Traveling In India: My Personal Experience!
Hey there, it’s Mike Swigunski here and I’m the founder of global career and best-selling author of Global Career: How to Work Anywhere and Travel Forever.
Imagine visiting a country full of 1.4 billion people, a four times more populated location than the United States of America. Still, one-third the land size well this location is India, and it’s one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Visiting. India was one of the unique experiences of my life. In this video, I will share everything from the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything that we experience while visiting India last year for around a month.
Today in this video, I’m going to share with you what it was like attending an Indian wedding visiting the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world, and also what it was like when we got insanely sick in India and everything in between I’m going to discuss everything between what it was like traveling there before we got to India what sort of information you needed for visas vaccinations then I’m going to discuss some of the highlights of our trip some of the many fun things and experiences we had while in India, and I’m going to discuss everything from the good, the bad, and the ugly, so let’s go ahead and dig in right now to traveling in India now before we get started, I wanted to share this short post that I wrote while we were traveling in India I think it gives a great perspective of what it was like while I was visiting India India is the type of place where you need to look both ways before crossing a one-way street not only because people are driving in every direction but because something is fascinating happening no matter where you look stepping outside sparks every sense imaginable the atmosphere the people the cultures unlike anywhere I’ve ever visited.
I’m finally starting to understand what makes India so unique now India is a one-of-a-kind place. There are so many beautiful parts of it, but again, there’s a bit of a dark side for every beautiful thing, and it’s definitely a place that’s not for everyone. Even after visiting India and having a fantastic time, I’m not sure I’d be rushing back to India at any time soon. Now let’s go ahead and start off with the things you need to do before getting to India. Before arriving in India, you’re going to need to apply for an e-visa or e-tourist visa. You can make this application online. Honestly, it was a really lengthy and kind of complicated application process. There’s a lot of fake websites out there. Still, I’ll go ahead and leave the official website to apply for at e-visa in the description below, so make sure you use this because, for this website, there are like ten other fake ones that are just trying to steal your information and essentially rob you or scam you. Hence, the application process was a little complicated. They ask you a ton of questions. One of the questions that I remember in particular was naming every country you’ve been to in the last five years.
I wanted to be as thorough as possible. Still, in the past five years, I’d visited more than 60 countries, so I started filling it out, and then finally afterward, I hit submit, and an error message populated saying that it would only allow me to list up to 20 countries in the field, so I had to go back just start deleting countries and essentially did it alphabetically one of the other things about the application process is there’s a lot of different options make sure you double-check all this information because this stuff is changing quite frequently it’s going to vary depending on what country you’re from I remember my girlfriend Alejandra being from Colombia she had to pay a different price I believe it was like ten more than Americans. Make sure you look into that before you apply, and I’ll leave all the details to start the application process below in the description, so you want to make sure you start this application process because once you’re approved, I believe it’s up to a year your visa will be valid.
So you can enter any time from when it’s approved to a year later, and then in regards to other things we did before preparing for India, essentially we’d kind of mapped out our general plan to travel in India. We’d also gotten some vaccinations now. There are no mandatory vaccinations. Depending on what country you’re from, you might need to prove that you have yellow fever or where you’re flying from. There might be some sort of requirements. Still, there wasn’t any vaccination that you’re like you need to have this vaccination before you enter, so make sure you double-check that we did get some of the optional vaccinations, which were hepatitis A and hepatitis B. After doing a lot of research, I decided this was the best optional vaccinations, based on our own travel plans. Suppose you’re going to be going to specific areas in India. In that case, you might want to consider getting other vaccinations but again, do your own research to figure out what you’re comfortable with. We were able to get all these vaccinations fairly quickly. Do keep in mind that some of these vaccinations like hep a and hep b do require you to have two or three treatments or two or three doses before you get the full effect.
We’ve got all that pre-travel information out of the way. Let’s talk about what it was actually like traveling in India, so we flew from Sri Lanka to India to Bangalore, and it was a fairly cheap flight. I really enjoyed our time in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka and India were basically night and day. They couldn’t be more different. It’s just so much more crowded. At such a faster pace comparatively, we flew from Sri Lanka to Bangalore, and we met one of our friends here, one of my buddies who I was studying within south Korea, an Indian buddy named phages, so it was really great to connect with him. He was able to kind of show us around the city introduce us to the best foods and we honestly just had a really good time just hanging out with him. I would say there was nothing really like the mind-blowing that we saw in Bangalore. We were mostly there to just catch up with my friend, meet his wife, meet his family, and stuff like that, so that was a really great experience getting off the plane, seeing a friendly face, and having somebody kind of show you around the city was really refreshing, and we kind of had a really nice local experience with hanging out with one of our Indian friends.
