A trip to India is an immersive and once-in-a-lifetime experience.
India’s culture is immense. The country is the birthplace to Hinduism and Buddhism, and travellers have the chance to learn about the religions and tour significant sites. Hindu festivals such as Holi and Diwali are popular amongst locals and tourists alike. Indian food is as diverse as the country that inspired it, and don’t be surprised if you’re served a dozen different curries and dishes at dinner!
While many cities such as Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai maintain elements of traditional history, do not be mistaken. These are cosmopolitan, booming cities – some of the largest and fastest growing ones in the world. Each of India’s 29 states has its own tourist appeals, and there are World Heritage Sites scattered across the country, from the mountain railways in the north and south to the internationally famous Taj Mahal.
Whatever your itinerary, there’s no better time to start dipping your toe into the years of exploration that India merits. With the country changing so quickly, one visit will never be the same as the next.
The Public Health Agency (PHA) recommends contacting a travel medicine specialist at least six weeks before visiting India. You should discuss the following vaccinations:
- Polio: The polio virus has been eliminated in every country except Afghanistan and Pakistan, the latter of which borders India. The PHA recommends vaccination for all Italians travelling near endemic countries, including India.
- Measles: This viral disease remains a concern around the world. Since 2010, 10 Canadians have reported returning from India with the disease. Ensure your measles vaccination is up to date.
- Typhoid Fever: India is a high risk area for typhoid, a disease contracted by eating or drinking Salmonella infected food or water. Travellers should be especially careful when visiting areas with poor sanitation systems.
- Japanese Encephalitis: India is a Japanese Encephalitis risk area. Vaccination is recommended, especially for those travelling outside of urban centres and people spending extended periods of time outdoors.
- Hepatitis A: This vaccination is highly recommended for travellers. Hepatitis A is caused by eating contaminated food or water.
- Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is a serious liver disease caused by unprotected sex, exchange of bodily fluids, or use of an infected tattoo needle or piercing tool.
- Yellow Fever: There is no Yellow Fever risk in India, though you must show proof of vaccination if travelling from an at-risk country.
- Cholera: Dukoral, the oral vaccination that offers partial protection against cholera and travellers’ diarrhea, is recommended for all visitors to India.
- Malaria: Regions affected by this disease include: the eastern and central part of the country, including Kolkata, Mumbai, and Goa. The southern and northern parts of India are generally considered low risk. Avoid mosquito bites and consult a travel medicine specialist about whether antimalarials may be right for you.
Urban centres in India are likely to have good medical services offered through expensive private facilities or lower cost government hospitals. Health services may require upfront payment or proof of insurance coverage, so be sure to carry details of your plan with you at all times.
The climate in India changes dramatically based on where in the country you’re travelling. Here are the conditions in a few key destinations:
New Delhi: India’s capital city experiences a large difference between summer and winter conditions. Winter is from November to January, and days average between 11° Celsius to 13° Celsius. Conditions can get cold and foggy because of influence from the Himalayas. The summer months have an average temperature of 32° Celsius, though there are frequent heat waves. Dust storms are also common in the summer, relieved by the monsoon in June.
Mumbai: Mumbai is on the western coast of India and is hot and humid. There is little variation in temperature throughout the year, and the average is 27° Celsius. Winter and summer last from December to May, with the remainder of the year being the monsoon and post-monsoon seasons.
Goa: The city on the Arabian Sea is hot and humid, and intense May temperatures cool only once the monsoon begins the following month. Temperatures range from 26° Celsius to 30° Celsius.
Kolkata: This central hub city is in eastern India close to the Bangladesh border. Summer months are hot and humid, though thunderstorms and rains provide some relief. There is a very short, cooler winter period. Temperatures range from 20° Celsius to 30° Celsius, with winter nighttime temperatures getting down to the low teens.
India experiences a summer monsoon season. Travel is not recommended during the monsoon, as conditions can flood roads, cause reduced visibility for transportation, and damage essential infrastructure. October to March is considered the best time of year to visit the country.
