India Travel Tips
India is a vast country with some incredible sights to be seen and discovered. So whether you are at the Indian deserts or the Indian beaches – a little social etiquette goes a long way when visiting.
Indians consider it a huge honour to have guests in their home. So it’s important to ensure you appreciate and respect their hospitality.
This rule applies not only in public but when you visit an Indian person’s home, especially for women. Revealing clothing is frowned upon and could make things a little uncomfortable when sitting around the home.
You aren’t required to bring a gift to their home.
Whilst it is not necessary it is always appreciated. It is the thought that counts and shows your appreciation for their hospitality. Things like a souvenir from your home country or some chocolates would be welcomed. If there are children around you can always bring them gifts of candy or ice cream – they will be your new best friend!
Hold off on bringing a bottle of wine to the host’s home.
Alcohol consumption in India changes from place to place. Alcohol is taboo at many dinner tables in Indian homes, so do not bring alcohol to the home as a gift or expect to be served alcohol unless the host mentions it specifically.
Bargain with merchants at India’s markets.
Shop keepers will attempt to charge foreigners up to three times more than they would locals. It is a good idea to visit department stores with set prices to give you an idea of how much they should actually cost. Don’t act too interested in a product and don’t be afraid to start the bargaining process by asking the merchant, “Is this your best price?” The common rule of thumb is not to pay more than half of what the merchant initially asks for.
Don’t feel guilty for haggling with shop keepers.
As long as you don’t get too intense or pushy, many merchants actually enjoy the process as it gives than an escape from their usual monotony. Also try walking away to see if the merchant will offer a lower price – you can always try other shops or come back to negotiate after.
When asked if you like spicy food, think strongly about your answer.
When Indian people might ask this, remember their version of spicy may be very different to yours. You may be in store for some seriously hot and spicy food!
Always ask for permission before taking photographs.
This is almost a universal rule, so always remember to ask for people’s permission before you take their photo – in particular when photographing women.
Feet are considered unclean.
Always remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or any religious establishments. If you accidentally tap someone with your foot – apologise straight away. Also avoid stepping on anything of importance as this is seen as an insult.
Wash your hands before and after a meal.
A lot of Indian food is eaten with the fingers instead of cutlery, so you may be asked to wash your hands before and after eating. Do not use your left hand for eating or for passing food around the table as the left hand is customarily used for cleaning oneself after going to the bathroom.
Fight the temptation of wearing shorts.
When visiting a place of worship always take off your shoes before entering. Whilst it is tempting to wear shorts in a temple, it is extremely important to keep your shoulders and lower part of your body covered.
Hopefully these few tips will assist you in making the most out of your trip to India.
See more information for Australians travelling to India.