Travel Experience in India Through the Eyes of Foreign Travelers

by Apr 14, 2020India Travel Tips2 comments

India is a country of extremes. And travel experience in India is going to be an emotional roller coaster ride. For you cannot be enough prepared for India, no matter how much you try, especially if you are coming from the European and North American countries. India can shock you, stun you and surprise you at every corner. You must have known about the beautiful landscapes, the ornate temples, colorful festivals and culture and the friendly people of India. And you must have also heard about the poverty, noise, traffic, pollution, dirt and chaos that prevail in India. India is truly the land of extremes.

Your first visit to India can nothing be short of a culture shock. The crowded cities, cows on the roads, homeless people on the pavement, the dung and dirt on the road, crazy train rides can be quite difficult to take for the travelers in India. I have so long painted a stark picture of my country. But India is much more than this. Traveling in India can be a life-changing experience. The mountains, forests, plains, deserts, rivers and oceans are a testimony to the diversity of the landscape of India. The ancient temples, mosques, churches and monasteries speak volumes about the rich heritage of the country. People are different from each other, they have different culture, yet they will welcome their guests with an open heart. Indians believe in “Atithi Devo Bhava” (meaning the Guest is God).

Ganga Arti at Varanasi

It is usually said that a person who visits India either falls in love with the country or simply hates it. I am yet to meet anyone who hates his/her visit to India. Travel experience in India is always a mixed affair. So I decided to ask a few of my blogger friends about their experience in India – both good and bad. And believe me, their answers were an eye-opener for me as well. While I am overwhelmed by the stories of their experiences in India, I am equally sorry to know about their annoying moments in the country, especially all the women travelers who had, at some point in time, felt uncomfortable.

As a female traveler myself, I have traveled solo in many Indian destinations. While there are always a few uncomfortable stares and touch, India, in general, is quite safe for female travelers. People, in general, are quite friendly and helpful, especially in rural areas. The best part, however, is that all the travelers and bloggers have agreed to return to India again. To be honest, this post has made me all emotional. So before I babble more, let’s read about the travel experience in India through the eyes of foreign travelers.

Travel Experience in India as revealed by Foreign Travelers

Campbell Louw of Stingy Nomads

Rickshaw ride in varanasi - travel experience in India

Traveling in India was a very authentic experience, meeting a few tourists and being immersed in the local culture. The country is rich in history and the culture is very different and interesting. It is not the easiest and most comfortable place to travel, but exploring India was so worth the effort. I traveled around India for about two months, half of it alone and the rest with my wife. I loved exploring Rajasthan for a couple of weeks, spending days on trains to go to Delhi, Agra and the Taj Mahal, the unique spiritual city Varanasi, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, doing a tiger safari in West Bengal, exploring the mountains of Darjeeling and Mcleodganj.

Our best travel experience in India was at Amritsar. We loved staying in the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest place for the Sikh religion in Punjab. A monk saw us walking with backpacks around the temple and took us to dormitory accommodation called “Guru Arjan Nev Diwas”, simple accommodation with a shared bathroom reserved for tourists, we stayed here for free for 3 days. Hundreds of pilgrims slept outside in the temple complex. We ate with thousands of pilgrims in the temple every day and felt very welcome even though we were not pilgrims. It was an amazing experience.

  • Any bad experience in India?

I had no real bad experience. Some travelers I met in India had problems with diarrhea, my one friend from Israel became very sick and after a couple of days, he was so dehydrated that he had to go to the hospital to recover.

  • Any tips for first-time travelers?

If you travel on sleeper class trains (the cheapest trains) for long distances it is easier if you are two people, so that one of you can keep an eye on luggage if the other has to use the toilet. During the night especially people without tickets just walk through the carts and take empty seats. Only drink from sealed water bottles and use this water to brush your teeth and wash fruit. I met more than one person that got sick from the water.

  • What about Indian Food?

India is a foodie paradise, the street food is the best, I loved Dal Fried (thick lentil soup) with chapati (almost like a wrap) and Masala Dosa a crispy filled pancake.

  • Would you visit India again?

