The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Visiting India for the First Time: A Comprehensive Guide on What to Do and What Not to Do


India is home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Taj Mahal, Jaipur’s palaces, Hampi’s ancient ruins, and the historic caves of Ajanta and Ellora.

India is also known as the birthplace of yoga and spirituality. The country is dotted with ashrams, meditation retreats, and sacred pilgrimage sites like Varanasi and Rishikesh, where you can immerse yourself in ancient practices and seek inner peace.

India’s nature goes from the majestic Himalayas in the north to the picturesque backwaters of Kerala in the south, and from the vast deserts of Rajasthan to the lush tea plantations of Darjeeling.

Indian cuisine is renowned worldwide for its bold flavors, aromatic spices, and regional diversity. It’s a must to go on a  gastronomic journey by savoring their diverse range of dishes, street food, or regional specialties.

Preparing for Your Trip

Before you plan your Indian adventure, it’s important to make adequate preparations.

Ensure you have a valid passport and obtain the necessary travel visas. If applicable for your nationality, the India e-visa application is online and efficient If not, you have to visit the closest embassy or consulate.

Research the weather conditions and pack appropriate clothing for the regions you plan to visit.

Familiarize yourself with the local currency and exchange rates.

Dos and Don’ts of Dressing

While India embraces modernity, it is still a country with conservative values. It’s important to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or rural areas.

Embrace clothing that covers your shoulders, knees, and midriff to show respect for local customs.

Respecting Religious and Cultural Etiquette

India is home to various religions, including Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, and Christianity. When visiting temples, mosques, or other religious sites, follow the specific rules and guidelines.

Remove your shoes, cover your head, and refrain from taking photographs unless permitted.

Exploring Popular Tourist Destinations

India boasts an array of breathtaking destinations. From the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra to the serene backwaters of Kerala, or going to Goa to party and sunbathe, each region has its own unique charm.

Plan your itinerary carefully, and don’t miss out on must-visit places like Jaipur, Varanasi, Mumbai, and the hill stations of Himachal Pradesh.

Sampling Indian Cuisine

Indian cuisine is a culinary delight for food lovers. Try popular dishes like butter chicken, chana masala, dosa, and chaat.

Don’t forget to exercise caution with street food. It’s wise to choose reputable restaurants to avoid any health issues.

Transportation and Getting Around

India has a well-established transportation system that offers various options for getting around. From domestic flights to trains and buses, choose the mode of transport that suits your itinerary.

It’s also quite popular to pay for a private driver since the service is affordable, we suggest this option for moving around cities in comfort.

Safety and Security Measures

While India is generally a safe country to visit, it’s always wise to take certain precautions. Avoid venturing into isolated areas alone, especially at night.

Keep your valuables secure and be cautious of pickpockets in crowded areas. Stay informed about any local safety advisories during your stay.

Interacting with Locals

Indian people are known for their warmth and hospitality. Embrace the opportunity to interact with locals and learn about their way of life.

It’s well known that Indians have a different understanding of Western personal space. It’s most likely they will approach you and ask for photos.

Engaging with locals can enrich your travel experience. If this is not for you, be polite and tell them that you are not interested.

Understanding Social Customs

India has social customs that may differ from what you’re accustomed to. Learn about common greetings, gestures, and social norms to ensure smooth interactions.

For example, it’s customary to greet someone with a Namaste and avoid physical contact unless initiated by the other person.

Dealing with Touts and Scams

Like any popular tourist destination, India has its share of touts and scams. Be cautious when approached by strangers offering unsolicited assistance or deals that seem too good to be true.

Trust your instincts, use authorized tour guides, and seek recommendations from reliable sources.

Health and Hygiene Tips

Maintaining good health and hygiene practices is crucial during your visit to India. Drink only bottled water or boiled and filtered water.

Wash your hands frequently, especially before meals.

Carry necessary medications and consult your doctor for any vaccinations required before traveling.

Photography Tips

India offers endless photographic opportunities, from architectural marvels to vibrant street scenes. Respect privacy when taking photos of locals, seek permission when necessary, and be mindful of any restricted photography zones.

Tip Culture in India

Tipping is not mandatory but is appreciated for good service. It’s customary to tip around 10% of the bill at restaurants.


Visiting India for the first time can be a life-changing experience. By following the dos and don’ts outlined in this guide, you can make the most of your trip while respecting the local culture and customs.

Embrace the diversity, immerse yourself in the rich heritage, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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