Anyone been to India?? Please give me your best tips!(37 Posts)
DP and I are planning a trip to India late September/early October for two weeks and are very excited! No DC.
We are coming around to the idea that as it’s our first time, it’s probably sensible to book on a tour to avoid getting scammed, lost, etc! As a general rule we’re not really that keen on the idea of tours (antisocial buggers that we are ) , so looking for something that gives us as much freedom as possible whilst getting us safely from A to B, advising us on where to go etc along the way.
Has anyone had a tour like this and could recommend? We’d like to focus on the Northern part - Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpurs, Udaipur...
And any tips generally?! Thank you!
Don't eat ANYTHING!!! Except maybe cereal bars you bring with you...
Try Exodus. Taken many trips with them and never been disappointed.
A friend returned with antibiotic resistant bacteria in her gut. 6 months of specialists and drugs, diarrhea (straight undigested food) from early am till noon, then a short reprieve till the next am.
Reactive arthritis as well.
Then there are the cold sores as her body is so run down.
Sadly I’m not exaggerating.
Exciting. I’ve been twice, with work and then took a week to travel on my own. I booked a driver. My tips
The heat is astonishing.
Wear loose clothing and shoes - shoes definitely as my feet swelled up!
The men will stare...they just do
Definitely try roadside coconut juice - chopped there and then from the tree - delicious, and super hydrating and definitely one of the safest foods 😁😁
If you go to the taj in Agra, please don’t get conned into a guide- they whizz you round so fast and try to take your pictures for you to speed things up. You really don’t get chance to savour the beauty. And definitely dont take the horse ride down- it’s minutes to walk from the gate!!
Camel rides in the desert a must.
Oh and I was dutifully told by my Indian colleagues that they don’t eat the naan with their main meal..it’s like a separate thing!!
No other tips, just accept it as it is and you’ll love it.
Fabulous country and infamous for diarrhoea
Seriously though it is a diverse country and so many wonderful places to visit and things to do.
The climate varies greatly, choose the time you visit wisely, only drink bottled water and be cautious with the food. You will. Probably get an upset tummy so be prepared and you can always take some prescribed anti biopics, just in case!
I love it and have been twice for prolonged periods and husband is out there next week for his work. Enjoy and ignore the naysayers
Love India but have done South and west coast.
Tips would be ensure you use the loo at every place that is sufficiently hygienic. Take your own tissues and hand gel at all times. Useable lavatories are few and far between. Hotels are your best option.
Don’t eat street food that isn’t deep fried and fresh. Hand hygiene is something to be paranoid about. We’ve never suffered Delhi Belly but take prophylactic antibiotics to reduce the risks. Check the seal on bottled water. Some is refilled.
Ensure your vaccinations are current. Especially tetanus. Have good travel insurance.
Cool, loose clothing and carry a scarf at all times. Carry a healthcare kit that includes anti diarrhoea medicines. Don’t go barefoot.
We had amazing food but in good hotels and restaurants. There’s some real bargains in high quality silks and jewellery, particularly sapphires.
Go to the Red fort in Agra.
Don't show even an inch of skin.
Cover your head with a scarf as well as using sun cream.
Car and driver means you can go off the beaten track a bit.
Expect to get ill.
Take the opportunity to get cheap but excellent massages, threading.
Expect to be groped (sadly).
Don’t take un mosquito stuff. Buy odomos (here via amazon or there). Indian mozzies don’t really care about uk sprays/creams. Odomos is lovely smells good etc.
Don’t skimp on hotels ever. Some of the smartest hotels I’ve stayed in world wide are in India but once your drop to 4 star they can be really ropey.
As a veggie I’ve alwYs eaten without concern and had no problems.
Be careful about water. Check bottle tops are sealed before buying etc.
Don’t go anywhere without water.
Have light comfy clothing.
Try to have light comfy secure bag.
It’s too hot to have clingy things or heavy bags etc.
Always keep small notes when you get them - for tips etc. They can be rare.
Have fun. Jealous. Haven’t been for a bit. Never done a tour - always travelled by train organised by self or hotel.
Surprised people say expect to get ill.
Basic common sense about water and street food is all you need. Been lots of times and never been ill. Eg Been ill in Spain more often from food !!
I've never been ill in India, I've travelled on overnight sleeper trains and stayed in all manner of accommodation, north and south.
Common sense and take care what you eat - hot vegetarian food is the safest
i've been with work, and then took a week extra last time to do Jodhpur etcTake loose clothes (harem pants and t-shirts with cap / short sleeves, long tunics etc) for coolness and to not attract attention, leggings aren't great (ime)
Make sure your vaccinations are up to date before you go, and just take common sense precautions with eating and drinking. No ice in drinks, ask for bottled water, and don't eat western style food even in a western hotel (I had an epic experience and not in a good way with a chicken sandwich..) seconding the veggie food recommendation, usually because its delicious! also seconding the hotel - definite drop in 4* below for what you'll get
I booked local tours through reputable companies I found on trip advisor. Worth double checking that and accommodation (if you do your own) as lots of the reviews were fake! Seconding getting a tour or similar with your own car and driver - its v cheap and they can take you to stuff you really want to see
Get hold of small denomination rupees as guides and places they take you often expect tips (I was taken to a local nomad family site and it was awkward as I had the equivalent of 50 quid notes..) If you want to shop, your driver will usually take you to stores, and these are usually someone they know / family. Be prepared to haggle if you want fabrics, clothes, jewelry etc
* Don't eat ANYTHING!!!*
Ha. Exactly what I came in to say
Never been ill in India
Been many times.
