First-Timer’s Travel Guide to India

India is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. It’s home to the captivating Taj Mahal, one of the new seven wonders of the world. Whether you are looking for an amazing snow experience, a desert safari, historical and cultural sites or gorgeous beaches and mountains, India has definitely something to offer you! This is our comprehensive India Travel Guide that includes a list of top tourist attractions in India, must-try food, and a lot more.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Taj Mahal, Agra, India | Bigstock Photos

Visa Requirements to India

Most nationalities require a visa to enter India. The only citizens who are visa-exempt are nationals of Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives. South Korean and Japanese nationals are eligible to get a visa on arrival provided that he/she arrives at the international airports in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai.

All other nationals including Philippine passport holders need to apply for a visa at the Indian Embassy or get an e-Visa online at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html. [Check out our India Online Visa Application Guide]

How to get to India?

There are basically two options to get to India: by air and by land through the India borders with Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and China.

By Air: International Airports in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai are well connected to major cities in the world. If you are coming from the Philippines and the rest of South East Asia, it will be cheaper to fly to Kolkota and nearby cities in the south.

If you are flying from Europe, the Middle East or Africa, it would be wise to fly to Mumbai or New Delhi for a cheaper and shorter journey. India’s national flag carrier is Air India. You can check and book cheap flights to India now.

By Land: You can cross the border from Nepal, Bangladesh, and China. Make sure you possess a valid visa as you cannot get a visa at the border.

When is the best time to visit India?

The rainy season in India starts every June until September, which means you can only do some of the activities since the road is slippery, and it’s pretty inconvenient to travel when monsoon is present. The best time to visit India is from October to March, as these months usually the coolest and driest time of the year in the country.

Tourists are encouraged to bring a bottle of water when they prefer to visit India every May, as this is the hottest month in India whereas, the temperature can range up to 30-40 °C.

How to get to the city from New Delhi Airport

There are two ways to get to the city from New Delhi Airport, the first one is to ride a taxi or cab, but it will cost you around 400 to 500 rupees. Please take note that there would be a price hike of 25% at night, specifically from 11PM to 5AM.

The second and fastest way to get to the city from New Delhi Airport, follow the signs to the Airport Express metro line in which you can easily notice as the line is orange. Just follow the trail of the “orange line,” buy a ticket and drop off at the New Delhi Station. The travel time is around 30 minutes and the fare is INR60. Book a discounted airport transfer for your convenience.

How to get to the city from Mumbai Airport

For more secured and less hassle transportation going to the city from Mumbai Airport, approach the information counter upon your arrival then ask for the wifi code. Then launch either Uber or Ola app to get a private car for you, the airport has designated pick-up destinations for these two apps.

Ride a taxi or cab, in Mumbai Airport. There are two different types of taxi: prepaid and the metered taxi. It’s highly recommended to ride on a prepaid taxi rather than the metered one, as the latter can be extremely high up to 20% of the total transportation fee when you choose the prepaid taxi. Always bring a cash with you, as the taxi in Mumbai Airport do not accept credit card payment.

How to get to the city from Kochi Airport

The easiest way to get to the city from Kochi Airport is to ride a prepaid taxi. Whereas, the prepaid taxi counter is available at the arrival’s hall of the airport. For budget travelers who are not in a hurry, you may take a KSRTC bus bound to the city, you can spot this bus at the transit block located between the two terminals of Kochi Airport.

The Garuda, the special air-conditioned airport buses and ordinary bus are both destined to drop you off to the city from the Kochi Airport. The lowest estimated bus fare can be Rs. 40 and the estimated maximum fare would be Rs. 70

Three-wheeler auto-rickshaws are also available at the exit section of the airport, but you must know how to do price haggling or price negotiation when dealing with the drivers to drop you off to the city.

How to get to the city from Kolkata Airport?

This is the country’s fifth busiest airport that catered almost 19 million passengers in 2017 and there are three convenient ways to get to the city from Kolkata Airport:

By Uber and Ola

Same with the Mumbai Airport, you can get an Uber or Ola if you need a ride going to the city from Kolkata Airport.

