India Travel Tips
At first glance, India is a riot of activity and color, with chaos, crowds and vibrant streets teeming with life. Its cities are noisy and action-packed, though offer a wealth of fascinating sights from temples and mosques to colorful markets and beautiful architecture. Beyond the cities, there are diverse landscapes and climates, from the snowcapped Himalayan mountain towns of the north, to the tropical backwaters of the slower-paced south.
There are sweeping deserts dotted with colorful towns, home to intricate palaces and imposing forts dating back to the days of the Maharajahs. There are spice plantations to explore, and a beautiful coastline. India can be confronting, but getting to know this dynamic country is a richly rewarding experience. If you have already booked your trip to India click here to download our pre-departure guide.
Republic of India
Rupee (INR) exchange rates
International Calling code
UTC +5:30 hours
Climate & times to visit
India's climate varies widely from the tropical south to its mountainous north. In the north there are three distinct seasons, winter, summer and the monsoon. From November to February it is winter, and while nights can be freezing, the days can be relatively mild. A tropical climate can be felt south of Mumbai, where days are hot and humid, aside from in the highlands. From May to July the weather is hot in most of the lower lying areas of the country, with temperatures of over 104 degrees. Most of the year's rain falls between June and September.
What to expect
For first-time visitors, India can seem overwhelmingly noisy, crowded and chaotic. Once over the initial culture shock, visitors soon embrace India's color, diversity and vibrancy. Outside the fast-paced cities, India reveals its many different sides, from sprawling deserts to the fertile tropics.
India is a rapidly developing country, with a rich sense of history and tradition merging with modernization. This is evident in the country's cosmopolitan shopping and dining scenes in the large cities, and its thriving technology industries.
In contrast, India's ever-present poverty can be confronting, but travelers willing to embrace the country's beautiful landscapes, rich culture, impressive architecture and exotic flavors will be rewarded with unforgettable experiences.
Flight to India from the USA: Flight times range from 14 hours (Los Angeles) to 20 hours (New York)
- 24 December to 2 January is the International New Year period, and only schools close during this time in India. Some hotels feature compulsory dinners, and the cost should be settled directly with the hotel.
- 26 January is a public vacation commemorating Republic Day. All government, semi-government and businesses are closed. A major military parade in New Delhi causes traffic disruptions and road closures on the day and during the lead up.
- February/March (last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna) is Holi Festival, an important Hindu festival which is celebrated by throwing colored water and powder. Some tourist sites are closed and road travel may be disrupted. Wear clothes you don't mind being stained and keep cameras in watertight containers.
- August/September (determined by the Islamic calendar) marks Bakrid, celebrating the end of Ramadan, or month of fasting. Though a public vacation, monuments remain open.
- 15 August is Independence Day, a public vacation where government, semi-government and businesses are closed. The Prime Minister delivers a speech at the Red Fort in Delhi which remains closed to visitors during the two weeks prior.
- 2 October marks the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, famous for his non-violent means of protest. It is a public vacation and government, semi-government and businesses are closed.
- October (10th day of the bright half of the Hindu month of Ashvin) is Dussehra, an important Hindu festival celebrating the victory of good over evil. It is a public vacation, but monuments remain open.
- October/November (15th day of the Hindu month of Kartika) is Diwali, a five day Hindu festival of lights and sweet-giving, and a time of great joy and celebration in many parts of India. It is a public vacation but monuments remain open.