India is a massive country that houses almost one-seventh of the world's population.
It is also an incredibly diverse country, rich in culture and tradition. It contains one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal as well, and has definitely earned a spot on the travel bucket list. But visiting a foreign country can be difficult, especially if you do not know what to.
Here are 8 things you should keep in mind before planning a trip to India.
1. The Currency
The rupee is the currency used in India. One American Dollar is worth approximately 64 rupees, so don't be surprised if you see items for sale at prices in the hundreds and thousands.
2. The Traffic
As someone who lives less than an hour away from Atlanta, a city ranked number four out of the worst traffic centers in the United States, I know what bad traffic looks like. That being said, Indian traffic is a wholly different experience. The massive population (New Delhi alone has 10 million registered vehicles) along with the wide variety of vehicles (autos, rickshaws, horse drawn carts, cars, trucks, etc.) leads to massive congestion. I would highly recommend not driving here, and instead take a cab or an Uber.
3. The Pollution
India's pollution levels are incredibly high. The skies of New Delhi are brown from dust and smoke, and it can be a little shocking for visitors. The huge population leads to garbage piling up on the streets as well as smoke from various cars and factories.
4. The Poor
With 22% of India's population below the legal poverty limit, the sight of people begging is none too rare. It's heartbreaking to see thin, hungry children begging for money, so I encourage you to donate to charities and funds that try to help these children, but you are recommended against giving money, as it could cause you to be swarmed by other beggars in the area.
5. Stray Dogs
Another, perhaps unexpected, thing you can expect to see is stray dogs. Sure, stray dogs are present in almost every city in the world, but the sheer number present in India is shocking. These dogs may roam the streets in packs, and upsetting as it sounds, people are warned against feeding them, as it could lead to more dogs arriving and attacking if the food is not enough. The dogs also carry many diseases and parasites as they have never been vaccinated.
6. Food and Water
While the street food may look (and taste) delicious, foreigners are warned against eating it, as they are not used to the food and it can make them sick. Same goes for the water, only filtered or bottled water is safe for consumption.
7. Be Careful
Unfortunately, parts of India are unsafe, especially for women traveling alone. Women are recommended to wear long clothing and avoid the shorts and tank tops, even in the blistering heat.
8. The Diversity
India is a huge country, with over 3 million square kilometers of area. One cannot expect a nation of over one billion people to look the same, and there is a rainbow of skin tones in India. There are also over 1,600 languages spoken in India.