Wind Palace Jaipur India

What to Expect in India for First-Timers

My tips on what to expect on your first trip to India has moved to a new location here. I hope you’ll check it out!

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46 thoughts on “What to Expect in India for First-Timers

  1. Jayashree Sengupta says:

    From India myself, great post for first-timers. But I am really surprised to find travelers regime always stick to the northern parts of the country. May be because Delhi International Airport is in the North, try the other Int. Airports which being Jaipur (North), Mumbai (Central), Kolkata (East), Guwahati (North East) and Bangalore (South). And yes India is a huge land to be traversed in one go. But I would definitely suggest to visit the South, East and North East as well (somehow I find poverty is less exaggerated here) . I myself have much ado over Varanasi even if most of the country people choose to call it the “spiritual capital”. and choose to avoid it.

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    • Ben says:

      I think that mostly has to do with the tourist triangle of Delhi, Agra & Jaipur, which can be easily done in a handful of days and transport is easily arranged. I agree with you that many of the other parts are quite worth the visit, but once I left that area, I did find local transport much more difficult.

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    • our21stcenturyodyssey says:

      Thank you so much! I’m so grateful to have someone from India reading it as it helps me guage how accurate my portrayal is. When we eventually return to India, we’ll be heading south 😊

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  2. Daisy says:

    Beautiful post and great advice! I lived in Delhi for 4 months- having traveled around a bit, I definitely agree with that India can be a bit difficult to get used to. I had to escape to the mountains every couple of weeks because of the complexities of the city. But like you said, Indian food is one of the most delicious in the world! Just for that alone, it is worth a visit :))

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  3. Jane Dempster-Smith says:

    Great article with so many good tips for travellers. Don’t you just love the scams, thank goodness for Uber these days around the world. My favourite cuisine in Indian food and as a vegetarian it is perfect for India. Your photos make me want to run to our local Indian.

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  4. Sinjana Ghosh says:

    Being an indian i completely enjoyed reading your experiences. Your analysis of the impact of income disparity and overpopulation is quite apt i must say. The taxi and tour guide scams are such a shame. Next time pay a visit to the north east and south. You will be shocked to see how different they are (not better or worse, just different)

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    • our21stcenturyodyssey says:

      Thank you so much for reading and validating my impressions! I always try to be fair and respectful when talking about cultures that are foreign to me. When we visit India next, we’ll be heading south 😊

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  5. Marcia says:

    What a great post. I’ve been considering India for a while and had heard of some, but not all of these warnings. I especially did not know about the taxi/hotel scam. I plan to follow your advice (and the advice of others who have gone) to go with my eyes wide open and with an open mind.

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  6. Family Globetrotters says:

    Excellent post and you have managed to touch on all the concerns and reservations I have about visiting India. I grew up in Kuala Lumpur so some of the things are not exactly foreign to me although I know it would be much worse in India. The drunk driving through the high passes of the Himalayas would have freaked me out. And all the reasons you have stated about why one should go are also reasons I use to justify why we should go. Trying very hard to convince my partner. India is a place like no other and definitely a once in a lifetime experience. BTW, that photo of the Taj Mahal is stunning.

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    • our21stcenturyodyssey says:

      Thank you! Yes, the drunk driving situation was one of the most difficult we found ourselves in. We liked our guide a lot, but just didn’t feel comfortable getting in the car with him that morning. We ended up waiting at camp for a few hours and then setting out. Even then, it was a tense day. That said, we’ll definitely go back to India at some point, and next time we’ll be a little bit wiser!

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  7. Clarice says:

    My cousin also experienced the same scam you mentioned. She was brought to another hotel because apparently the one she booked is unknown.

    It is very unfortunate that this is happening especially for places who can benefit from tourism. It is a prime reason why India is not a very popular tourist destination. Hope the government can do something about this. We would love to visit Taj Mahal in the future.

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    • our21stcenturyodyssey says:

      Yeah, I still can’t believe we fell for it. We’re normally really good about sticking to the official taxis and just didn’t do that this time, to disastrous results.

