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Top Tips

  • Manage time expectations in Mumbai. Until there's an operational metro all the way to Colaba, criss-crossing this huge city always takes considerably longer than expected.
  • Book ahead – surrounding important festivals, Tamil Nadu gets heavily booked weeks in advance.
  • Tamil Nadu has a slightly different monsoon to other parts of India; plan carefully.
  • Remember that accommodation prices in Goa and Kerala are seasonal: between 20 Dec and 5 Jan prices triple or more.
  • In Kerala look out for homestays, a great way to stay and eat with local families.
  • Bring layers: although South India is generally sweltering, hill stations can be chillier than expected.
  • Explore off-the-beaten-track island life on a bike in the Andamans – one of the most picturesque and least stressful places in India to bike it up.

What to Take

  • Prescriptions, familiar over-the-counter meds, sunscreen and insect repellent
  • India electrical adapter
  • Baby wipes – trust us!
  • Tampons – not widely available in many places
  • Mosquito net – depending on your itinerary
  • Backup credit/debit card
  • Good quality torch – power outages are all too frequent
  • Earplugs

What to Wear

Generally speaking, South India is quite hot and humid, so light cotton fabrics are best, but jumpers, jackets and jeans are useful in hill stations, where it can get surprisingly cold. A good brimmed or sun hat works wonders as well.

Some smarter South Indian bars/restaurants/clubs have strict dress codes (eg no sandals or shorts at most upmarket places in urban hubs).

For women, strappy tops are fine in Goa, cosmopolitan Mumbai etc, but you'll definitely need to cover up in most of Tamil Nadu (beyond the fancy hotels, Chennai’s bars and maybe Mamallapuram, which is more relaxed). Think baggy trousers or ankle-length skirts with nonrevealing tops; shawls or dupattas to throw on when necessary; and salwar kameez (traditional dresslike tunic and trouser combination) or kurtas with trousers.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Make sure your passport has six months validation past your arrival date and two blank pages
  • Apply for an e-tourist visa (eTV;, if required, a minimum of four and maximum of 30 days before you are due to travel
  • Inform your debit-/credit-card company you’re heading away
  • Arrange for appropriate travel insurance and vaccinations