I’ve been twice, so I’m not an expert but I know a bit. I was asked for any tips and this is what I said – I hope it helps anyone else who is going to this fantastic and wonderful country. I love the people, the food, and the buildings more than anywhere else in the world.
- allow plenty of time for the taj mahal, it’s fantastic, just sit and stare at it. Ideally go at sunrise and wait outside the doors before it opens so you’re the first one in! It gets really packed during the day.
- don’t expect any privacy, people will stare at you and want to talk to you, so you might as well be a celebrity and talk to everyone and have fun
- it’s worth having a guide (not sure how your trip is organised) and good English is the main thing to try to get, though hard to assess until too late and they arrive!
- see the Jantar Mantar if you can, it’s brilliant – in Jaipur
- we only got ill because we went into a restaurant where no westerners were, and it had sticky tables and flies buzzing around – what were we thinking? On my second visit I didn’t get ill at all, and we ate food from street vendors but it was freshly cooked and still hot
- beggars – not many and you get used to them. don’t give them money ever (it all goes back to central beggar-masters etc) – take a load of biros to give out! Or maybe some small packs of cards to give out – you can get these from amazon very cheaply and I think they count as educational….
- we felt safe all the time
- take a great camera!
- camel trips – over-rated. maybe try a 30 minute one but all day will be hell!
- elephant ride – fun, but again, only for 10 minutes!
- don’t trust the monkeys who hang around the monuments
- it gets cold suddenly when the sun goes down at 6pm so take a sweater/fleece for the evenings (when you pack for the trip, and every day when you go out)
- great shopping! get some hand made silk dresses – they do it in a day and it’s only £20 or something, and you choose the style and the material and they make it spot on (though tightly / closely fitted!). take more cash than you think, it’s very tempting!
- when they say they will ship it home for you they really do. they are very honest, though everyone is taking a cut from everything so when they recommend a shop or restaurant it’s often just that they are getting a cut.
- definitely negotiate on the price of everything you buy from a shop!
- consider reading before you go (or taking with you) A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.
- have fun – it’s the most brilliant country in the world, without a shadow of a doubt
I hope that helps!!