Is it safe to travel to India?

There's nowhere quite like India. From the morning calls of the chai wallahs and the silence of the desert to the holy Ganges that glistens during a Varanasi sunrise, it's no wonder travellers are intrigued by this beguiling country. But with a population of over one billion people, a complex history and ongoing border tensions, you might be wondering how safe India is. We've put together a guide to safety in India and some handy tips for travellers.

Is it safe to travel to India?

India can be overwhelming sometimes, but it's generally a safe country for travellers and many people enjoy their time without any problems. That said, some regions experience ongoing issues, and there are several things a traveller should keep in mind to minimise their chances of running into any trouble. Some of the main issues include pickpocketing (especially in crowded places), touting and scams, and petty theft. However, as long as you're alert and aware of your surroundings, you should be fine.

Safety tips for travellers in India

Below are some of our top safety tips for travelling in India:

  • Be mindful of your day bag and purse at all times
  • Use taxis and transport recommended by your hotel or tour leader
  • Settle the price with a taxi driver before getting in the vehicle
  • Avoid any areas experiencing political or civil unrest
  • Avoid travelling alone at night (particularly for female travellers)
  • Research the places you'll be visiting to learn about the local culture and customs – India is extremely diverse and each place you go can be vastly different from the last!
  • Respect the dress code and dress conservatively, ensuring you're covering your head with a scarf if applicable (again, you can find this out by speaking with a local or doing a quick Google before you arrive at a new destination)

Border tensions

India has a long, complex history with its Pakistani neighbours, stemming from the end of British colonial rule and the partition of Punjab. It’s advised that people do not travel to any part of the border, except for the Atari crossing, due to the danger of armed clashes, terrorist activities and violent demonstrations. None of Intrepid’s India trips visit these areas.

Civil unrest

The introduction of a new Citizenship Amendment Act in late 2019 saw violence between Hindu and Muslim communities spread in some areas of northern Delhi. It was the worst case of religion-based violence in several decades, and travellers are advised to avoid areas in which further demonstrations may potentially take place. Intrepid’s local staff are constantly monitoring civil unrest and altering itineraries when necessary to ensure traveller safety. If travelling independently you should consult your government's travel advice or keep up to date with local news sources, and of course, avoid any demonstrations.   

Female travellers

It’s uncommon, but not unheard of, for female travellers to experience harassment while in India. There’s no reason to be put off – locals are generally very welcoming and hospitable – but female travellers need to follow some simple precautions, especially when travelling solo. We recommend, among other things, dressing conservatively (i.e. shoulders, chest and legs covered), avoiding travelling alone at night, and sticking to well-lit areas or avoiding going out alone after the sun goes down.

Female travellers can also opt to travel in women-only train carriages if they're available or reserve a chair designated for female travellers on public buses and trains. We also recommend keeping people informed of your movements, such as telling your hotel where you're going and when you expect to return.

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