Marvellous people, food....everything wonderful
Pm me if you want any travel tips
My dh and I used to live in India. Do be careful with what you eat. Or if you are going to eat something dodgy do it towards the end and not the beginning.
I actually really enjoy the west coast/Mumbai, Goa, down to Kerala and the backwaters. I’m not such a fan of Dehli and the usual Rajasthan tourist spots. Though if you do go up that way, Amritsar is a must and I would also go to McLeod Ganj.
Otherwise I’d go to Mumbai, then down the coast, a stop in Goa, though may be end of monsoon season then (you’ll want to just check your dates), Kerala, backwaters cruise, maybe even some time in Chennai/Tamil Nadu.
I’m very confused that some of you are saying “don’t eat anything!!!!” and some are saying you didn’t get ill!
For those who didn’t get ill, were you super careful (in which case what did you eat/not eat?) or do you have pretty hardy stomachs anyway?
Please keep all the tips coming!
Especially about which place to visit!
My friend went for a month and got ill the day before flying home. Not ideal with a long flight home!
She said the best thing to do was eat vegetarian food but she thinks water may have been the culprit in her case. Check the seal hasn’t been broken on any bottles that you buy.
Yes I know a few people who got ill on the last day! Perhaps they relax as they’re about to leave!
Use hand wash/baby wipes every time you touch money (in addition to every other time you would normally wash your hands)
Brush your teeth with bottled water & keep your mouth closed in the shower. Don't have ice in your drinks and only drink from bottles with an unbroken seal. We spent 6 weeks travelling around India and only got upset tummies towards the end - I credit this advice (which was from an Indian lady on the plane) with keeping it at bay until then!
When we arrived in Delhi, the hotel had a travel agent who set us up with a driver to go around Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Ranakpur, and Pushkar, ending up in Agra. I'm gutted we didn't get to Jaisalmer which is supposed to be amazing. We paid a fixed sum and got the driver and hotels as a package. The driver was ok, we got the sob story about a sister who died and he was raising her kids etc. He also took us to shops that we dutifully walked around so he would get a small payment for taking us there.
In Delhi go to Humayun's Tomb, it's incredible. Also to India Gate and where all the government buildings are. the Jama Masjid is an enormous mosque in Old Delhi which is worth a visit too.
Get a Lonely Planet guide book and got to some of the recommended restaurants - we did and never had a dud one.
Agra is a bit intense - get your shades on to avoid eye contact with the beggars on the walk from the car drop-off to the Taj Mahal gates.
Those are great tips thank @MissSueFlay !
I went for 5 weeks to travel and work in a hospital and got mildly ill once. Can highly recommend immodium fast melts for time critical occasions (e.g. flights).
Make sure your taxi from the airport is from a pre-pay booth. This will be a building with a formal desk and printout to give to the driver. The prices are government controlled. Don't believe anyone who comes up to you offering a pre-paid taxi.
Get wise about tipping-what seems like a reasonable amount to us is a small fortune in India- we were given a guide e.g. how much for bellboy, driver etc.
Can highly recommend Southall travel, we got flights, a driver for a week and a sightseeing trip that fit around our requirements for a very reasonable price. Would use them again.
Go to the Taj but get out of Agra quickly, it is a dive. There is a good show locally every evening with an interpretation of the history which is worth a visit.
We were based in a hospital in Kerala and can't recommend Kerala more. Such a change from the North, we were welcomed as people instead of being seen as cash cows. Paid very reasonable local prices. Head to Alleppey for the house boats (can recommend a very good homestay with access to a day boat), Fort Kochi and a coach ride up to Munnar for breathtaking views.
Take an unlocked phone and buy a sim card and data plan, it is SUPER cheap and invaluable for UBER, research etc.
Oh and as a white woman- expect for entire families to ask for selfies with you, men to stare at you and don't expect to be able to swim in the sea unless fully dressed in your clothes.
The only people I know that have got sick in India are western food which rather serves them right. We were there for three weeks and no hint of an upset stomach, which was good as I’ve a very altered GI system and a stomach bug would land me in hospital. We ate in the hotel, in restaurants, street food, and on the train.
Don’t drink branded water, ask for the local one as it’s a lot cheaper. The Taj group of hotels are good and were surprisingly cheap when we went. Don’t try and walk round Delhi... we gave up and got a car and driver from the hotel. Autos are great for getting around, just read up on what the prices should be so that you don’t get charged western prices. Expect everyone to ask you for “just ten rupees”.
