India Travel Tips for First-Time Travellers

Insider India travel tips by Mytriphack. Travel to India on a budget in comfort and without being overwhelmed.

India is an exotic destination! It is far beyond historical monuments, beaches and other tourist spots you are going to find out from a tour company or Tripadvisor. This country is a great teacher if you learn to accept and listen to its lessons.

Travel to India Tips for Foreigners

While staying in India, I met many travelers there and learned many key India travel tips to help new visitors to the country.

travel to India tips for foreigners
India Travel Tips for Foreigners

Some travelers came for a couple of weeks while others stayed for a few years and they were still not sure how long they are going to be there.

You hit the right note with India and start enjoying the country once you know important basics and your expectations are set correctly.

Whether you travel to India for a short or long period of time, I put up a list of 10 things that I would share with anyone who asks me about India.

1. Don’t let the media feed your fear

In a digital era, it’s very hard to filter information. Media publishes content that provokes interest and some emotional reaction.

The negative or controversial reaction makes content even more popular and discussed.

This fact has made India famous for poverty, poor attitude towards women and rape cases.

india travel tips for first timers

Though it’s important to be informed, be realistic and critical about the information you are reading.

The published news often skips the brighter side of India about technological progress, improved women’s safety, big market opportunities to name a few.

Most of the services you might require in India are now in the phone – either in apps or online. You just think of an issue and google will give exciting options of Indian startups ready to solve it.

Don’t travel to India without your Lonely Planet India Guide

2. Be flexible about plans and expectations

Try to accept the cultural specifics in India without comparing it with the reality or background you come from. There will be certain things that will happen and certain things that will not.

travel tips for india lucknow
Each cancellation opens a new destination or experience. Lucknow, East UP

You will discover that “Yes” doesn’t always mean Yes, and you will rarely hear a “No” from an Indian.

To save you from frustrations about delays, cancellations and other random situations that will pop up, always try to have a “plan B”.

Whatever changes will happen in your initial plan, they will build a new experience, which will open a different part of India for you.

Check out our travel tips for India Packing. 

3. Plan in advance

If you are not coming with a tour company with a predefined plan, try to make most of the arrangements for your trip at least 3 weeks before arrival.

In India, intercity transport tickets disappear faster than falling stars.

travel tips india nainital

It’s a different system compared to European countries where you can buy a ticket and hop on the train the same day.

In India, it’s advisable to book tickets at least 2 weeks in advance on regular days, and 1 month in advance during big holidays like Holi and Diwali.

This rule also works for budget stay offers. Remember – several million people are looking for the same thing simultaneously with you, so try to be fast in booking great deals.

Read more India Travel Tips: Tips for Traveling by Train in India

4. Learn to bargain

Everyone does it and you should not be an exception. Pricing is generally higher for foreigners since there is a misconception among sellers in India that tourists are rich.

india travel tips at the market

I would advise asking an opinion from local people how much something should cost.

If you are in the local markets evaluate the look of the seller. Don’t bargain with artists or farmers. They already earn money hard way and they are very humble.

Merchants with chic phones in their hands are the right target to master negotiation skills.

You can use saved money from a purchase either for another Indian experience or for buying food for the poor. There are many people living on the streets in India.

You might save minimum of 4 dollars from one purchase, but this is enough to buy lunch for 3-4 homeless people in the city.

In addition to the social cause, you will also improve your negotiating skills. India is a great teacher in this!

Need bargaining tips? Read – 10 Proven Travel Tips on How to Bargain Like a Pro

5. Get ready for lots of staring and questions

Many Indians give special attention to foreigners. You might spot many of them looking at you steadily and some will even ask to take pictures with you.

They don’t have an idea their behavior makes you feel uncomfortable.

tips for traveing india friends

Often, if you strike a conversation with some local people, they might ask many personal questions about you, that you may not feel comfortable sharing right away, e.g. social status, surname, relationships, faith, family and so on.

They don’t mean to offend you, they are just interested to know you better.

Check out Photos of India: What Makes this Country Beautiful

I suppose this behavior is closely connected to the personal space concept. In the west, people maintain large personal space around themselves to keep strangers at a distance.

In India, all space standards collapse once you experience a queue or use public transport.

