In 2016, I spent one week in New Delhi (India), I was not so sure what to expect, but I can confirm I was definitely impressed. India has so much to offer, it’s also very rich in culture. So here are a few travel tips I was able to learn whilst I was there:
- Remove all stereotypical concepts that you may have. Just forget it all, they are not real!
Three specific stereotypes I got when I was going were “India in dirty and smelly, avoid the food it will make you sick and it’s not safe a place”. To be honest, the general environment was averagely clean and there was nothing shocking about the cleanness of New Delhi. During my stay, I ate Indian food every single day and it was absolutely delicious, not like the London take out I was used to. Curry was my go-to meal every day, especially the Murgh Makhani Butter Chicken. Absolutely delicious! As for the safety, it is something to bear in mind. However, if you are not alone in a deserted area you should be okay. My take on this is very similar to my experience in Turkey, you can read more on that here. Besides, where is truly safe except a place that God guides?
- Be open to the people and language
People were super friendly and after exchanging pleasantries the next step was adding each other on Facebook. It was a preferred to exchanging phone numbers, and up till today, I am still in contact with a friend I made whilst in India. Also, before leaving I advise anyone to learn the basic language especially words like ‘Nahi’ meaning no, it will come in handy in the market and generally when standing your ground.
- Make friends with a local person especially when going shopping.
I informed the friends I was able to add via Facebook when I was going to the market, and they were more than happy to accept my invitation and it was a fun-filled day. An added advantage of this is that you are able to have someone with the knowledge of what prices ought to be and therefore less likely to be reaped off. Bargaining is the way of life here, so don’t be shy to half or even pay a third of the price that was originally said. It is just something that’s got to be done because once they realise you are a tourist, they increase the prices dramatically. A good tip is pretending to walk away, most of the time you’d get called back to pay the price you are willing to. Don’t worry, for them to accept the offer, they are still going to make a profit!
- There are a few must see places and makes sure you do see them. But remember to get to them early
Sightseeing is a must do in India, just make sure that you get up early enough to see it without it being over populated with other tourists. If you want to get the best capture, wake up early enough! I will also advise the use of a tour guide who has a deep understanding of the history and cultural impact of this places. My top 3 choices of must see are Lotus Temple, Taj Mahal and
- People will stare and you will be asked for pictures, don’t be creeped out about it.
People will stare. Especially if you are of a darker skin, don’t take this personally, they mean no harm. Let me make this clear, it is not the stare and then look away kind, but instead, they stare and even when I make eye contact they keep starring. To break the awkwardness I just smile back. Sometimes people become a bit brave and move from just stirring to asking for a selfie, when I am within a safe zone I don’t decline. Again, I wonder where those photo of me end up, most times I don’t even get to see the final pictures.
- Dress appropriately and respect the culture.
This is real simple. Dress modestly, it can be easy to want to smack on bum shorts and a crop top because the Indian heat is no jokes, but this will simply attract unwanted attention. I found that the best way to dress appropriately is to get some traditional outfits. I am not saying I felt forced not to wear my western outfit, but I felt it best to fit in, and you get a lot of respect, especially from the men when you do this. Also, remember to bring a scarf when visiting a temple, some will not let you in without it or you can buy it there at a very expensive rate.
Sandals are the go-to footwear, you will be spending most days walking and catching your local means of transportation- auto-rickshaw, also known as a tuk-tuk.
- Dot get carried away when shopping it so easy to buy souvenirs you may never use.
I must admit, I still have a whole suitcase filled with the things I bought from India, so take the advice from me and only buy what you absolutely need. Not all that glitters is gold.
I even talked myself into buying a Sari (the traditional women outfit) which I really don’t know where I would wear it to. I remember haggling with the seller to get the best price like I was going to wear it the very next day. But oh well! I just got to wait for an India friend to get married to have an excuse to wear it.
My final words to you are that if you want a vacation, go to Ibiza, but if you want to be transformed – go to India. The best mentality to adapt when travelling is to go with the flow, don’t try to use your travel experience instead be open to new experiences. It will be a learning curve to understand yourself better. To experience India, you need the right attitude, which is openness, trust and surrender.
I have a really juicy story to tell about my trip to India, it involved the police and I almost getting into a whole load of trouble. Click here to subscribe and you will get it directly in your email. Remember subscribing is in two steps 1. Fill in the form, 2. Go to your email and confirm your email address.
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