By Taxi

Regardless of your arrival time, going to the city from Kolkata Airport is convenient as the taxi operates 24 hours. You can find taxi-booking counters near Gate 3C, outside terminal specifically on the opposite gates of 4A and 4B of arrival section.

If you are keen to have a detailed expense copy, you may opt to ride Mega Cabs, where the metered taxi driver can provide a receipt after your ride.

By Bus

Catch a bus ride conducted by the West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation or (WBSTC). This is an air-conditioned bus from Kolkata Airport to several locations within the city, don’t miss a chance to ride on to this affordable transportation option, the bus service starts at 8:00 AM until 9:30 PM. You can find the WBSTC bus at the arrival section of the airport.

Connecting to the internet in India

Buying a local sim card in India outside the international airports is quite a hassle. Most shops do not accept international passports as valid identity to get a sim card. They require a national ID or an election ID (voter’s ID). A few shops would go out of their way, call the customer service and ask if a visitor can get a visa. I tried getting a sim card in Srinagar in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and another one in Agra. The sim card that you buy in J&K will not work in other states of India. The same manner that the sim card you buy outside J&K will not work when you arrive in J&K.

Where to exchange currency in New Delhi?

To further assist you in finding independent shops and global forex chains for exchange currency in New Delhi, here are some of the moneychangers in New Delhi.

  • Prince Forex –N-100, 2nd Floor, Munshi Lal Building, Middle Circle, Connaught Place, New Delhi, India
  • Singh Forex – Shop No. 1108, Main Bazar, Main Bazar Rd. Chuna Mandi, Paharanj, New Delhi, India
  • UAE Exchange – A-337, IF Charan Das Complex, Vasant Kunj Road, Mahipalpur, New Delhi, India
  • Thomas Cook – Punjabi Bagh Branch Basement 24, Central Market, Punjabi Bagh West, New Delhi, India

Exchange currency in forex shops are usually higher than when you opt to do it with banks.

If you prefer to withdraw cash from the ATM, you will be charged an additional fee by your bank. If you have a Philippine-issued ATM, your bank will charge you Php150 for international ATM withrawal.

How to get around in India?

Domestic flights make it easier to get around India. Both full-service airline like Air India and budget airlines like GoAir, Spice Jet, and Indigo operate in the country so plane fares are competitive and reasonable. If you want a cheaper fare, you have to book in advance.

Local and inter-state trains are common in India and are mostly used by the locals to travel from one state to the other. The fare is cheap, especially in the lower class. Some seats, usually in long haul journeys, get fully booked so it is highly recommended to book you train in advance. You can book here online.

Powered by 12Go Asia system

If in any case, you haven’t booked online, there are International Tourist Bureau desks in major train stations like the one in Delhi where you can book your ticket.

For those who want to rent a car and drive their way around India, you can book here.

Where to Stay in New Delhi?

Finding a place to stay in New Delhi is easy but depending on your needs it can be a little tricky. For this guide, we cover the accommodation in the Central area also known as Connaught Place. Here are our best picks:

If the price isn’t an issue then we highly suggest you stay at The Oberoi New Delhi. Room rates start at around USD220. You can book now online via Booking.com.

For a mid-range hotel, we recommend The LaLiT New Delhi. It is an affordable top-rated hotel within the city center of New Delhi.

Budget travelers and backpackers can stay at Hotel Hari Piorko. This budget hotel is within a walking distance to Delhi Metro and New Delhi Railway Station. You can get a room here for around USD25 a night. Book now to reserve a room.

Oberoi Hotel at New Delhi
Namaste! An employee of the Oberoi Hotel at New Delhi | Photo by Saptarshi Biswas under creative commons

Where to stay in Agra?

Agra is a top tourist destination in India so finding accommodation is pretty much easy.

For a luxury hotel, we recommend The Oberoi Amarvilas Agra. It’s one of the best hotels in Agra with a breathtaking view of the Taj Mahal. You can check in here for around USD500 per night.

If you are looking for a mid-range hotel with a nice view of Taj Mahal, we highly suggest you stay at Crystal Sarovar Premiere Agra. For only around USD65, you can stay in this lovely top-rated hotel in Agra. For more options, check out our list of hotel in Agra with views of Taj Mahal.

