Tips for solo female travellers in India

Making local friends in India

Chaotic and bamboozling, travelling in India can be confronting, even for the experienced traveller. The reality for solo female travellers is it can be even more challenging, but don’t let that put you off exploring incredible India.

This amazing country is so full of colour, fascinating people, religious icons, ancient sites, fabulous street food and diverse landscapes. India is everything and more, and all at once. You wouldn’t want to miss this sensory overload of saris, sacred cows, slums, spices, car horns and incense!

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a wonderful trip-of-a-lifetime in India…

1. The stares

As a female in India, you’ll enjoy your time much more if you come to terms with the fact that people will stare at you. At first this can be confronting, but once you realise it’s a cultural difference it won’t get to you as much and you’ll become more accustomed to it. Ways to avoid unwanted male attention include dressing conservatively and avoiding eye contact, as this can be considered flirtatious.

2. Safety

Female travellers are rarely the target of violent crime in India, however like anywhere you need to keep your wits about you. Some tips to help you stay safe on local transport:
When travelling by overnight train, choose an upper berth for more privacy.
Avoid eye contact and chit-chat with unknown men: both can be misinterpreted.
Try to book seats near the front of long-distance buses.
Sit next to other women when possible.

3. The crowds

Stepping onto the streets of India, one of the things that will hit you immediately is the crowds. There are over 1.2 billion people in India. The extreme numbers of people can come as a big shock, especially for women who are travelling alone. If the crowds become too much in the major cities, consider heading south to the waters of Kerala or up north to the chilled out hill stations of Leh or Ladakh to give yourself a break.

4. Hygiene

Whilst hygiene standards in India have risen considerably in recent years, they are still often below what we are used to in the western world. Make sure you drink treated or bottled water, avoid buying food from street stalls that has been sitting around for hours or hasn’t been cooked in front of you and opt for shops and restaurants that appear to have higher hygiene standards. Use hand sanitiser throughout the day and carry your own supply of toilet paper and sanitary products.

5. The poverty

With an increasing number of people living below the poverty line, the divide between the very poor and the very rich is extreme. Slums are home to many and you will see beggars of all ages, particularly children. While it is heartbreaking, giving them money can add to the problem, as many of the children are being exploited by bosses who make them beg. Offering them food or donating through a reputable charity is a safer option.

6. See the fun side

Finally, have fun and enjoy your time here. Remain lighthearted and know that an easy going attitude will get you everywhere in a place where nothing runs to time. Stay safe and take precautions, but be open to delays, change of plans and adventure.

For many, India is one of the most rewarding travel destinations. With preparation and an open mind, the beauty, profound spirituality and mesmerising chaos of India ensures it will be one of the most unforgettable travel experiences you will ever have!

Have you travelled in India and experienced the same or different? I’d love you to share your comments below…

* Photo in India by Lyn Darton, for the Intrepid Photography Competition.

About the author'
Lorinda Childs - From living in Turkey and working on a yacht, to exploring France and spending a season snowboarding in the Alps, Lorinda Childs loves throwing herself into new adventures. Her travel highlights include India, South America and a safari in Africa, and between trips you can find this well-balanced yoga teacher and reiki practitioner in our Intrepid sales team.

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I will also be travelling alone and have to get in a taxi from the airport to hotel and back. These will be booked through Intrepid so I am hoping that they will be reputable cab companies or I am also worried about this now :-/'

Thanks for the valuable information -I have to visit there in coming months,Will definitely follow your tips for betterment'

My first trip to India, I used Intrepid to get over the strangeness of travelling alone; although we were a disparate group, our group leader managed to keep us together without major fall outs; there were two particularly trying adults, who though in their seventies, were more like misbehaving children, but we all managed to get on with each other, without too much compromise; I did on the odd day, spend my time being more silent than on others; as I do believe it is good to have quiet time, even when on a journey. As for travelling alone, the staff from Intrepid made our holiday that much more enjoyable, as they took the stress out of making travel arrangements. The only complaint I had was that the trip was too packed with activity; I intend travelling to India and the next time, I will do it on my own, as the strangeness of the country has definitely worn off, & i feel confident with the contacts I have managed to make on the first trip. If you are careful about how & where you travel, the media hype about rape etc is just that; I have not felt threatened or alone, even if I had been on my own.'

i faced the problem of starring often at sightseeing places and ppl tried to talk to me (the famous question “can i take a photo fo you?”) .. so sometimes it can be really stressful (especially when your on sightseeing all day)

and don’t travel too cheap. safety first! it is better to spend some more money than staying at the cheapest hostel …


Don’t wear figure hugging or thin clothes that show underwear or have loose/plunging necklines that show if you bend over (or shorts). See what the other women wear locally and dress to cover to a similar standard. Wearing a veil/scarf can reduce attention also.

Don’t put yourself in a compromising situation. Stay in the company of women rather than men.'
Belinda Atkins / Reply

I agree with everything said! I travelled to India to visit friends and spent quite a bit of time alone.
The staring was very hard to adjust to at first. I got a taste of how famous people must feel! You do get used to it and I was asked to be in many pictures. In fact, after a while if I wasn’t asked to be in a picture I got a bit put out!
India is an assault on the senses – you are constantly bombarded with fascinating smells, noises, colors and sights. Just go knowing it’s nothing like home (why would you go otherwise?) and enjoy. It’s by far my favourite trip ever!'

I’d add to #2 not to take a cab, especially to or through a remote area, without a companion, and some kind of protection. My father relates a story of a woman he met while travelling who took a cab from one city to another. The driver stopped every 10 to 15 minutes in more remote areas to attempt to rape her. While she was able to fight him off, it was terrifying for her. She tried to report the attempted assaults, and was met with shrugs by the authorities.

I am traveling to India alone, and will have two cab journeys alone from hotel to airport. Worried about travelling alone now.

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