With 10 million people traveling to India last year, an increase in 14 percent – you don’t want to be the only one who hasn’t made the trek to the beautiful and exotic land of the subcontinent.
But, before you pack your bags, there are some travel essential for India that are unlike other countries. Here’s what we found that will make your stay unique and filled with adventure!
If you’re planning to travel to India for less than two months (60 days), you will need to apply for a visa and can do so online. If you have the incorrect visa, they may not let you in (or out!) of the country.
For an American traveling to India, your passport must be valid for at least six months after returning home or you could encounter problems at customs. The Indian government has a website for electronic generation of your visa. Make sure you have it, as well as a scanned image of it sent to yourself electronically. Send one to your emergency contact, too.
You’ve got your passport and your visa – what more could you possibly need? When traveling to India, make sure you leave room in your suitcase to bring home some presents for friends and yourself.
Veteran travelers recommend packing light for India, because you will certainly want to shop while you are visiting. From trips to Bangalore to spending weeks in Delhi, some of the world’s most beautiful trinkets and textiles can be found in India.
If you really want to see India, avoid the major tourist traps. Plan some adventuresome travel around the country, or spend some time on the lesser-known beaches in the South (anywhere but Goa). If you’re going to be visiting after Christmas, the frozen river of Zanskar is a hidden gem and commonly unknown favorite.
Make sure you don’t skip one of the wonders of the world, and the UNESCO Heritage Site: The Taj Mahal. Take the trip to Agra, former capital of India and home to generations of rulers, and see the stunning palace in all its glory.
The architectural wonder is a symbol of great love between an emperor and his queen, who died in childbirth. It’s said the two couldn’t bear to be apart. After the queen died, the emperor spent 14 years having the beautiful white marble palace built.
Be sure you abide by the strict security rules at the Taj Mahal. You cannot usually bring videography equipment, though cameras and phones are allowed at one per person. Large bags are not permitted, and acting respectfully is required.
Akbar’s Tomb is also nearby, and you don’t want to miss that, either.
India is known for its large bugs, including mosquitos. Depending on where you’ve traveled before, you may have to have a malaria vaccination before being able to enter the country. Vaccinations are recommended by the United States Department of State.
Mosquito nets are also not uncommon sites. If you have room for one in your backpack, you might want to pack it.
You can visit Bangalore, spend a month in Delhi, and languish for weeks on the beaches of Goa – and you still haven’t seen a fraction of what India has to offer. Think about where you want to go, and consider traveling to India more than once.
It’s really the only way to feel like you haven’t missed out. They don’t call it Incredible India for no reason!
The railway system in India is one of the best ways to see the magnificent countryside while moving from place to place. Kalka to Shimla is one of the most beautiful train rides in the entire world. You’ll pass through the Himalayas and some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet.
The Konkan railway route winds along the Konkan coast, which connects Thokur in Karnataka to Roha in Maharashtra. This jungle route is infamous for its 91 tunnels and 2,000 bridges. Sights, sounds, and even smells will delight you your entire way.
Watch out, though. You’ll need to make sure your stuff is secure. A padlock for your baggage might be best.
You’ll also need to look out for sharp curves and winding roads. Bridges, tunnels, and bumpy rides are not uncommon on Indian trains. Enjoy the experience, and take some motion sickness medication if you’ve got a weak stomach.
India can be a difficult place to be a woman, and sometimes solo women travelers prefer to hang in groups.
For other travelers, respectful dress and actions are expected. While you might think you’re getting away with it, uncouth etiquette can make you stick out like a sore thumb.
Always be deferent and polite. There’s no need to be defensive, and you’ll get along much better with locals if you start off with a smile on your face!
And we do mean all of it. From kati rolls to masala, you’ll want to try your hand at all the street food and restaurants you can.
Cuisine and spices will differ by region, but you can be sure that everything you taste will be a feast for the senses. If you have a weak stomach or don’t like exotic spices, traveling to India may not be best for you.
Make a trip to India is a wonderful time to push your gastronomic limits. And if you don’t like it, feel free to stick to jasmine or basmati rice. You can get full from the long-grained dishes, but make sure to get a side of naan bread with rock salt. Yum!
Traveling to India is sure to change your life. You simply can’t visit and not be moved.
Learn more about the personality of India through its beautiful colors and rich cultural tapestry: read this essay on exploring the essence of India.