For budget travelers and backpackers, you may stay at Sai Palace Agra. It’s a few minutes walk to the Taj Mahal and it has a nice roof deck restaurant with a view of Taj.

View of Taj Mahal from Crystal Sarovar Premiere Agra
View of Taj Mahal from Crystal Sarovar Premiere Agra

Must-Try Food in India

There is a lot of must-try food in India but we round up a list of our top favorite Indian dishes that you should try!

  • Butter Chicken – also known as Makhan Murg, Butter Chicken is a traditional Indian chicken dish with mildly spiced tomato sauce. Try it at Moti Mahal Restaurant in New Delhi.
  • Indian Thali – an assortment of different Indian dishes on a single platter.
  • Chicken or Vegetable Biryani – a rice dish with chicken or vegetable plus lots of spices.
  • Masala Dosa – a type of fermented crepe made from rice batter and black lentils.
South Indian Thali
South Indian Thali | Photo by Guilhem Vellut under creative commons

10 Top Tourist Attractions in India

Taj Mahal

This pure white marble mausoleum is the gem of India, the world-renowned symbol of the undying love of Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is called “a teardrop on the cheek of eternity” by a lot of people because of its magnificent architectural and bejeweled design. The best time to enjoy its splendor is during dawn or dusk when the sun is casting a unique pattern of lights in the structure. Book a discounted private tour from Delhi!

Taj Mahal India

Hawa Mahal

Another popular tourist attraction in India is the spectacular pink and red sandstone five-story palace in the very heart of Jaipur. This pyramid-shaped structure was constructed for a unique purpose- letting the women members of the royal family watch the streets covertly from any of the 953 intricately-designed windows. It is also referred to as the Palace of the Breeze or Palace of winds because of the easy flow of breeze through its openings. If you are coming from Delhi, you can book a discounted day tour to Jaipur.

Hawa Mahal
Hawa Mahal | Photo by vil.sandi under creative commons

Kanha National Park

Built in 1879, this is one of the most beautiful wildlife in Asia, where you can find tigers, birds, insects, reptiles, plants, and Barasingha, (the swamp deer, which are the “rare jewel of Kanha). The well-developed infrastructure of Kanha National Park that serves as dwellings, the lush forest, and amazing landscapes are among the significant factors that earned the distinction of being one of the finest wildlife sanctuaries in the world. For up close and personal encounters with wild creatures, go for a jungle safari, jeep safari, or elephant ride.

A tiger at Kanha National Park
A tiger at Kanha National Park | Photo by Ashish Gautam under creative commons

Humayun’s Tomb

This famous red sandstone with white marble tomb is the resting place of Emperor Humayun in Delhi, designed by his son Sayyid Muhammad and Mirak Mirza Ghiyas. This grand, octagonal mausoleum features two bay deep vaulted cells in its four corners and high, wide platform with terrace. It was the first ever commissioned garden-tomb in the subcontinent of India, which is believed to inspire a lot of major architectural innovation since its construction in 1570. In 1992, Humayun’s Tomb was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Book a Humayun’s Tomb Fast-Track Entry Ticket here.

Humayun's Tomb
Humayun’s Tomb

Varanasi

One of the top tourist attractions in India, Varanasi is the major pilgrimage site of Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists. This holy city is one of the oldest inhabited places in the world, which is famous for daily sight of thousand pilgrims showing their devotion at sunrise in the mighty River Ganges amidst the centuries-old temples. A faithful in this river before praying is important for the devotees. Near the Ganges are the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum, Banaras Hindu University, and other ancient structures. Book a Varanasi Heritage Tour.

Varanasi
Varanasi | Photo by Varanasi Videos under creative commons

Ladakh

This mountainous region offers a breathtaking, pristine panoramic view, which is the major reason why tourists love to visit Ladakh. It is called the land of the barren landscape and jagged peaks with low population density.   It is highly popular among adventurous travelers who love a glimpse of the ancient civilization, wilderness, ethereal frontiers, small villages, and old monasteries. Book a Ladakh Private Tour.

India Travel Guide for First Timers

Jaipur

Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and one of the top tourist attractions in India. Due to the dominance of pink colors of its centuries-old structures, it is often called the Pink City. It boasts of amazing architectures which include the colossal City Palace, temples, and forts, including the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites- the Amer Fort and the Jantar Mantar. This ancient metropolis serves as the tourist circuit gateway and part of the west Golden Triangle tourist destination. Book a hassle-free Jaipur Day Tour.

