From its snow-capped peaks and barren deserts to its modern cities and sparkling beaches, India has something for everyone. India has a lot to see and do, so it’s best to prepare for the holiday and ensure you experience all you want to. If you’re planning a trip to India, here are some travel tips for travelling in India and advice for your first-time visit.

When to go

The best time to visit India depends on where you plan to go, but it’s generally best to visit the north and central parts of India in the winter months. March to May is the best time to visit the southern part, and May to September is the best time to visit the Himalayas. July to September is the monsoon season, but it’s the time when you’ll get the lowest rates on travel and the fewest crowds. When planning your trip, it’s best to know before you go and check out the weather for that particular area.

Where to go

India is incredibly diverse, so where you’re going to go and what to know and depend on your interests. If you enjoy the outdoors, the Indian Himalayas and the mountains of Himachal Pradesh are a great option. If you prefer the beach, Kerala, Goa, Jaipur and Rajasthan are great options. If you’re looking for a city break and sightseeing, Varanasi and Rishikesh offer incredible historic and cultural sites. Unlike Europe, it’s best to spend your time in the same region to take in the culture, rather than jumping around to different areas.

Snowy Manali Mountain of Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh: Manali

What to bring

Learning what to pack is one of the most important know-before-you-go travel tips you can get to prepare for the cultural differences and weather. Loose-fitting clothing with long and short sleeves, lightweight linen pants and light scarves are a must. If you’re planning to hike, it’s smart to bring some waterproof trekking boots. If possible, bring organic soap and shampoo to avoid contaminating local water supplies. Feminine hygiene products are difficult to find and often lead to pollution from poor waste disposal, so try to bring washable products like a menstrual cup.

What to wear

It gets hot in India, but certain northern areas and nights can get cold. It’s best to bring a jacket or warm layer with you to prepare for cold periods. The streets can be dirty, so it’s a good idea to wear closed-toe shoes with non-slip tread to stay comfortable. You’ll have to remove your shoes to enter homes and temples, so wearing slip-on shoes is one of the things you’ll wish you knew. Men can generally dress as they wish, but women have a dress code. You can wear a light scarf, long pants and generally conservative clothing to avoid unwanted attention.

How to get around

Even if you stay in one area, such as Delhi, there’s still a plethora of things to see. India has plenty of public transport options, such as charming, romantic trains and domestic flights. You can use the train for a scenic tour experience, but bear in mind that it can be busy and chaotic. Domestic flights are quick and inexpensive. If you take a domestic flight, be aware that women are taken to a booth for a security check, so it’s best to plan your flights in advance and arrive early.

Distant view of Taj Mahal in Delhi

Taj Mahal

Take your passport everywhere

If you’re going to India, you’ll need a valid passport for at least 6 months and a visa to enter the country. It’s important to make sure your visa is in order to ensure you aren’t turned away at customs. You can easily apply for an electronic tourist visa. Keep in mind that all major tourist attractions require a passport to enter, so be sure to keep your passport with you at all times and ensure it’s in a safe place where it’s less likely to be lost or stolen.

Plan your budget

India is a cheap destination to visit, especially if you keep your trip simple. Accommodation, local transport and dining are all relatively inexpensive. Still, your flight, a luxury hotel, high-end dining, shopping trips, entry fees to attractions and other additions, such as a tour, can add to your trip. The last thing you want is to be over budget during your trip and miss out on things you really want to experience, so research your itinerary early and plan your budget to ensure you make the most of your time.

Prepare for culture shock

Even if you’re well-travelled, it’s best to check all your expectations and prepare for a culture shock when you visit India for the first time. If you already anticipate what it will be like, you’ll either be disappointed or pleasantly surprised. It’s vibrant, culturally diverse and beautiful, but also crowded, and it will test your patience. Between the rich, unique cuisine, crowded streets and colourful architecture and design, India will overload all your senses in the best ways.

Don’t wait until the last minute

Though travelling through India is easy with trains or flights, avoid waiting until the last minute to book your travel. Before you go, plan what you want to see and where you’re going to go, and purchase all your transport tickets in advance or as soon as you arrive in India. Buses and flights can fill up quickly, especially in the city. It’s also good to book any airport transfers and hotel shuttles in advance as well, so you’re not stranded during your trip.

Prepare for Delhi-belly

Indian food is a gastronomic delight, but many foreign travellers take some time to adjust to the different ingredients and spices. Most travellers experience what is commonly known as ‘Delhi belly’ digestive discomfort, which can range from mild diarrhea and vomiting to more severe situations that require medical intervention. To avoid getting sick, follow travel tips such as only eating cooked or peeled fruits and vegetables and declining coffee, tea or water from local shops. You can pack activated charcoal or digestive medications to be prepared.

Preparing peppers in Udaipur, India

Making food in Udaipur

Plan your trip to India with Expedia

With all these tips and essential information before visiting India for the first time, you’re ready to plan your trip. Visit Expedia to browse India holiday packages and book your hotel and flight to save money and time on your trip!