 16 year old son has the opportunity to go to the Golden Triangle next May 24th for 9 days with a school tour. I could also go as a chaperone. He and I are both very interested and we have traveled quite a bit. However, it is supposed to be 90-105 the whole time. Is ot worth going in that heat taking buses etc? Or would it be better to go at a different time?
    Thanks,
    Julie

    • Hi Julie,

      I personally think that it will be too hot for it to be worth it. The latest I have ever stayed in India was April 15th and it was already too hot for me then. I’m from Australia and can handle pretty hot temperatures but the heat in India without AC can be dangerous for Westerners. I recommend you travel to India from November through February for the best experience.

      Hope this helps,

      Asher.

  24. India is definitely worth a visit but be VERY wary of both scammers and any potential assistance required from a law firm. I was scammed of nearly $3,000 by Ganesh Prasad Nautiyal, an Indian tour guide, for a tour of Bhutan he did not deliver. The law firm I engaged in the fight for justice and to stop others being scammed, Ashok Gupta and Co, gave me stress, just kept asking for money and still produced no result after THREE summonses were issued. Just before I left Australia for India, I asked the Indian taxi driver for some tips about his country. He gave me just one: Trust no-one. I have learnt the hard way that, sadly, he was right.

    • Hi Peter,

      Thanks for sharing your experience and sorry it was not a good one! :(

      One thing that I always do is not pay for a service upfront (where ever possible). This forces the vendor to deliver the service before running off with your money.

      I agree that you should “trust no-one” at least at first and definitely always be super cautious with large sums of money.

      All the best,

      Asher.

      • Great articles about India from everybody. I am an Indian bought up in the west mostly and I have been to India 3 times in the past 25 years & spent at least 2 months at a time there. First time was certainly a culture shock and I wanted to get back onto the plane! but given time to understand its diversity & culture made me more of an understanding person. Yes there are scams, uncleanliness, pushing etc.. but still when you look at the western way of life it is kind of ‘camouflaged’ and hidden. The Indian life is open & roar it always fascinates me to compare and at times I do not know where I lie between the two. I still take the precautions of the western bloggers for added security but have found subtle changes in 25 years.
        Like I say it is an extremely interesting experience and for me a life changer in my thinking and thoughts.

        • Hi Dippy,

          Thanks for your perspective!

          I see what you mean about feeling like you are between the two. I feel so at home in India that sometimes I forget I am a Westerner :)

          Cheers,

          Asher

  25. Hi and thank you for 201 wonderful tips.

    We are soon traveling to India from Norway, have been invited of some lokals from Chennai. I off course want to bring a gift, but I have not got a clue. Do you have a tip nr 202 for me? What to bring?

    • Hi Nina,

      I would bring something unique to Norway that isn’t very expensive but is special to you. For example some kind of small food item that would be a novelty in India. Or maybe some nice postcards or a picture of you in Norway in a small frame. Or even a nice new $1 note or small coin from your home country can be a cherished gift.

      I’m sure you’ll think of something.

      Also be ready for the pollution and chaos of Chennai – it’s a busy place with narrow streets.

      Enjoy!

      Asher

  26. I had experience working in Mumbai last year. Although India can be initially overwhelming for someone coming from a Western nation, with a little time to acclimatise, it can be one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of your life.
    I loved the Mumbai second hand markets around Mutton Street, where I found vintage Bollywood posters. The people I met there were warm and generous of spirit. So much so that I made this short film: https://vimeo.com/151162654

    • Hi Dan,

      Loved your short! It gave a glimpse into Mumbai. You must have an awesome camera – the quality is beautiful!

      Thanks for sharing,

      Asher

  27. Downloaded your ebook. Thanks. Will be visiting India in November for two weeks. Obviously, never been there, but figured it would be fun visit such a place. I’ll just go wherever the wind takes me. Again, thanks.

    • That’s awesome Ben!

      I’ve done that a few times in India and ended up having the most amazing time meeting the locals and going all kind of unplannable adventures :)

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  28. Dear Asher,
    Greetings of the day !

