India is such a magical place but for a westerner it can also be hard work. We have a few tips and tricks to help you make the most of India and for the hassle to not get too over whelming.
- Stay out of major cities – India is a beautiful place especially in the rural areas. You have to go to major cities to see some things but try to stay clear of them as this is where there is a lot of begging and hassle.
- If you’re a woman cover up – As a western woman you stand out with your hair colour, skin colour ect. Leila made sure that she wore tops covering her shoulders and cleavage, also long thin trousers so you don’t have much hassle from the men. Try to only wear swimming costumes or bikinis where there is a western beach and in tourist areas otherwise just wear a t-shirt over your swimming stuff.
- Always Barter – Always barter with most things. Taxis, tuk-tuks, rooms prices, markets etc. At first this is annoying but you get the swing of it after a while! Always start off half of what they say and agree on what you want to pay, a lot of the time if they are being stubborn when you walk away they will drop the price.
- Catch the sleeper buses! – If you’re covering long distances the sleeper busses are the best way to travel. With long beds, a pillow and a blanket it is more comfier than the train and reasonably priced too! When we booked beds on the sleeper busses the majority of the time we had problems whether it be someone already in our bed when we get on or them booking us a double bed instead of a single so it meant having to share with someone, so a tip we would like to share is to make sure when booking ask to see the beds that they booked you on because it’s fairly similar to booking seats at the cinema!
- Download Maps.me – If you didn’t know already, you can download an app called Maps Me which is free. Harry and Leila found this app very useful as it works without internet and shows you the map of the area, guesthouses, hotels, restaurants, petrol stations etc. Some advice we would like to give for when you have the app is that you will need internet to download the area that you are visiting. Once the area/city has been downloaded you won’t need to use internet for the duration you are there.
- Government Volvo buses – We always found that these were the most easy and reliable way of getting around other than the sleeper busses. They are a reasonable price and a lot more comfortable than the ordinary busses. Tip: avoid sitting at the back of any bus/mini van etc as when you sit above the wheels it can be very bouncy!