India is a country full of colour, culture and vibrance. People like to paint this perfected picture of India, showing only the good sides to it. Often enough, this has painted some misconceptions of the country. After all, India remains as a third world country, with many beautiful tourist attractions, mouth watering food and gorgeous traditional clothing, but there are a few things a tourist visiting India should know before going. After my most recent travels, i’m sharing some useful tips that everyone should know before travelling to the wonderful country.
1. There are no traffic rules
I think the traffic is something that surprises more tourists, because there are simply no rules. If there is a slight gap in the road, you will find a rickshaw or motorbike trying to squeeze their way through. This often means it is a struggle for pedestrians to cross the road and even walk down a road. There are no traffic signals like most of the world, so you essentially have to be brave, hold your hand out and ask cars to stop for you.
2. Don’t eat street food, meat or drink water
As tempting as street food is, don’t eat it. They prepare it outdoors normally and with water that definitely isn’t suitable for us to drink, especially as most diseases are water-born. Stick to bottled water and soft drinks and you will be fine. Don’t eat meat either, as animals aren’t farmed the way they are in western countries, this can often leave you the bad stomach aches and many unfortunate trips to the bathroom.
3. Don’t pet the street dogs
Dogs are generally kept as pets for us and it’s our automatic reaction to pet a dog in sight, but don’t. The stray street dogs are flea-ridden with other various diseases, including rabies. Although the government try and vaccinate as many of the street dogs against rabies, you can never be sure. Although, if you leave the dogs alone they will don’t even look at you twice.
It is sad that many of the street dogs are hungry and it is in our human nature to want to feed hungry animals but unless you want to be surrounded my hundreds of wild, hungry dogs, don’t do it. It is for your own safety.
4. Become a bargaining expert
The locals can spot a foreigner from a mile away. Just by the way you talk, you walk and dress. Even though my parents can speak Hindi and we dressed fairly traditionally around India, they could tell by our accents that we were from abroad. This often means they hike the price up for things by a few fold, so don’t be afraid to haggle the prices down. If you don’t get it to the price you want, simply walk away and you’ll find the shop staff calling you back and giving you the price you want.
5. Beware of large amounts of pollution
As there are so many cars and motorbikes on the road, it is a given that there will be a lot of pollution. If you are an asthma sufferer, just be a little careful. Don’t be afraid to cover your mouth and nose area up with a scarf.
6. Expect animals everywhere
Cows are a sacred animal in the Hindu religion so you will often find cows just wandering the streets, amongst other animals such as goats and chickens. Almost all of the cows are owned by local people, but they are let out during the day to roam the streets and eat garbage.
7. You will come across many beggars
As I mentioned in my most recent post about India, there is a lot of poverty and you will come across many beggars. Some of these are genuine and others are part of larger gangs that use children to trick people into feeling sorry for them. Don’t give them money, if anything, give them things that can help them such as food and clothes. On our most recent trip, my mum took 2 suitcases full of old clothes and handed them out to less fortunate families and children.
8. Dress to respect
When visiting India, it is best to wearing clothing that is essentially covers up your body. You won’t find many people that wear revealing clothing and it is mainly through respect to their religion, culture and to their elders. You will be asked to cover up if you’re visiting temples or mosques, so just keep that in mind.
Ladies, it is a good idea to not wear too revealing clothing generally. Many of the local men don’t often see women under dressed, so you will find you become the person that turns many, many heads. It’s safer just to cover up with a shawl or scarf should you wish to wear strappy or low cut tops.
I hope these tips come in useful to anyone that wishes to visit India in the near future.
Until next time…
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