Most Indians are used to share everything and adjust since childhood, especially those born and raised in joint families.

Keep this in mind and be ready to expand a bit your privacy borders.

6. Go local

Try to build your journey around the festivals to get a better understanding of Indian culture.

travel tips for india go local
Celebrating Dandiya Festival

Festivals:

  • Visit Diwali – a festival of lights in autumn
  • Holi – a festival of colors in spring,
  • Lohri – winter festival in Punjab

Attend traditional weddings and other functions of your preference. Try to make Indian friends during your visit to understand the essence of different festivals.

There will be many people around who will be happy to give you an “intro course” about the meaning of the festival in Indian culture.

Thinking of Traveling Solo in INdia? Read: My Trip to Himachal, A safe bet for Solo Female Travellers

7. Contrasts are everywhere

While in India, you will be part of situations with different elements that you haven’t imagined in the same context.

india travel tips for travel
Contrasts of India

You might be late because you were stuck on the road blocked by cows.

You may see a posh car waiting on the crossroads along with an elephant and a bullock cart that is driven by a barefoot man.

You will see people buying the latest fashion clothes from luxury brands and people sleeping on the streets at a distance of 100 meters from the same fashion store.

Social inequality is overwhelming and emotionally devastating. This is a part of India that you will come across very often.

Check out: 5 Things to do in India That We REALLY Liked

8. Follow your route and interests

India is diverse with many experiences in store for travelers. I stayed in Delhi for almost 2 years and there are still many things I have on my list to experience there.

travel tips india himalaya retreat
Himalaya getaways gain a special beauty and color in monsoons

I would advise not to follow the patterns but choose your experience. India can offer you much more than Goa and the Taj Mahal.

No doubts these are amazing destinations, however, there are also exciting opportunities to visit tea plantations, learn how to print on clothes from the biggest textile companies, stay in a desert or join a yoga/meditation program in the mountains.

Don’t run a marathon through all sightseeing points mentioned on the internet. Choose less – explore more. Feel and enjoy your journey!

Need more travel advice on India? Read the Top 5 Travel Scams of India

9. Don’t overpack

Try to take fewer clothes, because it’s almost impossible to skip shopping in India. There will be many things you would like to buy.

travel to india tips keep it simple desert scene
Keep it Simple

Don’t pack all possible medicines unless you are going to live in a remote village. I would advise taking only those pills that specifically help you.

Absolutely in every city or town you will find a great diversity of pharmacies: standard, ayurvedic & homeopathic. In addition to your packing list, the 2 things I would advise taking: high sun protection solution and charging adapter converts.

Need Travel tips for packing in India? Enjoy these articles:

8 Great Travel Organizers for Better Packing
9 AntiTheft Accessories for Safe and Secure Packing
The Most Complete Travel Packing List You’ll Ever Need

10. Follow basic etiquette of India

1. Dress accordingly

 India is quite conservative in dressing, especially for women. This country is not suitable for open shoulders or shorts unless you are on a beach or in South Mumbai.

Try to wear clothes at least of knee length and keep your shoulders covered.

travel etiquette india
Simple kurti and leggings – the most comfortable and popular Indian outfit

2. Think about vegetarians

If you are a vegetarian, you are going to love India.

They have many varieties of tasty food options for you and it’s always marked with a green dot that makes shopping easier.

In the opposite case, take into consideration that some people are not comfortable eating food in the same room with non-vegetarian products. This is related to stays in some Airbnb or Guesthouse type of spaces.

3. Respect elderly people

Indian culture teaches respect towards elderly people for their experience and knowledge.

If you are invited to a traditional Indian function, no one will expect you touching feet to show respect as it’s accustomed to India.

However, ignoring elders even if you are not acquainted might be perceived as rude behavior sometimes. A formal “Namaste” greeting will do in most of the cases.

4. Pay attention to gender-specific spaces

In India, there are certain places where only women are allowed and vice versa.

It’s applicable for transport, some religious places, some queues, trial rooms, etc.

Pay attention to this, because in some cases you can be punished: e.g. if you are a man staying in a women train car in Delhi metro you can be scolded and fined.

5. No public affection

India is a conservative country that has some reservations about showing emotions in public. It’s mostly about couples.

