No matter how appealing India is to tourists, there is always this idea that the country is more dangerous than others. To a certain extent, this is true. However, as a female who completed a solo trip in India, I can say that the country was not as scary as it is portrayed. Therefore, in this blog post, I want to talk about my tips and the itinerary I came up with to have a safe trip in India.
I decided to start this series of blog posts dedicated to my travels with an article about my trip to India. India is a place I always dreamt to travel and finally did it (on my own) some time ago.
Do your homework for a safe trip to India
Before travelling to India, I did my homework. I started researching the best itinerary for a first timer in India. I sorted out my visa application, pre-booked all my transport and accommodation and even read a book about the recent history of the country called Freedom at Midnight. If you enjoy reading, I definitely recommend this book because it gives an insight into the recent history of the country. So to recap, to make sure your trip to India is problems free consider the following:
- Research your itinerary well by making sure you know where you want to go and what you want to visit. This will limit the chances of missing out on things to visit in India. Plus, having a good itinerary will increase the chances of having a safe trip in India. Please don’t think you cannot be flexible. However, for safety reasons, it’s always good to know where you’re heading next.
- Sort out your visa application. Depending on your passport, you might need an embassy appointment. Or it can be as simple as an online application. However, you have to make sure you understand the process and have all the documentation required before you board the plane. You don’t want to risk being refused entry.
- Nowadays you can easily pre-book your accommodation. Make sure you carefully select the places you’ll stay at. It is advisable to always book places with the most reviews and high ratings. This way, you have the assurance that the place is safe and offers decent living conditions. I would never book a place without pictures or with poor reviews.
- Reading a book is an excellent way to discover a new culture and learn about it. I definitely recommend reading a book or two before your trip to India. It will help you understand the cultural differences between your country and India.
Itinerary suggestion for a safe trip in India
My itinerary as a first timer in India was pretty straightforward. I visited what is known as the Golden Triangle. The Golden Triangle itinerary includes 3 cities: New Delhi-Agra-Jaipur. On top of this, I also travelled for a day trip to Pushkar.
I have to say that as a solo female traveller, I (almost) had no bad moments in India. I said almost because nothing is perfect. For most of my time, I travelled by train, hired tuck-tucks, stayed in hostels and walked by myself pretty much everywhere. What I really found overwhelming was the excessive heat and the crowds. Spending some time in Pushkar (a small village outside Jaipur) at the end of my trip felt like heaven. My whole trip was 13 days long, enough for me to get a sense of what India is like. I enjoyed the food, the people, the culture and the tourist sights. What I missed the most during my time in India was the green grass from back home (I know it sounds weird but it’s true).
Something that took time to somehow comprehend is the Indian traffic. I don’t think I’ll ever fully get it anyway. Sometime after my trip to India, I travelled to Vietnam. That’s when I understood that the road traffic in this part of the world is a local product and one needs to adapt and understand it. I am still working on this.
New Delhi is the capital city of India and one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Unfortunately, New Delhi is also one of the most polluted cities on the planet. As someone who has been based in Europe for her entire life, visiting New Delhi was mind-blowing. Not only because of the chaotic rhythm of the city. But also because breathing in New Delhi felt a bit more intense than home. Nevertheless, this was part of the Indian adventure and I loved every single moment in the capital city.
I discovered New Delhi thanks to a hop on hop off bus service. The service was called the HoHo bus. They would drive you around the city, so you can visit the main tourist attractions in Delhi. I remember them being on time-I still don’t know how they were doing it with all the traffic in New Delhi. A hop on hop off bus service is the best alternative for a safe trip in India. They will pick you up and drop you off at the main tourist sights in New Delhi. The staff was super friendly and very responsive on WhatsApp. I remember them helping me a lot in New Delhi-letting me wait inside their offices, booking me an uber so I can get back to my place. Honestly, I cannot recommend this service enough.
I stayed in New Delhi for several days and navigated the city by bus or car. When I was not using the HoHo bus, I would usually take an uber. Please read below for tips on how to travel safely around India, including New Delhi. Out of the many attractions, one can visit in New Delhi, I recommend the following ones:
- The Red Fort is a UNESCO Heritage Site located right in the heart of New Delhi. Once an imperial residence and symbol of resistance against colonial occupation, nowadays the fort is one of the most visited sights in the capital. This magnificent site was built in the 17th century by the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan.
- Humayun’s Tomb is another emblematic tourist sight in New Delhi. It is also the precursor of the Taj Mahal. The Humayun’s Tomb is the resting place of the second Moghul emperor India had.
- India Gate is a war memorial remembering the lost lives of those who fought in the First World War and the Third Anglo-Afghan War.
