India has so much to offer to tourists – if you have the time to travel the breadth of the country, there is so much to do and see. I’ve read a lot of foreign tourist accounts about travelling in India and found a few recurring themes that I thought I’d discuss in this post. I hope this will benefit all those planning to travel to India in the future.
MYTH 1: Jaipur, Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, and Goa are the only places to visit in India.
After reading so many blogs and influencer posts about these four places – I realized that most people think these are the only places worth visiting in India. This is far from the reality. India is such a big country with insanely beautiful mountains in the north (Himalayas) to untouched beaches & backwaters in the South to gorgeous desserts in the West to unparalleled natural beauty in the East. If I sit and make a list of all the must-see places in India, I’m sure it will cross 500! Do your research before you visit India – there is more to India than just the Taj Mahal (eye roll).
MYTH 2: Indians are out to cheat foreigners visiting the country.
Indians believe in a concept called “Athiti Devo Bhav” which means our guest is like our God. Having said that – do they try to make an extra buck off tourists? Yes, they do but that is doing business and not an “Indian” quality. I’ve faced the same situation in many foreign countries that I have visited. Also, if you visit the less touristy more offbeat places, you’ll actually find people welcoming you to stay in their home for free or offering you food for free, or just showing you around the place just out of the goodness of their hearts. Life in the major cities can be a struggle for a lot of people and hence, they do try to make an extra buck off of tourists. I actually find it amusing that foreigners complain about paying 2-3USD extra for something that will probably cost them far far more in their own countries.
MYTH 3: Indian trains are overcrowded.
I have literally explained this so many times to different people. Indian trains have different compartments – 1st, 2nd, 3rd and general compartments. If you travelling in the 1st/2nd/3rd compartment – everyone has a fixed seat and no one without a ticket/fixed seat can travel in it. If you’re travelling in the general compartment – you still need a ticket but it’s usually overcrowded because these tickets are the cheapest and people do try to get by without a ticket in here. A lot of tourists choose to travel that way to enjoy the “Indian” way of living but that just isn’t it. Again, if you’re on a budget book your tickets for 3AC well in advance (there is dynamic pricing) and it honestly doesn’t cost a fortune. Eg: Delhi to Mumbai is a journey of approximately 1400kms which will set you back by around INR2800 (USD 38).
MYTH 4: Indian food will make you sick
It is no surprise that Indian food is spicy – if you can’t handle your spices, ASK for less spicy options. There are enough restaurants offering western food options including fast-food chains – that are reasonably priced too. A lot of foreigners choose to eat street food and then complain about falling ill – most Indians also fall ill after eating street food but that is true for a lot of street food around the globe. Personally, I wouldn’t experiment with a lot of street food in a different country unless I was sure of what ingredients they’re using.
MYTH 5: India is loud
Of course our cities are loud – have you heard of how much our population is? Delhi has a population of 20million people i.e. a population density of 11,312 people per square kilometer. But if you move away from the major cities – you’ll find SO much peace and quiet.
MYTH 6: India is poor
Is India a poor country? No. We are a growing economic power to reckon with. But we do have a huge population issue which has led to a large income disparity in the country. While Mr. Mukesh Ambani, the richest Indian, lives in the world’s MOST expensive home (a house with 3 helipads!!!) – 25% of our population lives below the poverty line. While Mr. Adani (the second richest Indian) added 261% wealth in 2020 (he is worth 88bn USD) – countless daily wagers lost their livelihood and lives in the same year. India isn’t a poor country but there is a huge economic disparity between the rich and the poor.
MYTH 7: India is unsafe for solo women travellers
I won’t deny the crime against women that happens in India. Having said that, I personally do travel solo in India and take the same precautions I take while travelling outside the country too, and I haven’t faced any issues. I don’t stay out too late, book proper hotels with good reviews, don’t drink a lot and in general, do my research before going to any place. If I ever feel uncomfortable in a place, I leave immediately. It also helps that I am an introvert and don’t really end up in the wrong company since I only talk to people who make me feel comfortable/safe.
MYTH 8: India is dirty
Overall, due to our population, we do have a huge WASTE problem on our hands but over the past 2 decades with the boom in our economy and the boom in our infrastructure, our major cities have gotten facelifts. Again, if you visit more offbeat, quieter places you’ll find them to be pristine, quiet, and a haven. Most such places have also banned single-use plastic which has helped maintain their pristine environment. It is the touristy places that end up getting dirty thanks to the throngs of tourists who well, are more interested in Instagram photos than throwing their trash in a bin.
To all the people who do have India on their bucket list, I hope you make that trip soon! If you ever need any help planning your trip – I am happy to help. Please drop me a mail and I’ll help you plan your itinerary. I promise India will exceed your expectations and you’ll want to come back soon. 🙂
PS: Singaporean travel bloggers – Amelyn and Dan – named India in the 3 most beautiful countries they’ve visited list – which makes me SO HAPPY!
If you haven’t already, check out my other recent posts –
- Why Am I Scared?
- January 2023: Monthly Book Reads and Reviews
- Rediscovering Delhi – The City of Djinns: Feroz Shah Kotla Fort
- Banaras – The City of Light & Liberation: Moksha-Prakāshikā Kāshī (Travel Guide)
- January 2023 Check-in: Where Have I Been?