30 Things NOT to Do in India

I went to India for three weeks with my friends and for such a short time quite a few things went wrong. I feel I’m well set to write this post on things NOT to do in India, as we made SO many mistakes there. Remember the 7Ps – Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance – because we forgot, and we paid for it with lengthy journeys up, down and around India, and not enough time in each place.

Silly us.

Here are a few mistakes I made along the way in India, so you don’t have to.

30 things NOT to do in India

1. Don’t be surprised when people are really, really nice to you. Twice on the train in Mumbai we had guys welcoming us and saying we were their guests and helping us get to where we wanted to be.

What not to do in India

2. Don’t feel you’re missing out by not eating meat – a whole new world of delicious vegetarianism has opened up to me. If you want to know more aboutIndian food, check out this post from Anita. 

3. Don’t visit Goa without staying at the Yab Yum Huts – for food, location and unique lodgings you wouldn’t be able to beat it.

Bike in India things not to do

4. Don’t underestimate how big India is when you’re planning your trip. We spent a long time travelling between our aver ambitious itinerary.

5. Don’t underestimate the traffic times either. 

Transport in India

6. Don’t be surprised if your mode of transport is late or breaks down. We had late trains, a break down in a taxi and then another on a bus.

7. Don’t sit in the handicapped section on the train in Mumbai. We didn’t realise and carnage ensued as one man was trying to explain to us to move, while others were telling us to stay.

Mistakes in India

8. Don’t eat chicken. I was ill, and both pharmacies I ended up visiting immediately asked if I’d eaten chicken, then nodded in understanding. This sign in Thekkady seemed to sum it all up.


India mistakes


9. Don’t forget to check the water you’re given is sealed. We had two incidences – one hotel gave me tap water in a bottle and I’d drank half before I realised, and the same happened again to my friend as she bought some from the train station. Luckily we realised sooner.

What not to do in India

10. Don’t try to fit too much in to the time you have. Travel deep, not wide.

11. Don’t visit Delhi without spending a day in the Haus Khaz area. It’s Delhi at its most modern and coolest – I can recommend the Rose Hotel if you need somewhere to stay, and The Social if you need somewhere to drink.

What not to do in India

12. Don’t pay loads to some tour company for the Golden Triangle tour; the three day £70 Delhi Tourism one was brilliant.

13. Don’t miss the sunset at Chowpatty Beach in Mumbai.

mistakes I made in India

14. Don’t dismiss the Taj Mahal as just another tourist attraction, it’s a Wonder of the World for a reason.

15. Don’t forget to take some strong drugs along with you for the inevitable Delhi belly. I was rough for a week.

Things not to do in india

16. Don’t miss the Kathakali show in Kerala. It’s bonkers yet kind of brilliant.

17. Don’t forget to agree a price beforehand on anything you do – this includes taxis, tuk tuks, laundry, hotels, souvenirs… everything.

Things not to do in India

18. Don’t be surprised if Indian people want to take a photo with you and thrust a baby or child in your hands to do so.

19. Don’t go to the Elephanta Caves if you have limited time in Mumbai. It’s not worth it even though it’s voted the number two thing to do in the city.

Exploring India what not to do

20. Don’t be surprised at the cows all over the streets stopping the traffic, or the elephants, depending on where you are.

21. Don’t be surprised if your shower water is black after a day on the trains, or in the cities. And take an outfit a day, if you can.

Mistakes in India

22. Don’t miss the Tantra chill out bar on Goa Beach.

23. Don’t be surprised or offended when someone pushes in while you’re queuing nicely. It’s just the way.

Things not to do in india

24. Don’t leave Goa without renting mopeds and visiting Lazy Dog in Goa. Food was delicious and the pool was beaut.

25. Don’t miss the street food and slum tour in Mumbai

Exploring Jaipur in India

26. Don’t go on a Golden Triangle tour that leaves out Jantar Mantar, it’s awesome! I saw the world’s biggest sundial.

27. Don’t leave India without eating as much paneer as possible.

Things not to do in india28. Don’t dismiss Leopold’s in Mumbai as too touristy or expensive – the paneer, prawn curry and prawn biryani my friends and I shared there was the best meal I had in India.

29. Don’t be scared of the regional or local trains, they might seem overwhelming at first but they’re a must to experience life in India.

Exploring Kerala by houseboat

30. Don’t miss getting a houseboat for a night to cruise the backwaters of Kerala.

31. Don’t dismiss India as too scary / dangerous / dirty. I’ll admit I felt all these things at one point or another but it’s all part of the beauty, and the fun!

Anything else you could add to the India tip list?


Listen to my podcast!

I caught up with Ellie, who runs the travel blog Wandering Quinn. She’d just spent four months in India and travelled around extensively. If you want to learn more about India before your trip, have a listen on Spotify.

Or here on iTunes.

