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Gina from Minneapolis asked

First time to India - what do I need to know?

What is the one thing you wish you knew before visiting India for the first time?


9 Answers
top answer by
Anamika from Birmingham, United Kingdom

Don't listen to anyone on the street or in a train station that is "just helping" because they're probably not. Unfortunately a lot of people (even those who seem official) are just trying to make a quick buck out of tourists, so you have to be very cautious.

Only ask your hostel or hotel staff for directions, and try to work out how you need to get to your destination before setting out.

You can visit my page for more practical information on the country's transport, food, accommodation India in a nutshell

India is a country that can make you very paranoid to the point where you start questioning honest people, but it is excellent travel training as it makes you sharper when you're anywhere else in the world!

Enjoy beautiful Bharat!

Comments (2)

A comment which can be classified as dishonest. I agree with you but you have exaggerated a little too much.

"Officials" have tried to stop me from getting on a train in Delhi to take me to a different agency a number of times and other tourists I met during a month in India had the exact same problem! Coincidence? I'm not exaggerating - it's the harsh truth that you need to be wise when travelling in India (and I have the advantage of being Indian myself). If you are from India and look Indian it's a different experience, but for most of us that's unfortunately not the case!
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answered first by
Bharti from Mumbai

You'd wish that you had known how extremely chaotic and crowded India is. Also dirty and polluted. Makes me sad to say these things about my country but that's the truth. India is not for the faint-hearted. That said, the charm of this country lies in the chaos. 

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answered by
chethana from Hyderabad


Make sure u know and are aware of all malarial procedures! Please do not eat randomly on the road the food is oh so good by most tourists cannot handle the road food! Also don't get freaked out by the crowds it is a bit overwhelming but if u can handle it there is a different beauty about India. Hope this helps! It is an experience of a life time

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answered by
Pamela from New Canaan, Connecticut
  1. Water - don’t ingest, under any circumstances.  (Brush teeth with bottled water.)
  2. Ice - self-explanatory. (See above.)
  3. Salad greens - may have been washed in water, or, if not washed, harboring bacteria.
  4. Raw fresh fruit or vegetables. (Same reason as above.)
  5. Street food. (It’s tempting, but usually best not to risk it.)
  6. Dress modestly.  (No shorts and tank tops, arms covered in temples.)
  7. In India, you will see the most stunningly beautiful and the most horrifying sights all at once.  Soak it all in, and immerse yourself. 
  8. Finally, yes means yes, but also sometimes no.

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. India (attraction)
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answered by
varun from India

One thing that you need to know before you visit India is you will fall in love with India and will come again and again. So carry yourself carefully because India is full of diversity and each culture offers different language,food,habits,etc. So take care of yourself. 

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answered by
Saurabh from Jaipur

Hello Gina, 

You already have so many answers which are really helpful, I would like to suggest you few things which are also going to help you. 

  1. Program : decide how many nights you want to spend during your sojourn. Then design the program, like ( 7 days then just Delhi + AgraJaipur) (10 days then DelhiAgraJaipur + Jodhpur + Udaipur) like wise. 
  2. Most Important for devising the itinerary : because of lack of knowledge usually travelers back trek the itinerary or waste time in inter city journeys hence take Trippy help repetitively and the members can give you input. (trust me i have seen people facing problem on routing)
  3. Various transport like Road + Air + Train available depending upon the travelers budget and time choose wisely. overnight trains + reputed taxi services and affordable flight connections   
  4. Geography : for travelers India is divided into North Delhi Agra Khajuraho Varanasi Rajasthan Manali Shimla Amritsar and wildlife of Madhya Pradesh THEN South Kerala Tamil Nadu Karnataka MumbaiGoa very less westerners go to East India Sikkim Kolkata Arunachal Pradesh Assam       
  5. then essential medication and vaccination before coming to India
  6. Safety : as soon as you will arrive at international airport you will get helping hands god knows from where but a straight look with strong NO will help you but keep in mind that they are stubborn. these types of problem are in developing nations so just ignore them. because you don't have to spoil your mood or a destinations impression just because of few idiots. Don't trust strangers and touts have good ability to become friends with international travellers and every stranger is a tout for you because no body helps for free.  
  7. Health : Drink only bottled water + no to (uncooked food, salad, street food "there is no joy in this",  curd items, if travelling in summer then more water with lemon and salt) if your are not game for spices then alert the food provider while ordering the food. Sanitizer is utmost important before eating anything. germs can be transmitted by shaking hands, changing currency notes,. always keep a small first aid kit and face mask  with you. Sunscreen is must.   
  8. Finance, safety and documents : keep photocopy of all the travelling documents and keep the original one in the safe of the hotel. Waist bag (sport travel pouch bag) is very important, limited cash and try to keep small denominations (10 / 20 / 50 / 100) as of now 500 and 2000 are the highest denominations which India has. ATMs are widely available but because of demonetization maximum are empty. international credit cards are widely accepted. if you are booking accommodations in advance then share those details with your close friends & family before leaving home for the trip. for the first arrival at any city try to opt for hotel or travel company's transportation. 
  9. Communication : as soon as you land at international airport take indian sim number and share it with your family and friends. always exchange telephone number of the driver before boarding the taxi so that you don't have trouble in      
  10. Traffic : is terrific and chaotic so don't worry, because you can't help it. Indians strictly don't follow pedestrian first rule so be careful.
  11. Photography : the cultural difference will definitely provoke you for photography but always maintain a distance from stray animals and make sure if your subject is human then he / she doesn't mind to give you a click.
  12. Clothing : in temples, mosque and Sikh temples (Gurudwaras) always cover your head, lower has to be till calf or shin / calf and top till waist line (minimum) and sleeves till elbow. floaters and sneakers and floaters will do. cap or hat is must with glares. 
  13. Must : Special activities like walks, workshops, village tours, volunteering can be an experience during the tour.     


