India is a vast spread of diversities, when it comes to its culture, tradition, people, food, architecture and landscapes, In other words, one can never fully get to know it. That is why this country is also the greatest adventure one can possibly experience. Unlike any other country in the world, it pulsates with its very own beat and tosses up the unexpected. Although this unexpected factor can be a foyer for the time of your life, it can also serve as a road to disaster. Being prepared for some of the things India can “throw” on you will make your trip a lot easier. So, here are some things you should or shouldn’t do when visiting this amazing country.
DO: Be Picky with Your Food
Indian cuisine is fantastic and every region has its own unique specialties – from masterfully marinated meat to splendid vegetarian dishes. Still, you should be cautious when buying food in India since it can be bad for your stomach due to great heat and contaminated water (in some areas). Although there is no doubt that it is very flavorful, street food should be avoided, as well as raw food. Freshly cooked food in a local diner or a hotel is your best option. Try to get some local recommendations about great places to eat. Indian cuisine is very spicy, so be sure to ask the waiter about the degree of hotness.
DON’T: Drink Tap Water
Tap water in India is mostly contaminated with amoebas and toxins, so you should avoid drinking it. Bottled water will keep you healthy and hydrated throughout your trip. You can also decide to use a water filter and iodine tablets. One of the most delicious ways to be hydrated in India is to drink coconut water which can also soothe your stomach.
DO: Be Thorough when Searching for Accommodation
If you are booking accommodation before you arrive to India, make sure you get a real good look at the photos of the hotel/hostel and that you read user reviews before you make your reservation. Although it is possible to stay in both really cheap and extraordinarily expensive hotels, it is best to choose mid range hotels that provide acceptable balance of comfort and price. If you are on a real tight budget, it is better to share rental accommodation than to stay in “el cheapo” hotels that do not provide some of the basic conditions (pillows, bed sheets, a decent toilet, etc.).
DON’T: Be Shocked by the Cultural Differences
It is very important to show respect for the country you are visiting, as well as for its population. India is an ancient civilization with many customs and habits westerners do not understand. However, the lack of understanding should not cause the lack of respect. You might find it surprising that people will stare at you on the street, or that your personal space is often “invaded”, but that is quite normal in India. Maybe the notion of a holy animal is not your cup of tea, but you should avoid making rude comments about cows, which have a special place in Hindu religion.
DO: Dress for the Occasion
There are no laws forbidding you to take a walk in your Iron Maiden tee and your ripped jeans, but there are rules and recommendations that suggest that you should not be dressed like this in certain places, especially temples and other places of religious worship. Here you should not wear revealing clothes. Keep your shoulders covered, while your shorts and skirts should be below your knees. Too tight clothes should not be worn due to discomfort. In temples and houses, it is the custom to take off your shoes before entering. This way, you will show respect and humbleness.
The most important DO: have a great time! India is true treasure for your eyes and soul. It will enrich you in ways you could never imagine. Still, just as with any other travel, caution and taking care of yourself are highly recommended. Have a safe trip.