1. Start researching where you want to go
Frenzied, bewildering, inebriating, crazy, maddening, wonderful, squalid, beautiful, daunting, overwhelming, and fantastic. India is all of these things, and more. When planning a trip to India it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a vast and diverse culture. Most of the travellers don’t even know where to begin their research or know where to go. In a vast country like India, a country of diverse culture and landscape, just opening can feel overwhelming. How can you possibly prepare yourself? We are the best tour operators in India, will help you prepare with our tips for taking the ultimate travel plunge: going to India for the first time. In trip planning, the most important thing is picking the perfect route.
2. Decide when to travel to India
The major part of India is tropical and is influenced by three principle seasons; summer, winter and monsoon. India really is a vast sub-continent and as such weather changes considerably alter where you should go. Generally speaking for most areas the best time to visit India is in the winter from November to March as cooler temperatures make voyaging more pleasant. From March the climate begins to get entirely hot, the heat and humidity of April and May do not make for a pleasant travel experience and the monsoon rains come from June –September.
Nonetheless, in the event that you intend to go in the far North or Himalayan districts winter would be excessively cool – contrary to popular belief it is not always hot in India and it does snow! On the off chance that you wanted to visit territories like Leh and Ladakh the best time to do this is in the Summer.
3. Apply for a Tourist Visa for India
Abroad passport holders must apply for a visa before visiting India, even if you go for an E-Visa or Visa on Arrival. Few key things to note before we begin is that Indian tourist visas are valid from the date of issue not the date of your entry to India so being ready and applying months in advance will only waste the time on your visa.
Best way to apply for Indian tourist Visa or eVisa
Recently there has been a lot of talk of India introducing Visa on Arrival. This would be a great step towards increasing tourism in India but the visa on arrival is elusive – it is more of an E-Visa also known as electronic travel authority. You still have to apply for the visa in advance before you travel but it makes the visa process quicker and easier for short visits.
Citizens from 161 countries are eligible to apply online for an E Tourist Visa to India, including UK and Ireland, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and many European Countries for entry through 24 airports and 3 Indian seaports. The seaports are Cochin, Goa and Mangalore. The cost of the E Visa varies with nationality. For UK citizens the cost of the E Visa has recently increased to USD $75 (about £54) plus a small admin charge. The application procedure is completely online, you can apply a minimum of 4 days before you travel to India.
You can apply for an E Visa to India on the government website; you then collect your visa on arrival at one of the major airports in India. Sounds simple but bear in a notice that there is still an awful lot of paperwork to fill out and if you make even a single mistake on the forms you could be rejected and have to apply all over again. The fee for the visa and for processing for the application is non-refundable, even if the visa is not approved.
However, if your parents or grandparents were native in Pakistan, sadly you will not be eligible to acquire an E-Tourist Visa irrespective of your current nationality so unfortunately, you will have to apply for a normal Tourist Visa.
4. Work out a budget for your trip to India
When you are travelling to India on a budget, then one of the essential things to consider is the cost of travelling to your chosen destination. So while planning a trip to India, probably the first thing that you will want to know is how much it will cost. Travelling in India is so affordable and it is still considered as one of the cheapest places to travel in the entire world. We care for you and have the best trip planner India for you to experience the holiness of our land. You could backpack around India for very little money and most backpackers and budget travellers here can travel comfortably and easily on a budget of $20 – $30 per day. Although, as India is modernising there are now many options to travel in more comfort with world-class luxury hotels and Western brands giving travellers the temptation to splurge.
The reality is that travelling in India can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it.
The Cost of Budget for accommodation in India
For around ₹ 300 – 500 you will be able to find a cheap but sensible enough guest house, dorm bed in a new backpacker hostel, or a beach shack. For a package this cheap you can expect rigid beds and a fan, no AC or hot water. Cleanliness is often questionable, so it’s recommended to check out a few before deciding and you should probably travel with your own sheets, towels, toilet paper, toiletries and padlock, even though most of the cheap guest houses do have western toilets.
If you can go up to around the ₹ 1000 mark you can get some great mid-range options often a modern air-conditioned room, Wi-Fi that might actually work. It is recommended not to plan too much or pre-book accommodation as the cheapest places aren’t online and the ones that are – well they often don’t look anything like the picture. Instead, you should show up, check a few places out, inspect the room, meet the staff and negotiate on the price. However, it is recommended to book accommodation in advance for the first few nights.
When you’re on the road, you may well find you have to use some less than sanitary toilet stops, but these don’t have to be health hazards. Toilet paper is seldom provided, but the left-hand-and-water-jug routine preferred by many locals can be fine if you carry soap with you so you can wash your hands properly afterwards. Anti-bacterial wipes and anti-bacterial gel are also handy to keep in your day bag for the last minute clean up before eating with your fingers.
Cost of Food and Drink in India
Food is an area that you have to be careful within India, in Southeast Asia you can eat all kinds of street food and juices but in India, you should stick to restaurants. You can easily grab a snack off the street for about ₹ 20 or a meal in a budget restaurant starting from around ₹ 100. One can find amazingly good and healthy food for between ₹100 – ₹300. As a common rule Western food is always going to cost a lot more than simple traditional Indian vegetarian food. Various western food brands are available in the big cities in India but there are a lot of cheaper eating options that can be found in the streets of India. No one wishes to get ill, especially if you’re on a shorter trip, so it pays to take steps to avoid a dodgy tum.
