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!
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
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
India is an amazing country. An assault to the senses though which I loved!
Lovely street food.
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.
I didn't get ill at all and ate everything!
Most people have a little diarrhoea at some point though..
Furry You'll get groups of leering men watching you from the shoreline and filming you on your camera phone.
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.
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
Don’t go lol?
But seriously, only drink bottled water and make sure you wear cotton clothing to keep cool.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Those are great tips thank @MissSueFlay !
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.
Use hand wash/baby wipes every time you touch money (in addition to every other time you would normally wash your hands)
Yes I know a few people who got ill on the last day! Perhaps they relax as they’re about to leave!
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.
Especially about which place to visit!
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!
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.
Never been ill in India
Been many times.
Marvellous people, food....everything wonderful
Pm me if you want any travel tips
* Don't eat ANYTHING!!!*
Ha. Exactly what I came in to say
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