What to know for a trip to India

Who I am
Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

India is definitely one of those magical and mysterious places that attracts all types of travelers. Its ancient history, the archaeological sites and magnificent palaces of Rajasthan, the varied landscapes that range from the northern desert to the southern beaches, the chaos of modern metropolises such as Mumbai and New Delhi, the spirituality that reigns in Varanasi, the tropical forests and the villages along the rivers of Kerala, and finally, the towering peaks of the Himalayas. Without forgetting the bright colors and spicy flavors of his cuisine.

In short, India is one of those places that manages to fulfill everyone's dreams, giving unforgettable sensations. But it is not an easy journey, especially from an introspective and psychological point of view; in fact, no one comes back without a wealth of questions.

Here is a list of useful tips to better prepare a trip to India.


  1. Best time
  2. Required documents
  3. How many days
  4. How to dress and what to bring
  5. To see
  6. Getting around
  7. What to book in advance
  8. Accomodation
  9. Where to eat
  10. How much
  11. How to pay
  12. Safety
  13. Useful advice and rules of conduct
  14. User questions and comments

Best time

For a complete tour or for classic Rajasthan (the popular destination for most tourists especially for the first time in India), then it is perfect our winter. The period that goes from November to February it corresponds in fact to the cool and dry season: morning and evening it is quite cold and there may even be fog; during the day, however, the temperatures rise but are not torrid and allow you to visit the various attractions with ease.

Considering the vastness and the great variety of landscapes present in the country, in India they are remarkable climatic differences from one region to another.
In principle they recognize each other three seasons: a hot and muggy summer (from March to the end of May), the monsoon season (from June to the end of October) and a cool and sunny winter (from November to the end of February).
Very interesting to happen in India in March, during theHoli Festival, the famous festival of colors; as well as between October and November for the Diwali, the 5-day Festival of Lights. In January, Bikaner hosts the Bikaner Camel Festival, a colorful festival dedicated to camels in the Rajasthan desert.

Required documents

Passport with residual validity of at least six months upon arrival.

Entry visa. It has been possible to request it since April 2017 Online.
there two main types of visa Online: standard tourist visa (sticker that is affixed to the passport and which guarantees the traveler freedom of movement and fewer restrictions than the E-Visa) and E-Visa (electronic entry permit), for tourism purposes only and is affixed by Indian government officials upon arrival in the state.
To obtain the visa you need: passport with at least six months of residual validity from the date of entry into India and two blank pages + 2 passport photos in color on a white background measuring 5 cm x 5 cm. Release times: at least 10 working days. Costs: € 53,00 or € 75,00 if through agencies or ufficiovisti.it.

Upon entering the country it is necessary to show: return ticket, sufficient resources to cover the stay, copy of the hotel reservation and the tour of India divided into stages (if you reside with a private individual, copy of the invitation letter in English and of the valid identity document or visa of the host).

How many days

  • Minimum travel time: at least 10 days (flight excluded)
  • Recommended duration of the trip: at least 15 days (flight excluded)

How to dress and what to bring

In winter: mid-season clothes in natural and breathable fabric: light for the day, warm jacket and warm sweater for evening and morning, hat and scarf for colder evenings and mornings.
Comfortable shoes for a lot of walking, closed for the dirt on the street and easy to put on (ideal the types without laces); they are continually removed to enter temples and to walk in sacred areas (eg along the Ganges and around sacred lakes). Precisely for the latter reason it is good to bring many pairs of socks to throw away at the end of the day.

Tr the things to bring remember: mosquito repellent (even in the dry season!); electrical adapter; first aid kit for minor inconveniences, medicines that you usually take and disinfectant for intestinal disorders; sunglasses, sunscreen, hat; hand sanitizer wipes and / or gel.

To see

The first time in India there is often a tendency to take a week-long tour de force to discover the so-called "Golden Triangle". The cities included in this tour are Delhi, the capital; Jaipur, , the Pink City, capital of Rajasthan and land of the Maharajas ed Agra with the famous Taj Mahal, one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

If you have more time, or for a second time in India we suggest you explore Rajasthan better. Unmissable Jodhpur, the Blue City; the romantic Udaipur and the baby Pushkar with the sacred lake; the Jaisalmer desert and temples with erotic depictions of Khajuraho.
Other alternatives are to go into the region ofOrissa, in the eastern part of the country, to get to know its tribes and touch "strong" cities like Calcutta; explore the south among colorful temples, wild nature and a little relaxation by the sea a Goa.