One of the other things to note about India was the thing that really impressed me was how great the travel redemptions for booking hotels with points we had some amazing four and five-star hotel stay for a really affordable price a lot of the Marriotts that we stayed in were four-star hotels, and they’re around under 10 000 points per night, and these hotels on their own would cost you know 150, so the travel redemptions were crazy good in India you can stay at four or five-star hotels for a really good point value if you’re booking those same hotels with cash, it wasn’t that great of a deal but with points, it was an amazing deal, so definitely worth considering if you’re going to be traveling to India trying to use some of those points and getting some of those good deals as far as flights go most of the times it was fairly cheap to fly I think all of our tickets were under 100 and india is a fairly big country so keep that in mind if you’re going to be traveling around it can take a while to drive or take a train or just get around everything takes a little bit longer in india because it is such a crowded place.
So after we were in Bangalore, we decided to fly from Bangalore to Jaipur, and I would say Jaipur was probably one of my favorite areas. I believe it’s one of the more touristic cities, so maybe that’s why we enjoyed it there was a lot of stuff to do there we got to see the pink palaces have some really unique experiences with Indians and meet a family that had been taking care of elephants for centuries literally around 100 years his family had been living with elephants and taking care of them so that was an amazing experience getting to get an up-close experience meet these elephants, feed them and just have a really good time spending the whole afternoon with them so Jaipur was one of those places that I’m glad we spent a whole week there we had an Airbnb and you know we just really had to kind of have a really nice experience Loki also visiting some really amazing places in Jaipur one of the things that I would have changed is we initially flew from Bangalore to Jaipur we stayed there for a few days.
Then we took a uber from Jaipur to New Delhi, and this was the most dangerous part of the trip. I would say the road conditions were really bad. They were crowded it took forever, and that was one of the pro tips was taking an uber was about ten times cheaper than hotel transportation flying was not a great option due to the days and the times, so in India, they have this really great long-distance uber and you know if it’s five to six hours in a car it’s not too bad so essentially driving from Jaipur to New Delhi was something that I would consider recommending either flying or taking a bus or something it just was not a good experience driving, so I would probably avoid driving if possible take a train or fly if at all possible that was the worst route. It took much longer than anticipated. Again we did the whole golden triangle of India, which is Jaipur Delhi and Agra. We did all that by uber. They have some really great long-distance uber rates, so we would just call an uber it’d come to pick us up, and then it would drive us to our next destination. Even with a generous tip, it was still ten times cheaper than any of the transportation provided by hotels or anything else.
We could find they do have some local alternatives for uber in India, which you can investigate, but uber just worked really well. For whatever reason, without an Indian sim card, I couldn’t get any of those things set up, so even though I had an international sim card working the whole time, I would suggest that there were a lot of things that were just kind of annoying, so it would have been nice to have a local Indians phone number so if you want to get food delivery get set up on some local apps having an Indian number to receive a confirmation number via text would have been really valuable but you know there are a few annoying things, so I would say if you do arrive in India your first day, I would suggest just getting an Indian phone number the data is really cheap. Hence, it’s probably worthwhile just getting a sim card. I have the google fi, which works over in like 180 countries, so that worked really well there but again, it would have been nice to have a local number for some of the things like getting applications installed on my phone, so once we got New Delhii, I would say deli was probably one of the highlights as far as food we had some of the most amazing food. I don’t know if that was just our taste buds, but I think Delhi, in general, is kind of known for having really good cuisine. It is a bigger city.
So there are a lot of foreign food options a lot of local food options, and overall we kind of just stayed in Delhi. We were only in Delhi for a few nights. One of the things we were planning this whole trip around is when we initially got there. We had planned the entire Indian trip around my friend’s wedding, so we planned accordingly to go from Delhi to Agra, and Agra location taj mahal is. I’ll show some footage from that. It was so amazing getting there for the sunrise. We got there around 5 am, and we were some of the first people in there, So one of the pro tips about visiting the taj mahal is most people walk to the front take some photos to walk around the front. Still, if you go to the sides of the taj mahal, it’s way less crowded. At one point, we literally had the whole place to ourselves because we’d gotten there early. All the people kind of make it to the front and then leave, which is really strange, so if you go to either side of the taj mahal, you can get some beautiful footage, some beautiful photos, and the timing of the sun hitting the taj mahal was absolutely magical we were just kind of dancing around there felt like we had the whole palace to ourself.
It’s definitely worth going to. I suggest getting there early and trying to beat some of the crowds. Even though we were there in the middle of the week, there was still a big line to get inside because, for whatever reason, they have like one line for foreigners and like five lines for locals. The structure just didn’t make any sense to us, but again just that’s India for you. There’s going to be a lot of stuff that just doesn’t work logically, but the taj mahal was great Aguero was a really cool city. We just had a great time there at the taj mahal. I would say that was one of the big highlights was seeing that you know one of the seven wonders of the world for a reason, so definitely try to get there early, and if you can, get your tickets booked in advance, so after Agra, we actually took an uber to Jaipur where we stayed for a longer extended period of time we were able to really do some things like the elephant experience that I discussed which was one of the highlights we got to go to places like the city palace the Hawa mahal which is a beautiful pink building and just kind of explore the city there’s a lot to do in Jaipur and a lot to see.
