10 Popular Indian travel questions answered
Understandably I think given what I do, I get a lot of Indian travel questions thrown at me, and it has become apparent it is the same few issues that are on peoples minds. It is interesting to see that despite It being such a huge topic, the bulk of many of my reader’s concerns can be answered in a single post.
It can seem like an immensely daunting task to plan a big trip anywhere, let alone somewhere as notoriously intense as India. You will find the countries reputation proceeds itself, but that is all part of the charm. I have said it before, and I will say it again, nowhere on earth is as vibrant or colourful as India. There is a good reason why I keep going back again and again. I want to help your dream trip go as smoothly as possible while absorbing some of the best aspects of travel the country has to offer. I hope to help you gain a deep passion for Indian travel as I have.
I hope that this post can answer all of your most frequently asked Indian travel questions. If I miss anything, you can always ask me, and If I know, then I am always happy to help.
You may be asking yourself, why should I listen to you with so many blogs out there? Well, a person’s perception of the world is always individual, and I think that is one of the joys of life. However, I have been travelling on the Indian subcontinent for over half a decade, and I have made more than enough mistakes to be in a position to hand out some decent advice. It is always best to learn from someone else’s mistakes if it is possible, right?
How much does it cost to travel to India?
For all but a few of us, money is a big factor in just about anything in life. How much does it cost to travel to India is by far the most frequently asked question. I used to stare blankly at people when they asked this, as it seems very open-ended. I mean, how much will it cost to travel anywhere? I now know how to give a coherent answer you can use as a reliable framework.
There are many contributing factors, and I have a whole section on the cost of travel in India. However, in a nutshell, the answer is simple. How much comfort are you accustomed to? You will need to work out your daily budget, and you can do that by reading my blog on how much do things cost in India? This blog will give you a realistic breakdown of what your money will get you, and then you can decide what budget suits you. That is the answer to that question quite simply.
Take the number of days from your arrival date to the date of your departure with your chosen budget and add it all together. That is your daily spend covered. Simples.
I will say do not cut your budget too small as this will greatly affect the quality of your experience, and before you ask no, you can not get by on twenty dollars a day. I think it is irresponsible to tell people that just to get clicks. Maybe ten years ago it was the case. However, the cost of just about everything is going in one direction in India. Suggesting this is a sufficient budget will give people unrealistic expectations of what is possible. India offers better value for money than just about anywhere else I know, but it is still important to be sensible with what to expect.
Your daily spend covers things like food, water, entrance fees, transport, toiletries etc. It does not cover anything wildly expensive you may have planned like diving, mountain climbing, paragliding, spa days etc. That is always a separate consideration, and that is one reason why having a clear plan for your journey pays off. It saves you money, and you can better anticipate any financial eventualities. For more information on how to structure your money and tips on saving it, check out the link provided.
Do I need a visa for India?
If you were wondering do you need a visa for India? Oh yes! Unless you are lucky enough to be from either Bhutan or Nepal, you will need a visa for sure. The good news is unless you are from Pakistan or the select few countries on the Indian government’s naughty list, it is easy to obtain. Some countries can apply for a visa on arrival for up to 60 days, but that sounds iffy. It is much better to have your e-visa ready when you arrive at customs. I wouldn’t want to have just got a flight from London only to find out there is an issue somewhere, but that is just me and I am old fashioned.
If you decide to get an E-visa, remember that it starts on the day you receive it, so factor that in on the date you apply. It is straight forward enough to obtain a six month or one year visa in advance, and I would advise you to get a visa that sufficiently covers your time. There is no point heading to India’s consolute when it runs out as no; you can not get an extension. I have never heard of anyone successfully doing that, and the nearest and easy way to do a visa run is in Nepal, and that is no small task.
When It comes to any changes in restrictions due to something like the Covid 19 or the possibility of quarantine, I would suggest looking at the Indian Department of Immigrations website and here is the link. I don’t cover Covid 19 in any of my posts as the rules and regulations change so fast they would be outdated by next week. I always check both my own and the Indian govenments websites before travelling anyway because, like it or not, that is how it is for us. For more of my personal tricks and tips on applying for an Indian visa, check out my in-depth post on the subject.
How long should I travel to India?
Another of the most frequently asked travel questions is how long should I travel to India? Right of the bat, the simple answer would be as long as possible, right? However, that is not as a bizarre question as it seems as not many of us can take a month or six of work. So how long do you need to see something of significance? To be honest, you can see something nice in a weekend if you were to visit one of the more flamboyant cities.
On the same note, India is a whole subcontinent, so you will be limited on what you can see even with a whole year. I have been travelling there for five and still feel like I have seen nothing.
To answer that question honestly, I would suggest asking yourself what you want to get out of your trip is? Because we save hard for our holidays, right? So it makes logical sense to put some real thought into what it is you want and ask yourself why are you going to India? Once you know the answer to that question, research the pants out of it and ask yourself how much time will that honestly take.