Don’t mix it up with friends. You will see girls hugging girls while greeting if they are close friends or guys hugging guys, but girls hugging guys are not allowed in many places.

In some Indian states, you can be fined and even arrested for showing public affection towards the opposite gender. Try to keep your emotions with you.

6. Inform yourself about the temples

Always take off your shoes before you enter any temple and dress conservatively.

There are some temples that don’t allow non-Hindu, some are only for men, and others have specific rules for visitors.

I would advise researching about a temple you plan to visit if it’s not a known tourist attraction.

Need more travel etiquette tips? Read: Travel Etiquette in the Middle East

I hope these India travel tips will be handy during your visit!!

What about you: Is India in your traveling plans? If you have already visited India, what other things would you advise for India travelers?

Author Bio

travel tips

Natalia believes in traveling with a purpose.

She has been visiting different countries via exchange programs, jobs and conferences. The recent working and staying experience was in India for 2 years. She shares insider tips about living abroad and traveling comfortably on a budget to help others build a better experience.

For more tips and stories visit Mytriphack or follow her on twitter, facebook.

Read Next:

The Golden Temple of Amritsar, India’s Shining Star

Solo Travel to India by a local female

7 Things to do in Rishikesh

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • World Nomads - Digital Nomads or Frequent Travelers.
  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

88 thoughts on “India Travel Tips for First-Time Travellers”

  1. Extensively and beautifully written article. I have never thought of traveling to India, now am thinking about it. Thanks for the article.

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  2. I like the fact that being in digital marketing industry you took the responsibility to inform people about false propaganda about India. Very few bloggers stand up against falsified content marketing.

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  3. I am very happy to find such a post. I love to visit India. Today I found some amazing information about the tour, it’s inspiring me to visit in the coming days. Thanks a lot for sharing such posts.

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  4. Such a lovely post. I love the spirit that you have , trying new things in a new place. You inspire me to maybe step out more often.

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  5. Thanks for sharing such a great post. You have given all the information that a foreigner needs to know if he or she plans to travel India.

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  6. Well for first time travelers I would like to recommend that while travelling through India you need to carry your valid passport otherwise it will be difficult for you to travelling moreover you need to make your tickets prior to travelling as it will help you in tickets availability.

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  7. It is most helpful. I agree that some people tend to focus too much on the negative, like hygiene and timing. But there is so much good in India. thank you for sharing this article.

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  8. Natalia whatever you said about India is true,after reading your post I thought that you personally experienced all these things in your India tour.Thanks for sharing this best information.

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  9. All of these tips is really helpful for everyone who wants to travel in India. But this blog will definitely help to foreigners.
    Thanks,

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  10. HEY! your content is damn good, I mean it’s really informative and creative as well. One of colleague wants to visit India Trip. I will share your post with him to make his journey memorable. And I also bookmarked your blog for the next update.
    Thank You!

    Reply
  11. Fantastic descriptions about our country!!! The little details like not negotiating with farmers shows your deep understanding of Indian problems seen with a sensitive heart.

    Thank you ?

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  12. Hi, My name is Bhawna Mohinani & I am a travel blogger from India. I really liked your article. The information in this article is very much relevant. This article has made me your loyal reader.

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  13. I really like your blog post. Keep writing like this. I really Glad to know that you have enjoyed most during travel to india

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  14. India traveling is not a difficult. It’s a normal traveling. Not a lot of confusion for tourist. You share the travel tips is very helpful for tourist. Great guideline. I like your blog. Good work. Thanks!

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  15. Great blog post! Surely this article is very helpful for all international visitors. India has lot of tourist places and our life time is not enough to watch those places.

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  16. In India there are many places to visit and but visiting every place is not a too easy work .As India is a diversify country with many group of religions of people leave here but from my view if you are foreigner and wants to visit India you can hire any of traveling agency so that there would be easy for you to visit without any hassle.

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  17. India is best country for travel. There is something in India that is worth seeing. India is most beautiful country.I hope to visit India soon and experience the magic. Thank you for sharing.

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  18. India has the unique diversity all over the world. India is the most traditional and cultural country and having the different place to visit for the tourists. I having most of the historical and holistic places like fort, temples etc.

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  19. I agree these tips are useful for foreigners who love and plan to travel India. Because I know how our people are treating the tourist. I hope Natalia is really understand our country.

