Thinking of Travelling to India, Not sure what to expect? I can help, this is more of an experience of India from a UK Citizen and not someone with connection or much experience of the country.
Mumbai, A busy, noisy, crowded city. what most people don't realise is how big Mumbai is. It can take a while to get from area to area. especially if you are going to the out of town tourist places. Great for Shopping.
A Real Represenation of Mumbai
Goa is a famous beach resort south of Mumbai. It is a interesting place. Very rural india. its a forest of palm trees. Pretty place. However the positive stories you hear on Goa probably isn't what you are likely to experience. I feel like it was good once upon time but it now has a lot of corruption and they are not tourist friendly. The taxi drivers work together like a monopoly to make sure you pay them the most money. UBER is Banned in Goa so the taxi drivers have free reign to charge you what you like. the Taxi prices is on par with the black cab in London. The Airport Taxis are cheap but getting around Goa is not very cheap.
New Delhi is great. We stayed around Khan Market, which is around all the Embassys. It is very small, clean and easy to walk around compared to Mumbai. I heard a lot of bad press about New Delhi before going. Everyone said it was dangerous and to be careful. it was quite the opposite. We did stay in a nice area, so I guess we were lucky. The areas to stay in are near Khan Market and Connaught Place.
New Delhi Streets at Night
Prices Rough guide for prices in Rupees in the markets
Mens and Women's Shoes = 300 - 1000 | T-shirt = 200 - 400 | Button Shirts = 300 - 900 | Shorts = 200 - 500 | Bottled Water = 20 - 50 | Mobile Phone Cases = 300 - 600 | Belts 500 - 700 | Pashmina = 1500 - 3000 | Saree = 1000 - 8000 | Lengha = 3000 - 12000 |
Good Value Products in India = Medicine | Jewellery | Shoes | Clothes
If its more Expensive or the same price as a product UK or USA, Don't buy it!!. That was my rule of thumb for pretty much everything. We did find that we paid far too much too often and that negotiating is part of the culture.
This can be either a really good experience or really bad one. Here you will have to use your best judgement.
Bottle Water is a must. Only Drink Bottled Water and make sure the you hear the click when you open it. There are many people selling water that has been refilled with tap water.
Avoid street food if you have a sensitive stomach. India has some fantastic food. The meat and vegetable curry's are special, the fried food is great as well. I used google very regularly. I checked every restaurant before we went and we only went to the ones which has many and the best reviews. Google and Google map reviews is a very useful tool in India.
Delhi Darbar in Colaba, Mumbai
There are many options for this but safety and speed is something that you need to take into account.
Bus - Forget about it not worth penny saving. Just taxi it.
Trains are overcrowded and tricky, but they are cheap. you need to in mind that there are a lot of delays and you need to keep to their schedule.
Rickshaws/TukTuk - These are great fun!!, you have to try this when in India. its part of the experience. The chaotic traffic and watching the driver wiz through it is a real spectacle. These are generally cheaper than Uber, but not as safe or relaxing. Don't use these if the journey is going to be over 30 mins. There are also two methods of Payment - Pay By Meter or no Meter. If not meter negotiate beforehand (very important). But on the meter most journeys were around 60 to 150 Rupees(50p to £1.60).
In Mumbai you will find they only north part of Mumbai as they do not come to the tourist area of Colaba due to restrictions imposed on them. But the ones in Mumbai are mostly Metered.
In New Delhi you will find that there are significantly more negotiating based, I did not see any meters there. However if a rickshaw driver takes you to a shop, they are on commission bare this in mind and the shop charges you high prices. I am victim to this. we paid a fortune for Tea.
Uber - Never have I used Uber so much. you will be surprised how much it costs as well. Our most expensive trip was 650 Rupees(£7 Quid) and get this the journey was 1 hour. Most short journeys you are looking at £2-3/$3-4. Plus its safe. However you need mobile data for this and using mobile data in India when you don't have a local sim is extremely expensive. I did manage to get a local sim upon landing at the airport.
Having internet and Data made this a much more enjoyable Journey. We could plan and research things on the go before we went there or went into a restaurant. if we got lost we used google maps. A few years ago Mobile sims were very hard to get for foreigners. They have now changed this as of 2018 and it is now a lot easier.
There are two ways to get it. At the airport or in a mobile phone shop.
You will need the following 2 passport pictures of yourself, utility bill, Photocopy of your passport, your passport, evidence where you are staying in India.
The mobile phone shop it is much much cheaper. it is around £3.00 for a sim with Massive 1GB per day of data. yes per day. but you need to wait a few days for this to be activated. not worth it in my eyes. You need it as soon as you land.
The Airport Route. I did this. I had my sim activated in 15 minutes. I used AIRTEL, I made sure I did not leave or pay until I can see the sim is active and I am getting internet on the phone. I did not need to wait 3 days and only needed to produce my passport, no photos were needed. However this was very expensive at 2500 Rupee(£25.00) but I got a 30 day sim that had 60GB of data. So 2GB per Day. For me it was essential. so I thought it was worth it.
Not easy to get in UK or USA. The best bet there is to bring cash with you and change it when you are there. I got a rate for 80 rupees per £1.00 at the airport when the normal rate was 91. So i changed a little bit to get me buy until i could find a foreign exchange that had a better rate. When I did find one the going rate was now 92 but the rate I got was 91. BIG DIFFERENCE from the airport. Also Another tip keep lots of small demotions with you. big ones are difficult to spend in India.
You can use card in India but only use at reputable and stores that look official.
I hope my experience as westerner will give you an insight of what to expect in India. Post a comment if you have any questions or what any further advice from my perspective. Thanks for reading.