We started in Delhi, did all the main sites, Old Delhi is amazing. Then got the train to Agra and did the Taj and Fatephur Sikri, then got a cab back to Delhi. 22 1/2 hours on the train from Delhi to Hyderabad, first class air conditioned. All meals included. Stayed in Hyderabad for a few days and then got the train to Bangalore (only 12 hours) and stayed with my friend for a week. Bangalore is brilliant, but quite westernised as there’s so many IT companies based there.
I never got ill in India but some of our party did. Be prepared to be hounded. People will beg and try selling you stuff all the time. The poverty is awful and some sights of children crawling around outside the Taj Mahal begging due to disformed legs etc is horrible. Taj Mahal was great. We were hounded for photos there because we were 'white'. women (in our group) were treated like second hand citizens. All the men were served food first, allowed into lifts first etc.
don't expect to be able to swim in the sea unless fully dressed in your clothes
Why, what might happen if you wear a normal costume?
I've been to Goa which is very different to other parts of India. More relaxed about clothing etc.
I was never ill... I don't ordinarily have an iron constitution and ate whatever I wanted. Lots of lovely fish curries and sea food and veggie stuff. I also never got bitten by mozzies - our host insisted the quinine in our gin and tonics was keeping the mozzers away. It is a beautiful part of the country with some of the kindest and most interesting people I have ever met. I never felt unsafe and men were respectful to my friend and I (both women).
Don’t go lol?
But seriously, only drink bottled water and make sure you wear cotton clothing to keep cool.
Oh yes @MissPhonic - DH and I are in a few people's wedding albums
The trouble with two weeks, OP, is that it's just not long enough! But you can definitely have a good tour of Rajasthan in that time, so do that and do it well & enjoy it. I wouldn't try to fit a side visit to Goa or a hill station on top of that, you'll just get stressed out and exhausted.
This is a good blog
I loved the food. I ate freshly cooked vegetarian food and always washed or alcohol-gelled my hands before eating, and didn't get sick. The freshly cooked food on train platforms is delicious. The amazing street food was one of my Indian highlights. Just pick cafes and stalls that are busy and are cooking the food fresh, so it isn't sitting around for ages.
The one time I got mild diarrhoea was when I ran out of bottled water and drank a glass of tap water in desperation as I woke up very very thirsty overnight. Don't run out of bottled water! And in cafes ask for drinks without ice.
I loved the south - Tamil Nadu and Kerala - and found it more relaxing and less hassle from touts than the big tourist sites in the north. This was over ten years ago so the places I liked may have changed. But I'd try to choose some places that aren't heavily touristed, or where you travel into the countryside, as it can get draining to be followed around by rickshaw drivers, wannabe tour guides and children asking for money in some of the cities.
I particularly liked visiting hill stations as they are a great break from the heat.
Travelling by train is awesome. Check out the different train classes to see which you would enjoy most. Such a great way to travel long distances and very entertaining journeys.
Furry You'll get groups of leering men watching you from the shoreline and filming you on your camera phone.
I didn't get ill at all and ate everything!
Most people have a little diarrhoea at some point though..
I've never been ill but have only travelled with Indian friends/family who are very wary of becoming sick. I was instructed to only drink or wash teeth with bottled water, have no dairy produce in restaurants (even mango lassi ☹️) or fresh fruit unless it can be peeled, no street food ever, and not to use public or hotel swimming pools. Oh, and we're all vegetarian anyway. I hope you'll have an amazing experience visiting.
India is an amazing country. An assault to the senses though which I loved!
Lovely street food.
I spent 6 months there and only got ill once - my own fault for eating pink chicken in a pricey restaurant in Goa after one Kingfisher too many.
If you stick to busy restaurants where there's a high turnover of food you shouldn't go too far wrong.
Never got groped either- you'll get a lot of attention but for me it never felt threatening the way it has done in some other countries.
Jaipur and Udaipur are my favourite in the area you're going to but yes, for the novice a tour is a really great idea. I'm pretty antisocial at the best of times but absolutely loved my Rajasthan group tour
I’ve never been unwell in India over many work trips and holidays and I generally have a weak stomach. Be sensible. Drink bottled water, brush your teeth with bottled water!!
My DH insisted on brushing his teeth with the tap water at the very lovely Oberoi hotel in Agra. He was very very poorly for days and despite travelling all that way, he didn’t actually get to visit the Taj Mahal!!
My tips would be to make the most of the wonderful hospitality. The hotels can be out of this world. My favourites are:
Delhi: Leela Palace (the club floor rooms are just beautiful)
Agra: Oberoi (book a room with balcony overlooking the Taj Mahal if you can)
Udaipur: Oberoi (book a room with direct access to the pool from your private terrace and a view over the lake. The arrival at the hotel is just spectacular!).
Book all of your drivers, airport pick ups and guides through the hotel. You’ll feel safer. And make sure you visit the Taj for sunrise. One night in Agra is probably fine.
Also, be prepared for followers. I felt like Angelina Jolie. I had a crowd taking photos and trying to speak to me (not in a creepy way though, just in a oh my goodness, how odd way. I think it was my skin/hair).
Take your medical supplies. Including iodine. I once cut my arm climbing onto a roof in the middle of a Mumbai slums!!! Causing a major panic.
Have an amazing trip!! Definitely the right idea to leave any DC at home
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