11 Things You Need To Know Before Visiting India
If the thought of squatting over a hole for days is keeping you from experiencing one of the most incredible journeys of your life, I urge you to read this. This list is meant for those who want to travel to this magnificent land, but are afraid to do so for one reason or another. Following these simple guidelines will set you up for a great trip and help you remain safe and healthy the whole time.
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Drink Bottled Water
Bacteria is a huge issue in India. The western gut just hasn’t had time to adapt. Many times in India it’s tempting to drink water when you’re out and about, but the truth is you’re running a huge risk of feeling terrible. That means you need to buy bottled water. When you buy a water bottle, make sure the cap is intact! Lots of times they’ll simply use tap water to fill it up.
Don’t eat street food, no matter how tempted you are. This is especially true if you’re visiting small village towns. Unfortunately, you need to buy from places that’re more geared toward tourists, or you know have higher sanitary standards.
This is a given, no matter where you’re traveling. There are almost always going to be times when you need to show you are who you say you are, so be prepared.
Tips for women
It’s sad to say, but India does not have a great reputation when it comes to women- especially western women. A western woman traveling alone is a signal for many Indian men to stare or make uncomfortable advances, as they tend to have a different perception of western culture. Wearing things like crop tops, shorts, and showing the normal amount of skin you’re used to isn’t advised. Wear things like long robes to cover up. The more conservative you are, the less likely it is that you’ll get into those circumstances.
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Check your room
When you’re staying at a hotel, check the room. Make sure the room is clean and it’s worth the price. Sometimes things look different compared to when you made the reservation.
If you are a light sleeper earplugs are a good idea. Buildings in India are made of material like marble that bounces sound around. Staff in the lobby and morning religious rituals nearby can be loud.
Try and book your trains a week in advance
Reserved seats in the better cars go quickly so it’s better to book your trains at least a week in advance!
Vendors in India will do anything to get a sale. They’ll haggle til’ the sun comes down! Here’s a few tactics they’ll use:
- They’ll ask if this is your first time in India. This is because you’ll likely not be aware of the normal price of things, so they’ll inflate the price to make more money.
- You’ll be offered chai. This is a clever way of keeping you around so you’ll feel more inclined to buy.
- Some places will offer to ship things back to the US for you. Be sure they have a track record to doing this- some of them can’t be trusted.
Keep in mind this is a third world country. They don’t even use toilet paper. (I know, crazy) If you want toilet paper, carry it with you at all times. There are no guarantees that it will be in any bathroom in India. But don’t put paper in the toilet. Put it in the wastebasket so that you don’t bung up their system.
Hands and feet
Feet are considered dirty in India, so take off your shoes before you step into someone’s house. Don’t step on anything important and if you do, immediately express your apologies. The left hand is customarily used for cleaning oneself after defecation, so Indian people never eat with their left hands. Also remember never to pass on anything – money or a gift – to an Indian with your left hand. The most conservative Indians might take offense.
In most major cities there are lots of traffic signs. It’s just that Indians don’t really seem to give a damn about it! That’s why it’s best to hire a driver.
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