This list was made on account of our own adventures. There are surely other things to do in India that we haven’t mentioned, but in our own experience, this is our top 10 list.
Spend Some Time on the Beaches
India is home to some gorgeous beaches. Most of which are in the south, obviously, as the north is attached to other countries and also a heck of a lot colder. But when location and weather are permitting, get your swim suit on and get out there! You can expect to find huts lined along the beach that offer everything from food & drink, to massages, to picture taking with exotic animals. If beach chairs aren’t comfy enough for you, there will likely be hammocks available as well. Grab a Kingfisher beer or an orange lassi and relax. Need a recommendation? Why don’t we just transition into number 2 on our list of things to do in India: Goa.
Goa is a region in the south-western side of India, along the coast of the Arabian Sea and about 600kms south of Bombay (Mumbai). It has become a sort of ‘tourist hotspot’ due to its relaxing atmosphere, welcoming people and plethora of huts and restaurants in proximity to the beaches. A fantastic spot to learn about the country and culture in a relaxed, laid-back setting. You should check out the beaches, the markets, the restaurants and the nightlife. With very little hustle and bustle, it’s the perfect place to chill out and absorb a new country and language. Any extra time you have should be spent cruising around the city and checking out the different sights and even just the beautiful countryside. So grab a taxi or go rent a scooter!
India is one of those countries where scooters are a prevalent means of transportation, whether you’re a tourist or a local. Everybody’s got ‘em. They are extremely affordable, quite reliable and easy to get used to, even if you are a new driver. You don’t need a motorcycle license or anything, just a sense of adventure and a bit of courage.
Now keep in mind there are certain cities or areas that are more and less conducive to inexperienced drivers, India especially. If you’re not confident driving around right away, spend a day walking around or taking taxis to get a feel for your area before you rent a bike. Also be aware that the rules of the road may be different from what you’re used to. As in, they drive on the left side of the road.
Dharamsala is a city in the northern/Himalayan region of India. It’s up on the mountainside and is home to the Dalai Lama’s residence: a town called Bhagsu. It’s one of the colder areas in India so pack warm. Or buy some really cool Indian or Nepali knitted clothing. There’s some cool stuff to buy here. Also, there are monkeys everywhere (okay not everywhere) and lots of cows, dogs, goats, donkeys…etc. Walking around in this area is a solid workout. You are literally on the side of the mountain, so there will be a lot of inclines and declines. The cars cannot go everywhere either, so be prepared for a little exercise. A very uplifting city for sure. The energy felt good here. Visit Dharamsala.
Yoga in India is not the same as your standard yoga in North America. I’ll admit, the moves and positions are still more or less the same, but the experience is just so much richer. Your instructor in India will likely have very extensive training (20+ years) and will likely be practicing teachings from generations past. Along with years and years of experience, he/she will have all sorts of great stories to share with you along your journey. Stories from past yoga masters, carried on and shared with each new student. Also the atmosphere of yoga is more natural in India. Being in a new country has a tendency to lift your spirits and give you increase energy and awareness. Also, in Dharamsala they did yoga on the rooftop sometimes. It was incredible.
Some call them street markets, others call them flea markets. Whatever you want to go by, they are a must-experience in India. In this case, we are referring to the flea markets at Anjuna Beach, in northern Goa. Haggling is the name of the game here. Don’t pay full price for anything because, well, you don’t need to. Everybody bargains and everybody expects you to as well. The markets are massive and full of cool clothing, jewelry, accessories, trinkets, instruments, toys, you name it. A great way to experience a wide range of Indian culture all in one place. Plus shopping is fun. A solid day of bargaining at the markets will help prepare you for future transactions during your stay in India.
You’ve probably tried Indian food before, but have you tried food in India? Because you should! Indian foods are most notable for their spices. There are so many! Not that the food itself is ‘spicy’ (although it certainly can be) but that the food has so many different spices in the recipes. Spices that are native to India and that have several nutritional and medicinal properties.The food also varies based on which region or state of India you are in. For example, northern and southern India have very different styles of food. Rice and bread are probably the most prevalent items in an Indian meal, but the variety or flavours and sauces is incomparable to most anywhere else. Our advice: try everything. Oh, and get juices and fruit shakes daily. They’re absolutely mandatory. If you are sensitive to foods, start slow… Indian food has a reputation for ‘messing’ with your stomach.
India is the second largest population in the world. Their culture is very rich and the locals are warm and friendly. Although arriving in India was a big culture shock for us. We weren’t prepared for the amount of poverty we saw, we were still greeted and welcomed by all. Hindi isn’t a particularly easy language to pick up, and reading it is completely out of the question, but we found that picking up a few simple words (yes,no,hello,thank you) went a long way. I find that people tend to give you a little more respect if you’re trying to speak their language than not trying. In our case, we had a Hindi speaking friend traveling with us, which made an absolute world of difference. If that’s a feasible option for you, bring an Indian friend.
The difference being basically Indian vs Arabic language.
Henna/Mehndi is a plant dye that gets applied generally to your hands. It used to be more of a woman thing but now it’s popular among men too. It’s very intricate artwork and after you leave it for a while, it stains your skin and you get to have a sweet 2-week temporary tattoo. We had a special event to attend that had some really amazing artists, so we all got ‘sleeves’ done. I’m not really sure why we all decided on that, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles my friends. It is also a pre-wedding ritual in India, traditionally for the women on the bride’s side. The day before the wedding the women all get their hands done and everybody parties. It was awesome.
Odds are good that you won’t have a particular wedding to go to when traveling to India, but it’s such an incredible experience, we had to mention it in our top 10 list. I’m not going to act as though we’re experts on the subject, but we’ll tell you how ours went. IT WAS FOUR DAYS STRAIGHT! Hah! We had a great time. For the foreigners like us (goras), it was basically another party every night with a different theme. And then way more people… Ypu start with just one side of the family (which is already a lot of people, I might add) and get traditional rituals done (Pithi, Mehndi). Then both sides finally meet while the groom rides into the wedding ON A HORSE a the band parade is dancing our way alongside him and into the wedding grounds! Soooooooooo cool! The size was intense, the energy was great, the food was delicious!
Indian Wedding makes the list for sure!
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