With its diverse culture, ancient values and traditions, vibrant architectural marvels, and mouth-watering cuisine, it’s no wonder that India is among the top favorite tourist destinations to visit. According to the official reports, over 10 million foreign tourists visited India in 2017, and there are over 1,036.35 million domestic tourists that visit different states and union territories in India. However, with the tourist paradise comes the chaos which is daunting enough to intimidate anyone.
To experience India in its entirety, you need to immerse yourself in its colorful environment. Don’t be the naive traveller who only has a few pictures and a miserable experience to show for their trip.
Here, we have curated a list of 11 tips and tricks of the trade that would help you avoid the swarm of tourists and make some amazing memories along the way!
- Be the early bird
The historical and quaint monumens you might want to visit in India are usually overcrowded unless you visit on a public holiday or on famous festival days. The only possible way to go around the masses completely is to visit the place super early or super late in the day.
While it might sound like a herculean effort to some of you night owls – it will be worth it when you would have the luxury of time to your advantage. To beat the crowd, go online and find out the opening and closing hours of the places you have on your must-visit list (especially the famous spots like Taj Mahal).
2. Avoid Office Rush Hours in Metro Cities
Expect no mercy from the notorious Indian metro cities’ traffic, in its benevolent eyes, tourists and locals are the same, and deserve to be stopped for hours to admire it prowess. So, if you want to visit some places in metro cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, one of the best way to be there on time is to avoid the road during office rush hours.
Usually, the duration of 8-10 AM and 5-7 PM are the peak times with high chances to get stuck in the city traffic. With this little precaution, you can save your commute-time significantly and instead spend it on the places in your bucket list.
3. Planning for the Himalayas? Stay in a less crowded place
While there are numerous hotels in India, especially in the famous hill-stations, if you don’t plan your trip right, you might just find yourself being conned into expensive hotels with awful service. Meanwhile, the famous hotels located on just the right spot are expensive and booked in advance, so if you are looking to escape the tourist crowds on the mighty Himalayas, go for the off-beat locations on the outskirts.
Some of the places that are completely away from the tourist crowd includes Auli-Uttarakhand, Narkanda – Himachal Pradesh, Ranikhet- Uttarakhand, Lansdowne-Uttarakhand, Kasauli – Himachal Pradesh, Leh – Jammu and Kashmir and many more. The hotels and homestays available there will guarantee a much better and serene experience – free of noisy tourists and in the lap of nature.
Make sure not to book your hotel anywhere in the main town which is amongst the favorite places for domestic tourists, and is usually pretty overcrowded.
4. Go for Mountains Treks
India boasts some of the greatest mountain treks from easy to difficult levels including Triund, Roopkund trek, Dzukou valley, Kheerganga and many more which are quite underrated and not that popular amongst the tourists in India. While most foreign tourists research the country’s main attractions and plan their trip accordingly, many overlook the vast range of other similar peaceful places they can visit.
So, get back to the drawing board, research and include such spots for your trip.
5. Shop at offbeat places
A trip to India is incomplete without shopping and souvenirs.
Instead of visiting a shopping mall and crowded bazaar, go for emporiums and official government shop in cities that have authentic and traditional items. Not only do they offer culturally unique items of good quality but are much more convenient and calm. At these places, you will find authentic Indian stuff. So, to take home a piece of India, head straight to such shops.
6. Avoid going at the wrong time
Ending up in India during school summer vacation can land you between swarms of people at every tourist spot you can imagine going to. Know the right time to travel to India, Schools in South India close by mid-April and open by mid-June. Whereas, in North the summer holiday begins from Mid-May and open at the end of June.
So, planning for hill-stations at that time can be a bad idea if you want to avoid the tourist crowd. Anywhere from August to March is a great time to visit most of the places.
7.Pre-book your Railway tickets
Indian Railway is one of the cheapest means of transport for the Indian as well as foreign tourists.
Almost 13 million people commute via railways every day and getting tickets for same is not an easy task. With the general quota, there can be a two-month long waiting period on your ticket for the place you want to visit. Though there is a reserved quota for foreign tourists in Indian Railways but with an average growth of 10.6% for foreign tourists every year, you cannot risk it. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to pre-book your ticket at least 3 months before you plan to visit.
The only thing you have to do is sign up on Indian Railways website and book for your destination under Foreign Tourist Booking tab. Here is the link for same : IRCTC site (Indian railway Official). Make sure to carry your Passport along with you while boarding on the train.
8. Visit North-East India
North-East India is still in its nascent stage in terms of a tourist attraction and therefore, is away from the tourist rush. Its flora and fauna is breathtakingly beautiful and still untainted by tourists.
The fact that North-East India receives the highest amount of rainfall on earth makes it a paradise for the nature lovers. One can visit the region throughout the year. Though, spring is considered to be the best time to see the valley in all its green flourish glory.
9. Use Mobile apps to your advantage
While apps such as Google Maps, Taxi-booking, Metro Maps are considered to be essential pathfinders in rest of the world, in India, these apps come especially handy to avoid the rush hour for a particular place.
The apps such as Google Maps, Uber Drive and DMRC Metro Route will become your saviour with their unique features that would find the famous spots and the easiest (and traffic free) routes to reach them. Useful information on peak hours and traffic on every route is an additional bonus.
So, make sure you utilize the space on your phone well before travelling to India.
10. Taste the original street food of India in a healthy environment
India has famous historical bazaars in the northern parts such as the famous Chandni Chowk and Khari Baoli in Delhi, Katra Jaimal Singh market in Amritsar, Johari Bazaar in Jaipur. They are not only popular for shopping but are also famous for great Indian street food right where it originated.
But visiting the place with intention of exploring Indian street food can be a frantic task for those who are not used to the small narrow lanes packed with thousands of people. Don’t worry as the famous Indian franchises like Haldiram’s and Bikanerwala which originated from these historical markets themselves offer an array of street food choices and in a convenient setting.
You can easily spot their outlets anywhere in the cities or highways and taste the spicy street food for yourself.
11. Go on a tour with Maharajas’ Express/ Aboard the Maharajas’ Express
The Maharajas’ Express is a luxury tourist train which gives you an Indian Heritage tour, covering more than 12 destinations across North-West and Central India including one of the 7 Wonders of the World – The Taj Mahal.
The Train consists of 23 carriages and includes accommodation, dining, bar, lounge, Private Bar/Lounge, dining cars, and what not, offering you a 5-star equivalent accommodation. With the low count of seats available, pre-booking your ticket for it can be a great way for a hassle-free travel experience away from the crowd while exploring the north-western parts of India.
Apart from the tips mentioned above, make sure to apply for your tourist visa before the visit. To make the process easy, Indian officials implemented a new visa policy allowing tourists visitors to obtain a “Visa on arrival” also known as e-Tourist Visa which allows the tourists to apply for an online visa at least 30 days before the visit.
If you’re looking for an ultimate guidebook for post-study work visa for the countries that answers all your pressing questions, read our article on Post Study Work Visa.
We hope that the above pointers will ease your next trip to India.
About The Author: Abhyank Srinet holds a Masters in Management degree from ESCP Europe & has an engineering degree with a specialization in Instrumentation & Control. His interest in the digital landscape motivated him to create an online startup for Masters in Management application consulting (MiM-Essay.com), focused on spreading quality information about the MiM degree & performing application consulting services for clients. He is the chief consultant of the company and takes care of Business Development and Digital Marketing side of the company. He is very passionate about writing and marketing.