1. Take it easy
India can be overwhelming, and if you plan to fit too much into your time and exceed realistic expectations you will have visitors fatigue. Using a great Travel Designer will ensure that your exposure is perfectly balanced.
2. Dress with respect
Cover your arms and legs, don’t wear tight clothes and be mindful of their attitude towards cows as far as leather goes especially in religious buildings (many Indian people wear cow leather but much of the Indian leather is sourced from buffalos). Spy a little pile or row of shoes outside- take the hint and enter barefoot.
3. Stay safe
Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in a big city at home. Don’t carry valuables or large quantities of cash. Don’t walk down dark alleys in the night. Don’t give in to haggle or road rage. If it seems too good to be true. Well, it probably is. Be sensible. Stay cool.
4. Prepare your senses
Noise, odors, colors… if it is your first visit to India dial your expectations as high as possible and then fully expect for them to be outdone!
5. Get off the beaten track
While the busy, smelly, noisy, overpopulated cities can be a lot to handle the smaller, rural villages will allow you to tap into Indian hospitality and get a taste of the real flavor of India.
6. Be careful with what you put in your mouth!
If you stay in good accommodation you may indulge to your heart’s content. If you are tempted by streetfood then do try to stick to freshly peeled fruit and food that has been boiled or fried. Don’t eat Salads or Ice from the street. Delhi-Belly can last for a week and is sure to ruin your visit. (A diet of plain rice and yogurt plus rehydration is the best way of dealing with a bout of tummy flu in most cases.)
7. No feet, no left hand
Feet are considered unclean in India (and trust us, yours will actually BE dirty in no time). Don’t’ touch anything with your feet or your left hand. If you accidentally transgress issue a swift apology.
8. There is no such thing as personal space in India
Allow for the Indian culture. Intrusive, very forthright questions and being jostled in public spaces is par for the course.
9. Like the Indian head wobble, keeping time can be a vague concept
Not only are people a little careless about appointments and being on time… even those who might like to stick to a rigid schedule might be held up in traffic etc.
10. Sort out your shots
10-year boosters for Diptheria, Polio, and Tetanus are essential. A Typhoid jab is optional.
Discuss Malaria prophylactics with your health practitioner especially if traveling to Assam, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.
11. Your General Health
Wash your hands (carry an Anti-Viral hand foam everywhere if possible). Stay hydrated!
12. Do read
The India Handbook
India: the Cultural Companion by Richard Waterstone (especially if you are interested in architecture and sculpture.
The Wonder That Was India by A.L. Basham is great for history buffs.
India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha
Views from an Indian Bus by Alistair Shearer for essays on contemporary India
Holy Cow! By Sarah Macdonald for a spiritual (and amusing) insight
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
A Suitable boy by Seth Vikram
13. Do watch
Slumdog Millionaire by Danny Boyle
The Darjeeling Unlimited
Bride and Prejudice
City of Joy
Heat and Dust
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Jewel in the Crown
The Story of India by Michael Wood