Definitely

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Joel Baldwin from World Heritage Journey

We spent just over three weeks traveling in India in early 2019. Starting from Delhi, we visited the typical tourist cities of Jaipur and Agra before heading south to Bhopal and Aurangabad. We also headed west to Ahmedabad in Gujarat before finishing our trip with a few days in Mumbai. We traveled specifically to visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites of which India has a staggering number – 38 in total. Our entire trip was self-guided and used local transport only: trains, public buses, metros, and taxis, though we did hire private drivers once or twice. Everyone was friendly, welcoming and helpful. We had prepared for some difficult moments on our travels, but thankfully none of our fears we realized!

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi - Experience in India through the eyes of foreign travellers

Our best travel experience in India was enjoying the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Of course, there are the famous glorious Mughal-era monuments like Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Humayun’s Tomb, but there is much more beyond that too! Ancient rock art at Bhimbetka, Sanchi Stupa, the mind-blowing Hindu art at Rani-ki-vav Stepwell, beautiful nature at Keoladeo National Park and modern Indian history with the colonial-era buildings of downtown Mumbai completely stole my heart.

Many of these are just completely unknown to people outside of India, and it felt like a real privilege to explore these. It seems like even locals don’t know about the Bhimbetka rock art – we had to provide directions for our driver, and it was the only place in India that we had completely to ourselves!

  • Any bad experience in India?

Very little, to be honest. It can be challenging at times, but we were prepared for our trip to be occasionally challenging and that was fine – it’s part of the fun. I think if you approach traveling with the right mindset then you’re prepared for most things. The only genuinely sour experience was in Delhi where someone squirted cow dung on my shoe without me noticing, and then offered to clean it off – for a price of course! I realized immediately it was an attempted hustle so cleaned it myself, and my shoes were brown leather and waterproof so no permanent damage was done. But I was pretty furious for a couple of hours!

We also got quite tired with taxi touts at train stations, sometimes even hovering around the train doors waiting for you! But at least these days with Uber, Ola and Google Maps’ fare estimates, you know when you’re getting a fair price.

  • Any tips for first-time travelers?

If you’re going for more than a few days, get a local SIM card. It can take a couple of hours waiting around at a phone store, but having instant access to Google Maps, translate, the IRCTC app and others make things much easier. Uber/Ola can be a life-saver at times as well, cutting down on your potential interactions with dishonest taxi drivers.

Although we didn’t have any issues with food, stick to busy places and places where you can see your food getting cooked. You’re far less likely to get sick from a street cart making hundreds of bhajis an hour than you are in a restaurant where they only get a few customers each day and the curry might not be very fresh. Eat vegetarian.

  • What about Indian Food?

Delicious! We had a lot of fantastic thali plates, lots of amazing dosas, bhajis, sweets, curries, daals and the like. I only had one digestive issue, and it wasn’t the usual “Delhi Belly” – I got a 24-hour stomach ache from eating an oily potato curry. It was nice as well to experience the regional varieties in Indian cuisine since here in Australia we mostly only get North Indian food.

  • Would you visit India again?

Yes, absolutely. Still 17 World Heritage Sites to visit.

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Ellis Veen of Backpack Adventures

Travel experience in India through the eyes of foreign travellers

I had a rough start with India. On my first trip, I was completely overwhelmed by the chaos of Delhi. The sounds, sights and smells of the city as well as all the people that seemed to want something of me made me leave India’s capital as soon as I could. Things turned around soon though. As I traveled throughout Rajasthan I fell in love with the country and 4 more trips followed.

India is such a huge and diverse country that every journey was a unique experience. South India with the peaceful backwaters of Kerala and ancient temples of Karnataka is very different from the desert landscapes and royal palaces in Rajasthan or the holy city of Varanasi in the north. The beach resorts of Goa are again something else as well and a great place to relax. Still, I only feel I have seen the tip of the iceberg and there is still so much left to explore in India.

One of my best experiences in India was the sleepy village town of Gokarna. After Goa, I was looking for a quieter and peaceful beach destination and found Gokarna. Away from the party scene and the crowds Gokarna still has palm-fringed beaches where almost nobody is around. Some are so remote that they can only be reached on foot or by boat.