Remember not to push too fast, or you will miss a lot of what you come to see sitting in the back of a bus all the time. Not to mention it will probably wear your health down. Even with six months, you will have to be careful with what you try and fit in. You could fit three months in the south and three months in the north. Even that is only just enough time to take in a few of the big sights. Yes, there are that many!
A pro tip for you is to draw your proposed route on a map before leaving so you avoid backtracking and wasting time. This is a common way for backpackers to waste a lot of money. The aim of the game is PLAN PLAN PLAN! Not only will this give you an infinitely richer experience while you are on there it will also give you a reason to get out of bed on a grey Monday morning. The answer to the question of how long should you go will come into sharp focus once you have built your perfect plan.
Can I drink tap water in India?
I have been asked can I drink the tap water in India several times, and when I say absolutely not under any circumstances, people often ask, so what do you do then?
There are a few options open to you, but pouring yourself a nice cold glass of tap water is not one of them. You can buy bottled, and that is something many tourists do. However, if you do that for a whole six-month journey, you would have contributed a fantastic amount of plastic waste. To reduce that you can carry a carbon filter. The water in restaurants, train stations, and people’s homes will probably be just fine. Tap water makes the Indian people sick as well, so dont even think about it.
Another option, of course, is to take iodine tablets, but they make your world taste like a swimming pool, and that’s not nice for anyone. Often, when you get off the beaten track, you will be driving whatever the local people are drinking with no alternative. If you are heading into the Indian wilderness, it certainly pays to have a carbon filter. They don’t cost very much any more, and no longer take up very much space.
There are many alternatives there, but no matter how thirsty you are, please do not risk it as it may seriously hurt you. Brushing your teeth seems to be fine, but dont push it. For more information on staying healthy while backpacking in India, Please feel free to give my in-depth blog a read. It is packed with my personal tricks and tips to keep you out of the hospital.
How do I get around India?
India may be massive, but there is a whole dictionary of transport that connects it. From luxury polished white Land Rovers to sleepy-looking camels. From a dugout tree trunk to luxury liners. Over the years, I have taken a mind-bending number of different modes of transport, although I must admit that is all a serious rarity.
Predominately, You will probably be using the mighty Indian Railways or the good old fashioned bus for the vast portion of your journey. Although the Indian trains always reign as superior to me. You will probably throw in a couple of India’s affordable domestic flights for good measure on a long trip.
This is only me answering a question briefly here. My blog on getting around in India was 5000 words long so dig in guys! It is a massive topic, so give that a good read for a full break down on how to make sense of it all. This was more just me saying getting around is not one of your bigger issues as there are oodles of ways to do that, so dont worry.
Will the food make me sick in India?
While the food in India is undeniably delicious, travelling, your tastebuds poses its fair share of risks. You have all heard of the infamous Delhi belly, right? Well, it is certainly not something restricted to just Delhi. You are quite likely to experience some kind of problem with your belly within the first few weeks of your travel. This is due to poor food handling practices and the perfect environment for bacteria to breed.
Don’t let this discourage you from branching out and enjoying the many culinary delights that this country has to offer because that would be a real shame. Be cautious but do not be afraid is my advice. The food is just too good to miss and for more information on where to get the best food, check out my post.
Many backpackers think that if they just eat tourist food that is available all over the country, they won’t get sick. Ironically, nearly all of the most severe food poisoning cases I have had was from tourist spots. It is because the products to make that food are very expensive compared to local ingredients, so the owners tend to be very reluctant to throw them away.
No matter where you eat, have a look to see if it is busy as it is a good indicator of the likely hood of you getting sick or not. A busy restaurant means a fast turn over of ingredients, and in all probability, what you are eating will be fresh. It also shows trust from the clientele, and there is a much better chance that food will also be tasty.
Often, local restaurants (or Dhabbas) can seem grubby, but they tend to make only a few dishes, and they will probably be fresh every day. While on the road I have experienced many tourist places that look nice in the restaurant but, like a medieval rubbish dump in the kitchen.
Now we have established that you will come across some kind of problem with this while on the road. Let us take a look at what to do when it does. Many backpackers carry or purchase Loperamide. It is essential to understand it is a stopper and cures nothing whatsoever but, it can be beneficial on a travel day when you won’t have access to a toilet all the time.
If the problem does not get better, you can go to any pharmacist and get a course of antibiotics such as norfloxacin or ciprofloxacin. That’s right; you can simply purchase strong medicines right over the counter with no prescription. Just make sure they are in date and have not been stored for months on end in direct sunlight. If you still don’t get better, you will need to go to the hospital.
It is essential to stay well hydrated, and I have found the ORS salts you can also buy in any pharmacist does the trick pretty good. Another problem with keeping your belly happy is the slow introduction of spicy foods. I have found that not jumping straight into a local diet is the best way to get used to it. I often have a simple breakfast, such as porridge and a local dinner in the evening. As tasty as the food is, most of our bodies will take time to get used to the change of diet.
