India is a dizzying mix of amazing food, people, places, monuments and culture and is a country that is sure to test you. Travelling to India is an experience within itself and is one not to be missed. It is a massive and evolving country with many cultures, religions and languages that work in harmony and intermix.
If you’re feeling slightly worried about travelling to India, fear not! We’ve compiled some handy tips and some helpful information so you will have an idea of what to expect in India to dodge enduring too much of culture shock when you arrive.
Prepare to be hit with humidity and heat as you leave the airport along with a ton of people. This experience can be particularly overwhelming, especially if you come from a country isn’t hot and humid like India. Make sure you organise a hotel transfer or a taxi prior to arriving and have clear directions of how to get your accommodation to avoid scams and awkward situations.
As India has a fairly reserved culture, it is a good idea to cover up your arms and legs, especially as a sign of respect, and if you choose to visit some of the temples. For females particularly, you may feel a little exposed and vulnerable with plenty of male attention, so for this reason dressing conservatively would be advised.
As soon as you arrive in India, your senses work overdrive. India has an assortment of smells, which can range from smelling absolutely amazing to smelling incredibly horrific however, this is all part of the experience. Expect the reek of urine and garbage that mingles with the delightful aromas of incense, spices and cooking food.
With having the second largest population in the world with 1.311 billion (2015), expect to be surrounded by a lot of chaos, a lack of personal space and pretty much no privacy; Indian society is extremely close-knit. You will probably encounter people constantly steering at you and perhaps some may ask you some personal questions however, this is because they’re curious and interested in you as you’re ‘different’.
The poverty in India is painstakingly obvious and for a lot of the time a hard thing to see and accept as most of us come from privileged lives in comparison. With India being one of the poorest countries in the world with such a large population, you will see plenty of slums and beggars. Due to being a foreigner, you will be bombarded by beggars who range from children to elderly people who will do literally anything they can to get a bit of cash. Additionally, there is also a stark contract between the rich and poor and you really can’t get your head around it with seeing expensive cars driving through slums to seeing mansions built next to shanty towns.
The food in India is not like the Indian food at home. In fact, it’s pretty different! For example, curry’s such chicken tikka masala doesn’t in fact exist in India, it was a dish created for the west. Trying the local cuisine in every destination is what travel is all about, and tasting Indian cuisine in India is no different. Indian food is extremely diverse due to each region having its own specific spices, ingredients and cooking methods. Although, be weary as a dodgy tummy is quite a common thing for first-timers in India unless, your stomach is made of steel!
The roads in India are complete mayhem with a lack of road rules, traffic lights, the state of the roads, constant honking and every type of transport imaginable, which range from cars to bikes to tuk tuks to camels. Being both a passenger in a vehicle and a pedestrian can be a terrifying experience however, it’s all part of the Indian culture and the way the country works.
So, have we planted that seed for you to visit India? Expect to visit a country completely different to your own. That’s what travel is all about, right? Travel Talk offers an 8-Day Essential India tour and a 16-Day Essential India and Nepal tour that will enable you to discover the many aspects of this amazing country.