India Travel Tips
At first glance, India is a riot of activity and colour, 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 colourful 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 colourful 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
In North India there are three main seasons, winter, summer and monsoon. During winter, from November to February, nights can drop to freezing, while days mostly remain mild to warm. South of Mumbai the climate is tropical with hot, humid days, except in cooler highland areas. May through to July is hot all over India except in the hills and mountains, and temperatures can reach over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). The majority of rainfall is between June and September, except in the southeast where monsoons are heaviest.
What to expect
Many first-time visitors to India are initially overwhelmed with the chaos, noise, crowds and fast-paced nature of its cities. While India is full of activity and life, it is also a feast for the senses and a celebration of colour and life. Leaving the cities for India's countryside opens up some entirely different sides to India, from its vast deserts to its scenic mountains and tropical south. While India is rich in history and culture, it is also developing at a rapid rate.
Mobile phones, burgeoning technology industries and Western-style shopping malls can be found amidst more traditional elements of India. Meanwhile, rural India is still home to deeply held traditions and practices. India's poverty and sometimes hectic nature can be confronting, but patient visitors will be rewarded with cultural insights, beautiful landscapes, exotic sights and sounds and beautiful architecture, from temples to Maharajah's palaces.
From Australia: Flight times range from 13 hours (Perth) to 17 Hours (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne)
From New Zealand: 19 hours from Auckland
From UK: 9 hours from London
From 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 holiday 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 coloured 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 holiday, monuments remain open.
- 15 August is Independence Day, a public holiday 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 holiday 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 holiday, 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 holiday but monuments remain open.