What do backpackers love about India

15 tips for your first trip to India

You have never been to India, but you really want to go to the Taj Mahal, Goa or colorful Rajasthan? Then you will find the jump start here to finally start planning.

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Tips for your first trip to India

Many travelers already feel overwhelmed when organizing their trip to India. It's not that difficult if you go step by step. Below I have put together 15 tips that will make planning easier for you.

Take care of your India visa in good time!

A visa is required to enter India. German citizens can, under certain conditions, receive an electronic tourist visa (e-Tourist Visa - e-TV), which must be applied for at least four days before the planned date of entry. With this visa you can usually stay in the country for up to 60 days and enter up to two times. Current information and regulations can be found on the indianvisaonline page. In addition, the visa can be applied for at the embassy.

Take your time planning your trip!

India is a huge country, the seventh largest state in the world. Accordingly, you have to think carefully about where you want to travel. So take your time in planning, read a travel guide or travel blog, and make a list of places that interest you. This makes sense if only because you probably won't be able to remember many of the complicated names the first time. Just write everything down, afterwards you can always delete it. For example, create a map on Google Maps and put a flag there for each possible destination. This will give you a feeling for distances and connections. Never forget: planning trips is fun!

You can find some of the most beautiful destinations in my guide to backpacking in Southeast Asia.

All tips for your trip to India

Inspiration: Pictures ✭ Flights: Cheap plane tickets ✭ Travel planning: India tips, India packing list, visa & entry, best travel credit card ✭ Traveling with a child ✭ Health: vaccinations, first-aid kit, travel health insurance ✭ On site: finding hotels, excursions & Tours, train tickets, bus tickets, ferry tickets ✭ Our India Facebook group

To the India blog

Not too much at once!

As just described India is big, not to say: very big. Therefore, at some point you have to decide where to go. Accepting the following may help you:

"It doesn't matter how much time you have, it won't be enough for everything!"

So don't stress yourself the first time and just come back again. And remember with the route that everything takes a long time in India. Whether waiting at the ticket counter or in the post office, patience is always required. In addition, a stomach problem or an air conditioning-related cold can throw you off course at any time. It's good if you have planned time buffers. In my opinion you should have at least three weeks for a self-organized trip to India, and you should visit a maximum of seven places, better only five if relaxation is important to you.

When you have less time ...

Can't wait and want to visit as many sights in India as possible in a short time? Then maybe a study trip (e.g. Studienreisen.de) is right for you. It costs a little more, but you have a well-organized compact program in which you don't have to worry about anything yourself.

Choose the right travel time for India!

The best time to travel to India is from October to March, the high season is from December to the end of February. During this period the temperatures are most comfortable. In the off-season from April to June it is very hot, so visiting a temple can be an ordeal. Many national parks are then closed. From June the monsoons bring plenty of rain into the country. You can also experience it extensively in the off-season from July to October.

Also important for your travel planning: In India there are many big celebrations / festivals that are worth visiting. Therefore, compare the dates with your travel route, maybe you are lucky and can be part of one of them. However, a look at the Indian calendar also makes sense if you do not want to visit the festival, as many trains and accommodations are fully booked in the days around it.

Take care of your vaccinations!

The World Health Organization recommends vaccinations against tetanus, diphtheria, polio, hepatitis A & B, typhoid and possibly chickenpox for India. Depending on the route and length of stay, vaccinations against Japanese encephalitis, meningitis, rabies and tuberculosis are also recommended. It is best to seek advice from a tropical institute or a doctor specializing in travel medicine. Many things are still possible at short notice, but it is best to go to the consultation three to four months before you start your journey. Because not all vaccines are always available and for some vaccinations several appointments are necessary.

By the way: Most health insurances pay for the vaccinations recommended by the doctor for a trip.

Here you will find detailed information on vaccinations and health care for India.

Do not let them make you crazy!

A few years ago, the dangers of disease or poisonous animals were on the first pages of some travel guides. Fortunately, these lists of horror have moved backwards in most guidebooks, because it is more pleasant to get to know the beautiful sides of a planned travel destination first. I am not trying to belittle it, because some dangers are quite real. However, you don't have to drive yourself crazy for this. With a little caution and common sense, you can avoid most hazards and minimize risks.

