Written by Lewis Lai and edited with content by Lisa Tan.
Indian food is delicious, however it is not like most Indian food you eat in New York or London. India-Indian food is unique and great on its own, and Western-Indian food is customised to suit the taste and preference of the Western taste buds. For instance, chicken tikka masala is from the UK and not India.
- In general, eat hot cooked dishes and avoid tap water at all cost. If you are up for it, I would recommend you to try momos (Indian dumplings) from the roadside stalls.
- Indian cuisine is flavourful and not too spicy if you choose the right dishes.
- Clean your hands before you eat, do not drink from taps (I brushed my teeth with tap water, it was ok).
- Ensure you know your food is cooked and served hot. Lassi is good to drink, do avoid drinks with ice too.
- Chai (tea) is a staple and generally very tasty. You can get them almost everywhere, any time.
- There is usually some chewable dried mint that is provided to you after meals. Only take it if it is in a sealed packaging, and not in a common bowl, where everyone can pick a few up with their fingers.
- Surprisingly, India’s McDonald’s have a great selection of vegetarian options that are pretty good.
- Tuktuk/tricycle will get you to most places. You can bargain for Rp150 for 9km ride.
- Check out the OLA app which is like Uber/Grab/Lyft. It is useful to gauge the fares.
- Trains are a headache due to cancellation or delay, which is very common. If you really need a ticket and everything is sold out, you can try a “tatkal” ticket. It is an emergency ticket which you pay a premium Rp300 for, the application opens at 10am the day prior to your actual train ride. It sells fast to whoever is quickest.
- If all fails, get the general ticket and sneak your way up the Sleeper. You can try sneaking into the AC class, if caught you will just have to pay a fine to make up for the cost difference.
- It can get really cold in the winter season and the windows binds on the trains are not very weather proof.
- Guesthouses are plentiful. You can bargain for room rates, or book through AirBnb/Booking.com
- Rooms are cheap typically SGD7 per night can get you hot water bath and sitting toilets (in Varanasi and Bodhgaya. It is more costly in Lucknow).
- Do expect dust and stained bedsheets.
Touting and Beggars
- They are everywhere and the more eloquent ones will try to sell a guide service to you in exchange they will bring you to a shop. You can always say no, make no eye contact, walk away or stand still and gesture to them to go away.
- Do not pay for guides. You can tell someone is a guide when you walk to a place of attraction and he starts automatically explaining things to you. Just say no.
- If someone asks you to hold their belongings for a while, do not accept. Just walk away.
Comment below on your India travel tips too!