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!

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Money

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!


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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.

Related – Is travel insurance worth it? Everything you need to know [2020]

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.

 Transportation

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!

Accommodation

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…


Related: A week with an Indian family in Haryana, India


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).

Culture

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!

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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!

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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. 

With love,

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.

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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 :).

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More tools, courses and gear we recommend in our Resources Page.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Freeoversea

    Ainda não tinhamos visto esta beldade de blog! este post vai ssr bastante útil para a nossa viagem à Índia (assim que o universo permitir) 😀 excelente trabalho malta, a vossa vibe é contagiante

    beijos e abraços

    Patricia & Miguel
    http://www.freeoversea.com

    1. TravelB4Settle

      Obrigada maltinha linda <3
      Aconselhamo-vos imenaso a ir à Índia! Vão adorar! Mas primeiro a ver so nos conhecemos em qualquer lado do mundo! 🙂

  2. Sahil Gambhir

    Matilde and Miguel love this! You have really got some deep insight about Indian culture. But do you know that at some places even the MRP print can be altered. And tge sealed water on some places can be regular unfiltered water put into an already used plastic bottle and then sealed and sold again. Never buy water from an outside vendor unless necessary I would say. Shops are better for water.

    1. TravelB4Settle

      Thank you so much Sahil! We didn’t know some people change the MRP but we definitely heard some stories of sealing used bottles with unfiltered water. So sad the desperation for money putting in danger people that don’t even know!! Anyway thanks for your addition, it will be useful for many people for sure 🙂

  3. Aaron Kylie

    You share important points here about the travel. Money, Water and food is really important part of traveling. I like to share caring information. Thanks!

    1. TravelB4Settle

      Hey Aaron! We are so glad you found the info useful! Hope you do good with it 🙂

  4. Donna Niece

    I Really love to travel India. Thanks for sharing an amazing post. Really effective for me.

  5. Resource

    Hello there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having problems finding one? Thanks a lot!

    1. TravelB4Settle

      Hey there! No worries, you are free to ask whatever you’d like, and we try to help you anytime! Well, we are not using any plugin for that matter. the comment section is the basic of our theme (Ocean WP) and it may have a functionality of our anti-spam plugin – Akismet!

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