I am thinking of giong to India late December for 3wks. How safe for a woman travelling alone? I mainly want to do a tiger safari, see the taj mahal, kerala, and some trekking if I have enough time. Thinking of flying into delhi and out of mumbai. Bit concerned though about recent attacks in last few yrs although I know that can happen anywhere and India IS huge!
Since I am a local and I travel abroad frequently, there is a couple of advices for generally any western tourist.
Some safety advices:
1) Crime rate in India is lesser than most parts of the world, including many western states of the US, so you are relatively safe.
2) If you come from the western world, remember India is much different. Don't be too soft with locals and unwillingly say 'yes' to people. Be stern and bold to say No.
3) Don't be afraid to spot a middle-class Indian and ask for help. Tourist places are teeming with people wanting to make money off of tourists. A middle class Indian is not difficult to spot, would generally be able to speak in English and willingly give you an honest suggestion.
4) Don't stay in budget hotels unless you see other tourists or Indian "families" staying there.
5) As they say, Eat where the Indians are eating. Apart from trying out the local food, you are sure to be served with fresh healthy food.
6) Drink from packaged drinking water bottles - preferably these brands - Bisleri, Aquafina, Kinley. Check the bottle seal before opening. Sometimes its filled with tap water and sealed with glue. Buy them only from stores.
1) For Tiger safari these places are well known and I would recommend - Jim Corbett (Uttarakhand), Ranthambore (Rajasthan), Kanha (MP). There are more and you can check from the websites.
2) If you are planning to book travel tours, that would take off a lot of burden. However doing it on your own isn't too hard either.
3) Use www.cleartrip.com for your Flight, Rail bookings. Other options are www.makemytrip.com, www.yatra.com etc. But in my experience cleartrip always gets you the best flight deal. For rail, you can use any as they all have the same pricing.
4) Travel in AC coaches in trains to avoid the sometimes filthy Sleeper coaches. Usually AC coaches get filled up the earliest so you have to book early. However there is a concept of Tatkal in railway bookings. You can book a ticket to a city EXACTLY 2 days prior to the date of travel. So suppose you plan to travel on the 25th of December and dont get tickets for it, you can book a ticket on 23rd morning 8 AM. Since there will be more like you, the fastest people win. You can ask some travel agency to do it for you as well.
5) Agra is a filthy city, don't judge India based on it.
6) Kerala is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and you should definitely do it. Do the backwater tours on a house boat.
7) Don't miss the Himalayan kingdoms... Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand being your best bets.
8) Don't let those terrorists terrorize you. They don't like us being west friendly. Like you rightly said, it can happen anywhere (with Europe receiving travel advisories against it) and India is no exception. Going by mathematics, the probability of another large scale attack is the lowest at the moment.
9) Most airports, railway stations, etc have prepaid taxi booths. There are many radio taxi companies that operate in the cosmo cities which work the same way as western countries. Keep the numbers of these services handy.
10) Have a great trip!
Wow, thanks so much for that! That's hugely helpful.
Thanks for your time.
Apart from the good things described in the other post , travelling alone is not a good idea. What if you fall sick or you loose your money ?
Read about the scams in this forum. A similar thing can happen out here in India .
If you are not well informed about the places or the language , you will be ripped by everyone right from accomodation to travel. They may charge like 3-4 times or more. If you have company you can always be more safe and bold in your trips and enjoy it more.
@ntrvl11: I disagree. Firstly, India has more english speakers than you can possibly imagine. They may not be fluent or doing a mid-western accent, but they can understand and respond. Scammers are everywhere in the world, doesn't mean you don't try to be smart and do a solo trip. The pleasure of a solo trip is unbeatable. You meet new people and make mostly good memories. I know it from first hand experience.
If you research the places you are visiting well enough, its unlikely you will be charged 3-4 times. Simply research budget accommodation on this website itself for the city you plan to visit. It gives you a fair idea of what the prices are. Hotels usually display their rates on a wall board or have printed cards. It is unlikely they will swap it seeing you enter. If you are taking prepaid taxis or using radio taxis, I don't think they will be giving you a fake receipt either. Also remember, everything in India is in English, even the receipts and checks. And when you commute generally using Auto-Rickshaws, just ask your hotel guy, guide, or anyone you spoke to earlier to give you a rough idea about the prices. Like I said earlier, don't be shy to spot a middle class Indian and ask for information.
If you get robbed of your belongings, its unlikely that a travel partner will be able to fight it out. You both get robbed. Follow the simple rule of splitting your money to different places. Don't carry all your wealth in your back pocket. Make sure to carry a credit card or debit card for emergency use and keep it secure. ATMs are abundant.
Thanks. I would consider myself an experienced traveller having travelled solo around China and SE Asia and also in S. America. I agree that really, there are risks wherever you go. In fact, look at the recent terrorism travel advisories for Europe! Scams are indeed everywhere also. yes, falling ill is a risk alright and I have been ill on a solo trip. fortunately nothing seriuos and had no choice but to stay in my guesthouse for 3 days.
Another query re.flights
Am about to book my flights and was wondering what your views are. Was thinking of flying into Delhi and visiting rajasthan and agra and rathambore national park and varnasi. Then want to get down to kerala, maybe stopping in Goa for a few days at the end for R&R. Would it be a better idea to fly out of mumbai than back out of Delhi? Any alternative suggestions i.e. if in Kerala and going up to Goa, where might be best fly home from or to fly back from to delhi for flight home? Not sure about whether it's actually worth making it up as far as Mumbai but I believe there are some amazing train journeys up the west coast.
Your travel plan looks good! I can vouch for all the places except Varanasi 'cause I haven't been there.
About the flights, it makes sense to fly back from Mumbai because it will be nearer. Because from Goa, Delhi is a bit far up (unless you are taking a flight). I am not sure about what benefits either will have apart from reduction in airfare if you fly back from the same airport you landed in. You are right about the west coast rail trip. Do a train from Goa-Mumbai or vice versa because the Konkan Railways does offer scenic beauty.
What about weather? What will temperatures in delhi and rajasthan be like in late december/ early Jan? I hope to spend 7-10 days in the north then start moving south.
I reckon I will be pretty toasty south of Delhi!
Delhi will be chilly. You can expect it to be anywhere between 2 deg - 10 deg Celsius. Rajasthan will be fine in the mornings but chilly in the nights. So yes you should surely be carrying some warm clothes. Southern India will be generally warm with a pleasant temperature (20deg-30deg C).