India is a very special country and visiting it is definitely an intense experience. However, it can be very hard and exhausting if you are not ready for it, especially if it is your first time there. We were in India for 50 days and we gathered some India travel tips and tricks that really made our life easier and cheaper and our experience richer in many ways.
From recommended Apps to simple daily tricks, we truly believe arriving India with these travel tips can really make a difference in your experience.
These India travel tips list are divided in:
Enjoy and thank us later!
Heading to India? Travel safe with Iati SegurosIati seguros, our favorite travel insurance. Insurances made for travelers with the best prices on the market, flexible plans and high medical coverages. Follow this link and get an immediate 5% discountIati seguros on any plan! Safe travels 🙂
1. Check the MRP – ‘Maximum Retail Price’
Every product sold by retailers in India and Bangladesh must be marked with MRP price on its package. MRP is a manufacturer calculated price and stands for the highest price that can be charged for that product. It is illegal to charge more. Don’t pay more!
2. Embrace the bargaining game
Always bargain for everything! No one will tell you the fair price at the beginning…
India is the best place to put your bargaining techniques in practice and improve them! It’s a game. You must have fun with it. Your wallet will appreciate 🙂
Basic technique: Ask several. Set a maximum of $. Offer half. Check how willing is the seller to negotiate. Raise your offer slowly. When the price is reaching your maximum, turn around and say bye. The seller will often deliver the ‘last offer’ 🙂 this works in every shop, Tuktuk drivers and others!
3. Beware of the scams
Shop keepers + Fake government/information offices + Tuktuk drivers + …
It’s a big list. Most of them have their own way to scam you and try to take your money out of the wallet! Just suspect everything… If it seems to good to be true, it probably is. A very helpful and very friendly person normally has a second intention.
The biggest scam we were drawn into was the fake government offices, more common in the big cities (like Delhi). And it all started with an official worker in one of the main train stations in the city. He guided us to one of these offices that ensured us there were no buses or trains to our destination. The only way out was their private taxi, of course…
Food and Water
4. Go Vegetarian
If you are not vegetarian, consider becoming one! India is the best country to be vegetarian, you MUST consider become one while you’re there. Not only because there is an unlimited variety of delicious and well balanced vegetarian dishes (very different from the normal-western style that we are used to) but also because it won’t be easy not to be vegetarian. Vegetarianism is superabundant in India and normally you’ll need an extra effort for a non-vegetarian meal.
“India has more vegetarians than the rest of the world combined”, according to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
5. Do not lose the opportunity to eat every fruit
India has super powerful fruits, don’t waste any opportunity to eat and taste the huge variety and quality of fruits all around the country. Even the fruits you eat every day at home will be an amazing surprise! Fruits in India are much sweeter than we (Westerns) are used to!
6. Don’t drink tap water
Tap water is not drinkable in India. Avoid ice in the streets, you don’t know how clean the water is. Sealed water is cheap, drink as much as you can, your body will thank you. (We also recommend the use of a filter. It will pay itself after a couple of months and you’ll never have to worry about the tap water)
7. Don’t be afraid of the local food/restaurants!
Street food and local restaurants are not dangerous. Actually they are delicious, they will be the best food experiences in India and would be a big mistake avoiding them (yes, we know everyone will tell you the opposite). All you have to do is make sure the food is cooked properly. Confirm it. If you doubt it, just turn away. It’s ok to say no. Also, always choose crowded places, if there are lots of people there, it means it must be good!
8. Give spicy food an opportunity
India is one of the countries where its eaten more spicy food. According to a Study from Harvard Nutrition Department spicy food can prevent cancer, heart diseases, respiratory diseases, between others.
9. You must try chai
The most basic Indian culture, the masala chai. Chai is a very popular hot beverage in India made of black tea and milk with spices and herbs. The normal price is 10 rupees (0,15€) and once you try it, you’ll be addicted.
10. Choose trains over buses
If possible, ALWAYS do long trips during the night. Most buses and trains have conditions to sleep comfortably and you will save money on the accommodation that night. Although the trips are shorter, we recommend trains over buses. Roads are often bad PLUS trains are cheaper and a better experience overall. For trains, you’ll have to book it with some time in advance or take a chance in the Tatkal class (Explained below).
However, in trains, you will never feel the privacy you have in a night sleeper bus, so that’s your choice…
If you can afford, India has several domestic airlines which makes possible to fly from any point to another. This way you avoid the unending hours on the road while traveling India. We recommend using Skyscanner to find the best deals.
11. Prepare your smartphone
Booking trips online for foreigners can be a very tough challenge (we spent hours trying different ways). We strongly recommend using Makemytrip or Cleartrip to book your trips through India. Heading to a local travel agency or directly to the station counter are also viable solutions.
