If you are visiting India for the first time, then let me warn you, this country is so different that you either going to hate it or love it. There is nothing in between.
Before we move further, let me first tell you that this post is the part of our travel series - 'All About Smooth Travel'
Check out our other posts in the series here:
7 Tips for Traveling | So that you can Enjoy your Vacation More
5 Reasons why you should Travel?
9 Apps you should have while Traveling
6 Problems that Foreign Tourists face in India
Here, the 5 points that a traveler should put under consideration while traveling in India for the first time are given:
Follow Legal Compliances
First and foremost is to follow all the legal compliances. Though not following them is not going to kill you but it may ruin your fun.
While traveling, some of us have the habit to put all the documents in the bag and put that in the place where we are residing in. But in India, I suggest, you should carry your Indian visa and your respective country passport with you while you are traveling within the country.
Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from beyond stay in the country. Also, your passport should have at least two empty pages for Indian visa stamps.
A person while coming into India from abroad, can bring with him foreign exchange without any limit. However, if the foreign currency notes or traveler cheques exceed US$ 10,000/- or its equivalent and/or the value of the foreign currency exceeds US$ 5,000/- or its equivalent, it should be declared to the Customs Authorities at the Airport in the Currency Declaration Form (CDF). (updated as on 09-05-2019)
A person while leaving India, can take out with him Indian currency notes, up to ₹ 5,000/- to any country other than Nepal and Bhutan and any amount in denomination not exceeding ₹ 100 to Nepal or Bhutan. (updated as on 09-05-2019)
And also, when you are in India, and buy some stuff, make sure that in the bill they charged IGST instead of CGST and SGST. While leaving the country, this will help you to get the GST refund smoothly that you have paid so far.
Make sure to do Haggling
If you are a foreign tourist and wants to buy some stuff, then you must know how to haggle in India when you shop. The one thing you need to understand is that for Indian shopkeeper a foreigner means deemed rich guy. I have already explained this in our fourth post of travel series.
Indian shopkeepers have two prices in mind for a particular item, one is called as the 'Price for Indian or Native People' and the other one is called as the 'Price for foreigners'. Trust me, they can quote you 3x, 5x, 7x or even the 10x of the price they charge from the Indians for the same stuff.
That's Insane, right!!! That is the main reason why you should know how to negotiate with the Indian shopkeepers.
Before starting the negotiation, keep in the mind, that you can get the particular item for less than the half of the initial price quoted by the shopkeeper or sometimes even for a quarter of it. Like, if he initially quotes ₹ 1,000/- for something, then you should say, about ₹ 400/-.
Understand this, that as he is also a businessman, after seeing you that you are a foreigner, he has already increased his profit margin significantly.
Don't act too be excited even if you are dying to buy it. Also, they can try to convince you emotionally, like, "I have a Poor family, I have to take care of them". Don't fall for it, and show disinterest in buying the same at that price, he will eventually reduce the price.
Warning: Spicy Food Ahead
'Indian food is spicy', yes, that's true, but from a foreigner perspective. Indians usually have the habit of eating spicy food. If you are from a country that consumes fewer spices like Spain, Greece, etc. and eating the Indian food for the first time, then yeah, it's going to be a bit spicy for you.
It is good to know about your enemy and then to fight him, right!!! Did you ever wonder why the chilies perceive so spicy and hot to us? Actually, it is because it has a chemical called capsaicin in it.
Capsaicin enters our bloodstream, significantly convince our brain that our body temperature is rising and that's why we freak out.
So, what you should do to get the relief from eating spicy food. The answer is Milk. Yes, you read it right, Milk. Milk contains a protein called Casein. Casein molecules help to clear the Capsaicin molecules from the nerve receptors of your mouth and provide instant relief.
Other milk-based products also can help you with this. Other things like drinking alcohol, eating sugar, cooking food with olive oil, etc. also helps.
Be Prepared, Indians are Time-Insensitive
Respect Your Time. In India, everybody knows it, but they don't do it. In fact, you can say that punctuality and Indians are the two sides of the same coin. I know I am a bit harsh, but sorry, it is the truth. In India, people take their and others time lightly unlike the west.
Now, you might be thinking, so what? How it is going to affect our trip? And I am going to reply, just wait for it. You will understand this.
Actually, you have to face this reality everywhere and that is the main issue. Starting from paperwork, bus and train schedules to meeting with friends.
You can find yourself waiting for your Indian friends for half an hour even when they promise to join you in five minutes. Also, generally the buses don't follow the time schedule. The bus that should depart at 8 AM may leave around 8:45 AM etc.
You need to have patience and be a tolerable person for all of it. In fact, if you want to learn patience, just do one thing, visit India. I am not saying all are like this, but yes mostly are. So, be prepared for it. Having a good margin of time for your trip too can help.
Planning and Visiting time are Important
Planning, I have already covered this point in 'Pre Plan your Trip and Wearing Outfits' in the first post of the travel series. India is a subcontinent with great diversity - from the snow at Himalayan mountains to tropical beaches of Goa to Trisea at Kanyakumari.
Planning your trip is very important if you are visiting a country like India. India does have so many places to visit that will surely excite you as a traveler. But, if you are a first time visitor, then I suggest you should visit either India's Golden Triangle, Kerala or Goa.
In India, weather is quite different at times in the various regions. However, overall the best time to visit India is the winter season. It usually starts in mid-October and till the first week of March. During this period you can also enjoy many festivals like Diwali, Christmas, Holi, and so on.
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