India is a vast and beautiful country that attracts many visitors. It has many places to visit, like the Himalayas, the Taj Mahal, beaches, forests, vibrant cities, and more. This article lists 5 amazing things you should know as a tourist in India.
India is an excellent choice of destination if you love to discover new things and have adventures. But just like before any trip, it is essential to research the country you’re visiting and be prepared.
1. Places to visit in India
Going to India is good, but you must also plan your itinerary and where to stay. India is a vast country, and there are a lot of places to visit. For example, you can see either the north or the south of India, especially if you have a short time for your stay in India. The north and the south are a bit different. A tourist can therefore choose to visit only the north’s vibrant cultural regions, where there is, for example, the great city of Delhi or the south’s peaceful lush valleys and cities like Bengaluru. In the north, one can also admire the beauty of the Himalayan mountains and the Ganges River, while in the south, there are lush forests and beaches.
If you plan to stay longer, you can plan your time on where you want to go. India is full of beautiful places. Fascinating cities to visit are Mumbai, Jaipur, Kerala, Chennai, Agra, and more. However, if you want to see the most places in India, you can do both the north and the south. It is, therefore, a good idea to plan your itinerary so that you can have the best possible experience of the country.
2. Indian languages
It is, of course, quite normal to find out what language is spoken in your destination country. India has 22 distinct official languages and a total of 121 languages, and 270 mother tongues. Hindi is India’s most widely spoken language and can be heard throughout North and Central India. Other widely spoken languages include Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, and others. It is essential to understand that the language spoken varies greatly depending on the region. Learning some Hindi is good if you plan a trip to north or central India. It is not necessary to know everything but knowing some phrases can be useful. And then learning a foreign language helps break the barrier and immerse yourself more in the country’s culture.
But if learning a new language is not your thing, English will be very useful too. Because of British rule in the past, English is India’s second language. Almost all over India, English is understood and can be communicated with.
3. Indian currency
India is a country where things are pretty affordable. During a visit to India, one will have to spend money. You need to know how to manage your money. The official currency of India is the Indian rupee, whose sign is “₹” and the code “INR”. However, one small point to note is that it is illegal for visitors, including tourists, to bring any Indian currency into the country.
It is easy to change major currencies, for example, US dollars, Pounds Sterling, and Euros. It is possible to exchange money, but as the exchange rate is somewhat unfavourable there, it is advisable to bring enough for necessities such as transport. Some hotels can also exchange money, but you should check whether they offer this service.
Another way of exchanging money that is more common and convenient is ATMs. These ATMs often provide the best exchange rates and can be found at airports, urban areas and outside banks. And, a little piece of advice, it’s best to carry some cash (rupees) because it’s easier and more convenient to pay street vendors, whether for food or other products. But some places in some cities accept the card. You may wish to make some enquiries.
4. Buying a SIM card as a Foreigner in India
Many people who have already been to India, especially those who visit many places, recommend buying a SIM card for their phone to have internet access anywhere. So if you are planning a trip to India and need to keep in touch with friends, family and fellow travellers during your stay, you will need an Indian SIM card.
Getting a local SIM card gives you access to essential services in the country, such as shopping, ordering taxis, food delivery, maps and mobile data. So it’s pretty convenient. The two biggest providers are Vodafone-Idea and Airtel. SIM cards can be purchased in or out of the airport by presenting your passport, visa and photo ID.
5. Safety precautions to take as a tourist in India
As with any travel destination, precautions must be taken to ensure a good experience from start to finish. Firstly, it is crucial to know how to dress. India‘s climates differ due to its geographical diversity. Check the weather forecast for the state you’re visiting and pack accordingly. It’s always a good idea to travel light, wear loose-fitting clothing, and cover up when visiting temples or more conservative areas.
Secondly, it is imperative never to drink tap water when travelling in India, especially if you are a foreigner. It’s best only to drink bottled water and keep some on hand in case you get thirsty while visiting some sites. Good sanitary practices are also essential. Also, be wary of scammers. It’s always a good idea to be cautious, no matter where you go. Unofficial tour guides, fast-track admission service scams, invalid SIM cards, and inflated taxi fares should all be avoided.
And finally, always be careful with your belongings, especially in crowded places like markets or on public transport, so it is sometimes better to carry only what is strictly necessary when going out.
Léonard Marie Mégane, BA (Hons) Politics, Human Rights and International Relations student, University of Mauritius