From any region, a convenient internal connection by air allows you to reach the mystical area of Varanasi , where at least a couple of days are recommended to live very touching and suggestive experiences. Event as fascinating as it is spiritual is the Kumbh Mela and is held once every 12 years.

  • If you are visiting the destination for the first time: "Golden Triangle" (Dehli, Jaipur, Agra)
  • If you are returning to the destination: Rajasthan (Jodhpur, Udaipur, Pushkar, Jaisalmer, Khajuraho); Varanasi; Orissa (Vishakapatnam, Rayagada, Similiguda, Chilka lake, Raghurajpur, Calcutta); South (Kerala, Pondicherry, Goa, Tanjore, Trichy, Madurai Cochin)

Getting around

For long distances, the most comfortable, quick and fairly economical choice is the internal flight (e.g. Dehli-Varanasi starting from € 35,00, 50 min flight). Many local airlines: Spicejet, Vistara, IndiGo, Jet Airways, Go Air.

To explore the individual regions, the most convenient option and which, in the end, also turns out to be advantageous from a quality / price point of view is rent a car with driver. You can enjoy the trip in total serenity while admiring the beauty of the landscape between one trip and another (average of € 35,00 / 40,00 per day per car).
The rental is not available: Indian roads are constantly invaded by animals, people and all kinds of vehicles!

Trains and buses they are certainly more indigenous and economic experiences; however, factors such as delays, delays in travel and hygienic conditions must be taken into consideration (eg Dehli-Varanasi by bus or train requires an average of 6 hours of travel, € 5,00).

For the train, tickets must always be booked at least a few days in advance; choice of 8 classes. For buses there are 2 types of tickets: the armchair or the couchette (sleepers). No sheets, pillows or blankets.

What to book in advance

The intercontinental flight it is certainly the first thing to book months in advance, especially if you plan to stay in high season and to find rates that are, as far as possible, quite cheap.

At least a couple of months before departure, also book any internal flights.

If you want to rely on a local driver / agency, contact them months before from Italy to arrange itineraries, services and fees.

Pre-book also the structures in which you will stay.

Consiglio: often the local agencies, in addition to the driver, also provide the hotel booking service, internal flights and any excursions (cruises on the lake, ascent with elephant to the Amber Fort, boat ride on the Ganges etc ...). This option, in the end, turns out to be advantageous from all points of view: both for the convenience of the "all inclusive" and for the economic side as, even before leaving, you will know the total flat rate that you are going to spend (except meals, individual admissions to be paid locally, tips and personal expenses).


Important premise: the quality level of Indian accommodation facilities is not like ours. If you want a good hotel (not luxury), never go below 4 stars (compare hotels and b & bs starting from € 8,00 per room)

The country proposes one wide range of facilities accommodation for all types of travelers.
They range from budget hostels for a few hundred rupees, especially suitable for backpackers and princely hotels.

Where possible, we suggest staying in the characteristic havelis, ancient merchants' homes, built between the th and th centuries, now transformed into a hotel.

Same variety of typology and price also in the south. EcoLodges are very popular, but there is no shortage of luxurious resorts where you can be pampered with Ayurvedic massages, until the Spartans hunts on the beaches.

Lately, the concept of "guesthouses", B & Bs, "homestays" has also been developing which, in addition to the comfort of a medium-level accommodation facility, offer the possibility of coming into direct contact with the local culture.

Where to eat

Indian cuisine is mostly vegetarian. The only meat available is chicken; the fish is found in the south in the seaside resorts. Non-existent cow and pork meat.
Remember that the food is always very spicy and spicy. Always say "No Spicy and No hot".

Among the places to eat there is a wide choice. Street-food and humble places usually frequented by Indians are cheap but we do not recommend them due to the questionable hygienic conditions.
On the other hand, in a restaurant of good quality, with a western style in terms of decor and atmosphere, with tablecloths and cutlery, it costs around € 7,00 / € 8,00 per person.

in larger cities there is no shortage of proposals for international cuisine (Italian, Chinese, Thai) and fast-food.

