1. April and May are VERY hot (47 degrees celius is normal) but you will escape the huge crowds that arrive earlier in the year in January and February.
2. The Taj Mahal wont be very visible due to thick fog during the ‘off season’ which is between May and August. Definitely not good for ‘that money shot’!
4. If you're looking at taking a train and the online booking website shows no availability - don't stress! If you're a foreigner you can still go to the train station and get yourself a ticket!! The system blocks seats that only foreigners can purchase.
5. ALWAYS travel with Uber if you can. It’s cheaper than any tuktuk driver will take you for - 100% of the time.
6. Another option to Uber is Ola, however there aren't as many drivers working for this company and the app doesn't work as well as uber.
7. The best way to do DIY city tours is by using the 'Ola app'. They offer hour and day long car rentals, so we hired one to take us around Jodhpur for the afternoon. Four hours of car rental and driver (where we could go anywhere within the city limits) cost us less than $11usd!!
8. Don’t accept ripped or old looking notes - many vendors will refuse to take these because of the counterfeit money problems going on. If you do end up getting one, use it up as soon as you can - claiming it's the only money you have
9. Beware of eating meat at places that don't have high turnover. We are vegetarian and would recommend to become vego whilst travelling in India anyway, but if you must - make sure it’s at a hygienic restaurant with lots of people! One bad chicken leg can ruin your trip.
10. Eat street food if you have the desire but be very aware of any ice, where the cutlery or cooking utensils are washed and that the ingredients used, are fresh - not covered in flies! It’s so easy to assume that a place is safe, just because of other people eating there. Never assume.
11. Almost everything is a scam or some sort of money making exercise in India. The poorer class live off tourism so they will do almost anything to get money out of you. If you’re the kind of person who likes to see good in everyone - be very careful.
Some of the most common scams are:
- A woman with a small child will beg you to buy her milk. She looks homeless and the child looks hungry and dirty. Of course you want to help! This poor woman probably hasn't eaten all day... However once you're around the corner, she will return it to the shop owner, where they will split the earnings. Maybe just give her some cash?
- You will be offered a price for a tuktuk or taxi that seems semi fair. Upon arrival they will claim that the price quoted was per person.
- You will be taken to many many many textile shops, miniature art shops, local weaving shops and spice shops. ALL of which your driver will get commission from and ALL of which will be 3-10 times the 'correct' price.
- Camel leather (in the form of handbags, purses, books etc) is sold in almost every second shop in Rajasthan and the price is a lot higher than other leather products - HOWEVER. We were also told that selling camel leather was illegal so most of these vendors are not selling what they say they are... in saying that; who wants camel leather anyway!?
- You will be given a different menu in restaurants than the locals. Anything written in english is usually also price inflated.
- You'll often get asked what country your from and once you tell them, they either know something really cool about your culture or country or they have a close relative living in the same city as you. It's just a way for them to befriend you and offer you something to purchase. Best tip to overcome these conversations? Say your from Japan, Korea, Mongolia or some other country that isn't Europe, America, China, New Zealand or Australia. Japan worked for me every time.
- You're looking for the next train or bus... but are looking lost. A friendly local will ask what you're looking for and after a while, confirm that your transport isn't operating today and you must take a tuktuk or taxi - Riiiiiight.
- Everything is 'real', 'cheapest price', 'one of a kind' or 'handmade'. Believe nothing.