Avoid drinking tap water, and steer clear of any food that may have been washed with it. As a safety measure, avoid ice, ice cream, and salads and fruit you haven’t just peeled yourself. Let your stomach familiarize with the environment for a few days before launching into a street food feast, and whenever buying street food, do a mental assessment of standards of cleanliness. Are the vendors freshly preparing the food or has it been there for a while? Is the stall busy with lots of customers or only attracting hordes of flies?
Most travellers prefer to go veggie whilst in India, and it’s not really a bad idea, as a dodgy bit of meat will do you a lot more harm than undercooked vegetables. Plus, the majority of the Indians are vegetarian, so the country offers perhaps the world’s most exquisite varieties of vegetarian food. Even if you do eat meat, make sure it’s well cooked, and stick to stalls and restaurants that are packed with locals (the best barometer for hygiene standards).
Cost of Transport in India
India offers a wide range of choices to roam around this massive sub-continent. You can get transport to pretty much every corner of India for a very affordable price but you need to be patient because getting anywhere in India always takes longer than you think. My advice is always to take it slow – India is not enjoyable when rushing around and everything seems to take a lot longer than you think. Trying to cram too much often leads to a stressful, frustrating and not so enjoyable trip.
India has the second biggest number of household aeroplane terminals in a nation after the US. Flights stretch to the most reach of the nation now and flying between significant urban cities, particularly whenever booked ahead of time, can be reasonably cheap and can spare a lot of time. It takes around 3 days when travelling by train from Delhi and Kerala. Flying locally around India is an increasingly good option for those strapped for a time despite the fact that it isn’t as cheap as the low-cost routes in South East Asia and Europe.
Train travel in India is an indispensable Indian bucket list experience in itself. Indian Railways is the third largest passenger rail network in the world (after Russia and China) and the busiest in terms of passengers. The best way to travel to India is by the vast and great value, Indian Railways network. However, this massive system can be puzzling to navigate at first and tickets can get booked up way in advance and can be difficult to book from abroad. Train travel in India doesn’t get boring, you’ll see all sorts going on both inside and outside the train and it’s a unique and culturally immersive experience that you won’t want to miss. Due to the high demand, train tickets for Indian trains can be booked up to 120 days in advance. To make your trip to India more enjoyable and less stressful it is recommended that you book your tickets in advance, particularly if you have a limited amount of time for the trip and a packed itinerary of places to see.
Further transport options include a wide-reaching bus network where the standard ranges from falling apart battered, crowded, bone rattlers to more modern, air-conditioned long-distance buses. One can find buses are fine for short hops but for a long, or overnight journey it is preferable to go by train as it’s much more comfortable, more capacious, and typically cheaper, there is less hooting and veering and perhaps most importantly there is a toilet.
An average 12 – 15 hour trip in India costs from ₹ 700 to ₹ 2000 on an AC bus.
Taxis and rickshaws are visibly available everywhere in India and affordable even though getting the driver to use a meter is nothing short of a miracle so remember to haggle, agree on a fare and fix the price confidently before embarking on the journey. Costs vary (taxis are usually double the cost of an auto rickshaw however hope to pay about ₹20 for the primary 1.5 kilometres and about ₹ 10 for each kilometre after that in an auto rickshaw on the off chance that you don’t get cheated. One can easily google the fare charts for most cities and numbers to call to report a driver if he overcharges you. Or you can also now book a cab through apps like Ola, UBER – it’s a bit more expensive but safer as the cab and driver are recorded and tracked and it saves you from haggling.
5. Apply for an International Driving License
A global driving license (the 1949 variant) is required to ride a motorbike in India, you can get this from the Post Office before you leave for just £5.50 and it is legitimate for a year. Police frequently stop voyagers to check on the off chance that they have the international driving license and fine, in the event that they don’t and know that the international permit is only valid when paired with your typical driving permit so you have to convey both with you.
6. Mentally prepare yourself and familiarize yourself with India’s culture
India isn’t so much a place you go to ‘see’ however a place you go to feel with every one of your senses – the scents, sights, sounds, tastes, hues and everything else can feel somewhat turbulent and overpowering at first yet this is all piece of the energy and notwithstanding how insane India appears at first take it slow and you will become accustomed to it.
When you arrive to make sure to be patient and receptive, expect the unexpected, take it easy and make an effort not to get worried or baffled by the easily overlooked details. The Indian people are incredibly welcoming and hospitable albeit tragically first time travellers to India can be a target for many common scams and general displeasures. In any case, with a little research and perusing up on the common scams you should soon be able to recognize these a mile off and maintain a strategic distance from them.
Now go out, and claim your piece of the HINDUSTAN!
7. Best tour operators in India
Travel agencies are vital in light of the fact that they are the local experts on the places you need to go and a decent travel operator will always give you honest advises for the places. On the off chance that you book your visit with a travel agent then, you have to deal with only one person throughout the tour which saves your time and energy. Otherwise, you have to individually contact: – Driver, Hotels, Guides, etc.
Some of such leading agencies are Thomas Cook, Cox and Kings. There are other agencies available which allow the customer to fully personalise a tour according to their choice. Such agencies are Club Mahindra Holidays, Expedia, Yatra.com, Goibibo, MakeMyTrip, Trivago, Travelguru, Travelocity India, SOTC, Cleartrip.