The Gokarna beach trek connects all beaches and is a wonderful hike with beautiful views over the Arabian ocean. No matter what beach you are on. The sunsets and sunrises are amazing. I was lucky that I had a simple beach hut right at the seashore and that I could enjoy the sunset from a hammock under the palm trees. It was the best sunset I experienced in India.

  • Any bad experience in India?

India is a country of extremes and even though I love India and I had so many positive experiences, there were some negative experiences as well. First of all, there is poverty. The differences between the have and have nots is huge in India. There are a lot of people that work very hard in very difficult circumstances to serve the rich for a wage that is so little that they can barely survive on.

As a foreigner, you will be confronted with things that are difficult to see and it will be hard to know sometimes what is the best way to respond. It might be tempting to give money to beggars or street children, but things in India are not always what they look like. For some, poverty is a business model and the money you give might not be used in good ways.

Another negative experience in India is trash. India can be extremely dirty and there is garbage everywhere. Being in Varanasi was shocking. It was hard to see how much rubbish was floating in the Ganges while it is India’s holiest river.

  • Any tips for first-time travelers?

I traveled to India as a solo female traveler and let me be honest that this isn’t always easy. People will stare at you and there is always the risk of sexual harassment. Therefore, my first rule of safety in India is to dress modestly. This means covering my legs and shoulders and not wearing tight clothes. My second tip is to look confident as if you know where you are going and what you are doing, even if you don’t. Also, I will trust my instincts. If a situation doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

When I need help I will always try to look for other women in the street. People, in general, are very helpful and friendly. If you have the idea that someone is following you often informing passersby of a dodgy situation is enough to scare away a possible offender. Try to avoid crowds, especially during festivals. This is when large groups of young men can become drunk and rowdy. Either watch from a distance or stay close to other women.

  • What about Indian Food?

Indian food is my favorite cuisine in the world. I love it and one of the things I look most forward to when traveling to India. Some of my favorites of south Indian cuisine are rasam and dosa. Rasam is a delicious soup that is tangy and spicy. Dosas are thin rice flour pancakes with different fillings. In Karnataka, I also loved puliyogare, tamarind rice with peanuts that you can eat for breakfast. For foodies, I can recommend Mysore.

North Indian food is quite different but just as delicious. The curries are creamier and one of my favorites is shahi paneer (cheese in a creamy tomato curry) and dal makhani (lentils in a creamy and buttery curry). For meat, I love the kebabs from Karim’s in Delhi or the restaurants in the Nizamuddin Basti. Do try the Haryali kebab. This kebab is delicious and unique because of its mint-flavored marinade.

  • Would you visit India again?

Yes

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Ayngelina Brogan from Bacon is Magic

Ayngelina on the Maharajas Express - travel experience in India as revelead by foreign travellers

I had always been hesitant to visit India because so many people loved it or hated it, and I wanted to love it. Finally, when I was invited to take a trip to the luxury Maharajas Express I couldn’t pass it up. It is a 7 night stay on the train with a butler, two dining cars and two bars. You visit major sites including Jaipur, Ranthambore, Agra and Gwalior, Khajuraho and Lucknow. It was such an incredible way to see the country in just one week and I loved it. Afterward, I stayed another two weeks so that I could continue to explore the country independently and went to Kerala, and discovered a completely different side of India but equally wonderful. I can’t wait to return someday soon.

I arrived a few days before I went on my train journey and booked a street food tour in Old Delhi. A guide took me around all of the places he loved, that he knew would be safe for me to eat and we explored so many nooks and crannies. At each spot, we tried a dish and he gave me the history of the eatery and also the food. It was an amazing time that set the tone for India. I visited for nearly a month and I didn’t get sick once.

  • Any bad experience in India?

I loved every minute but we only had a few hours at the Taj Mahal and I felt a bit rushed. I wish I could have stayed there all day.

  • Any tips for first-time travelers?

As a woman I was very careful to bring respectful, modest clothing, would be appropriate for all places but also would be breathable and cool. I have a post on my site from other travel bloggers who recommend specific pieces of clothing that they brought with them.

  • What about Indian Food?

I loved the diversity of Indian food. I always chose the thali each night on the train as it was always different. It was such a treat to experience this part of the culture.

  • Would you visit India again?

