India Travel Guide: Tips for Safe Travel by Shalu Sharma

By , October 21st, 2013

trivago‘s guest travel blogger this month, Shalu Sharma, provides our readers with tips on traveling her homeland of  India.  In this article, she gives tips on how to stay safe in India, the best time to visit, what to pack and more.  This is her second installment in a three-part series on India travel.  Read her first blog article on her recommendation of the Top 10 destinations in India.

Safety, Dress, and Cultural Norms

It is always wise to take precautions and secure your belongings while traveling in India.  As far as what to wear in India:  a good rule of thumb is to dress a little more on the conservative side to blend in with the locals.  Clothes that expose a lot of skin are not suitable in this country as this is considered disrespectful in Indian culture. Tourists who wear skimpy clothing will definitely stand out amongst the more conservatively dressed locals.  Women traveling India alone should take extra precautions and should not venture out late at night by themselves. Following common sense, do not accept food and drinks from strangers.  For more of my tips on traveling India, you can see my  India Travel Survival Guide For Women, available on Amazon.

[caption id="attachment_2631" align="alignnone" width="3100"]Colorful saris in Delhi, India. Colorful Saris: Traditional Indian Clothing[/caption]

The Best Time to Visit India

There is no one perfect month to visit India, as the weather and climate varies from region to region in this vast country.  However, take note that one of the worst times to visit India is during the monsoon season which is usually June through September. Heavy rains can bring everything to a halt, especially within the cities.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="3000"]thunderstorm Monsoon[/caption]

Ladakh is actually the one region that is ideal to visit during the monsoon season (June through September).  During these months, the region is beautiful, and many tourists visit during this time to trek.  This is the only time that the roads to this isolated mountain region are open.

[caption id="attachment_2614" align="alignnone" width="2885"]Lamayuru monastery in Ladakh in India Lamayuru Monastery[/caption]

The best months to travel most parts of India is between September and March following the monsoon season.  The whole country has been “washed and cleaned” by the heavy rains, and the heat is not so unbearable.  The best time to visit the beaches in the south are the winter months.  Travelers who want to visit northern India should consider visiting during the pleasant summer months as the winter months can get very cool in this region.  

[caption id="attachment_2611" align="alignnone" width="4148"]woman at Taj Mahal Girl Meditating at Taj Mahal[/caption]

Visit the Thar Desert of Rajasthan during winter months as the high temperatures in the summer can be unbearable.

[caption id="attachment_2610" align="alignnone" width="3328"]Two cameleers with camels in dunes of Thar deser Thar Desert of Rajasthan[/caption]

Packing Tips and Accommodation

Tourist who plans to visit India should put some thought into packing.  Although many items are available to purchase in India, you may want to take special care in packing personal care items and medicines if you have a particular brand that you like.  It’s a good idea to read and research on hotels, safety of the place, and options of travel before setting foot on the land. There are a wide range of accommodations available in India, from budget hostels to apartments to 5-star luxury hotels.  For people seeking comfortable luxury accommodations in India and great cuisine, ITC is a global chain of 5-star hotels.

[caption id="attachment_2635" align="alignnone" width="3873"]Taj Mahal of India Vintage India Postcard[/caption]

Vaccinations and Food Safety

Make sure you are up to date with all recommended vaccinations before coming to India, especially cholera, typhoid and hepatitis C.  It is a good idea to check with your doctor on these recommended vaccinations.  When traveling in India, food sanitation is important – you do not want an upset stomach ruining your trip! For visitors, tap water is not advisable to drink – so make it a point to drink ONLY bottled water.  

Trying Indian food is an essential part of traveling India.  If you love Indian food, you are definitely in luck.  Make sure to try the South Indian dish Masala Dosa. It is available in most Indian restaurants and is great as a dinner dish.  I recommend a side dish called chaat, which is typically sold by street vendors if you dare to try the street food.  The gol-gappa, or water filled dumplings, is another classic all-time Indian favorite.  You must try this dish!  If you dare to try the street food, then make sure to take a good look at the surroundings, the preparation conditions, and the customer turnover.  Use your best judgment as it is sometimes best to be safe than sorry.

[caption id="attachment_2609" align="alignnone" width="3888"]Indian biryani, butter naan with spicy curry Biryani, Butter Naan with Spicy Curry[/caption]


Additional Information

There are many other websites that provide excellent travel tips for visiting India.  Take a look at these tourists who have been to India and shared their experience.

To follow Shalu, you can find her on Twitter @Bihar and Google+.