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!