So far we have been to India twice, for more than half a year in total. And I’m pretty sure, that many of you, who are following our journey for some time already, thinks, that India is one of our favorite countries in the world. But that’s not quite true.
India is interesting for us. Some day we will travel to India again. And there are also parts of India, like Goa and Kerala, where we would love to return again and again, but, yeah, it’s not the same with India as a whole.
So when someone asks us whether to go to India and what to do there, more often than not we end up talking about alternatives. Because, you see, India is far from the best countries, where to go to on your very first or one of the first trips abroad. Well, traveling to India doesn’t get much easier after you are well traveled either. So think twice before traveling to India and go prepared!
It’s an interesting country. But it can also be, hmm, too different and too harsh for many. Let me explain you why!
So why you shouldn’t travel to India? Because…
1. In India they lie a lot and everywhere
Ok, I thought, there are a lot scammers (hordes of scammers) in Delhi, capital city of India. Ok, there are lot of scammers and people trying to trick you near popular tourism objects like Taj Mahal.
But why that woman in Goa, from whom I was buying fruits every second day, one day asked me double price for bananas? And then it repeated again, and again. Or that man selling sugar cane juice, who saw me every day. Why that time, when I was giving him 100 rupee banknote instead of 20 or 50, why then he tried to take five times more money for the same glass of juice, at the same time pretending that it’s OK? Or that “holy man” in the temple, who aggressively criticized me for donating too little money? He was telling me, that it’s how it should be, because foreigners give 10, 20, 50 euro or dollars. Foreigners give euro and dollars, Indians give rupees, he said.
Another example. Imagine – you are in some new place for you or maybe you are just standing and trying to figure out where to go next. Some 10+ people are trying to convince you to follow them. Then from somewhere comes that nice looking person, well dressed and polite, or maybe it’s some official (you think so), and you listen to his advice. You feel a relief for a moment. But, of course, turns out that he just wanted to rip you off, or to sell something.
2. It’s not clear where all the money from tourism goes
Will your donation to temple be used to help people or it will simply help someone to buy a new car sooner? Are you really helping these poor kids buying them these sweets, food or clothes, or it all will be sold back on the same day? You never know in India.
Hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists are visiting Taj Mahal every year. It’s India’s top tourist destination, and admission fee respectively is pretty high. Yet Agra, city where this wonder of the world is located, is one of the dirtiest cities of India, that we have seen (while cycling all the way across India for 5300+ kilometers we saw a lot). Agra is ugly. Everything is overpriced. And there again you will need to listen to lies. A lot.
What that decently dressed and extremely polite taxi driver told us, when we arrived to Agra? He told us, that now there in Agra they have some big doctors conference and that because of that all of the hotels are fully booked. Of course, he knew one, where there still were some rooms available. Of course, he was lying. Because there were no any doctors conference. And there were plenty of hotels to choose from. Apparently he wanted us to stay in that one more expensive hotel, because then he would earn some commissions.
3. Price – performance ratio in India often isn’t the best
Cheapest street food, cheapest hotel rooms, cheapest train and bus tickets, yes, all of it really costs very, very little in India. Especially when we compare prices to ones in Europe. But how long are you going to live in that dark room without windows, with smelly toilet and dirty bed? Can you even imagine traveling on the train for 14 hours, sitting on one bench with 5 other people next to you, while many others are lying on the floor?
It is possible to live and travel in India relatively more comfortable for still very little. For example, our budget in India was around 300 euro per person for a month. However, from our experience, in other Southeast Asian countries it is possible to get more and something better for the same money. Speaking, for example, about budget hotel rooms (10 – 15 euro/night), in countries like Thailand and Cambodia, most of the time they have been cleaner and nicer than in India.
4. Traveling in India is stressful
There simply is a lot of, in my opinion, unnecessary hassle, when traveling in India. For some it is the part of their journey, but if you aren’t one of them, then maybe you shouldn’t travel to India.
What do you do when you want to travel across Thailand by train? You go to train station, buy a ticket and go on the journey. That’s it. What do you do in India? At first you need to get into the station, pushing yourself through scammers, who are trying to convince you, that ticket counter is across the street or that it is dangerous to be in the station now because of possible terrorist attacks. Really? Yes, that happened to us every day in Delhi, when we were going to New Delhi train station. And then it takes another at least 30 minutes to buy a ticket.
You could buy a train ticket online, but then you should have an Indian mobile phone number. To get Indian mobile phone number you need to spend about an hour in the shop filling forms and waiting, and at least few hours, or 2-3 days, like we experienced, of waiting until the number will be activated.
And so you decide to fly in India instead? At least partly also because India is just so big, but traveling by train in India takes a lot of time. And here again I need to disappoint you, because flying can involve the same as much hassle. Getting to and from airport, possible dishonest taxi drivers asking far too much for a ride. Or tuk-tuk drivers telling you some new lies, just to get you going with them, and to get as much money as possible from you later.
We have flown from India only three times. Once from Delhi, another time from Chennai, and then from Goa. Flying from Goa was fine. But in both of the other two times we were at the airport 3 hours before the flight, and still we hardly managed to get to our flight. And only because of ineffectiveness of airport. Nowhere else we and our documents have been checked that much. The same happened also in about Goa. At the same time leaving you feeling, that it doesn’t make it any safer there. So, what’s the point?
Maybe we just weren’t lucky, but it left us with a bad impression about airports in India.
However, if after reading this you still think, that you want to travel to India, here you will find all we have written about India, and that’s quite a lot. Traveling in India is far from impossible, and it’s doable by most. Mostly there is no real danger, it just can takes more time to achieve something (or everything…) you want to do. And it can be stressful, sometimes very, very stressful.
Happy travels! If you have any more questions about India, then contact us!
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they are traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On WeAreFromLatvia.com they share their experience and things learned along the way.