Is India safe to travel?
Well, that depends on what you mean? Where in the world is completely safe? When most people think about somewhere being safe or not, people tend to think about the crime rate. If you are worried about violent crime, then you have come to the right place. I have never seen any such thing in all my years of travel in India.
However, petty crime is a real threat, and it must be news to no one that female travellers will have to take a few additional precautions. Staying safe in India is a massive topic, and I have a very lengthy and in-depth for you to read at your leisure.
I would also strongly advise you to check out my post on India’s most common scams, as this is the most likely problem you will face on your Indian odyssey. The best way to avoid being a victim of a scam is to learn as much as you can about what sort of scams may be heading your way. This is not a conspiracy theory, as people trying to scam you will happen to you almost daily.
It tends to happen more in the north more than in the south. You can bet people will try this almost daily and sometimes several times a day, depending on where you are. This is one of my most valuable blogs as I have been scammed more than enough times to be able to hand out some rock-solid advice on how to avoid the worst of it all. Educate yourself as much as you can otherwise, your trip could cost you a whole lot more than you planned.
Dont just listen to me neither, as it pays to have a broad knowledge of this subject for maximum protection. Check out other peoples blogs and see what the guide books such as the lonely planet are saying about it.
Where to fly to in India?
With the many budget airlines running to India, getting a cheap flight has never been easier. There is a lot of competition these days, so there is a lot to choose from.
Shop around for the best price for your flights and consider booking any internal flights you may have. You have a plan now, so work everything around your schedule. I have found Sky Scanners to be super useful and comparing flights, and I suggest you use the same. I used to use STA Travel a lot, but unfortunately, because of Covid19, this is now no longer an option. So Sky Scanners it is then.
Some destinations are more expensive than others to fly to. Overall, I would say New Delhi is the cheapest destination to get a flight to from the united kingdom at least. Mumbai, Goa, Chennai or Kolkata are also very reasonable. If you can stick to these, then I would suggest doing so. However, if your itinerary does not allow it, then you will just have to suck it up. Sometimes there is little choice but to invest. Passengers heading to the more far-flung destinations could save days in a bus, so it’s a no brainer.
If you are on a more extended trip, it may be beneficial to book a flight into one city and out through the next. This is called an open-jaw flight, and it is useful if you will otherwise be backtracking. You dont want to spend too much time on public transport as that would be a massive waste of your fleeting time.
When to go to India?
To answer this, you really need a good idea of what you want to get out of your trip. I have a whole post on when to go to India, and this will give you a good idea of when is the best time depending on your interest. Because India is so vast and offers so much, there is no one size fits all answer to that question.
If you are coming to India to practise yoga or learn about ayurvedic medicine, then there is no need to consider the time as it’s all good. However, if you feel a little intrepid and want to take a walk in the mountains, you will probably have to come when the roads are open and you are not nipple deep in snow. So you see, answering that question really does boil down to you having a clear idea of what you want.
There is one small issue to consider here. Travelling at the peak time means you will pay peak prices. The amount of INR you get through significantly increases during these times and should be considered when working out your daily spend. Hotels, taxis and even restaurants can cost more. It is a more than big enough issue to warrant me mentioning here.
It is an important question to put some thought into as it will greatly affect your experience’s quality, So make sure you read my article carefully to really absorb it all. Simply follow the link above.
Is there good health care in India?
Before I start, I must make it clear I am no doctor by any stretch of the imagination. However, I have been to the hospital enough times in India to be able to answer this question. The short answer is hell yes there is good health care in India. It is big business, and you can find world-class hospitals.
Unfortunately, they cost a lot, and you get what you pay for. Government hospitals are dirt cheap, but they generally also come with a fair bit of dirt. They will do just fine for a blood test or a diagnosis, but you wouldn’t want to undergo serious surgery in a grubby hospital, surely? So what I tend to do is assess what kind of treatment am I likely to need and choose my hospital from there.
If you are in a rural area, you will have to settle for whatever you have, and if you are going far of the beaten track, you may want to consider insurance if you haven’t already. Airlifts can cost a small fortune should you need one, and I have seen some health care systems that are off the chain. It is your health, and I would imagine it is not something you want to save money on, but of course, it is all a personal choice.
In summary of my bog of popular Indian travel questions.
Well, that was an epic post, wasn’t it? Of course, there are 86388294652648 more questions that could be asked about such an epic topic as travel in India, but these are the ones that seem to come up the most frequently.
If you would like to know more about the topics discussed here or you have any additional questions, then do not hesitate to ask them as I am always happy to help. I hope you enjoyed this post and didn’t find it long-winded or boring as I try hard to make my work as engaging as possible. Feel free to let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions on how I can make things better for my readers as I want to deliver the service people want. Also, If you have any suggestions on what you would like me to write about next, then do let me know, and I will oblige,
So that’s enough for now, and I look forward to seeing you in my next post. With that said, I will wrap it up and say take care, guys and happy planning.
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