Absolutely

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Claudia Tavani from My Adventures Across The World

Claudia Tavani taking pictures in Jama Masjid _ India travel experience

I spent around a month visiting India, going from Madhya Pradesh to Uttar Pradesh, where I visited Varanasi and Agra, along with the Taj Mahal, Delhi and then Rajasthan. These are fairly touristy places with good infrastructure, easy to visit. Not to mention, the sights are stunning. The only issue is in places such as the Taj Mahal or the Palace of Udaipur, where the crowds tend to be overwhelming. You need to time your visit properly to avoid being crushed!

Varanasi is by far the most interesting place to visit in India. The city is massive, chaotic, dusty and upon arriving you will feel overwhelmed. But as soon as you enter the old city, where no cars are allowed (the streets are too narrow anyway) you will feel safe, you will feel as if the city is embracing you. Experiencing the Ganga Aarti, seeing the funeral fires, walking along the ghats all add to the experience. It is a spiritual city where even the most reluctant will be swept away by the atmosphere.

  • Any bad experience in India?

The crowds can sometimes be overwhelming, as well as the chaos – with everybody on their horns, for no apparent reason other than making noise. Some parts of the country are dirty too – there is a real problem with garbage and pollution that the authorities do need to tackle.

  • Any tips for first-time travelers?

Beware of touts. You will especially find them near the most touristic sites. They will nudge you and nudge you until you give in, literally following you around to make a sale. A firm no usually works wonders.

Make sure to also dress modestly. Cover your legs – either wear jeans, elephant pants or long skirts; as well as your arms, shoulders, and chest. In other words, do as the locals do!

  • What about Indian Food?

Unfortunately, I am not a big fan of Indian food. I find the food very heavy on my stomach, due to the large amounts of garlic and to the fact it is very spicy. I am also lactose intolerant, which means that there aren’t that many options for me. During my time in India, I mostly ate dahl to be on the safe side, but it got boring after a while.

  • Would you visit India again?

Of course!

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Joanna from The World in My Pocket

Traditional Indian marriage - travel experience in India as revealed by foreigners

One of the most fascinating experiences that I had in India was taking part in a traditional Indian wedding in the state of Haryana. During my first trip to India, I used Couchsurfing to meet people to show me around, and that’s how I’ve met Sandeep, with whom I later became good friends. When his sister got married, Sandeep invited me to the wedding, and I was so excited to say yes. It was an unforgettable event, with 3 days and 3 nights of different celebrations and traditions. I took part in the ceremony of painting the bride’s hands and feet with henna, and afterward to the lady’s night evening, where only women gathered around in a big tent in front of the house and danced until the early hours of the morning. The following day was filled with many traditions, from the uncles of the bride coming to bring gifts, to the blessings of the bride by the entire extended family. The night of the wedding was fabulous and luxurious, with dancers performing traditional Hindu dances on two different stages, food caterers on both sides of the hall and over 40 different dishes served. The wedding ceremony lasted until the early hours of the next morning, with many small rituals being performed by the bride, the groom, and both together.

  • Any bad experience in India?

I did not have a bad experience in India.

  • Any tips for first-time travelers?

Make sure you wash your hands with soap very often and always eat very hot food, so you don’t get food poisoning.

  • What about Indian Food?

I love Indian food. The best dish I had in India was a potato stuffed with cheese curry, in Jaisalmer. It was so delicious, something that I have never tasted before and I couldn’t find it in any other place after.

  • Would you visit India again?

Yes, I would love to explore the South as well, now that I have been three times to the North.

Alexander Waltner from Gourmand Trotter

Alexander Waltner in Jaipur - India through the eyes of foreign travellers

We accidentally got ourselves in the sleeper class on a 14-hour train ride to Varanasi from Agra. It’s one of the lowest classes on the train and two classes below the standard tourist class. We were met by a stench and people staring at us like we were aliens.

It was our first time in India, and our first long-journey around the world, so it was a new experience. We had valuables with us and were a bit scared at first, but everything went fine and it turned out as a memorable experience that we will never forget. The locals on the train were friendly and it made us realize how privileged we are in the Western world and how many things we take for granted. We visited New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Varanasi, and Kerala. All in all, our India travel experience was very interesting and culturally enriching.

