As the second-most populous country in the world, India is a massive tourist destination. The culture, food, and entertainment there are worth the trip on their own. Of course, there are also sights to see, from natural landscapes (and oceanscapes) to mountains with breathtaking vistas.
So, what should you focus on while traipsing around Italy as a backpacker or a boujee traveler? Here are 11 things we recommend you plan around.
Don't Miss The Hundreds Of Thousands Of Mosques
There's a ton to see and do in India, but one of the main tourist attractions is the abundance of mosques throughout the country. There are over 300,000, says Know India, and many of them are open to the public to visit. You should tread lightly, however, and always check that you're following the guidelines when stepping inside (if it's allowed). Definitely don't visit mosques during prayer time, always remove your shoes, and dress modestly says The Istanbul Insider.
Of course, you may also want to see the Taj Mahal while you're in India, which is understandable. That said, it's a bit of an overrated tourist attraction, according to many travelers, so take this recommendation with a grain of salt.
Fly To India Between October And March
The best time to head to India is when it's not monsoon season, notes On the Go Tours. Thus, October through March is the ideal time period to visit. Of course, weather conditions vary based on the climate of the place you're setting up camp in. From the Himalaya mountain range to the peninsula of India with coasts on three sides, there's a lot of potential for the weather to fluctuate.
Stay In New Delhi For The Best Experience
New Delhi is the seat of India, and in contrast with [old] Delhi, it's very vibrant, green, and welcoming. Brittanica highlights the vibrant Central Vista Park, which is home to plenty of greenery as well as museums, government offices, and other businesses.
Really, the only drawback to staying in the thriving hub that is New Delhi is that you're literally hours away from the nearest beaches. If you prefer coastal views while exploring India, Goa is our runner-up recommendation. Goa boasts colonial architecture, beaches with calm waters, and tropical spice plantations.
Book A Stay At JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity
The Marriott in New Delhi is mere minutes from the metro (more on that in a minute), and travelers give it high marks for its location, atmosphere, and food. Totally worth the $150+ per night, in our opinion!
If you want boujee beach luxury, try The Leela Goa, an all-inclusive resort with golf, private beaches, and amazing backdrops to pose for the 'Gram.
Dine At Street Stalls Throughout New Delhi
Even if you're staying at the Marriott, which offers onsite restaurant accommodations, it's worth exploring some local eateries, too. You may have tried Indian food like dal, naan, chicken tikka masala, or kebabs at home in the States, but there's nothing like having authentic food while in New Delhi.
What's really great is that you can easily find vegetarian and even vegan dishes that are easy on your traveler's budget. Travel Triangle recommends sampling foods like chole bhature (try it at Bikanervala at Rajouri Garden) and golgappe (go to Om Sweets in Delhi for this dish).
Use The Metro To Get Around In India
We mentioned a hotel that's near the metro, and it's probably your best bet to hop on the train anytime you want to see the sights. Of course, for more culture, you can always try a rickshaw ride, but the metro costs between eight and 50 rupees, depending on where you're going, says TripSavvy. Travelers can also purchase a Special Tourist Card for 100 rupees per day (plus you pay a deposit on the card itself, which must be returned).
See A Range Of Sights All Over India
Honestly, you need to plan a longer trip than just a week or two to see everything India has to offer. To get to the Taj Mahal from New Delhi requires a two- to three-hour metro ride. Visiting iconic landmarks like Bailey Bridge (in the Himalayas), the highest bridge in the world by elevation, can take over a day of travel from New Delhi to Ladakh. Of course, you can also traverse smaller bridges in and around Ladakh via horseback (pictured above!).
Sticking closer to New Delhi, however, still offers amazing experiences. You can see the Red Fort, circa the 1600s, see Qutub Minar, a victory tower, and visit the India Gate, a war memorial.
Don't Spend All Your Rupees In One Place
With one US dollar, you can exchange for over 72 Indian rupees. Clearly, the exchange rate is favorable for US tourists (and likely those from Canada and the UK, too). In fact, Wandering Earl says that a budget of about $15 USD per day is totally doable in India.
Find Flight Deals In January, If Possible
According to Skyscanner, flights are the cheapest in January. And the good news is, that's outside of monsoon season for traveling to India. Skyscanner also recommends booking at least seven weeks in advance for travel to New Delhi, noting that flights to that specific area are often cheaper around November.
If You're Visiting Goa, Don't Skip The Beaches
Sure, you could make a day trip to the coast while staying in New Delhi, but that will up your travel costs. If you're staying in a coastal area, though, you really can't miss the seaside ambiance of India and its many picturesque beaches.
Plan Ahead To Secure Your Visa And Handle Paperwork
Traveling to India sounds amazing because it's so affordable. But as Wandering Earl explains, you need to do your homework before booking a flight. That's because India requires all visitors to have a visa before they arrive. So it's not like heading to other international destinations where you receive a visa and passport stamp with your welcome.
Instead, you must apply (and pay) for your visa before you depart your home country. There are multiple types of visas available from three months to 10 years, but you need to keep in mind that the issue date is when your timeline starts. That means if your arrival date is too far off, your visa could expire before the end of your trip! Long story short, read the fine print and prepare to pay up. Earl says a six-month visa for a US visitor costs a little under $80.