As a woman, pay attention to the special safety tips!

There have been repeated reports of rape and sexual harassment in recent years. Indeed, it is different whether you are going to Thailand as a woman or you are in India. But here too, with the right preparation, you can avoid many dangers. The travel blogs Bravebird, Pink Compass and Globetrotter have put together valuable tips for women who travel (alone) through India.

Make a packing list for your trip to India!

Good travel planning is also necessary when it comes to what you want to take with you to India. In the end, it's usually too much, and yet something is always missing. In my packing list I have put together what I consider to be the most important things, also with regard to the first-aid kit. I think it is helpful to you.

Clarify your finances and your budget!

Before you travel, you should be clear about your budget. Plan an appropriate buffer so that unexpected expenses don't ruin your trip. You should also think about how to get cash in India. In my article about credit cards when traveling, I have put together what you have to pay attention to.

The best travel credit card for India

You can save a lot of money on your travels with the right credit card. Here you can find out which cards you can use to withdraw cash free of charge worldwide and pay in local currency at no additional cost. And who is currently the only provider who reimburses you for the foreign fees at the machine, for example in Thailand or Vietnam.

Here is the credit card comparison

Don't save too much on accommodation!

In India you can live very cheaply almost anywhere. You can get a bed for one or two euros per night. But remember that India is (very) exhausting. If you are out all day and thousands of impressions affect you, you may be happy to have a retreat in the evening. Then it is an advantage to live in a room that you like to be in and not in a rancid broom closet. Many hotels around 15-20 euros offer great value for money. Better treat yourself a little more if it makes you feel better in India.

Travel through India cheaply by train!

You can save money on accommodation here, because one of the cheapest ways to get around in India is by train. Thanks to the second largest route network in the world, you can get almost anywhere this way, and it costs next to nothing. A trip of more than 300 kilometers often takes ten hours, but you only pay around 5 euros in Sleeper Class. Of course, you can also travel in the air-conditioned 1st class.

Since the train is used a lot, it happens again and again that trains are fully booked in advance. Simply going to the ticket counter the day before your trip is therefore not a good idea. Often there is only the waiting list. The easiest way is to book your tickets online. This can be done 90 days before the trip. You can find a list of all trains on erail. To buy tickets you have to register with IRCTC, but an Indian mobile number is required for this. Alternatively, you can book the cards at Cleartrip for a small surcharge. You can cancel your tickets later. The money, minus a processing fee, will then be transferred back. You can find the best overview of rail travel in India on Seat61.

Use domestic flights as an alternative!

Disregarding the ecological aspects, it can be a good idea to book a domestic flight to save time. There are numerous (cheap) airlines in India for this, such as Air India, GoAir, Indigo, Jet Airways and Spicejet. Platforms like Skyscanner compare prices.

Restaurants: eat where the Indians eat too!

Indian cuisine is among the best in the world. Unfortunately, many India vacationers only dine in upscale restaurants for fear of spoiling their stomachs. But you miss a lot, because the food there is often adapted to the western audience. You usually have the unique taste experiences in rather simple restaurants. And they are also much cheaper. Sometimes you can get full there for just one euro.

And because of the worries: I have so far almost exclusively eaten at street stalls and in small restaurants in India and have almost never had any problems. I always made sure that (many) locals eat there too. Because that's a sign that the food is good. Of course you can upset your stomach there too, but that can happen to you in any other restaurant as well. Caution is advised, especially in poorly frequented restaurants with a western menu.


India is exhausting, a country full of contrasts and definitely not an easy travel destination. Maybe you fall in love with India and spend a wonderful time there, maybe you are disappointed and never come back. Be prepared for arduous locomotion, for overstimulation and for the fact that there is a lot that you do not understand. Take your time and take it. Taking a deep breath instead of getting excited will make a lot of things easier. And it will help to enjoy the fascinating sides of this country. Good Trip!

Do you still have questions about your first vacation in India?
Then off to the comments.

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About the author

Stefan has been traveling to the countries of Southeast Asia since 2006 and often spends several months there. In 2013 he founded Fascination Southeast Asia and since then has also written several eBooks and books on the subject (including the insider travel guide “555 Tips for Bangkok”). Between his travels he lives and works in Düsseldorf.

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