Amer Fort, Jaipur
Amer Fort, Jaipur | Photo by sandeepachetan.com travel photography under creative commons

Amritsar

This iconic Indian getaway is a historical, cultural, and spiritual haven for tourists who are seeking spiritual nourishment. It is the chief pilgrimage site of the Sikhs and the home of the Golden. Every day, life in this holy city begins with Gurudwaras spiritual prayers. The pilgrims bathe in the sacred lake or tank of Amrit Sarovar before the sacred devotion acts. Book a full day Amritsar Tour that includes a visit to Wagah Border and the Golden Temple.

Golden Temple in Amritsar

Kerala

This tropical paradise boasts of white sand beaches, eco-tourism zones, and lush palm trees. Kerala is well-known for temple festivals, backwaters, and unique houseboats. It is often regarded as God’s own magical country because it is blessed with picturesque views of natural attractions, which include wildlife sanctuaries, tiger reserves, national parks, evergreen forests, and rolling hills.

Kerala, India | Photo by Karen Corby under creative commons

Goa

This highly-popular place boasts of amazing beaches, recreational activities, and nightlife. It is India’s go-to destination for tourists who are looking for an ultimate beach holiday. The 60-mile coastline is overlooking the Arabian Sea, a perfect setting for a beach party, romantic getaway, honeymoon, and other events. While there, check out the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary to see India’s King Cobras, black panthers, leopards, tigers, monkeys, and deer, birds, and fauna species.

Goa, India | Photo by Vitor Pamplona under creative commons

Top Tours and Activities to Do in India

Taj Mahal and Fort Agra Private Tour from Delhi

Enjoy a private tour to one of the seven wonders of the world – Taj Mahal! In this tour, you will explore two of the iconic UNESCO heritage sites in India – the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Perfect day tour from New Delhi! Book now!

Delhi Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus Tour

Get a chance to visit over 20 famous Delhi attractions including World Heritage monuments, museums, and more in this Hop on Hop Off Sightseeing bus tour in New Delhi. You can opt to get a one or two-day pass. You can book now online. Attractions covered are:

  • Rashtrapati Bhawan-Circuit 1
  • Rashtrapati Bhawan-Circuit 2
  • Rashtrapati Bhawan Garden-Circuit 3
  • Gurudwara Bangla Sahib
  • Red Fort
  • Jama Masjid
  • India Gate
  • National Gallery of Modern Art
  • Rajpath (drive pass)
  • National Museum
  • Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
  • Lotus Temple
  • Nehru Museum (Teen-murti bhawan)
  • Embassy Lane (Drive Pass)
  • National Rail Museum
  • Sarojini Nagar Market
  • Dilli-Haat, INA
  • Qutab Minar
  • Humayun’s Tomb
  • Old Fort (Purana Qila)
  • Gyarah Murti (drive pass)
  • Delhi Zoo
  • Raj Ghat
  • Jantar Mantar

New & Old Delhi Day Tour

Experience the amazing tourist attractions in New and Old Delhi in a private full day tour. Learn about India’s history while you visit famous historical sites, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and more! Book a discounted ticket!

Basic and Useful Phrases in Hindi

EnglishHindi
YesHaan / Haanjee
NoNahee
Thank youShukriyā
You’re welcomeMera subhagya hai / Koi baat nahi
HelloNamastē
GoodbyeAlvidā
What is your name?Tum-hara naam kyaa hai
My name is BlissMērā nām Bliss hei
Nice to meet youAp se milkar kushi hui
Do you speak English?Kya ap angrezi bolte/bolti (m/f) hai?
I don’t understandMai samjha/samhi nahi.
How much is this?Yaha (Ye) kitanē kā hei?
OneĒk
Two
ThreeTīn
FourChar
FivePanch
SixCheh
SevenSaat
EightAath
NineNao
TenDas
Turn leftbae
Turn rightdae
Go Straightsidha
Good morningSuprabhaat
Good afternoonNamaskar 
Good eveningShubh sundhyaa

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