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  20. That’s why Indians love to share their knowledge with everyone and wants others to do the same. In this conquest, they become so friendly that they cross the privacy border so be cautious but at the same enthusiastic too.

    Reply
  21. Read your blog and get useful information. I am also a traveler in I like walking around different places. I was looking for a blog like you who gave me the right information and tips. Thank you

    Reply
  22. hat’s why Indians love to share their knowledge with everyone and wants others to do the same. In this conquest, they become so friendly that they cross the privacy border so be cautious but at the same enthusiastic too.

    Reply
  23. I am from India. I agree these tips are useful for foreigners who love and plan to travel India. Because I know how our people are treating the tourist. I hope Natalia is really understand our country. She content speaks very well about our nation.

    Reply
  24. I agree that some people tend to focus too much on the negative, like hygiene and timing. But there is so much good in India, both in terms of living culture and history, I really think those things are more important.

    Reply
  25. India is best country for travel. There is something in India that is worth seeing. You share the valuable information on travel tips. Your travel tips is very useful for me.Thanks a lot for this beauty Enjoying article with me. I appreciate it very much!

    Reply
  26. I agree these tips are useful for foreigners who love and plan to travel India. Very important travel tips for first-time visitors in India.

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  27. I read your blog and it is very informative. When you are planning to visit Shimla before that Take all necessary medicines and prescribed drugs with yourself. In case of an emergency situation, you will not have to run here and there.

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  28. India is so picturesque and an awesome travel destination.The architecture alone is breathtaking. I’m sure you can spend hours wandering around them and taking photos.

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  29. India is an amazing place to visit but when it comes to preserving their culture no one can stand in their way. That’s why Indians love to share their knowledge with everyone and wants others to do the same. In this conquest, they become so friendly that they cross the privacy border so be cautious but at the same enthusiastic too.

    Reply
  30. I love the information in this article. I hope to visit India soon and experience the magic. Thank you for sharing. The best part is the 45-min trek to Butterfly beach. Thanks for this good post.

    Reply
  31. India is most beautiful country. I like the travelling in India. India is a very worth watching country. World’s miracle one of them Taj Mahal is in India. I read your blog and I get some new tips on travel to India. Thanks a lot for this beauty Enjoying article with me. I appreciate it very much!

    Reply
  32. I have seen lot of travellers writing about india. This one really shows that you guys have not just visited the country but lived it and almost got to its roots.

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  33. Wow, definitely the best post about India that I’ve ever come across!! Thank you for taking the time to put this together to help other travellers 🙂

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  34. Thanks for sharing the blog. i am thinking of planning a trip to India Soon and these tips are like my mini guide for the whole touring thing.Few tips before actually visiting the place is really helpful for every new traveler. thanks for the blog, it truly is informative and helpful.

    Reply
  35. while most of the blogs are telling us about the places, you have told us about the travel tips while visiting India through your blog which is really helpful while planning our trip.Thanks for sharing the blog, it really helped us throughout the journey. keep Sharing

    Reply
  36. You have written an excellent blog. Read your blog and get useful information. I am also a traveler in I like walking around different places. I was looking for a blog like you who gave me the right information and tips. Thank you

    Reply
  37. Good day,

    Thank you very much for these tips.
    I especially loved the fact how people get over charged while they travel in different countries.

    Keep posting these informative columns.

    Reply
  38. it’s amazing, I always love to travel India. Sometimes I like the Cuisine, sometime shopping but the Culture is always attracting me to visit this amazing country.. thanks for the post and make my memories comes alive..

    Reply
  39. I want to make my vacations special. But i’m totally confused which things are best to do so. Then i saw your ideas. It seems interesting as well as excellent. Now i’m gonna apply your ideas. Hope it may help me too. Thanks for sharing wonderful ideas!!

    Reply
  40. I love travel in India because every visit is different, every experience unique. Travelling as a family showed us the value of shared experience. India taught us about each other, and about cultures vastly different from our own. When our youngest is a little older, we will be back.