    I am really impressed with the effort taken by you to organize the website pages with the required details.And the of piece of support by words needed for any traveller. I was planning to write a blog about Travel to india and reached to your website. About me – you can visit my page. I wanted to ask your permission to use your web information in my blog page to offer the travel in India to my students who visit Rishikesh or Other part of India. I am part of Yoga and Meditation School and acknowledged that the details embedded in your posts are really useful for travellers. – You can refer my school pages to guide travellers for Yoga & Meditation
    http://www.rishikeshvinyasayogaschool.com & http://www.meditationschoolindia.org

    For any questions or if you wish to share any info which you wish to highlight in my blog page. Do share me – bobby1682@gmail.com

  29. Thank you for all the information. I am married to an Indian. But he moved to America when he was 4 years old. We are going back alone for the first time soon. I will be honest, I am scared to death. But the information I got here made me feel a little better. I am sure it will be weird for them to see a white girl married to an Indian boy. Any more advice?

    • Hi Mistry,

      I would ignore the starring that you will inevitably get. Don’t worry if you turn heads just be proud and stand strong. It doesn’t seem to be rude to stare in India. You will find it can be overwhelming at times but the main thing is to just ignore it and you’ll have a great time.

      Have fun!

      Asher.

  30. Hi Asher
    Your post is really very good . Mostly all where in many post or blog i read same things what tourist write about india.
    I lived in india and planning traveling all tourist place in my country without takeing money (its a chalenge) for write my experience. And want add some more point of views what foreigner or many indian travelers may be not write about India.
    I have some ideas and want write all that very soon.
    I send you message here because may be in future i need to copy paste your some views in my website or blog when i started then.
    I hope you give me permission to copy paste some things

      • hi Asher
        Thanks to give my permission. when i create my site and copy-paste some text then i send you link

        Take Care

  31. Hello Asher

    So far I have only read your ’17 things to pack for India and what NOT to take’ article as my Internet Connection has been down. I’m going on a tour of South India for three weeks next Saturday with Exodus Travel and thank goodness I’m now up and running again, so I shall be able to read the e-book you sent me and everything else on here.

    I have a question about the camera you recommended, the Canon PowerShot SX410 (there’s also the SX400 but I read that the 410 is meant to be the better one). It is presently half-price in Argos and the reviews on their website are good. However the reviews on the Amazon website, which you give as a link, are pretty bad, so I’m not sure what to do. Apart from my old SLR camera (but not DSLR, so consequently you pay a lot nowadays when you get the film developed), I have been using a Fuji Finepix 10 compact camera when on holiday. However these old cameras take XD memory cards rather than SD ones, which are not easily obtainable, and it doesn’t have much of a zoom and, while I’m buying cards, I could be putting the money towards this Canon bridge. (I would buy a DSLR but don’t have time to do the research on it or learn it before I go, which is why I’m interested in this much cheaper bridge camera for this trip.)

    BUT on the Amazon website people are saying that it doesn’t have a viewfinder, the pictures taken on full zoom are blurry and that images are not sharp. One person says you need to go to a camera shop and get a polariser if you’re going to use it on a sunny day and another to save your money and look elsewhere. I don’t have a viewfinder on mine and do indeed find it annoying just to see my reflection in the screen rather than the image I want to take, even though the pictures, surprisingly, usually seem to turn out quite well.

    I think you must have used this camera and liked it or you wouldn’t suggest it, so I’d like your take on this please. It’s cheap enough at £119 (or £99.99 for the SX400), so I was planning to buy it until I saw the reviews on Amazon. Strange that they’re so different on Argos. I need to get something very quickly and could buy this one at Argos early next week. Also it sounds as though it’s easy to use. I don’t want to miss being able to photograph wonderful scenes and people in India, so would think in the circumstances it would be worth going for. I would love to hear what you think? And thank you. Also thank you for all the information which I’m looking forward to reading this weekend.
    Anna

  32. Hey dude,

    amazing amazing resource you’re written here. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Your tips are really well thought out and written.

  33. You’re awesome, thank you so much for this information :) this will help me have the trip of my life :).

    Such positivity and light and so great that you share this information and your experiences.

    A wonderful Resource.

    Namaste
    Dayna

  34. Hi,

    Wow. You have covered all the points very beautifully. As an Indian living in South India, if I need to add any points, I can do very little. Hats Off!

