10 Things You Should Know About India Before You Go

How to dress. India is more of a conservative country in Asia. You should cover your shoulders and knees. When entering a temple, women are required to wear a garment over their head and men also require a garment. I would recommend taking a scarf that you can take in your day bag to put on when necessary. Keep in mind that even in the winter India is a very warm country so you want to pack clothing that will keep you cool.


Bring sanitizer. Most times when I went into a public washroom or even some fancier restaurants hand soap was not provided. Even if there is soap I would still recommend sanitizing your hands after washing them.


Food. India is not only spicy food. When you dine at a restaurant you can ask the waiter what they offer that is not spicy. There are quite a few options for vegetarians and vegans. At least a full page on the menu is dedicated to vegetarian dishes. If you order a spicy dish and want something to cool you down, order a lassi which is an Indian drink containing yogourt, spices and water. There are different kinds of lassi like the most common Sweet Lassi and then there are various fruit lassi options.


Going barefoot. Temples and some historic places require you to take off your shoes. If you don’t want your feet to be completely bare, you can take a pair of socks in your day bag or buy shoe covers. Shoe covers sometimes may not be used and you must take off your footwear.


Patience and open minded. In India people can speak English however, their accent can sometimes be hard to understand and you may need to ask them to repeat. Waiting times in India for food and other services can be a little long. Indians do not say excuse me when passing close by you which is not meant to be rude. Embrace the diversity as it is a very unique and a beautiful thing in India.


Currency exchange. To exchange your money, the best places are at the airport and select exchange service centres. You can withdraw cash at ATMs in major cities. I was on a tour and our guide told us which ATMs were safe to withdrawal and which were not. Change rupees into small bills if possible as restaurants prefer if you have smaller notes.


Get ready for chaotic traffic. When people complain about traffic in major cities in Canada, I would like to say back, ‘Oh, please. Have you been to India?’ Real traffic jams exist there. It’s quite entertaining to watch the traffic go by for first time visitors to India. I was so intrigued! In Agra I stared at the traffic for a good 45 minutes and it was like an action movie. Going in a tuk-tuk (auto rickshaw) I was in the action movie! It was a lot of fun at night in Jaipur to take a ride in a tuk-tuk.


Monkeys. There are literally monkeys monkeying around everywhere. They tend to keep to themselves and climb on top of old buildings or isolate themselves up high. Usually they do not try to interact with humans. You can get some really cute shots with your camera of the monkeys but remember, you need to respect their space and don’t try to feed them.


Watch your belongings. Pickpocketing can occur especially in busy streets. Keep your valuables in your safety deposit box in your hotel and carry a day bag that is ‘thief proof’ or keep your purse in front of your body.


Animal welfare and safety. I saw in Jaipur many locals offering camel rides to tourists. To be honest, it didn’t really look that safe. The camels looked healthy and tame but the streets of Jaipur are crazy. Can you imagine a camel and car getting into an accident? I try not to. If you do want to take a camel or any sort of animal ride, talk to a reliable booking source. This way you know that it will be as safe as possible and that the animals that are being used are well taken care of.

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