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  8. Sarah says:

    Wish I had seen this before my first trip to India. It’s certainly a challenge but I loved every minute. Sorry you were fleeced by the arrival taxi, fortunately for me I had heard about that before I arrived. Didn’t realise Uber was there now, would definitely use them on my next visit. And as for the food, that’s why I keep going back lol.

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  9. Annick says:

    I’ll admit that I’ve been on the fence about India because of some of these cons. As long as you’re prepared, it makes for a better experience. I do love their food and I would love to visit places like Jaipur or the Taj Mahal or Bangalore. But I really worry about the scams, the begging, the heat, and being out with a stomach issue. One day I’ll be give it a go since it seems like the positives outweigh the negatives.

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    • our21stcenturyodyssey says:

      I think definitely opt for going with a guide or on a small group tour. That will help you avoid the scams and generally make logistics easier.

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  10. Sandy N Vyjay says:

    India is massive and the area it covers is mind-boggling. Every few miles the landscape, language and culture changes. So even for people living in India when they travel across the country they face challenges. I do understand and appreciate your view-points though.Hope you get better experiences the next time you are here.

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  11. curiouseeker says:

    Great! Being an Indian I feelt his pretty much sums it up 🙂. Although you might get to know more about our diversity (literally in every field from ranging from culture to climate) if you explore the lengths and breadths of India.
    You can look at one of the sites I recently visited in southern India which is ranked 2nd by NYT in must visit global destination for 2019.
    https://acuriouseeker.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/historic-hampi-hippie-hampi/

    Liked by 1 person

  12. aletterfromlou says:

    This is so useful. I’m heading to India for a couple of weeks in April and can’t wait! It will just be a taster of the country but hopefully I’ll get a chance to spend longer there in the future. I am fully expecting to get ill – especially as I never eat anything as spiced as Indian food. It will for sure be too rich for me but I am trying to get myself used to it in the UK! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • our21stcenturyodyssey says:

      Thank you so much for reading, and I’m glad you found it helpful! I hope you have an amazing trip and that you’re able to enjoy the food as much as I did!

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  13. Alexithymia_Shubhi says:

    First of all that’s a good guide for foreigners. I am from India and I have lived in different parts of India. The development of the cities differs from each other. I agree with you almost with all the points. I had travelled to Delhi some years back. I was not that happy with it compared to other cities. I really feel foreigners need to check out other travelling cities to get the depth of India. Yes, the taxi drivers and auto drivers are scammers in many cities. Mumbai is a place wherein I always find honest and helpful drivers. Always better to go for online booking for Hotel for any cities. Even I avoid guides. It is their job to guide people well but most of them are scammers. It is better to discover all by yourself or join some good travel agency group for guide tour which again can be bit costly. I hate drunk drivers too 😦 It is common to find such drivers. We need to be careful about it. Yes, yes food is delicious and there are many options to have different cuisines. But, the street food may not suit everyone especially the travelers so better to carry mineral water and some medicine packs. Beggars are more found in Delhi and Mumbai side. But, I had been to cities wherein we can hardly find it. Yes, people are trying to reduce poverty but there are some group of bad people who exploit kids and poor people for such type of work. Squat toilet is again not an issue in other cities. Bangalore has good options to avoid this issue. Pune is also coming up with new techniques. A well maintained toilet can be hard to find in populated market areas of some cities or on some highways. I liked your blog so much, that I ended up leaving long comment lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • our21stcenturyodyssey says:

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! It means a lot to me to have someone from India sharing insights on here in response to my post. India is such a big country, and I know even with almost a month there I barely scratched the surface. I’m excited to go back and dive into some more regions that we didn’t visit this trip (and return to Rajasthan to explore more there!).

      Liked by 1 person

  14. sadiewolf2014 says:

    Great post and beautiful photographs, you did a lovely and respectful job of trying to prepare the first time traveller. I tell people, you need to be relaxed, and as you say, patient, in order to fall in love with India, which I did- it took me two or three weeks though, and yes, I got sick, but had seven happy months there and am planning when to go back!

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