8 Things you should know before visiting India

India is a heaven for travelers around the world with its unique culture, landscape, and food. However, there is something you should know before visiting the country.

Colorful and crowded is what I will use to describe India, it’s unlike any other places you have known.

To familiarize travelers with what they can expect in India, we rounded up some key information. Keep these eight things in mind before and during your trip.


1. Chaos traffic

Everything you’ve heard or seen in movies about India’s traffic is true, especially in crowded cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Brace yourself for clogged, traffic-packed roads, be careful not to let your jaw drop.  Pedestrians, cars, and rickshaws constantly weave in and out of every lane.

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Extremely loose road rules and the lack traffic lights make the traffic here even more chaotic. In addition to dodging a mix of cars, motorcycles, rickshaws, and occasionally cow (yes, you read it right), travelers can also expect to encounter children who approach asking for money or food. It can be very frustrated for first-timer in India.


2. Be cautious of the food and water

Although the food is very tempting, it’s important to be careful of what you’re putting in your mouth and where it’s from. Street snacks are enticing, especially after a long day of sight-seeing, but they are not obliged to any health codes.

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Only eat fruits and vegetable that can be peeled, food that’s boiled or fried, stick to bottled water and never use ice. Trust us, you don’t want to learn about Delhi food the hard way.


3. Always ready to bargain

E6PPMD Souvenir stall at Dilli Haat craft market, Delhi. Image shot 2011. Exact date unknown.

India is a paradise for shoppers. There are countless markets, roadside vendors, and shops that are full of handicrafts, textiles, jewelry, fabrics, and other trinkets. But before deciding to open your wallet, you should always bargain for a lower price. Keep in mind that vendors often offer a higher price first, especially to foreigners, so bargaining is a must if you want the right price. The strategy: start with a reasonably low price. If they don’t agree, feel free to walk away or suggest another price. Chances are, if you walk away, you’ll be invited back.


4. Stray animals in the street

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Whatever you do, don’t try to pet them. After all, no one wants to end the trip early by going to the hospital after contracting rabies.


5. Follow the dress code

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India is usually hot and humid, but that doesn’t mean you can wear whatever you want. In many areas, including religious sites, dressing appropriately is mandatory. Besides, it’s also customary to remove shoes when entering a temple.


6. Diversity in languages and cultures

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In a country of more than one billion people, it’s natural that you’re going to come across a lot of languages and cultures. You can hear Tamil, Gujarati, Bengali, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Nepali, and more; see everything from the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas and beaches in Goa to crowded cities like Mumbai. There’s also lots of religions, including Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism,…


7. Poverty

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You might have seen “Slumdog Millionaire,” but you won’t be able to fully understand the poverty in India until you’re in the middle of it. In 2011, about 21 percent of the population lived in poverty. What you are very likely to see during your time in the country might startle you. There’s a contrast between the luxurious hotels and slums, which are sometimes a stone’s throw from one another. Many locals, including children, are without shelter and food and beg for money on the streets. As previously mentioned, they’ll often come up to car or cab windows to beg. You should also prepare to see piles of garbage on the street and a heavy amount grit and dirt.


8. Keep your expectation under control

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While the most of the famous destinations in India are amazing and inspiring,  some sites are not as well-preserved (garbage and dirt everywhere).

One last important note: many places, including some hotels and restaurants, don’t have toilet paper in bathrooms (water and a mug is used instead), so you might want to prepare for that. Try to accept some of the country’s imperfection and you will definitely have an amazing journey.


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