For most of the people visiting India, especially the first time, it’s the experience like taking off a heavy winter coat, and discovering that it’s summer. There are plenty of useful and detailed travel guides that will tell you where to go, what to see, they will provide general knowledge about geography, economy, places of interest. I’m very much not into copying and repeating whatever is already available. Here, you can find practical information about India in a nutshell, just to prepare yourself a little and not to get shock immediately after arriving. India step by step most welcome.
Let’s have a look at things you might find useful getting ready for new country, for new culture and new adventure! If you are curious about other tips about India itself, please visit THIS LINK as well.
Temperatures and climate
India is diversified. Don’t expect to be sunny all the time with whole year summer… it’s not that easy 🙂 From desert to jungle, from flat surface to mountains. From sea to lakes. From North to South. Climate changes from city to city and depends on the month of the year. We can say, India has 3 main seasons of the year: winter, summer and monsoon (rainy season). The best time to travel is its winter, from mid-November to March (unless we include in out plans highland areas in Kashmir, Sikkim, Ladakh and northern Asam, where temperatures are low).
Very hot summer begins in March-April. It is particularly burdensome in Rajasthan, where temperatures exceed 40 ° C in shade, and Kerala, Goa and Tamil Nadu considerably get increase in air humidity. This is the best time to escape into the higher areas of northern India and the Western Ghats.
The rainy season begins in May around Bangalore, Goa and Mumbai. The Ghats block the monsoon access to the south-east coast, so it is slightly drier and still suitable for travel. Highest precipitation is recorded in July, after which it weakens and generally ceases at the end of September and beginning of October. The autumn monsoon in eastern India brings less rain, but it is accompanied by cyclones especially in the Bay of Bengal.
Currency, credit cards
The local currency in India is Indian Rupees (INR), sometimes it is difficult to get it in smaller exchange offices in your home country, it is easier to buy US dollars or Euro and exchange it here in India after landing. At the airport, a relatively high commission fee will be included so the best place to exchange the money is the exchange office, bank, hotel reception or visit Thomas Cook branch. It is also worth remembering that at the end of 2016, 500 INR and 1000 INR banknotes were withdrawn, a new 500 INR was introduced and a 2000 INR banknote was added – if you have any of these banknotes from your previous trips – then keep this as a souvenir now.
230 V, three-pin plugs. More luxurious hotels have access to the plugs that are used in Europe – but in general I recommend to get yourself a connector.
a few hints on dresses
- bright colors, especially white clothes are pretty not much functional here,
- best to wear clothing made of light and fast drying fabrics, eg cotton;
- depending on where we are in India (especially in south of India), there may be no possibility of wearing short skirt, neckline or shorts if we do not want to end up with obscene comments.
Traffic / driving in India
Traffic here is left-handed. International driving license is required if you are interested in riding on your own. Hierarchy here might be no that obvious for first time travelers 🙂 – first cow, later by size, the bigger you are, the more privileged you are: bus, truck, car, bike, bicycle, pedestrian…. who should have his eyes around his head, because crossing the other side of the street can be bothersome!
Negotiation and bargaining
Make sure to watch out for guides who encourage you to visit shops allegedly belonging to their family and friends. The prices are several times higher than on local bazaars. Much higher prices also have restaurants during the tour, where the driver of our car / bus stops. For the same goods we pay 2-10 times less honest dealer.
- Insects: Due to the tropical climate, there are many insects available in India. What I want to highlight that they are responsible for around 205,000 deaths per year. In addition, they spread the diseases like Dengue, Malaria and more recently the Zika virus. Nuisance mosquitoes bother people around homes or in parks and recreational areas so get some insect repellent handy.
- Safety: Small padlocks that we can lock in a backpack, tightly closed purses or sachets that can be worn around the neck or around the waist. Such small trifles can effectively discourage theft. If, however, such caution is not enough – a reasonable and relatively inexpensive way is to insure our luggage before departure. Both from theft and loss. More: about safe traveling in India.
- Drinking water and eating food:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before eating (if water and soap are not available, use gels, wipes with disinfectant),
- Drink just bottled or boiled water,
- Avoid drinking ice of unknown origin,
- Avoid street food,
- Avoid dairy products if we are not sure whether they were pasteurized
- Bottles: first of all – check whether the bottle is originally twisted, because people here often reuse bottles to resell them, and pour the tap water that might not be healthy for your stomach. You have to drink a lot in India to dilute spicy foods and facilitate digestion.
- Overpopulation, however, involves the risk of getting sick – bacteria and viruses spread very quickly. Watch out for basic hygiene daily, best – twice per day.
There’s no denying that travelling to India can be a huge culture shock, especially on your first visit. It’s a huge diversified country, with non stop traffic, non stop noise, expressive tastes, crowded places, India has it all!
India is one of the most fascinating destinations to visit but on the other side, it can also be pretty frustrating, especially for the first time travelers. Once you get used to the country, trust me it does get a lot easier. Or is there anyone who has similar – or different – experience? hints? tips? for first time travelers to India?
Photo source: Pixabay