We stayed there for about a week, rented an Airbnb, and just had a fantastic time there. I would say that was kind of one of the best places we visited it just seems a little bit calmer there compared to some other parts of India but we really enjoyed that so after the week or so in Jaipur we decided to go to Varanasi and Varanasi is one of those places that I’ve never been into any place like this it is insanely overcrowded and the long story short I didn’t really enjoy it here we’d gotten kind of sick beforehand or possibly on our way there, so we just weren’t really enjoying things because we weren’t feeling well in Varanasi. Varanasi is one of these places that were the loudest air pollution, one of the noisiest dustiest kind of just overwhelming places I’ve ever been in my life. Even comparing it to Saigon, Vietnam was ten times louder and just way more over-polluted. It’s essentially the holy land of India, so I suggest people kind of go there and do their own research and see if it’s a good fit even though I personally didn’t enjoy the experience there.
I never want to talk people out of going to places because everyone has their own outlook and own experiences, but overall, I personally would not go back to Varanasi because it was just so packed, crowded, and loud it’s tough to describe. I’ll try to post some photos and videos here of our experience there. Still, one of the main reasons was we got sick there. That kind of ruined the next part of our trip, which was this whole Indian wedding. We essentially flew back to Delhi for this wedding, and we got back there the night before picking up our outfits for the wedding, these beautiful local Indian outfits. Just about the time we got back to the hotel, we started feeling even sicker from something we potentially got in Varanasi. We don’t know to this day what got us sick, most likely. It was something either in the food, the air, or whatever you know. There’s a lot of stuff, no matter even if you’re as careful as possible.
We were always eating at really highly rated restaurants staying at four and five-star hotels eating through the hotels, but again, the hygiene is just very different standards than the rest of the world, so even at some of the nicest places, you can still get sick, so we got back to our hotel, and we’re feeling pretty ill that night we decided to go to bed early and that we had the wedding the next morning luckily we were feeling a little bit better in the morning and decided to just we decided just to take some medicine. Hopefully, we’d feel good enough to go to the wedding for at least a few hours. Still, while we were on our way to the wedding, we were just so sick in this taxi ride that we essentially got there, said hi to my friend, and then had to leave, so most Indian weddings, you know they last for like 10 hours or something, so we only got to experience it for a few hours. However, it was still a lot of fun even though you know hours. Hence, we experienced. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to stay for the whole thing but luckily got to say hi to my friend wish him congratulations still experience a little bit of the Indian wedding in our costumes and in our traditional outfits.
So overall we had a great time we had a blast, but we got so sick that we had to leave this wedding we went directly back to our hotel and called a doctor to come to visit us in our hotel room because we were just feeling terrible and the doctor came, and I’m really glad we called this doctor because this could have gotten a lot worse if we didn’t get the medication right away so a doctor prescribed my girlfriend and myself different medication the hotel we were staying at the loft was really helpful with getting our medication delivered to our room I just can’t imagine trying to get up and go to a hospital when we were both this sick navigating a foreign country, so the hotel really helped out, and I’m really glad we did this because it was only like a hundred dollars to have a doctor visit us do some initial tests, and then give us the medication to get better so after taking the medication we still needed a few days to recover, but luckily we were able to recover you know it was about 24-48 hours where we just felt terrible, and that’s one thing to note is everyone I’ve talked to who’s been to India has gotten sick at some point in their trip,
I would say to try to do slow traveling if possible that was one thing where I wish we would have spent a little bit more time out, but because of the dates of the wedding, everything between we kind of had a set schedule, so we didn’t have that much flexibility, but it would have been much nicer to once we got sick just not have to move around at all afterward for at least a week so one tip would be just plan on getting sick you know at least have two to three days in a location so you can if you do get sick you can go ahead and recover enough to travel to the next destination and so afterward after the wedding we essentially flew to Nepal and overall I would say India was a crazy place. Nothing could really prepare you. Even after visiting 85 countries, I still wasn’t prepared for India. It’s one of the most hectic places I’ve ever been to. Still, there is some sort of beauty to the chaos again. I personally would not be rushing back to India unless there was some sort of special occasion unless you’re going there for a wedding or something like that. I’m really glad I got to experience India. Still, again I have no desire or rush to go back in the near future.
So again, I loved my time there. I had so many amazing and memorable experiences. One of those experiences was starting a dance party in the middle of Delhi with one of my friends. We essentially got pulled up on stage and started this full-on dance party where like hundreds of people joined in afterward people were coming up asking to get photos with me, and again I would say that was probably one of the best things about India was how wonderful and friendly the people were we didn’t have any bad experiences we had such positive experiences with the people. They’re all really curious about you when they interact with you. Overall it was just a really positive experience. Again if you made it this far, thank you so much. Please consider subscribing. I’m going to be putting out two new videos every week and if you’ve been to India, let me know in the comments what your experience was like did you get sick? Did you enjoy it? I would say my experience was pretty mixed where some parts I loved some parts I did not like, and overall I’m glad I went. Still, I don’t think I’ll be rushing back to India anytime soon.
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