Some of my best experiences in India were meeting the locals, eating delicious food and getting impressed by the fantastic architecture and heritage of India.

  • Any bad experience in India?

We arrived in Delhi on a Sunday and were told that we couldn’t book any train tickets to Agra, but the booking office could arrange train tickets if we purchased a package that included Jaipur, Agra, and Varanasi, which we also wanted to visit. However, what we didn’t expect was that while we were promised tickets in tourist class, we were given tickets in the non-tourist class in a sleeper train from Agra to Varanasi.

This was our worst experience in India along with getting Salmonella, but it did give as an invaluable life lesson.

  • Any tips for first-time travelers?

Do a lot of research before going, and look out for scams. Try to connect with locals who want to show you around genuinely, and you will have a wonderful time.

  • What about Indian Food?

Indian food is delicious. Unfortunately, we got food poisoning and salmonella after eating an undercooked chicken tikka masala in Jaipur, at the finest restaurant.

  • Would you visit India again?

Yes, of course, it’s amazing.

Brittany Kulick from The Sweet Wanderlust

Kerala Blog Express - Travel experience in India by foreign travel bloggers

In 2016, I traveled through Kerala on a blogger trip called the Kerala Blog Express. Over my two weeks in the southwestern state, I trekked through the hills of Wayanad and slept on a houseboat on the backwaters in Alleppey. My belly was filled with many different kinds of curries and amazing desserts of Kerala like Rava laddu— I was so glad to find I loved Indian food because I’d only tried it once before my trip! I experienced the thrill of adrenaline as I ziplined over a lake and zorbed down a hill at an adventure park in Wayanad, experienced the beauty of the land at a tea plantation in Munnar and cast a net at Fort Kochi. I was impressed with the incredible hospitality, bright colors and activities for every type of traveler!

One of my memorable experiences in India was when I stayed at a homestay in Wayanad, and our host took us to a local soccer game. It was fun to cheer for the local team and meet the players and fans!

  • Any bad experience in India?

As someone who loves schedules and timelines (I was an event coordinator, after all!), I struggled when plans changed from moment to moment.

  • Any tips for first-time travelers?

I was nervous about visiting India but visited as part of a blogger group. Traveling with others helped me to feel safe.

  • What about Indian Food?

Just when I was beginning to think I had super strong tastebuds– immune to spicy food– I was invited to stay at Pranavam Homestay with a local family in Wayanad. Mrs. Rema made a traditional Sadhya, served on a banana leaf. The food was so spicy, I had tears running down my face, but it was so delicious, I couldn’t stop!

  • Would you visit India again?

Yes, although it will be hard to top my first experience!

Wendy Werneth by Nomadic Vegan

Golden Temple Amritsar _ Foreign travellers in India

My most recent trip to India was on a vegan tour of Bangalore and Pondicherry arranged by a social enterprise called Escape To. Not only did we stuff ourselves with delicious vegan Indian food throughout the tour, but we also got the chance to meet local grassroots activists and entrepreneurs. Even though I generally prefer independent travel, this small group tour was truly special and helped me to see a whole different side of India that I’d never experienced before.

In Auroville, just outside of Pondicherry, we visited an amazing project called EcoFemme. They make reusable cloth pads for women that are much more eco-friendly and also healthier than the usual disposable pads. Besides, the pads are sewn by local women from the surrounding villages who would otherwise not have employment. And for every pad sold internationally, one pad is given to a girl living in India. It was inspiring to meet the people behind this grassroots project that is changing so many lives.

One of my best experiences in India was seeing hundreds of men and boys praying outside the mosque in the Muslim area of Calcutta during Eid. The mosque itself was full, so the worshipers spilled out into the street.

  • Any bad experience in India?

Having my breasts and butt grabbed by men on the streets

  • Any tips for first-time travelers?

Women should be prepared for sexual harassment, even if traveling with a male companion. Use the women-only carriages on city metros when available. And if someone touches you inappropriately, shout at them loudly and shame them publicly.

  • What about Indian Food?

Indian food is incredible! India is probably the best country in the world for vegetarians. For vegans, there are many options too but double-check to make sure the dish doesn’t contain dairy products like ghee or curd.

  • Would you visit India again?

Absolutely!

