Special post written by a friend just for my readers-
Although I have been to Asia, I have never been to India. I mostly spent my time in Singapore, which was amazing. But, after looking back, I decided that it was time to branch out and see more of Asia, so I booked a flight! I don’t see the point in procrastinating when it comes to travelling because nothing gets done otherwise.
Still, before I set off, I want to make sure that I know pretty much everything there is to know about India. Obviously, I don’t want to miss anything that could potentially blow my mind, but I also don’t want to make any mistakes. After a bit of research, I put together a beginner’s guide to India that I think is helpful.
Here are my tips and tricks to traversing the exotic sub-continent.
Before anyone reaches India, there are certain vaccinations that you have to get to minimize the risk. The main ones are the hepatitis shots and the pre-booster rabies injections. From what I can gather, there is a risk of Malaria. However, I know that you can take tablets that are just as effective as the shots, as long as you take them two weeks prior and after travelling. Forget about Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever because the reported cases are incredibly rare.
Where To Start?
I know my biggest problem before booking my flight was where do I start? The country is so big, and there is so much to do, that it is hard to come to an informed decision. My best tip is to start wherever you want! The transport links are good enough to get you around the country without too much hassle, so you don’t have to do a complete circle. I am starting out in the south because I want to experience some of the ‘real’ India like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Plus, by starting in the south I can work my way to the north where the major attractions and cities are situated.
Because India is so big, it is important to understand the transport links. After checking the India Travel Forum, I realized that the transport links are not brilliant. Of course, you expect that to a degree because India isn’t home. Still, the fact that you have to book train tickets days in advance is a little worrying. Thankfully, they do sell tickets on the morning of the train, so you can always decide to travel without prior notice. The key to getting these tickets is to get there early and to carry photocopies of all your important details like your passport. Buses do go almost everywhere in India, but the roads are poor and they take ages. They are a cheap alternative and a backup plan if all else fails.
Sights And Attractions
We all have a list of attractions that springs to mind when we think of India. Obviously, the main attraction is the Taj Mahal, but there are others worth seeing. Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and Goa all have an array of monuments, temples, forts and street life that you should witness. And, Hampi and Varanasi are also two diamonds in the rough that you cannot miss. Personally, I like to look at travel books to make sure I don’t miss anything special, as well as the Internet. With a travel guide to hand, you have little tips and tricks that make seeing these attractions much easier. For example, when you go to the Taj, foreigners have to enter on the south side of the site.
Not all of India can boost clean drinking water, which is why it is a good idea to stick to bottled water. When you go into a restaurant, make sure you ask for a bottle and ask them to bring the bottle to the table. It is not rude, especially if you don’t want chronic diarrhea or worse! Also, you might want to pour the water into a cup instead of drinking straight out of the bottle. The recycling process is not the cleanest, and even the locals don’t let the plastic touch their lips.
The food, on the other hand, is meant to be delicious. Everyone says that the food is different to Indian food back home, but that the key is to dive in head first. I think you should always try new things when you go to a different country, especially the food. Apparently, the Masala Dosa, the Thali and a boiled egg curry are incredible. Also, the locals like to eat with their hands, so I would give it a try when you get the chance. I know that the thought of eating a curry without a knife and fork is strange, but when in Rome!