India is a huge country, not only in size, the 7th largest in the world, but also in population, 1.3 billion, ranking them only a few millions short of China. Those numbers alone can be enough to scare off some travelers, but those willing to take the plunge are rewarded with an unforgettable tour of ancient history, divine cuisine, cheap prices and a landscape that has something for everyone! Notice, we didn’t even mention one of the seven wonders of the world! That’s a glimpse at how much this quickly growing country has to offer visitors of all ages and budgets.
While India should be on everyone’s travel list, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some potential pitfalls and potholes to watch out for. Thankfully, we are well versed in the mind-blowing culture that is India and have put together a list of tips and advice that will help you explore the country whose nicknames for cities include “Land of Black Diamond” and “Golden City of India.” Oh yeah, and don’t forget you need an Indian visa.
Adjust Your Expectations
Many times when people undertake an adventure to a foreign land, they become so excited by the variety of different cities, sights and must do tours that they bite off more than they can chew. Inevitably, that leads to long travel days, innumerable flights, tours, hotels, taxis and markets, all of which become one exhausting blur. When you do finally get home, you feel as if you need another vacation to recover from the one you just took.
India is the quintessential example of that. Remember the country is massive! Unless you are planning on spending months there, it is not physically possible to see it all in a single trip. Enjoy yourself, take an extra two or three days in a city and plan for a couple days with little or no scheduled activities. Trust us; you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the places you do visit, without wearing yourself out. Navigating foreign countries is more stressful than people realize.
Find Some Countryside.
We get it: cities are really cool with hubs of nightlife, historical sights, infectious energy and unlimited options. That is hard to turn down. However, to see the true India, you’ve got to escape the concrete jungles. Leaving the cities behind will not only give you a glimpse into the India of old but it will also give you some breathing space, as the metropolitan areas lack elbow room.
Know What You Want & Plan Accordingly
As we’ve established, India is large and the variety of all there is to see boggles the mind. Therefore, it’s key to choose what interests you most. For some, the bevy of religious sites such as the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Sun Temple in Konark and much much more are ‘can’t miss’. For others, the trekking of Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh and Manali are too much to pass up. Perhaps beaches and coastal party towns are your thing. The point is India has so much to offer; it makes sense to choose what you like and go after it.
Be sure to do your research. Hiking in the summer, when temperatures flirt with triple digits and the humidity is 90% might be a poor choice. The same is true in seeking fun in the sun during monsoon season. Each part of the country has an ideal time of year to visit; take that into account when planning your trip.
Protect Your Belly
While dressing conservatively in a religious country is a good idea, this has nothing to do with that. Living in the United States comes with so many benefits, preparing your stomach for the rigors of the third world is not one of them. Arriving at the airport and grabbing a delicious smelling curry from a street vendor is a recipe for disaster. No one wants to pray to the porcelain god on their vacation.
Don’t drink the tap water. Don’t eat fruits or any food that’s been washed in it. Salad and soups are to be considered suspect unless you’re sure the restaurant has taken proper precautions for the sensitive American stomach. The street food in India is amazing and worth a try, just give your digestive system a few days before diving in head first. Also, be prepared with pills in the chance that your tummy takes a beating.
India is a truly amazing country, worthy of all the hype and excitement within the travel industry. Yet, despite its growing popularity that doesn’t mean you’re taking a weekend trip to Vegas. Do your research, be prepared and use India Visa to square away your vital paperwork.