India, as a destination, tends to divide the opinion of travellers. Some individuals will instantly be drawn towards the beautiful traditions and spiritual practices, decadent architecture or ancient landscapes. On the other hand, some might perceive India to be too overwhelming or intense.
If you’re unsure about travelling to India, we’ve crafted an honest, fluff-free guide to help alleviate any concerns you might have. While we firmly believe that that yes, of course, you should visit India (because it’s amazing), we understand that it’s not for everybody. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to do our best to dissuade more significant deterrents.
|Population||1.324 billion (2016)|
What kind of traveller is India suited for?
First of all, it’s important to determine why you might want to visit India. Are you looking for a cultural shock? A food tour or culinary adventure? A spiritual awakening? A beach retreat? The choice is yours.
Before we go any further, it’s worth noting that India will definitely throw you a few curve balls. For anyone considering the journey, just make sure you are prepared to expect the unexpected. You might find that your overnight bus from Goa to Kochi doesn’t turn up or gets cancelled at the last minute, which may result in an Amazing Race-style dash to the airport instead. If this happens, just stay calm as it will always work out.
If you’re willing to adopt a relaxed attitude to India’s unpredictable and wild nature, then go for it. Book that flight! If you’re still uncertain, keep on reading – we’ve got your back.
As a traveler it is the variety I love, we have high mountains, beaches, desert and everything in between! And colors too. I can keep traveling for lifetime in India and never get bored of it! India requires patience, it also requires doing some amount of prior research so that you know what to expect! It requires time due to its sheer size. I think any type of traveler can enjoy India other than who wants everything orderly! – Mridula, Travel Tales from India
How do I get around India?
Depending on your travel style, you could join a group tour to save the hassle of mapping out your journey from A to B. Or, if you’re travelling independently, most people will find that local transport is fairly easy to navigate.
- Domestic flights: Often inexpensive and serviced by trustworthy airlines, air travel is a great option if you’re short on time in India.
- Car: Best to steer away from driving independently due to the frantic traffic and complicated road signs. A more popular (and safe) choice would be to enlist the help of a private driver to travel between cities.
- Bus: The bus network will allow you to travel to most destinations at a low price. Just keep in mind that the time schedule is not strictly adhered to and if possible, allow extra time to complete your journey in the event of a small delay.
- Train: Tickets are mostly inexpensive and offer varying levels of comforts. Take your pick from a sleeper cabin or an upright passenger seat. Just be cautious of booking last minute during national holidays in India as most trains will be booked out weeks in advance.
As a solo traveller, I got the opportunity to meet culturally diverse people while travelling from the southern part of the country to the northern part. I saw similar ideologies masked in a distinct presentation change every 3-4 hours as I travelled by train through my journey. I realized that the diverse culture of India has marked its presence everywhere I go which is something that I love the most about my country.
India is a country of mountain ranges that extend beyond imagination. The Great Himalayas are the most spectacular mountains in the world offering treks that will fill every adventurer’s soul with the utmost excitement. India is a country for those who are looking to experience a lifetime of exhilarating and adventurous mountaineering while enjoying the freedom of travelling in a beautiful country. – Aakash, Aakash Ranison
What is the food like in India?
Prepare your stomach for a culinary adventure filled with sizzling curries, lentils galore and hundreds of spices. With each region offering their own unique twist, it’s safe to say that no two mouthfuls will be the same. For the vegan and vegetarian foodies out there, you will be pleased to know that a significant portion of the population does not eat meat (nearly 30% of Indians consider themselves vegetarian). This means there is a wide range of veggie-friendly food.
Note: In India, food hygiene is not treated with the same level of care that you might be familiar with back home, and foodborne illnesses are common. Steer clear of meat products where possible to prevent any stomach discomfort or illness.
My favourite thing about India is undoubtedly the food. The sheer range and intense flavours of the different localized dishes make your average chicken tikka masala look drab and dull. South Indian curries made with coconut milk, crispy samosas served hot and fresh from a street vendor in Mumbai, or Rajasthani lentil koftas are all must-tastes when travelling through India.Anyone who takes themselves too seriously probably won’t enjoy their time in India. The ideal traveller needs to be able to ‘roll with the punches’, and not get too hung up on schedules or perfection. India is messy, disorganized and frustrating as hell sometimes, but that’s also what gives it its charm and makes it such a different place to visit. Smile, relax and know how to share a joke with the locals, and you’ll have the time of your life. – Hayley, A life of more
Do I need a visa for India?
According to Project Visa, everyone except citizens of Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives need to apply for a visa before arriving in India. Make sure you do your research before you travel and contact your local embassy to avoid causing any hiccups.
How much time do I need in India?
Most people will say that you could travel to India for a lifetime and barely scratch the surface. If you’re unable to dedicate an entire lifetime to your Indian exploits, there are many short tours you could join for just three days or up to 90-days for an immersive, in-depth experience. Choose a starting point, and take the time to explore the surrounding areas thoroughly. We suggest at least seven days to truly get a taste of India.
If you’re more flexible with your time constraints, aim for two weeks or more as there is so much to see and do in India.
How much money will I need to take to India?
Most blogs and travel guides will advise that India is relatively budget-friendly. Take a look at the Lonely Planet money guide and currency converter here to map out your budget.
Is India Safe? Should I Travel Solo?
As with any country, it pays to stay alert and keep your wits about you when travelling. India is most definitely safe to travel solo however this depends on your confidence levels when moving through busy cities and navigating challenging environments or situations. In some parts, English or your native language might not be available. Take note of local emergency numbers, carry a portable phone charger and avoid unfamiliar neighbourhoods at night to stay on the safe side.
Personally, India is like having a whole world in one place. There are so many parts that make up this extraordinary country and each corner of it is so unique. Urban India is fast paced where modernization is rapidly spreading, then you travel to the North and get spiritual ancient cities like Varanasi. Down South you will discover the laid back vibes Goa and the quiet rural villages of Kerala. Spiritually it is the same; in South of India you will find 17th century Catholic churches, Hindu Temples make up central India and Northern India you will reveal some of the largest Buddhist pilgrimages in the world.The best suited type of traveler for India would be someone who would like to experience a complete culture exchange as there is no country like it. I also believe it holds the answers for those who are searching for something spiritual. – Lisa & Liza, Soul Drifters
Activities in India
- Visit the Taj Mahal
Built in the 17th century, this beautiful marble mausoleum exists as one of the many architectural icons of India.
- Ride a bike through the rocks and ruins of Hampi
Surrounded by masses of rock formations and boulders as far as the eye can see, the ancient city of Hampi can be explored on foot, or on a bike.
- Cruise along the backwaters of Kerala
Characterized by canals and lagoons that run parallel to the Arabian Sea, be sure to make time to explore this famous area accompanied by a local guide and learn about the cultural importance of Kerala.
- Walk through the streets of Varanasi
Considered to be one of the oldest cities in the world, Varanasi sits on the bank of the Ganges and is also seen to be the spiritual capital of India.
- Experience the magic of the Holi Festival
The ancient festival marks the arrival of spring and is celebrated with deeply spiritual traditions along with the throwing of coloured powder.
- Relax at the beaches in Goa
Take time away from the frenzied cities of India and enjoy time in Goa at the beaches of Anjuna, Palolem and Patnem.
- Explore the peaks of the north
Go further north and set your eyes on the Himalayan region of India for incredible peaks.
Are you satisfied with our to guide to the help answer the question “Should I visit India?” Share with us in the comments below your best travel tips for India.