Are you visiting India for the first time and want to know what to expect? These are the 13 things you should know when you travel to India!
India is famous for its gorgeous temples, flavor-packed food, and bustling cities.
Almost everyone who wants to head to India has a lot of questions. How do you travel? Where should you visit? Can you visit all the spots in a short duration? The list is endless.
If this is your first time traveling to India, I highly recommend going through this extensive list of things to know before you travel.
13 Things To Know Before Visiting India For The First Time
1. India Is HUGE!
Before visiting India for the first time, it is important to understand that it’s huge. You can’t plan on heading to the country for a week and expect to see everything. In fact, a week in the country would probably not be enough to cover a state.
In addition to being huge, the country’s terrain is really diverse. The north has the towering Himalayas. The south has gorgeous coasts. In addition to this, there’s the Deccan plateau, which spans numerous states and even a desert.
2. The Language Changes From Region To Region
Not many people realize that there are over 19,000 languages that are spoken in the country! These languages themselves differ based on dialects. It is almost as if each language has sublanguages!
Of these 19,000 plus languages, 22 are considered official languages. It does sound daunting.
Luckily, English is spoken in most of the big cities. Getting around the country isn’t hard unless you head to the rural part of the country.
3. It Has One Of The 7 Wonders Of The World
One of the biggest attractions in the country is the Taj Mahal. Located in north India, this iconic monument is a UNESCO Heritage site and one of the world’s seven wonders.
The mausoleum was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a testament to his love and devotion to his wife.
You’ll find that anyone who visits India has this iconic monument on their bucket list. The white marble structure is well-maintained and houses the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. The gardens frame the structure beautifully and form a gorgeous backdrop for photographs.
4. There Are Numerous Palaces Worth Visiting
When people talk about palaces, they usually think of the ones in Europe. However, India has some iconic palaces too!
Take the Mysore Palace, for example. This gorgeous historical monument was actually designed by a British architect.
The Bangalore Palace is another iconic palace. There are loads of other palaces in the country, but these two are my favorites.
5. The Cities Are Very Crowded
India is also famous for its crowds. It is certainly one of the things to keep in mind before traveling to India. Expect to be elbow to elbow with people everywhere. The streets are bustling, there are loads of street markets, and everything is loud.
You’ll hear cars honking, people talking loudly, and hawkers shouting. If you truly want to experience this chaos, you should head to big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore.
6. Traveling Off The Beaten Path Is An Experience
Not everyone heads off the beaten path when it comes to India. The experience is a fulfilling one, and I highly recommend it.
The villages in the country are much quieter and definitely cheaper when compared to the big city. Plus, you get to see how the people live in the countryside.
There are loads of smaller temples and sights to visit, too. You’ll be surprised that many of the villages have their own small temples, mosques, and churches.
The religious diversity is amazing, and there is a lot of cultural harmony despite what the media portrays. This brings us to our next point.
7. There Are Many Different Religions Practiced In The Country
India is known for its cultural diversity. There are also a lot of different religions being practiced.
Since India is a secular state, you will see that each religion has its own religious institutions in place, along with its festivals celebrated.
Since Hinduism is the most popular religion, you will find temples in almost every state. Some, like the Kanchipuram temples, date back many decades. Other places like Goa and Kerala have loads of churches. In fact, the churches of Old Goa are UNESCO heritage sites worth visiting.
8. Transportation In India Is Unpredictable
Transportation in India is varied. Nowadays, flights connect one end of the country with another. They do get costly.
It is much cheaper to get from one spot to another via train. Yes! India has an extensive rail network.
It isn’t as luxurious as the ones you see in Europe, but it works. If you want luxury, then you can book an AC coach. Be prepared for long journeys, though. Delays are frequent, especially during the monsoon season.
Another way is to rent a car. Driving in India is chaotic. So if you are not confident, you can hire a driver. This will help you get to places that are not connected by train.
9. The Food In India Can Be Spicy
I’m Indian, so I really don’t mind the spice, but if you are visiting the country and are not used to spice, you may want to take it slow when it comes to food.
The best thing to do is to try bland food. A popular favorite is idlis. This rice cake is served with a chutney or a gravy called Sambhar.
The country also has a vast variety of different fruits to try from. You will find street vendors selling fruits from carts that are piled high.
Make sure that you wash the fruits well before you eat them. If you are on the go, bananas and oranges are good options.
10. Avoid Delhi Belly
While we are on the topic of food, it is wise to talk about Delhi Belly. Most people indulge in street food. Few people realize that they can fall very ill. It is important to make sure that you eat at hygienic spots.
If you are interested in street food, make sure that you check the hawker that you are visiting. Cooked food is better than anything that is served raw. This includes cut fruit.
Ice is also not advocated. This is because one cannot really tell where the ice was made or what water was used. There are loads of waterborne infections that spread through the cities. This is especially true during the monsoons.
11. Inspect Your Bottled Water
I’m sure this point would have caused many people to read it again. One of the most common scams in the country is related to bottled water. Here, people refill old bottles and sell them to you. The problem with this is that you have no idea what kind of water is filling the bottles.
So, how do you know if you are being scammed? Check the seal of the bottle. Nine times out of ten, a refilled bottle will have a broken seal.
You can also carry your own water wherever you go. Also, try to buy water from grocery shops. These are not likely to scam you. Buying water from hawkers on the street is more likely to get you a tampered bottle.
12. Dress Codes
A lot of people ask about the dress code when visiting India. Since the country is very diverse, it highly depends on which part of the country you are visiting.
If you are heading off the beaten path, make sure you don’t wear anything too revealing as it would draw unnecessary attention.
I typically wear cargo pants or jeans when traveling and pair them with a loose cotton t-shirt.
Many of the cities have a great party scene going on. Here, you can dress up as you would for any other pub. Just make sure that you have transport home covered.
If you are heading to a temple, ensure that your legs and shoulders are covered. Some people carry sarongs or scarves to ensure they can enter. Most places will just turn you away if you aren’t dressed properly. You will lose out on the experience, though, which would be sad.
13. Eating With Your Hands Is The Norm
Don’t be surprised if you see people eating with their hands. It is the norm in the country. You will find cutlery, though. So you can choose to eat as you want.
In some places, you will also have a chance to eat a meal on a banana leaf. In this case, the banana leaf serves as a plate.
The banana leaf is laid out on the table. People wipe it down with water to clean the surface. A waiter will come round and serve you food on the leaf. It is a fun experience, and I highly recommend trying it.
As you can see, there are many interesting things to know before you travel to India. Living in the country is an experience in itself. From the colorful streets to the flavorful food, you will find that India will leave an impression on you.
About The Author Of “13 Things To Know Before Visiting India For The First Time”
Penny and Shawn are an adventure-loving couple who have been traveling around the world in search of new experiences. With a base in India, they have embarked on loads of road trips, visited various monuments, and written many guides on the path less traveled in the country. You can catch their experiences on their travel blog GlobeTrove.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and that it helps you plan your trip before visiting India for the first time.
Before you go, you may also want to explore the other travel destinations in Asia below.
Thanks for stopping by!
If you enjoyed this post featuring things to know before visiting India for the first time, please pin it on Pinterest to help it reach more readers!