Omnipresent on the menus: Dosa and Samosa (appetizer), biryani rice seasoned with vegetables, spices or chicken, Dal Makhni with lentils, Palak paneer (spinach and cheese).
Thali is a true complete meal served on a single tray.
The bread that has countless names depending on how it is baked or seasoned is delicious. The most popular type is naan, cooked in the tandoori oven, and which can be flavored with "chees naan" cheese, onions or spices.

How much

  • Cost of flights and travel: € 700,00 / 800,00 return flight (); € 35,00 per day for a driver at your disposal (price per car, not per person)
  • Cost accomodation: hostels and guest-houses € 7,00, hotel vouchers € 35,00 / 40,00, luxury hotels € 120,00 ()
  • Minimum daily budget for meals and attractions: € 40,00 per person, considering lunch and dinner in a good restaurant and a couple of attractions for a fee

How to pay

The local currency is the Indian Rupee, € 1,00 = HI 82,22.

It is recommended that you bring some cash (euros or dollars) but don't overdo it. Both coins are easily exchanged: banks, travel agencies, hotels, change money are the best places to change money. Airport exchange rates are always inexpensive; upon arrival, change the minimum necessary to reach your hotel.

The ATM is the best option, safer, more convenient and, for this reason, the most used among travelers. Consider a commission of 100-200 rupees (approximately € 1,20 / 2,40) per transaction, in addition to any fees from your bank (to contact before leaving). Rely on private sector bank branches such as HDFC, Axis, ICICI, IndusInd, Kotak, Yes or CitiBank. ATMs in India pay out a maximum of 10.000 rupees per transaction (approximately € 140,00).

Credit Cards are rarely accepted, except for large cities and luxury hotels and restaurants.

It is not allowed to import Indian currency into India, let alone export it.


India is certainly not one of the quietest destinations. The inhabitants are very shrewd and, therefore, it is good to explore it with someone from the place, not necessarily a group trip, but also simply contact a local tour operator who will provide you with a driver.

Maximum vigilance is recommended on the means of transport, on the beaches and in the tourist places: they are frequent episodes of petty crime and violence.

High terrorism risk: maximum alert in highly frequented places (markets, public transport, stations, places of worship, events and any other type of gathering, international chain hotels, shopping centers ...).

The monsoon season (from May to September) regularly causes victims and traffic problems. Verify the climatic and road conditions, as well as health conditions, given that floods favor the spread of diseases.

Border areas to avoid: state of Jammu & Kashmir (except Ladakh), Punjab, Kashmir Valley.
Keep up to date on the official website of the Farnesina.

Useful advice and rules of conduct

  1. To introduce yourself, simply join hands and say "Namastè".
  2. When he introduces himself, men must never shake a woman's hand.
  3. Women must dress appropriately, with shoulders and legs covered. Prefer loose clothing so as not to highlight the shape of the body.
  4. Avoid wearing the local dress, the saree, as it could be offensive.
  5. Always take off your shoes to enter temples, visit sacred places (eg ghats) and enter private homes.
  6. Women who smoke or drink alcohol are considered prostitutes.
  7. Never eat with your left hand, which is used only for personal hygiene, never eat from other people's plates or crockery.
  8. Blow your nose into a handkerchief without being seen. For Indians it is normal to "snare on the ground"; blowing your nose on a handkerchief and putting it back in your pocket is considered dirty.
  9. Do not touch or point to people or statues with your feet as they are considered the impure part of the body.
  10. Avoid climbing over people sitting on the ground.
  11. Wrath and anger manifested too excessively are perceived negatively. In whatever situation you find yourself, never lose your smile: it will be the best way to get what you want.
  12. No to effusions in public. Don't hug and hold hands in the street, especially if you are of the opposite sex. Kisses in public are even prohibited by law.
  13. No to cavalry. Offering to help or giving a seat on the bus to a woman, like other forms of kindness and chivalry, can be considered an insult.
  14. India is a homophobic country and all sexuality is still a taboo subject. Homosexuality is considered a crime and is punished by the law; however, two men can hold hands as they stroll around in conversation.
  15. Do not take Indian rupees out of India, as it is considered illegal.
  16. Travel / health insurance: recommended.

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