Is India Safe to Visit?
Did you know that about 1.37 million US visitors travelled to India in the year 2017? With so many states and their own rich cultural heritage, India’s moderate climate is best for solo travellers or family vacations. Although recent increases in crime rates and cases of violence with foreign tourists have put up questions of safety regarding foreign tourists.
It is nevertheless a wonderful country to visit. Just keep these points in mind.
Health and Well-being
Experts often advise to have vaccination for typhoid, tetanus, flu and Hepatitis-A, before you visit India. It is better to avoid street foods, tap water, ice-cream and fruit salads from local vendors. Stick to bottled water and packaged food items. If you want to eat street food, go for baked or fried items. Observing, what locals are ordering would be really helpful.
Recent reports have led to heightened concerns around women safety in India; especially in cities like Delhi, Gurgaon and Bangalore. Make sure you dress modestly while travelling in India. Stick to your group and avoid travelling with strangers. Take government licensed tour-guides from your hotels or hostels. Solo female travellers can use transportation like UBER or hotel-provided taxis or public-transport like buses and metros. Avoid travelling alone after dark.
It’s a great idea to get Travel/Medical insurance when traveling to USA. As medical cost (even for the common cold) can run into hundreds of dollars in the US, it is recommended that you get good medical insurance, before your trip. Good thing is that if you buy it online before your trip, it may be cheaper. Compare & find a good plan here.
Culture and Social Norms
India is known for the ancient philosophy of ‘Atithi Devo Bhavah’, which means that a guest is the manifestation of god itself. At the same time, it is a place of rich religious diversities and has a conservative mind-set. Keep in mind to follow practices like removing shoes outside religious places and homes. There are many religious institutions where women aren’t allowed; always check with local people before going in to one. Avoid resorting to public displays of affection in places like parks, monumental sites etc, even if you catch the youngsters doing it, according to an article on Matador network.
Travelling in Jammu & Kashmir
The US Department of State issues some guidelines for Americans travelling to the state of Jammu & Kashmir in India. It is possible that you might experience civil unrests and terrorist attacks in that region. Consider travelling to some peaceful regions such as Leh and Ladakh instead, as some tourist destinations in Kashmir Valley such as Gulmarg, Srinagar etc. are not safe for foreign tourists. The government of India strictly prohibits foreign travellers to visit some areas near the Line of Control.
Travelling in North-East India
There have been numerous reports of violent incidents by insurgent groups like bombings of markets, buses, and other public transport systems in the North-Eastern region of India. US government has prohibited the employees from visiting states of Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram without proper authorization.
India has a vast religion, cultural and ethnic diversity; these along with the warmth of people there, make it one of the most appealing vacation destinations. However, there are certain aspects to consider before visiting it, which is true for every country in the world. Things that are considered normal in western cultures may be unusual in India. If possible, try to learn a little bit of ‘Hindi’; the official language of the country before visiting.