Derek Hartman from Robe Trotting

Pushkar lake - India travel experience

I recently spent a month in India. I was mostly with a guided tour traveling north to south from Delhi to Kerala. I then spent 4 days on my own in Varanasi. We traveled by bus, all-terrain vehicle, several trains, and three flights. We visited Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Kochi, Mumbai, Pushkar, and Varkala.

One of my favorite experiences was participating in a puja ceremony in Pushkar. While I was raised Christian, I consider myself agnostic. I don’t consider myself religious at all, but I loved being welcomed into a religious ceremony by a Hindu Brahmin. He explained the significance of what we would go through and the ceremony was beautiful. I felt a very peaceful connection to the culture and the experience was reflective and prayerful. Part of the reflection and prayer was for ancestors and family members who have passed. It was moving to spend time remembering my family in such a sacred place.

  • Any bad experience in India?

I fell in love with India, but I could never drive there. It took me a while to get used to just walking around India and I felt uncomfortable riding in any type of vehicle for the first few days. It’s something you get used to. There is beauty in the chaos and it’s enchanting. I did not like urban farming and stepping over animal poop. Having to watch every step you take can be annoying.

  • Any tips for first-time travelers?

I felt very comfortable in India, but I was with a guide most of the time. I would advise that as an American, we are culturally uncomfortable saying “no” when we are offered a tour or someone is trying to sell us something, such as in a market. In India, it’s a common practice and you just have to get over being “American polite” and say “no” firmly instead of “no thank you, I’m okay”.

  • What about Indian Food?

Because I was with a guide who knew good restaurants I had very little stomach upset, but I had a few nights of difficulty from eating at a homestay. If you do not live in India, you won’t be used to the spices. It isn’t a cleanliness thing. You DO have to make sure that cooking oils are changed though.

  • Would you visit India again?

I cannot WAIT to visit India again and plan to return with my partner.

Larch from The Silver Nomad

Starting in Delhi, I went on to Agra and the Taj Mahal, Jaipur, Pushkar and Jodhpur before returning to Delhi for my last day. Traveling on coaches and trains, India was enchanting, exhilarating, dusty, noisy but serene, the people we met were helpful and curious about my blonde hair. My senses were bombarded by color, light smells and sound and the authentic taste of Indian cuisine.

Chai (milk tea) and a vegetarian thali became my staple diet and I sampled street food from the crowded vendors.

My second visit was to Goa. I went to Agonda Beach at the end of November and it rained every day. When it was not raining, I explored on a scooter going up into the hills. It was quite different from Rajasthan but I didn’t have enough time to fully appreciate it.

Taj Mahal in early morning

My best experience in India was my visit to the Taj Mahal. As one of the first people to enter the grounds, the calm, majestic Taj Mahal took my breath away in the early dawn light. Walking around the gardens the atmosphere was so serene and the Taj Mahal in the center was magnificent. The experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.

  • Any bad experience in India?

Visiting the hills forts in Jaipur, I was saddened to see elephants being used to take people up and down the steep hills to the forts.

  • Any tips for first-time travelers?

Be modest and respectful in your clothing and your language. Be prepared for the assault on all your senses.

  • What about Indian Food?

Being vegetarian, I found the food amazing. The flavors of the curries were clean, tasty and different from what I expected.

  • Would you visit India again?

I am already planning a return trip to Goa, Kerala, and Kochi

Gloria Apart from Nomadic Chica

Maharaja Express Incredible India

My love affair with India started around 25 years ago when Yoga and Meditation came into my mind. I always wanted to try these meditation retreats but I never had the time to get “locked out” for 12 days or I was not willing to spend that time instead of taking a trip somewhere. But I was in 2014 with a 6 -month visa in India, with plenty of time and with a little existential crisis. This was the perfect moment to give it a try!

So I went to Bodhgaya, the land where Buddha got enlighted and inscribed myself in the course of the Dhamma School, the ones who are supposed to teach this technique keeping the origins.

I won’t lie, it was one of the hardest experiences of my entire life. Imagine yourself sitting in a hot room (it was summer) meditating for a total of 10 hours per day.

When you start the 10-Days meditation retreat, you make a vote of silence, so you can’t talk or communicate with anyone in any way. That’s also including writing, reading or having your electronics with you!

