A Safety Guide for First Time Travelers in India
India is a major tourist attraction in Southeast Asia, in 2018 the country's revenue from tourism was higher than France's tourism industry. This South Asian nation is in third place in the new Power Ranking of the 2018 report of World Travel & Tourism Council. Due to its geography and cultural history, millions of visitors travel this amazing nation every year. If you are about to travel to India here are some useful ideas for safe travel.
Have a plan
India is noted for its diversity, the country has 28 states and each state has its own dialect, language, food, and culture. So you should have a proper plan for the places you want to visit. If you want to see some great forests then you have to travel to the northeast, to experience the snow-filled valleys and rivers you have to visit northern states like Himachal Pradesh, to have some divine holistic beauty of nature and backwater, you need to travel South India especially the state of Kerala. So before your trip, you should have a clear picture of the places you want to visit in India. Also, the geography and climate differ for every five hundred miles, and the diseases also differ by region. So you need to make sure that you have proper vaccinations and other precautionary measures as recommended by WHO to protect yourself from the risk of getting ill.
"India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most artistic materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only!"— - Mark Twain (Writer, America)
Avoid Taxi Scam
You will be having a lot of expectations about Indian hospitality but every single expectation of yours gets shattered when you come out of the airports in India. The moment you come out of the airport you will be surrounded by a group of taxi drivers to take you to their taxi. Usually, they have tie-ups with a few hotels and shops so they will get their share if they take you there. It is better to avoid such people and the best way is to look for online taxi booking applications like Ola, Uber they are reasonable and will cost you a fixed amount based on their tariff. Also, make advance bookings for the hotels or guesthouses after checking the feedback from the users in booking sites to avoid being misguided by the local people.
Get a local Sim card
It is better to get a local SIM card for internet connectivity and for making outgoing calls. To get a local SIM card you need few documents like your Original Passport, photocopy of your Passport and Visa, Passport size photo(2*2 inch), you can buy a new sim card at Airports. You can also buy a sim card in local stores outside the airport with the same documents as mentioned above. Sometimes the service provider might ask a local reference number if you buy a sim card in shops other than the one in the airport, so make sure to get the local number of your hotel/Guest house or a friend. Also, keep in mind that the reference number should be in the same city where you buy the SIM card and the service providers will call that number for verification. Most of the blogs and Vlogs by travelers complain about the difficulties in getting a SIM card in India, here you have to make sure that you visit the authenticated store of the Service providers, as most of the time local mobile shops don't know about the procedure to give SIM card for travelers. So it is better to visit the authenticated store of the service providers. You can find those stores even in small towns. Also, take a universal plug adapter with you in order to avoid difficulties while charging your electronic devices.
India is noted for its diverse food culture especially the spices. Every state has its own authenticated food. Most of the Indian foods are spicy so you have to pick your food according to your taste. The country is also noted for its street foods so try to eat as much street food as possible. If possible ask a local person for the suggestion. You can't eat all the local food in a single day because the choices are enormous. So India is a heaven for foodies who love to taste different kinds of food. Another important thing is always to drink only bottled mineral water to avoid bacteria in water. Remember India is one of the counties affected by impure drinking water so be cautious while drinking tap water or some other water from pots in small street food vendors.
"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."— -George Bernard Shaw
The best way to travel within India is by train. Indian railways are the fourth largest railway network in the world. Trains and buses are the easily accessible and cheapest mode of transportation within the country. Remember you are traveling in one of the highly populated countries so you will find people everywhere, in order to avoid rush always do advance bookings for trains and buses. Always avoid an unreserved compartment in trains as those compartments will be very rush and you can't even find space to breathe. For short-distance travel use buses and for considerably longer travel use trains. For booking buses use mobile applications and online websites. For seat booking on the train always go for the official railway's website. You can also hire a taxi by booking through ride-hailing companies like Uber, Ola.
Try to travel in the UNESCO world heritage trains in India. They will give you an amazing experience to explore the nature. There are three such routes they are the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, and the Kalka -Shimla Railway.
There are numerous vlogs by travelers stating that India is not safe for women. They also mention some incidents of stalkers harassing women travelers. But this is not the exact case, women travelers are very safe here. Though there are few incidents here and there India is not extremely dangerous, remember stalkers and womanizers are everywhere in the world. Some people complain that Indians are staring at travelers which makes them afraid of those people. Actually Indians are quite shy people so when they saw some strangers they would like to talk and help them in some way, but the hesitation makes them wait for the travelers to initiate the conversation. So if someone stares at you just talk with them they will be super friendly.
Emergency contact numbers
When you travel across a country the first thing you have to do is knowing some emergency contact numbers. Like 911 in the US, India has its unique helpline number and it is 112. Apart from this number, there are also some service-specific emergency number they are as follows
Tourist Helpline -1363 or 1800111363
Women Helpline -1091
Child Helpline -1098
Railway Enquiry -139
These are some key points one has to keep in mind for a better travel experience when they travel to India. India is a unique country in terms of its development, culture, economy so traveling this beautiful nation is a lifetime experience and I hope this article gives some useful ideas for foreign nationals to travel in India.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Jagatheesh Aruchami