Resources

Incredible India (www.incredibleindia.org) Official India tourism site.

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/india) Destination information, the Thorn Tree travel forum and more.

Templenet.com Temple talk.

Rediff News (www.rediff.com/news) Portal for India-wide news.

TheAlternative.in Green and socially conscious take on travel and Indian life.

Top Tips

  • Make a plan, but don't be over-ambitious; take it slowly and factor in time to go off on tangents.
  • Alternate between cities and laid-back small towns, beaches and the countryside so you get a chance to chill out.
  • Take care to avoid getting sick: use hand sanitiser, eat freshly cooked food and never drink tap water.
  • Book long-distance train journeys ahead, especially during festival times.
  • Be ready for touts and hassle in touristy places; keep calm and don't judge India by these individuals.
  • Dress to respect local culture.
  • Bring clothes for the climate – thin, covering cotton for the plains, warm-weather gear for the hills.
  • Bargaining is part of life in markets and many shops, but keep a sense of proportion about the amounts of money you're quibbling over.
  • In large cities, a map on your smartphone is helpful for finding your way around.

What to Take

  • Well-concealed money belt
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Earplugs – essential for nuisance noise
  • Mosquito repellent
  • A reliable padlock for budget hotel doors
  • Sheet sleeping bag for budget hotel rooms and dorms
  • An MP3 player to help pass the time while waiting for delayed transport

What to Wear

In the more prosperous parts of India, people dress as they might in less conservative countries, but locals generally avoid clothing that leaves skin exposed. Male and female travellers should wear non-revealing clothes as a sign of respect for local social mores. This is essential at most holy sites, where strict dress codes are enforced (carry a thin headscarf to cover your hair).

Follow the lead of locals. For women, the salwar kameez – a long, flowing shirt with loose-fitting trousers – is more practical than a sari and ideal for the tropical climate. For men, the kurta (long shirt) is also highly practical. Bring comfortable covered shoes/trainers, and carry slip-on shoes for visiting sacred sites. Proper cold-weather clothing is essential for the Himalaya.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Ensure your passport has six months' validity past your arrival date and two blank pages
  • Arrange vaccinations
  • Apply for an e-Visa (https://indianvisaonline.gov.in), if required, at least four and at most 120 days before your arrival date; carry a copy of your electronic travel authorisation (ETA)
  • Inform your debit/credit-card company you’re heading away
  • Arrange travel insurance