Is it safe for women to travel in India?
While you can never guarantee safety completely while travelling anywhere, India is considered to be a fairly safe country for women to travel around as long as certain precautions are taken to minimise any potential danger. In order to help you feel safe during your trip, we've put together a comprehensive guide on the things you should be aware of, and tips and tricks to keep in the back of your mind when moving around the country including the do's and don't's of public transport, how to book safe accommodation and what to do when travelling on your own.
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Is it safe to travel on public transport in India?
Travelling on public transport in India has its issues and can potentially be unsafe if you don't know what to look out for. We recommend pre-arranging transportation services where possible, such as when you arrive at the airport by organising private transfers through your hotel or using pre-paid taxis. If you can, it's best to avoid late-night arrivals or departures as the chances of you getting scammed or being charged a higher transportation fee increase.
When leaving your accommodation to start exploring your surroundings, it's always a good idea to organise transportation through your hotel concierge rather than hailing them straight from the street. Before you get into the taxi make sure it has a working meter or if it doesn't, decide on a fare before you get going to can avoid bargaining with your driver once you arrive at your destination. If you don't feel comfortable catching a taxi or a rickshaw that has a male driver, there are some cities that offer special transportation services driven by women. They are as below:
- Delhi: Meru Eve Cabs (44224422), Sakha (99991 93004), GCabs (39423942)
- Mumbai: Priyadarshini Taxi Services (43333999), Viira Cab (6120 6120)
- Chennai: Go for Pink (64581111)
- Trivandrum/Kochi: Shetaxi (859 0000 543)
If you do have to catch public transport in the form of a bus or train, be aware of pickpockets as they are known to target travellers and security systems are often scarce. This means you should always be alert and have your belongings where you can see them. You should also avoid taking public transport alone, especially at night, and where possible, ride in the women's carriage on the Delhi, Chennai, and Mumbai metros.
It's important to note that some of our India itineraries feature overnight train rides. If you need to leave your compartment for any reason (i.e. going to the bathroom), ask a male travel companion from your group to accompany you. Where possible, we will allocate female group members an upper bunk and will not separate female travellers from the rest of the group.
How safe is accommodation in India?
There are plenty of safe accommodation options in India catering to all kinds of budgets from hostels and other cheap hotels to upmarket, westernised places, however, there are a few easy rules you should follow - regardless of where you stay - to ensure your stay is a stress-free and danger-free one:
- Take a hotel card with you when going out so you know the address and contact numbers.
- If there is a phone in your room, check that it works. You may need to use it in case of any emergencies.
- Lock your door when you're inside your room and do not open it to anyone you don’t know. If hotel staff need access to your room for any reason, request that they do this while you are out, or wait at reception while they attend to any cleaning or repairs. For the protection of both our travellers and staff, our leaders worldwide are not permitted to be alone in a room with a group member.
- Inform reception immediately if you notice any doors or windows in your room open or broken; do not enter if they are. Likewise, if you notice any hotel staff acting suspiciously or making your feel uncomfortable, go to your leader or one of your group members so you are not alone.
- Avoid discussing where you are staying when out in public or sharing too many details of your travel plans with people you meet.
How to be safe when exploring on your own in India
It's entirely possible to feel safe when travelling on your own as a woman in India but you do have to be mindful of your surroundings and not put yourself in situations that are potentially dangerous. The easiest way to do this is by exploring during the daytime, avoiding activities where you know you'll be back to your accommodation after nightfall.
If someone approaches you while you're out and starts asking questions or making you feel uncomfortable in any way, don't be afraid to say no loudly and sharply and walk away with both purpose and confidence. Shop in areas that are busy, well-lit, and extremely popular, and under no circumstances should you go into storerooms or back rooms of retail shops where you can't see the street. This also means when trying on clothes.
While dressing however you want may be socially acceptable back home, India is a conservative country, so you need to show respect for their culture by dressing modestly and covering your legs and shoulders, as well as wearing looser fitting clothing. If you're swimming, it's also recommended you wear shorts ad a t-shirt over your swimwear to remain respectful.
Most importantly, don't do anything you wouldn't do at home. Yes, open yourself up to new experiences but proceed with caution in any situation and always keep in mind the country's culture. For example, you shouldn't be seen to be too friendly with local men at tourist spots or hotel staff (this can include 'conversational' touching while talking) as it can be easily misinterpreted and lead to uncomfortable situations.
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