I’ve been here for over 2 months now, touring and making a mental note of helpful information for you in case you ever find that you are heading this way. I’ll get to the point.
What to wear
In contrast to the information I found on the internet, dressing standards here are not as strict as I was lead to believe. However, you have to cover your cleavage. I’m not saying turtle neck but your “girls” must be covered. It’s confusing because exposed midriffs appear to be acceptable. A few temples require that your clothes cover your knees as well but that’s all I’ve seen. So, if you are coming here in the summer, it’s in your best interest to wear fabrics that are light and absorbent but not revealing. T-shirts and denim pants are fine. Leggings are a blessing, pack a lot of them. Loose fitting maxi dresses are also great, so pack your bubu. Bring along a jacket or two because it gets really cold from November. You can buy a few Pashmina shawls here to keep you warm.
Pack your own clothes
Average heights of Indian men and women are 5 ft 5 in (165 cm) and 5 ft 1 in(153cm) respectively. Simply put, Indians are not tall people. Most are short and petite, might be an Asian thing. If you are 5″8 and above and a chunky 14UK or “rounder”, you will have quite a hard time finding anything that fits. So, depending on the length of your stay, I suggest you pack a good number of your own clothes. Take your own footwear too if you have big feet. I’m a 41UK and I couldn’t get my slipper size in Bata. This guy legit brought me some hideous men’s slippers. If you are a man over size 43UK, don’t even bother.
Make Copies of Important Papers
I assume this applies to every traveler everywhere. Make copies of your passport data page and your visa page, or at least take pictures of these with your phone and save them on your Google Drive, Dropbox or whatever cloud space you use. Bad things happen. You want to be ready.
I’m big on “tourist behavior” so, pack a hat and a pair of sunglasses for site visits. Don’t forget your sandals, comfy snickers or running shoes. Also, take some socks if you plan to visit temples and you mind being bare feet. Buy a water bottle to be sure you stay hydrated. A Power Bank and memory card are a must-have if you want to capture all the remarkable historical scenes through lenses.
Pack your medication
I haven’t taken ill so far, but I hear food poisoning is common. So watch what and where you eat and pack your meds with you.
Pack Animal Protein
The hardest part of this trip has been finding good meat. There’s KFC and McDonald’s but that’s all. Like I said in my previous post, vegetarianism is applauded here so you’ll have a hard time finding a good steakhouse. If you love meat, buy your kilishi and pack a few cans of Titus/Geisha.
Don’t convert all Your Dollars
This probably applies to a few other countries as well. The temptation to change all your money at the airport on arrival is high but I’ll recommend you don’t give in. Depending on the length of your stay, change about $100, enough for your immediate needs like food, transportation and accommodation till you settle in and familiarize yourself with the city. Why? Bureau de change rates are better outside the airport. Secondly, exchange rates fluctuate so, depending on your luck, your dollars may be worth a little more. Even better, most sellers here accept dollars as a form of payment from tourists. Finally, dollars are smaller than rupees, so I find them easier to carry around hidden.
Get a Sim Card
Get a Sim card at the airport. Roaming charges are ridiculous! I currently use Airtel. For me, going around a new country without internet access is akin to flying blind. Pay for data at the very least.
If you follow my posts you’ll know that I can’t live without this app. Download, install and use it. Mark your hotel/accommodation and then search for tourist sites around you or places you’d like to visit. Save the location with a star. Get directions so you have a fair idea of the distance. Also, check the reviews and comment for other tourists opinions and experiences. This way you have a plan for your adventure and can vaguely evaluate the costs.
You may need a few things before you are familiar with the markets. I suggest you shop sparingly on Amazon India or Flipkart. Their prices are slightly higher than open market rates but they accept payments on delivery which I really like. Buy some Odomos Mosquito repellent. These mosquitoes are way more aggressive than our Nigerian breed.
Keep track of your spending
There’s a lot to buy in India; Clothes, spices, handcrafted designs, hair, you name it and If you are good at haggling, you’ll get them at great prices. It’s so easy to get carried away. I love using spreadsheets so I recommend you do same. Make a list, have a budget and stick to it!
Avoid hotel taxis, use Uber instead. If you have an idea of where you are going, get in a rickshaw and tell them “Metro”. The Delhi metro is a world-class rail system serving Delhi and its satellite cities. It is the world’s 12th largest metro system in terms of length and number of stations. Get a metro card for 150 rupees and politely ask people for directions if you ever get confused.
Obviously, this list isn’t remotely exhaustive, however I hope you found something helpful for your next trip. If you have any insightful tips, please put them in the comment section below and as always, thank you for reading!