    And wishes for a happy and safe trip to India!

    Sampath

  35. It was great to read a very detailed guide to travel in India from a different point of view. Being an Indian in India, reading the post was eye opening to me. Thank you for such a detailed description.

  36. To all travellers.
    I did a e-visa application in decmeber 2015. I was charged twice and it is impossible to have a refund. At the helpdesk I am asked to make an email with my credit card voucher, and when I make an email with all the proofs, they ask me to call the callcenter. But no refund is done since then (we are now 5 months later !). And no help from the local Ambassy in Brussels. Does someone had te same problem in the past ? And how was it solved ?

    • Hi Peter,

      Sorry you had this experience. Indian bureaucracy can be a nightmare. Unfortunately I don’t know if you will be able to resolve it at this points… :(

      All the best,

      Asher.

  37. Hi, Asher! Brilliantly captured advice! As a travel writer and inter-cultural adviser for expats relocating to India I could relate to it perfectly. Most of it is spot on. It would be good to connect further. Cheers! Bindu

    • Hi Bindu!

      Glad you liked it and think that it’s accurate. Feel free to contact me if you want to connect.

      All the best,

      Asher.

  38. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this! I’ve travelled extensively, but you just never know what you might have missed when you’re in a new country. You answered pretty much every question I had, including whether I should’ve shook hands when I arrived (I didn’t, just to be safe) and what sort of mark up I should expect when bargaining. When they start at 2000, I’m scared I’ll offend if I counter with 50, so you’ve put my mind at ease. Thanks!

    • Hi Liezl,

      Great! I hope you get some good deals – Indian’s are the best negotiators on the planet! If they smile after the transaction then you know they still made money 😉

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  39. well explained, liked it as I am planning my first trip to India at the end of this year.
    Cheers

  40. every country got scammer. nothing special about India, Singapore is the worse.

  41. I am planning to go India, but I was hit by a stroke 2 weeks before my trip to Kashmir. Indian Airline did refund me some money. Now I could not walk much. I got a budget to a walk, for only 1/2 hour a day. After that I am tired and my legs are loose.

  42. Hey! Really great job with collecting and putting all together! Many many pieces of advice esp on food and water etc are
    However I would like to give separate opinion on “comments and responses” front. While going through all of them I would need to say that I started having an impression that some comments – responses sound like comparing and bragging on who lived longer where or who travelled more places and paid less/more for hotel with or without toilet paper. Who learned more sanscrit or visited cheaper places after meditation. Seems after 10 days of sitting boy we want to talk That is true anyway just why would one want to prove another something different anyway. Everyone has their own experience finding toilet paper after all

  43. oh sh….sorry…the smiley faces did not appear in my previous message (smile) where they had to be…oh well…let them disappear.
    I also wanted to say that advice about mafia existing in India is very helpful. I really did not suspect about that. Thanks

    • Yes, it’s important to be aware that the mafia does exist in India and to have your wits about you especially in big cities such as Delhi and Mumbai.

  44. what a lovely post it is… I am glad with some of them points are listed in the points. I like this post very much…

  45. Hi, my friend and I have been travelling India for the past 5 days. So far we have visited Delhi and are currently on our second night in Agra. Since being in Agra, for both evening meals we have ordered curry and have felt very ‘spaced out’ after eating this, exactly the feeling you would get if you were high or had taken truffles (lasts about an hour) At first we thought we had been spiked after the first night as the empty restaurant seemed a little dodgy. However after eating a different meal at our 5 star hotel the following night, we had the exact same feeling. Do you know anything that would cause this or have any advice? Thank! (It’s only happened in Agra so far, all meals in Delhi were completely fine)

    • Hi Katherine,

      I’m guessing it might be MSG or some other kind of food additive. My wife has experienced a similar thing at a Thai restaurant in the US and said it sounds exactly like what you’re describing. I believe some people are allergic to MSG and that’s what causes the “space” or “high” experience.

      Hope this helps and have fun on your trip!

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  46. India also have many cultures around it based on the places, I think you are visited around north india places. The south culture will varied from that.

  47. Hi!!!
    I read your advices and every post… I enjoyed a lot, and i wish you write some more :)

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