Travel Tips for India
Do you need some tips for travel in India? Check these bad boys out:
- Drink lots of chai: Seriously this shit is amazing, and tastes nothing like the chai back home. I lived of chai tea while I was in India. Love, love, love!
- Don’t freak out after hearing your can’t bring Rupees into India and then change all your converted money back into dollars before flying to India: I did this when we visited in 2009 even after being told it wasn’t really enforced by an Indian friend. I had already changed some money into rupees but freaked out after being told by the travel agent that I wasn’t allowed to bring the currency into the country. A costly annoyance. You should be fine to take a bit of money over with you, but its up to you, I have since been told by a large amount of people that it is indeed not enforced but if your worried just don’t change your money over until you arrive in the country.
- Turn Vegetarian: Three words – paneer butter masala, the most freaking amazing vegetarian dish I have ever eaten. It’s like butter chicken without the chicken, instead with paneer cheese which soaks up the flavours of whatever yummy sauce its placed in. Anyway my point is that Indian food is so full of flavour that you can go vegertarian without missing out on feeling satisfied.
- Keep your cool: It can feel like your a walking dollar sign especially in the north of India. Try to keep your temper in check and resist snapping at the people who are trying to sell you items. Just say no, or ignore them and keep on walking.
- Find Ranch Pringles (a must for Australians – they aren’t sold there): Oh my fucking god, have you tried ranch pringles? We found them on our first trip to India and I fell in love! We have since found an overpriced packet every now and then in specialty stores back home in Australia but they never seem to taste as good as they did in India. Okay so this isn’t Indian food (it may be American?) but it was great when I wanted a break from all the paneer butter masala I’ve been eating.
- Eat in small, hidden cafes: We found the most amazing small restaurant looking over the lake in Udaipur (atleast I think it was Udaipur, I really wish I had taken more notes from my trip) and it was romantic and peaceful and perfect. Seek out smaller establishments, not only will they be cheaper, you get the chance to actually interact with the staff and other customers in these places. We found we would get approached more by locals (not trying to sell us things) while eating in smaller places simply because they didn’t get a lot of tourists there and we must have been some sort of novelty.
- Don’t assume you have to wear hippy pants: I thought everyone would be rocking the hippy pants or comfy fisherman pants but boy was I wrong. Although in saying this we spent time only in the north, so I can’t speak for everywhere in the country. I was surprised by the amount of people wearing jeans… in March (read: extreme heat)! I don’t think I saw a pair of hippy pants (although I must admit I wasn’t looking out for them), even on tourists. So stick to jeans and long skirts/ dresses if you are visiting the cities, you’ll stand out a bit otherwise (more so than you already will). Of course in the wise words of Chris from Skins you could always just say “Fuck it” and wear them anyway if you find them comfortable.
- Keep small change: Always.
- Pick a place with a good toilet: Chances are you’ll get the, uh, ’erge to purge’ at some point during your trip so make sure your hotel has a toilet you wouldn’t mind spending a bit of time on. Oh and pack re-hydration powder,
- Do a cooking class: We turned this down because it sounded a bit expensive when we were there and we both totally regretted it. Turns out sometimes they will quote you a higher price when others in the class have come from a pricier tour so you won’t accidentally let it slip that you paid less than the others; the people from our tour group who did do the class got a price nearly half the price of the one mentioned originally.
- Visit a wildlife sanctuary: India has animals? Yes, it sure does. I wasn’t too keen on this part of the trip in the beginning but it ended up being one of the highlights of my trip even though we only saw the tiniest bit of a tiger. Oh and the sunset at Ranthambore after a day of animal stalking is simply AMAZING, I have never seen the sun so large and it has been my favourite sunset to date. There aren’t too many animals to see though, but I still loved it.
- Talk Cricket: As soon as we mentioned we were Australians every single person that we met started talking about cricket, and those who were trying to sell us things even told us they knew Ricki Ponting (this happened in like four stores – he must be popular with the Indian crowd…). Now I have no idea who Ricki Ponting is (or even if he spells his name in that way) but my boyfriend did, and he found it to be a great way to connect with new people while we were over there even if they were just talking shit.
- Join a family or group of friends for a game of Holi: Even though I had some apprehension about going into a stranger’s house it was a lovely way to get smashed over the head with water and paint. Oh and the colour doesn’t come out too easy, I had pink in my hair for like a month, and on my skin for the next few days. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t wash it out.
- Stay in a castle: Not for your whole stay since it´s a little touristy but try it atleast once. Where else can you stay in an stunning castle for a low price? Not in Australia, that’s for sure.
- Get your haggle on: Oh I was fab at haggling, well at the ‘being a hard arse’ part not so much at getting a deal as good as the locals. Even if you don’t want to drive the price down haggling is expected and is a fun little game. Of course you have to remember that this is the shopkeepers livelihood so don’t take it too far but do give it a fair go.