India is on so many peoples bucket lists and wishlist- it’s crazy, it’s exotic, it’s testing, it’s spiritual, it’s beautiful and it’s huge!
You want to go to India too, but where do you start with planning a trip to India?
Here is my step by step India blog post and India travel guide on how to plan a trip in India with my first-time travel tips for India, from the early stages of working out where to go in India and when to go to India. To the later stages of planning a trip to India like what to pack for India and what scams to watch out for in India!
So let’s go, or ‘challo’ as they say in India! And bookmark this post for later so you can keep coming back to it!
Planning a Trip to India
SIM CARD FOR INDIA
I really recommend having a sim card in India as it makes travel in India so much easier! You may have heard that it’s hard to get a sim card in India but you can get a sim card in Delhi Airport, read this post to see how to buy a sim card in Delhi Airport or if you fly in elsewhere 3 ways to buy a sim card in India and you’ll be connected in just a few hours!
WHAT TO WEAR IN INDIA
If you are a woman, here’s what I recommend you pack and wear in India. Technically you can wear what you like in India in most places but to get fewer stares and feel more comfortable, read my post!
DON’T GET SCAMMED IN DELHI
Find What You're Looking For Easily Here!
How Long To Spend in India?
India is a big country and the tourist places in India are spread out by a few hours by train or car at least. In fact, many tourist cities and towns require an overnight journey to get to them so keep this in mind when planning your itinerary for India.
Equally, you can easily spend up to 4 months in India, and people like myself, do that too!
Best Time to Visit India
India is not a country you can visit all year round. The summer months bring the monsoon season to most of India. Therefore October to April is a good time to visit India so keep this in mind when planning a trip to India.
With that being said, based on my trip to India, the very North East and North West of India gets cold during winter months and is often inaccessible due to snow, these are places that are better visited in the Spring and Autumn. Be sure to think about the weather in India when you’re thinking about your trip to India.
Independent or Group Travel to India
Do you want to visit India alone or go on a tour of India? It is perfectly fine to travel to India alone, even as a solo female traveller in India which is how I did my India trip. Here is a great post about Solo Travel in India!
However, if you are short on time, for example, you just have 2 weeks to spend in India, you are not an experienced traveller, or you need help on how to plan a trip to India, an organised tour of India is a good idea.
Where to Visit in India?
What is your Priority? When it comes to planning a trip to India, places to visit in India and where to go in India, I think you should think about what attracts you to India? What do you think of when you think about your trip to India?
The Taj Mahal probably, but do you think of the beaches of Goa or the Yogi scene in Rishikesh? The Mountains in the North or the majestic Culture of Rajasthan?
People visit India for so many reasons, more reasons than they visit Sri Lanka or Thailand, for example. People visit India to see the major places like Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, but also to spend time in an Ashram or on a yoga and meditation retreat.
- Here are my blog posts that will help you decide where to visit in India:
- 24 Places to Visit in India On Your First Trip to India!
- The Best Places To Do Yoga In India For Foreigners.
- The Best Beaches in Goa for Foreigners.
- Is It Worth Visiting The Taj Mahal?
Look for the best flights to India here!
I use Skyscanner to book all of my flights! I’m a huge fan of Skyscanner because I love how easy it is to compare different dates and routes to help me find the best flight at the best price!
Open Skyscanner by clicking here and search for the best flights as you read this post.
Visa for India
Remember that you will need a visa to visit India so keep this in mind when planning a trip to India, especially when working out the cost of a trip to India. The visa process for India has changed a lot over the years but is now easier than ever to get.
For most nationalities, you apply online for your Indian e-visa, it gets approved in a few days and is valid for one year with multiple entries.
Itinerary for India
Based on the answers above, as to what you want to see in India and how long you have to spend in India, start looking into itineraries for India. Although India is huge and there are so many different routes and places to see in India.
Generally, there is a common route through North and South India for travellers and backpackers that makes sense based on the location of each tourist Town and City. You’ll see this especially if you are working out an itinerary for Rajasthan when planning a trip to India.
Booking a Trip to India
Now you know where to go in India and when to go to India, the next part of your trip planner for India is to book a flight to India!
As this is your first time in India, Delhi and Mumbai are the most popular places to start a trip to India unless you want to start a trip to India in South India, in which case Goa, Chennai and Bangalore are good cities to fly into in India.
Have you booked your flight to India yet??
I use Skyscanner to book all of my flights! I’m a huge fan of Skyscanner because I love how easy it is to compare different dates and routes to help me find the best flight at the best price! Open Skyscanner by clicking here and search for the best flights as you read this post.