For short distances, it won’t be a problem to find a TukTuk or taxi. HOWEVER, it won’t be the cheapest choice. Apps like Uber and OLA are super effective and work almost everywhere. We recommend OLA App, you have several options like a shared car, a bike or a TukTuk, so you won’t lose the Indian essence even using last generation platforms.
12. Train fully booked? Don’t panic
Getting a train ticket is hard and if you can’t miss that train, book it in advance (weeks if possible). However Indian Railways allows buying tickets in short notice, the DAY BEFORE departure, both offline (10 am at the train station) and online (11:30 am). This is a hidden secret for a lot of travelers but can help sometimes. To buy tatkal tickets we recommend asking a local travel agency to help you (they will do their max for their fee, normally ~100Ruppees= 1,5€) or using the MakeMyTrip App. Just be there on time and don’t quit. It won’t be easy but it’s possible!
13. You must try Couchsurfing in India
India is an EXCELLENT country to do CouchSurfing. Indian people are super receptive and will treat you like no one else will at their place. If you like to immerse in the local culture and live the local experience to its maximum, Couchsurfing is the way. You should read our experience…
14. Consider alternative platforms
Alternative platforms work perfectly in India. We recommend Booking.com or Airbnb.
Booking.com for any level of accommodation, from cheap hostels to fancy hotels, you’ll find the perfect match there. AirBnb for short-term rentals (or not so short) of local, fully equipped and affordable apartments. We love this one. (Click here for a 35€ discount in your first AirBnB apartment anywhere in the world).
15. Don’t take a yes or a wobbling as an answer!
Indians have a particular head wobbling that you’ll get used to very quickly. It means appreciation, ‘yes’ or many times nothing (Yes Indians wobble for no reason, is just part of them)! If you are asking for a direction or information don’t accept a ‘Yes’ or a wobble for an answer, search for a more detailed answer, also because most of Indians rather wobble than say ‘I don’t know’.
16. Be patient and accept
Traveling India is intense, it’s special but can be exhausting sometimes. The key to enjoy the journey and have a positive experience is being tolerant, and accept everything the way it is. You can also try to understand the reason behind some of their behaviors so it’s easier to understand and accept. But always, be patient…
17. Try an Indian wedding, even if you have to crash one!
One of the greatest experiences you can have in India is hands down, an Indian wedding. The food, the dancing, the atmosphere is unexplainable. Yes, we were invited to one, but …shhh… We also crashed other… And guess what?! It took 2 minutes to feel like a guest! Everyone will welcome you, and make you feel like a special guest, so don’t waste the opportunity to live this experience from the inside. If you see a wedding, don’t be afraid to approach it!
18. Forget the concept of ‘Privacy’
Privacy doesn’t exist in India! You’ll have it when you really needed it, but other than that, accept that someone will be staring at you somewhere and your space will be shared with someone. It can be challenging sometimes, but, once again, accept and be patient!
19. Dress conservatively
This is more dedicated to women but super important! Dress conservatively, cover your body, you will be observed, even covered… So the truth is the more cover you’re the more comfortable you will feel! Be aware that even to the sea they all go dressed up and it’s probably the way you will feel better!
20. Don’t forget to take off your shoes
You will be always asked to take off your shoes to go to a Hindu temple or in someone’s house! Even in most of the hostels, you will have a specific place to leave your shoes at! It is believed, within Hinduism, that temples have a channel of energy that is exchanged with our bodies when we are barefoot. Also, there is a hygienic reason, they would explain to you, soles absorb impurities of the road!
We found these travel tips and tricks super helpful to us and our life got so much easier when we discovered each one of them. Too bad we had no one telling us them! This is an honest attempt to help you survive your trip and make the most out of this beautiful, crazy country!
India is different from everything else, that’s what makes it so special, so make it worth every single day there!
One last thing, don’t plan too much. You can’t control India. Every day will be completely different and unpredictable, so just let it happen, be flexible and enjoy it!
If you want a more detailed guide of India (Where to go, how to go, what to eat, local tips and others), the best friend you can have is the Lonely Planet Guide of India.
Matilde and Miguel ♡
✁————————————————————————————————————————Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, We will receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you.
Plan your next trip!
These are some of the tools we use. By using these links, you pay the same (or less) and we get a small commission. This way you help us keeping TravelB4Settle alive! Thank you :).
- Travel safe with Iati – our favorite travel insurance. Best prices on the market, specially made for travelers, flexible plans and high medical coverages. Get a 5% discount!
- Book your flights with Skyscanner for the best prices or with Kiwi.com for flexible trips.
- Stay in a furnitured apartment you like, with AirBnb (30€ discount in your first booking!), or with Booking.com for any other type of accommodation!
- Rent a car with Rentalcars, comparing cars and prices before your trip!
- Get money back in more than 120.000 online and offline shops with CashbackWorld. Read our full guide here.
More tools, courses and gear we recommend in our Resources Page.