1o things you should know about india before you go:
1. don’t drink from the tap !! drinking water in india is quite a rare good: always buy a closed bottle of water from the supermarket. the tap water can only be consumed with a water filter. also, consider getting a cholera vaccination before your journey. cholera can easily be spread through contaminated water & simply never drink from refilled or unsealed bottles. always stay cautious !!
2. fix the price first. tuk-tuk drivers in india tend to scam tourists in charging an inappropriate amount for a simple ride. always ask the price before getting on a tuk-tuk. it should never be more than 200 rupees for a ten-minute ride. also, make sure they know exactly where you want to go. sometimes they take you somewhere else & pretend not having known about the original direction. then they charge you extra to get you to the right place. they know how to play games so don’t let them play with you & if a driver asks too much just go and find another one. there are so many tuk-tuk drivers in india anyway. oh & bargaining is allowed !!
3. be aware of the monkeys !! monkeys are quite common in india and they take all they can get. monkeys are good thieves and can be really quick. so make sure to secure your things when getting into a monkey zone. i’ve watched flipflops, bananas, juice boxes, sunglasses & hats being grabbed by monkeys and never returned. also, there are a lot of animals on the streets of India in general: cows, pigs, dogs. don’t get too close. an animal’s bite might cost your life.
4. take off your shoes: in holy areas such as temples, shrines or other places of worship always take off your shoes. it is the indian custom to face a god with bare feet only. mostly, there are shoe lockers outside of temples where you can deposit your shoes for a small rate. just don’t forget to grab them on your way out !! indians will always appreciate respect for their tradition.
5. hindi is not the only language in india. there are 22 others as well !! the religions in india are also very different from each other: hindu, sikh, muslim etc. don’t get them mixed up & do not throw them into one pot at any time. india is so much more than just a really big country !!
6. you like it spicy ?! well indians certainly do love their food very spicy. so if you don’t like it that hot go & tell them & they will be happy to serve you a non-spicy meal. you just need to ask. if you don’t it will be spicy for sure. even the snacks in the supermarket are quite hot. so don’t say i didn’t warn you & in the worst case just ask for some plain yoghurt to cool down your food !!
7. how to get your train ticket: going by train is the easiest and most common way to travel in india. sometimes there are good bus connections, too. it always depends on the specific direction. bus connections can be checked on redbus.in. trains can be found on indianrailway.gov.in or on irctc.in. for an overview of connections i can recommend the website ixigo.com. however, booking a train ticket is not that easy at all. if you have an indian SIM card it should not be a big problem but if you don’t it can be quite difficult: ask the manager of your hostel to book the ticket for you or go to the website 12go.asia. there you can book most of the bus & train tickets for a little extra fee. when in doubt just ask another traveler or the hostel stuff: they will help for sure !!
8. no selfie zone !! you will find signs with this slogan all over the country. when you see one be aware it probably is a dangerous area. maybe a cliff or a shore: in any case it’s somewhere you shouldn’t go & take selfies. also, sometimes the tides can be quite strong so don’t go in the water just like that. check if there are any red flags on the beach before !! lifeguards should be around anyway but you don’t need to provoke an accident. another note on selfies: lots of Indians are keen on taking selfies with white people. but if you don’t want to simply say no: it’s totally ok.
9. fruits, fruits, fruits !! india is famous for its wide range of tropical fruits & you’ll find fresh fruit juices at every corner. however, they are not always freshly squeezed. always ask if the fruit juice you want is available fresh. mango for example is only available in season whereas bananas can be found in india all over the year. also, a good fresh fruit juice contains nothing but fresh fruit. no sugar, no water, no ice. when in doubt simply ask for a plain and fresh fruit juice !!
1o. be aware of the taxes !! in india the prices don’t include taxes or service fees most of the time. check the additional fee in beforehand. otherwise you might be surprised by the bill afterwards.
thanks for reading & have a good journey !!