    Reply
  41. Hey, awesome site. I came across this on Google, and I am pleased. I will be definitely coming back here more often. Wish I could add the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just taking in as much info as I can at the moment. Thanks for sharing. Dooars Tour Package

    Keep Posting:)

    Reply
  42. Very detailed stuff. Great guide for first time visitor in India. As an Indian i am totally agree here. One another advice for foreign travelers avoid street food, drink bottled water and You may also know that Indian power adapters are different than other countries.

    Reply
  43. Wow killer post on India., Good stuff. We spent 4 weeks in India on a whirlwind itinerary visiting 6 different regions yet only really scratching the surface of this complex and diverse country.

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  44. Nice post, I agree with your tips of travel to India. It is wonderful country for travelers. India has a lot of cultures and traditions. I especially love Indian cuisines, here are so many options to try out. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences.

    Reply
  45. If you are planning to visit one of the most beautiful destinations in India, It’s the perfect time. After the monsoon season the beauty of Wayanad will be even more astounding with Blue Mountains, striking waterfalls, streams full of water, freshness and greenery everywhere.

    Reply
  46. It’s very useful to all and us , I am very much impressed with your thoughts. I got the best information from this site of the blog, That article was amazing. Thanks for sharing this post.

    Reply
  47. I also like to travel solo,It improves our confidence level and also gives us unique experience.I am waiting for your next blog…

    Reply
  48. Nice article!! Really India is the very good destination to visit it has many tourist places to enjoy your Holiday trip, i think in India one more destination to visit is Andaman island, it has very good beaches for thrilling experience.

    Reply
  49. Brilliantly complied list of key tips to remember! I think these are universal and would help all travelers visiting India. 🙂

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  50. Thank You for share this Article .
    to me i thought nothing much about India the thing i knew about India was the cultural norms but today i feel honored to know about India and am starting following your blogs for more about India.

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  51. Thank you for feedback Jessica 🙂

    I believe one of the core lessons India teaches is acceptance))) There are positive and negative sides everywhere, so it’s important to consider both of them 🙂

    Reply
  52. Thank you, Vidya! Totally agree with you on food, especially combos and sweets!!)
    India is a comprehensive experience with its contrasts, diversity and culture) This country will not leave anyone indifferent!

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  53. Hey Natalia,
    The facts described about India is totally true. India has got a lot of culture, traditions and rituals, but people here are really fantastic.
    Specially the food I like the most, with various cuisines right from north to south and west to east, all the local cuisines here are just wonderful. I really love this Country.
    Keep posting

    Reply
  54. Than you for this article, it is most helpful. I agree that some people tend to focus too much on the negative, like hygiene and timing. But there is so much good in India, both in terms of living culture and history, I really think those things are more important. We just have to learn to work around the problems.

    Reply
  55. Very helpful tips about travel in India! It is wonderful that the country is a treat for vegetarian travelers. Good reminders about following basic etiquette.

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  56. Thank you, Brad for yout feedback.

    The ridiculous thing about this situation is that India has a lot of money. There are many wealthy people in India, however most of rich people become richer because of the class system and cheap labor. And the lower class become poorer with each year, unfortunately..

    Reply
  57. Sidonie, I was in India on a Business Visa. There are 12 points or so that allow you to open Business visa. I left the country for a few weeks to reopen Visa, however if you stay with the same company, you can extend Visa in India itself. If you might need additional information about visa, registration, extensions, I will be glad to share info from my experience)

    Reply
  58. Vangel, thank you for your comment. You are right, I personally experienced these things while working there. I think I could add more tips, but that would be too long article))

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  59. Namaste. How did you manage to stay in India for 2 years? what kind of visa did you have? did you need to leave the country to renew it? thanks!

    Reply
  60. I agree with you with not bargaining with farmers. They really work hard and I know from my country that they earn their money the really hard way. Great article. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  61. Really good to know facts about India. Great article thanks for sharing such useful information.Appreciative work!

    Reply
  62. Really Good to Read! I am from India. I agree these tips are useful for foreigners who love and plan to travel India. Because I know how our people are treating the tourist. I hope Natalia is really understand our country. She content speaks very well about our nation.

    Thanks
    Mathavan K

    Reply
  63. Natalia whatever you said about India is true,after reading your post I thought that you personally experienced all these things in your India tour.Thanks for sharing this best information.

    Reply
  64. Thanks for sharing this Blog.

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