- The Lotus Temple is a place of worship welcoming all religions. It is a relatively new building as it was finished in the 80s. Nowadays, the temple is a popular attraction mainly due to its lotus shape.
- The National Museum is something I would recommend. Firstly because it the biggest museum in India and secondly because of the large variety of artefacts and information you can learn about.
- Qutb Minar and the Qutb Complex are a UNESCO Heritage Site. According to Wikipedia, Qutb Minar is the tallest minaret in the world built of bricks. The complex was built in the Delhi sultanate period, and it’s one of the most important of its kind.
- Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is one of the most important Sikh houses of worship. The entrance is free, however, you must wear appropriate attire and walk barefoot inside the house.
- Lodhi Gardens is an impressive park in New Delhi. In the park, one can visit several tombs and mosques which belonged to the Lodi dynasty. The Lodi dynasty is an Afghan dynasty that ruled around the 1500s. Nowadays, the park is the preferred place for a promenade for Delhi residents and tourists.
I travelled to Agra because like every mortal I wanted to visit the Taj Mahal. It was one of the places I wanted to see during my first trip to India. Taj Mahal did not disappoint at all. On the contrary, it was simply perfect. To get the best experience, many tourists visit the Taj Mahal before the sun rises. That’s because the sun reflection makes the white marble changes colours, and the Taj Mahal gets all these shades of pink. It was truly magical.
I remember there was such a contrast between the Taj Mahal and Agra. Everything around the Taj was impeccable. The more you walk away from the Taj, the more you can see the contrast. The only point of interest in Agra is the Taj Mahal. There isn’t much else to visit. Therefore, what tourists do is visit the Taj Mahal and then leave. I left for Jaipur. The American girl I visited the Taj Mahal with continued her travels to Varanasi.
TIp: make sure you book your ticket in advance if you travel in high season. Advanced booking is always advised if you have a strict itinerary.
Jaipur was my last stop in India. The so-called pink city welcomed me with a humid heat I will never forget. It was April, just before the start of the rainy season in India, and the weather was unbearable for me. I remember everything looked so dry, and the parks were left without any grass at all. Despite this, the city was bustling. The markets were full of people selling their products. The buyers always trying to get the best price. Price negotiation is a practice everyone uses to buy and sell things. There is never a fixed price in India. And most of the time, the product price is not displayed.
In Jaipur, I opted for a tuck-tuck driver to take me to places. You can obviously find someone on the street. However, I chose to hire someone my accommodation knew. This is a good method for a safe trip around India. One of the main tourist attractions I visited in Jaipur and which I recommend are:
The Palace is one of the main attractions in Jaipur. It is located outside Jaipur, so you will need to take a tuck-tuck or a taxi to Amber.
Hawa Mahal is another breathtaking palace you can visit in Jaipur. The palace is located in the city centre, and it’s mainly famous for its pink colour and intricate architectural style.
The City Palace
The City Palace is yet another magnificent building located right in the heart of Jaipur. The palace was built when Jaipur became the capital of Rajasthan.
If you are into astronomy, then you should not miss these astronomy instruments. There are only 5 such places in India, and the biggest one is in Jaipur.
The translation of Jal Mahal is the water palace. The name is self-explanatory since the palace is surrounded by water from everywhere.
Out of all the palaces and places you can visit in the state of Rajasthan, the Nahargarh Fort offers a spectacular view of Jaipur. This is why I would recommend including it on your list.
Bapu Bazaar is the busiest market in Jaipur. If you want an authentic experience, visiting a local Indian market should be on your list. However, be prepared to say no because everyone will want to sell you something. What I suggest is to be firm when you’re having conversations with the sellers. Otherwise, the whole experience can be rather overwhelming.
Gatore Ki Chhatriyan
Gatore Ki Chhatriyan is definitely not on everyone’s list with places to visit in Jaipur. This is way it’s perfect for an escape because it’s a quiet place. Gatore Ki Chhatriyan it’s actually a crematorium and has been used only by royals.
The Monkey Mountain
The Monkey Mountain is very popular among tourists because they feed the monkeys and take pictures of them. I would not recommend going there by yourself unless you are obviously braver than I was. The monkeys can be very aggressive and tend to grab everything they think it’s food. So to be on the safe side, I would take someone else with me, preferably some local. Or don’t go at all. Although you don’t want to miss the view. Jaipur looks pretty from there.
Birla Mandir is another temple I recommend visiting. It has quite a distinctive architecture, and it’s in fact less busy than other temples in Jaipur.