Petty crime is common, and you should always be aware of your belongings. Since the Indian Government requires you carry your passport at all times, take extra precaution to ensure the document is in a safe place. Watch your bags and luggage closely at train and bus stops. If travelling by train, you may wish to bring a bike lock to secure your bag to a post or pole, especially if you plan on sleeping.
Be extra alert around tourist and religious sites and during cultural festivals. There is an increased risk of terrorism at these times. Avoid demonstrations and large political or religious gatherings. The riskiest time of year is October to January, the Indian holiday period.
Travellers, especially women, should dress to blend in. This will help avoid unwanted attention and ensure you’re offering religious custom the due amount of respect. Female travellers will often be on the receiving end of sexual comments and groping is not uncommon. Assaults and sexual assaults have been reported by foreign female travellers. Avoid travelling or walking alone and night, and be aware and cautious during the day.
Indian cuisine is famous around the world for its varied dishes and tantalizing spices, but the cuisine can also cause some unfortunate health issues for travellers. Travellers’ diarrhea is a common malady for visitors to India. Be sure to follow the following tips:
- Though it may be tempting, avoid street food. Cleanliness standards are unregulated with streetside vendors, and food may contain parasites and unwanted bacteria.
- Only eat foods that have been cooked and are still warm when they reach your table. Salads, juices, and other raw dishes may still carry bacteria that can make you sick.
- Don’t overeat. Though the food may be delicious, your body is having to digest many new flavours and bacterium. Don’t overwork it by gorging on food.
- Drink sealed, bottled water or sterilize and boil your own. Ensure all ice cubes have been made with clean water, even in hotels.
Note that beef is rarely found on the menu in India, since cows are considered a sacred animal in the Hindu religion.
Consider adding the following items to your packing list for India:
- Indian visa: Canadian travellers must obtain a tourist visa prior to travelling to India. Failure to get a visa before you arrive can lead to denied entry into the country.
- Loose fitting long sleeve shirts and pants: Indian culture dictates a conservative wardrobe be worn during most occasions. Loose and light clothing will help with modesty and will also protect your skin from the sun and bugs.
- Diarrhea medication: Indian cuisine is some of the best in the world, but your stomach may have a hard time adjusting. “Delhi Belly” is another name for travellers’ diarrhea, and it’s unfortunately quite common for travellers visiting India.
- Antiseptic wet wipes: Bathrooms in India will rarely have toilet paper, and will likely not be the cleanest facilities you’ve ever used. Wet wipes will kill any germs picked up in the bathroom. You’ll thank yourself later, since Indian cuisine is often eaten using only your hands.
- Earplugs: India is a cacophony of sound. Whether it’s stray dogs, crows, a call to prayer from the local mosque, or just the general hustle and bustle in one of the world’s most populous countries, things get noisy. Earplugs will also be a lifesaver on long train rides.
All Italians visiting India should register with the Embassy in India before departure. This will inform the office of your travel plans within the country and will allow them to reach out to you in the case of an emergency or evacuation. If you plan to purchase a local SIM card you can also enter your phone number to receive SMS updates from the office.
50 E Chandragupta Marg,
Chanakyapuri, New Delhi - 110 021
Tel +91 - 11 - 26114355
You can get an e-visa for India if you’re entering the country at one of 16 international airports in the country, including New Delhi, Goa, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Mumbai. You can apply for this visa at within four days of your arrival date and it is valid for stays of less than 30 days. If you take this route you must print and carry a copy of the e-visa receipt with you.
For travellers who get a visa valid for 180 days or more, it’s important to note that you can only stay for 180 days, regardless of the time period listed. You must then not return to the country for six months. If you have a visa for longer than 180 days you must register within two weeks with the Superintendent of Police in the city or district where you’re staying.
The visa process is different if travelling to India overland from Pakistan, Nepal, China, or Bangladesh. You should pre-arrange your India visa with a local office if this is the case.
If you have any questions about travelling to India or are wondering what shots you may need for your trip, schedule an appointment with your International Health Passport travel clinic today or call +39 392 0056499.