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Things I did wrong in India


More on travelling in India

An Itinerary for 3 Weeks in South India

52 Coolest Things to Do in Delhi

How to Do the Rajdhani Express Train Overnight
Shopping in Asia: This is Everything I Bought
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23 Comments

  1. by [email protected] on April 28, 2015  9:36 am Reply

    Nice, round up of tips. The chicken thing is because at the time bird flu was doing its rounds but yes eating meat only at hygienic places is a must in India as the weather is hot and food goes bad pretty fast. Also the dance is called Kathakali (there is a typo in the post), these are dance performances enacting stories from the Mahabharata or Ramayana. Traditionally these dances are performed in temples during temple festivals late at night and calls for some elaborate costumes and all day make up sessions like the one you saw. Glad you had a great time in India.

    • by Vicky on April 29, 2015  8:01 am Reply

      Yeah, I think because of all the power cuts the meat can be a bit dodgy too. Thanks for the background on the Kathakali – it was definitely one of the most interesting nights of the trip!

  2. by Emily on April 29, 2015  5:17 pm Reply

    This list is great! Super informative but not too much detail, thank you! Also, I love: Travel Deep, Not Wide :)
    Cheers, Emily

    • by Vicky on May 4, 2015  10:38 am Reply

      That's definitely a piece of my own advice I need to take there. I always think it but then I get too excited by the idea of travelling to a new destination and start booking myself up too quickly.

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  4. by Joe @ Tripzuki on April 30, 2015  3:37 am Reply

    Great stuff Vicky!
    To me the main one is simply #31, paranoia can really ruin a holiday in India but it is so unnecessary 99% of the time!

    • by Vicky on May 4, 2015  10:35 am Reply

      Yep, as I came to learn!

  5. by Siobhan @ 28 Days Travel on April 30, 2015  9:07 pm Reply

    Loved this post - had me nodding along remembering my own trip! Totally agree with 'deep not wide' - that was the main mistake I made, I think - I've ticked off a lot of sights, but got under the skin of so few of the places. Next time...!

    • by Vicky on May 4, 2015  10:34 am Reply

      Yeah definitely, me too. It feels all exciting to have travel plans after travel plans but then whenever I'm actually in somewhere I wish I could stay for longer. Probably a lesson for life, rather than just India actually.

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  7. by Fabiana on May 13, 2015  11:57 pm Reply

    These actually result in some petty good tips. I didn't know many of these and they will be helpful in my upcoming trip.

    • by Vicky on May 18, 2015  8:08 am Reply

      Hey Fabiana – happy to help!

  8. by panth mehta on May 19, 2015  11:10 am Reply

    I liked the way you ended your post by saying don't dismiss India,-after all Travel is all about the journey you do and feel new experiences and learn something new.The experiences are good or bad is just ignored when you have a good memories of the journey which will be there for a lifetime.

    • by Vicky on May 22, 2015  1:37 pm Reply

      Thanks Panth. Yeah definitely. Now that I have a few more weeks of hindsight I can definitely say that my three weeks in India were incredible. And yeah, the more out of your comfort zone the experience the scarier it can be at the time. But that always makes it better in the long run and can teach you a lot.

  9. by icanfly on May 30, 2015  8:21 am Reply

    How true about getting out of your comfort zone, definitely the most indelible memories for me. It can be fun to mix a bit of adrenaline to the journey, it is all about experiences. Enjoy!

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  11. by Raj on June 13, 2015  7:42 pm Reply

    Fabulous post Vicky. Loved the list. Finally an unbiased, practical and no-nonsense perspective on travelling in India. Kudos.

    Most travel blogs end up painting a scary picture of the destination without pointing out the positives. We posted one such story to dispel the myth of "Delhi Belly". Seehttp://blog.globetravelcentre.com/top-10-tips-to-avoid-delhi-belly

    • by Vicky on June 22, 2015  8:49 am Reply

      Thanks for your comment Raj and I'm glad to hear you think I did India justice. It's an awesome place to go, I think you just need to keep your mind open and embrace the differences!

  12. by Lois on June 29, 2015  11:29 am Reply

    Great tips! Will use some of these when I go!

    • by Vicky on June 30, 2015  7:04 pm Reply

      Have fun Lois!

  13. by Ceri on December 3, 2015  2:52 am Reply

    I'm preparing for a 3 week solo trip to India next month and point number 31 definitely spoke to me. :) The closer I get to it, the more I keep questioning if I can do it or not. Now, after reading this and your 3 week itinerary post, I'm getting excited for it.

    • by Vicky on December 6, 2015  10:46 pm Reply

      Yay! YES, you can definitely do it Ceri, and it will be a LOT of fun :) or at least, super interesting!

  14. by Pratik on September 16, 2016  7:24 am Reply

    I am born and raised in India..and found your list to be true and authentic

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