After the 10 days, I was different. India was not feeling overwhelming anymore! I was calmer and relax and with weird new confidence and connection with my thoughts and feelings, it was the beginning of a new relationship with myself.

One of my best travel experiences in India until now was for 7 days in one of the most luxurious trains in the world, the Deccan Odyssey! A private cabin, two chefs on board, you personal butler and amazing tours daily, is there something better?

  • Any bad experience in India?

After being already for two months in India, and when I thought only weak travelers get sick, I got some stomach bug who had me sick for over a month! It was also the same moment when I have realized my travel insurance got expired, never did this again! Lesson learned!

  • Any tips for first-time travelers?

Try to adapt to the local traditions and customs. Especially if you are a woman, keep your clothes modest and, even if it’s really hot, cover up your chest, legs, and arms. I prefer to blend and not call too much attention so I can walk more comfortably.

  • What about Indian Food?

Amazing! I have tried Indian food in the northern areas, but it was not until I went to Maharashtra and Kerala that I could have a whole new experience with Indian food. The spices, the textures, eating with my hand, and all the flavors made me sing and dance of joy every time.

  • Would you visit India again?

Definitely! I’ve been already four times and I would go back at any chance!

Karen Turner from Wanderlustingk

Cooking class in Kerala - India travel experience

I traveled around Southern India and my favorite experience in India had to be sampling all the specialties from different regions from spicy Andra food to sweeter dishes from Kerala. I did a cooking class in Kochi, which was great for mastering the basics of Indian cooking to bring home Indian food with us! We also did a food tour in Mysore in addition to enjoying home cooking at a friend’s house in Bangalore in addition to following every food recommendation given to us from Mangalorean prawns to where to get the freshest idlis. Simply, everything was delicious!

  • Any tips for first-time travelers?

Use the food apps (Zomato) to find the best restaurants and do a bit of research to figure out what are the most ordered dishes with the highest turn-over to avoid getting sick. Get a SIM card as soon as possible and don’t be afraid to use the various rideshare apps to get around rather than walking around by yourself.

  • Would you visit India again?

Definitely, although I want to visit the North next!

Samantha Shea from Intentional Detours

Traditional Himachali wedding - travel experiences by foreign travellers and bloggers

I have many fond memories of India so far (I plan to return) but my best India travel experience was the time I attended a Himachali wedding in a village in Parvati Valley. One afternoon when heading back to our hotel in Chojh Village, I was struck by the cacophony of trumpets and singing in the not-so-far-off distance. Curious, my partner Charles and I headed off in the direction of the noise to find what felt like the whole valley gathered together for what was none other than a wedding. Though I was a bit nervous to enter at first-as I wasn’t sure if they wanted outsiders attending- we were soon welcomed in with open arms. Some of the villagers quickly gave us plastic chairs, jalebi treats, and cups of chai to slurp as we watched everyone dance around the circle in coordination. We wouldn’t watch for long though- two men clad in colorful headdresses insisted Charles and I join the fun. And so we did! I still to this day remember how exhilarating and pure fun it was to dance along with the rest of the villagers while trying and failing to match their never-ending stamina. I had always wanted to attend an Indian wedding, and I couldn’t have been happier that my first experience happened to be in a Himachali village of all places. I’ll remember that day forever.

  • Any bad experience in India?

My worst experience in India was during my first visit in 2018. We were unfortunately scammed horribly by a travel company “gang” upon arriving in New Delhi. My boyfriend and I both were without internet service and hadn’t read much about where we were staying in advance. Our rickshaw driver convinced us that our cheap hostel was closed and then brought us to a fake tourist agency who insisted that there was nowhere else with vacancy aside from 5-star hotels. Seeing as we were overwhelmed and without the internet, there was no way we could check such claims. Since we had been planning to head to the mountains anyway, we ended up getting what we later learned was an extremely overpriced taxi ride out of the city. To add to our crazy first day in India, our driver ended up being a wild character of sorts, making for an insane 24 hours. Though it sucks losing money, I still loved everything else about that trip, so much so that I came back a year later- which is when I had my super positive wedding experience.

  • What about Indian Food?