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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Delhi (city)
  2. Agra (city)
  3. Jaipur (city)
  4. Delhi (city)
  5. Agra (city)
  6. Jaipur (city)
  7. Jodhpur (city)
  8. Udaipur (city)
  9. Delhi (city)
  10. Agra (city)
  11. Khajuraho (city)
  12. Varanasi (city)
  13. Rajasthan (attraction)
  14. Manali (city)
  15. Shimla (city)
  16. Amritsar (city)
  17. Madhya Pradesh (attraction)
  18. Kerala (state)
  19. Tamil Nadu (attraction)
  20. Karnataka (attraction)
  21. Mumbai (city)
  22. Goa (city)
  23. Sikkim (state)
  24. Kolkata (city)
  25. Arunachal Pradesh (attraction)
  26. Assam (attraction)
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answered by
Rekha from Delhi

Hi Gina,

Thanks for choosing India as your travel destination. India is beauty country having unity in diversity where you will find a mixture of ancient and modern culture, forts and palaces, hills, deserts and many more that will make your tour a lifetime experience. 

As you are a female traveler, I want to suggest you few tips for first time woman traveler in India.

1. Cell phone is a great asset and talking to someone you know when you’re on the move is even better. And always mind your space and let people know it’s not okay if they trespass your personal space and be firm.

2. If you are a female solo traveler safety standard should take precedence over budget while choosing your accommodation. The rule is that the lower the cost of a hotel the bigger the risk with safety.

3. Also don’t take accommodation is obscure places. 

4. Don’t ever accept the food offered to you by the person you don’t know especially on trains, buses, hotels and tourist places.  There have been a few cases where drugged food and drink have been offered to the tourists before robbing and sexually assaulting them.

5. Clothing is also very important when you are a women traveling to developing countries like India. Following the intrinsic yet unwritten cultural codes could save you a lot of hassle and unwanted glares.

6. make sure that your arms and legs are covered fully covered especially when you are traveling religious places and market areas or neighborhoods which are not upscale.

7. If you are traveling through rural areas people will stare at you but its okay as they are just curious and mean no harm.

8. Although clothes has nothing to do with rape but some of the member of so called intelligentsia and cultural/moral brigade have also blamed ‘skimpy’ clothing for inciting men into assaulting men.

Now add that too to India’s Hall of Shame.

9. Don’t make direct eye contact and smile simultaneously as this is often misconstrued by perverts and sexually repressed people as a sign of approval and freedom to take a step further.

Not that you can’t be friendly, it’s just that you need to be very careful with your body language.

10. Appear assertive and stride confidently and ensure that your body language exude firmness. As mentioned above setting your boundaries is a must. Don’t get friendly and smile back to the people you don’t know.

11. Don’t shake hands or hug people you know very little (your travel guide, cabbie etc.). If you are uncomfortable you let the person know instead of acting friendly in trying to not appear snobbish or insensitive.

12. Don’t let anyone touch your hand or sit close as to brush you. Tell them politely but loudly to move away.

13. Get to know the many Indians you’ll be traveling to. This rule is applicable in any country to which they’d be traveling. India is vast and a potpourri of cultures and beliefs. Each region in India varies considerably from the other.

Although rapes have been reported from all around some places are much safer for a woman solo traveler. Regions like LadaiDarjeeling,  North East, UttarakhandAndamanNicobarKerala, and South India in general are much safer than metro cities such as DelhiMumbaiBangaloreKolkata.

14. Get to know the Indian woman. Walk in her shoes, observe her to get a feel of how they travel and try to imitate their style. Not that it will make it safe to travel alone but it’s always good to have more tools to work around with.

15. Prefer public transports for inter-city travel and always keep change. Don’t tip generously or where it is not needed.

16. Don’t encourage a person with politeness if he/she is trying to act extra friendly and most importantly keep your eyes and ears open and be alert of your surroundings.


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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ladai (city)
  2. Darjeeling (city)
  3. Uttarakhand (attraction)
  4. Andaman (city)
  5. Nicobar (attraction)
  6. Kerala (state)
  7. Delhi (city)
  8. Mumbai (city)
  9. Bangalore (city)
  10. Kolkata (city)
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answered by
Marina from Riga, Latvia

The precautions with food and drinks are really important, but will not guarantee that you won't have the Delhi Belly. Give yourself at least 3 days to adjust before planning some major adventures because it may happen that you'll not be feeling very well. Your body is likely to react to a different climate, different food/ingredients and different methods of cooking. You won't escape that even in the best restaurants.

Be careful with making friends, you'll hear "my friend" very often and most of the time it means you've been picked by a friend scammer. 

Don't flash your money when paying for things, otherwise you might discover someone is following you. That of course depends if you're traveling local style or more touristy style. 

Don't be afraid to be rough or impolite. If you mean "no", say "no" very confidently, Indians are expert bargainers, so "meek no" will only fuel those who want to sell you something. The other way is to learn to bargain yourself and they'll give you credit for that ;)

Otherwise, enjoy! ;)

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answered by
Dominik from Krakow

Watch out for travel agencies, sometimes they're trying to cheat. Double check the train ticket reservation.

Be aware that lots of prices are printed on products (ex. on bottle).

Book your train tickets in advance.

When you travel by bus do not take the front seat. It's better not to see how they are driving :)

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