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India Travel Tips

At first glance, travelling through India is a riot of activity and colour, with chaos, crowds and vibrant streets teeming with life. Its cities are noisy and action-packed, though offer a wealth of fascinating sights from temples and mosques to colourful markets and beautiful architecture. Beyond the cities, there are diverse landscapes and climates, from the snowcapped Himalayan mountain towns of the north, to the tropical backwaters of the slower-paced south.

There are sweeping deserts dotted with colourful towns, home to intricate palaces and imposing forts dating back to the days of the Maharajahs. There are spice plantations to explore, and a beautiful coastline. India can be confronting, but getting to know this dynamic country is a richly rewarding experience. If you have already booked your trip to India click here to download our pre-departure guide.

Health & fitness

As with travelling to other parts of Asia, you need to take precautions when visiting India. The following diseases are all known to exist in India: tetanus, tuberculosis, typhoid, hepatitis A and B, malaria, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, diphtheria, polio, rabies and HIV/AIDS. We strongly recommend you consult your doctor with regards to vaccinations and up-to-date health advice at least a month before you depart.

You can expect to find medical care facilities of an international standard in major cities including Delhi and Mumbai, however facilities in rural areas are more basic.

Visa information

Australian citizens need a valid tourist visa in order to gain entry into India. It is essential that your visa is arranged before you leave Australia. You can apply for your Indian visa through VFS Global online, or at a local office here in Australia. Visas normally take 3-5 working days to process but you should allow at least two weeks in case of delays.

To apply online you will need the following: A passport that is valid for six months beyond your return date from India, and has at least two blank pages. An outline of your travel plans. Dates and main destinations should be enough.

Travel permits: If you are travelling to border areas in the north and north-east, you may need additional travel permits. Contact your local consulate or embassy for full details.

Travelling to West Bengal (including Kolkata & Darjeeling): The state government requires you to supply a passport-sized photo on check in to hotels in this area.

Note: Indian visa regulations are subject to change. We strongly advise that you check with the Indian embassy or consulate closest to you in Australia prior to travel. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct visa.

Safety & security

India is a generally a safe country to travel in; however, petty crime can be an issue in tourist areas. You should apply common sense as you would when travelling anywhere. Make sure your spending money is out of sight and near your body and keep jewellery to a minimum. You may wish to use a money belt, especially if you are travelling on trains during your stay.

Streets in Indian cities are often poorly lit so we recommend you travel by taxi at night rather walk. Make sure your driver activates the meter. It is always a good idea to carry a hotel address card, in case you have trouble communicating.

While on holiday in India, always keep a photocopy of your essential documents i.e. passport, airline tickets, credit cards and traveller’s cheques separate from the originals in a safe place. Most hotels have room-safes or deposit boxes at reception where you can store valuables.

If you would like to know more about staying safe when you travel with Travel Indochina, you can read our safety guidelines.

Recommended reading

  • India: A History by John Keay chronicles five thousand years of South Asian history, including insights from a range of scholars on the area's people, culture and religions.
  • Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah MacDonald is an entertaining account of an Australian radio personality's two year stint living in India, and her exploration of the country and its many and varied religions.
  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry is a novel set in Indian in the mid-1970s, following four people whose lives become intertwined during a period of political upheaval.
  • A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth is an epic love story - a tale of life and love involving four extended families set in the early 1950s in newly independent India.
  • Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is an account of the author's escape from prison in Australia and subsequent ten years on the run, living in Mumbai. From gun running and working for the Bombay mafia to acting in Bollywood films, this is an extraordinary tale of a man's life on the edge of society.
  • God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy is a fictional account of a family living in Kerala, focussing on the lives of young twins and their childhood amongst a sometimes turbulent backdrop.

Useful words & phrases

India words phrases

What to take

  • Flat walking shoes & sandals
  • Hat & sunglasses
  • Swimming attire
  • Lightweight travel towel
  • Money belt
  • Lightweight waterproof coat or umbrella
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Alarm clock
  • Small torch (flashlight)
  • Travel plug/international adapter
  • Women’s sanitary products
  • Camera
  • Ear plugs/eye mask
  • Day pack and/or small backpack
  • Clothes for temples