Must-Read Tips for First Time Visitors to India

The diverse religions, the crazy drivers, and hectic lifestyle, India can be a real culture shock to first-time visitors. It’s no secret that it’s somewhere that’s very different to the rest of the world, it’s not a place that you can prepare for.

It’s a massive place, and somewhere that can feel a little intimidating. India can feel a little strange and bewildering at first glance, but once you adjust to it,  you’ll soon learn to love it. While you can’t prepare yourself for what to expect when you arrive, what you can do is get clued up on everything that you need to know.

Munnar, India

Munnar, India

Understand that you can’t see everything

It’s natural to want to see as much of a place you are visiting as you can, but if you try to fit too much into your schedule, you’ll burn out. In hot countries, like India, doing too much, too quickly can lead to exhaustion and heat stroke. So unless you want to get sick, it’s important to prioritise what you want to see and pace yourself. Don’t stress about missing things, India isn’t going anywhere, you can always go back.

Rooftop stacked with firewood

Rooftop stacked with firewood; Village Nako, Himachal Pradesh, India; Photo: Deepak Asthana

Leave the city behind

While India’s cities are a must-see, don’t spend all of your time there. To experience the real India, you need to get out of the city and go into the countryside. To get a sense of the country’s true beauty, consider taking a trip to the mountains – you’ll see some of the world’s most incredible views here. For a tranquil and relaxed way of life, consider visiting some of the hill stations in South India. Renowned for it’s slower and more relaxed way of life, for a few days of serenity, the south of the country is the place to go.

Be careful of the food and drink you consume

For first-timers in India, a bad stomach is common. Most of the time this is caused by eating or drinking the wrong thing. It goes without saying to avoid all tap water and drinks containing ice, but what about food? There’s nothing wrong with street food, but try to steer clear of salads and fish. Instead, stick to peeled fresh fruits and vegetables that have been cooked through – boiled or fried is best. By all means try new things, just be choosy about which dishes you opt for.

Dress appropriately

You may be used to wearing skimpy outfits in the heat, but in India that’s seen as being rude. It’s quite a conservative country, so make sure to respect the culture by covering up with a shawl when out and about. If you go out with bare arms and legs, you’re going to get some funny looks and maybe even some anger from locals. Be respectful and dress conservatively, you’ll be welcome with open arms if you do.

To ensure that your first trip to India is a success, take note of these tips. It might be a major culture shock, but it’s a beautiful country and somewhere that is well worth exploring.


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