India Overview

Seeing as it’s been six months since we left India we figured it was about time to write a little bit about our overall experience in India. But first, lets watch our video as a good primer.

India is a country of contrasts. You either love it or you hate it, often times only minutes apart. But the good news is that India is a big country with lots to offer. You don’t like the grime and bustle of Varanasi? Take a short train to Khajuraho. You can’t stomach the scams and the persistent requests for money? Go to Ladakh or southern India.

I could go on and on about the experience that is India but that could take another six months so point form will have to do.

  • Northern India (north of Mumbai but south of Ladakh) was dirty and poor with a new scam around every corner. After adjusting to the culture shock it was great… until it wasn’t. Lots of interesting things were here to be seen and experienced. Other travellers we talked to said the same thing. The grime, scams, and crowds were very difficult but every one of us went in expecting it to be bad so we’d be disappointed if it wasn’t… it’s just the extent of it that caught everyone off guard.
  • Southern India (south of Mumbai) was waaaaaay more relaxed, clean, and scam free. There are lots of neat natural sites to see and outdoor adventures to be had but it seemed to be lacking on the cool cultural stuff (eg. Bodhgaya, Khajuraho, Agra, etc.).
  • Ladakh. What’s not to love. Johnny and I would go back there in a heartbeat.
  • The food all over India is amazing! By far the yummiest and most flavorful of any country we’ve been to. And it is so cheap! The only problem is a lot of the food was very heavy and sometimes you want to give your tastebuds a break from the strong spices even if it is wonderfully delicious. For this reason Vietnam still reigns supreme for overall best food.
    • Street food looked on the dicey side so we didn’t have any of that like we did throughout Southeast Asia.
  • Compared to Southeast Asia, the value of hotels are pretty bad. In India it was easy to find very cheap hotels and 5 years ago I’d be delighted by the selection. Now I’m a little more high maintenance and I want clean sheets, air conditioning, TV and internet. For that you have to pay a premium.
    • That said it appears the selection of high end hotels in India was also great. India would be fabulous on a high budget!
  • I loved travelling by train! They were comfortable, you could travel a good distance by the time you woke up, and there was always something interesting happening in the train station.
  • If you want to be in the nicer cars you need to book your tickets early. No joking on this one. It takes some of the spontaneity out of the trip but it’s also kind of nice to have an itinerary.
  • India is a difficult country to travel on a budget. You can see and eat lots for cheap but India can be exhausting! If you want a comfortable hotel and train you’re going to be paying a premium… it’s worth it though.
  • Rickshaws were a hassle but also an adventure! You never know where you’ll end up or how much they’ll try to increase the price after its already been agreed upon.
  • A lot of people speak English in India… and a lot don’t. In some instances speaking English increases the difficulty because it makes the scammers much more effective and persuasive. Being in a country where a lot of people speak English also means a lot of people just want to chat. It’s important to remember not everyone is after your rupees.
  • It’s worth it!!! As difficult as India is it’s a great place to visit. So many cool and interesting things to see and do and so many flavors to eat.

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