Travelling to Pushkar
Pushkar is a village outside Jaipur. You can go to Pushkar by bus. However, I found the bus service to be quite unreliable, so make sure you double-check the departure and arrival times properly. Pushkar is perfect if you look for some quiet time outside the big city of Jaipur. Everything here moves at a different pace. Apparently, the rose essence extracted in Pushkar is worldwide famous. The village is also famous for the only temple in the world dedicated to Brahma.
My main top places to visit in Pushkar are:
The Pushkar Lake
People usually come here to pray, so you can witness some interesting Hindu rituals.
Savitri Mata Temple
The temple is not in the village. However the walk there is rather enjoyable. There is the option of a cable car as well. I recommend it for some panoramic views of Pushkar.
As a final recommendation for Pushkar, I would also include the Brahma Temple, which is worth visiting. The Brahma Temple is actually in the village.
More of my top tips for a safe and budget-friendly trip in India:
1)To travel in the city, book Uber cars instead of hiring rickshaws because they are more reliable and therefore safer. The Uber driver also charges you the real price. Rickshaw drivers would usually charge you double or even triple that price. In India, they also have the option of sharing your ride with other passengers, so if you look for something really cheap, you might consider this option. The only inconvenience is that it takes longer to get to your destination because the driver might need to drop off other passengers before you.
2)If you don’t have mobile data to book an Uber, ask someone on the street to book you one. Everyone in India I asked for help had a smartphone and internet connection, and they were eager to help. So don’t be afraid to politely ask for help. In India you can pay the Uber driver in cash, so you won’t have to use any bank details at all. It was totally safe in India to ask for help on the street.
3)When booking train tickets, make sure you consult someone local on the train you intend to book or do some research on the internet. Apparently, there are good and bad trains that get cancelled or delayed. The person who helped me book my trains was my host from New Delhi, and I’ve had no problems with the ones she suggested. On top of it, they were all safe for my trip around India.
4)If you cannot book Uber cars all the time, I would suggest hiring only recommended rickshaw drivers. Your accommodation will most probably know a rickshaw driver. Book it through them and avoid being scammed by a regular driver on the street. Also, it’s safer to travel in India with a vetted rickshaw driver.
5)To avoid getting stomach sick while in India, stay away from raw fruits or have them towards the end of your trip, so you can get sick at home (this is what I did). I ended up having an upset stomach for a few days, but nothing major. Plus, I was home. But at least I have tried the sweetest mango I’ve ever tried in my entire life. We don’t get that in Europe so it worth the effort. If you are too sensitive, then avoid having raw food at all, everyone knows its limits after all.
6)Flight tickets to India are usually cheaper before the rainy season. However, consider the extreme heat which becomes unbearable towards the end of the dry season (from a European standard). Make sure you have sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses etc.
8)I said above that overall I felt safe in India. However, I would like to bring up one incident which I am sure could have happened in any other country. As I was walking down a busy road in Jaipur I got approached by a man. He started asking something I considered inappropriate. As we continued walking together, the guy kept repeating the question, hoping I would finally answer. The person was not aggressive, nor he tried to rob or do anything else to me. As we walked, a second person stopped and intervened.
The 2 guys started having a conversation in Hindu, and judging by the tone of their voices it sounded like they were arguing. I continued walking and noticed that the person who walked alongside me stopped following while the person who intervened went away. This is how it all ended.
I cannot say I felt terrified after the incident. I just became more aware of my surroundings. In conclusion, a useful tip when walking on the street by yourself in India is.
- Always make sure you walk on a busy street,
- Never be out walking by yourself at night,
- Always maintain your calm even when your gut feeling tells you that something is not exactly right.
I am convinced that the guy only tried to start a conversation with me because I never panicked. I am convinced he would have expected a more panicky reaction from my side, so most probably looking so composed put him off. This is probably one of the top pieces of advice for a safe trip to India.
9)A good app I’ve been using throughout the years, especially when I travel to countries where I don’t have access to mobile data, is MapsMe. I used it in India and worked fine. The only negative thing about this app is that sometimes it might not find all the places when you use it offline. So I would pin the places I travel to while connected to wifi/data, to make sure the app finds it in the offline mode too. Knowing where you are will make your trip to India safer.
There you have it! I hope my top tips for a safe trip to India will help you plan an amazing holiday. Also, I hope my itinerary will inspire you to visit at least some of the tourist sights I visited. I definitely want to visit India again. I believe it’s a fascinating country. India it’s so vast and diverse that you need more than 1 trip there to understand its rich culture.
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I put together a short video summarising my top moments in India. Enjoy it!
Let me know in the comments below your top tips for a safe trip in India. Have you visited India yet? Are you planning a trip there any time soon? What would you like to visit first?