We have often been asked by travellers to India for advice and tips while travelling in India. We tried our best
to make it short but still give as many details as possible.
This was a difficult task and we inevitably landed up either making the advise too long to cover all details or making it short at the cost of details. Recently we came across a blog by Kalki, an extensively travelled lady. Her blog seemed to be perfect.. short and covering almost all the major details. So we asked her for her permission to reproduce it here on our site. Like a true large hearted traveller, she promptly gave us the permission. So read on and benefit from this experienced traveller's advice.
"I've had quite a few of messages now asking me what travelling in India is like and for those of you that are
planning to come over, here's an idea of what you're getting into. India is a vast country, different in everyway to Europe.
India spans a total area of 3,287,590 sq km and is slightly more than one third the size of the US and has a population of
1,080,264,388. It is also hot, almost everywhere, and humid and sticky and smelly and it is widely accepted that dogs,
cows and goats own most of the city roads and approximately a third of the highways (which incidentally are not highways
but big roads for lorries to park on).
Having said that, India is not just a mad and faraway place that can only be visited by 'searching' souls and hard core backpackers. Although far removed from the fundamental nature of Western civilisation and half way across the globe from it, this country has a really wonderful mix of cultures, languages, religion, and food from state to state for those of you who simpy want to spoil yourselves with new tastes and warm weather. The first and most important fact to be accepted, however, is that India is not a place for fast track, 'semi skimmed' holidays where one can 'hop' from place to place on a tight schedule. If you try to do this, you will fail to enjoy India, I promise. It is simply not equipped with the transport nor do the people have the mentality for the quick and short-lived travels that might be taken for granted in Europe. However, if you take your time and speak to the local people you will usually find them extremely helpful in pointing out where to go and what to do. Try not to get ripped off, easier said than done! Try to ask several people so you get a fair answer especially when it comes to prices, because if you look foreign, you also look rich.
Take care of your stomach and do this in two ways, one-avoid drinking water unless its from a sealed bottle, two-eat out at restaurants that look busy because they will have a high turn over so the food will be fresh.
Realistically, to enjoy a trip around the whole of India, I would say requires a good two months but if you haven't the time, you might prefer to cover a smaller surface area, like just the north, and spend more time in places that you particularly enjoy. When you arrive it's also a good idea to buy some basic medicines such as parecetamol, diarrhoea tablets and plasters, these may come in handy when travelling on the road, and in more remote areas where there might not be pharmacies.
You can get around India by trains and buses, you can also rent out a motorbike or a car. Trains are great, you can be on one for upto two days if you're going from the north to the south, but you share compartments with other people and tend to make good friends - and Indian families love to feed you, and if they do offer you dinner accept it gracefully, its usually very good and makes everyone happy. Buses, I do not advise unless you particularly enjoy the feeling of hanging off a yo yo string and potentially dying in a terrible accident-ok they're not that bad but not my thing.
It can be overwhelming when you arrive in India and see the amount of poor people and beggars (usually women or children) constantly at your side. It is of course your choice to give them money but just a warning, if you give one beggar money on the streets, in half a second there will be ten more wanting money. If you can, offer to buy them a meal or snack.
July/August is the monsoon, so if you're planning on a beach holiday go after October, the hottest season is April/May. The best weather is usually December/January but this is also the tourist season which means hotels become expensive and fully booked in popular destinations like Goa. Ok that's all I can think of for now, if you have any more questions I will be glad to try and help. Good luck and enjoy."