Delhi is the most popular city to fly into in India for foreigners but it can be a culture shock so be sure to read these Delhi travel blogs:
- 10 Delhi Travel Tips to See & Enjoy Delhi as a Tourist!
- Where to Stay in Delhi. Best Hotels & Hostels for all Budgets!
You will need to show an outward flight from India when you check-in from your departing airport, you can either book a cheap flight out of India if you don’t know when you’ll leave and lose a small bit of money, or you can fake an onward flight ticket using my travel hacks here:
Getting Around India
Trains are the best way to get around India and to help you piece your India itinerary together, I recommend looking into the train schedules to ensure you can get to everywhere you want to go before fully confirming your itinerary around India. After this, you can make your train bookings in Infia.
There are different ways to book trains in India. You can do it on the official Indian Railway System which I recommend getting your head around if you are going to India for more than 2 weeks. Or you can use a third-party site like 12GO Asia or Make My Trip India.
Trains in India book up quickly, especially the overnight trains so I do recommend booking trains in India as soon as you know your set dates.
BOOKING TRAINS IN INDIA
India is best travelled by train because its the quickest, cheapest and best way of getting to know the country. For an EASY option of booking trains in India use 12GO to search and book trains really easily. If you’ll be in India for awhile, you can use the local booking system, it’s a bit tricker but possible, here’s my post on how to book trains in India as a tourist.
BEST ACCOMMODATION IN INDIA
I always use Booking.com to book my hotels in India and Hostelworld to book my hostels. India has a great range of accommodation with brilliant hostel chains like Moustache, Zostel and Backpacker Panda as well as homestays to luxury hotels.
GUIDED TOURS IN INDIA
Many cities in India are best seen with a guide, even if it’s just a half day tour on your first day. Cities in India are chaotic and complex and what better way to taste the food and get to know the city than with a local. I recommend Get Your Guide & Viator for the best tours in India!
Travelling India in a private car with a driver is another popular way to get around India. Especially around Rajasthan and the Golden Triangle India. A private car is convenient and relatively cheap compared to other Countries.
This will give you the freedom to explore a lot more, within reason. Although keep in mind travel days will need to be during the day and Indian drivers can be crazy and the roads can be bumpy!
Finally, there are tourist buses and local buses in India that you can use. You can book tourist buses on 12GO Asia too which is how I recommend you check routes and availability.
- Here are my posts on transport around India:
- How To Book Trains in India as a Tourist Online.
- How To Register On The Official Indian Railway Site As A Foreigner.
- How To Take A Local Bus In India And What To Expect.
Accommodation in India
Accommodation is generally booked online in India. There are a few places where you can turn up with nothing booked like on the beaches of Goa and in Rishikesh but generally it’s all done online and there are so many accommodation options available in India.
I would recommend getting all your accommodation booked in advance if you are visiting India for 2-3 weeks, especially if your transport is all booked as you’ll know where you need to be.
However, if you are backpacking India for longer you can be more relaxed. Although some hotels and hostels book up in advance, there will always be accommodation available last minute (although keep in mind holidays in India like Diwali and Holi as accommodation for celebrations in India books up faster).
Hotels in India
From small hotels and guesthouses in India, fancy Heritage Hotels in India, 5-star hotels in India and resorts in India, there’s a lot of hotels on offer!
If you have the budget to spend on your trip to India you can get really high-quality accommodation in India for much less than you pay in other countries.
HELP WITH YOUR INDIA ITINERARY
I’ve spent many months travelling India in the last few years visiting over 50 places around the country, here are my recommended itinerary posts for India to help you plan your trip!
Hostels in India
Hostels are really common in India now with lots of big, chain hostels in India on offer with good facilities and helpful staff. The best hostels in India include Zostel, Moustache, Madpackers, GoStops and Backpacker Panda which are in all the major cities. They offer dorm rooms and most hostels offer private rooms too.
A big first-time travel tip for India is to stay in hostels, even if you stay in a private room as most hostels offer city tours, group dinners and have really friendly staff, as well as being great places to meet other travellers. Hotels in India lack this.
I use Booking.com to book hostels in India as I like how many options they offer and their flexible booking conditions.
Packing List for India
What to wear in India is something you will need to consider, especially for female travellers to India.
I recommend long trousers and skirts or at least items that cover your legs and not to wear anything skin tight. I also recommend t-shirts over tank tops and good quality shoes as you’ll walk a lot in India.
- To help you work out your India packing list see my posts for packing for India:
- Packing List For India & What To Wear in India as a Female!
- 18 Travel Essential Items That Will Save You Space, Time & Money!