So you’ve decided to take the plunge and finally book that trip to India (excitement levels 110%, right?). Beautiful, chaotic and intoxicating, there’s no doubt India is filled with a whirlwind of bucket-list adventures and epic activities – but it can also be a little overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time visiting. We’ve all been there! 

So, we asked our Product Supply Team Leader, Jemma, about her recent adventure through India – and what her top tips are when it comes to planning a trip to this #incred country. 

#1 Get to the Taj early

Your first trip to India just wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the mesmerising Taj Mahal in Agra. Missing this baby would be like going to Rome and skipping the Colosseum (just, no). But with literally millions of people visiting this landmark each year, the place gets busy – and I mean busy. So to avoid the crowds, I recommend getting up early and lining up about an hour before the Taj opens. You will be admitted at sunrise by guys counting down to the minute on old Nokia phones (you’re in India after all!). Once inside, make like Usain Bolt and you’ll be the first of the crowd to catch a glimpse of the world’s most impressive romantic gesture. It really doesn’t matter how many photos or Instagram posts you see, nothing quite prepares you for how grand the Taj Mahal is in reality. And with the soft light of sunrise, it’s worth allll the eye-heart emojis! 

#2 Don’t miss Amber Fort

Once you’ve ticked the Taj off the bucket list, make sure you check out another awesome attraction that’s maybe not as well known, but is just as impressive – Jaipur’s Amber Fort. You can walk to the fort from the road in about ten minutes, or take a take a Jeep there and back for about 450 rupees. The palace was once the residence of the Rajput Maharajas, and it’s easy to get swept up in how magnificent this place is while walking through the large complex. Aladdin vibes, anyone? I recommend grabbing an audio guide before wandering through the fort’s red buildings and checking out the aesthetically pleasing courtyard gardens – with the afternoon sun shining through the intricately detailed window panels, you could spend all day exploring this place. 

#3 Stay healthy

When deciding what to pack for your great Indian adventure, don’t forget your insect repellent to help fight off the mosquitoes. Unfortunately, those pesky little blood-suckers are rife throughout India (especially after monsoon season) and tend to carry icky viruses like Dengue Fever. Take it from someone who’s been there, and don’t risk it – make sure you bring strong repellent, avoid perfume or aftershave and wear loose clothing. As for Delhi Belly – don’t take a healthy tummy for granted, even if you’re a seasoned traveller and think you’ll be safe. Never drink tap water, avoid food that needs a lot of handling (salads, ice cream, peeled fruit) and make a judgement on the cleanliness of street food before tucking in. If you do get sick (note: inevitable), make sure you replenish any nutrients you’ve lost with electrolytes and drink plenty of water. 

#4 Yes, the curry is that good

The worst part about travelling around India is that no curry you have back at home will ever live up to the ones you had when you were there. Food throughout India incredible – full of flavour, mouth-watering ingredients and all those tantalising spices! Even if you’re a bit pathetic with spice like me, make sure you try as much food as you can stomach. A chaat crawl is the perfect way to sample all the Indian deliciousness on the go – you can’t go wrong with a warm fresh roti paired with a delicious curry. 

#5 Embrace the experience

One last piece of advice for travelling in India? Leave all your preconceived thoughts and expectations at home. Yes, there are a lot of people around, which at times is overwhelming, but the kindness that the locals show you is unbelievably heart-warming. Yes, it is incredibly noisy and the cities are a bit of an assault on the senses , but somehow it works – and you’ll feel a certain calmness within the crazy. I guarantee that if you are open to what the country has to offer, it will be a trip to remember.

Ready to discover India with Topdeck? With three brand-spanking-new India trips for 2020, you can expect amazing temples, flashy palaces, houseboats, spice tours, Bollywood films and more. Could India be any more epic? 

Jemma Lee
Jemma is a kiwi that turned 3 months’ work experience into 5 years of living in London. I play Netball every week, love a good theatre show and get anxious when I don’t have a trip booked.