India is a great country with a long history and fascinating culture. Millions of tourists visit India every year. Most visitors really enjoy their trip and return home with lots of new memories. Yet some struggle to adjust to life in India and find it difficult to understand local customs. This is due to a lack of cultural awareness. Before setting off, any visitor should read about the local customs, weather and good places to visit other than the tourist traps. Some try to fit too much into their itinerary and end up burning out too quickly. Before you set off, think about the following things:
1 Drink tap water
Unfortunately, water isn’t well sanitised in India and can cause a number of illnesses. Instead, you have the choice of many water brands supplying high-quality mineral water. I personally avoid drinking tap water in any country when travelling. Different sanitation processes in different countries often are the cause of an upset stomach.
2 Be offended at the intrusion
Most of us are not very good at answering intrusive questions. And while some struggle with the basics like what do you do and where do you live. In India it’s okay to go even further and question your income, age, weight, marital status. etc.
People in India do everything but mind their own business. So get out of your comfort zone and feel free to ask awkward questions in return.
3 Wear revealing clothes
In most conservative countries wearing revealing or tight clothes is considered inappropriate. India is one of those countries holding traditional views. While in bigger cities you are free to do what you want, in rural areas a mini skirt or a skimpy dress is not appropriate. You are also very unlikely to see an Indian man wearing shorts or an Indian woman wearing a short dress.
4 Come at the wrong time
Knowing about India’s changing seasons and the best time to visit is a must if you don’t want to be disappointed. When planning your itinerary the weather should be the deciding factor. Most would say that from October to February is India’s winter. March-May is considered summer in India and it’s boiling hot. Monsoon is from June-September and is the wettest time in the country. Choose your most preferred season and research which areas are the best to visit. As India has its perks both in-season and out of season.
5 Don’t fall for local traps
You are getting off the plane at Delhi airport, super excited and unaware of the first obstacle you are about to encounter. Your taxi driver pretends he doesn’t know where your hotel is or says it’s full, closed or burnt down. And kindly offers to take you to ‘another hotel’ which is actually his cousin’s or friend’s place. To avoid this, get a pre-paid taxi where you give the driver a payment voucher upon arrival. And if on the way to the hotel you are stopped by the police demanding you pay the road fee – that’s another trap.
Begging is really popular in tourist zones. The beggar is usually a single mother with no money and a hungry baby in her hands. Except you can rent children for a day to carry out this act. So be very mindful of your money and never fall for anything that requires you paying extra.
6 Leave your bag unattended
Tourists are a prime target for pickpockets worldwide and India is no different in this regard.
Most of the time negligent tourists get robbed on trains and buses. If you a doing an overnight trip, hold onto your bag very tight and cuddle it like a teddy bear while sleeping. Getting a decent lock is another way to prevent thieves from going through your possessions. Don’t trust anyone to look after your things while you nip out to the loo. It’s better to carry your stuff with you at all times. This is sound advice when travelling abroad in general.
7 Make sure you know a few words in Hindi
In big cities most Indians have a really good grasp of English. However, if you want to see some rural areas then you might want to learn a few words in Hindi. Knowing that Namaste means Hi and Haa is a yes while Nahi is a No is a no-brainer. As a rule of thumb always learn the basics of the local language wherever you travel.
8 Don’t eat beef
The cow is a sacred animal. So don’t go around demanding a medium rare steak or a beef burger. You won’t see beef served or sold anywhere in India. But no panic there will be plenty of other meats to satisfy your taste buds.
9 Don’t use your left hand
Your left-hand can b viewed as ‘evil’ and ‘unclean’. If you give something to an Indian person only do it with your right hand. What’s more, when at the table only eat with your right hand. The left hand, in this case, is allowed as a tool to serve or pass food.
10 Don’t get diarrhoea
Diarrhoea is a very common illness that can affect travellers all around the world. So avoid eating fresh salads and fruit as they might’ve been washed with poor quality water. Take your food very hot to ensure all the bacteria’s been killed. Be extra cautious with your restaurant choice and only go to really busy and popular food places.