India is a country that is full of cultural flavours and historic sites with beautiful stories and it is on many avid traveller’s bucket list. However, many stories in the news and many other traveller’s posts have deferred some from visiting especially female travellers. I had the very same thoughts which is why I never planned a trip to India until last year. I am glad I did and managed to see the Taj Mahal so here are some tips for females planning a trip to India.
Many of the tourist sites in India do not have sophisticated ticket offices but small counters and booth and most are available only on-site although some of the more popular venues do allow for online purchase of tickets.
- There is 2 different queues and prices for foreigners and locals
- Some sites accept credit card purchase but due to the line connection, it could take a long time
- Some entry tickets come in the form of a token and you need the same token to exit so do not lose it
- They strictly do not allow any change of date or timing of pre-purchased tickets online
Food and Water
Many people think that they will get food poisoning or diarrhoea from eating in local Indian restaurants. This is not entirely true as long as you do not attempt an over adventurous food tasting at a dusty roadside stall. My stomach is not very strong but I had no issues during my 4 days in India.
- There are many clean and decent cafes and restaurants in India that serve food that will not give you an upset stomach
- All restaurants serve bottled water and nothing from the tap
- All hotels and accommodations provide bottled water so you do not need to carry mineral water in your luggage
The traffic condition is more than just horrible and I have done my rounds of travel around Asia and I definitely say my experience in India was the worst. Comparing traffic conditions, the number of cars and time spent in traffic is probably the same as Bangkok, Manila or Jakarta. What made it unbearable was the non-stop honing of the drivers. This is apparent not in all areas of India but the downtown and tourist sites area and the excessive use of the horn is almost like the natural noise of a busy Indian street.
- For those who are claustrophobia, do prepare your ointments, mints or anything
- You can prepare your earphones or headphones to help cut out some of the sharp horns
- Prepare enough time to be on the road in between venues
- For those with sensitive respiratory systems, prepare a mask as the pollution gets extremely bad in traffic
This is the number one question on many people’s mind especially for single female travellers with many rape reports and molestation news. To be frank, this was my biggest concern before travelling to India. My trip only covered New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur so I can’t say much for other places. In the day, it is generally safe to walk around in tourist sites and street bustling with people. The age-old advice is to steer clear of the quiet and dark alley or deserted areas away from the crowd. In the night, it is indeed not very safe for a lone female traveller to be on the streets as advised by many locals.
- As with many developing European countries as well, you need to keep vigilant and keep your valuables out of sight
- Uber is generally safe for short-distance rides
- Stay indoors at night if you are a single female travelling alone
- Stay clear of peddlers who wish to sell you wares in a secret location or free tour guides who offer to show you around
- DO NOT tip or offer any money to any of the beggars or homeless even though they are children as you will attract a whole army of people chasing you down
- Try to dress modestly as you will get stares along the streets whether you like it or not being female
Most of India’s famous historic sites are packed with people and this is not difficult to imagine since India is one of the most populated countries in the world. With many domestic tourists, you will find that foreign tourists are actually the minority in most of the places. There is also a queue to enter these sites and in India, there is usually no order.
- Queue in order for entry although expect people to cut your queue even if you complain so if you are in a hurry, do not hesitate to cut a queue to get past
- There is always a security bag check at famous sites so be prepared to put your bags through the bag check machine which is definitely always a mess so if you do not want your bags to be messed with, bring a small bag or a lockable one
- Sweets and food is not allowed in some of the sites so do not attempt to bring them into the sites to avoid unnecessary arguments
- Do not attempt to take pictures if they have a sign that forbids photography as they are very strict about dishing out a fine
- Posing for pictures with guards or people dressed in cultural clothes almost always cost you a tip so ask first
Overall, India is a country that is brimming with culture for travellers to discover especially its cuisine which is usually understated from the culinary world. In fact, one of the things I missed from the trip was the food I had and also the hospitality of the people. They are generally warm and welcoming and while they seem to be really staring at tourists, they are really just curious. With every country, there will be some black sheep who are driven to commit crime due to poverty so as a traveller, you just need to be very mindful of your surroundings and also vigilant to keeping yourself safe.