I’ve always loved Indian food since I was a child and trying it in India was just magical. Nothing compares to street food and hole in the wall shops.

  • Any tips for first-time travelers?

Never hail a rickshaw off the street unless you’re with a local. At best you’ll be ripped off, and at worst you’ll experience what we did with that scam tour agency.

  • Would you visit India again?

I am planning to as soon as travel is possible again. I have a 10-year validity multi-entry visa.

Ellie Cleary from Soul Travel India & Soul Travel Blog

Ellie in Rishikesh - memorable experience in India

Over the last few years, I’ve traveled to India for months at a time, both solo and with my fiancé, who is Indian. We met on my travels in India. Some of my favorite places I’ve visited in India include Ladakh, the quieter corners of Kerala such as Wayanad and the southern backwaters, and the beautiful Konkan coastline of southern Maharashtra.

I’m lucky to have many memories to pick from, but many of my most memorable experiences in India involve long train rides. One of my best train journeys happened directly after my not-so-good experience and was a complete contrast. I was scared of getting back on an overnight train, alone, but I knew I had to do it to continue my journey.

On my journey from Bikaner in Rajasthan to Haridwar, I met a family who had a teenage daughter, and they were traveling from Rajasthan to Haridwar as well. Not only did she keep me company with chats and stories throughout much of the journey – interrupted only by kids from the next set of berths over who wanted to show off their newly learned card tricks – but I was offered food by her mum, and on reaching Haridwar they shepherded me off the train away from the rickshaw touts and did not leave my side until they’d found which bus I needed to get to Rishikesh and put me on it. I’m still in touch with the daughter to this day and fondly remember our conversations. It’s no exaggeration to say that his experience restored my faith in India.

  • Any bad experience in India?

Taking the train alone from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer, I was tired and looking forward to a good night’s sleep. Normally when traveling by train in India I try to get the upper-most bunk, but this time I’d been assigned the lower bunk. I didn’t bother to try and switch and settled in for the night. I awoke at around 3 am to find the man directly opposite me sitting upright on his bunk, staring at me and touching himself. Terrified I ran off to find the guard / Ticket collector, but there was no-one to be found. After shouting at the man, my neighbor woke up (another solo female traveler as it happened), and helped me to find a spare bunk at the other end of the train carriage. In the morning an awkward scene followed with the guard who failed to do much about the incident except telling me I could report him to the police if I wanted to. I arrived tired and scared at 5 am in Jaisalmer.

  • What about Indian Food?

I can’t get enough – but be careful in Delhi and stick with hot food from popular stalls if you’re trying street food.

  • Any tips for first-time travelers?

On trains, try to get the top bunk. Get a local tourist sim card from a network such as Airtel, Vodafone or Jio as soon as you arrive in India – don’t rely on international roaming – it’s useful for so many things.

  • Would you visit India again?

We visit every year

Travellers enjoying at the ghats in Varanasi

So those were some of the best and not so good first-hand experiences of travelers and bloggers visiting India. As I mentioned before, this article is one of our favorites and we thank all who have shared their experiences in India.

How was your travel experience in India? Please let us know in the comments below.

Pin this for a later read!

Travel experience in India according to foreign travellers and bloggers

India through the eyes of foreign travellers

 

Agni & Amrita

Agni & Amrita

Travel Experts

We are Agni and Amrita, the story-telling team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers and partners in crime in travel and (mis)adventures of life. We have been travelling together for more than a decade looking for immersive experiences while enjoying the little beauties of life. We are intrigued by heritage, culture, festivals and people and that is reflected in our travel. And yes, we love the Himalayas too.

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2 Comments

  1. Wow, this brough a FLOOD of memories back to me from my trip to India several years ago. You summed up my experience perfectly in the first paragraph, it is so a land of extremes. I never thought that India would be so diverse. In Mumbai I was completely overwhelmed by culture shock. I experienced a lot of the homelessness, traffic, beeping horns, and things of that nature as you describe. We made our way to Udaipur, Goa, and Kerala and WOW they could not be more different from Mumbai and from each other. Totally accurate post!

    Reply
    • Thank you Stephanie! I can understand your feeling. Most of my friends from the West have to say the same thing about India. Would definitely love to know more about your experience in India.

      Reply

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